mikidemillion

Ride the Storyline Express – with Bubbles and a Big Startle

In Blog Post, Entertainment, mikidemillion, Random Posts, Ride the Storyline Express, Stories, Story, Uncategorized, Writers, writing, Writing - Novel Chapter Posts, Writing - Short Story Posts, Writing - Understanding Style and Technique, Writing - Work in Progress on October 10, 2010 at 10:20 pm

The first story of this series can be found here:

http://mikidemillion.wordpress.com/2010/03/21/writers-block-ride-the-storyline-express/

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BUBBLES and the BIG STARTLE

Remember the things you said as a kid?  In my neighborhood we said it all, mostly when out of the hearing range of parents.  We weren’t allowed to swear so we called each other things picked up from television shows or expressions passed down from kid generation to kid generation.  Things that made us laugh.  Like ‘snot nose’ or ‘dog breath’.  One particular favorite, always good for a giggle or two, was calling someone a ‘bubble butt’.

“Hey, Bubble Butt, just try and make it to second base!  You’re going out.”

Or, “Quit stalling and just kick the can, Bubble Butt!”

To be honest, we didn’t really know what a bubble butt was, it just sounded funny.  So we said it.

I don’t want to think how long it’s been since my kid days.  I’m thoroughly embarrassed to even think of the many other things that used to make us laugh.

And I guess there’s not a lot to laugh about now, waking up early every day and going to work and having to pay bills.  Welcome to the real world.

 

Photo by Tokyo Metro GFDL 1.2

 

On the way home from work this week I boarded another crowded bus.  When people tried to get on at the next stop they were stopped at the top of the bus steps by a wall of people that you could bounce a ball against.   Only five blocks later did people finally begin to get off the bus.

I moved, inch by inch, deeper into the interior mass of people.  I noticed a guy sucking in his stomach and squeezing around people, leaning halfway into one of the seats to move to the back door.  That’s when I saw that the back half of the bus aisle was empty.  What is it with people wanting to stand at the front of the bus?  Not me.  I passed by two people and could see light shining through the rear bus window.   I moved toward it, but was blocked.  There was only one person between me and freedom of movement.  This person was big, but not really fat.  Just very tall and a bit meaty but not at all obese.  I crossed over the other side of the aisle and looked down to keep my footing, and that’s when I saw it.  For the first time in my life, many years out of my childhood, I was actually being blocked by the biggest bubble butt imaginable.

This was the real thing.  More expansive and bubbly than any butt I’d ever seen in my lifetime.  It took up the entire aisle space.  I mean, the distance from the right-hand row of seats stretching across the aisle to the left row.  Shaped like bubbles about to burst, it protruded out far enough to block the aisle.  It defied gravity.

I didn’t want to stare.  I sucked in and leaned halfway into the same bus seat the guy before me had used.  The poor woman sitting in that seat had to move her head to let me by, just as she had to do for the guy minutes before.  I squeezed between her and the bubble, holding my breath, and barely made it into the open aisle space.

So, it was true, I kept thinking, able to breathe again.  There really was such a thing as a bubble butt!  I was absolutely awestruck that it really did exist.  Isn’t it wonderful how we humans are all alike yet so different?  It’s the differences that make each one of us interesting, makes each one unique.

A seat opened up and I sat next to the window, staring out at people walking down the sidewalk.  A hospital was nearby and I watched car doors flying open and people emerging with handfuls of yellow and pink flowers.  Babies went by pushed in strollers.  One man caught my attention.  He walked slowly.   I stared because there was something about him that didn’t seem quite right.  His head hung low.  When my mind registered what I was seeing  I couldn’t believe it.  It was so startling I couldn’t help but openly gape at the sight, turning my head to continue looking as the bus passed by.  I turned all the way ar0und in my seat to watch as long as possible.  And, still, it was difficult to process what I was seeing.

I’m not sure, but I don’t think the man had a neck.  There was skin where his neck should have been but it sagged down over his shoulders and at the end of it his head bounced along like a watermelon inside a mesh produce bag.  I stared harder, trying to see him in the distance as the bus rolled along.  How was it possible?  How can someone survive without the support of a cervical spine?  People die from broken necks.  But this guy was walking around with his head hanging below his shoulders without any sign of support.

Other than that he looked like any one else on the street.

What a ride!

Living in the city, at times I am annoyed by all the people I have to encounter in a given day.  It’s normal to stand in a long line at the post office, wait for ten orders of people ahead of me to be made before I can get a cup of coffee, and to have a bus go by my corner because it’s too packed with people to stop for more.  I could scream sometimes!  People are annoying and obnoxious and pushy, yes, but they are always fascinating and unique.  How wonderful there are people with bubble butts and how miraculous someone can walk down the street with seemingly nothing but skin to keep their head on.

I used to read a book on the bus, but now I ride with eyes wide open.

On The Way Here – If You Write It, They Will Come

In Blog Post, Entertainment, Literature, mikidemillion, On The Way Here series, online communities, online networks, pop culture, social media, social networks, Stories, Story, Writers, writing on October 3, 2010 at 6:40 pm

How did you get here from there: past websites, old online communities, failed social networks?  What have you left behind?  Is there anything you’ve learned along the way?

I’ve seen a few things in my online travels and have often wondered if many have had similar online experiences on different sites.  I’d be interested in reading about it.  Drop a link to your stories in the comment section.  I’ll share my thoughts about my online traveling experience in this ongoing series ‘On The Way Here’ and add to it whenever I can.

A place for writers of all kinds

My first participation in social media was a start-up website that targeted local business.  Someone I knew launched it and I helped in the beta test stage by posting a few pieces of online content and making comments on what others posted.  This was before MySpace and FaceBook and that other big website I won’t name and give it any more exposure, the one that rates businesses and has been accused of dirty marketing tactics.

It was fun for a time, hanging around my first online community.  But the site’s focus was on reviewing local businesses and it wasn’t especially exciting to read about the help at Hank’s Hardware or how strong the coffee was at the corner cafe.

It wasn’t the sort of stuff that made me want to rush home and read about it.  I wanted to read about people, their stories, their travels, their thoughts on current events and pop culture.  I wanted fiction and sports and music.  There was so much more out there beyond the local grocery store.  My friends and I wrote some content other than business reviews, but there weren’t many of us with time to post and, it seemed, people were hesitant to write, so after a month or two there was a slow drop-off of participating users.  People were reading but not writing.  And without that fresh daily content there was nothing to entice others to join and participate.

The site was slow loading, the members weren’t participating and it was unlikely to attract local business advertising for site revenue.  I did miss the site when it folded, it was a place where many of us could connect with each other no matter where we were in the country, using the site’s messaging feature and making comments on each other’s posts.  Immediate interaction, more than one person could comment on something in real time.  Not at all like sending an email.

Months later I received an invite from a friend to join another beta website, it was a closed community until the beta phase was complete before it would open to the public.  What kind of site was it?  A place for writers.  To share their writing, to talk about writing, to interact, to socialize with other members, and it was a place for readers to find content from  established and promising writers.

Wow.  I joined immediately.  What a great concept!  It was a perfect mix.  A social network of writers who do what writers do – provide content.  As well as interact with readers.  Targeting writers was ensuring there would be fresh content on the site for potential members.  In a social atmosphere.  You didn’t have to be a writer to join,  you could simply choose to read and comment on the wide variety of posts.

I was timid at first.  So many good writers were posting some great material.  Stories, political views, sports enthusiasts, music reviews old and new, and so much more!  It was exciting to read.  I couldn’t wait to log on to see what was new.  Recent comments scrolled down the home page and it was easy to find the most interesting conversations to follow.  Titles of new content were linked from the main page as well as grouped into broad categories to make things easier to find.  And there was a lot of content.  With many comments.  It was the first place I went to when I had free time.  And the place I stayed until I had to go and do something.  I was hooked.  I even started commenting.  I was participating and interacting with writers.  It was wonderful!

What could go wrong?

I’ll have to go into that next time.

The Pigeon and the Coffeeshop

In Random Posts, Ride the Storyline Express, Story, Uncategorized, writing on September 26, 2010 at 5:17 am

I’ve been gone for some time, work-shopping a story at some other sites and reciprocating reviews with my thoughts on their stories.  It all takes time, as anyone who participates in online workshops knows.  I’ll write another post about it.

I haven’t had the time to come back here and share more transportation stories about people I meet traveling to and from work.  One recent incident didn’t happen on a bus but it was on my way to work so that should count for something.

Sometimes I stop at a little corner coffeeshop for my morning caffeine fix.  The woman who works behind the counter is an elderly woman who is pleasant enough but moves so slow that not only can I take time to smell the roses but plant the seeds and watch them bloom before she makes it to the cash register to ring up my order.  Imagine when there is someone in line ahead of me.  I can cash out my retirement plan savings with no penalty by the time she asks for my order.  I don’t mind the waiting.  I usually get there early and have plenty of time before I have to be in the office.  And she’s friendly and grumpy at the same time.  I like that.  None of this saccharin, “Hello miss, I’m Super-Happy-So-I’m-Talking-Fast-and-High-To-Show-You-Just-How-Really-Happy-I-Am-To-Serve-You” crap so early in the morning.  This woman is the perfect mix of what do you want and the cups are over there.

Pigeon - photo by Alan D. Wilson, http://www.naturespicsonline.com

One morning I walked in the opened door of the shop, scattering a flock of pigeons roaming around the doorway.  The woman behind the counter yelled and waved her arms at me to back away.  “You don’t stomp when you see pigeons at the door! You must walk slow and let them move aside.  You don’t stomp at them.”  I didn’t know what to say, and stood frozen, looking at her and at the pigeon in line in front of me.

She opened the flap-door of the counter and stomped to the pigeon.  It ran toward me, then ran toward her and, trapped, it spread its wings and flew over the counter onto the pastries in the window.  I watched in horror.

The moment the bird flew into the window, that woman raced through the open counter space and leapt into the air, hands raised above  her head.  In one magnificent movement she’d captured the pigeon in her hands and met the floor like a Olympic athlete sticking the landing.  It was an out of body experience, as if this little old lady had suddenly morphed into the spirit of large, predatory cat and bounced out of the shop with prey in hand.

But, she was angry.  These pigeons had been taunting her daily, standing in line waiting for orders with other customers, and she was fed up with their bird brain habits.  “I hate pigeons, they are always coming in here,” she kept saying,  “I hate them.”  And she stood on the sidewalk outside, with both hands raised high above head, and swung her hands downward with such force the pigeon whacked the sidewalk.  It was a sickening sound.  I couldn’t move, not really registering what I’d seen.

People on the street stopped to look at the woman and the unmoving bird lying on the hard sidewalk cement at her feet.  No one said a word.  The woman realized people were looking at her.  “I hate them,” she said, loud.  Talking about the pigeons.  But people continued to stare.  She walked to the pigeon and nudged it with her foot.  I was sure it was dead, from how it sounded hitting the pavement and the way its neck seemed to bend on impact.  The whole thing made me feel queasy.

But the pigeon flapped its wings.  The woman lifted it up with her shoe.  It stood up, as if just waking up, and after a timid step or two, opened its wings and flew off as if nothing had happened.  I almost clapped my hands at the sight.  Thankfully, that poor little pigeon was going to be fine.  The woman, who’d by then realized how wrong she’d been, was redeemed.

She walked back into the shop and it was business as usual.  The cups are over there she told me when I ordered coffee.  And a pastry.  She went to the corner of the window where the pigeon had been moments before.

“umm,” I motioned to her, “I don’t want to be eating anything with a fresh coat of…”

“oh yes,” she said, “good idea,” and checked the bag she’d been handing to me.  “It’s okay,” she said with a smile.

I don’t think I’ll be returning to that coffeeshop any time soon.  And now, in the mornings, when I’m walking along the sidewalk, I slow my gait and step lightly around groups of pigeons.  That woman helped me see them with new eyes, not as messy, annoying birds always in the way, but as an innocent group of creatures that happen to share the city with us.  When did it become okay to kill something because it’s an inconvenience to be around?  Aren’t we the ones with bigger brains?  You’d think with all that brain power we could figure out simple things, like how to  close the door.

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