My Crazy BART Story

May 2014

I finished my story and read it in front of a live audience a few nights ago. Here is the revised and final version. You can see the draft here.

hanging figureThe Things on BART Today

BART is crazy. You get on and there’s a guy with a knife frantically cutting up his backpack — with a knife, a short thick one like scuba divers use. You escape to the next car and find yourself seated next to a woman with no pants on! Just a top, with a long jacket is all she is wearing. You decide you had better strike up conversation with the crazy. You don’t want to anger her by leaving as soon as you get there. So you say hello, hoping she ain’t as crazy as you think she is. Maybe if you treat her like normal, she’ll act like normal. She asks if you have a cell phone she can borrow. Aww hell naw! If I give her my phone she may run off with it. I lie and say I don’t have one. She looks at me suspiciously, eyes narrowing. Aw shit, I’ve made her mad. “You must not have kids,” she says. “Cos if you did, you’d have a cell phone.” I lie some more and say I left it at home and only use it for emergencies anyway. That last part is true. The knife guy in the other car could be an emergency. Hell, this lady might be one too. You know what would be a real emergency? Being stuck on BART with no phone when shit goes down, and you just know shit’s gonna go down when you’re on BART.

Uhh, what is that guy doing, the one who just came from the knife car into ours? He is going straight for the red emergency button. Did knife guy do something even more bizarre than bring that knife out into the open on the train? New guy goes straight for the red emergency button. Is he going to make the train come to a halt like it does when you pull the emergency cord in New York City’s subway trains? If yes, that’s not too bright, because then we will all be stuck in an immobile train with knife guy.

Aw hell. I don’t believe what I’m hearing. New guy, who looks like he is as high as a kite, is asking the train operator for a band aid because he cut his finger. What kind of lunatic cargo is BART carrying this morning? Well, at least pulling the cord didn’t make the train come to a standstill.

Pantless wonder is still talking next to me. “I was in Russia. Got jacked every day. It’s worse there than here,” she says. Uh huh. Now I’m thinking, lady, why don’t you just get off this train already?

The train is pulling into a station. I look out. Fruitvale. I was planning to get off at the next stop and wait for another train. But Fruitvale? No thank you. I ain’t getting off here. A new set of crazies get on. One just plopped herself right down on the floor next to me, as if it’s a regular seat. Maybe I should have gotten off at Fruitvale afterall cos now that girl on the floor is starting to twitch and jerk like she’s crazy. Pantless wonder leans over. “She’s having a seizure,” she says. “Move over. I know what to do. I used to have them too.” “Lady,” I say. “This better not be more of your bullshit.” I yell for someone to pull the cord and let the train operator know we have an emergency. People are starting to stare at the girl and at my pantless lady. Aw jesus. I hope she didn’t come on the train without her underwear. She loosens the girl’s blouse and tells the people standing nearby to move over and give her room. I think she truly knows what she is doing. The girl is slowing down, thrashing about less. After a little while, she stops twitching. My pantless lady looks up at me and smiles. “Don’t think I didn’t see you pull out that phone just now,” she says. I respond, “I told you, I only use it only for emergencies.” “Well there’s gonna be another emergency if you don’t lend it to me now,” she threatens. Aw hell. I hand it to her.

Advertisements

Is This a Story?

APRIL 2014

I’ve been busy honing my creative writing skills at a series of free San Francisco workshops. Oh San Francisco, I love you! Free writing workshops and free art portfolio development workshops too? Oh, what with hiking and biking and writing and painting and work too, I’ve had little time to write for We Were Nothing. I apologize for the absence.

Girl
“Girl” silver point, gouache and ink on vellum mounted on paper. 3.5 x 5 inches © 2014

Currently I am working on two, maybe three, series of miniature paintings. “Girl” is one of my latest creations. This business of making art is time consuming but it is now a priority. I am planning to “get my work out there” by the end of this year/beginning of next year. That means that I have lots of work to do (like developing my portfolio, artist’s bio and statement) besides creating the art itself. I got off to a good start this year, having sold a miniature at a New York art auction and now have a second piece slated for auction this May at San Francisco’s White Walls.

Auctions are interesting places for an emerging artist to debut. If your submission to the auction is accepted you are happy. If it sells, you are even happier — Your work has gone from being worthless to being something of value, at least to the purchaser. Awesome!

All this work means that I will have to convert We Were Nothing into a monthly blog. My first monthly presentation is a short story about a  ride on BART. I have also included background information on how the story came to be. I hope you enjoy it.

About the Writing Workshops

Over a period of five weeks (we met one night per week) the participants in my writing workshop were challenged to develop a story about the SOMA area, the section of San Francisco where the workshops were held. I wrote about the building with the furniture hanging off it (see my previous post), but failed in my mission. I was supposed to write a story, not a poem! Back to the drawing board, with just one week left to write the piece. While everyone else from the workshop was in revision mode, I was starting all over from scratch.

I wrote the story below about a ride on BART. It turns out that once again, I failed to write a story: my protagonist had not developed, had not experienced any change. Back to the drawing board one last time. I am determined to write a story. In the meantime, I submit the original story here and will present the final story in May. I hope you enjoy reading it.

 The Things on BART Today

BART is crazy, yo! You get on and there’s a guy with a knife frantically cutting up his backpack. With a knife, a short thick one like the knives divers wear when scuba diving. When you try to escape to the next car, you find yourself seated next to a woman with no pants on! Just a top, is all she is wearing. You decide you better strike up conversation with the crazy. You don’t want to anger her by leaving as soon as you get there. So you strike up a conversation with her in the hopes she ain’t as crazy as you think she is. Maybe if you treat her like normal, she’ll act like normal. She asks if you have a cell phone she can borrow. Aww hell naw! If I give my phone to her she may run off with it. I lie and say I don’t have one. She looks at me suspiciously, eyes narrowing. Aw shit, I’ve made her mad. “You must not have kids,” she says. “Cos if you did, you’d have a cell phone.” I lie some more and say I left it at home and really only use it for emergencies anyway. That last part is true. The knife guy in the other car could be an emergency. Hell, this lady might be one too.

Uhh, what is that guy doing, the one who just came from the knife car into ours? He is going straight for the red emergency button. Did knife guy do something even more bizarre than bringing that knife out into the open on the train? New guy goes straight for the red emergency button. Is he going to make the train come to a halt like it does if you pull the emergency cord in New York City’s subway trains? If yes, that’s not too bright because now we will all be stuck in an immobile train with knife guy.

Aw hell. I don’t believe what I’m hearing, new guy, who looks like he is as high as a kite, is asking the train operator for a band aid because he cut his finger. What kind of lunatic cargo is this that BART is carrying this morning? Pantless wonder is talking next to me. “I was in Russia. Got jacked every day. It’s worse there than here.” Uh huh. Lady, how soon you gonna get off this train?

****

If you are interested in reading more of my short stories, try this one, set in Jamaica. It is from an earlier post.

San Francisco, Monterey Bay, and La Honda. Oh My!

The Music Conductor

This was a busy weekend. I BARTed into San Francisco for a look at the light show at the new Bay Bridge and for happy hour at Chaya (across the street from the bridge). I also went on a behind the scenes tour at the Monterey Bay Aquarium (awesome!) and today, re-experienced art in the woods at Djerassic, in the Santa Cruz Mountains (more awesome!!).

Friday Night on the Embarcadero

The new Bay Bridge is nearing completion and is set to be opened soon. Here is a nighttime view of the waterfront along the Embarcadero with a view of the bridge. The new installation art piece (an LED light show) is in the foreground of the bridge. (Those are the lights you see in the upper right hand side of the photograph.) It looks like San Francisco is almost ready for the 2013 Americas Cup!

Untitled
On the waterfront of the Embarcadero, San Francisco
image
View of bridge & light show from Chaya’s patio (photo by Brian R)

Moon Jellies and Such, Oh My!

Oh, the jellies I saw! Lot and lots of jelly fishes were on show at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Moon jellies. White moon jellies. Purple sprite jellies. Spotted jellies. Mediterranean jellies. Can you figure out which ones these are?

Jellies
Jellies, jellies, jellies!!!

The history of how the Monterey Bay Aquarium came to be is fascinating. It involves David Packard (of Hewlett Packard fame) and his daughter who was at Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station (in Monterey Bay). The senior Packard was looking for a family project to do with his daughter. That project evolved into the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

The Aquarium sits at the far corner of Cannery Row. The entire area was made famous by John Steinbeck in his books, Cannery Row, and The Sea of Cortez. His friend Doc features prominently in both novels and also on the Row, where he died in a car crash. One interesting note is that Monterey Bay is, in fact, a bight, not a bay. It is more open (less sheltered) than a bay and shallower also. The rocks in Monterey Bay are also an indication that it is not a true bay. A bay, by contrast, is a inlet of water enclosed on three sides by the land. Monterey Bay is not enclosed at all. It is wide open to the ocean with tide pools and salt water constantly moving in and out.

Outdoor Art

Here are some art installations in the woods at Djerassic and also, a window view from the Artist’s Barn.

The Music Conductor (made of redwood branches)
djerassic -woodsprite 1
Woodland fairy?
djerassic -the barn 2
Window View of Oak Tree (from Artist’s Barn)

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: