yes to sloth reincarnation

I see everything. It’s staggering. Many things are ugly and sad. A few things are beautiful in a superficial way. Some things are ugly in a beautiful way. Or sad in a beautiful way. Or neutral seen through a colored lens of your own choosing. Re: The sky is a lovely shade of cornflower blue / The sky is boring, why is it always blue, but sometimes white / The sky makes me sad / The sky overpowers me with its vastness / The sky enrages me.

Flaws are necessary. Imperfections abound. Everything is so strange. I don’t understand what people are doing. How they are living, existing. Where comes the drive for them to do something. I think I need more sunlight. The darkness slow-kills me with eight-hour stab wounds. My daytime cave smothers me. Who are these people. Don’t tell me. Maybe I need them. I’m not really in a rush.

I can no longer walk ten feet without writing something down. I keep waiting for a lamp post to approach me with violent intent. The suddenness of everything happening around me is electrifying. I’m a festering open sore and the world is my penicillin. But wait, I am allergic. Look out, I’m rejecting the transplant. Maybe I like being alone in a crowd. Maybe the reincarnation is almost complete. Routine comforts and horrifies me. I want it to be different but I’m afraid.

Today was the ice cream social at work. A group of awkward people convened to eat ice cream in a cramped meeting room. Our leader thanked us for doing a good job. It was uncomfortable. We ate our ice cream in silence. Some small talk scratched a flint but the kindling never caught. But there was vegan whipped cream! And organic vegan sprinkles! And vegan chocolate sauce! I ran outside when it was done! It was too late for cigar-smoking man. But expose-her-shoulders-to-the-sun girl was out there. And some bike messengers. I secured a good seat, read another piece in Zone 3. I took the sun and held it close.

As I rode through the supermarket parking lot on the way home, I saw a hearse. Its back window was painted in a colorful stylized manner with the words Girls & Corpses. Soon after, I saw some young runners. I felt a thrill. I felt the sun leave me. This is a true story.

~ FIN ~

review of people magazine

“The horror! The horror!”
– Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

I feel like Kurtz today, holed up behind blackout shades typing in my lair as the heat blazes outside. I have been doing a disturbingly exhaustive update of my reading lists on Goodreads. In doing so, I pulled out some old papers from library school. While working on my degree, I took a course called “Popular Materials and Programming for Adults,” taught by the wonderful and esteemed Dr. Linda Walling. Now, I love Dr. Walling and consider her a strong influence in my librarianship, but she made us read a lot of terrible things in that class. Her theory was that in order to properly serve the adult population of a public library, you needed to read outside of your comfort zone. Did I mention she made us read a lot of books? As if graduate students have time to be reading 25 extra books in a semester?! But I digress. As part of this agony, she requested that we also read a couple of “popular magazines and newspapers.” I chose People magazine as one of them. I have entered the review I wrote below. If you’re curious about the books I read in that class, you’ll have to find me on Goodreads. You need to sign up in order to see my page, though. If you don’t know about Goodreads, it’s a site for people who enjoy obsessively recording their reading habits. If you’re into that, I’d encourage you to join. Then we can be obsessive together and hopefully find out about interesting books from each other. But enough banter…here’s the review:

More celebrity voyeurism [note: I’d just reviewed National Enquirer]. This time a little less sensationalism and slightly padded with “touching” human interest stories and slightly informative biographical sketches. Lots of ads for such items as Godiva ice cream and the latest Maeve Binchy novel. Sleazy pictures of Hollywood stars are mixed in with stories of family courage. Lots of pictures and short articles target the short attention span crowd. As it turns out, I’m not a member of that crowd, and would prefer to peruse the latest batch of zines I find stuffed in my mailbox. Oh, and I found this magazine in a box on the side of the road (I couldn’t bear to spend $2.99 of my hard-earned cash on something that’s going to end up in the recycling box) [prof’s note: That’s OK with me – why support them?].

observing a person

Reviewing web analytics can be fun. One recent visitor to my site arrived there via a search for “observing a person.” I tried replicating this search in a few search engines and did not come upon my site, but perhaps this searcher traveled much deeper into the results than I did. Regardless, it made me think about how we humans observe each other. And whether some of us do at all. I was recently talking to a friend who said her OCD tendencies allow her to immediately notice changes in her environment. This extends to people, too, of course. New haircuts are duly noted, as are unusual clothing items. I, too, closely observe the people around me, although depending on my relationship to them, I may not comment on any changes in their appearance. Awkward situations for me arise when I recognize someone but I can’t tell if they recognize me. Do I comment on this? Do I say I believe we’ve met? Or, I’ve noticed you standing outside my building in the early afternoon every day for the past 5 years? It really depends on the situation. The most awkward situations are when I’m positive that I’ve had interactions with a person and yet the person shows no indication of recognition toward me. Is it possible this person really doesn’t recognize or remember me? It boggles my mind but I suppose it can be true. What also confuses me is when there is no sign of recognition until you bring up a previous encounter. And then the person is like, “Oh, yeah, you’re so-and-so. I remember.” Is the person lying? Or just didn’t want to acknowledge me until I initiated it? I don’t get it. I guess I am just a bit obsessed with what is going on in other people’s brains. Are they observing other people as closely as I am, but just not mentioning it? Are they completely clueless and walking around in a total fog? What do you notice first about a person? Does it depend on whether it’s a man or a woman? What warrants a comment, and in what circumstances? Am I just crazy for thinking about stuff like this? Please advise.

paperback rider

Sometimes I take my bike on the light rail in the morning in order to avoid a particularly bike-unfriendly stretch of road near my house. Almost every time I do this I see the same man sitting in the same seat on the train. Because of how I stand with my bike in the back, I never see his face, even though he is only a few feet away. But I recognize him every time. I see his shoes and I see his styrofoam cup of coffee held in hands with well-manicured nails. I also see his paperback book, of which he reads about one per week or so. Today I was wondering about whether he only reads these books on the light rail. Does he read at home, too? If so, in what genres? I was also wondering if he plans ahead when he knows he’s going to finish a book while on the train. As it so happens, this morning he completed a Stephen King novel, after which he immediately reached into his bag to pull out a Dean Koontz novel. He observed the cover for a few seconds, then flipped the book over and read the blurb on the back. Eventually he cracked open the book and started reading.

I don’t ever want to see this man’s face. For me he will always be the anonymous paperback reader on the light rail. If I were to see his face, it would ruin everything. God help me if he ever leans forward to scratch his ankle or something. I’d have to shut my eyes tight or turn quickly away and hope that no image of his face entered my mind. People are always getting to me like this in so many different ways.

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