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Just Trying to Get Home, Thanks

April 27th, 2007

I needed to run some errands this afternoon — drop something off at my sister’s, stop by the library and pick up the DVDs I had on hold and return some books, and some other errand I completely spaced out on. Post office? No. Grocery store? What was it?

I’d already stopped by the vet’s office, mailed some cards, thought about how nice it would be to go for acupuncture. Ahhhh, acupuncture. My mom stops by to hang out with the kids while I’m running errands. (I’m thinking this is the first glitch with homeschooling — when do I run errands? Get pedicures? Go out for sushi with my girlfriends? Internet, I am a kept woman, I think you already knew this. I type for a living! From home! It has its perks. Speaking of, when the hell am I supposed to write? Manuscripts are waiting, and waiting…)

I’d already swung by my sister’s. She wasn’t home, so I left her a voicemail — does she want to have dinner with me, mom and kiddos? Then I headed to the library, west on Killingsworth. We have nice street names in North Portland, don’t you agree? Killingsworth, Failing, Albina — like Albino, get it? Only it’s in one of Portland’s only somewhat diverse — read: African-American — neighborhoods. Then there’s my favorite: Haight. Get it? Hatin’ it. The west side? They get Marigold, Alice and Primrose streets, Canterbury Lane and Lobelia Street. Yeah, it figures.

I hear sirens, and the drivers, being Portland assholes, refuse to pull over. I pull over. The cop car trying to get through ducks and weaves and winds its way on down the street. One siren around here means another siren not far behind, so as soon as I hear it I pull over again. There’s an ambulance, heading west in my lane. No one is pulling over for him — not the people in my lane, not the people in the eastbound lane, uh-uh not budging. The guy in front of me refuses to pull over. The people in front of him refuse to pull over. They finally pull over, but he will not. He is the last hold-out. The ambulance is one car behind me at this point. I’d already beeped my horn at the guy ahead of me, signifying, “I am pulling over/you do same! I will not try to take your place in line/see?” (You have to speak “Portland Driver” to fully understand the scenario.)

He has Washington plates. He’s driving a tiny, old Toyota Tercel. Right away he was on my bad side. And still, he’s not pulling over!

I scream (this is classic), “Move, bitch!” at him and finally, he pulls over. See how I am now? I never used to scream “Move, bitch!” at people. I am surly rude girl now. The guy in the truck across the way gives me a look like, “Hell, yeah, baby! Rock and roll!” The ambulance flies by. I drive to the library, park, go inside and tell the librarians, “Too many sirens! Be careful driving home.” Then I notice the Multnomah County sheriff across the way. When I’m leaving, he escorts me out, so politely that it takes me a minute to realize what he’s doing.

He holds the door for me, looks around to make sure we’re OK. He’s going to watch me walk to my car. What happened? I ask.

“Shooting on Mississippi, about three blocks from here. We’re trying to find the shooter.” Oh. He was making sure the shooter didn’t run into the library. He says no one has been pronounced dead, but from the look on his face — things don’t look good. If you get shot or overdose on the west side, it’s some horrible mix-up. If it happens on the east side/north side, you don’t even get a mention in the paper. If you do, you’re called a gang-banger or possible gang-banger, even if you had nothing to do with gangs. You do not get your picture in the paper, unless it’s a mug shot.

“It’s pretty early in the season for things to be heating up,” I say. He says yes, he agrees with that. I tell him to be careful, go to my car and call my sis. She wants to know when we’re meeting. I tell her what happened.

“I’m staying right here,” she says. She lives not far from the library. She is yay many blocks east, I am yay many blocks west. “Stay home with the kids, why don’t you? And mom.”

I call my husband, tell him to be careful.

I don’t need any pedicures or acupuncture sessions or DVDs to watch. I need the people in my neighborhood to stop dying. I need the killing season to never start.

Love & peace,


(Ed. to say: No one was killed, thank God. A bunch of houses were shot at, shooter was apprehended.)

1 Comment

  1. Mallory says

    Amen. But can’t we have peace AND painted toenails? I am a possibility thinker. I think we can! In fact, if more people got regular self-love like pedicures in that to-die-for massage chair, I think they would be less cranky in that annoying, homicidal way. Hugs and so glad you are safe!

    April 30th, 2007 | #

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