A million strange strangers

Salt Lake was a weird fucking town. I’ve seen stranger, but this had a certain flavor of off. Everyone seemed more or less aimless, glassy eyed, and utterly bored. Granted, this was only within one square mile of the bus station, but it was an interesting thing to view either way. Apparently it is quite the hub of rail hopping and transient kids, crashing in run down apartments or warehouses til some other seasonal job calls to them from far away.

It all started with one little group of self-professed punks…

Pretty sure they "borrowed" over a pack of smokes from me.

Pretty sure they “borrowed” over a pack of smokes from me.

… and ended with the strangest walk to a gas station I’d ever taken (and I’ve taken many.)

The boys above painted rocks with anarchy symbols, cats and a few random squiggles. They bummed smokes, kicked each other in the balls and sold what appeared to be stolen cell phones to a kid we’ll call James.

James was the quieter one of the group, and apparently newer to them all. He was no stranger to life on the rails. I had been speaking with them for a while when James came back from a short walk, coffee and snacks in tow. Having been stuck in this god awful station for 7 hours now without food or the sight of my best friend caffeine, I flat out begged him to show me the gas station.

Note: When you’re doing shit like this, you put far more trust into strangers than you normally would. Asking a nice homeless man to take you through back alleys for a donut shouldn’t be a daily occurrence.

Regardless, I asked, because fuck it. Social conventions suck. Off we go, wandering along — me and my new buddy James.

Except James is a full blown paranoid schizophrenic. I learned this the moment he opened his mouth.

James: “What do you think of Israel?”

Me: “In what c–”

James: “THESE GUYS HAVE A GROUP NOT UNLIKE THE CIA AND TALIBAN THAT ARE GOING TO INFILTRATE OUR GOVERNMENT BUT LUCKILY MY UNCLE IS IN THE CIA AND I CAN HELP THEM BECAUSE I KNOW TH–”

And this continued. For the entire walk. I tried to keep pace with him as he threw his arms up and yelled to the sky along the way to the gas station. Everything was punctuated with  “y’knowhamean?” Too concerned to ever say SWEET JESUS FUCK NO WHAT DO YOU EVEN MEAN? I made do with constant nods of approval and “Yep!” Luckily not everything he spoke of was conspiracy– he was fond of flowers, weed, and the stars as well.

We finally manage to get to this station. I rush in and grab as much crap as I possibly can, swearing silently to myself that I needed enough to ration off as to avoid doing this again. I noted the security guard there was now trapped by his very confusing words, and he gave me a wide-eyed stare as James rambled off at him. I just shrugged and shook my head, offering my best I’m so sorry look. I just wanted to get out of there and back to the mass of people that could be witnesses in case he figured me an Israeli spy and shanked me.

This kid needs help, I thought, as we made our way back through the run down streets and abandoned buildings. I felt bad for him, his family, for his life.

“You know? Isn’t it nice out? Isn’t this great! Most people just like… don’t listen to me, yaknowhamean? They think I’m stupid and I know I say a lot of shit bu I ain’t stupid, yaknowwhamean? Right?”

Right there. He stopped in the middle of the sidewalk. The sun was shining, and the wind blew dust around us. It was cold and alive, and so was he, eager and hoping for someone to validate him. I realized how often this man must be dismissed, passed over, forgotten and written off. He had nobody in the world to just say “you’re okay, man,” and so many must view him as subhuman. He even said so himself: “it’s like I people don’t want me to exist.” I felt like the biggest piece of shit for considering, even for a moment, that I needed to get far away from him. He hadn’t shown any sort of malice, no violence, and even spoke of his deep fear of confrontation.

“You’re not stupid, man. I know what you mean. You’re a good guy.”

I couldn’t think of some great, inspiring speech to give him. I had nothing to offer, standing in the middle of nowhere in my unwashed clothes and dire need of sleep. I was lost too, far from anything I knew, and I felt like that’s all that was needed. It was just us, two strangers with nothing to give. He smiled at me. I smiled at him. We walked back in silence, his gaze on the asphalt and hands in pockets. But he was smiling. We were friends now.

I lost track of him soon enough. It’s a busy station. Eventually, the bus arrived for us all. I rushed into the rear to take the tiny seat nobody wanted in an attempt to be alone with it, maybe sleep some. James was the last one to get on the bus, and not much was left for him. He made his way to the very last seat and quietly, expecting to be turned down, asked if he could sit next to me.

James, despite, or because of, his delusions then became a sort of bodyguard. He saved the seats, kept watch over the bags, and left me to my attempts at sleep.

Then I fucked up.

We made a few stops, and slowly people trickled off. Finally, more seats opened, and there was enough space for us to spread out. James had come back on the bus as we were getting ready to pull away again, and without thinking he would take it the wrong way, I asked if he’d want one of the open seats so he can sleep more comfortably.

To him, right then, I rejected his company. I watched his face go from neutral to utterly dejected in a matter of seconds. Before I could clarify that I was only asking for his benefit, not to get rid of him, he grabbed his stuff and moved to the front of the bus. Every other stop we made, he kept a distance. I didn’t push the issue, and at first I was a little angry. I didn’t do anything wrong, I told myself. He took it the wrong way. You don’t even know this guy, why are you so worried about him?

But I was worried. I felt bad because by then, he was just glad to be able to talk to someone. The other guys he was travelling with poked fun at him and used his kindness, and while it visibly upset him he didn’t know how to stop it. He seemed resigned to it. I couldn’t help but end up protective.

After another night it was time for me to part ways with the group of rail chasers. They were headed off to California to pick berries of some sort, and keep moving along. With them slipped my momentary friend, a crazy fucker with wild delusions. A few people told me was crazy for talking to the dude, but they didn’t even try. I didn’t do anything special or unique, I just talked to a lonely stranger. Maybe it bothered me because I’ve been in his position before, alone and unsure how to communicate that (minus the crippling delusions.)

I hope someone befriended him. I know I don’t owe the guy anything, and he’s “just another stranger”, but it meant something to him to have someone to talk to. It meant something to me to gain his trust when he trusted nothing. So I’m sorry, James. You’re gonna be alright, dude, somehow.

I am a failure and I don’t finish stuff, yeah!

"But how many times can you really be tricked by ladyboy before it's gay?"

So, I have the short story completed… in writing, in a notebook. Work has held me off from actually making sense of my scribblings (I’m sure I can post it up as-is, but that would be… concerning. Most margins contain doodles of dicks with hats) and I’m still stuck on some article stuff for the magazine. So what I’m saying here is that fuck you, I will get back to that thing later. I didn’t mean that fuck you. I really like you.

In the meantime, here are some random photographs, punctuated with odd things I heard at work recently. There’s no end to weird crap to be overheard backstage, especially when dancers are involved. For example: There is an interpretive dance about the plight of sex-slave children. … Yeah. That.

So! Have some pictures.

"I'm kinda sad today. I feel like my dancing isn't... heavy. Y'know?"

"I need to really feel like you're owned by that pimp. Make me feel it."

"Someone left poop paper in the bathroom."

"Everyone is walking around like it's 'Free Anal Rape' day. See? That guy? He's walking funny too. What the hell?"

It also occurs to me to tell you about the homeless, urine-soaked man with the twitch that was at my bus stop today. Upon my arrival, he started cackling and (presumably) adding to his urine aroma. I didn’t really want to deal with that so early in the morning, but I doubt he wanted to deal with himself either. Sadly, this bus runs every forty minutes, and I had just missed the last one. He’s taking up the whole bench– which is fine, I didn’t want to sit next to the guy anyway. He flailed a lot, and it’s a rude day when you’re slapped by big hands that have been playing in pee.

So UrineMan starts to stare. I don’t think he’s so much staring at me as he is through my very bowels, because his gaze was centered somewhere around my small intestine. He started digging in his bag, which I was terrified contained the last public transportation victim of the day, but no. It contained, of all things, a pack of pornographic playing cards. Alright, I can deal with that. A guy needs to see some boob in the morning. I do every day for free, so why can’t he? Thankfully, the bus arrived shortly thereafter, because I didn’t really want to witness his intent with those… especially since he resumed staring at my digestive system. The combination of pornography and my poop area wasn’t something I wanted to entertain at 7:30am. Actually, I usually don’t at any given time if it also involves urine and men with muscle spasms.

It dawned on me while I was entering the bus to work… no matter where I am, at what time, or for whatever reason… there will always be someone nearby ready to excrete on me. And that just plain makes me feel special.

Too much time has passed.


Busy busy busy.

Got a new (second) job, been spending the last week in a long send-off for my friend that is moving to Colombia… and having a huge mental store of all the insane shit that has gone down in the interim. Oh what fun!

First, we have Miss Florida. Yes, the Miss Florida, the competition to send scary, dysfunctional, mentally handicapped and embittered women on to become our U.S. representatives in some little thingy called Miss World. I had to work this, see. And deal with the women. … and take apart their stage with a very angry French set designer. I cannot even begin to describe the *fun* I had… because little existed. While I do utterly and inexplicably love my job, I do not often love the client.
While the women in the event were … questionable, my main concern was with the audience. The parents, boyfriends, husbands and families of these critters were amazing. It was like watching the spectators of a dogfight, but perhaps in more Gucci. People screaming, holding signs, yelling “Go, (enter trendy female name,) go! You can do it!” They would throw down anything in their hands if their particular vagina didn’t win, storming off to grasp a cell phone so tightly it bled battery acid and scream at whatever hapless victim made the mistake of answering their phone.

Moving on, because reliving this makes me have the PTSD twitch.

So. I also had a fabulous day on the bus this week… a day where, on all six buses I rode, a new crazy was there to make me smile. Or flail in horror. Whatever, it’s all relative. So, a simple breakdown:

Bus #1, Route 42
“Heeey man. I’m … on drugs, man. What … awww… I’m so many drugs, man. I’m drugged, man. Man, dude… I’m sooo fucking wasted.”
He spent most of the ride babbling this while randomly throwing punches at his own backpack.

Bus #2, Route 2
*mumbles*
Random woman: “What?”
*mumbles*
Random woman: “I don’t understand you.”
*mumbles*
Random woman: “WHAT?”
Mr. Mumbles: “I SAID YOU HAVE A NICE SMELL YOU WHORE.”

Bus #3, Route 7
WWJD Lady: “Jesus! Jesus! Jesus is the ONNNNLLLLY answer, people. Why y’all goin’ to this damn house of Satan? Why! Why must you ruin yerself for Jesus! God loves you, alla you!”
Grinning college kid: “Lady, this is a SCHOOL. Satan is what, like, the smart one?”
Grinning college kid #2: “Haha. She said “God loves Allah.”
WWJD Lady: “YOU ALL GONNA BURN IN HELL!”

I then was at work, and magically… nothing happened. Of course, I had to eventually leave work, sooooo…

Bus #4, Route 7
Hippie: “Hi.”
Me: “Hi?”
Hippie: “Can I bum a smoke?”
Me: “Can you roll one?”
Hippie: “Dude, look, ok, I’m sorry, I like, I am on probation for that shit, ok? Dude, like, ok, let’s just … nevermind, ok?”
Me: “This … is a tobacco pouch. With tobacco in.”
Hippie: “Oh… no, thanks. That shit’s bad for you.”

So … I’m not sure exactly what it was he was after, then.

Bus #5, Route 1
Junkie: “Hey… what day is it?”
Skater kid: “Um, Thursday?”
Junkie, to old man: “What day is it?”
Old man: “What the kid said. Thursday.”
Junkie: “…”
Old man: “The hell is wrong with you?”
Junkie, to me: “What da–“
Me: “Thursday. Thursday. The day after Wednesday, and the day before Friday. Thursday.”
Junkie, to skater kid: “Man, you got any weed?”
Skater: “No?”
Older lady: “You need to lay off the crack.”
Junkie: “Fuck you! It’s meth! I loved meth!”

And finally… my personal favorite had to come last, of course.

Bus #6, Route 10
Drunk hobo #1: “See that girl over there? I’ma tell her I love her.”
Drunk hobo #2: “I… don’t …. I dunnnooo.”
DH1: “Hey! Hey! I love ya!”
Me: “… ok.”
DH1: *to random guy* “Have a beer with me!”
Guy: “How about no!”
DH1: “Ok! Hey, lady! I like ya! I love ya! I want summore of ya!”
Me: “…”
DH2: “I don’t think it’s working.”
DH1: “Hey, lady, have a beer with me. I just wanna tell ya I love ya.”
Me: “I don’t drink beer. I don’t love you.”
DH1: “Look, I know I’m hotter than any guy you’ll get.”

Keep in mind he looked like a half-dead hybrid of Jimmy Buffet and Gary Busey. Not kosher.

Anyway! This is long enough. I’ll slap something else up tonight. I am typing this half asleep and have more to post later.

It has come to my attention…

… that it’s rarely ever anything but a homeless man that REALLY gives me a lot of trouble. I’ve had your average asshole hit on me at a bar (as most of us have) and random passersby deciding I need to have a chat with them about dating or drugs, perhaps some God or maybe even a smattering of why the government is beaming death rays into our skulls in order to keep the black man down. Anything remotely nutty, I’ve heard it.

But it’s the homeless men … the true lovers of that which is me … that seem to absolutely, without a doubt have a need to provide me with a reason for this blog. Granted, I’m sure other rants will slip in here from time to time (hospitals, pets, people … they all have a place here) but it’s events like the following that really get me:

So today, I decided to go meet with Travis for a cup of coffee. Seems innocent enough, yes?
… WRONG.
This requires me to trek through the badlands of Homeless Man territory. The hub of activity for those that seek cigarettes and beer money. So! The meeting was uneventful. Ran into an old friend, chatted for a while … nothing bad. Upon my departure, we said our goodbyes and went off to our respective buses at the terminal. Which, as you’ll notice, most of my problematic stories will stem from that singular location.

On the bus I go, wary already, having been “flagged down” by a very discontent looking individual with an obvious crack addict twitch. I decided to leap onto the bus as a means of escape. It worked. For a moment. Until *he* arrived.

He smelt of urine and something … foul. Even more foul than that which exists under the bed of a serial animal hoarder. More foul than a week old diaper. Something laced with Satan’s ass on a hot day in the middle of the sun.
He sat down behind me. Of course. Because this story would not be in existence if he kept a distance, oh no.

This is the BEST I can assume as to what he spoke of:
“Hey … hey. Fifty. Fifty. You. Fifty. You see … *mumblemumble* there… and it made … but if you’re not sure, honey. Well. Packages are for them. *mumblemumble* is made of it. You’re missing the point, honey. I mean it. Look at your hair … why *mumblemumble* it’s so pretty in here. Isn’t it dark? Oh, lord…”

This continued for a while until he said this nifty tidbit:
“I’ll kill you.”
The words every girl wants to hear whilst traveling alone on a dark bus.
So… drastic times call for cunning measures.
Not wanting to make a scene and possibly enrage my soon-to-be assailant, who was obviously mentally deficient enough in the first place, I made a move. I chose the darkest, nearest stop possible and pulled the cord. I gathered up my things and got ready to stand. As the bus pulled over, he rushed out the door and stood waiting. The doors closed. I sat back down.

To try and describe the look on his face is a bit beyond my capabilities. I’m not familiar enough with utter and complete insanity to make an attempt. Needless to say, it was … interesting.
Aside from a random car of asshats honking at me to “come ride the best cock in town,” which was soon offered to another woman down the road, I made it to Undergrounds without and rape/murder/beatings.

I don’t know why they choose me. I’m not the most attractive girl around, or the most flamboyant and dressy. I don’t even wear make-up, for fuck’s sake. There is just a thing, a something, that has caused this to happen from a very young age. Even at the age of seven, a homeless man attempted to stroke my hair on a city bus as my aunt stared in angered confusion.

Either way, it happens. It’s life. Tomorrow is a new day to do it all over again!

Ah, yesterday.

… was a very odd day. This entire MONTH has been full of bizarre, horrible and distressing occurrences. Between my lovely hospitalization and apparent near-death, Rob’s death, and so many other little bits and pieces of utter hell.

So yesterday, I decided to take my guitar out to get some new strings and a little bit of tuning, perhaps some picks and a book. I realized I was running out of time, so I could either do that or see the kids — obviously, I went to see the kids. … sadly, this meant that I happened to get on the same crowded bus as an apparent masturbatory fiend. He of course chose me to be his unwilling victim, which was … just wonderful. I got to sit on a bus for twenty minutes while WankMaster 2000 stared at my crotch. It was … special. So special.

So! I figured screw it, I’ll head downtown and get some good old chocolate and espresso. Always cheers me up a bit. All was mostly uneventful (aside from a guy insisting to me that I had to sell him some weed, which I did not have, nor do I *ever* have for that matter) and a homeless woman that tried to use my guitar as a seat. (“Hey! Don’t sit on that!” … “Oh, sorry, I thought it was a chair.”) When the time to go rolled around so I could go to a DIFFERENT coffee shop, as is the life of a non-drunk Fort Lauderdaleite, I had this wonderful exchange:

“Hey, lady! Hey!”
“Uh, hi.”
“Hey! You got a guitar in that case?”
“Yes?”
“Hey! Hey! You know why I like you?!”
“No. But you’re going to tell me.”
“Yup! I like you because you must be a serious BITCH to walk around town like that!”
“Hm. Alright. Bye, now.”
“No no no no no! Where you going? Don’t just walk off when—“
At this point, I put my headphones back on, because Front 242 does wonders to block out the rants of a man that smells of vodka, and continued to my bus. Apparently this was not good enough for him.
“HEY! Come back here! HEY!”
“I have a bus to catch, sir.”
“No you DON’T! WHAT BUS, HUH?” (Because, of course, I’m going to tell him where I’m going.)
“A bus. Goodbye.”
This has gone on for half a block, now, as he follows me down the road. Then this happy bit came. I was running late, I’ve had a BCD from hell (bad Crohn’s day, ahem) and I’m still recovering from the month’s general attitude of fuck you.
“You know what, bitch?! FUCK YOU. You’ll never GET ANYWHERE IN LIFE WITH AN ATTITUDE LIKE THAT!”
“Oh really?”
“YEAH!”
“So. Excuse me for being, oh, presumptuous, but you, a homeless man that reeks of vodka and just asked me for a cigarette, you that is sitting on a bench with your worldly belongings, you that is wearing mismatched shoes for lack of money … YOU are telling ME how to be a successful person?”
“NOW YOU JUST WAIT… THAT’S … THAT’S … NOW SEE THAT’S … HEY!”
“Uh huh. Have a nice day, sir.”
“Your fucking attitude SUCKS, BITCHWHORE!”

… And so, I continued my way to the bus. I almost wanted to feel bad, as someone that likes to be a Genuinely Nice Person™, but he was a true dick in the finest sense of the word. Maybe he was having a bad day too, but really — no need to do that sort of thing.
So. The bus terminal. This is not known for being a place of leisure and joy. You don’t have to be there long to extrapolate that fact. I got to dodge a pimp fight, some moody teenagers, a happy woman in a wheelchair that insisted she was Jesus’ lover (hey, at least she was nice, she earned a smile) and some other sundry individuals.

The bus ride there was decent enough … until I got OFF said bus. It was … hm. Let me just give this:
“Hiiiiiii, there, uh.”
“Hi?”
“Gotsa smoke?”
“Sure.”
“Gotsa light?”
“Sure.”
“Gotsa pussy?”
“Um…”
“It was worth a shot.”

So now I’m here getting coffee. And chainsmoking. And chainsmoking…