Forty-Something Years in Ninaland


Another Day, Another Café

Starbucks_Corporation_Logo_2011.svgI got a bottle of water from Starbucks this morning and the cashier, in all the shuffle and because I also ordered an iced coffee with milk and sugar free hazelnut syrup, forgot to charge me for the water. I realized it when I sat down. I thought about going back up to the lady at the register and telling her, but something stopped me.

It’s not that I’m not a good person. It’s just that first of all why do I have to pay for good water? Our water should be pure. Secondly, the water is probably like two or three dollars and they give a whopping five cents to humanitarian causes. Five cents. I know, I know, Starbucks is a great company etc. etc. BLAH BLAH. However they overcharge for coffee and they are taking over all small café’s in the entire world.

If we don’t watch out the world could become one big Starbucks. I’m not kidding we could all end up living in a huge coffee house with a green sign. Don’t get me wrong; I have a love/hate relationship with Starbucks. It bores me to death that it’s everywhere, however I like my sugar free hazelnut, not all cafes have that. It’s a conundrum.

I’m not suggesting you steal from anywhere, but if someone mistakenly gives you a free thing, I would take it. Especially if it’s from a company that is bigger than god. But what about morals? What about doing the right thing? I’m not sure that spending this much on coffee is the right thing to do anyways. You know that thing about how you could save like a million dollars for retirement if you just stopped buying coffee from cafés? It’s probably true.

I used to go to a café in Birmingham, Michigan. I don’t remember the name, but it was an independent thing that kept changing owners and names. It was open all night; students would usually crowd the place and a few homeless people too. One guy was known to be Schizophrenic and he would roam through the streets of Birmingham and always buy a Mountain Dew from the café.

I’ve heard Mountain Dew is special and can stabilize someone with ADHD. It could be a myth, don’t quote me on it. I don’t know what Mountain Dew does to schizophrenics. I know what it does to me: wakes me up….


I just had a salad at Panera Bread. I’m on a new diet. We will see if this one works. There is a Jewish man sitting across from me wearing a cap, I don’t know what it’s called. I want to ask him. I want to talk to him, because he is different than me. And I know men who wear turbans, and have a hard time and a lovely time, living. Is it similar wearing a cap too? Is it the same as wearing Hijab for Muslims, or Burkha? Nothing is similar, nothing is the same, yet we are all somehow one.

Speaking of us all getting along, I guess I’m as guilty as anyone else about judging people by the way they look. There are two attractive middle-aged blonde women sitting next to me. They are dressed very fashionably so I assume they are rich housewives. I don’t know anything about them, who am I to judge? “She’s like schizophrenic,” one of the housewives says. Is she under the impression that schizophrenia is multiple personality disorder? People get that mixed up all the time.

People will be talking in jest and say things like, “She’s so bipolar,” when talking about some random acquaintance of theirs. It’s casual and I know they don’t mean anything by it, but it still bothers me. Maybe it should not. Maybe I should be stronger than that. But I’m not.

It’s a beautiful day! Remember Mr. Rogers? “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day in the neighborhood, would you be mine, would you be mine, would you be my neighbor?” I want you to be my neighbor. It’s like you are sitting next to me right now and I’m just talking to you. Just talking.

You can talk back to me, if you put in the comments I can hear what you have to say.

Pretend we are having a cup of joe together at one of these very cafés that I go to. You know what I don’t like? There is a Target across the street. It’s probably identical inside to a Target in Minneapolis or Kentucky. There’s no variety anymore. I like Target, but the world is turning into a great big strip mall with the same exact chain stores, cafés, and restaurants. And it’s not just in America; Starbucks is like in India and stuff. They don’t even drink coffee much in India and no way can Starbucks make proper chai.

“A really nice staple cream blouse,” is what the housewife next to me is saying. I mean why does she have to be so typical?

What’s up with that anyways?

There are construction men hauling things outside the window. Some people think I’m a snob because I won’t date construction workers or truck drivers. I just don’t think we would jive? What’s your opinion on the matter? Could you see my princess ass with a construction worker? What would we talk about? I don’t know, am I too judgey?

There is a total of one black person, no sorry two black people in this entire café. I live in such a white-bred world. “Uptown Girl, she’s been livin’ in her white-bred world, I bet she’s never had a backstreet guy, I better mother never told her why…I’m in love with an uptown girl.”

I guess I’m an uptown girl. I want to be different. I mean I lived in Harlem next door to a drug dealer when I was in grad school. It did change me somewhat, I gave that neighbor a dirty look, like don’t even think of looking my way, every time he walked by.

I don’t have to do that here in the suburbs. There is a Muslim woman with a light blue scarf or hijab on. She is stunning actually. She is talking to a bald man outside.

I wish there was even more diversity in this town. I am the one and only Indian person in this café. That’s kind of annoying and kind of brilliant. I’m unique and I’m different.

I can’t decide if I’m special or I’m just being stupid.

I started Weight Watchers; this will be like my tenth time trying it in my life. I’ve lost weight on it before, so it should work. I like it so far; I’ve had one meal and a snack. Oprah bought into Weight Watchers big time. It just so happens I do everything that woman says.

It’s nine-o’clock in the morning, on a Friday. I’m at a bagel shop. Nothing is happening. Literally, nothing.

Let’s talk about nothing for a second here. What is nothing? It’s literally no-thing. Not even a thing. Nothing is wrong right now, nothing is right. Am I the same person I was yesterday? I don’t know. ‘Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away…cause I believe in yesterday…” I believe in yesterday, just as much as I believe in tomorrow.

There is something about yesterday that is sweet. There is something about the past that is real. The future is imaginary. But really there is only one moment: the present. The present is all around us, it’s real. For me it’s a bagel shop with a bunch of businessmen getting their breakfast. Right now, that is my present moment. The smell of fresh bread and cheese. It’s all here, in this moment. None of it is bad. I’m OK ,you’re OK. We are gonna be alright. I know it…


Goldfish Tea

Now I’m at the teahouse sipping on mint tea. They are about to play live music, one of my former students is playing guitar. Seems to me there are a lot of people in their twenties here. That’s nice, it makes me feel young. “Tonight, we are young, set the world on fire…” I don’t remember the rest of the words. I think it’s a group called Fun that sings that. Great name for a band. Fun.

Oh I didn’t tell you someone told me to patent Ninaland…I might just do that. If I have to sell Ninaland t-shirts to make money, I might. Anything to keep the dream alive. “What’s your dream? In Hollywood everybody’s gotta dream…” Name the movie that line came from…

I want to be distracted tonight…I don’t want to work. Two young chicks came into this joint with red and pink roses in their hands. They are wearing a lot of make-up but they are still pretty. I should have worn lipstick. But tonight I’m me, just me. Bare faced and no longer a young girl. A woman.


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 October 24th, 2015  
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