Oct. 12th, 2016

fengi: (Mr. Fengi)
It's 22 days until my next birthday. While I've mostly overcome a lifelong habit of feeling excessive symbolic stress on calendar markers, birthdays require advance work to remain calm. Each day I'll write a post about something interesting related to my day. The goal is to make myself either do myself either do something interesting or view the day as interesting regardless. The point is to head off that "what am I doing with my life" stresshole that tempts me every year.

Last year I found a 1967 50 Kopeck piece commemorating 50 years of Soviet power near the Picasso Sculpture on Daley Federal Plaza. I carried it around, imagining stories of how it got there, feeling like I had a ward against capitalism and eventually losing it. This is part of a longer cycle of symbolic coins or tokens that have passed in and out my pocket.

This morning I was walking along brooding on how much I hate capitalism when I stopped to pick up a pile of pennies on the sidewalk to give it to a nearby panhandler. Speaking in a voice low enough I had to bend to hear, he told me the pile was a test and asked me to give him the dignity of listening to him for a few minutes. It wasn't a hustle so much as just the familiar trawling for a larger donation I've heard from public radio, alumni associations, candidates and any allegedly worthy cause. This pitch acknowledged what it was while pointing out the humiliating need ask for money and respect was still real. I'm resistant to most sales, but an appeal to the obscene divide from which I benefit was hard to resist. 40 bucks, 2 tall boys, a pack of smokes and two blocks making small talk later, we parted ways. As he walked away he paused and threw a coin on the ground towards me. It was a 2 pound coin. I can't tell if it was a gesture of appreciation or contempt, or the street version of a complimentary tote bag, but I'll hold onto it until it inevitably slips from my grasp.