Shift 30: Spice


Aadhya decided we should all go to the Spice Festival.

“Culture!” she said. “You need to sample all the world has to offer!”

She’s bought tickets to take us all to the ballet over winter break, and we’re going to the Art Center, too. But our “Exposure to Culture” started with Spice.

So, after cross country practice, instead of riding the RT to YOTO, I walked down to the Spice District. I got a piece of cake at a café and ate it outside while I waited for everybody to arrive.

I’d asked Yuki to come, and she was the first one to join me.

She showed me the Spice Festival website on her phone, and we looked up a recipe for habanero brownies. The hotness rating on the Scoville scale was 300,000 for the brownie!


“That’s one hot brownie!” Yuki said.

I bet her that I could eat it. “I am, after all, last year’s Chili Champion!” I reminded her. I was wearing my shirt to prove it.


Yuki and I went to check out the festival before Aadhya and the other kids arrived. I entered a garlic-eating contest and won a new shirt for this year’s festival. It’s got garlic heads on it. I think it’s almost as cute as the chili pepper shirt.

“You really look at home here,” Aadhya said to me when she came. I guess maybe I might. I mean, last year when I was living at the San Myshuno park, I used to come here a lot, and my school’s here in the city. Our cross country team runs past this park a couple times a week for practice. I know my way around. I guess it sort of feels like home, too.


Marquise had brought his homework along.

“You want to check out the rest of the festival with me?” I asked him.

“Maybe after I finish this geometry stuff,” he said.

“I can help,” I offered.

“Nah. Not yet at least. I gotta figure it out myself.”


That same person that I met last year at the festival came, the trans-person.

“Hey, I remember you,” she said. “You were last year’s Chili Champion.”

I was glad she remembered me. Of course I remember her. I think about her now and then. She’s inspiring to me.


“So, how come I never saw you around here since last festival?” she asked.

“Oh, I had to move out of the city,” I told her.

“I’m sorry to hear that,” she said.


“No! It’s a good thing!” I said. I told her I’d gotten into a program that was helping me, and that I’d come here with the other kids from the program. I didn’t tell her all the details, but she must have picked up on my enthusiasm because she seemed really happy for me.


After she left, Donnie came over.

“What was that you were talking to?” he asked. “I couldn’t tell if it was a guy dressed up like a woman or some kind of ‘roid-rage feminazi!”


He didn’t just say that.

“Tell me you didn’t just say that, Donnie.” I said.

“What?” he laughed. “I thought it was funny!”

“Moron,” I said.


A little while later, Aadhya joined me.

“I couldn’t help overhearing you and Donnie,” she said.


“Yeah, well. He comes from Oasis Springs. I guess it’s to be expected.”

Then, Aadhya went all “why-do-you-think-that” on me. I just said I’d met enough kids at Oasis Springs High to last me a lifetime.

“You can’t judge,” she said. “If you judge everyone from Oasis Springs based on your limited experience, then how does that make you any different from anyone else who judges others?”

I couldn’t listen at first.

“I just hate them all,” I said. “They’re so closed-minded.”

“This isn’t the time,” she said, “but we’ll want to talk more about this sometime.”

She went on to tell me about something she’d noticed during meditation. Her mind kept following specific patterns of thoughts. Even when she’d sit down to meditate and tell herself, “Let your thoughts follow different routes,” she would watch, and they would still follow the same routes.

“I learned about the mind,” she said, “in feeling it. I could feel the thoughts rise, and watch them follow the same patterns, even when I willed them to take a different route.”

She said that’s what minds are like. And until we learn to have a moment’s pause in between the thoughts, then we have very little control over them, and sometimes, they control us, even determining our beliefs and assumptions.

“It’s rather sad, really,” she said. “Worthy of compassion. For ourselves and others.”


I don’t know. I guess it’s something I could think about sometime.

But I didn’t feel like thinking about it that night. That night, I felt making a statement. I got my tablet, found this really cool meme, and posted it on my Twitter page, tagging @DonnieDeMan.


Let’s see what kind of new thought patterns this starts.


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