Iced Coffee

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On urine-stained keys.

Published July 13, 2012 by mandileighbean

Despite Murphy’s Law almost taking effect, I think the second interview today went well.  This morning, I was printing out 16 pictures for my mock lesson – two copies each of eight pictures dealing with The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald in some aspect.  Although I love my printer and think it’s completely awesome that is has the ability to print photo-quality pictures, the process is incredibly time consuming.  I only had time to print twelve and my lesson plan before I rushed out the door.

I stopped at Dunkin Donuts before I hit the parkway for an iced French Vanilla coffee, but it was disgusting so I didn’t finish it.  I have no one to blame but myself; I still don’t know how to properly order coffee.  I’d much rather just make it myself.  Because it was iced and because it was hot outside and because my car does not have air conditioning, the plastic cup condensated severely, to the point where it left a puddle in the cup holder.  It was a very small puddle, but still a force to be reckoned with apparently, because I set my iPod in the cup holder during my mock lesson and it now has water damage.  It’s stuck in the “locked” position and won’t stop playing.  I hope it’ll dry out and right itself.

I was about 30 minutes into my drive when I realized I still had Jimmy’s carseat in the back of my truck from yesterday.  Spank me hard; Mom totally needed it to take Jimmy to the store with her today because she needed to buy supplies for Mikey since he is going to Boy Scout Summer Camp. I wasn’t going to get home until the afternoon, so she went anyway, strapping Jimmy into the seatbelt and praying she didn’t get a ticket.  Thankfully, everything turned out just fine.

Before I got to the high school, I stopped at a Walgreen’s nearby to use the restroom.  I wasn’t buying anything, so the only item I brought in with me was my car key, which is a single key.  It used to be on a little key chain, but I took it off and I cannot remember why.  Anyway, I didn’t have any pockets in my dress and didn’t have my purse with me, so while I was gathering toilet paper, I put the key in my mouth for safe keeping.  I didn’t swallow it or anything, but left it dangling precariously between my lips so that it fell into the toilet.  I’m not proud of the fact that I retrieved my one and only car key from a public toilet, but it needed to be done.

When I got to the interview, everything went surprisingly well.  The woman said my lesson went very, very well.  She wanted me to meet with the principal but he was in Trenton, so I’m journeying back tomorrow.  To make it even more worthwhile, I’m going to meet Raina for lunch.

She also asked for a writing sample.  I had two choices: a prompt from the AP test, or writing about a time I dealt with a difficult and/or challenging student.  I haven’t (knock on wood) had a truly difficult and/or challenging student, so I went to with the prompt from the AP test.  You had to pick a novel from the list and discuss and analyze how symbolism is used in the novel.  You also had to come up with a catchy title.  I saw Invisible Man and thought of Ralph Ellison’s novel.  I also remembered the light bulbs in his basement apartment.  I thought they symbolized his desire to be noticed and in the spotlight, his desire to be separate from his race and seen as a human being rather than be negelected for being a black man, and that fact that the electricity was stolen showed his bitterness and anger turned into a form of rebellion.  Wikipedia says the symbolism is that the light is the truth.  Ooops.  It has also dawned on me that the novel could have been The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells.  Damnit.

And it isn’t even Friday the 13th. Wow.

The prompt for today has three parts to it, so I’m going to break it down and make it last over three days. Enjoy!

PROMPT: “You accidentally overhear a conversation between two people you’ve never met. The topic of the conversation shocks and dismays you. Write about these conversations and describe how you respond to the content:

  • 1. A conversation between two stockbrokers
  • 2. A conversation between a priest and a member of his parish
  • 3. A conversation between a woman and the man with whom she’s been cheating on her husband

PIECE (#1): I was sitting at the local Starbucks minding my own business, just trying to fit in and be trendy – reading a copy of The New York Times and sipping on an iced coffee.  I was perusing the Arts and Literature section, hoping some beautiful and brilliant stranger would notice and comment, and then whisk me off my feet with wonderful conversation.  As that had yet to happen, I was susceptible to distractions and more often than not, the word “rape” serves as a ginormous distraction.  The word had been uttered in a painful-sounding whisper emitted from a pale and trembling young man.  He was sweaty and shaky, but wearing a suit.  The contradiction was intriguing, and as discreetly as possible, I began to listen to the unfolding discussion.

“I don’t know, Pete,” the shaky man gulped.  “I think we should tell someone about it.  I saw her, man.  She looked rough; like she’d been in the ring for ten rounds.  That’s not right.”  At the end of his speaking, he looked down at his trembling hands.

“Are you seriously thinking about going to the cops?” Pete asked, clearly shocked and appalled at the mere idea of involving the proper authorities in whatever mess they were talking about.  “What will happen to us, Tom?  What about our careers?  What about our futures?  If we blow the whistle, every accounting firm in the city will blacklist us as squealers and tattletales.  We didn’t rape anyone, so why should we be punished?”

My eyes were wide behind my paper.  There had been a rape?  These two knew about it, and hadn’t done anything about it?

Tom looked up with a pained expression, moving closer to Pete and dropping his voice even lower.  “What about her, Pete?  What about the girl?”

“What about her?” Pete shot back.  “She can go to the authorities.  It’s not our affair to be involved in.  All we did was attend a party, all right?”

Tears welled in Tom’s eyes.  “What if she comes to us for help?  What if she needs us to be witnesses and to speak up?  What would you say, Pete?”  Despite the fact that Tom was clearly depressed and unsure of himself, his question was more challenging than it was rhetorical.

It was now Pete’s turn to drop his gaze.  He leaned back in his chair, and his cheeks reddened with shame.  He spoke through gritted teeth with a hand almost covering his mouth.  “I’m not going to say anything, Tom.  You won’t either, if you know what’s good for you.”

I had heard enough.  Slowly, I stood.  I folded my paper neatly and placed it on the tabletop, beside my unfinished coffee.  I turned to my left and walked just a few paces until I was standing in front of Pete.  I pulled my hand back and slapped the bastard as hard as I could across the face.  Tom jumped to his feet, surprised but not knowing what to do.  I leaned forward, nearly spitting in Pete’s face and said, “You’re a monster.”

On chance encounters.

Published June 22, 2012 by mandileighbean

I love how I write an empassioned entry about my new and strong resolve to update regularly, and then miss a day.  That’s me in a nutshell: weak, but full of rationalizations for said weakness.  I must be incredibly difficult to love.

Wednesday was a great day, though.  I went to Barnes and Noble and though I spent more than I would have liked, it was well worth it.  I purchased a trendy bookbag that perfectly fits the Bohemian – and let’s be honest, sometimes pretentious – style I am currently going for.  I also purchased the complete works of Edgar Allen Poe, a set of sketching graphite pencils and a sketchbook.  One of my summer resolutions is to take up painting.  That is a somewhat daunting feat, so I’ve broken the goal into baby steps: I’ll start with sketching.  My good friend and college roomie is an artist in every sense of the word, and on Tuesday, she’s going to take me sketching with her.  Hopefully she’ll be able to show me the ropes so I can create something decent.  Purchases in hand, I went to the cafe to have an iced coffee because it was hot as hell and to get some reading and writing done.  I did read “The Offshore Pirate” by F. Scott Fitzgerald and wrote a little bit, but nothing I’m immensely proud of.  I’m still working through a dry patch and feeling decidedly uninspired.  I have ideas that have potential, but currently, I am failing exceptionally at executing them.

What I remember most about my time spent at Barnes and Noble was a beautiful man who seemed to sketching out designs on graph paper.  He was using one of those multi-colored pens that changes color when you click it – either red, green, blue or black.  When he sneezed, I said, “God bless you.”  He thanked me and offered me a warm smile, and I gushed as I tried to focus on sweetening my iced coffee (which I completely blotched.  It was disgusting and I threw it out before I was halfway finished. I don’t blame the barista, though. I don’t think I was drinking it fast enough because the ice melted and made it watery).  I stirred in the sugar and made note of his shaved, dirty blonde hair and dark green eyes.  He was of a thin yet athletic build and his skin was tanned from being in the sun.  He was dressed in earth tones and wore a thick, leather bracelet on his right wrist.  He had a trendy knapsack with what looked like a sleeping mat rolled up and stuck underneath the top flap.  I wondered if he had taken a bus to the shopping center.  I doubted he had a car; he would never condescend to such consumerism, or be so ignorant of the adverse effects of automobiles on the environment.  Then again, if he were taking a bus, that’d make him a hypocrite and wonderfully complex.  I had fallen in love with him in the 27 seconds it took me to prepare my coffee with half-and-half and sugar, but turned away from him to find a seat at the bar against the full-length windows.  I could have engaged him in charming conversation prehaps, or at least asked his name.  I wanted him to ask me what I was reading or what I was writing, but I did nothing.  When I saw him exit the store and cross before the windows once or twice, I smiled but remained still, flicking my eyes back to my book or the screen of my iPad.

I’m a chickenshit, is what it is.

Later, an old friend of mine from childhood invited me out for drinks for happy hour and a great hole in the wall in Seaside Heights.  I accepted but with a strong sense of caution because this friend only reaches out when something heavy is going on.  She, regretably, is kind of a hot mess and things have not changed.  I had fun and it was nice to escape from the mundane quality my life is so reluctant to relinquish, but I could not do that every night like she can.  I came home so drunk that I ate rancid spaghetti sauce that had been left out on the counter since before lunchtime.  I awoke with a dry mouth, a pounding headache and a palpable sense of shame.  It was a gross feeling.

Today was better.  I had lunch with my artist friend – she’s also a spectacular musician – and also ran into a very good friend who’s been missing in action as of late.  She’s married, domesticated and wonderfully mature.  She wears elegant dresses and goes out for cocktails with her husband and their friends like a real adult.

This weekend should be just as entertaining.  Hopefully I’ll remember to update as it happens.

The writing prompt I’ve been working on has been giving me real problems.  I don’t particularly think the prompt is all that great, so I am continually and readily disengaging in the creative process.  That ends tonight, though.  I will finish the damned thing if it’s the last thing I do.

PROMPT: Unusual Phobia.
  Create a character with an unusual phobia.  Write a scene in which the character faces the phobia.

The most common fear among human beings is death, followed closely by public speaking.  Then again, it might be the other way around but regardless of the accuracy of the aforementioned statistic, Melissa Grander feared neither death nor public speaking.  The activity which caused her body to seize, her palms to sweat and her mind to waver between insanity and unconsciousness was dinner conversation.  It was not a common fear by any means, and Melissa made peace with the fact with the rationalization that she was not a common young woman.  Exactly what made her so uncommon eluded Melissa and at night, when she lay awake watching the dusty ceiling fan in her bedroom slowly rotate around and around, she worried that she wasn’t uncommon or unique and that she was just weird; simply bizarre.  After all, who can’t hold a simple conversation over a meal?  Who can’t engage in a dialogue over dinner?

The answer is Melissa Grander.  She could not be charming, witty or even responsive while eating.  It was effort enough to make sure nothing spilled and stained her blouse, that her teeth were clear of debris.  To add the societal pressure of being interesting was more than she could comprehend.  Her need for silence at mealtimes left her lonely and alone.  Other than her family who were supportive and understanding, Melissa did not have many friends.  Having to decline every single dinner and lunch invitation led to a notable drop in those invitations, to the point where Melissa was left off the list because everyone knew she wouldn’t come out anyway.  Melissa also knew she could never join in the group brunches, lunches and dinners and could never do so with a romantic prospect, so she stopped dating altogether.  When the occasional male interest made his intentions known, Melissa panicked and aborted the whole thing, assuming that once the young man found out how abnormal she was, he’d be completely turned off.  Who wanted to be a lover and a savior and a doctor and a therapist?  Wasn’t that too much pressure?

All of Melissa’s social interactions stemmed from her weekly trips to the mall.  She didn’t necessarily make purchases, but she flitted around like a regular social butterfly from kiosk to kiosk and department to department, making small talk with various employees who all found her to be pleasant, compassionate and most importantly, normal.  She could eat alone at the food court without anyone thinking twice, and satisfy her need for human interaction in the small, superficial doses she could handle.  It was kind of ideal, albeit sad and temporary.  Would these workers come to her funeral?  Would they send her cards if she was sick in the hospital?  Melissa knew that they wouldn’t, but the fear did not outweigh her fear of conversation during meals.

Melissa was solitary, and as a result, she enjoyed solitary activities.  During her social visits to the mall, she would bring along a book to read near the fountain in the center.  The bubbling and tumbling of the water into the stone basin provided the perfect white noise to drown out the buzz of consumerism around her, so she could afford to become lost in a literary world where she could live vicariously.  She, Melissa Grander, was the young female protagonist with the painted nails and nasty habit of chain smoking, who moved from bed to bed every night and searched for the solution to her looming but not named existential crisis in seedy bars in a big city.  Melissa could be hunting ghosts in an old, Victorian manor, foiling an assassination attempt against some world leader, or falling in love barefoot and breathless while caught in the middle of a surprise summer storm.  Anything was possible for Melissa while she was reading.

Her favorite author was James Prince, a master of the paranormal thriller.  His characters were so authentic and painfully human, despite their supernatural abilities and/or origins.  While the setting and circumstances of the plot were extreme, the themes were perfectly applicable to her humdrum life and Prince’s writing became universal.  She had a large intellectual crush on him and filled idle time with daydreams about chance encounters and resulting romances with Prince.  It was childish and juvenile and at the back of her mind, Melissa realized she was stunted emotionally.  Sighing, she’d close the book and head toward the exit.

One random Tuesday, Melissa was heading out the automatic doors near the salon.  She paused to warily observe the gray, swirling skies and the thick raindrops beginning to pound the pavement.  Her umbrella was shoved beneath her backseat and she hesitated, not wanting to become drenched and uncomfortable.  Her feet shifted in thought, as did her dark, expressive eyes, which widened when they fell upon a cardboard cutout to her right.  It was James Prince, in the most scholarly of poses with his strong, calloused right hand curled about his strong, impressive chin.  His eyes were kind but a million miles away, and a deep shade of brown.  A small smile hung about his lips without actually landing.  It was a beautiful picture and she took a step or two towards it, like she was physically compelled to do so and could not resist.  Underneath the torso of the author was a slit, and beneath that was an entrance form.  There was a contest being held; one lucky winner would be chosen to have dinner with the author, and win a signed copy of his newest book, yet to be released.

Melissa’s breath caught in her throat.  This was incredible; this was serendipitous!  If she entered and if she won, she would have to face her fear!  She could be normal with his assistance; she’d have to shape up for James Prince.
Melissa hurried over and filled out about thirty cards, shoving them mercilessly into the slot, crumpling corners in her haste to get as many forms as she could into the cardboard cutout.  The winner would be announced in one month.

Melissa went to the mall every day and entered again and again.  She stopped making her social visits, completely forgot about her uncommon phobia and was graced with that proverbial eye of the tiger.  She was focused only on winning and the opportunity of being healthy.  The irony that her behavior to do so was unhealthy was lost on her.

A month later, the winner was announced.  Melissa Grander would indeed be having dinner with James Prince.

The big night came and she sat upon a bench on her front porch.  Her hands twitched in her lap and she was barely breathing.  Every pair of headlights that washed over her made her nauseous; the limousine would be arriving to pick her up at any minute.  She had index cards in her tiny bag, each with vague responses to typical questions one might ask over dinner.  Melissa hoped she’d be able to keep it together.  She’d honestly rather die than mortify herself before James Prince, the love of her sad, delusional life.  Sighing sadly, Melissa automatically rose as headlights flooded the drive.  Her moment had come at last.  She gathered her wits and her bag and trotted over to the rear door of the limousine when it was opened from the inside.  There sat James Prince.

“Oh my God,” Melissa breathed.

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