Sounds Springing in the City

I am sitting at a table near an open window at a tapas place. I’m waiting for my dinner companion to return from the bathroom that I know is in the room, in the back, at the bottom of the stairs, in the bowels of the café. It’s a spring day that actually feels like a real spring NYC day. Not that hint of March lion where, just watch, tomorrow will be 20 degrees again just ’cause. No, it’s that warmish spring air that tells you it’s going to stick around.

I hear a cacophony of sounds on the sidewalk and street in front of me. It’s the usual discordant din that is not quite the white noise of living in a big city.

Sirens from ambulances and police cars speeding by assault my serenity as I nurse my large cup of black coffee. Buses and trolleys rumble by. Motorcycles and motor scooters, too.

There’s a group of teenage boys loudly playing rap music and performing what I assume to be some sort of rhythmical dance moves as a small crowd of onlookers gathers around them. Across the street a woman walking down the street spews random profanity at passers-by of her spot in the middle of the sidewalk.

I look up between the tall buildings to the sound of a passenger jet overhead, only to be distracted by the voice of the homeless man asking those who sat at the outdoor tables for any spare change. Some give, some don’t.

Down the block in the other directions the sounds of a musician playing acoustic guitar, accompanied by someone drumming on a large plastic pail turned upside down, wafts toward me. It’s not unpleasant.

Around me I hear the many conversations of the other diners that blur into its own white noise as well the ambient music playing in the restaurant itself.

I find myself smiling at everything and nothing.

My dinner companion returns and a velvet baritone breaks through my pensive listening. “You all right, Rai?”

And on this first day of spring in New York City, listening to the sounds around me, for the first time in a long time I realize something…

“Yes, I am.”

Day 20 of 31 –

15th Annual Slice of Life Writing Challenge
Two Writing Teachers

The Oopsies Have It!

I sometimes use my phone to compose posts on WordPress. It’s convenient when I’m not in front om my computer to write my posts. For example, when I’m on the subway and an idea comes to me for a poem. As it’s one Ill have to link to via this blog it made perfect sense to start it here. One less step to do. Yeah, not quite.

Convenient as it is, it comes with with a few problems. I am not the world’s best speller to begin with, I’m prone to grammar typos and don’t forget my adoration of dangling participles. Most of which I don’t catch until after my post has been published. And oh, let’s not talk about the autocuumber – I mean autocorrect. That charming little helper that constantly insists I have no ducks left to give, yet will occasionally decide in a food post that I had fuck a l’orange for dinner. Oopsie!

Add in that my fifteen words per minute typing cannot possibly keep up with my fifteen hundred thoughts per minute mind. I drop words mid sentence. I know I thought them, but the fingers do not reach my keyboard in time before other thoughts and words crowd them out. And le pièce de résistance: big fingers – little keyboard. I’m constantly hitting the c, v, b, n, or m key when all I want is amspace. (<– like what just happened there – oopsie!). Using my phone for drafts is convenient, but a recipe for disaster.

Especially the times when I was not done composing posts, and did not want to lose the work done thus far. At some point I accidentally managed to hit “Publish” because that button is too dang close to the dropdown menu where “save as draft” is hidden. I know the app designers emphasize posting, but it’s bedeviling as all get out when drafting. Because naturally, once I have realized that it’s live, I don’t want to trash it, so now I am scrambling to edit my accidentally published post, only to have hit “update” instead of “save as draft” in the process – yet another oopsie(!). This especially galls me for I constantly tell my students, “If it’s a mess in draft, it will be a mess live. Submitting it will not magically fix anything FUBAR.” Goodness knows this mess of a blog is proof of that. It’s bad enough when working from my PC. It’s especially true for me when composing on a mobile device.

All that to say, so, if you happened to see my first, second, twenty-second, failed attempts of what probably looked like an incomplete or an incomprehensible posts for the few moments it was up before I could fix it, I apologize.

Day 18 of 31 – Come see how the rest of us are slicing it up this Friday!

Slice of Life 15th Annual Story Challenge

15th Annual Slice of Life Writing Challenge
Two Writing Teachers


Last week a disgruntled me posted the following on my Facebook page.

Facebook image of angry woman with quote: I am ready to throat punch the colleague who WON'T PICK UP THEIR DAMN FEET!

My cubicle is in a high traffic area where one path leads to the pantry in one direction and to the bathrooms in the other. There is a constant and I do mean CONSTANT stream of passers-by. For the most part, they blend into the white noise of office life and I do not notice them.

But I then I started hearing the shuffle and it’s not the Cupid Shuffle.

This is someone new to the floor. I know they are new because I know I was not hearing the regular sound of loudly shuffling feet until a couple of weeks ago. They are not someone I work directly with so I do not know who they are, or what unit they work with with.

My first thought upon hearing it was the person was tired. We have all had those days where we are just exhausted and can barely put one foot in front of the other. I was forgiving of it that first day. After a couple of days I realized, no, this is the way this person walks – period. Remember where I said I sit. Think on how exceptional this person’s walk must be to stand out so.

Shuffluffagus™ (I know I’m wrong – shoot me), passes my cubicle hourly on average. I hear them before they approach, as they pass, and after they’ve gone by. The majority of those who also have cubicles in the path wear headphones/earbuds. I envy them. I do. I cannot sit in my headphones/earbuds all day. I can barely get through a multi hour training session without constant adjustments of my headgear because they irritate. Not that it would help for I have conducted virtual trainings, been in virtual meetings and have heard them pass. Muted, but still noticeable. In a seven hour workday – that is a lot of shuffling.

In my head, I often hear my southern grandmother yell “Pick up your dang FEET!” when they pass.

Each time they pass by on their way to the pantry or bathroom it is distracting. My head unconsciously pops up most of the times they pass. Which is its own frustration for even the ten-fifteen seconds I’m pulled out of my concentration. Fine, it’s Shuffluffagus, I refocus on my work but then a minute or three later here comes the return trip. Then a respite that lasts anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour or so, before wash-rinse-repeat shuffle.

Because the distraction is enough to make me raise my head, or at least turn it, sometimes there is momentary eye contact with them. I know me; RBF -Resting Bitch Face to those not familiar with the acronym- is my norm. It’s how God made my face. However, I know on occasion the constant distraction has taken my face from resting to active. I also know from the way they have taken to not look at me now and again means that active face has been seen.

I genuinely thought it was just me being overly sensitive, and as I posted earlier this year, my fuse has been shorter than usual. What can I do? Nothing – their walk is their walk. So I bite my lip, try not to look up each time their shuffle distracts me and bear it.

Then this exchange happened [I am the blue text aligned to the right.]:

I wrote down the name “Shuffluffagus” and showed her. Her peal of giggles made it worth it. I was so grateful to know that it was not just me in my misery I threw emotional confetti. No, it doesn’t stop the annoyance of the Shuffluffagus, but clearly Misery really does love Company, because having someone to commiserate why I want to throat punch Shuffluffagus has lessened the desire to do so. Slightly.

Day 7 of 31 – Come see how the rest of us are slicing it up today!

15th Annual Slice of Life Writing Challenge
Two Writing Teachers

Ummm Why?

The more I think I cannot be caught off guard by the “ummm why?” of those people with whom I share the office floor, the more those people – and note I did not say co-workers or colleagues, but those people – are determined to prove that I in fact can be caught off guard.

Exhibit A: I walk down the hall at work and encounter this: someone left their dishes in the water fountain.

Okay, “dishes” is bit of a misnomer. It’s not as if there is a stack of plates with remnants of mom’s spaghetti. [Dammit – and here comes Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” to rattle in my head for the next hour.]

I’ll even give credence to the fact that despite the literal dishwashing implement in the dirty mug in preparation for cleansing, clearly the incredibly rude person who did this was only storing the items there momentarily-likely while the used the nearby loos- before they could be taken to the sinks in the pantries. Regardless, that was just wrong.

Yes, there are water coolers -with better tasting, colder, better filtered water- located elsewhere on the floor that most people use. Those water coolers are located in the pantries that bookend the floor. As my floor hosts about 400 seats, 80-90% of which are occupied on any given weekday; the coolers are literally a full street block apart from one end of the floor to the other. This classic water fountain is centrally located on the floor. Regardless, that it is used much less often, it remains a working fountain, I have seen people use the fountain as intended – to drink from.

I can only imagine the utter repulsion of the poor souls who wanted a quick sip at the moment without going to polar ends of the floor to do so and encountered that nonsense. I know I shuddered at the thought.

So typical me, printed a sign and taped it above water fountain: This is not a dish rack. It is a working water fountain. Just because YOU don’t drink from here does not mean others do not.

The fact that I saw the dishes, got annoyed, created and printed the sign and the items were still there when I returned to the fountain to post said sign proved its need for it (in my humble opinion – and some of you know how humble my opinions are). Sign printed and posted I forget about it.

When I left for the day I pass the fountain and note the dishes are gone, but the sign remained. Only now in tiny print in a corner was scrawled Oops Sorry. This morning the sign was gone.

I have no idea if the offender knows I posted the sign. Unless I see the person with the mug I will have no idea of the offender’s ID.

I do have an idea that at least that person will not be so presumptuous about turning fountains into personal dishracks.

Day 4 of 31 – Come see how the rest of us are slicing it up this Friday!

15th Annual Slice of Life Writing Challenge
Two Writing Teachers

A Job and A Title

One morning I was given a job. It came with a title.

I knew it was going to be a demanding one. I had read and been told so much about how to do the job. Watched others. None of it prepared me for it. Because in spite of all the advice, I learned the job on the fly. There were far too many days when I had no idea what I was doing, even less of what I was going to do next.

Not going to lie, there were days where I know I messed up royally. And while even now, after holding this position for decades, I still sometimes question my abilities for this job. I do the job anyway. Most days I think to myself, I’ve done my best, I continue to do my best and it’s not a bad job at all.

One morning I was given a job. It came with a title.

And unlike marriage, it’s a job and a role that not even death can part.

The job: parent. The title: Mother.

Over recent years I am, or have been, the emotional parent of sorts to several, not even close to being called children, a few of whom who refer to me in matriarchal terms.

I am the biological mother of two.

But only one can be my first.

One morning I was given a job. It came with a title.

No, that’s not accurate. I wasn’t given a job and a title.

One morning, a bundle was placed in my arms, and I was honored with the job and title for the very first time.

Sometimes I swear that morning was just yesterday, a week ago at the most.

Happy 40th Birthday, my first sun.

Day 3 of 31 – Come see how the rest of us are slicing it up today!

15th Annual Slice of Life Writing Challenge
Two Writing Teachers

Dynasty Circa NYC Mode

The subway, again being the subway this morning, I was put off my train. At least this time I was at a good transfer point where I easily had choices and was able to move without my St. Jude of the MTA beacon turning on.

The previous train had the heat turned up to lava, so by the time I transferred to another line my coat was wide open. Though the clothing rules have been more or less relaxed to business casual at work, I own suits, look damn good in them, and choose to wear them. Thus I was in full Raivenne in the City stride as I sauntered into a surprisingly only semi crowded car, which is eons better than a semi-empty train car, that was empty for all the bad reasons a subway car during NYC rush hour can be.

As I start to scan for where I want to sit, I hear a very bad Humphrey Bogart impression from a very familiar voice.

“Oh hell! Of all the subways in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine!”

I encounter a colleague who now works in a different location. Though we have kept touch via phone and email, we have not seen each other in person in nearly two years (stupid Covid!). We have always had a wonderful joke-flirt-tationship, so for him to pick right up and greet me as such is a delightful surprise to say the least.

“Oh that line is only worthy if you’ve got gin to serve up in this joint.” I grin as as I see him and approach in full Domonique Devereaux mode. [Kudos to all of you who do not have to look that up.] “Dashing as always, darling. So, tell me – do you?”

“Do I what?”

“Do you have gin to serve up in this joint, of course. Do keep up, Blake.*”

“It’s not even 7am!” he exclaims.

“Unfortunately, true in this time zone at the moment, but…” the adage of it’s 5’oclock somewhere so clear in the silent ellipsis there was no need for the words to be spoken.

“Oh God!” he laughs.

“Yes?” I smile benignly to my devotee. “How may I help you?”

“I completely forgot how modest you are not. You don’t think much of yourself do you?” he laughs, well used to my antics.

“Darling please! Most women know those days when everything is working for her – hair- war paint – clothes – all on point. Even the most homely and humble feeling of women will honestly acknowledge to herself now and again that she may be “pleasing to the eye” on a given day. I have a full length mirror at home; I know what I am working with. And let’s face it, I’m as humble and homely as I am skinny and white**. Now where’s my London Dry?”

Please note this exchange is happening on a NYC subway to the amusement of all within earshot.

Idle curiosity made me look it up and at the time of this writing it is coincidently after 5pm in Casablanca, Morocco. Alas, I am not on holiday and do need to prep for yet another meeting that should be an email – thus my thirst for gin remains unquench – for the moment.

Here’s looking at you in spirit Bogey and Ingrid.

Time in Casablanca, Morocco 5:09:32pm, Wednesday, March 2, 2022

*Blake is not his real name. Since my mind was in full Domonique Devereaux of “Dynasty” mode as I teased with him it felt apropos to use here.

**For those of you readers who don’t know me (and why the hell don’t you! Read my About Raivenne page dammit!), I am big bodacious beautiful black woman.

Come see how the rest of us are slicing it up today!

15th Annual Slice of Life Writing Challenge
Two Writing Teachers

It’s No Sacrifice

I am not Catholic, but I like the basic idea of Lent. Well, my interpretation of it anyway. The idea of sacrifice, of giving up something. Sometimes, I’m surprisingly good at it.

The year I gave up chocolate was stunningly easy by the Friday after Lent started, Snickers candy bars and I separated from our daily habits. Separated to the point, that once Lent was over, I didn’t pick the habit back up again. It was not a conscious decision, I simply stopped.

On the other hand, the year I attempted to give up my potty-mouth…? I woke up at 5am that Wednesday morning, and by the time I reached work at 8am that same morning – well… Let’s just say, the the less I say about that bullshit the better.

Then was was the year I gave up meat. Not just beef and poultry, seafood as well. I good thing right? How is it I wound up in Atlantic City for a friends birthday for a weekend in early April. A weekend that included an All-You-Can-Eat Seafood Saturday at one of the restaurant. A restaurant where the ONLY thing that did not have some form of flesh in it was a salad. Not the salad, that might have indicated choices. No it was literally A single salad, for the rest had some form of meat mixed in. There was something like seven different salads available. I could only eat ONE in the entire buffet. My friends thought I was insane as I stuck to my miserly guns as they cracked open crab leg after crab leg after crab leg. I was proud of myself, because I did not cave. For any of you who read may have read my About Raivenne page – you know how I suffered.

This year it was junk food.

Because yes, leave it up to mean to give up comfort food the year of Coronavirus. At work it would have been easier. There I have to make an effort to get up and go to the vending machine or the concession stand if I want to munch. I did not realize how much garbage I consumed daily until I noticed had a little something of a surplus in my finances. Thanks to self-isolation that bump also included how much I have saved by not being able to go to Starbucks..

From the files of Good Deed/Unpunished : Lent started on Ash Wednesday as always – my order of Girl scouts arrived that Friday. The following week I had to give away a cake because I could not eat it. I also was gifted a variety snack box of the chips. And because Fate and than wretch Karma like having fun, I was reminded by a friend that it is technically 46 days of no cakes or chips or cookies or…or…or…because why not?

Every single day I glared at the Thin Mints, Dipsy Doodles etc mocking me from atop the refrigerator, and the Häagen-Dazs giving me the cold shoulder for ignoring it in the freezer. All the while thinking to myself how they were going to be Alllll Minnnnnne. Oh I relished sinking my teeth into the salty savor of chips, the sweet goodness of butter pecan, come Easter Sunday.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the Junk food.

Easter Sunday came and went and I have yet to touch any of it. Not even to sniff the plastic.

They say it takes 21 days to break a habit, a minimum of 90 to break an addiction. It’s now Tuesday night, 48 days since Ash Wednesday and I just started thinking about it. Now I wonder if my junk food days are behind my like Snickers. Let’s see how long it lasts.


Let’s see how others are slicing it up this week – Slice of Life Tuesday

Calm in the Midst of Covid

I went to my office to work. On a much needed break to …

  • get coffee
  • rest my eyes and
  • absorb some sunshine to replenish my Vitamin D stores

… my work wife and I go to the only place that is open around the immediate office area.

Until this past weekend, we have had back-to-back rainy or at minimum dreary days. This did absolutely nothing to ease to ease the cabin fever that was beginning to sink in. Another reason I was grateful when my work wife offered a ride as she was going in as well.

Let’s see… Be in a car for 40 minutes with a person I know is not sick or spend over an hour on mass transit around who knows how many strangers who either are not able to observe the at least 6ft of social distancing being asked of us while riding the subway or who simply refuse to observe. I think you can guess which path I chose to take to work.

Three weeks ago in the New York City before Covid-19 there were scant signs heralding the early spring season; not so any more.

Tulips in The Commons ar Metrotech

The very first of the tulips planted annually had begun to bloom! Even better was the sight of these…

Cherry blossoms in The Commons at Metrotech

The Cherry Blossom trees had blossomed! I had not realized how much I missed seeing these annual harbingers until I saw them. For a moment it felt like a normal spring day. Then a masked person walked into view.

Still, I smiled at the reminder that THIS is what’s normal and we will get back to it soon enough.

Slice of Life Tuesday Story Challenge.

Slice of Life - Two Writing Teachers

And Now It’s Time…

🎇🎇 !! WE MADE IT !! 🎇🎇

As always each year I participate I wonder if I will make it through. There have definitely been more just before the stroke of midnight posts than I would have liked this go around, but I made it.

Some may have picked up new people to follow. Some may have reconnected with slices not chatted with since last year’s challenge. Some have kept up with slicers who may be their constants throughout the year, not solely in March. And this year we each did it in our own bubbles of self-isolation as we work through this global COVID-19 pandemic.

👏👏 Let’s give ourselves multi rounds of applause, we deserve it 👏👏

And now it’s time to say good-bye to all our company… As the Mickey Mouse Club used to close each episode. But is it really time to say good-bye? I think it rather fitting that this year’s writing challenge ends on a Tuesday. It is an excellent reminder that we will return to our weekly Tuesday postings. I suspect many of us will appreciate the reminder.

It may be over, but it’s not the end.

It’s the final day of Slice of Life Writing Challenge for 2020.

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It was a rainy day and a Monday. The Carpenters may not have been too keen on a day like today, going by the classic song. Truth be told, it’s not my least favorite cup of tea, either. Overcast skies all of the day. The pitter-pattering of rain usually soothing, but today in a discordant pattern in the wind that was not conducive to calm.

But, today was a good day.

Yes, I’m still self-isolating. Yes, today was eight hours of work from home. Yes, my phone rang with people asking stupid questions, and someone looking for someone else thought it good sport to ring my buzzer for entry in spite of my telling them twice they were wringing the wrong apartment and I was not letting them in. And had the pleasure of hearing when I was called out of my name when the person passed my door having finally rung the correct buzzer and let in.

Still, today was a good day. Today was a Hygge Day.

Hygge (pronounced “hoo-gah”), is a Danish and Norwegian word for a mood of coziness and comfortable conviviality with feelings of wellness and contentment. In short, it’s a way of living that focuses on hunkering down in the winter and creating a safe, comforting and warm place to while away cold, wet evenings, whether you’re at home solo or entertaining and defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “to cherish oneself; to keep or make oneself snug”.

It’s officially spring, but it is a cold wet day and I could use self-snuggling. Luckily I knew no one needed to see my beautiful face today. It was a scarf, t-shirt and loose jeans type of day, be comfortable day.

It began with instead of my usual mug of coffee, I brewed tea. In a teapot loose leafed mint-ginger. Yes, a stimulant, but I was working after all. I didn’t want to self-snug myself to sleep! For lunch I went old-school with tomato soup and an gooey melty grilled cheese sandwich. Usually a staple, That was something I had yet to do this relatively mild NYC winter. It was perfect. For dinner I had left over seafood paella that could have been fine dinner fare, but I wanted classic comfort food. Thus it was my leftover meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy, baked mac and cheese, and greens.

Simple fare for a simple day. It’s called comfort food for a reason. Comfort food, comfort clothes, on a made for comfort day – a perfect sense of Hygee.

Yeah, today was a good day.

It’s Day 30 of the 2020 Slice of Life Writing Challenge. And then there was one.

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