What are you wearing?
I’ve been using the Reporter app for three weeks to keep track of my life’s data: sleep, coffee, food, etc.
It quizzes me at random throughout the day with a log of questions that might mean something when it accrues enough information, but for not, it’s not enough to mean anything.
But for now, here’s a sample of what I know about myself based on my answers:
- I feel okay 53 percent of the time and only 28 percent of my life feels excellent. There’s also that 17 percent statistic that suggests I feel mediocre. Of course, that doesn’t add up to 100. The rest of the time, which is hardly ever, I’m having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
- I am busy 25 percent of the time. Please note that the app urges me to answer questions outside the realm of 9 to 5 PM. As much as I’d like to call Civilization V “busy,” it’s not.
- There are those that believe I wear dresses a lot. Not true. I wear pants 47 percent of the time and pajamas 33 percent of the time.
- I’m tired 39 percent of the time. I’d like to correlate this with my coffee statistic, but I keep forgeting to turn the app off at night when it asks you, “How many cups of coffee did you have today?”
- I am working 35 percent of the time. For those that work an eight hour job, you should only be working 40 out of 168 hours in a week, which is only 23 percent.
- I write a lot of emails, but I also play a lot of Civ V. Let’s be honest. I’m killing time until Fallout 4. I’ll be playing a lot of Civ V.
- I’m home a lot, but if I’m not there, I’m at work. Go figure.
You can export the data into cool things like CSV and JSON, but I’m not that cool at the internet. Maybe this would be a good start? I know some news nerds that would be proud.
I’ll revisit these stats in a month or so and we’ll see how we’re doing.
Dramatic rescue of a cell phone
The claws of life saved a man’s cell phone at the 42nd Street and Grand Central Station. With seconds to go until the Bronx-bound 4-train arrived, an MTA employee lifted the mobile device to safety.
"You’re the man," the phone’s owner said. Their handshake affirmed the act of heroism.
How does a young person drop their beloved phone onto the subway track?
"Mistakes happen," the MTA employee said. The grabber, however, can only stretch toward the section of the track closest to the platform. The middle is beyond his reach.
I had a conversation on the subway
A voice reached out to me on the subway.
I was nose deep in a book and sitting to my left, a middle-aged man with graying hair. He offered me a seat next to him at 14th & Union station a stop earlier and may have called me sweetheart or something to that effect. I later caught him glancing down at my book and back at me.
It took a moment to register that another human was initiating contact on the train because these are things you tune out. He didn’t look strange or troubled, but surprising - ordinary. He was doing the last thing I expected to happen on the subway: starting a conversation.
"Are you going to war," he asked in a very New York accent.
The question startled me, but of course he asked me that. I’m reading a book called “The Generals: American Military Command from World War II to Today" by Thomas E. Ricks. It’s not your average "Hunger Games" or "Beautiful Ruins" you see passengers read to pass the time.
"No," I told him.
This was a poor excuse for a pick-up line, a co-worker explained to me later. He wanted to know why a girl like me was reading a book on military history - in a place like this.
I chose my next words carefully because I did not owe him an explanation. I stepped into my “mind palace” and went back to the Spokane International Airport, where I bought this book in early January. Desperate for reading material, a bright red book on the bottom shelf caught my eye and my compulsive habit of buying books kicked in.
But why did I choose this book? I could go the personal route and say, “I wanted to learn more about military history because I didn’t pay enough attention in school.”
It felt like he was accusing me of wearing fake glasses.
To be honest, I didn’t have a good reason and I didn’t need one. He only asked me because I’m a woman and that was the last thing he expected to see on the subway.
My book was open to Chapter 16, which is devoted to a man called William Westmoreland, whom I had never heard of until I read this book.
"He was an idiot," the man said.
My book agreed. Westmoreland took command of ground combat during the Vietnam War in 1964 and then sent the Army into ruins, according to my book.
"Apparently he went to some Army Cooks and Bakers School in Hawaii. I didn’t realize those existed." I replied.
Despite being very uncomfortable about having a conversation with a stranger on the subway, I welcomed it. I haven’t spoken to anyone out of the blue like that since Spokane.
"Did you know Douglas MacArthur threw up on the steps of White House," I asked.
This bit of trivia blew his mind. I later learned President H. W. George Bush threw up at a dinner for Japanese diplomats in 1992.
"He really did. He apparently got into a verbal fight with FDR and couldn’t handle the stress. He tossed his cookies." I continued.
For the next 20 minutes, we were the only people speaking on the train to Brooklyn. He’s a divorced butcher at a shop in the Upper East Side. Apparently David Letterman goes there. He had dreams of being an electrician and started going to college for it, but life happened.
He has a son who really enjoys Facebook and playing Candy Crush on the subway.
"I told him," he said. "Join the service and be a man."
The train rolled into Atlantic Avenue - his stop.
"Have a nice life," he said while waving goodbye. He stepped off the train and that was that.
I found this list while cleaning out a bag I used during a trip to Boston in June. Unless you’re fluent in scribbles, #4 is indiscernible.
1. Cattle runs
2. Alaska crab fishing
3. Backcountry (camping on) horseback
5. Buy a pickup truck.
6. (Learn how to ride a horse) western-style.
7. Build your own plane.
8. Sneaking into a country by the cover of night.
Spokane: Didn’t something happen there?
I’m always prepared for the inevitable conversation that clings to small talk. Where are you from? The cat is out of the bag the moment I say I’m from Spokane.  They digest the word - perhaps wondering why I’m pronouncing it funny - or correctly.
"Didn’t something happen there," they ask.
Yes. Something did. Thankfully, I have a list of responses to jog their memory about recent events. They’re not presented in chronological order.
1. Did you read about a city plagued with sexually transmitted infections? Yup. Spokane has a problem with Gonorrhea. It’s kind of awkward.
2. Does the name Delbert Belton sound familiar? That World War II veteran who was killed after some teenagers beat him up?
3. Have you heard of Otto Zehm? He was a mentally disabled janitor that was beat up by Spokane Police officers and killed.
4. Do you remember a ricin investigation from May/June? The guy sent ricin-laced letters to a federal judge and President Barack Obama.
5. Have you heard about the kids attacking their mom with a sword to eat her liver? Yeah. That happened.
6. Did you hear about the columnist who wrote “anal” in a blog headline?
7. Did you see the movie Vision Quest? You know the 80s movie with Matthew Modine about wrestling? 
8. Do you remember that bomb attempt at a Martin Luther King march?
9. Are you a fan of Gonzaga basketball?
 I’m not actually from Spokane, but I spent my post-college life there. I grew up in Woodinville, Washington.  So, it’s not actually a current event but rather an important element of Spokane culture.
Mix: Cat-Like Tread
01 Cabaret - Wilkommen
02 On the Town - Lonely Town
03 Paint Your Wagon - They Call the Wind Maria
04 The Pirates of Penzance - With Cat-Like Tread, upon Our Prey We Steal
05 The Music Man - Marian the Librarian
06 Camelot - C’est Moi
07 Fiddler on the Roof - Matchmaker, Matchmaker
08 West Side Story - Maria
09 Thoroughly Modern Millie - Gimme Gimme
10 South Pacific - I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair
11 Anything Goes - Anything Goes
12 Gypsy - Rose’s Turn
13 Parade - Big News
14 The Producers - I Wanna Be A Producer
15 Kiss Me Kate - Always True to You (In My Fashion)
16 Spamalot - Always Look on the Bright Side of Life
17 Miss Saigon - The Heat Is On In Saigon
18 Hair - Eyes Look Your Last, Ain’t Got No, The Flash Failures
And, although we have a forecast of perfect weather, I will be holding an umbrella so that you don’t have to risk the embarrassment of asking unsuspecting strangers whether they, too, are going on a pigeon walk.
Jailbreaking the reporter’s notebook
It felt right to dig out the old reporter’s notebook still marked up with breaking news scribbles. I reminisced on the subway, spending 40 minutes reliving my last day at The Spokesman-Review.
The last pages to see use date back to a police pursuit where the driver hid in a motel, but not before taking his clothes off in the elevator to change his appearance. He even had a neck tattoo, a physical appearance I noted with a hashtag on lined paper.
I sat on a rock later that day waiting for something - anything - to happen in a quiet neighborhood where federal agents were searching an apartment for traces of ricin. We hoped for any stragglers who may have seen something. I found this guy.
As appealing as sitting on a rock sounded - I had a date with a parade.
And then the pages were blank. It made sense to spend my commute writing notes, questions to prepare myself for my first freelance story in New York. That felt right too.
My fall from grace
The day was Aug. 25 of 2013. I really had to go. The beating drums of performing Chinese bands pounded into my heart as I entered a dank cesspool - the public restroom at Columbus Park.
I crept stall to stall looking for the lesser evil - keeping my breathes short to avoid inhaling bodily fumes.
My sandal lost its grip and my body started careening toward the ground. Protect your hands, I thought to myself. Don’t touch anything. My right knee banged to the ground - splashing into a puddle. I fell into a first-rate kneeling position - complete with jazz hands.
I’m pretty sure I fouled the ears of old Chinese ladies in the bathroom as I cursed the world, my existence and the bathroom. Pain was shooting up my leg. I washed my hands and exited with grace - despite the limp and a lip curled with a frown.
To prove I was okay - I then walked across the Brooklyn Bridge.
I’ve been reading reviews and apparently everyone says the bathroom is reasonably clean which means I have no idea what I experienced compared to everyone else.