What I Learned This Week: #199

Monday, June 7 – Sunday, June 13, 2021

The Week In Bye-Bye Zoom: For the first time since February 2020, my book club met in person. We shared snacks. We read each others’ nonverbal cues. And, bonus, we all like the book. Next month we meet at my place which means I have to do a company-ready cleaning of the place. I mean, the place isn’t a pigsty, but it not ready for scrutiny.

The Week in Prescriptions: Got my new glasses this week that called for only a slightly stronger prescription than my previous pair. In the office, they checked the glasses by having me read a card, the kind with big print at the top, and teeny tiny print at the bottom. That card was clear as a bell (so to speak). As I walked out I got a sensation of movement that didn’t seem quite right and by the time I got off the elevator, I felt I was wearing someone else’s glasses. Sometimes new glasses take a minute to get used to, so I decided to continue back to work where I found that if I held my head in a very specific, very steady position, the glasses were perfect. Then I got in my car and highway signs were blurry and, I’m no eye doctor, but that’s not right!

I took them back, obviously, and the office, at first, thought that they did everything perfectly, but maybe the doctor wrote done the wrong RX. Okay. Maybe. Then they took a look at my current glasses to compare prescriptions, and all of the sudden, she said “maybe” the lab entered the wrong number and ground the lens wrong. Maybe? LOL. New lens arriving this week.

The Week in The Kids Are Alright: One of my favorite things about working my part time job at TJ Maxx is working with high school kids and watching them grow. I’ve always learned a lot from them about culture, and the general state of how things are. They tend to tell it like it is. They are sullen and joyous. Savvy and ignorant. Sometimes within a few minutes. Plus, when I was in high school there was absolutely no way I could have had my shit together enough to have a job and go to school. I’m always a little in awe of these kids.

This week I saw one of my young co-workers looking at crystals and I told her the only real ones were the ones that felt cool. The fake ones feel like plastic. She loved that I knew anything about crystals and showed me a video she took of her “meditation” table in her room. The table was where she laid her stones and crystals and poetry books. I would not have expected any of this from her by appearances. And then she recommended Amanda Lovelace’s poetry book The Princess Saves Herself in This One. I’m 1/2 way through it, and it’s a great little book. I loved that she shared this with me.

The Week in Movies: For the second time post-COVID I went to the movies. In the preview package to In the Heights, and in between trying to sell me more Coke, the cast of the movie, and the overlords of the Cinemark Movie chain, effusively thanked the audience to coming to the theater in person. I saw the first showing of the day with maybe 10 people in the theater. Seats are still blocked off and COVID safety protocols are still pretty tense. Honestly, the best thing about going to the theater is the screen size. The rest of the experience, buying tickets and snacks, the unending commercials and previews, just make for a less than pleasant overall experience. That’s coming back soon, I’m sure, no matter how much they pretend to grovel about appreciating me. They appreciate my credit card.

Anyway, the reason I did go to the movies this week, In the Heights, did not disappoint. The film is joyous and hopeful despite some serious underlying themes. Some of the dance numbers were exuberant, others were just sweet. I was surprised and pleased that the film includes a full-length song sung by an “old” person. I say this because in mainstream movies, old people, if they are in movies at all, are often relegated to the sideline of the plot. When actress Olga Merediz starts singing Patience and Faith, a song about her life now at its end, I could feel the tears welling up. The movie spent a lot of time letting us know how important Abuela Claudia was to the neighborhood. Her big song is a pivotal moment in the film and compliments and serves as a counter point to the lives of the young lovers that drive the plot. The song ended up killing me.

The Week in Bravery: The park outside my window is generally unprogrammed. There’s a kickball league out there a couple nights a week, and some morning yoga on the weekends, but mostly it’s just a place for people to hang and to walk their dogs. This weekend park scheduled a concert. They didn’t promote it very heavily (I saw a mention on Facebook, I think) and they only set up about two dozen chairs. At 6 I heard the faint strains of a guitar. I looked out my window and saw about two dozen empty chairs and a young woman standing under a tent playing a small guitar. BY HERSELF. Just playin’ and singin.

I grabbed a beer and a coozie and ran down to take a seat. She was playing a ukulele and taking requests, both of which I found charming. In between songs she and I would talk and, of course, her comments were on the mic and being broadcast across the lawn.

I was there for several songs and a few people came and went. The best, and what I’m sure will be on of the highlights of summer was when the young family who’d stopped to listen, asked for a Taylor Swift song. The family and the singer and the sparse audience agreed that Shake it Off was the best song to sing. The Dad and a five year old girl and her younger brother walked over to the mic. The girl was shy, but giving it a go. A few words in, another kid, just a little older than the girl, who’d been playing by himself behind the tent, ran to the mic, leaned in and started singing all the words. Turned out he was the older brother (the Mom said she agreed it looked like he’d just appeared out of the woods to sing). The four of them singing, with the Dad leaning in to sing out Shake it Off was about the sweetest, most wholesome thing I’ve seen in a long while.

Kryst Kuer on the Uke. Bravery and confidence off the charts!

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