Saturday, July 3, 2010

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

That One Time in Science Class When I Had to Use the Eyewash Station

I remember when I was younger, either in 6th or 7th grade, our science class had a day where we looked at different substances and tried to describe them. A girl, we’ll call her Sally, was sitting across from me at the sulfur station. Between us was the sulfur and we were both staring at it, preparing to describe it visually. I guess Sally was curious about how the powdery stuff would react to being blown on, because all of a sudden she blew on it and I ended up with sulfur in my eyes. It really burned. The teacher, Mr. Densmore (we used to call him Mr. Dense-More because we were clever like that) took me over to the eyewash station and eventually the burning stopped. Afterwards Sally said she was really sorry.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Time When I Didn't Tip the Cabbie

One night I was at a friend’s house playing poker. I was probably 16 or 17 at the time. I was planning on getting a ride back home with my mom, but suddenly I got a call from her. She told me that she was in an accident and that the car had been totaled. She was fine and it was later determined that the other car had run a red light. But more importantly, I wasn’t getting a ride home from my mom. I asked her what she thought I should do and she told me to call a cab. I remember I used the house phone because a machine answered on the other side and it already knew the address I was calling from. The taxi got there fairly quickly and I headed home. The driver and I started talking and he turned out to be a really nice guy. I told him about my mom’s car crash and we talked about our families and how important they were to us. When we arrived at the house he realized that he had forgotten to start the meter. I wasn’t really familiar with taxicab etiquette and neither of us seemed to know what to do about the fee, so I just asked him what he thought was a fair price. I think he said something like $35. Looking back, I really hope he wasn’t conning me. At the time he just seemed like such a good guy that I gave him the benefit of the doubt, and I still think he was being honest. If he was taking advantage of me then he was a jerk, but if he was honest then I was the jerk, because I remember handing him exactly what he asked for and hopping out of the cab. I thanked him as I got out but I definitely didn’t tip him a cent. It was a novel situation for me and I guess I just forgot.

That One Time I Got Shot in a Drive-By

One afternoon I was waiting for the 5 on Fulton and Masonic. This was when I was in high school at Urban. Every once in a while I’d walk back home through Golden Gate Park, but usually I just took the 5. Anyway, all I was doing was sitting at the bus stop, minding my own business, next to a lady who looked to be in her mid-forties. I saw a little red car pull up to the stoplight, and as the light turned green someone leaned out of the rear right window and shot me in the stomach with a BB gun, then the car sped off. Whoever was in the car thought it was pretty funny because I could hear them laughing, but I was pretty pissed. It didn’t hurt a ton, but I felt so disrespected.

I grabbed the pellets and probably made some kind of angry noise. I remember looking over at the lady who was waiting with me and saying to her, “Can you believe that?” But for whatever reason, she didn’t even respond. Maybe she didn’t hear me, but again I felt disrespected. Like she couldn’t take time out of her day to acknowledge that I had just been shot multiple times in the gut. So we stand there, the two of us, not saying anything. And then, a few minutes later, she turns to me and asks, “Do you know which way St. Mary’s is?” I was still kind of annoyed by her lack of interest in my getting shot, but then I thought maybe she was heading to the hospital to visit someone who was actually hurt. Biting back my bitterness I said something like, “Yeah, it’s just over there.” Then she got up and left. She didn’t even thank me for the directions. Jerk.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

That One Time When Someone Kept Pooping Next To The Toilet

I remember my first summer as a CIT at FCBC’s day camp. Matt and Lauren were the seniors, Michelle was a junior, and Clay and I were CITs. I think we either had both the 3rd and 4th graders or just one of them. Anyway, one of the funniest memories I have from that summer was that in the last couple of weeks of camp we would constantly be finding poop right next to the toilet in one of the second floor bathrooms. Our group and the 1st and 2nd graders were on that floor, so we assumed one of them was behind the incidents. It was truly a mystery though. We had no idea who was doing it and even when we told our counselors to check the room every time they took a kid to the bathroom, the problem persisted. There were numerous theories about who was doing it and why, but I felt like it probably would take more effort to poop next to a toilet than into it, so I took the position that it was an F U to the counselors. But who knows. The problem only resolved itself when day camp ended and the culprit remains a mystery.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Parable of the Arrow


The Buddha was sitting in the park when his disciple Malunkyaputta approached him. Malunkyaputta had recently retired from the world and he was concerned that so many things remained unexplained by the Buddha. Was the world eternal or not eternal? Was the soul different from the body? Did the enlightened exist after death or not? He thought, ‘If the Buddha does not explain these things to me, I will give up this training and return to worldly life’.

Thus, he approached the Buddha with this question, who replied:

“Suppose, Malunkyaputa, a man were wounded by an arrow thickly smeared with poison, and his friends and companions brought a surgeon to treat him. The man would say: 'I will not let the surgeon pull out the arrow until I know the name and clan of the man who wounded me; whether the bow that wounded me was a long bow or a crossbow; whether the arrow that wounded me was hoof-tipped or curved or barbed.'

All this would still not be known to that man and meanwhile he would die. So too, Malunkyaputta, if anyone should say: 'I will not lead the noble life under the Buddha until the Buddha declares to me whether the world is eternal or not eternal, finite or infinite; whether the soul is the same as or different from the body; whether an awakened one ceases to exist after death or not,' that would still remain undeclared by the Buddha and meanwhile that person would die.

Whether the view is held that the world is eternal or not, Malunkyaputta, there is still birth, old age, death, grief, suffering, sorrow and despair – and these can be destroyed in this life! I have not explained these other things because they are not useful, they are not conducive to tranquility and Nirvana. What I have explained is suffering, the cause of suffering, the destruction of suffering and the path that leads to the destruction of suffering. This is useful, leading to non-attachment, the absence of passion, perfect knowledge.”

Thus spoke the Buddha, and with joy Malunkyaputta applauded his words.

- Majjhima Nikaya, Sutta 63


My father, at 56, recently decided to be baptized at St. Marks, the church he has been attending for the past 10 years. I asked him why and, among other things, he mentioned a friend who had recalled to him the parable of the arrow. I wasn't familiar with it so after our conversation I looked it up. Although I wouldn't call myself a Buddhist by any means, like many other religious figures there are aspects of his message that can be applied more broadly. No matter the answers to our more ethereal questions, the facts of life and the challenges they present remain as they are.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

That One Time I Found $150 On The Bus

I remember the time when I found $150 on the school bus when I was in 1st or 2nd grade. I remember climbing into the bus and taking my usual seat. There was a white envelope wedged in between the seat and the side of the bus. When I looked inside I felt like I had won the lottery. My eyes lit up and my heart was pounding! I don’t think I had ever been personally acquainted with Mr. Grant before, let alone Benjamin Franklin.

When I got off at my stop my mom was there to pick me up, and as soon as we got in the car I told her what I had found. She was less excited and more perplexed, and when we got home she called the school. Together they decided (without consulting me) that I should give the money to the school to hold on to while they contacted the parents of kids who rode that bus. They said that if no one claimed it then by the end of the month I could have it. I don’t know how far away the end of the month was but I remember hoping against hope that no one would claim it. As we got closer to the end of May I remember my dad joking that it was probably drug money that some kid had stolen from their parents. The days went by slowly, but June 1st came around and no one had spoken up, which meant the money was mine! Or so I thought.

When I heard the news I was pretty excited. I had spent the days dreaming of some kind of mad Toys-R-Us spending spree. Unfortunately, my parents had decided otherwise. For some reason they thought that it would be best if the money went toward my future education. I got to keep ten bucks, but the other $140 went into my college fund. Which I’m sure was wiped out in our first payment to this ridiculous school.

That One Time When I Almost Died For A Penny

I remember one time when I was walking with Auntie Mary, Sarah, Daniel and Allyson. I was probably around 9 at the time, maybe even younger. We were somewhere in North Beach, heading back to the parking lot where we had left the car. As we were crossing the street I remember looking down and seeing a penny. I knelt down in the middle of the crosswalk and tried to pick the penny up, but couldn’t. I realized it must have been stuck in the asphalt, so I started to dig my nail underneath it to pry it up. Luckily Auntie Mary realized I wasn’t walking with them any more. She ran back into the street and grabbed my hand, but I still hadn’t been able to free the penny, so I resisted. Finally she told me we had to go and started to pull me up. I remember she said it with a bit of a half-laugh, but I figured she sounded serious enough so I finally relented and joined the rest of my cousins on the other side of the street.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

That One Time When We Melted Stuff

I remember I went over to Uncle Wilson’s house once when I was probably 13 or 14. As usual North Beach was warm and sunny. My grandmother used to watch those Chinese soap operas a lot but when her vision started to get worse she had trouble seeing the TV, so someone had bought her this gigantic magnifying glass that would attach to the front of the TV and help her to see the screen. I thought this magnifying glass could be used for more fun (i.e., fiery) purposes, so with my uncle’s permission and supervision my cousins and I started to burn things out on the sidewalk. I remember getting quite a few stares from locals and tourists alike.
There was some debate about which side of the magnifying glass should be pointed up. It took some practice but before long we were focusing the light like pros. I think we melted a Barbie doll and some other random stuff from the house. You’d be surprised how many things are meltable when you have a big enough magnifying glass. Eventually we decided to see if we could melt a penny. It took forever to produce any results and we had to take turns holding the magnifying glass. Then, all of a sudden, there was a loud *pop*. The penny’s silvery innards had shot out onto the pavement, leaving a burnt-up ring of metal that I still have in my room somewhere.

I don’t know if this happened on the same day or not, but I also have vague memories of cracking an egg on the sidewalk in front of Uncle Wilson’s place and watching it slowly cook. I can't remember if we ate it.

Friday, March 26, 2010

That One Time When Nolan Taught Me How To Fold a Paper Airplane

I remember my first summer at daycamp, it was the summer before I would go to kindergarten. Technically I needed to be going into 1st grade to enroll, but they let me slide. If I remember correctly our group name was the Red Hot Flaming Skittles because our scarves were red. I had a counselor named Nolan who I thought was pretty cool. One morning he made a paper airplane that flew really well. I asked him if he would teach me how to make one and he said yes, but only because I wasn’t a girl. I was confused at first because I wasn’t sure if he was joking and I didn’t really know how I was supposed to react. Then another girl in the group came up to us and asked if he would teach her. He bluntly said “no.” I guess he wasn’t kidding.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

How I Got That Scar On My Knee

Every summer our last fieldtrip for Daycamp would be to Coyote Point for a watergun fight and BBQ. During the summer between my 7th and 8th grade year my cousin Sarah was also one of my counselors. We had an all-star cast of counselors and it was definitely one of my favorite summers. Anyway, at Coyote Point she rushed me with a bucket full of water and, of course, I tried to escape. Unfortunately I ended up slipping on the wet asphalt and ended up scraping my knee pretty bad. After Sarah and Cliff helped me get all of the gravel out of the gash they put some gauze on it to stop the bleeding and then covered the gauze with a band-aid. When I got back to Uncle Wilson’s I checked on the wound and realized that it had begun to heal with the gauze still inside it. It looked like some kind of green mucus-y thing had enveloped a good portion of the gauze, getting deep into its mesh. Auntie Jeanie was there and helped me pull the gauze out, and then we replaced it with something that wouldn’t get incorporated into the flesh. I still have the scar and a lot of times people assume it’s from the time when I dislocated my knee, but nope!

The Time When I Got Soaked With No Change of Clothes

One time, when I was probably in 3rd or 4th grade, I went to Coyote Point with Daycamp for the annual watergun fight. I had a blast but when it was time to change I couldn’t find the extra clothes I had brought. One of my counselors helped me look in all the bags but we couldn’t find them. I rode the bus back in my wet clothes, and when we got back I found the clothes I had brought in a bag in the sanctuary.