By: Sarah Ashley
Next week is Thanksgiving.
This morning, I still had face paint on my face.
First paycheck my new job came yesterday.
Kinda small paycheck.
The line is not long.
I packed my lunch today.
I have to do so much laundry tomorrow.
I have to do spreadsheets today.
Redefined karaoke until 2am.
Anything can happen today.
By: Sarah Ashley
Pay day is soon.
It’s almost Friday.
My grandma died.
I’m too tired for plain coffee.
I feel ambitious today.
The line was short.
I feel lethargic today.
I’m trying the best I can.
By: Sarah Ashley
I have an 8am meeting.
It’s a weekday.
I have five new voicemails.
The bus was crowded.
I won’t buy sushi for lunch.
I didn’t have time to shower.
I was late for my 8am meeting.
I spilled my first cappuccino.
By: Sarah Ashley
I have 12 cents left on a gift card.
I have a long day ahead of me.
It’s been a busy week.
New budget starts tomorrow.
I want one.
By: Sarah Ashley
I got no sleep last night.
I deserve it.
I’m having a bad morning.
I’m having a good morning.
I’m running early.
It’s my birthday (in 2 weeks).
I thought I had a gift card.
I also need a banana.
this is a mini essay i wrote because i FELT LIKE IT DAMNIT toward the end of school when i had nothing to do but drink and partayy!!!:
Isolated and Socially Awkward.
If a tree falls in a forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound? My high school psych class taught me that nope, nope it doesn’t. So, logic—as warped as mine may be—follows that when I was in Ann Arbor over Spring Break working on my thesis, and no one saw, let alone heard me do anything, I didn’t exist. Not a single synapse of any UMich ‘Pulco-goers’ blitzed and hammered brains frying in the Mexican sun fired an electron’s worth of thought about a who might just be wandering the frigid streets of Ann Arbor alone and, of course, awkwardly. Thus, it’s true: from Monday to Sunday afternoon of our obscenely un-springy Spring break, I fell into a black hole of Ann Arbor oblivion, and I lived to tell about it.
The first night alone was the worst. While usually my five other roommates generate a dynamic and ever-changing energy within the house—incessantly coming and going, doors slamming, water boiling, lips smacking, voices gossiping, and always, around four o’clock, Alex Trebek delivering answers from the family room—the tenor of the house was silent; any unexpected sound in the space, loud or soft, sent chills down my spine. My mother, who was the only person I was in contact with, was always on the other line of phone sending her sage-like motherly advice: “Mom, I think I heard something under the sink—” “Get a knife! The biggest knife you can find!” Perhaps a Catch-22, but I’m grateful no one was there to bear witness to me lunging toward the sink cabinet like a demented Musketeer preparing to stab an imaginary intruder that could somehow have huddled in a cabinet I struggle to fit the small garbage bin and the Lysol. My mother never really got the irony: “I won’t be able to fall asleep if someone’s in your cabinet, so call me back and tell me what happened.”
My mother was a spring of unnecessary ideas but ones that I didn’t question at the time. The less and less contact I had with actual people, the more obedient I became to her insensible ideas. “Dara,” my mother would start as if almost giddy about her new idea, “do you have a lock on your bedroom door?” “Yes.” “Lock yourself in your room, and if an intruder gets into the house, leave through your window!” “There’s a screen, though.” “Sleep with a knife under your pillow and slash the screen and jump through it!” I live on the second floor. But this was not a major concern at the time. She was always there to reassure me - reassure me that somebody probably was lurking in the house, even just chilling beneath the sink, waiting for the perfect moment to steal all my stuff.
By day four I was living an amalgam of Kevin McCalister’s Home Alone experience and Jack Nicholson’s in The Shining. When not thinking about my thesis, I thought about intruders, specifically the Wet Bandits. “What if I set a hot iron against the door knob so that it burns intruders’ hands when they try to open it?” I sensed doubt from my mother on the other line. “Just don’t burn yourself, sweetheart.”
As I sat at the kitchen table just writing and writing and writing, The Shining’s infamous mantra of a man gone crazy rang true, just slightly altered: All work and no play makes Dara socially awkward. I hadn’t had a face-to-face human interaction in four days. I made eye contact with a squirrel when I took the garbage out, but because my house faces an alley, real humans rarely walked past. When a FedEx man unexpectedly walked past the house, I hid under the table like a 1950s Cold War kid. When he rang the doorbell, I realized how idiotic I was being, slid to the other side, and unlocked the door to sign for the package. “You jump under the table every time a delivery person walks by?” I didn’t realize anyone could see me through the windows during the day.
By Friday, day six, I was looking like LOTR’s Golum—bug-eyed and pasty. I hadn’t cared what I looked like for days because no one was there to see me. Despite my dreadful appearance, I couldn’t wait any longer for my friends to return; I had to make new friends. To do this, however, I had to journey from the house. It was a big decision to make—of course everything is relative—but I decided I had to go. I packed up my laptop, my power chord, a few books, and some chap stick and zipped up my winter jacket like I was about to climb Everest. “I’m going out,” I told my mom on the phone. “Be careful,” she warned, “be careful.” With that, I bounded back into the real world.
The thrill and excitement was quickly abolished as I turned out my alley onto Church St. Not only did the wind-chill feel about 3000 below zero, but it was a Ghost Town. I felt like I was walking through a faux-city in Disney World after the park closed. Nevertheless, the yellow lights glowing from the Starbucks warmly greeted me and cordially invited me in.
The ‘Bucks was empty except for a group of 4 or 5 people sitting around a round table in the way back. I didn’t have my glasses with me, so I couldn’t really make out anything besides the fact that they were human. The barista, clad in green apron and hat with a frizzy mullet was especially curt when I experienced trouble articulating what drink I wanted. This was my first real-life conversation in days. My brain was fried from all the writing, and I made the horrendous mistake of ordering a medium instead of a tall, or grande, whatever. (***please see entry on Starbucks etiquette)
Warm drink in hand, I began to set up shop near an outlet when one of the other humans in the ‘Bucks yelled to me “Hey, you!” I dumbly pointed to myself. “Yeah, you. What time does this close?” I didn’t know. I figured at least midnight. I was about to gesture a non-verbal “No clue” when the barista sashayed toward the tables, broom in hand, and snippy comment about to roll of his tongue, “I’m sorry, we’re closing. You have to leave. Now.” Apparently, Starbucks Spring Break hours are different because everyone (everyone who’s normal) is gone. I began packing away my laptop, which I hadn’t even opened, and wrapped up my power chord. Then, I zipped up my serious winter jacket, even fixing the hood around my head so you could barely see my face. My timing paralleled the humans across the room. As I walked toward the exit, they had as well, and so we were scooted from the coffee shop in one big group as the barista trailed behind sweeping the broom across the floor as if we were one big pile of dust.
On the cold street of South University, I finally got a close look at my fellow exiles, and I realized they were homeless. They were all holding Frappaccinos, but nonetheless, homeless. A loud click came from behind as the barista bolted the door closed. I wondered if he’d remember me once break was over and returned with friends to order drinks and shit talk around a small wooden table. he tapped the door as if to say “Shoo!”
“Where do you want to go now?” A John Goodman type looking fellow with a grizzly beard and dated glasses asked. “Bowling?” The wiry gray haired woman with an ill fitting red hat answered while looking at me. I scanned their faces. There were four of them: John Goodman-type, the old lady, cross-eyed skinny fellow, and a man that looked incredibly wind-burnt. The cross-eyed one smiled at me with gaps between his teeth.
They thought I was homeless, too. It wasn’t just the frizzy mullet barista - the homeless thought I was one of them.
“No,” I responded impulsively.
The old woman took a step toward me. “Get some manners.”
“And some sun,” wind-burn piled on.
Before I could respond, they’d already begun walking to
their next destination, together, leaving me behind. The
yellow warm lights of Starbucks went off. After being kicked out of a homeless clique I never wanted to be in in the first place, I stood on South University cold and alone, not a car driving by to see me, just the 2-dimensional shadows of my homeless friends that never would be in the distance.