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I have been extremely busy of late. And when I say busy, I really mean exhausted. I haven't had time to get a good night's sleep in what feels like forever, and it shows in almost everything I do. I am a walking motherfucking zombie, but that's truly alright, because I have a job.

A pretty good job. A 9-to-5, honest-to-goodness, hand-to-heart job! Like, a position with a growing company and everything! It is way cool, people. I cannot even tell you how refreshing it is, this making money shit. I don't make much per hour, but it's a living. Good stuff, if you can get it. And, because I didn't have a full-time job for so long, I am worn out by not just the employment itself, but by the commute, too.

The commute is a bitch. It's 1 1/2 hours one way, which means I commute for 3 hours, 5 days per week. That's 18 hours in one 40-hour work week that I spend on the mode of transportation many working schlubs like myself depend on:  the bus.

As many of you know, I moved from the Boulder area to the greater Denver area some months ago, which was a very necessary transition for me. It's been hard being farther away from Little Shiz, but it's been excellent for both of us in all sorts of other ways. She's even taken the bus with me a few times and, although she was bored out of her ever-lovin' mind, Little Shiz seemed to honestly enjoy it. The was an unexpected surprise.

Denver-Boulder has this kickass RTD system. I like it very much.

However.

18 fuckin' hours per week is a lot of time. No matter how many People magazine articles I read, or how into the Hunger Games series I am, there are simply many hours upon hours I'm gonna be trying like hell to stay awake by making up shit in my head that has nothing whatsoever to do with reality. It's human nature, I guess. Or maybe it's just me, I have no clue.

Honestly, I could not venture onto the bus on a frequent basis without one vital accessory: music. It's how I get through, how I cope, and I consider my tunes my Bus Soundtrack. Smart phones are freaking amazing these days, I tell you whut. All that memory packed into this tiny little electronic thing that enables me to deal with the 9-to-5 grind, ya know?

That's awesome sauce, right there.

I leave my house at 7:30 am. Hopped up on coffee or not, I require quick jams right out of the gate if I'm gonna keep cold weather at bay or deep-breathe through some jackass sitting next to me who's talking on his cell phone the entire time. Some days it's both, it just depends.

7:30 am Bus Soundtrack

Acapella - Kelis
Army of Me - Bjork
Brain Stew - Green Day
Caught Up - Usher
Cobrastyle - Robyn
End of Line - Daft Punk
Finally - CeCe Peniston
Fine Time - New Order
Galvanize - The Chemical Brothers
Gonna Make You Sweat - C & C Music Factory
Good Times Bad Times - Led Zeppelin
Guerilla Radio - Rage Against the Machine
Hair of the Dog - Nazareth
Hip Hop Hooray - Naughty by Nature
Miss You Much - Janet Jackson
Monkey - George Michael
Nookie - Limp Bizkit
Photograph - Def Leppard
Pump Up the Volume - M.A.R.R.S.
Steal My Sunshine - Len
This is How We Do It - Montell Jordan
Thunderstruck - AC/DC
Vertigo - U2
Wild Side - Motley Crue
Young Blood - Naked and Famous

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, there is a dude at the bus stop who wears the same pants every time. They look like medical scrubs. Sometimes he wears green Converse All-Stars, sometimes he wears wingtip shoes. He's fairly young, maybe 20. Young Dude smokes some cigarettes I've never seen before, but other times he goes for cigarellos. Although Young Dude looks and acts all tough, I get the feeling he's a total sweetheart. He has a tattoo right next to his left ear, that of a knife penetrating his skull. I say "hi" to him occasionally, but he never responds in kind. Just piddles through his smart phone like it's goin' outta style.

The bus driver at 7:30 am is killer! Bus Driver calls me "darlin'" and winks at me every morning. He drives like he's late for the newest blockbuster release and he absolutely refuses to miss the previews. Bus Driver has no qualms about telling anyone to sit down, shut up, or chill. I have mad respect for the guy.

My fellow bus riders are an eclectic mix, but sometimes there is this group of young chicks (21? 22?) who talk about smoking weed all the friggin' time. They are extremely loud and annoying, and one of them looks like an exact cross between Scarlet Johansson and John Robinson. I cannot help staring at her, so I just do. Fortunately, I only see them about once per week, but they ride with me my entire way to work. I practice my deep breathing exercises around them.

I am completely obsessed with Older Lady in the Fuzzy Cap. I see her Monday-Friday, and sometimes she's with her Mean Husband, but other times not. The reason I'm so obsessed with Older Lady in the Fuzzy Cap is because she has these huge, Coke-bottle type glasses that make her eyes look ginormous, and because she's possibly the least gracious human being I have ever seen, both physically and mentally. I've seen her trip over her own shoelaces, and fall down, more than a few times. What's worse, she will shoot anyone a nasty look if they talk too loud, or cough, or make any sort of noise at all. She never acknowledges Bus Driver, or me, or any of the other regulars, and I kind of want to hug her and swear at her in equal amounts. Older Lady in the Fuzzy Cap confounds me, especially since Mean Husband is very verbally abusive to her, and I don't like that she takes his crap. It really makes me cringe.

At 8:10, we arrive at the lightrail station. Lightrail is this most excellent thing that Denver has to offer, I swear to God. The U.S. transportation secretary recently rode the 'rail, and it's one thing I can ultimately thank President Obama for and mean it. I wish I could ride lightrail the entire way to work but, alas, I live east and lightrail only runs north/south. These nifty little trains make me happy as a fucking clam (are clams happy? really, are they?) and, by this time of the morning, I'm pretty much awake and irritated, so I switch up my music in an attempt to calm myself down and prepare for the day ahead.

8:10 am Lightrail Soundtrack

American Dreaming - Dead Can Dance
Bittersweet Symphony - The Verve
Black Swan - Thom Yorke
Clumsy - Our Lady Peace
Dig - Incubus
Don't Fear the Reaper - Blue Oyster Cult
Down on the Corner - CCR
Drinking in L.A. - Bran Van 3000
Every Little Step - Bobby Brown
Freedom90 - George Michael
Gender Bombs - The Stills
Halcyon and On and On - Orbital
Head Over Heels - Tears for Fears
It's a Shame - Monie Love
Lights and Music - Cut Copy
Little Fluffy Clouds - The Orb
Lullaby for Gaia - BT
Need You Tonight - INXS
New World Man - Rush
Pumped Up Kicks - Foster the People
Right Here - SWV
Shut Your Eyes - Snow Patrol
Somebody That I Used to Know - Gotye
Something Good - Utah Saints
Superstition - Stevie Wonder
Swim - Madonna
Tony - Patty Griffin
Wonderwall - Oasis
Youth of the Nation - P.O.D.

Two weeks ago, some asshole on a bike almost knocked me over in the tunnel leading to the lightrail station. I got pissed, rightfully, and yelled at him, but he didn't even get off his bike to apologize. I almost couldn't believe it, and yet ...

There are two main things that my daily commute has taught me. One is to have humility, and the other is that public transportation seems to bring out both the best and the worst that humanity has to offer. These lessons are equally important, at least to me.

Nobody notable rides the lightrail (see: nobody overtly makes me want to claw out my eyes), and I'm convinced it's because everybody loves the lightrail. It only takes 8 minutes for me to get to me next stop, and the entire way, I wish it could be longer. That shit totally makes me proud to live and work in Denver.

The last part of my commute is by far the best part, because I realize that I'm almost to work and I'm glad about that. This is the longest outside wait for me, because I have to be patient for the 8:45 am Call 'n Ride, which takes me directly to my office building.

 ...

I KNOW!

Call 'n Ride is all sorts of hippy groovy. I know both of the drivers (the one dropping off and the one picking up), and they are both genuinely nice guys. I know both bus drivers' names, and I know the Call 'n Ride regular patrons pretty well, too.

8:27 am Bus Soundtrack

Only - Nine Inch Nails
One Tribe - Black Eyed Peas

I have been alternating between these two songs only (no pun intended, actually) of late during my 18-minute wait for the Call 'n Ride. One song reminds me of where I was and the other one reminds me of where I am. I play them over and over again, and I'm usually pretty happy and pleasant by then.

And grateful. I am fucking grateful as fucking fuck!

Because I have a job. Because, even though 3 hours is a long time in anyone's day, doing anything, Denver has a really decent public transportation system. Because Little Shiz is doing really, super well. Because I get to jam, and sometimes sing at the top of my lungs, waiting for the Call 'n Ride. Because I make a little money now. Because I have a good lunch waiting for me in my bag. Because I get to see that Lovely Woman on the Call 'n Ride, everyday, who lights up the room (bus?) with her smile, and then makes small chitchat with me, and then reads her Bible. Everyday. And I also get to see Funny Lady, who has numerous pet names for me, and we joke around while we discuss the political implications of the Hunger Games, and how her husband fell in the tub last night, head first, and she shot a picture of him and put it on Facebook before she helped him up. And then I get to see the guy who works in my building too, Single Father, who's in a wedding band every weekend and tells me about his gigs and how he's a dancer as well and, whaddya know? Turns out Single Father knows Sarafrom Season 3 of SYTYCD, in real life! How cool is that?!

Because today is just another day in the (now-)boring life of Shiz, but that's fantastic because at least I'm genuinely content and good. Because I laugh more than I cry these days, and because it's such a blessing to just

be.
alive.

And then I get to work, and do my productive, worky-type shit with a boss who respects and likes me, and I enjoy myself. I'm good with our clients and I fit in very well there. I'm hoping this gig lasts for awhile.

But I'll always remember what the bus taught me. And that's fucking great, man. It just is.

Originally posted to I don't think you're ready for this jelly. on Sun Mar 11, 2012 at 09:43 PM PDT.

Also republished by Extraterrestrial Anthropologists, Personal Storytellers, Unemployment Chronicles, and Colorado COmmunity.

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