Poetry: Christopher Titus Save Me!

The following is an embellished account based on a real experience. Inspired by the poem “the 12 hour night” by Charlies Bukowski from his book “what matters most is how well you walk through the fire.”

 

Christopher Titus Save Me!

By Shannon Laws

“…our bodies were worn, our spirits whipped. there was a sense of unreality.”
the 12 hour night, Charles Bukowski

 

I found myself in middle age working the graveyard shift as a deep cleaner at a casino, and somehow there seemed to be no way out.

I was smothered by
Waist-less woman
in high heels
butts in the ashtrays
butts in the seats
baseball hats on empty heads
guts spilling over large buckles
Work boots, flip flops
bring in an endless
amount of pine needles
and waffle-mud cakes
Everything looks too tight
especially the Tuesday Tweakers.

I am drained here
my life is ending
but Christopher Titus is coming
in February. He smiles at me from the poster’s place
on each side of each four-sided pillar and near the door.
“As seen on Comedy Central!” “Get your tickets now!”

Christopher is coming!  His spiky blonde hair and blue eyes hold life.  He is my savior in an ash covered world. As I sweep up pieces of paper, fingernails, toothpicks, squeezed out limes from the casino’s clown colored floor, I imagine sweet Christopher busting through the main entrance on a white steed
shining
he is shining
glowing with a bright future
a future he offers me if only
I wash off my Cinderella ashes
take his hand and leave this place
Oh, how he glows!

He talks to me—
Why are you here? C’mon, you can do better
You’re wiping up blood and vomit from slot machines.  Your new skill is how to reach into the bathroom garbage to avoid a hidden syringe,
-and the SHRIMP on Friday Fish Day! All that half-chewed shrimp clogging up your vacuum!  C’mon!
look at ME
look how happy I am
join me in this happiness

I was so tired, so dazed, my anguished mixed with hopelessness.  I saw myself fifteen years from now, hunched over the sweeper, being called darlin’ and sugar, taking empty glasses once full of spirits, offering clean ashtrays.

I talked sense to my Titan
This isn’t so bad.
I’ve learned much more than biohazard clean up.
I’ve studied this species of human
that gambles.  You can learn a lot from the way they put out their cigarettes. Like footprints in the snow, you know what animal walked by

The Texan—punches the butt straight down, it stands erect
The Cowboy— rolled and smashed, falls to the side
The Camper—sits at the same machine for hours, same butt brand overfills ashtray
The Britney— pink lipstick on the butt, usually a camper
Ladybird— smokes the very thin lady cigarette, flutters around from machine to machine
Still, my Titan smiles

Then one night I stood up for myself and left
My last day is this Friday, I told my shift manager on Thursday.
You found something else?
Yes
yes, I did.
Fresh air and dignity
It pays nothing

On my last day I hand in my badge, I returned my uniforms, left my locker unlocked,
Christopher Titus had come and gone
A new act was plastered on the pillars
I turned and walked away
into the night
and my life was touched by
magic.

and it still
is.

 


Want to learn more about Christopher Titus? Of course, you do.

https://www.christophertitus.com/

Christopher Titus, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Commuting for "Life"

written: Saturday, November 14, 2009

After a hard day there is nothing like heading out to the beach for some wonderful Beach Therapy. This is free therapy time for anyone; you don’t need to contact your insurance company to see if it’s covered by your plan, ya just go. It was hard to believe while skipping rocks with my husband yesterday that we use to spend 90 to 180 min. a day commuting. It’s been two years since we’ve made that major life change. We moved to a small island 2 hours from Bellingham, Washington. Commuting is only 5 minutes to work and school. I’m continually amazed at how much more free time I have. We now spend and average of 3 hours a week on beaches.

According to 2008 statistics there are 128.3 million commuters in the U.S. and 46.9% of the commuting is city related; suburbanites driving to the city. In 2005 the U.S. government reported that Americans spend 100 hours a year commuting. “At a nationwide average drive-time of about 24.3 minutes, Americans now spend more than 100 hours a year commuting to work, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. Yes, that’s more than the average two weeks of vacation time (80 hours) taken by many workers during a year.” For over 10 years my average commute time was two hours a day- FOUR times the national average! …and I wasn’t the only one.

Road Rage Queen

The longest commute I ever had was Port Orchard, WA to Seattle. Sometimes I would have to drive 60 miles through Tacoma via I-5, a 90 minute commute on average. If there was an accident on I-5 it could add 30-60 minutes to the commute. Normally I would take the Washington State ferries in. Two boats and a bus. One little boat took me to Bremerton, there I loaded onto a larger boat to cross Puget Sound, and once docked at Seattle I would take the Metro up to Mercer Street.

I had to get up at 4:30am, and would arrive at work by 7:30am; I came home around 7pm. It was insane. Why did we live across the sound? Because, we couldn’t afford a nice house in King County. A nice home in a neighborhood that also had a low crime rate and good schools. It was amazing that thousands of other commuters joined me on this “oceanic migration” every morning and evening. At times I felt “trapped” without my car. When the 6.8 2001 Nisqually Earthquake hit it was almost impossible to RUN home. The port authorities halted ferry service so they could inspect the docks. I was home about an hour later than normal.

When we lived in Tucson my husband and I commuted from the suburbs to the city. Although it wasn’t the longest commute I’ve ever had it was the most stressful. After about a year of commuting I realized that my body was in the sitting position for more than twelve hours a day. I sat in the car for 45-60 min in the morning, I sat at my desk for 8-9 hours, and then I sat in my car going home for 60-80 minutes. When I got home it was around 6 o’clock at night. I was just beat down every night. Kept in a constant zombie like state of fatigue, I made that drive for 5 years. By the time my husband was offered a job to this little town, we were MORE than ready to leave that insane lifestyle. Why would we drive that far for that long? Ironically it was because we both had good jobs in the city that offered excellent health benefits. Health benefits that we would surely need considering the mass exposure to pollution, road rage, bad drivers, fatigue, weight gain and stress.

Now after all those years of commuting hell, we are so happy to be 15 minutes from everything including the beach. My jaw hits the floor when long time islanders say things like, “Oh I don’t want to go ALL the way to Roche Harbor for that. It’s on the other side of the island.” This whole island is only 55 square miles! But then again I’m happy that they don’t understand first hand what real commuting is all about. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I’ll just silently nod and am thankful that we all escaped “living in our cars”, to well… just living. It was the best move we’ve ever made.

How long is your commute, and HOW long have you been driving it? …or has it been driving you??

Seattle I-5 traffic

***

A Thick Ring Year

Written: Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Living on an island that is only 55 square miles is starting to work its magic into my mind and heart. If I was a tree this “ring” year would be a thick one, meaning that there was more than enough nourishment, sun, rain and love through out this year to keep me healthy. Not everyday was all sunshine & butterflies! But the storms in life can help keep us strong and alert; and there were many storms in 2008!

For me the material part of my life took the biggest hit ever this year! 2008 hurt my pocket book, my pantry, and closet. I wasn’t able to buy the items I wanted, and had to settle with JUST the items we needed. I felt poor and a little pouty but really- a bad year in America is still better than one in many other countries. If my suffering means I cant get a new couch, (needing one because mine has a busted spring), or a new set of towels (because the old ones are getting frayed), it’s still not as bad as needing say, food or shelter. So no maintenance purchases, just what is necessary. But real happiness shouldn’t come from material items, right?
Washington State winters are gray, cloudy, rainy, and windy. It sounds depressing. However, growing up here I’ve found a natural high every time I take a walk in the muck and come back to a warm home. Coming through the door is a refreshing reminder that not everything is cold and dark.

Just came back from town. It feels wonderful to walk about and say “hi” to the people I pass, “Thank you very much! Have a good day!” to the store keepers. Does it help that the Christmas lights are up all over and there’s that special good feeling in the air this time of the year? It does a little.

A couple of signs that I’m starting to become an islander is how many new sounds I recognize. While walking to the grocery store one day for example, I heard a truck coming up behind me on the road and a single dog “bark!” I knew right away whose dog that was and what truck would drive by me… and I was right. I almost didn’t take note of that moment, until I said to myself, “What’s next? Someone behind me will sneeze at the drug store and I’ll say “Bless you, Nancy.”?
Is familiarity needed to feel comfortable? I would argue yes it is. However I don’t think you need intimate understanding of the things around you before you’re comfortable, but perhaps just faith in the reactions, systems and relationships. If you are going on a journey this holiday season, you’ll know that some things never change no matter where you are in the world. That’s as comforting as a little rum in the eggnog!