Another Day, Another Dollar

As much as I enjoy writing these entries, occasionally I’ll suffer from what is commonly referred to as writer’s block. Or as it’s known among my friends, “Jenny hasn’t been robbed in over two weeks.”
During those trying times, I often look to my friends for help, comfort, and advice. Most of them just give me the vaguely supportive suggestions like:
Change your environment!
Try mood altering medication!
Move your computer into the dining room!
Hold a brainstorming session!
But not Vivian. No, Vivian’s advice is much more concrete. In fact, she often comes to me with lists of things I should write about. Sometimes, they’re not even things that happened to me: “So this one friend of mine is really allergic to cats, and he started dating this girl with a bunch of cats, but he was too embarrassed to tell her he was allergic, so he rifled through her medicine cabinets looking for Benadryl because his throat was closing, and she caught him, and thought he was creepy, so they broke up!”
“But Viv – I don’t know either of those people, and none of that happened to me. I can’t write about that!”
“Oh, well, I admire your integrity. Good luck coming up with an entry.”
The last time I saw her, we were in a coffee shop getting some lattés, and I casually mentioned that I didn’t have anything in mind for the upcoming week’s entries. After she got done paying for her coffee, she handed me a tattered dollar bill that had one of those web addresses on it that lets you track who has had that dollar before you. You know the one – where’s george dot com?
Without even looking up from her wallet, she just shoved the bill at me and said, “Here. That should be good for at least an entry or two.”
A dollar bill? I’m seriously going to write an entire blog entry – or two – about some ratty dollar bill that she handed me? Yeah, that’s riveting stuff. Maybe I can do a whole series on Things I Dug out of Vivian’s Pockets:
Monday: Blue and White Lint
Tuesday: Cough Drop
Wednesday: Crumpled Kleenex
Thursday: Two Nickels and a Dime
Friday: Old MetroCard
Boy, that will make for quite the literary event – I might want to save it for sweeps week, though, to drive the ratings up. The interesting thing is that Vivian is a writer, herself. A poet, to be exact. Since inspiration apparently comes in such mundane forms, the next time I see Vivian, I’m going to see if this same theory works for her as well:
“Oh hey, Vivian. Look! Here’s a stick. Why don’t you quick write a poem about it?”

”Hey – that’s neat! Here’s a bottle cap that’s been run over by some cars. I’m sure this will inspire you to craft a few sonnets, right?”
Or even
“What do you know? I found a ring from the milk carton on my kitchen floor. Then my cat knocked it into the dining room. Viv – you could do an epic poem about that, in the tradition of Homer’s, The Odyssey, don’t you think?”
Brother. Some people have a lot of gall. Like it’s just that easy to write a blog. “Write about this dollar bill,” she says. How on earth does she think I’d be able to write an entire entry about a silly dollar bill?
Absolutely ridiculous.

The Middle of the End: It’s Your Move

Hey, Seattle, it’s Jenny. Are you screening? Pick up. Hello? Okay, I guess you’re not home. Anyway, I just wanted to call to say hi. Hope things are going okay wi- Oh hey! You’re home! I’m sorry, did I wake you?
I’m sorry, yeah, I know it’s early out by you. I just… I needed to hear your voice.
I know – it’s been a while. How have you been?
No, I’m okay, but things are really messed up with Orangehat and me right now. I’m ending it, Sea. I’m going to ask him for a divorce.
Why would you even say that? You know I’m not getting a divorce because of you. I told you that things were bad long before I met you.
Because it’s the truth! You’re the one I love, Seattle! I was so stupid with Orangehat – trying to hang onto something that hadn’t been working for ages. Looking back, I’m not even sure it ever worked. I rushed into marriage with him before we really got to know each other. I mean, do you have any idea what it feels like to think you’re in love with someone, but then suddenly wake up and realize you’re sitting next to a complete stranger? It’s the loneliest feeling in the world, Sea.
I deserve to be with someone who loves me as much as I love him. Isn’t that what we all want?
I know – I feel the same way about you. I just wish you lived closer to me – I never thought that having a clandestine long distance marriage to a city in the Pacific Northwest would be so hard.
I know you don’t like it when I bring this up, but I really wish you would consider moving out here. Illinois is a great state.
Well, Washington doesn’t recognize our marriage either, so what’s the diff-
We are a blue state!
Well, yeah, but we have Lake Michigan.
No, you can’t really eat the fish out of there, but it’s way bigger than Lake Washington.
Mmm, I think almost three million, but it doesn’t feel that big.
I don’t know, fairly temperate, I guess. About 84˚ in the summer, 21˚ in the winter…
Average monthly precipitation? How the hell… look, I’m not the Census Bureau. All I know is that my marriage to Orangehat is over, and you and I can finally be together all the time now.
I can’t stop thinking about you. I’ve tried to get you out of my head, but everything keeps reminding me of you. I mean, I walk past about 15 Starbucks every day, I eat salmon at least once a week, and last night VH1 had a Behind the Music about Pearl Jam. This can’t all be one huge coincidence!
Honey, don’t. I can’t have this conversation again. You know I can’t move out there – my job is here, my family is here. Won’t you at least consider it?
What do you mean, how? You just pack up your things and move, like everybody else.
Yes, babe, I realize that you are a city, but cities move all the time. Houston used to be in Colorado until about 1827.
I don’t know, I read it somewhere.
Stop trying to change the subject. Look, hon, I don’t want to pressure you. All I’m asking is that you think about it. I’m telling you, my place is so much bigger – I have the perfect spot picked out for the Needle. You’re going to love it here!
Okay, well, go back to bed and get some rest. I’ll give you a call tomorrow, okay?
Don’t worry, I won’t. Two hours behind – got it!
Love you!

Holding Out for a Hero

Whenever I read a news story about a child who saved his sibling by performing CPR (which he learned on Baywatch), or about a teenager who rushed into the neighbor’s burning house to get them out of the fire, it reminds me of my own childhood. Not because I actually did any of those things, of course, but because I so desperately wanted to.
I wanted to save someone’s life. Not the reformed alcoholic or religious awakening type salvation. No, just good old, “you were about to die, and I just saved your life” type saving. My hero phase lasted a few years. At the local swimming pool, I would patrol the deep end, looking for someone who might be getting a cramp. I would stretch my arms and my calves just in case I had to quickly dive in to save an elderly woman. At the playground, I would monitor the younger children to make sure they didn’t get too close to the street, and I’d imagine myself racing after them and tackling them to the grass just seconds before a bus rammed into both of us.
I’m not really sure why I had this fantasy. I wasn’t a strong swimmer or a fast runner. I had enough friends to keep me busy – I didn’t need to indenture some little playmate by saving her life. I was never a thrill seeker, so I don’t think it was the adrenaline rush that appealed to me. And I would blush in school if the teacher singled me out for doing something well, so I can’t say that it was the fame I was after. Maybe I just wanted to know that I could do it – to know that in the face of great danger, I could put aside my own fears and risk my life for someone else’s.
I mean, hopefully, I would have saved somebody really important. Someone whose life would have made a big difference to thousands of others. Like a child prodigy, maybe. You know, I think that might be it – since I wasn’t a child prodigy myself, I at least could have been the kid who saved the child prodigy.
“Who’s that boy?”

“That’s a girl.”
“Oh. Who’s that girl?”
“You know. She’s that one girl who saved that child prodigy.”
“Oh, that’s the girl? Huh. She looked taller in the paper.”
I mean, when you think about it, saving a child prodigy is actually a lot more impressive than being one. Prodigies just are. They don’t choose to write operas at age four or solve complex mathematical equations at age five. Frankly, they can’t help themselves. It’s programmed into their DNA. Prodigies have an urge, a desire, which must be fulfilled at all costs. Relationships are destroyed, families are torn apart, friends are lost, all in the relentless, passionate pursuit of their talent. For god’s sake, didn’t any of you see Amadeus? Or La Bamba?
In fact, child prodigies are really no better than drug addicts. Let’s face it – I’m the one who made the choice. I’m the one who risked my life, just to save that uppity rosin snorting violin genius. Oooh, look at me! I’m a child prodigy! I’m too good to play tether ball with you because I might sprain my piano pinky!

So maybe it’s all for the best that I was never particularly brave or athletic. Thanks to me, there are probably a few less opium smoking, plane crashing, bipolar prodigies out on the streets, and if that doesn’t make me a hero, then I don’t know what does.