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2003-02-04 - 9:03 p.m.

Chinese New Year started last Saturday. I知 starting off my new year. January, was not, kind. At least to me. We had a petty relationship that devolved into incessant bickering and accusations that neither of us will be able to forgive the other for. And so, I知 adopting the Year of the Sheep/Ram/Goat (the jury is out. Everybody is saying different things). I also intend to not have quite the contentious relationship with February. I知 committed to making this relationship work, and we are seeing a couples therapist at the community center once a week. We are both learning to talk so the other will listen, and listen so the other will talk.

I spend all my time lately, observing people. I知 beginning to think that it痴 not healthy. All this time observing. I was sitting in the park on Sunday, enjoying the weather. I was reading a book and trying to avoid the pigeons. I was tuning out everything around me, focusing on the book, the sun, being outside. Earlier in the day a tiny Asian woman in a shockingly ugly pink suit and a bad understanding about nylons had been preaching about Jesus and how he would find one a job, a house, all those things if one would just accept him into the heart from a cheap karaoke machine. I believe that one of the rabid schizophrenics who bathe in the public fountain tried to take credit as Jesus, but was shouted down by his 電isciples. According to the woman, her heckler would be healed of his ills if he would just pray with her. The woman痴 companion, a dowdy middle aged black woman with chipmunk cheeks and nappy hair barely held back by a scarf held her hands in the air in rapture, mumbling unintelligible syllables while her friend prayed, alone. She had small round glasses and gave the impression of constant nearsightedness, no doubt one reason she was there in the park. I am not blind to the homeless situation, and I致e discussed it here before. I don稚 think preaching to them is going to make a difference. But then, according to my friend Wendy, if the class guilt in California were currency the homeless would live like kings. I知 not going to do anything individually for the homeless, and I certainly am not going to go out and preach to them a line of Jesus will take away all your problems. Not because I don稚 believe in Jesus, but because I don稚 think there is any good going around promising people their lives will be different. If they wanted them to be different they would do something about it. It was very odd, and fortunately she wasn稚 there when I went back later. Living in the city is much different than the suburbs. I like it better. Suburban living is so compartmentalized, segregated. Priorities are different. In the city diversity takes hold. Neither place is perfect. But a park on a sunny day with an iced Mocha is not the same as ones back yard. The very public nature of parks makes it more enjoyable. Until some freak from Food not Bombs comes up and tries to offer you spaghetti and a soda. He blocked my sun, as I sat there on my park bench reading my book. I hadn稚 shaved that morning but I had showered. I was wearing jeans and a sweatshirt. Everything clean. 鄭re you hungry? Because we are serving some pasta and drinks over there an earnest man tells me. I wanted to throttle him. January痴 last little push at me, hitting me where it would hurt the most. I declined his offer politely, but hurt by his callous assumption. Sensing my barely constrained hostility, he made a rapid exit, asking me to send anyone who 斗ooked hungry their way. It was his approach that pissed me off. Don稚 go around offering me Ragu and a Sam痴 Choice cola, tell me what you are doing. Say, perhaps, We池e serving a meal over there for anyone who痴 interested. Would you mind spreading the word? I didn稚 look hungry; lord knows I look well fed. Aside from some stubble I was clean, well dressed, and obviously enjoying a Sunday in the park. Ha, suburbanites can say, That doesn稚 happen in ones backyard! And they would be right. But I can get out and walk a block to be immersed in a dynamic cultural experience, where that doesn稚 happen in their bland urban setting. I like that my car is more a convenience than a necessity. I like the noise of all that humanity around me. I like that there are bars nearby that I can walk home from. And restaurants, Starbucks every few corners, and people just out and about. A person walking in the city is the norm, where in the suburbs it痴 cause for alarm. Why is that person walking? What痴 wrong? It痴 out of place, and unusual. People in the suburbs look down on public transit and those who use it. There are acres to park the cars and acres to fill up with Best Buy痴, Wal-Mart痴, and Grocery Stores that sell everything. Its suburban attitudes that got me offered pasta and a soda, the middle class attitude that I would far rather be in my own space than a public one. I never sent anyone over, I didn稚 really have to. They are in the park nearly every nice Sunday, and the word gets around. They fed some people that could have gone hungry. But they ruined my day in the park.

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