DART

Saturday

OK. So, we might not have an extensive transit system like those found in Paris, London, Tokyo, Toronto or NYC but at least Dallas has DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit) and it's a whole lot better than what we had when I first arrived in DallasSee: Coming to America ) .

Lately, I have joined the ever-growing numbers and became a DART commuter. And I like it.

Memories of growing up in Toronto, navigating an absolutely incredible public transit system - that I (regretfully) took for granted - came rushing back to me on my first early morning ride into the heart of Dallas and it gave me a feeling of calm. Similarly to how some might respond to the scent of home baked bread.

All snug in my seat, prepared for my leisurely 45-minute light-rail train trip, engrossed in Anthony Bourdain's, 'Medium Raw'. I was home.
Being amidst people from all walks of life, ethnicity's and cultures was a refreshing change for this suburban fifty-something who normally drives everywhere.

On my way home that evening, I put my book down on my lap and paused to observe and reflect on the fact that commuter behaviour seems guided by a few universal tenets...
  • At all times - Mind Your Own Business
  • When accompanied, speak softly
  • In the event of blatant craziness...avert your eyes
In my experience, most commuters everywhere follow these unwritten rules of behavior faithfully. But Dallas might just be the exception. Talking on DART is a whole lot louder, the crazy, drunk and/or high guy is stared down and it is not uncommon to witness stranger joining into someone else's debate.
 
Why have many DART riders not caught on to the universal commuter-vibe? 
Could it be that DART remains relatively new to Dallas?
Could this be the only mass transit exposure that many of its passengers have experienced?
I'm thinking it has a lot to do with just not giving a rat's ass.
Society has changed.

Comfortable in my little microcosm, I had not been exposed to 'society' since I had stopped working in the E.R.  Driving alone to and from work in the I.C.U. - an environment where most of my patients are unconscious - has perpetuated my isolation from the real world. And I've missed it.

Last week, on the way home from work, while preparing to sit quietly and read, I found myself prisoner in the middle of a heated exchange about 'feelings' between two people that were sitting across the aisle from one another.

Do I quietly walk away and choose another seat? No. I took notes. On the back pages of Medium Raw...my apologies.

She: "You feel the way I was feeling before you was feeling that way."

He: "You don't know how I was feeling because you were feeling that way when you brought this up."

She: "You always think it's always my fault. You always feel that way."

He: "You illiterate fuck. My feelings are not even considerated (sp). It's all about you."

It was at this time that "He" stormed off and into another car.

Stranger: "You go girl. You don't have to take no shit from your man"

She: Nods, smiles and mutters something unintelligible.

Despite my keen desire to see how this scenario played itself out...

I: Had to change trains.

It felt good to be part of the world again.

My Rob:Part 2

 Rob and I were cut from the same cloth. 

He was the friend I needed.
When I needed him most.

Strange how having someone in your life when you need them most, happens. Rob died, and then Mr. Something entered it.

One door closes and another opens.

I remember the day that I fell in love with "My Rob". We would frequently refer to each other possessively. I was "My Joan" to him. I'm sure there is some sort of psychological-thing attached to that but...whatever. Anyway, one day I had come home from work and there was a message left on my answering machine from Rob and Steve. I don't remember the message at all except that before they hung up Rob said, "I love you".

A friend saying "I love you" is not a  big deal to a lot of people out there, but to me it was huge. I was a thirty-something, single woman living in a world where I admit I had some trust issues - especially with men. How rare is that? Not very. I saved his message and replayed it over and over again.

He was the friend I needed.
When I needed him most.

So he was a gay man. In retrospect I believe my closeness with him taught me to trust and eventually allow myself to be open to the love of a straight guy.

He was the friend I needed.
When I needed him most

My Rob: Part 1

Thursday

In 1996, my best "girlfriend" was a guy. Who just happened to be gay. And a nurse.

Before the goofy-gay-nurse stereotype imprints into your head, I want to be clear that Rob was a professional, dedicated, knowledgeable, skilled and published nurse who held a Masters degree in Nursing and was considered as an expert in Pediatric Trauma.
Serious Rob
Once, after passing two very muscular, tattooed and tanned guys dressed in tank tops and short-shorts while strolling the Midway at The State Fair,  Rob turned to me and flatly said, "Gay guys like that give us all a bad name".

Rob and his life-partner, "Steve" (a pseudonym) had been together for about six years. Rob was outgoing, funny, sincere, playful and caring. Steve was quiet, thoughtful, intelligent, could fix anything, sew and cook. They were the best friends that this thirty-something single girl could ever wish for.

Rob and I bonded immediately. We loved going to the movies, popcorn, hanging out, psychic stuff, parties, Mariah Carey, eating, Halloween, Sedona, Christmas, dancing, The Academy Awards, animals, a good laugh, "Imitation of Life" (with Lana Turner), talking on the phone and Bingo. OK, so maybe we weren't "The World's Most Interesting People", but it worked for us.
Goofy Rob
 We were as 'thick as thieves' and then, suddenly, Rob got sick. And then he died.

It's been sixteen years.

I still miss him.

Rob was intrinsically a teacher and it's because of this that I have decided to share his story with you.

You may learn something from him and his life experiences.

I know that I have...

Free Advice: On Life

When I first heard these words of advice, they were set to music.
 I thought it was a "Commencement Address". It wasn't. 

It was from an article written by Mary Schmich of The Chicago Tribune.

I was 40 years old and wished I had been exposed to her advice when I was in my 20's ...Nah... Never mind...I probably wouldn't have really listened. 

"ADVICE, LIKE YOUTH, PROBABLY JUST WASTED ON THE YOUNG"
Chicago Tribune on June 1, 1997 
by 
Mary Schmich

Wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. 

I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. 

Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they've faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. 

You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don't worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.

Sing.

Don't be reckless with other people's hearts. Don't put up with people who are reckless with yours.

Floss.

Don't waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.

Stretch.

Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don't.

Get plenty of calcium. 

Be kind to your knees. You'll miss them when they're gone.

Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll have children, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll divorce at 40, maybe you'll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else's.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don't be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It's the greatest instrument you'll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.

Read the directions, even if you don't follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they'll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They're your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. 
Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.

Travel.

Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don't expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you'll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

Don't mess too much with your hair or by the time you're 40 it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.

Paranoid in South America

Anticipating travel to South America was both exciting and scary. Admittedly, reports of muggings, kidnappings and police corruption go...