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Archive for the ‘Such people’ Category

Yesterday I arrived home THREE HOURS LATE.The cats regarded me with wild alarm–was it perhaps the end of the world as we knew it? But no, I quickly provided them with their tasty dinner and all was well.
But WHY so late, Hope, WHY?
There was….a MEETING. But this was not any old meeting, this was a meeting with a team of Russians come to share good will, love, and peace with their American colleagues! Wise words and gifts to be exchanged, tea and delicious treats to be consumed. We rushed over from our Boring Quotidian Building to our Fab Fab Historic Building at 2:30–the meeting was scheduled for 3. How charming the dainty petits four and tiny tarts! One couldn’t sample any of course as they were set in an elegant pattern, not to be disturbed except by our esteemed guests.

Well, the time went by.
Messages were received.
They were late.
They were VERY late.
Luckily, there were only 4 of us waiting about –3 staff and one translator–as all the local bigwigs are off on holiday. We passed the time patiently. I read my book, and looked out through the tall windows: blooming crape myrtles billowing about, huge planes gliding by at regular intervals–DCA is only 5 miles away and the Potomac River, their path to the airport, was close by.
Our guests finally arrived at 5.
Time means nothing to Russians.
They ate the treats, they drank the tea, they droned away in Russian for 2 hours. We gave them our gifts and they gave us theirs: we all got cunning little sets of office gear, including a handsome thumb drive.Very likely crammed with malware, but polonium free!
Then they departed, and we gathered up the tent cards and display books and went home.

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Wednesday is my Day of Challenge, when I plod home from work–and then rush back out to go to ballet class. HOW much easier to stay home, pour a glass of wine, and watch some dopey Netflix soapster!

But VIRTUE prevails, and off I go.
Yesterday I entered the classroom to find an alien teacher had invaded our turf–the usual lady out junketing I suppose–and here was this brash young man in her place. The initial impression was not good, he talked too fast and grinned too frantically, but I know that we are a threatening bunch–a few dour oldsters like me and then the shining stars who could do triple pirouettes by elementary school–so we did what he said and gradually came to an understanding.

The piano player was not the brilliant Armenian who usually plays–a sweet and smiling youth whose music lifts the heart, and brings us through the most complicated exercises with his sensitive understanding of timing and melody. But the lady who took his place at the piano did very well, a fine player, if perhaps not the one to bring joyful tears to your eyes.
So, not a bad class, at that.
I chatted with a friend in the dressing room after class, who told me that our substitute had been something of a horror when he first started, but was more modest and amiable now. And she told me about a grad student in her lab, who had been insufferable, arrogant and quick to argue–a jerk, in fact. He knew about some processes that she and her colleagues didn’t, so they were somewhat at a loss. And then another scientist joined the lab, a dazzling star in those processes, who was, moreover, a very pleasant and modest man. And the young jerk learned to shut up and behave.
Perhaps the young man who taught us had a similar humbling experience, she said.

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This evening I was making my way down the escalator to the Metro when I had a glimpse of –a lady in a bridal gown hastening down the stairs before me! And a tall fellow in a suit with a flower in his button hole pursuing her. Arrived at the bottom, I peered around and saw them–a plump little girl, dark and shy in her white dress, embraced by her proud groom as another fellow aimed his camera at them.
The darling couple! I smiled at them and wished them well and continued on my way.

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As I readied myself for ballet class in the dressing room yesterday, I noted the pretty but low heeled shoes of another lady as she came in, and remarked that her usual footwear had heels of astonishing height, which I had always admired. She responded that even she had to rest her feet from time to time, and told me about her treasure house of shoes, each tenderly wrapped and stored in a fine box, stacked in rows in her closet. She is a robust creature–Russian, I think, though I can’t remember why–and dresses in a style that accentuates her charms. This learned exposition on shoes was the longest speech I have ever heard from her. I was pleased to hear that women continue to love their shoes, as I used to when I was young.

After the class–excellent as always–there was another discussion in the dressing room, but this time, about the care of cat litter boxes. I shared the gasper about washing out the litter box once a month–which I have never done, and neither had any of the other ladies. There should be one more cat box than there are cats in the house (2 cats=>3 boxes), said another lady. Hmm. But then another lady was floored by my mentioning the clumping litter that absorbs cat peepee. WHAT? She had never heard of such a thing. She used –uh, some kind of Magic Crystal litter, and the pee sits on the bottom of the box. The lady with the many cat boxes said she uses a DIFFERENT KIND OF LITTER IN EACH BOX. Good lord, I thought, such bounty for her cats. We didn’t even BEGIN to talk about cat food–or at least, I finished dressing and bade them goodbye. Perhaps they continued onto cat food and even cat toys after my departure.

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I am sure that everyone is familiar with Pound’s elegant haiku about the Paris Metro: “The apparition of these faces in the crowd; petals on a wet black bough”. I often think of it as I look about me in the Washington Metro, but no, can’t see it.

  1. I saw an immensely obese man sitting expressionless on the platform, legs outstretched. When the train arrived, he didn’t even try to get up.
  2. I saw a pale girl darting by, her hair an astonishing cloud of red gold. A school girl princess!
  3. I saw a old lady methodically eating out of a pill bottle. Taken aback, I asked what she was eating. Peanuts, she said.

A lot of people, not petals. Each an astonishing self-involved human being, a spirit vibrant within that carapace.

Pound was something of a jerk.

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In the jail house

After ballet class last night we were chatting in the ladies dressing room, as one does, and I said something about putting on makeup every morning in preparation for work. One of the women, a thin and lively lady with short gray hair and a sweet smile, said she did no such thing, no makeup for her job. What was her job? She was a nurse practitioner in a jail. A women’s jail, out in Jessup. Everyone gazed at her compassionately, and I said, that must be difficult work. It was, she said, and added how often she thought it could have been her there, sitting in that cell. These women had been raped and beaten, had been given heroin by their parents when they were small, had lived lives incomprehensibly terrible to us, fortunate inhabitants of another world. The glimpse of what she confronts every day gave us all a jolt. And I told her we were all grateful to her, for doing what had to be done, but which none of us could or would do.

And we chatted companionably about other things on the walk back to our cars.

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Pig in the Snow

Peppa Pig–a fairly innocuous if somewhat lame cartoon (“Peppa lives with her mummy and daddy and her little brother, George. Her adventures are fun”) has been embraced by the Chinese, and inspired a pleasing story: a loving dad in Inner Mongolia took his little broom and MADE A GIANT DRAWING OF PEPPA in the snow outside his daughter’s window. Such a thrill for the little girl! Youtube and Google are awash in images of his artwork.

As I contemplated this charming story I had TWO revelations.

  1. Somehow my image of Mongolians has them drinking fermented mare’s milk and hunting with golden eagles. Stern warriors! But even stern warriors love their little girls, and let us not be so dismissive of other places and cultures for all love. Genghis Khan is long gone.
  2. Dads are so wonderful, these big men with their tiny children. I see them at the ballet school, humbly struggling to put the ballet shoes on their wiggly little girls–at the supermarket in the cake mix aisle, bravely trying to make a birthday cake happen–on the road, biking so very slowly with the children whose training wheels have just come off.

Such good guys!
And I know that my grandsons’ daddies would totally draw pigs in the snow for them–well, if there were snow, and if it would make those little boys happy.

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