People who wear watches on their right hands, or facing inwards…
There was a pretty bad storm in West Virginia last night, which is why I find myself at 5:10am waiting at my gate in Yeager Airport, Charleston for a flight leaving in 50 minutes. The flight I should have been on would have had me arriving at 11:52pm last night.
If you’ve done any flying since 9/11, which you’ve probably done at least once, you know the drill.
Watch off. Belt off. Pockets emptied. Laptop taken out of backpack and placed in plastic bin. Step into the enclosure, place feet on yellow footprints and lift arms above head. Finally, a TSA officer of the same gender strokes your sides sensually, and you’re pronounced ready to fly.
What I didn’t expect was the little addition at the end. A female agent pulled my backpack off the trolley.
“I need to inspect this.”
She frowned when she turned up something.
Please, God, I thought. I hope no one planted crack while I was sleeping.
She held up her prize, a can of Red Bull.
“I’m sorry, but you can’t take this in with you. You can either throw it away or go back out and drink it.”
“So I can’t drink it here?” I asked. I knew the answer but I asked anyway.
“No.” The frown deepened.
“Throw it away then,” I said. No point going back out, taking off my belt… Actually I wouldn’t mind all that. I just don’t like being patted down, all the while hoping your pants don’t fall down.
As I zipped up my backpack, a thought occurred to me. I’d actually gone through security last night with three cans, two of which I consumed during the night.
“Is there any reason I was able to get in with these last night?” I asked, unable to resist the question. I hoped I didn’t sound like a terrorist on reconnaissance.
“I wasn’t working last night,” was her reply.
I believe she looked quite smug and there was a bit of a swagger in her step as she walked away.
And that, my friends, is the most arrogant line I’ve heard from anyone in 8 years.
From a 2010 resurrected draft, so most references are to the past, even though the post date says otherwise.
I moved out of the school dorms in May. The building I now stay in is somewhat similar to the dorms, except you have your own room and bathroom, but have to share the common kitchen.
I moved out precisely because I was very limited in what I could make in the dorms — you can only go so far with a rice cooker or a microwave. Hot plates and the like are forbidden in the new place but electric skillets are not, and with an adjustable temperature control, the only thing I can’t do is bake, which I can’t do anyway (lessons are in order, eh, Vickii?).
The problem area showed up barely a week after I moved in. If the title of my post wasn’t a big enough hint, it’s the sink.
It’s nearly always filled with some very murky water from when someone used it and forgot — I’m actually beginning to believe it’s deliberate — to drain the water. Meat, fish scales, vegetable bits, plastic wrap, and God knows what other kinds of effluvia go into the mix.
I know because every time I have to use the sink to do my dishes or wash my stuff before cooking, I’ve had to reach in gloveless (why do I keep forgetting to get a pair) and scoop out all the stuff, some of which might have been sitting in there for days. I hope you’re not eating, just as much as I hope the contents have not included snot, because that’s the color of the water.
The kitchen is otherwise clean, and it’s not really a bad place to live, but this just happens to be my pet peeve, as I suspect it would for anyone else.
Now if anyone responsible for clogging the sink had to drink two glassfuls of whatever liquid (s)he left behind, I get the feeling there wouldn’t be quite as many instances of this odious practice.
I really didn’t know how to start this piece. There were so many ideas, so many themes to explore, and so little time to spend planning things out. In many ways, it’s like most of my writing — spontaneous, with the cursory punctuation and grammar check afterwards.
My reading and writing have always been tied together. Reading one of those children’s stories featuring the cunning tortoise (or hare) would prompt me to write a very similar — if skewed — version with the same animal characters, and a few words changed here and there.
I like to tell people I started reading when I was five and writing when I was eight. Technically, I did start writing in my own words at eight, but before then I was an accomplished master of plagiarism.
“Let’s publish this book when I’m done copying it,” I remember saying to my mother when I was about 5.
I was in the middle of transferring Kola Onadipe’s Magic Land of Shadows to one of my schoolbooks. I copied everything, word for word, letter for letter except for the very creative part where I swapped the author’s name with mine. I believed I could walk into a publisher’s office with my draft, get published and enjoy royalties for the rest of my life. Life really should be that simple.
To cut a long story short, my mother had a long talk with me about copyright and after that I became one of the few 5-year-olds whose vocabulary included the word ‘plagiarism.’
For a while I stuck to what I’ll call pseudo-plagiarism — taking an idea from many books in the same genre and applying some what-ifs to change the story — but even when I wrote something original, it always paid some tribute to the writings of others, themes I didn’t really believe in, ideas I didn’t really understand or could not identify with. I believe that’s a big betrayal of oneself as a writer, or someone with writer pretentions.
Morbid fascinations, I agree, but I always return to these two themes because I like them. They’re unknowns, open to different interpretations and connect us all as humans, surfacing with our emotions.
I used to be able to pick a topic and write within its confines. Recently, however, I find things going off at extremely wild tangents. As an example, I have a blog post in my drafts called ‘Formal Language.’ I won’t spoil the contents because I intend to put it up sometime in the future, but at some point things took an odd turn and suddenly, I was writing about breasts. No, you cannot ask me why, but you’d be hard-pressed to find anything connecting formal language and mammary glands, and that brings me to my decision.
I won’t fight the drifting off any more and I took the liberty of starting with this piece. Perhaps there are lessons to be learned in expressing myself when I fly off at a tangent. Superstitions and rambling are fair play.
While I get some writing done, here’s what I’ve been listening to.
There’s something mysterious about a pout — it’s just as endearing as a gap-toothed smile is to me. Just don’t overdo it.
“So do you play baseball in Nigeria?” my friend Ernie asked as he switched lanes. We were heading on I4 to Lakeland to play table tennis.
“No. Cricket’s about the only batting game,” I replied. “Now that’s one game I’ve never understood. Wickets, fielding, batting — I don’t know anything about that stuff. I know the words but not what they are. Apparently it’s more popular in Commonwealth countries, although I don’t know about Canada.”
“Me neither,” he said.
We’d been discussing sports, which if you know me, is a topic I only handle well when I’m bashing everything other than table tennis.
“How about football?” he asked.
“Rugby? That’s close.”
“Not that I know of. Soccer’s everything.It’s only here it isn’t called football.”
A nasty thought popped in my head just then, and I found myself smiling.
“When I was little there was a game we used to play called American Football,” I said. “It was like soccer, although if the ball passed between your legs, everyone would gather around and beat you up.”
“American football, huh?” he cracked up and I joined him. “That sounds right for some reason.”
“It was a really silly game,” I continued. “I remember we didn’t care much about scoring any goals. We’d run around trying to kick the ball through someone’s legs while trying not to fall victim. It was a really nice game.”
And it was. Even the bullies would let us punch them, and we didn’t hit too hard.
You’d think the bow-legged guys were at a disadvantage, but you couldn’t be more wrong. There was this space between their legs but I don’t recall many instances of any of them getting kolo-ed.
I sometimes wonder if kids still play that game.