Artist’s Date: some small synchronicities to report

Weisman Art Museum 02/12/10
Weisman Art Museum 02/12/10Weisman Art Museum 02/12/10

I haven’t reported all my artist’s dates, or all my artist’s walks and dates, lately, but I’ve tried to do them as I can. Mostly, these days, Friday I have the car and that means Friday is artist’s date day for me. This is my second one on that schedule. So far, so good.

Today the date consisted of an artist’s walk around Como Park (this is a standard thing), followed by a visit to Weisman art museum, breakfast at Al’s Diner in Dinkytown and coffee and morning pages at Espresso Royale. I have a GPS on my phone so getting from point A to point B between the cities is a lot easier now.  No random “almost knowing” where I am and promptly getting lost – usually. Google Maps has Como park completely mislabeled, making it annoying when I can physically see the navigator giving me bad directions.

So, as I was looking for a parking spot on 14th Street, a beer truck got in my way. At first I was annoyed. But then, a car pulled out of its parking space – a space that was right across from where I wanted to go. If the beer truck hadn’t blocked the street, I never would have gotten that spot. That is my small synchronicity.

Then, I went in to Al’s Diner. I’d only been there once before, and I forgot they only take cash and checks. I haven’t carried a checkbook since my early twenties. (This seems alarmingly more recent in my memory than it actually is.) There was one seat left open – a couple had arrived before me, and were waiting for two seats together. One of the wait staff offered to hold my spot while I ran across the street to the ATM, and they even let me place my order.

I came back and two seconds later, the cook/owner had my breakfast before me. One of his servers was gossiping with the guy next to me (who considerately handed me napkins before I had to ask) and he mentioned a restaurant in south Minneapolis with a good eggs benedict. I was working through my own benedict – my standard order – and I said “They’ve got a damned good eggs benedict right here!” I saw the cook, Doug, puff his chest out a little bit with pride. He hid his smile, but my words meant a lot to him. An artist is an artist. And oh yes, diner cooks are artists – there’s definitely some magic and sensitivity in working those griddles.

At the coffee shop next door, the man in front of me, a gray-haired hippy with a ponytail, was clearly in a dither. He was also asking about getting change to buy some espresso beans from the vending machine at the counter. Rather than force him to beg the cashier, I pulled a quarter out of my coin purse and handed it to him. “I believe in caffeination for everyone.”

The man was so thrilled that he came back and thanked me for it twice, promising to pay it forward. His daughter was celebrating her 20th birthday with him that day, and he was filled with a serious case of the OMGs, dad-style.

The man behind me did not directly thank me, but gave me a semi dirty look. I shrugged. “Old hippies are cute.”

“And we don’t have all day,” he complained. I realized that he felt I did a good thing to – because I moved the line forward. But he was only able to frame it in a negative way. It made me wonder if that was the essential communication failure with my Uncle Bill; he was just so ungenerous with other people that everything came out negative. Besides, my generosity wasn’t about the quarter. It was about the man’s obvious nerves.

For me it was such a contrast. The man in front of me clearly had reason to hurry – and yet he was so positive about the small gesture. The person behind me I think appreciated what I did too, but he was so very negative about expressing it. Attitude is a huge subject around me right now, as I’m coaching my neighbors through artist’s way work themselves, and one person is really struggling with a combination of real depression and the affectation of negativity as a sort of defense mechanism. In some ways the two men in the coffeeshop are like talking to the two aspects I see in my neighbor.

I did come back to my apartment feeling soul-satisfied, and now I’m doing a few things on the computer before I begin my Friday ritual of facial, hair treatment, manicure and leg shave. Although I think I may stop and clean first.

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