Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Eyebrows to His Cheek Bones

So today on the bus...

visual: chiller weather allowed for the emergence of my new, amazing dark brown UGG boots with the pockets on the side and zipper up the other side! An impulse purchase allowed for the emergence of my purple lululemon backpack that for some odd reason makes me feel younger and back in school. Pink, plaid over-sized sunglasses and the blackberry in hand...I await for bus 720.

I had a great attitude getting on the bus today. My bus driver was chuckling and friendly, there were available seats and damn, I was in a great mood. I had decided that morning it was going to be an amazing day. I take towards the middle of the bus. That piece that connects the front to the back - almost like you are sitting in the middle of the musical instrument, the accordion. Oh you are not familiar? Well, there is no stability, some circle is drawn underneath your feet that actually moves in crazy circles, and if the bus literally cracks in half, I am a goner. I live on the edge with that seat.

So, I sit there. Alone. All 4 seats are empty. Obviously, no one wants to die on the LA Metro Bus. Still in good mood.

A couple more stops and here come some characters. A couple gentlemen sit in the higher seats in front of me. They are hilarious. One of them is all smiles and talking on the phone with his son about his dinner that evening, "tacos? I love tacos! Tomatoes still good? or what about dem French Fries?"...I was all ears with that one.

Then comes this cute little 4 year old boy in overalls who treats the bus like a rollercoaster. He is just adorable. Bumping around and giggling. My heart broke when his mother almost passed out due to whatever concoction she had consumed before that day started. But the youngster was an absolute joy. It is so amazing that he can love the LA Metro Bus so much. I tried to envision it like a roller coaster for me...almost raised my arms. But, I couldn't get there like that little 4 year old could!

Lastly, slowly but surely, came my bus treat for the day. This elder gentleman scuffles on with a fedora tipped a little bit to the side, eyebrows literally grown out down to his sagging cheek bones, and an amazing herringbone jacket. He was dressed to kill. I wonder if he had some hot, elder woman dressing up for him for the earlybird senior rate dinner. I pretended he did. We shared smiles a couple times. My heart melted for this one. Had to be pushing 85 years old. Shorter, almost stocky. Not from the United States, just smiling at the young I was.

Finally, we exchanged a couple warm conversations. I could not understand a word he said, so I just smiled at first. Then, I removed my sunglasses and looked him straight in the eyes. I went for that authentic connection. Asking him how he was, telling him how lovely I thought he looked today...actually telling him he was dressed to kill. He blushed and returned conversation. He said he did not speak great English, which I reminded him - "we communicate just fine and as well as we can". He took my hand and I gave it a squeeze. He was so pleasant. I wanted to take him out for tea and crumpets!

We exchanged how the little boy was so cute, yet we felt so sad for him, as his caretaker was in the midst of some drug-induced unconsciousness. He then asked me if I had a husband and if I was going to Beverly Hills to go shopping. Hilarious you amazing old man, everything you say! I am going to work for those quarters the bus just ate, and husband, not yet.

I was gleaming. I have been waiting for a great bus experience, and here it was in my old man friend in his gold rings and fedora! My stop was approaching and I got almost sad.


I stand up with my new, purple backpack to rush off the bus before the doors close on me (I know one day they are actually going to). I throw my sunglasses back on. I turn back to my dear friend, lean down to hug him and he kisses my cheek with a shaking demeanor due to old age, or maybe just sheer delight. Hell, I might have been shaking, too. Again, I remove those big sunglasses and thank him.

I did not even get his name. But, he literally made the rest of my day. I stroll in to work with a little extra step in my boots. He set the pace for my entire rest of the day. I chose the scariest seat on the bus, and it ended up being the best seat in the house!

I hope to run into him again.

Just for those 12 minutes, he almost un-snobbed me. Almost.

Ma'am. Ma'am. You Can't Do That!

So on the bus today....

visual: me at the bus stop with my over-sized blue beach cruiser with an iron basket, brand new gray legwarmers with purple stripes, a glittered headband, face swallowing pink plaid sunglasses, two huge bags - one a pink purse and the other a lululemon bag full of clothing, and a $1.25 in change in hand...ready to go!

For those of you that do not know about the public transportation system, as I am unwillingly becoming the 'pro', you can actually put your bike on the bus. Of course, I want to just wheel it up and on sit the thing beside me, but that won't work. So friends, there is a rack on the front of the bus that you, the green LA bus-riding citizen, can pull down to place your bike upon. I know, it sounds crazy. Well, it is crazy.

So here I am, waiting at my bus stop in the 90210 today. For some insane reason, it was 90 degrees in LA yesterday, and about 60-something today with winds out of the movie Twister, starring Helen Hunt. You know the one. I had been riding along Beverly Hills shopping district and quickly realized my life was in danger due to the wind daring to knock me off this bike if I were to pedal one more pedal. I pull over to my trusted bus stop and wait with my green friends. I twitch around a bit, as I am nervous about this bike-on-bus phenomenon.

I politely ask this blond woman, that is just rocking out to her headphones with full on head moves and hip gyrations, where does this number 720 stop? I figure since I have my bike, I can get to a close vicinity of my desired destination and spin the wheels a bit. She informs me this one will work out. GREAT!

You all, the bike-on-bus thing is a skill I have yet to master. Here is the deal, you have to go to the front of the bus. K wait, first you have to park your bike - yes I mean just kickstand it. Then, remove any lofty items that might slow this process or get in the way, thus my over-sized purse and clothing hit the concrete. Then, you have to go to the front of the bus, "push in to release the rack, then lift & pull" to get the bike rack located on the front of the bus down and available. Then, you literally have to pick up your bike and get it on this holder. Beach Cruisers are HEAVY! These aren't your lightweight typical road bike. I have a lot going on with this bike. So here I am, glasses, headband, socks falling down - lifting my bike to the rack. People, I feel ridiculous ...and EVERYONE inside the bus is staring at me...wondering what is taking so long, watching me struggle.... Alas, I finally get the bike on there. Almost done, you have to lift this hook mechanism over the front tire that is meant to keep the bike in place for the duration of your bus-riding experience.

I don't feel good about this. At all. The bus has yet to fail me though.

I jump on as quick as possible and say hello to my NON-friendly bus driver. Insert my five quarters. Look at me, on the bus and my bike on the front. VICTORY! I scan the area, no seats. I guess, I'll stand.

Now, here we are riding past Beverly Hills. I am in an ALL OUT panic. My bike is wobbling from side to side. A bump in the sidewalk, thus a bounce of my bike. I try not to watch, but I have to keep making sure it is still there. It is so very stressful. What if it falls off? What if it just falls over while still on the rack and causes a wreck? Oh dear God, what if it hits that BMW that just cut off the bus - causing my bus driver to lay on his horn and cuss just enough to not be under his breathe and causing me more anxiety?

Damn traffic.

I pull the cable near my neighborhood. STOP REQUESTED.

I scurry off the bus and to the front to promptly lift my precious bike to sturdy ground. So happy he is still seated in his upright and hooked-on position, I release the bike and lift. Yep, still heavy. I take him over to the sidewalk while some vagabond comments on my brute strength. Cool. I give him a thumbs up.

I proceed to pack my bike basket with the pink purse. Situate my clothing bag and check my cell phone. Giving the ponytail and headband some situating, the usual pre-bike riding stuff....

But, why is the bus still sitting there? I keep my head down, I'm scared to look. Is this one of those rest stops for the bus driver? Do they allow more time at this bus stop in case of stragglers who are getting off work?

The doors re-open....

"Ma'am. Ma'am!"

I look up to my NON-friendly, cussing, anxiety-causing bus driver.

"You can't leave THAT down!" as he points to that bike rack on the front of his massive transportation system.

I think or I know I went bright red, yelling I am sorry about 18 times. I avoid eye contact with any of my fellow bus riders and the driver. I "push in and lift" to align the bike rack against the bus front and rush back to my bike and blackberry. How was I to know?

I pedal like you have never seen against those raging winds!

In conclusion, if you want to ride the bus with your beach cruiser, please do not leave the bike rack down once you have reached your stop and your bike is removed. Just a friendly note I learned today.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Rusty Wave

So today while trying to get on the bus...

visual: me waiting at my normal spot, feeling good to get back on the big bus. new sunglasses with pink and black plaid rims, large patent leather-ish pink bag, and bright blue havianas flip flops (that I wish had the rhinestone peace sign thing between the toes).

I was so excited today to get back on the bus. I head down to my normal spot to wait for the rush bus - why they call it the rush bus, I do not know. I really do not think it goes that much faster.

Anyways, there I am. Sitting. Waiting. Waiting. Oh, here it comes - a bit longer than I am used to. I stand up to board, thinking there has to be another one of us getting on - ZOOM, right past me. I scold myself, I forgot to raise my hand!

I look around. Embarrassed. I sit down slowly. Half smiling - kind of like when you yell at someone you think you know and at that exact very moment their name comes out of your mouth and you start the long-lost-friend-across-the-street-wave, you realize it is so not them. Life seems to enter slow motion, just to enjoy that discomfort for a bit longer. I hurry to look busy and pull out my daily planner - you know, to look busy and maybe distract people from my lack of bus knowledge and sit down/stand up game I just played with bus 7-2-0. Scribble, scribble, scribble....just a couple very important notes I write and re-write. Well, here comes the bus everyone else at my stop is waiting for. I do not know about this number 2, I wonder where it goes?



Oh! My bus again. I panic for a hot second wondering if I can bring my Hazelnut Americano on the bus. Crap! I stuff it in my oversized bag. Ha, can't stop me! Hand ready. 4, ... 3, .... 2,....HAND RAISE!

ZOOM....right past me to the stoplight. I walk the extra five steps up to the door, smiling, hand in my pocket for those 5 quarters. Green light, bus goes.

WHAT?!? I'm starting to freak out. What the hell is going on? I am going to be late to work. I am NEVER late! I start walking around the bus stop area. Oh no, this old guy back there saw me miss the SECOND bus this morning. Great!

I walk towards the METRO sign. I can never read these things. And then...

I hear my name....oh no, someone else saw me! I turn to the oncoming traffic. Yes, it is 8am morning traffic...there are cars and people EVERYWHERE! And there in the midst of the mess, curly blonde hair, sticking her head out of a red PRIUS window; my friendly and green-going coworker!

"Need a ride?"

Are you serious? Hell YES! I bob and weave through a couple cars and dive in her car. We rev it as I just stopped traffic. Phew. 2 seconds down the road, there on the right of the road, inviting the great people of Los Angeles on their way to work, is my bus.....on the SE corner of the street.

Yes. Yes. You got it. I was sitting, standing, sitting, waving, confused and embarassed at the bus stop on the SW corner of the street.

My memory, waving my hand like an utter idiot in plaid freaking sunglasses.

Did they change the bus pickup on me? How is this possible? I feel like I just got PUNK'D by the LA Bus System.

Thank God my co-worker drove by. How ironic that she was there, in her quiet, eco-friendly PRIUS, at that very embarrassing moment of need in my life. I guess it all worked out for me. Made it work on time. Had a nice conversation on the way. AC. Neurtral air smell. Norah Jones on the CD player. Calming little carpool we had going this morning.

Well, minus the whole waving at a moving bus and staring at the door as the bus driver doesn't even point to the NEXT bus stop five feet in front of me across the crosswalk. I was this close to knocking on those double doors...thank God the light turned green.

Really Metro? Throw me a bone here.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Do I miss the Bus?

So this week I have a friend's car....

visual: blue Toyota compact car, Coldplay LIVE CD streaming from the stereo and out the open windows, spacious backseat for things I probably don't need (i.e. tennis shoes - just in case I decide to go workout after work...I have not yet, extra clothes, a gift maybe I will deliver to a friend....), and a box of Trader Joe's crackers in the passenger seat.

So, I am borrowing a friend's car while she is loving life in Hawaii. I was so excited when I dropped her off at the airport and sped off in my little blue car! I thought, "yes! Freedom!" as I banged my fist in the air. Oh, and I let freedom ring - freedom from friends having to pick me up, freedom from that damn bus system, freedom from my bike, freedom to snack in the car while talking on speakerphone and intermittently singing along to my own tunes at the top of my lungs. I stick my hand out the window and do that weird wave thing that people do when they drive fast, and I smile. This feel good, this feels right.

'Ding', the car rings, as if it is excited to have me in that driver's seat. So, I peek down at the dash as to give that baby blue a nod and a wink. Balderdash! Gas light!

So here I go, pull over to fill the gas tank. $37.00!! Well, a small fee for this joy ride.

But then, that sparkle and shine begins to wear off...

I sit in traffic daily, alone with my thoughts, leaving voicemail on peoples' phones, and listening to that overplayed CD. And what is this? My lulululemon groove pants feel a bit tighter due to no bike riding and/or bus stop walking. And then, I had to fill the gas tank AGAIN. Oh, and do not even get me started on parking in Beverly Hills or anywhere on the Westside, or really anywhere in Los Angeles for that matter!

As I sit at the stoplight, I peer in the rearview mirror at an old friend, Bus Line number 4. Here it comes loud, old, crowded and dependable. Just pushing its way through traffic like a freight train, on that mission to publicly transport the good green citizens of LA to their destined stops. Oh, there it goes past me in that right lane; I wave for some reason. There are people on that bus I could be meeting, hugging, judging them for judging me when they are actually asleep!

O M G, I miss the bus!

Here I am, polluting the earth. Watching my bank account dwindle to names such as Chevron, Exxon, or Arcco. Overeating these crackers and calling people I haven't talked to since high school because I cannot listen to Coldplay LIVE one more minute!

I miss my bus. I miss the lessons I learn daily while being snobby on my bus. I miss the people. I do. Crazy, I know! And I miss the excitement if I make it to an earlier bus, or that mystery of whether I timed it just right. Or the hunt for quarters. And that cool, earthy feeling that you are doing the 'green thing'.

I cannot believe I miss the bus.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

LA Bus System Code of Conduct?

So on the bus today....

visual: LA bus. me standing at the front in the way as all the people board, phone ringing - I silence it even though I really want to answer.

What are the rules of the Los Angeles bus system? Bus etiquette or code of conduct, if you will....

1) Can I eat on the bus?

2) Can I stand the entire ride, even if there is an open seat?

3) If I am standing at the bus stop, do I have to put my hand up every time? Wouldn't they know and not just drive past?
3a) They drove past me.

4) Can I talk on my cell phone? Is that rude? Should I put my phone on vibrate? Hell, I'm not in a business meeting or an interview here! And it is a 30 minute commute (traffic pending), I could really get some work done on here.

5) Can you talk to the bus driver? Even while he is driving?

6) Is there a cool section on the bus? I still don't know the ways. Like in school when all the cool kids rode in the very

7) How often do they clean the bus seats? And, I mean the actual fabric. I think that should be on a poster somewhere, even if they are lying - put my mind, current clothing I am wearing, and bum at ease, please.

8) Are there bus police? I see METRO police cop cars - but I wonder, are they upholding the law for the bus drivers on the road? What about the law-abiding, 'going green' citizens actually ON THE BUS?

9) Why don't they post instructions? I still do not know how to transfer, or buy a day pass. Even though - when I actually do know all these things I will have transformed and morphed into the true bus-rider. Maybe I don't want those instructions - but for tourists?

10) Do people ever tip the bus driver? We do for taxi and limo drivers....

11) All I am asking for is some hand sanitizer please? At the bus stop or on the bus...anything!

12) There is some metro entertainment now with a flat screen in the front corner of the bus, can we change the channel? Give me a show I can enjoy. Virgin Airlines should do a public transportation system....

commuter: "hey, you takin' the PARTY BUS to work this week?"

other commuter: "Is there any other way! I'll sit by you, in the back right?"

OKAY! Now people would GO GREEN for that!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Necessary Hug

So the other day on the bus....

visual: Me waiting for the bus in my oversized 70's shades, a full on lululemon onsie (yes, you read that right, a workout romper, if you will), and my bright pink patent leather gym bag. Random dude on bench. Older couple from London strolling around the vicinity. And a lean, bearded woman from Switzerland waiting w/ her FULL shopping cart of 'treasures', maroon sequence pants and an oversized mens T-shirt with one arm filling the armhole and the other amidst the baggy inside.

So here I am, waiting for the bus to arrive. I never know what time it gets there - I just keep my fingers crossed that I don't miss the one heading my way. Well, the Swiss woman with the shopping cart and sparkle pants strikes up a conversation with me, pointing out that I look "hip and cool". Must have been the one piece outfit! Well, she is just girating around while conversing, like there is music playing, in which there very could have been in her own head. She is proudly holding up and seemingly showcasing a VOSS water bottle. That fancy, overpriced water you order at restaurants or bars when you do not choose tap water. Fancy schmancy - stupid really. Well this woman thinks it is just the coolest thing and is asking me where it comes from, and if she should keep it or throw it away, who drink this type of water and why they make the bottle appear this way...? Questions galore.

I tell her to keep it if she likes it, or recycle it and get that 5 cents for it at the recycling center.

She ponders and decides this is a treasure worth keeping and places it gently back in her cart. It is plastic, mind you.

I take a deep breathe. Look a little farther down the street searching for that beautiful number 4. Nothing. I begin to wonder why that woman has a mustache and beard. Could it be stress? Malnourishment? Homeless hygeine?

Oh goodness, here she comes again. I am a nice person, so I continue to chat her up. She asks me for money. I almost chuckle in my I need this money for the busy lady. She forgives me but then....she has one last question.

I turn to look at her, beard and all, and there she is close as all get out to me. "Can I have a hug".

I hesitate. If any of you know me, it takes me a hot minute to become that 'hugging' person in your life. But really, how do you say no to a hug? So she just comes on in for the real thing! I realize then that only one arm moves as the other stay stationary under the baggy T, so it is a half hug. But she smelled something fierce. And she held on tight. I felt of brush of her whiskers against my neck and I was like, I am definitely getting some type of Karma points for this! I squeezed back.

Then my bus came. We said our good byes.

How ironic, waiting at the bus stop having a conversation about water you cannot afford, nor would waste your money on. Yet that bottle become that woman's proud possesion. Funny world.

What did I learn? Well, everyone needs hugs. Right? And even though I kept smelling my onsie for the latter part of that day, thinking and double checking that maybe she had left some of her lingering aroma on me - I felt good.

Maybe she really needed that hug.

Or she was trying to pickpocket my huge pink purse with that one arm....

I'm going with the necessary hug. So go on, do one thing a day that scares you, hug a homeless, bearded woman in shiny pants at your bus stop!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

She Hates Me!

So today on the bus....

I was riding home this afternoon from Beverly Hills back to the beautiful Westside.

visual: me in my oversized sunglasses that look like they came right off the face of your grandmother from the 70's and plopped right down on my nose, decked out in my usual head-to-toe lululemon outfit, fanny pack buckled up tight, blackberry in hand, and a full lululemon sustainable shopper w/ a box of Honey Nut Cheerios spilling out the top.

Alright, I climb up to that crowded #720 bus and I sit in the first seat. I cozy up next to the larger gentleman taking up 2 seats beside me. He doesnt even budge a little bit when I try to maneuver in to my seat. Dude, you are taking up 2! Anyways, there is this woman sitting across from me. Purple sweater, big black sunglasses, and a backpack on rollers that is somehow the exact same color as her sweater. I wonder, did she plan that? Well, she is just staring me down. I mean, giving me the evil eye. I smile...nothing! Of course, I am like what is this about? Does she want some Cheerios? Is she jealous of my sunglasses? Read vision painted above, not possible. I half smile this time....absolutely nothing. Maybe a little huff. What is it? I keep averting my eyes to the front window - pretending like I am checking for my stop to escape, as if they don't announce each stop. She is still staring. I did workout this morning, am I giving off an aroma that is somehow worse than the smell of the bus?

So here I go, on and on in my head. She hates me . She just hates me. Its my Asics tennis shoes. Nope, its all this lululemon stuff, I know it! Its my youth. It is this blemish on my face, I thought I covered it up! Its that I am not at work, but neither is she. It is my chipper endorphin-induced attitude....

Should I just ask her, "What is it heavy breathing, purple sweater-wearing, big black sunglasses, backpack on wheels for convenience owner?"

Then, her head falls to the side. Yep, she's sleeping.

She is fast asleep.

Look at me. So selfish. So egotistical. So me, me, me. As if this woman would have been looking at me and thinking all those things. She has bigger and better fish to fry, I know! I really am a snob on a bus.

As we finally come to my stop, I thank the bus driver ever so quietly, as to not wake my sleeping busmate. I jump off into the street, walking home like a dog with her tail between her legs, feeling so guilty and disappointed with myself. And disappointment is the worst!

So, what did I learn? People can be so harsh and I can easily become one of those people. I was a big snob. On a bus. Making up this story that I am being judged to the 100th power, when all along it is me who is judging. Me who is being so vane. Me that was acting better than another beautiful human being. I could be thinking of ways to better use my time, or my workout for tomorrow, or how to make this world better. Hell, I could be taking a nap!

Think....before you think, idiot!

That is what the Los Angeles Public Tranportation system taught me today.