State of Joe

Joe is simple, he has toiled hard to achieve the position of head dishwasher, as hard as anyone that wants more out of life.

Wisps of salt and pepper hair lay under his broken, and crooked nose. A reminder of how cruel youth can be to what it doesn’t understand. His small blue eyes hide under is his bushy brows. Joe likes to smile, and when he does his blotchy red cheeks swell into fat hills of flesh.

He has never flossed in his life, and so the plaque has built up so thick that it looks as though he has a row of teeth in between each of his natural teeth.

Joe’s square head sits atop a squat, rotund body, and though he is wont to talk, he is limited to a small collection of stock phrases.

“Its alright anyway”, falls from his friendly smile, regardless of what’s being said. But maybe Joe is right. Perhaps it is, ‘Alright anyway’, regardless of what ‘it’ is.

Joe seems happy, even though from my perspective, he has been slighted in every way possible. Perhaps he isn’t smart enough to know how unfortunate he is. But I know all sorts of smart people that don’t realize of fortunate they are. The later seems worse upon reflection.

I watch him move about the dish pit and wonder if he isn’t the lucky one. If Joe isn’t the one closest to self-actualization.

If there is a God, and the answers to whatever questions can be asked, have already been provided to us, then might Joe be an answer?

There is wisdom in his simplicity, nirvana even. He travels more than two hours by bus, to and from work, without complaint. Recently he showed up at 8:00 AM, a full two hours early, because he misread his schedule. His response? “It’s alright anyway. At least I wasn’t three hours early”. Thats about as Taoist as one can get.

Accept things as they are

The beginners mind

Hope is as hollow as fear

A State of Joe.

A state of Joe. The pipe blinks at the end of that sentence like a mandala. Simple complexity that flushes out the detritus of a cluttered mind.

Joe’s broken nose and ruined teeth are a test of vision. Can I see past the physical descriptions of a ‘slighted’ man. And now I do. For a moment anyway.

I see Joe, a sage, waiting for me to be as happy as him.

Look at the blinking pipe. Breathe deep. As the words blur find your…

State of Joe.

Jimmie G.

response to Writing 101: Day Six 



Cleaning Room

One of the standard tasks on my weekly honey-do list is laundry. Every Monday or Tuesday for the last thirteen years. Being apartment dwellers our laundry room is a closet that houses an double upright and the water boiler. Squeezed in between the two is the ironing board. Filling up the fissures of space are such laundry type things as the iron, detergent, starch, and I’m falling asleep.

The point is this area is minute, spartan. Imagine my surprise yesterday when I pulled out the ironing board and saw a desk.

I popped my head in hesitantly, thinking there must be a whole in the wall. I didn’t want to thought of as some kind of perv for looking into the next apartment. Then I started thinking the neighbor might be the perv.

I’m happy to say I discovered no pervery. What I found instead was a small room about four feet wide. From wall to wall sits a beautifully, ancient looking peice of polished wood. Its the perfect size writing desk.

On the desk was sitting a wire bound notebook, my favorite kind. Next to it was the most exquisite pen I have ever seen. It filled my hand, yet was light. The ink chases the white of the page, but the pages are only being playful when running away. They are think, absorbing the ink in layers of subtelty.

A simple wooden chair was the only other thing in the secrect room. On the inside cover of the notebook was inscribed two words.

No more.

I don’t know that means.

Mustard on the Pineapples

I was finishing my Costco Stacciatella Gelato as my wife and I were checking out some cute artisan bowls. I did my go to comedy schtick of playing the gay man by repeatedly saying “lets get the whole set” in a lilting yet husky voice. When I saw the thirty dollar price tag for a ramekin I dropped the gay act and said, “walk away from the bowl”. Though our eight month old looked cray-cray adorbs next to her big sis in the shopping cart, she just wasn’t feeling it. She was a bit fussy actually. The Baby Bjorn was needed, but I had undone all the straps, clips, and buttons, and had a very difficult time reattaching them. Yet another thing my graduate degree in acting couldn’t help me with.

Once the Bjorn was reassembled I pick up baby and situated her facing out. Its not until she’s sitting in the harness that I feel the warm, mustard colored shit that has soaked up to her mid back and is now all over the front of my pineapple print button down shirt.

Normally I would say ‘poop’ when talking about my baby’s excrement, but when it’s all over you and her, in the middle of Costco, its called shit. Stinky, mustard colored, shit.

Another thing my graduate degree did not ready me for was always bringing a full diaper bag. Not even the experience of raising a now seven year old child had burned this important fact on my brain. I was hedging my bets, and as it turns out, I am not too big too fail. Standing in Costco with mustard colored shit over you and your child, with no change of clothes, is an epic fail.

I did have a single diaper and some wipes in my car. The baby needed and change, as did I. We had to go home. So the baby and I left my wife and elder daughter to finish the shopping.

I walked through Costco, holding the baby at arms length. She thought this great fun and started kicking her legs excitedly.

Out the front gate and to the car. One handed I undress the baby and give her a wipe down. I set her down to reach into he car for a diaper, realizing too late that I put her down on asphalt. Her bum’s just moist enough to draw the black pebbles to her like a magnet. More wipes.

Now I have a full diaper, and a dozen or so mustard stained wipes, and nowhere to dispose of the mess. In desperation I roll it up and try to chuck it away amongst the pine tress, which have been planted along a chain link fence like a beard to mask the train yard.

The diaper pops open midway, spilling the mustard stained wipes across the parking lot. I live in Seattle, the fact that I use disposable diapers is heresy enough, to leave them in the middle of the parking lot would be cause for banishment.

So I cleaned up the wipes, but still threw the diaper into the trees. Remember, this is a safe place. 

The baby and I drive home, shirtless, clean up and head back to Costco.

Thats worth a couple of beers right?

Jimmie G