Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Attention everyone: power wears high heels

Read this post. And then read it again.

And think of the water in which we all swim.

Monday, July 24, 2006

These are the people in your neighborhood

Each morning, I walk the Timbot and the Sureshot to the park by the marina. In order to get to the marina, we have to cut through the Ralph’s parking lot. Now one would think that a grocery store parking lot would be boring and, for the most part, it is. Well, at first glance anyway…

Once you are used to the basics of the environment—cars, shopping carts, rows of parking spots, islands of small trees bookending said rows (aka pee-spots for the dogs)—you start to notice the unique qualities and the people. You start to recognize the Ralph’s employee who always takes her yogurt-eating break at the edge of the park, the Ralph’s employee whose job it is to (a) sweep the entire parking lot with an industrial broom and squared-off aluminum dustpan and (b) to NEVER smile at passing dogwalkers who always smile at him (gah), the Ralph’s employee with the best afro ever, the occasional transients camped out in the far northeast corner of the lot. Now when I say “camped out” I mean two people sleeping in sleeping bags on the pavement. Camped out. They were only here for a week or so before moving on to the next great grocery store lot on what surely must be their national tour of grocery store lots.

In fact, I wonder if they review parking-lots-for-camping-purposes online. Someone must be, because the Marina del Rey Ralph’s is a hit! And not just the sleeping bag on the ground variety, either. We’re talking four-star multi-purpose camping, people. We’re talking stay in your van with your four other travelers and your little dog named Peanut who likes to chase leashed Chihuahua mixes variety, we’re talking the good looking middle aged puzzlingly-homeless-yet-doing-business professional looking man with a super sweet shepherd mix who appears to meet with clients at his car variety. We’ve got the simple cases: the one-offs that just stay a night or two with their driver seats pulled as far down as their hatchbacks will allow and we’ve got the complicated ones, the ones that inspire endless conjecture, ones like The Hoarder.

When I first moved in, I hadn’t noticed the makeshift trailer park/campground/park-and-rest that is the lot’s northeast corner. To be fair to me (which I am often more than, natch), the days-long van-dwellers and, more brashly, the sleep-right-on-the-grounders had yet to make an appearance. Nothing. Back in those simpler times (May 2006, I believe it was…), the only reason the northeast corner drew my attention was its fairly sizable patch of lawn perfect for late night dogwalking—being well-lit and close to home made it a happy li’l discovery.

It didn’t take long (0.4 seconds) for me to notice the beat-up, rusty and otherwise faded Chevy pick-up parked directly in front of the patch of grass.

Generally-speaking, pick ups aren’t nearly as regular a feature in Southern California as they are in, say, rural Virginia (I’d even bet that the BMW to pick up truck ratio are inversely proportional in the two locales, but I digress…). Anyway, this is to say that, as a former pick up driver myself, I notice pick ups, often a bit wistfully. But not this time. This faded old vehicle caught my eye because of its load: THOUSANDS of crushed cans in weathered plastic bags, PILES upon PILES of yellowed newspapers bundled together, bags and bags OF bags and bags. You name it, the recycling center wanted it, and here it was—day after day after day—in the northeast corner of the Ralph’s parking lot. I couldn’t look away.

Readers: I am not a squeamish woman. I am not easily disturbed and have been in many situations that are far more threatening than simply being near a truck with a bunch of crap in the bed. The truck didn’t scare me (that much) so much as bemuse me. Okay, so I found it a bit unsettling—but isn’t that how you feel when you look at something long enough that you expect it to, at some point, make sense? I looked and looked; it just didn’t ever make sense. Yes it was messy and the materials should have reported to a recycling bin YEARS ago, but the real irritant here was this: who would want to keep all this junk? Why? And did they have special permission for Ralph management to park their junk in this lot?

Thoughts like this occupied me one night while I stood in front of it, on the patch of lawn, waiting for the dogs to poop. I must have been blindly staring into the cab because I perked right up when something moved. Inside the truck. Oh. My. Gah. There was someone in the truck! The view of the face was obstructed by the cardboard slab that the gnarled hand adjusted to further obstruct my view of the face.

Of course I discover this when little Timmy Tapshoes is mid-poop. So I have to stand there, in front of this beat-up truck facing into the cab WHERE THERE IS A PERSON until the dog does his business. At night. And it feels like we are the only two people in the vast expanse of parking lot and, out of all this space, we are five feet apart. Weird.

A few days later, the truck was gone. That little run-in sufficiently curtailed my habit of walking the dogs in the lot in the dark. The truck was what alerted me to the several other lot-sleepers since. No one dangerous, I’m sure, but it’s not exactly a comfortable milieu for sharing space. I just think of how bored they must be, sitting in their cars, or how broke. They must think of how boring my life must be: all cookie-cutter, and play-by-the-rules-y. Their kingdom for the open road. Or something.

Walking the dogs this morning, I noticed the truck was back. In the brightness and clarity that 7 am brings, the man was out of his truck, standing on the pavement, and gingerly placing a crushed can in an old plastic bag that already holds many other crushed cans. I could tell that there was purpose and ownership in his movement, but I didn’t look too closely. Somehow, it all made a little more sense.

Friday, July 14, 2006

My new swimsuit!

One of two, really. I was thinking this one, but then began to blush picturing myself all whore-style by the ocean. (I mean, pants! How unladylike!) So, I went ahead and ordered this one--in blue, with the tropical underclothes.

How wonderful to feel so virtuous. I can't wait to get it in the mail! Then I can finally be outdoors showing my body in a guilt-free fashion. (And I do mean fashion!)

Ahh, womanhood. What better way to celebrate it than hide all the evidence of it?