the circular runner

Posts Tagged ‘observation’

Vegan Fascists at Whole Foods

In humor, life, observations, writing on December 12, 2011 at 12:03 am

Whole Foods, need I say more? Yeah, I better. There are a lot of things you can say about the store. I once got into a little bit of an argument with some people I work with about Whole Foods. They work for the “Community”—a word that doesn’t really mean anything unless it’s rooted in a context, which is great for people who work in non-profits. Though we are not corporations, we are corporate in one sense: we like acronyms and long meetings and phrases like community that sound so meaningful that no one ever dares to ask what that word actually means.

But I digress.

I got into an argument because someone was going off on the hack joke that whole foods should be called whole paycheck—LOL. It’s true, the place can be expensive. But then again, it’s not really more expensive than any other market if you’re comparing the same products. I mean, if you want Oreos, then you don’t really need the organic variety at Whole Foods, which are overpriced.  But, on the other hand, if you want a nectarine or a head of lettuce that isn’t funky and pestacized to death (your death) then I think Whole Foods is, relatively speaking, not outrageous. My defense of Whole Foods won me no friends in the room, but I was trying to be fair. I can live with that.

I say this even though now, I’m starting to think that fairness can suck it. Because last night, I went to Whole Foods and the cashier gave me a little lecture about my purchase, specifically, he was concerned with my purchase of meat. I know that in a recent post, I said that fascist is an overused word, so I wouldn’t let myself join that bandwagon. Well, originality, like fairness, can suck it.  I gotta call this one like I see it. My cashier was a vegan fascist.

The guy was classic San Fran. My wife thinks that means unwashed, but I’m not so sure. I think the point is to look unwashed because actually being unwashed is hard if you’re working—even in SF. It’s cooler and more ironic—qualities inherent in veganness—if you just pretend to be unwashed.

Anyway, so this guy had one of those giant ring-earing that was expanding his earlobe beyond reason. And he had the multi-colored arm tattoo running up and down most of his arm., which was pretty cool. I’m ok with all of it. I actually admire the commitment to that much body ink. I know I’m wrong about this, but I always assume that someone who looks like that will be cool, mellow, not judgmental, but no, inside this subversively faux-unclean self, was the heart of a fucking puritan.

Meat? Do I really need that it? That’s what the guy asked, and maybe he’s right. I don’t need the meat. But on the other hand, I don’t need the judgment, either.


5 Minute Rant: Gyms and Rules…

In humor, life, observations, writing on December 9, 2011 at 12:38 pm

OK, if you’re one of those people who gets their endorphins from pushing your body beyond reason at the gym every morning, you won’t get this post, so please stop reading. You’ll just be offended, and then I’ll feed bad, and then you’ll feed bad, and all those endorphin critters will just go away and die sad, unmotivated deaths. So go on. I mean it. Go do some crunches or a quick 10-miles. You can come back tomorrow. I promise. Yes, I love you, too. I mean it. I do.

Good. Now that the room is clear, let’s talk gyms. Specifically, let’s talk about the gym-literalist, a certain type of gym rat that in my younger days, I would’ve called a gym-fascist, but fascist is so over-used now, so I am calling this person a literalist.  Let me explain what I mean by using myself as an example.  I am into metaphors. I look at things with a little bit of ironic detachment. So when I go to my local gym, which has a bunch of machines set up in what the owners call a circuit, I understand that there’s a symbolic beginning and end-point to the exercise routine, but I also know that in practice, this might not work out. The gym-literalist is not equipped to handle this reality. He or she sees the signs and thinks, yes, structure. You know gym-literalists, they usually are middle aged men and women who have that kind of weird, overly-exercised look. Their bodies are fit, but their faces look old, joyless and lined, like prunes, which is fitting because for the gym-literalist, prunes are like some kind of decadent food that they can only long for.

Anyway, the other day, I was working my way through the circuit. Loud music was playing–something Lady Gaga-ish, I think. And aside from the music, things were ok. They weren’t great because I’m not a morning exerciser, but mornings are when I have time, so that’s when I do my workout. The gym I go to has a little chime go off every 90 seconds to tell us when we need to move on to the next part of the circuit, which makes the people working out in the gym seem a bit like synchronized swimmers. Chime and move, chime and move.

About halfway through, I could see that something was off–one of us had forgotten his part of the move. From what I could tell, a literalist who was two machines ahead of me was staring down a more metaphorically-minded guy. Mr. Metaphor had jumped in mid-circuit, thus cutting off the literalist, which was a major no-no. Now, there was a machine available right next to the one the literalist needed, but the literalist couldn’t see it. The circuit, for him, was a thing of order. Similar to the way he matched his shoes to his workout clothes exactly, the literalist believed in rules and exactness and this metaphor-monger was screwing things up.  It could’ve gotten messy, but thanks to the fact that metaphor-people are, by their very nature, flexible, the literalist got what he needed and we could go on.

I’m not trying to make fun of the literalist, though.  Aside from the fact that he went out and actually bought mint green running shoes and then matched them to his cycling pants, I have no issue with him. In fact, at some level I get the literalist’s dilemma. The guy works hard. He’s at the gym early before he has to go into his job. I’m sure that his job is probably some place where he gets a lot of order and maybe his workplace even requires it out of him. But on the other hand, there was this part of me that kind of wanted to tell him to get a grip, skip out early and get some corn-syrup in his veins, or if not that, then some artisanal dark chocolate truffle. I mean the guy was losing his sh*t over the order of a workout. Maybe he should try wearing shoes that don’t match his clothes. Something. Anything. Or maybe not.

Am I right in the way I look at the world? Am I right not to take rules “literally” all the time?  I don’t know. But that’s just it. I don’t really believe in set answers, so I can’t even answer this question with a question that will take me very far. Look, the literalist-guy had a nice pair of shoes and expensive workout clothes–it can’t be cheap to get workout clothes that ugly or minty-green.  Whereas I wear sweats. Maybe this is the answer to why I’m not rich. Maybe. But then again, maybe not.

Santa Rats Do Not Christmas Cheer Make

In life, observations, writing on November 30, 2011 at 12:31 pm

I can’t get my Twitter thingy to link up with the IPhone thing-a-majig, but if I could, you’d be entertained or horrified–probably a little of both–by a photo I just took on my way to my morning dose of charred caffeine.  Not more than a block from this Starbucks where I am presently slamming down a special-blend espresso–read burned and bitter–there is a home and in this home, there is a bay window and underneath said window is a smaller window that is packed top to bottom with Christmas dolls. It’s a small window.  Probably it’s the basement window, which means that it’s already a little creepy. (I lived in a basement for a year, and it was creepy, but that might just be my experience.) Anyway, even if let’s say you really like the basement-living experience you once had, this window would still hit the creepy-mark because the Christmas dolls displayed are not really cheery. They’re old-school toys–not in the Old World sense mind you. Rather, they’re old-school as in they’re from an old, sad, dilapidated school from the depression. There are gnomes, which are awful AND creepy like my basement apartment experience. Who had the idea that they’re for Christmas?   There are also reindeer figures and faded stuffed animals wearing jumpers made of green felt and Santa caps. The most prominent of them being a giant Santa Rat at the center.

OK, let me say this now: you can’t just take any old toy and dress it in green felt and think you have achieved XMas cheer. There’s more to it, which makes me think that maybe the owner of this basement was not after cheer.  Maybe it’s a cry for help. Maybe, the person living in the basement is a captive and is hoping that a passerby will call the police instead of blogging about it. Maybe I’m the damaged person in this equation–though I have to say that the idea of a Santa Rat is pretty awful and if this captive I’ve imagined was really calling for help, I think he or she might not want to try so hard. I mean I was willing to look closely at the exhibit precisely because I lived in a depressing basement once. So you could say I have a taste for the disturbing, or at least, I ‘m not completely put-off. But how many other people really going to spend tie looking at a big Santa Rat? There are limits. Even cops would be frightened.

Look, I’m hopeful that there is no captive living in that basement. In the greater scheme of things, it’d be much better if there was just some old shut-in living down there spreading questionable cheer with his/her Santa Rat.  Yes, as disturbing as the exhibit is and as weird as it would be for a person to actually assume that a Christmas Rat and other dingy old toys would make children and adults alike happy, I am hopeful that that is the case.  And if that’s the case, I hope that this old shut-in will take down the display on a timely basis and not wait til next Halloween–even though it would be a better fit for that holiday.


a teacher’s quandary: when’s the right time for tough love?

In life, observations, teaching & education, Uncategorized on June 14, 2011 at 9:19 am

teaching in the Mission is full of but's

I hate waking up early when I’m up late the night before.  (The fact that I’m always up late basically means I always hate getting up early.)  But this morning, I got my tired butt up so that I could take a student to her last exam of the GED.  This student can be, for lack of a better word, a piece of work.  She has cursed me out for helping her, she shows up to class often after partaking of her “medicine”.  (This being the Bay Area, medicine is code for pot.)  And though she can be sweet, she has some pretty radical mood shifts when faced with variables and radicals.

Still, I have love for this person because I feel like she’s one of those damaged people who just needs an extra hand.  This is why I was willing to get up and give her a ride, and why I have put up with her.  (Though I did kick her out one time when she was too much–even by her high standards.)

Because I know she is deathly scared of writing, and this morning, her exam required her to write an essay, I knew she needed some support.  I also should’ve known things weren’t going to work out when I called her to make sure she was up.  She was groggy and she was kind of annoyed, but I pushed on and told her to be ready.  When I got to her house, she was all set, but something told me to ask her if she had her ID.  (The state requires ID for her to get into the test.)  She said no, and then went back into the house and didn’t come back.  Minutes passed.  I called her, and she told me she couldn’t find her wallet and that she was mad.  Then the line went dead.

There was a not-so small part of me that wanted go up her door and give her a curse-out.  I wanted to tell her to stop being such a f*ck up.  She’s pushing forty.  She needs to get her life together.  I’m not paid to be her chauffeur, etc. etc.

I said none of these things, of course.  I drove off, went to a bakery near my house and bought an orange bun, which I will spend the evening having to run off.  Tomorrow or Friday, I will text her and remind her to come back to class.  I’ll also go sign her up for a make-up test, and she’ll take it in July and pass it.  And if you’re thinking that I’m being a dumb-dumb about this, and that if not yell, I should at least have a serious talk with her, I’d say I can see your point, but…

But sh*t happens, and anyone can misplace their wallet.

But I am her teacher, not her parent.  And as such, my job is to get her to achieve this elusive goal of finishing something–anything–she started.

But she actually has the following signature on her text messages: “motivate in 2011”, which means she knows she’s struggling, and piling on is not going to help.

But my anger is personal and a little selfish. Though I want her to pass so that she can move on, I also wanted to add her to my pass column so I can show my boss and my funders in City Hall that I run a great program.

But, but, but, but.

My life as a teacher of people who struggle to do what many of us take for granted is full of buts.  But (yes here is one more) it is full of joy and hope.  I like what I do–even when I have to get my tired butt (another but, but different) up out bed only to eat an overly-caloried piece of goodness.  Tough love sounds good.  It is sometimes necessary.  However, (note: I avoided yet another but) at least for me, it is a tool of last resort.

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