today several things happened. i attended my first board meeting at the journal. years ago, this might have been difficult -- painful, even -- to sit at a table silently among those who had been my judges, taking minutes. but it was not so horrible -- not horrible at all. after all these years, i have a sense of humor (it can't be anything but absurd, these sovereigns of such a trifling domain).
after the board meeting (and before it), i was heavily engaged in the task of making pdfs for the general editor -- which the library does for faculty for free, by the way -- i believe he enjoys the personal touch.
i also got coffee for my boss earlier in the day, but i had offered to.
i read page proofs carefully for misspelled words and misplaced commas. was proud to have caught "deafferention," which i corrected to "deafferentation," "the freeing of a motor nerve from sensory components by severing the dorsal root central to the dorsal ganglion" (note that the Merriam-Webster medical dictionary says "freeing," as if to tell us that liberation lies the way of anaesthesia -- on thesaurus.com, "anesthetized" is the first synonym offered for the entry "dead," followed by apathetic, asleep, boring, callous, deadened, dull, flat, frigid, glazed, inert, insensitive, insipid, lukewarm, numb, numbed, paralyzed, senseless, spiritless, stagnant, stale, still, tasteless, torpid, unfeeling, uninteresting, unresponsive, vapid, wooden. the order is alphabetical, but is it therefore necessarily also arbitrary?)
this morning i remembered being horrified by my inability to feel in my late teens and early 20s. to want things, certainly, but never enough. to feel things -- too much but also not at all. i still often do not know what is real.
in the evening, i stopped in to drop off something for mrs. z. she fed me (more than i wanted to eat) and sent me back out with cookies and snacks. i was bored by things she had to say and angry with myself for being bored. always to think that the time is coming (is here? is past?) when i, too, talk in circles, when my days are countable. i should be more compassionate.
and then i called a friend. his father had had a stroke. we had seen each other at lunch (not the father, the son) and laughed about silly things we do in our jobs. his father: i like him. he was always kind to me, trusted me, insisted on walking me home. i visited them once, in their house, and they spoiled me like a lucky granddaughter, feeding me strawberries and telling me stories. he hugged me -- a real hug, tight and secure -- once.
i tried to pray but it was patently ridiculous.
i went to rehearsal. a girl didn't show up. so now i'm also dancing her part (i've watched that dance twice). we open on friday.
after rehearsal, i walked out with yael (we were starting to work on the dance but got driven out by some draconian director who had the space after us). a small person accosted us (she claimed to be a she, but i am not so sure, biologically. however, rules about gender seem to prescribe that we acknowledge the person by whatever s/he identifies by, so i will continue with "she"). she said she did not want money. she said she was looking for a battered women's shelter. i did not know but offered to call the university police to drive her. she said the police told her not to talk to anyone. she asked me if i would put her on the bus. she said she would give me her wedding ring. i said i did not want her ring, and i would put her on the bus. we started walking to the bus stop. she said she was going to a shelter on north and something. she said she needed to go to the bus stop at 55th and cottage grove. she said she had six kids, and they were all waiting for her there. she said she needed $15.75 (does that get 7 people on the bus these days? i think full fare is $2.25, but kids pay less, right?). she said her voice was so hoarse because she'd been crying. she said she was not reaching for a gun but puttting her hand in her pocket. i was clad all in pink but had my knitted hood tucked in my backpack. she said she knew it was scary to talk to people, especially if they were black, but we were all women, so we understood. it occurred to me that if we got to 55th and cottage grove, i would probably be jumped, and i would have put my friend in danger. i gave her everything in my wallet.
it was $8.
yael said that no matter what, the person was in need. there was no doubt about that, though i don't think i did her much of a favor. i feel bad that yael also felt obliged to give up the money in her wallet (another $5), especially when she said after that she makes $13 a day. but i figure i deserved to give that money up, if only because i am such a skeptic, i wouldn't have ordinarily stopped to listen. i doubt that, if i had been walking alone, i would have stopped.
but i wasn't walking alone.