Wednesday, March 30, 2005

the first floor houses our fiction collection and all of the children's books; the reference desk and non-fiction are upstairs, on a mezzanine.

under the wide staircase sits a bank of children's computers, maybe ten of them. the desks are lower and there are little chairs. sometimes, if i'm just walking by, i poke my head in. mostly to say hello, but also to make sure there aren't any weird grown-ups hanging about.

as i walked up today, i saw an unfamiliar little girl pretending to type. she was four or five. the chair was pushed in and she was standing behind it, pressing buttons on the keyboard. her blue screen meant that the computer needed a password.

she said, can you fix this for me?

i put on the kind, helpful voice i use with small children. i'll try.

she took one little girl step to the right and we stood beside each other. i reached down to type and, just then, she leaned her head against my forearm.

(my heart broke.)

she sat down and put on a pair of giant brown headphones.

if you need any help, just ask someone at that desk. i said, pointing toward circulation. i started to leave.

hurriedly, she took off the headphones. wait. where are you going?

i'm going back upstairs.

where will you be?

at that big desk, up there.

and then, just to make sure that i knew, she said, i can find you.

last seen: harold and kumar go to white castle
last heard: the ladybug transistor 'oceans in the hall'
last read: This much is clear: through it all, George W. Bush’s high-minded respect for human life, great and small, only extends so far as U.S. soil. And without universality, morality is only moral in the most zombified, most perverse sense.

Monday, March 28, 2005

when the big split came, a few years back, she and i divided all of our stuff. oddly enough, the books and music were easy. the hard part was finding myself with half of a kitchen.

as a bachelor, recently reintroduced to the wild, i made due for a long time eating small meals out of huge mixing bowls and drinking beer from a coffee cup. it was only a pain when i invited a ladyfriend over for dinner. this required planning, making sure that the few matching dishes i owned were all clean at the same time, so it would seem seamless as i reached into the cabinet.

oh, yes, there are many many similar items in this cabinet. why no, i don't have an assortment of plastic collector cups from various sporting events...DON'T LOOK IN THERE!

slowly, over the course of months and months, i began to buy things. it helped that the women in my life took pity on me at holiday times. the aunts bestowed a matching set of dishes, my sister gifted OXO products.

the only gap that remained in the collection was proper drinking glasses. i remedied this problem yesterday with the purchase of a smart set. now if you come over and you want two drinks at the same time, i can give you water in a tall glass and juice in a short glass and you don't have to drink out of the octoroon jihad mug unless you're just nostalgic.

last seen: legends of the fall, my beautiful laundrette
last heard: heikki 'former hero'
last read: up at 7am, on the bikes by 8am. walking the zoo till noon. home for naps, 30 minutes only, then up and running circles around the house while i sit on the porch sipping vermouth (whatever that is).
bonus: Everything is taken care of by specially assigned people.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

this morning i had the rare pleasure of writing a final check to pay off a credit card.

it wasn't the first time i've done that and, with one card left to defeat, it won't be the last time either. at least, it's progress. besides, paying off one more debt is a nice way to begin month four of operation: get my shit together. [insert sound of screeching eagle here]

the liberating feeling that accompanied the final payment was a sweet and tiny goal in itself, especially since i originally applied for the card in question to purchase suits that no longer fit.

i'm too much man for those sissy clothes anyway (...he said, trying to rationalize his newly-acquired bulk). though i do wish i hadn't ballooned out of my seersucker. any true southern gentleman should have one.

last seen: the kid stays in the picture, shaun of the dead, the white stripes: under blackpool lights
last heard: camera obscura 'double feature'
last read: In 1996, declassified SOA training manuals, obtained by the Baltimore Sun via a Freedom of Information request, showed quite explicitly that the school's curriculum featured torture techniques.
bonus: at the library on thursday evening, we had a kid's program about bugs. i held a madagascar hissing cockroach. that is all.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

why my co-worker is going to have an uncomfortably hot room in hell and why i will be in the room next door which is only slightly-less uncomfortable: a play in one act

scene- yesterday. the staff lounge.

co-worker: if i hear one more thing about terri schiavo, i'm going to drive down to florida and strangle her myself.

me: [puts down book] you could use the feeding tube to do it. i mean, it will be sitting right there next to her.

co-worker: i'll take a hit off of the feeding tube right before i strangle her with it, to get my strength up. [pantomimes the international sign for i'm taking a hit off of some poor woman's feeding tube right before i strangle her with it, to get my strength up.]


last seen: marathon man
last heard: marlena shaw 'california soul' [via robin's cd which arrived in the mail today]
last read: i especially like science that thinks about space and time, as well as squid.

Monday, March 21, 2005

the state library offered a workshop in asheville this morning. i decided to drive up yesterday, find a hotel, and just wander. what better place than the mountains, on a cloudless 60-degree afternoon, to enjoy the first day of spring?

after lunch at one of my favorite spots, i headed over to the city plaza where veterans for peace planned a rally. i lounged in the grass surrounded by like-minded folks; at the front of the crowd sat a tiny stage, musicians and speakers took turns with our attention.

the music was ok and the head of the local chapter of veterans for peace gave an impassioned and cogent speech. unfortunately though, here is where my critique turns sour.

the rest of the speakers just gave me gas. many of them, especially the younger ones, had a hard time staying on point. a woman began talking about the war and then, inexplicably, digressed into [her words] a personal poem about being a dyke. i almost elbowed the quakers next to me to ask if i was at the right rally.

i've been to other peace rallies and noticed this kind of thing more and more, people working in their other causes. i'm sure at least a few of you have been to similar events, so please tell me if i'm just getting old and bitter.

honestly, keep your poetry. also, white people with dreads-- get a haircut. with that hair, i can't even take you seriously and i'm on your team.

just once i'd like to see someone like me, a fairly clean-cut adult, perhaps wearing a tie, get up and in a clear voice say 1,500 dead US soldiers and 100,000 dead iraqis. surely, at a peace rally, that could be enough.

last seen: barton fink, bad education
last heard: human league '(keep feeling) fascination'
last read: walker percy the moviegoer
reading: zadie smith the autograph man

Friday, March 18, 2005

by the time i pulled into the gas station this afternoon, someone had already spread several thousand pounds of sand through the intersection and news crews were tearing down their cameras. an african-american woman was standing on the corner yelling at traffic, but that isn't really part of my story.

i pumped gas, then walked inside to pay for it. i heard another customer ask the cashier-- what happened out there?

she lifted an arm and pointed toward a large truck across the road. a 55-gallon drum of blue ink fell off the back of that truck and busted open.

as i drove away, i noticed blue tire tracks continuing down the road, criss-crossing solid lines near the stop light. half a block away, the lines became dotted; until finally, they faded completely. it must have been the same on every street that jutted off of that intersection. i tried to imagine how the neighborhood looked from above.

last seen: the mouse that roared
last heard: blonde redhead 'melody'
last read: daniel handler: they actually strike me as needing a drink more than drugs. and to get laid. and to read a book.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

as i may have mentioned, my library is attached to a high school, so i'm privy to news that other grown-ups simply are not. for instance, did you know that tickets to prom cost $50 this year? that doesn't even include your tuxedo, dinner, or a pair of red underpants origami-ed to look like a rose.

$50 seems kind of steep for psychological scars and lusty fumblings-- two things that can be had for much less than $50. take it from me.

i attended senior prom fourteen years ago, scandalously, with an older woman. she was a friend who graduated three years before i did. she drove back from college to accompany me to my prom.

[keywords include: braces, hair gel, my mom and dad's VW golf, a riverboat on the st. lawrence seaway, photos in front of an enormous set of comedy-tragedy masks crafted of silver and blue tin-foil. oh, yeah, plus psychological scars and lusty fumblings.]

last seen: the postman always rings twice
last heard: elliott smith 'say yes'
last read: Mr Bush hailed Mr Wolfowitz - Washington's most powerful neo-conservative - as "a compassionate, decent man who will do a fine job at the World Bank." [more, more]

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

today, i am cheating. with these last few hours before bed, i feel like reading more than anything else--more than showering or calling someone on the phone, more than writing or even watching movies. so, i'm going to go do that.

the other day, this passage made me very happy.

I have not asked her for a date nor spoken of anything other than business. Yet the fact is that for two weeks I have thought of little else. She seems quite indifferent so far; and she is not really beautiful. She is a good-sized girl, at least five feet six and a hundred and thirty-five pounds-as big as a majorette-and her face is a little too short and pert, like one of those Renoir girls, and her eyes a little too yellow. Yet she has the most fearful soap-clean looks. Her bottom is so beautiful that once as she crossed the room to the cooler I felt my eyes smart with tears of gratitude. She is one of those village beauties of which the South is so prodigal. From the sleaziest house in the sleaziest town, from the loins of redneck pa and rockface ma spring these lovelies, these rosy-cheeked Anglo-Saxon lovelies, by the million. They are commoner than sparrows, and like sparrows they are at home in the streets, in the parks, on doorsteps. No one marvels at them; no one holds them dear. They flush out of their nests first thing and alight in the cities to stay, and no one misses them. Even their men pay no attention to them, anyhow far less attention than they pay to money. But I marvel at them; I miss them; I hold them dear.
-Walker Percy The Moviegoer

last heard: tv on the radio 'netti fritti'
last read: getting bored is not allowed at the plaza hotel

Sunday, March 13, 2005

[NOTE: my innocent-bystanderish recollection of the events of last evening appear below. for a first-hand account, please visit mark. it is also worth noting that the events described below were first witnessed through a cloud of robitussin and gin.]

scene- the outdoor patio of a drinking establishment. groups of people scattered about. mark and sam are seated on a wooden bench and i am standing in front of them. the three of us are talking.

sam is telling a story from his new york days about an obsessive-compulsive friend of his who would go to every new production of equus in the metro area. the play was quite popular at the time and this friend had seen it many, many times. he could even remember and quote the exact dates he had seen each play.

at about this point in his story, i feel something brush against my arm. it feels, curiously, like a girl's bottom. i pay it no mind. could be i didn't give someone enough room to pass and, frankly, it's been so long since i've been in the vicinity of actual girl bottom that i thought perhaps my mind was playing tricks.

i felt it again and a third time, more forceful, so i turn my head. a very drunk young woman is bent over, backing, bottom-first, into the middle of our little group. all the while she is going beep, beep. booty call. beep, beep. booty call. i get out of the way, assuming she's a friend of mark's or sam's, because i sure don't know her. as she eases her way onto sam's lap, her rather flamboyant male friend remains standing beside me.

i can't hear their conversation, so, when the guy starts in with small talk, i oblige to keep things neighborly. soon i get the feeling that this guy is chatting me up to see if i want to buy some coke or something, then i look down and-hold the phone-mark is soul-kissing this strange, trampy girl!

slowly, the realization that none of us had ever met this girl passes over me in warm, queasy waves.

i keep thinking, i wish the drug guy would hurry up and give me the pitch, so i could decline and get back to watching the show; then, as quickly as they both appeared, they vanished.

last seen: the far country
last heard: cadallaca 'the trouble with public places'
last read: My interests include motorcycle. [more best ofs]

Friday, March 11, 2005

missing time

sometimes, if i'm cooking dinner or sweeping up the place, i leave the tv on even when i'm not watching it. a lot of people do that, i think. i usually put in a DVD. trouble is, i naturally put in a DVD that i own and, since i own it, then i obviously really, really like the movie and i wind up getting sucked in almost every time.

i can feel it happening. i usually pop my head in the room and lean against the doorframe for longer and longer periods of time. i never sit. sitting would mean that i was neglecting my chores. somehow i've managed to convince myself that if i'm standing during the film then i'm not wasting time.

tonight, i lost an hour of my day by watching the first third of the godfather. i made it from the opening frame to leave the gun, take the cannoli before i was able to turn the movie off and get back to making my bed and putting my clean clothes away.

last seen: lost horizon, withnail and i, gun crazy, equus, the yes men
last heard: the fiery furnaces 'mason city'
last read: jonathan safran foer everything is illuminated
reading: walker percy the moviegoer

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

i remember last week, after taking one more phone call from one more sick person and shuffling the schedule one more time, thinking-- just once, i'd like it if the whole staff could make it to work everyday for a week. this was the request i made of the gods. i decided that asking for each of the co-workers to also make it in on-time was a bit much and likely outside the power of the gods, so i was willing to settle for simple attendance.

this isn't something i'm proud of, this talk with the gods, but at least i'm honest in admitting that it took place. as payment for my callousness and cynicism, the gods rerouted my request, instant karma style, and presented me with my very own fever.

so, here i am wearing long johns, wool socks and a knitted cap in my own house even though the thermostat tells me this is lunacy. i'm also coughing a lot and my muscles and joints are achy, so achy, in fact, that whenever i have to make water i don't get up right away. i fear the feeling of my unsure legs bearing the weight of my entire being. instead, i wait and wait until i can't wait anymore, then i throw myself down the hallway in the direction of the bathroom. if you were here, you could laugh at how baby-horse-like my gait is, like i'm using my legs for the first time.

last seen: the missouri breaks
last heard: placido domingo and ileana cotrubas 'libiamo ne' lieti calici' from la traviata
last read: These apple-cheeked youngsters became suddenly hardened and cynical. They took up smoking right there on line, laughing bitterly like baby Piafs...

Sunday, March 06, 2005

one of the good things about the new car is the full-sized spare. one of the bad things is the frequency with which i have to use it. my tires seem to be magnets for all manner of sharp objects.

a few months ago, i managed to get a nail stuck in the side-- yes, you read that correctly-- the side of my tire. this was very not-patchable and i ended up buying a new tire. then, on friday, whilst walking out of the dry cleaner, i spotted a screw sticking out of that newly-purchased tire. this time it was in the tread and i'm hoping it can be fixed. we shall find out tomorrow.

you know, i wonder if they could make magnetized curbs. they could be powerful enough to pull stray metal bits off of the road, but weak enough that they wouldn't make your car veer off to the right. i'm sure i'm not thinking this all the way through. maybe scientists already decided that it would mess with people's pacemakers or make bicyclists wreck or make bicyclists with pacemakers wreck.

last seen: quiz show
last heard: edan 'beauty'
last read: "Daddy...wherrrrrrre's Daddy?" I said into the microphone, looking for an old man in a tux.'s the funny part. The bride's Dad is DEAD.
last crush: annie mac

Friday, March 04, 2005

Two Public Service Announcements

looks like there's only one carolina date in the upcoming decemberists tour. it is in asheville and i just purchased my ticket. hope to see some of you there.

Information Resources Officers are presently assigned to the following home posts: Abu Dhabi, Abuja, Bangkok, Beijing, Berlin, Brasilia, Buenos Aires, Cairo, Dakar, Jakarta, Lagos, Mexico City, Moscow, Nairobi, New Delhi, Pretoria, Rome, Tokyo, Vienna, and Washington, DC...In addition to the general requirements for employment in the Foreign Service, an applicant must have an M.L.S. (Master's in Library and Information Science) from an American Library Association-accredited graduate program.

last seen: laverne and shirley: season one (disc 3), pickup on south street, napoleon dynamite, the harvey girls, thriller: a cruel picture
last heard: the move 'fire brigade'
last read: Even I—yes, don’t look so shocked—I too have a few smudges on my otherwise shimmering escutcheon of taste.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

leaving a thrift store in mid-city, we walked hand-in-hand toward the first car i ever owned, a subaru station wagon purchased through the generosity of my folks during my second year of college. i led my best gal to the passenger side of the silver behemoth and held the door open until she was comfortably seated. she smiled up at me through the window while i shut the door.

as i made my way around to the driver's side, i saw the door ajar and her delicate hand retracting. she would always lean across the seat and push my door open, always. i thought it was endearing. the same way she found it endearing that i held car doors open.

i put my arm across the back of her seat so that i could look over my shoulder as we pulled out of the space. she stared at me while i did this. she brought her hands up to hold my face and kissed me. i was 22 and not yet used to beautiful girls impulsively kissing me while i tried to operate a moving vehicle. so, i did the normal thing and closed my eyes. that's when i backed into the van.

last heard: iron and wine 'weary memory'
last read: Newberg uncovered the neural processing behind the religious experience of oneness with the universe. Blood flow drops off in the parietal lobe, a brain structure that helps us orient ourselves by giving us a sense of ourselves.
bonus: electronic anklets track asylum seekers in u.s.