International Writers Magazine:
It was true there were
many other things I was supposed to be doing that day. For instance, I
was supposed to go down to my college and watch a digital video of myself
that had been recorded the previous Wednesday. It had been of me doing
my PowerPoint presentation on Modernism. I was supposed to watch the tape
and assess it, assess my body movements and my delivery skills. There
was nothing I wanted to do less. First of all, watching myself would be
embarrassing. I didnt want to get a firsthand look at myself looking
ugly and awkward and flawed in every way. I would rather skip the experience,
if at all possible. Secondly, the assignment was already late. I was supposed
to turn it in right after having given the presentation, but my class
had gotten out at 9:45 at night, and the next morning at 8am I had been
at Westlake High School student teaching. Thats where Id been
Friday as well, and now Id spent my weekend mostly relaxing a recuperating
from my week, getting nothing in particular done.
Pleasures of Life
midday and I was sitting around my house in my underwear reading
John Updike. This experience gave me an incredible sense of pleasure.
It was a Sunday and the sun was shining brilliantly outside in an
October sky of cool, cloudless blue. The days had finally begun
to get cooler, preparing for fall.
It was a pity, because I really did have so much to do. I needed to read
chapter after chapter in my incredibly boring Research in Education book
and take the quizzes that my instructor e-mailed to us and that he gave
the annoying name of "Modules." I needed to prepare lesson plans
for my week at Westlake High School, where the students would be beginning
the Crucible, a play I didnt even like, and do my reading
for my next days class, the extremely dull Exceptional Children
/ Students with Disabilities. Yet and still I was doing none of these
appropriate things, and in a way I didnt even care. I was enjoying
didnt that count for something? I just felt I had too
much to do and it was crushing me, literally crushing me under its weight.
In my house I had laid out on my living room floor two new pairs of shoes,
and this gave me a strange, senseless sort of satisfaction. I was happy
with them - my new shoes. I knew this happiness was a shallow, empty sensation,
yet it was happiness nonetheless. My best friend had come over the night
before and envied the new shoes and I had to admit to myself that they
were beautiful in every way. Both pairs were flats and they were "work"
shoes, bought for the express purpose of being worn to Westlake.
My old pair of Maryjanes that I had probably owned for almost eight years
had finally given out. They were a wonderful pair of flat, comfortable,
black slip on shoes, but the strap had broken on one of them. My mom had
even gone and gotten it fixed for me at a little shoe repair place for
a really cheap price, but then the strap had broken again and I was nearly
out of dress shoes. Another pair of shoes Id really loved were made
of brown leather and they were kind of like sandals. Even though they
were heels, they didnt feel like heels because they were so comfortable,
but after around six years of wear the soles of the shoes had cracked
and finally fallen apart. All Id had left were my uncomfortable
heels which killed my toes and certainly werent meant for wearing
everyday. I had these heels and my Doc Martin leather slip-on shoes with
the buckles, but these couldnt be worn with a skirt. So on Saturday
I had finally ventured out with my mom to a shoe store I liked and had
gotten many a good pair of shoes at, and there I had found my two new
pairs of dress shoes, costing nearly $200 dollars, but I figured the price
was worth it because I liked the damn shoes and they would last me for
When wed gone down to little Five Points to shop there were all
sorts of people in the middle of the square touting Ron Paul for president.
I had no idea who the hell Ron Paul was, but it seemed like Id heard
his name before. It sounded like the name of some terrible soft rock singer
or something. There was a hardcore band playing music for the event and
the lead singer wasnt exactly singing, he was screaming in the typical
hardcore style. "Ruh, ruh ruh, rawr, rawr
" was all I could
distinguish of his words. Not that I especially cared what he was saying
So I bought the shoes. My mom had parked a couple streets away and we
had walked down the nice neighborhood streets where in one yard some men
were out playing horseshoes in their front lawn. It had been a pleasant
enough day and after buying the shoes I felt accomplished. Now there they
were, sitting on my living room floor, just waiting to be worn, one bright
spark in my otherwise dull and rather depressing life. I found it rather
depressing when the things that made my day were John Updike, a pair of
new shoes, and a turkey sandwich, but there it was. I had learned long
ago that if people fail you there are always the other pleasures of life,
like shoes and books and coffee, that will certainly never, I mean never,
let you down.
For lunch I had toasted two pieces of bread, spread mayonnaise on one
of them, and then put four thin slices of turkey on the other. I cut my
sandwich in half and then sat on my couch, continuing to read, scattering
little toasted sandwich crumbs everywhere. But really, could there be
anything better in the world than a delicious, very non-vegetarian sandwich,
and a good book, and a cup of coffee with French Vanilla creamer in it?
I didnt want to get dressed and sit in traffic to go pay for parking
downtown, just so I could watch some dumb, depressing video of myself.
Ill do it tomorrow, I thought, after my class,
since Ill already be downtown anyway. Ill finally get it done
When I finished my sandwich I went to get my handheld vacuum to clean
up all the damn crumbs that had scattered all over the sheet I had spread
over my white couch. I loved the white couch, dont get me wrong,
but it was always getting stained, which I hated. I took the vacuum and
got up the crumbs because I knew if I didnt they would attract a
roach. I had learned about that the hard way. One night I had spilled
some sauce from a Lean Cuisine onto the sheet over my couch, and I had
just left it there to stain. A couple days later, I looked over to see
a roach sitting next to me, amiably nibbling at the stain. I wasnt
going to allow such a gross thing to happen again. I vacuumed up the crumbs
and cleaned my plate, trying to maintain some semblance of cleanliness
around me. Then I went right back to reading my book. It was Sunday after
all. I wasnt going to be forced to move.
I felt depressed about various things- the fact that my house was rather
messy and I needed to get back in shape, the fact that it seemed I could
never stay on top of all of my responsibilities, and the fact that I had
had nothing to do on Saturday night and so had chosen to drink an entire
bottle of wine. It had, to its credit, kept me entertained. I felt frustration
over my ex-boyfriend, and frustration with myself over bad choices I had
made in my past, choices I couldnt quite reconcile with myself.
But here I was today, with a good book, sitting in my house in my underwear,
with my two pairs of new shoes displayed side by side on my rug, and I
couldnt help but feel hopeful, and feel that some strange promise
was in the air. Tomorrow would be different, I would wear my new shoes.
I felt change was in the cards for me. I awaited it, expectantly.
© Julia Gordon November 2007
sushibuca at gmail.com
on the Bus
Andrew was taking a test. He chewed his pen anxiously and looked over
stories in Dreamscapes
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