Choose Your Own Adventure

There is not much going on right now except for being attached to a computer and writing Very Dull Papers (and attendant deadline-related panics).  You can guess at my state of mind by looking at the state of the couch:  when it’s cluttered, my mind is as well.

However, I have nothing to discuss, unless LIS papers are of great interest to you.  Therefore, I’m giving you what’s sitting by me.  You’re welcome to create a story from there.


 

Many notes to myself on many odd pieces of paper.  Things I thought significant enough to note:  New York Dolls, pentangle?, Romans 1:26, The Light of the World, The Killing of Sister George, Lee Miller, Ballard-Crash, Brother David Gardner?, The Killing of Sister George (1968) [sic], Venus & the Razorblades, Dontavious.

New Yorker, last week’s, still open to the page where I fell asleep.  It’s a very interesting article about schizophrenia and genetic inheritance.  I should finish that.

A band demo CD.

The following books:  How Poetry Saved My Life (Amber Dawn), I Am Not Myself These Days (Josh Kilmer-Purcell), There but for the (Ali Smith), 1928 version Book of Common Prayer.

Empty soda* bottle

*Repeated misunderstandings of the word “soda” abound in this area.

Two cat pictures


I would suggest that I am a genetic researcher who is studying the effects of semi-obscure 70s music on cats.  When I am rolling in cash as a result of my findings, I intend to furnish this apartment with The Light of the World (or multiple pentangles/pentagrams); I will gave at it reflectively while listening to metal (or possibly Pentangle).  Other publications-in-process include a critical analysis wherein I compare Brother David Gardner to J.G. Ballard and generally rant about both, defending my position with excepts from the BCP and reference to The Killing of Sister George.  Dontavious is co-writing this masterpiece.  The two memoirs are clearly there as I seek inspiration in writing my forthcoming one, which will be based on schizophrenic music-listening cat genomes.  None of this would be happening if I were not overcaffeinated.

I’m just reading the Ali Smith because I like the novels, of course, and even genetic researchers need a break.


 

Featured image:  The last page the previous owner  of this novel dog-eared (blasphemy).  I am left to wonder what prompted this person to throw in the towel on page 75– but that’s another story.

Advertisements

Field Notes: Notes from the Floor 

I was trying to think of other places I spend a lot of time, and I realized that my floor is one of them. Maybe that needs clarification. I have physical therapy exercises, and I spend considerable time in the middle of the floor, stretching gracelessly. I have two view options: the ceiling and the bookcase. You can guess which one I choose. 

In an ideal world, all my books are present and in some sort of order. Presently, I have a small number of them, and they’re shelved where they landed. This has produced some literary oddities, which are discussed below.  If you make it to the end, there’s some reflection on becoming numb/attuned to your everyday environment.

Also below, in color:  topics for discussion!  I’d love to hear your opinions.  Leave them wherever you wish, but do note that you can comment on WordPress even if you don’t have an account; just pick a name, any name, and that’s all there is to it.


 

 

View #1

 

View #2 (no, I don’t know what the box-and-cord thing is)


image

The Snopes family wuz here

Faulkner looks messy.  This is because I looted my selection of novels when I tried to write something else (not going well).  In spite of the number of duplicates shown here (a further duplicate of Light in August is among the missing), I assure you there’s “logic”:  I keep books that have significant underlining and/or notes, and Faulkner has gotten spread out over the years.

I’ll generally loan any book; it’s only the ones that have what I consider personal (personally inspired?) commentary that I’m not really fond of letting people borrow.  I don’t want to lose them, and, often, the notes are a sort of journal for whatever was going through my head at the time I read something.  Some books are palimpsests with multiple colors of ink from different times, comments in reply to my own comments:  these are the books I like to keep close to home.

Do you have any oddities about loaning books, any books you prefer not to loan?


image

I feel that all involved would be affronted, but I apologize only to Wolfe.

The current disarray has produced some really inexplicable shelving situations:  above, see Wolfe-Salinger-anonymous-Capote.  I can’t decide if the tarot deck lounging on the Salinger is rakish or appropriate.  I sort of think he would have preferred something more hoity-toity:  maybe the I Ching.  And I’m pretty sure J.D. is uncomfortable there between Wolfe and Capote:  a person of few words between two Southerners who go on . . . and on . . . and on . . . . Maybe I’m okay with this arrangement, after all.

What writers would you like to get together?  I don’t mean that as one of those nice grouping things for enlightening chat.  I mean who do you think would get in a knock-down drag-out?


 

image

Neil Gaiman is cordially not invited to come hang out.

This is where I admit to being (apparently) the only human on earth who doesn’t like Neil Gaiman:  that’s my entire “collection,” right there.  I read it every time someone/some group predicts an impending apocalypse (really).  As you can see by the state of the binding, that’s more often than you might think.  Gaddis is there to squash him if he talks too much and starts to annoy me.

The thin almost-zine-looking books are by Ali Liebegott (you may have seen her on Transparent, and she’s written for that– plus some excellent novels).  Find them here.  They’re excellent.

Back to topic:  does anyone else have any offbeat reading traditions?


 

image

Yes, I’m elitist about the cover thing.

This is a gratuitous photo of the (very few) Patricia Highsmith books I have, including The Price of Salt— which I read WAY before Carol (which has not come anywhere near here; some Star-something movie just opened instead).  I’m an elitist about not having the movie cover, so this pleases me.  As I said:  gratuitous.

Ripley creeps me out.  Is that just me?  Does anyone have any further Highsmith suggestions?  That’s really about the only one I like.


image

Pulpy!

The reason I have that particular Highsmith is an affinity for pulp of that era.  Of course, in the current disarranged state of the shelves, none of it is together.  Ann Bannon is off by herself, separate from all the various other books, and those aren’t even in series order.  I should be ashamed.  I’m kind of getting twitchy as I write this, if that counts.

Really twitchy.  But I’d be interested to hear (comments!) how you sort your books.


 

image

Your guess is as good as mine.

Please use the comments to theorize what the heck is going on here.  I certainly don’t know.


 

image

twitch-twitch-twitch

Did I mention how maddening it is not to have all my books here?  Witness 1/2 the Shorter OED (capo was not included with set).  Some relevant things about that dictionary:

  • the set was my high school graduation present, and thus
  • it has traveled everywhere with me from college on.
  • It was the last edition not to list “fun” as an adjective.  I’ll never upgrade.
  • Seriously.  I refer to the DFW book A Supposedly XXX Thing I’ll Never Do Again as “the orange paperback” or “the one with the cruise essay.”  I’m not reactionary.  Or obscurantist.

Is there any particular book you drag around with you– through move after move– come hell or high water?  Bonus points if it’s a pain in the butt to transport.

 


 

image

Youth!

In fact, please see the Kerouac accumulation as evidence that I was young once.

Wait.  Why is Jan mixed in with Jack?  Argh.  And I’m pretty sure I have Baby Driver somewhere.

Do you have any (book) Relics of Your Youth that you’re still hanging on to?


 

image

This is a ~*~decorating tip~*~.

If you have books that are too heavy for your shelves– Riverside Shakespeare, Proust– a lintel is a good place for them.  If you have to murder an unsuspecting guest with a heavy object, it could be made to look like an accident.

Coroner’s verdict (pick one):  Death by Shakespeare/In Search of Lost Time/The Lord of the Rings.

I will not ask you if you have any just-in-case homicide plans involving household objects.


 

The (Quasi-) Thoughtful Part

So there’s the latest field notes.  Everything gets a little weirder when you stare at it for a very . . . long . . . time (repeatedly).  The book lack/mess wasn’t so much at the forefront of my mind until I had to stare it in the face so frequently.  Moral of the story:  you can dig up a lot of conversational topics from something very, very mundane if you have time to think about whatever it is.  The ordinary isn’t necessarily unworthy of talk, and you don’t always have to go have a grand adventure to have something to talk about.

It’s also amazing how much you can tune out something you see every day and become effectively numb to how much is going on there.

I’m going to corrupt a term completely here:  zazen.  For purposes of this post, though:  how often have you just taken the time to sit and regard your own everyday environment?  What does it say about you?  What’s comfortable about it?  What do you like and dislike?  What could you change?


 

I would very much be interested to hear answers to any of the above questions, bookish or otherwise.

We Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

Thursday night/Friday morning, I wrote an insomnia-fuled post, intended to be humorous (did I mention the insomnia part?), for next-up publication.  After Friday, I put it on hiatus; it’s still in a notebook.


I’m not going to attempt political commentary; I’m not informed enough to say anything of substance (or that hasn’t already been said, and better).  What’s written below here is abstract and could apply to pretty much any situation, and that’s intentional.


The following is the only concrete detail:  What I have seen in the headlines, as of this morning, concerning only the Paris attacks (and not including the Lebanon ones):  at least three attackers were French citizens.  The victims were various nationalities.  Photos of increased military presence, including officers in full combat gear, carrying what appeared to be assault rifles [this picture has disappeared from the New York Times (online) article in which it appeared during the time I’ve been writing this; when I tried to go back and confirm that’s what they were, the photo was gone].


What I am thinking about is how very, very little it takes to feel out-of-place, like home is not, in fact, home, and as if you do not belong.  How little it takes to feel as if you’re being encroached upon.  How your automatic urge is to throw up barriers and defend. How, when you’ve become disconnected from something even very small, it’s acutely disorienting.


My micro-microcosm:  I’ve been in this apartment slightly over a year, and I still don’t call it home.  It doesn’t feel like home, but it is the place I live.  I’ve never shaken the feeling it’s temporary.

Some time back, someone asked if I’d ever posted pictures of this place (as in the “ta-da, look at my new place!” sort of thing), and I said no; it hadn’t occurred to me that putting up photos of decorated areas would be something to do.  Nothing ever feels finished, and nothing ever feels complete or right.  I have no sense that anything is complete, and not in a ongoing-project sort of way:  everything feels temporary and transitional.

I also sometimes have nightmares about the other residents waking me up in the night to evict me for some unknown offense (it’s very Kafka), but that’s probably me being me.


However, that’s what I feel living as a resident of this state in the country I was born in, how unsettled I feel even now.  I certainly don’t have any friends here, but I’m not dealing with active hostility.  All the same, I’m uneasy in the place I can’t even call home, and I have dreams about being kicked out.  Magnify that by . . . what?


Then there are the physical objects I’m disconnected from:  my books.  I realize most people think this is trivial, but my missing books are my phantom limb, and their absence troubles me every single day:  it’s not just an annoyance.  I feel like I’m missing some part of my self.  Those books have passages marked, things written in them that are parts of my mind, bits of my thoughts.  Each one is like a piece of my brain, “serious” and potboiler alike.

And then I imagine what I could do with them.  I picture the (completely imaginary) bookcases I could fill with them, lining the wall between me and my noisy next-door neighbor as a sound buffer.  They’d become a protective barrier that could shield me from the encroachment of something that bothers me.  Instead of noise and the pervasive odor of smoke at my back, I would have all my friends and allies behind me:  a wall of comfort, not a zone of vague tensions.


I spend a lot of time joking about apartment-life annoyances (microcosm again), generally noise-related.  Last weekend was chart-topping bad:  Beatlemania next door at a volume that reflected the second coming of the British invasion (and I really dislike the Beatles).  Sonic assault from the other side as well; pictures on my walls were vibrating.  I’m pretty sure it was bowling upstairs.  At one point, late in the evening, I spent a very, very long time in the shower for some peace and quiet, having nowhere else to go (it was also raining in a fairly epic way).

Again, magnify this minor living hassle (which felt pretty far from minor at the time) by whatever is necessary.  There was nowhere to go in a place that is supposedly safe to escape what felt like encroachment from all sides.  Everybody’s everything was leaking into my space, into my skin, all over all my senses.  I tried to explain to a few people what it felt like at the time– how extreme that particular violation felt at that moment– and no one understood.

This lack of understanding is in part, because, yes, I’m editing to make this a story I’m willing to tell publicly; the reasons for my personal reactions are getting left out, as they tend to, because they’re convoluted, long-story-stuff that you don’t want to put on a public forum, anyway– could a journalist tell each and every one of those stories, either, even if they were spoken?


If it’s not clear by now, I’m not speaking about immigrants, migrants, French citizens, attackers, or really anyone of any particular nationality with this abstract nattering about an apartment.  What I am talking about is how very, very little it takes to unbalance the entire pH of your entire environment, how very little it takes to make it feel like your personal space (or simply the space you would like to call safe) is anything on the continuum from uncomfortable to unbearable.  It takes a lot of personal investment– mentally, not monetarily or otherwise– to feel like anywhere is home.  It doesn’t take much to strip away the sense that a place is home or that what you know as home is imperiled.  When you are in that moment, you don’t have to know specifically why that is or what’s causing it:  it is simply real.

The why gains in importance in the long-term, as the situation drags out and the sense of destabilization turns from temporary into a fixture of your life.


–Where do you live?  –Over there, see that building?  –So that’s home?  –Well, no, not really; it’s just where I am right now; we’ll see.  –What are you holding out for?  –I really don’t even know.  I’m just in a holding pattern now.

How long can you [a personal; a nation; an international consortium; etc.] realistically be in a holding pattern before everything crashes?

In Which I Try to Make It Seem Sane that Dinner Was Briefly in the Dishwasher

Note:  There is no trigger-type reason for the food being in the dishwasher, FYI.  It’s the Same Old Song:  don’t let me near a kitchen.  Evidence:  that is the drying mat at present.  

I neutralized as many actual food references as possible.  Partly because the current trigger warning stuff leaves me confused, mostly because I’d rather just keep the various nutritional details to myself, and they don’t figure into how or why the dinner ended up in the dishwasher.


This post is adapted from the journal entry I wrote after this happened.  It seemed like I’d need to have recorded the entire chain of events if I ever hoped to come out of this sounding even partially sane.


Everybody knows I can’t cook, right?  At all?  That I think using a burner is hot stuff?  [that was a terrible joke.  I’m not sorry.]

I would also like a driver who could just take me to food. Thank you.

I would also like a driver who could just take me to food. Thank you.  And yes, I hear the screaming at the idea of me being a clone.  That’s not nice.


The other information needed here for context is that I have a very narrow galley-type kitchen; if a door (over, dishwasher, refrigerator) is open, then the route is blocked at that point.  Oh, and the window is painted shut with such a high degree of effectiveness that every type of knife recommended for prying it open won’t fix that (there’s no screen, anyway, and it’s a bit of a drop down to the alley).

In rewriting this for a blog, I have chosen a three-act structure (read:  broke it into three sections at last minute, then put bold headings on them in approximate places because a synapse flared out and said, hey, why not?).  Oh, look!  After midnight– again!  This might be the real theme here . . .


ACT I (EXPOSITION)

I am, based solely on age, ostensibly an adult, and this is how I cook dinner:

Get out protein portion (frozen, prepackaged). Read instructions super-carefully. Try to figure out how you make the toaster oven bake. Takes awhile to get that going. I don’t know how to do anything with that thing except toast stuff. In other words: cannot operate toaster oven.

NO, I am not responsible for that. Or any content you stumble upon if you take that any farther; it's an old picture.

NO, I am not responsible for that. Or any content you stumble upon if you take that any farther; it’s an old picture.

Get out boxed mac and cheese. Have always assumed I know how to make that; I’ve been making it all these years, right?  No need to look at instructions.  I’ve got this one!

I was boiling water (other food in; thought I’d timed this) and idly reading something about Marco Polo on the back of the box (facts for kids stuff:  age-appropriate material) when I also noticed that the directions in the side seemed to have pictures of more ingredients than I expected.

This macaroni calls for milk and margarine. I didn’t know that. I have– accidentally, for once– been making macaroni and cheese out of a box wrong my entire cooking career [yes, that’s what we’re calling it].

This is where I have the protein in the oven and water boiling and realize I need two additional ingredients. I know I don’t have milk; it’s on the list, and I thought I wouldn’t need it until the morning. I do have butter– no, I don’t. It’s gone. No longer there. This mystery gets solved later.


ACT II (RISING ACTION)

People who cook regularly might realize they’re missing an essential but not so common spice.  Maybe they’re just slightly short of something.  I find out I don’t have milk and butter while boiling water (and nervously poking the food in the oven far too often, because I’m afraid my limited toaster oven skills are going to result in flames).

This thing is clearly a ticking time bomb.

This thing is clearly a ticking time bomb.  If you run the English/French in the lower left together and don’t translate, it sort of looks like “stay on and march!” Like it’s coming to get you.  It’s got a plan.

At this point I realize the initial plan is pretty well screwed up, but there’s nothing but to go forward now. That’s when the steam sets off the smoke alarm [yes, steam.  Google this if you don’t believe that can happen, because that’s what I did when I was questioning my sanity]. The kitchen window is painted shut, and I was loading the dishwasher, meaning it’s open and blocking my exit. I needed to get the alarm to quit sounding ASAP, and I couldn’t see any options.  That’s how the whole pot ended up in the dishwasher until the alarm shut off and the steam went down.

The culprit, which may be original to the building.

The culprit, which may be original to the building.  I can’t figure out what type it is, because it’s too high, even with a chair.  Stay tuned for the future fiascos in which the short person attempts online fixes while balancing in a chair.

It’s at this point I contact someone to ask if it’s okay to eat food that’s been in the dishwasher. This question may not be all that common.  Google doesn’t have an answer to “can you eat food that has been in the dishwasher?”

My browser history:  getting more interesting with every passing day.

In fact, maybe I should use Tor for this sort of thing.  These are the traces I think I’d rather cover:  a search history of largely insomnia-related inquiries.

Except, you know, about cooking. I *promise* that this is the very real and precise context of this one.

Except, you know, about cooking. I *promise* that this is the very real and precise context of this one.

This is only covering the macaroni and the toaster oven, mind you, and we’ve already got part of dinner in the dishwasher and part getting aired out constantly by oven door-opening.


ACT III (RESOLUTION)

It takes a minute to get the ancient fan on the microwave to kick in, but the macaroni gets back on the stove, as it’s been pronounced probably safe. The oven dinged finished awhile back. I just sort of turn the oven on again briefly and hope for heat.

Everything I’ve prepared eventually ends up on a plate. And gets eaten. Some key exchanges are clearly screwed up.

I’m hoping this one gets graded on effort.

On the scale of K-12.

Uncertain why people don't take me seriously as an adult.

Uncertain why people don’t take me seriously as an adult.


Here is your Deep Thought in lieu of a concluding paragraph.

Here is your Deep Thought in lieu of a concluding paragraph.  

“I wish, I wish I were a poisonous bacterium”

Post title:  Dorothy Parker (and if you sense that I’m planning a questionable role models post at this point, you’d be correct).  Feature image is Huey expressing what runs through your mind every time you read a post here.


Mixtapes still seem like a valid means of emotion expression to me.  This could possibly mean that I’m cool and retro.  It could also mean that I have yet to grow up.  Opinions really not welcome here.

IMG_1282

I am definitely more mature than I was, say, two weeks ago. And you would be completely willing to be seen with me in public, right? RIGHT?

High Fidelity, which I haven’t seen in a very long time, popped into my head last week, so that’s probably how I arrived at mixtapes.  Just to see what came up (since “tape” more or less means “something digital” now), I googled it.  People, whatever you’re doing, you’re doing wrong.  Wrong, wrong, wrong.  There are some serious rules here (this one may be my favorite:  are you following all 15 rules?; this one made me tired).  Please return to Mixtapes 101.


It’s been a very loud weekend around here.  Somehow, among various apartments, I’ve never had a particularly loud neighbor:  mildly irritating, maybe, but never actually grit-your-teeth bad.  And lo, here he is.

enhanced-11762-1411430131-1

There were limitless Darlene possibilities here. I hope this one conveys the appropriate “this land is your land, this land is my land” feeling I’m having right now.

Many people would deal with this in a healthy, reasonable, adult manner, but, of course, this is me.  I chose the much more obvious route:  Spotify.  (Foucault was already taken.)

And yes, my train of thought/logic has long since derailed, and no, you’re not the first to point that out.


Mixtape Vol. 1 is loud music, to be aimed at the ceiling.  Needless to say, if you know Spotify, all the selections I originally planned are not included, due to unavailability (I would specifically note the lack of Bikini Kill).  I have tried many of these, including “Du Hast,” which you would certainly think would send a message:  nope.  Only one has been effective, in fact, and that was “Free Bird,” and that was without me singing or doing the thing where you also vocalize the guitar solos (just me?  never mind).

So I’m providing this for your use, in case there’s anyone in your life you need to send a message to.  Or mute.  Or deafen.  Or subtly suggest you don’t like.

87b15bf9dfc2433ccb5f970310ed036e

Further evidence of my maturity, as if you needed more.

Oh, and the “Birth Control” track is on there as a PSA to the multitude of females that were involved in the ongoing maelstrom of noise.  Somebody’s gotta look out for them.


If noise doesn’t work, there is another route, popular among the toddler set (and honorary toddlers:  me):  if you can’t kill ’em, annoy ’em.  If you still have your childhood Wee Sing tapes, this would be easy, but, as I recall, mine “disappeared.”  So I’ve done the only sensible thing and assembled another playlist of songs that have real earworm potential.

Please note that inclusion on this list does not imply that I dislike the song.  I pulled most of these suggestions directly from my own music library.  The only criteria here was that the song has a good chance of staying with you for at least 8 hours, until you’re lying in a dark, silent room, curled in a fetal position and sobbing.  Which, you know, is a pretty quiet thing to do.

13217

Also see: the entirety of my teenage years.


Well, now wasn’t that cathartic (for me)!  “These fragments I have shored against my ruins,” as it were (I think I just got a cosmic red card for gross Eliot misuse).  In the meantime, I’ll continue to imagine what must be going on upstairs . . .

1-National-Lampoons-Animal-House


Final thought:  “I never said, ‘I want to be alone.’ I only said ‘I want to be let alone!’ There is all the difference.”  –Greta Garbo

Take note.