Shameful

| am reluctant to admit that most of my artistic energy has been spent drawing men from Doctor Who and Sherlock. But I’ve fallen into this phase where observational drawings give me a lot more catharsis than my own characters, probably due to the fact that I’ve been doing very little writing or story-telling. I recently did create a cover for a hypothetical comic revolving around me and two of my closest friends at this school where I’m the accomplice to my friend the serial killer. Haha, that’s just the kind of morbid humor that keeps me going.

And I don’t really want to post any art right now because I haven’t gotten into one of my huge scanning fests, so I don’t have a ton of what I’ve been working on ready to put up here.

I’ll just post the one that I just finished, which is something that happened today. Again — I’ve been getting a lot more pleasure from recounting true stories, and that goes for drawing and writing. So in addition to that Doctor Who related comic that I’m going to post, I’ll also put up here a short story I wrote based on a real encounter I had on the city bus the week before last.

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And:

The city bus is a vessel for the unexpected.

After volunteering at the mental health community center, which would sound to be the most interesting part of the day, I scuttled into the slushy city streets to catch the bus.

I took my seat, giant pink headphones on, and then a gentleman sat next to me. Usually, if someone is creepy I’m mad that they sit next to me. But if they’re cute then I’m very pleased. Well, this man was somewhere in between, so I settled down and rocked out in my head.

Then he tapped my arm, so I slid my headphones down and gave him my attention.

He was somewhere in his late twenties but his wavy black hair over his headband included strands of silver. He looked at me and said, “Excuse me, but I am new to this country and I wanted to know if we could talk, so that I can practice my English.”

Enthusiastically, delighted by his request, I said, “Sure! Of course.”

I listened patiently as he explained that he had just applied for a Social Security Number and asked if I had gotten one, too. When I seemed confused, he drew the conclusion that I was a resident. Then understanding, I told him “Yes,” and said I’d had one my whole life. What a funny thing to take for granted – my own personal number issued to me by the government.

I allowed him to compose his questions carefully and made sure I listened closely. They were simple things: Am I a student? Were there dorms around here? Then why was I so far from West Bank? Are the people at that community center of all ages?

At one point he broke off mid-sentence and pointed past me and said, “Is that a helicopter?”

Grinning, I confirmed.

“Ah,” he said, sitting back in satisfaction, “it’s the same in my language.”

When I told him his English is good, he laughed, shook his head, and said “No, it’s not.” He went on, “Usually people do not like talking to me: They cannot understand me, and they talk so fast.”

I said, “Oh! Did you want me to talk fast?”

“No, because I cannot follow what they are saying. You are talking slowly, and it’s good.” He told me he was new to this country and that he did not speak English where he was from. “It is hard because I’m so alone. There is no one around me.”

Then I fell into a perfect display of American ignorance and said, “Aren’t there other Indian Ph.D. students?” His confusion following my question immediately revealed my error. I was flustered until I tried to rectify it frankly and said, “Well, hold on, where are you from?”

He laughed and touched his face and said, “You thought I was from India. I am from the Middle East. I suppose we may look similar.”

Feeling terrible, I said, “I’m sorry! I made an assumption.”

He dismissed the error as easily as I had made it and our conversation continued, with few moments of silence as the streets passed by. I told him I used to go to school from home and described Brooklyn Center in geographical relation to Minneapolis.

He asked, “Is it by Duluth?”

Endeared by the comparison, I said, “It’s in that direction! But it’s a lot closer. Did you go to Duluth recently?”

He nodded. “I went this weekend because someone told me I would like it.”

“Did you like it?”

Making a slight face he said, “Yes…”

I laughed and said, “Kind of?”

“Well it is different because they told me how beautiful it would be. But I have seen many beautiful places – in Switzerland, in my home country. Here it is winter.”

“Yeah,” I told him, “a lot of people think winter is ugly. Because it’s just white and slushy.”

The conversation drifted. We were getting close to my bus stop.

“What country are you from?” I asked, driven by the realization that he wasn’t going to say but burning with curiosity.

“Oh,” he said, glancing at me sidelong, his reticence clear. “I am from Iran. Do you know it?”

I smiled and nodded. And that’s it. I wondered if he believed I would hate him for it.

He said, with a faintly bewildered expression, “You have been very nice. Some people I talk to just…they do not really want to. I find that people here are…” He searched for words. “…Cold. Like the winter.”

I was absolutely delighted by this comparison and I wish now that I had expressed more agreement with him. Instead I tried to produce words that were similarly meaningful and I know that I failed – me, a natural English speaker, worse with my words than a man that has been in this country for two months.

I had to get off and I did so reluctantly. Our conversation wasn’t over. I stomped into the snow and could feel the moisture through the soles of my Chucks. I stood on the street corner waiting for the lights to turn. I looked through the windows of the bus and found his face. He waved. I smiled.

Okay, fine, this too:

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All right, that’s all.

Actually I will also add what is really a natural thing for me to say now: at the moment, I’m really defining myself through these different works of fiction. I blame it on Tumblr, because all I use it for is reblogging things from LotR, Game of Thrones, Sherlock, Doctor Who, Avatar (The Last Airbender), etc. Consequently, I’m convincing myself to be determined that I only want people in my life who think either my obsessions are funny, or who are just as obsessed as I am. Haha. Whatever.

One thought on “Shameful

  1. luckily…all our fandoms overlap now. and hahaha i definitely got you into 4/5 of those. that little comic is really cute and now that i’ve seen augsburg i think you captured the tone of it really well. especially on a rainy day like today.

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