Field Notes: Physical Therapy

Perhaps I’m stretching with this one.  [ka-ching, thank you, here all week]  I do spend enough time there to fill a post, though, so congratulations!  You can’t always get what you want, and I’m here to give you what you don’t need.


Physical therapy appears to be yet another person/adult thing I don’t know how to do; this probably comes as no surprise.  I was having problems before I even made it to the first session:  namely, I was shifting through t-shirts trying to figure out which ones didn’t essentially read “hi, my name is Weird!”  These days, making a good first impression apparently involves not wearing the shirt that says “I KILLED JENNY*.”

*Note lack of link.  You should know that.  And I also expect you to still be grieving for Mr. Piddles.

I think of science as something largely discovered by philosophers (Thales is still completely valid, right?), so our initial discussion of things involving a lot of Anatomical Terms went completely over my head.  Over time, I’ve learned to deal with this by responding to every remark of that type with, “so, is that good?”

Another conversational problem is that we don’t converse.  I spend a lot of time counting, and he spends a lot of time looking at something on his laptop.  When we attempt the forced small talk at the beginning of the session (he’s very nice, I should clarify), I’ve latched onto football as something I definitely know he likes.  Unfortunately, I’ve managed to screw up football as a topic of discussion constantly by getting enthusiastic about the wrong teams (usually, the only team I knew was playing), confusing winners and losers, and being extremely clueless about bowl games.  I brought up the championship game today (which I didn’t see, but I did check the score) and tried to break the ice by saying it must have been very exciting.  The look he gave me suggested he’s on to me.


A fairly accurate reenactment of my sports small talk.



In spite of my “everybody act normal!” efforts, he still seems to think I’m odd– again, as of the first appointment, when I brought a book.  I knew I’d have to wait, so this seemed perfectly logical.  Also, I always have a book with me.  As I’ve said before, there is always a possibility of a zombie apocalypse.  Do you not want to have a book with you when civilization crumbles?  I didn’t go into the zombie bit there, but I think I’d done enough already  without putting the undead icing on the cake.

I put off laundry a shameful amount of time at one point (it was cold!  exterior stairs!), and I did have to go to my Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem t-shirt, which seemed okay:  nostalgia value, right?  Not so much.  It was a new experience to have someone who was pulling my ankles lose composure and crack up.  I’m adding to my résumé every day.

Today, he asked if my mismatched socks were a style statement.  I had to explain that, this time, they were just laundry-fatigue induced accidents.  I didn’t mention that I have worn mismatched socks before (on purpose) and that now he was giving me ideas.  Of course, I also now have an inverse pair of the ones I wore today, plus one odd one that I assume is a dryer casualty.  All sorts of possibilities!


I am *killing* normal here.


Other things I’m learning:  I’m getting very, very good at counting.  Going up to 10, 15, and 30 are my specialities.  If you need help with that, let me know.  If it’s math more involved than that, call someone else; nothing’s changed with that one.

I am also in the gym portion eight minutes per session, where I have been seeing a show I think is called Meredith (?).  It’s what would happen if you took the 50s and told it to act hip and contemporary but to do a really, really bad job on purpose.  Perhaps you need to watch it for more than eight minutes at a time to get the full effect of it, and I’m misjudging.

I’ve also concluded that physical therapy should come with a masseuse to follow you home when all the actual aches and pains start up.  This has not been forthcoming.

In the meantime, if you’d like to come rub my back, I’m right here.  I’m also taking fashion tips and conversational bits of current sports trivia.

Until then, I will be reading, wearing clothes not suitable for physical therapy, wearing earplugs during Monday RAW/Thursday Smackdown/all football (apartments!), and avoiding daytime TV.




Field Notes: Stirring the Pot

I’ve had this in my head for awhile:  an intermittent [read:  when/if I get around to it] series of field notes posts on the various local places I show up with any regularity.  I tend to write little narratives about them in my head, so why not funnel them into blog posts?  Oh– no one is interested?  There’s always that, but I generally don’t let it stop me . . .


First, the shocking news:  I’ve given up coffee except as an extracurricular treat.  The coffeemaker in the kitchen sits cold, except when company requests some.  This, from a person whose neighbor, passing by on the fire escape, once saw me singing “Stand by Your Man” to my Mr. Coffee (yes, really).


The Mr. Coffee in question in other days. Also: a book endorsement. Read that. Now. Stop reading this post. Go.

So I drift to get coffee locally as a treat (and, if it’s a latte, it counts as a snack, which is very nice when I get tired of absolutely every option in my kitchen).

On a recent trip, I went in with a book and a notebook, having noticed that most people are not really paying attention to what anyone else is up to in there; I made some brief notes, unobserved.  So here are my field notes, Jane Goodall-style, from that day, combined with some previous observations:


This is not a chatty place, as far as speaking to Unknown Humans goes– an observation I’ve made before.  The place fell into two clear camps:  people who were together and the forever alones.  The people who were together occupied their own islands.  Except for me, all the alones (autocorrect turned that to “clones,” thereby reading my mind:  I’m ready for Orphan Black to return) were wearing headphones.  I thought there was another exception for a moment, but she turned out to be waiting on a to-go order.  “No man is an island,” indeed.

I’ve long had a quiet standing bet that there’s some unwritten rule that Macs are the Official Computer there:  4 Macs, 1 PC.  I kind of feel like that HP was hanging its head in shame, the odd one out on the playground.  I didn’t go over and pat it sympathetically, which I thought might be viewed as a little strange.


Speaking of strange, is it another unwritten rule that all children present in coffee places must be treated as small adults?  There was one very small one, and her parents spoke to her as if she were . . . well, a great deal more intelligent and mature than I am.  Which is entirely possible:  we’re not talking a high standard here.  An extremely polished business type passed by her and clearly felt compelled to say something; what he came up with was “tiny!”  Well.  Articulate, there.  I thought he’d shake her hand and ask for her vote any minute.


A disclaimer for this next part is that I was reading Inherent Vice (on my shelf, yet I’d somehow overlooked reading it!) at the time.  A cop walked in and went straight to the restroom.  By this time, I’d been soaking in Pynchon paranoia for a day or so, so I was pretty much under the table.  A girl and a guy walked out of the restroom shortly thereafter, and paranoia gave way to feeling like I was back in junior high.  I prefer paranoia.  Fifteen or twenty minutes later, a bicycle cop (?) came in and started hanging around the counter.  That was about twenty more minutes of reading a book with the message “no matter how paranoid you are, you’re not paranoid enough,” so I considered pulling the fire alarm and running.  Again, I realized I might get banned.

It’s probably good I don’t act on impulse all that much.


. . . though neither I nor the photographer got thrown out of the store while, um, showing off this particular gem.


You know, another reason for the earphones could be a soundtrack that’s heavy on the 80s, which generally doesn’t bother me (it just makes me feel old).  My scrawled notes from that day have a lot to say about “Message in a Bottle” getting stuck in my head, so I’ll spread the joy:

You’re welcome!  I’ll send an SOS to the world . . . I’ll send an SOS to the world . . .

I only made a few notes at my most recent visit, but Duran Duran features heavily.  I’ll pass my earworm to you:

I did also notice that employees can apparently wear beanies.  As a person who wears beanies around the house regularly (and sometimes in bed– WHAT?), that seemed appealing.

My beanie game is on fleek.  <— pathetic attempt to sound vaguely young


Alice does not feel that beanies are the best look for her.

In assorted observations:

  • People who buy a single cup of the cheapest, to-go coffee are more likely to hang around the counter and attempt to make conversation.  This will not work.
  • People who even let a phone see the light of day get the hairy eyeball.  Person who was talking on the phone while ordering, I strongly suspect that someone may have spit in your coffee.  As a librarian, I feel that particular pain (but have never had anything in particular to spit in).
  • I’m fairly certain the 80s music isn’t ironic, but I’m not sure what it is.
  • People are so occupied in their own bubbles that me making a list of old-fashioned drink names in all caps (Maggie May, Blue Blazer, Lee Burns, Mamie Taylor, Whiskey Milk Punch) goes completely unnoticed.  Maybe they think I’m studying for . . . the bar exam.  Sorry.  I’m so sorry.  I had to.


I’m cutting myself off, because this is clearly headed downhill.

Final thoughts:

  • Go local.
  • It would honestly not hurt you to look at, or even speak to, other humans once in awhile– by which I mean you don’t have to wear headphones all the damn time.
  • Turn on, tune in, but DON’T drop out.  Notice.  React.  Even if what you’re taking note of is pretty much minute or even inane, it’s part of the fabric of your world and your life.  If you’re wearing blinders (headphones, staring constantly at a computer), you’re missing something.  My former eye doctor used to advise me to look up every 15 minutes or so to give my eyes a rest.  It’s not bad advice in general:  come up for air and see what’s going on.



The Smiths and a Grump Walk into a Coffeehouse 

I jumped ship Sunday afternoon and went to my favorite local coffee place.  I was getting cabin fever but had rough luck renegotiating my exercise contract last week (current status:  SIT.  STAY.), and it sounded like it was about to be aerobics time* upstairs.

*Unlike some of my more obvious flights of fancy, I do think that one is accurate; in college one year, there was an aerobics enthusiast in the dorm room above, so I’ve heard this one before.  Me picturing the full-on ’80s Jane Fonda setup is complete projection, admittedly. 

Post image is Starbucks– not the coffeehouse. I’ve undertaken guerilla lyrics-doodling. Yeah, yeah:  get a life. 

One reason I like this particular coffee place is that they generally play good music (read:  music I like) at the perfect volume:  audible, but right at that level where it drowns out nearby conversation without preventing you from reading (or whatever), even though the seating is tight.

Accordingly, I’d gone armed with my current book (A Light that Never Goes Out:  The Enduring Saga of The Smiths, the follow-up to Girls to the Front:  The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution; I’m on some sort of music roll).  I incidentally thought that brooding behind a book that prominently featured the famous disaffected Manchester group might scream “over here!  Single!” without actually having to sing “How Soon Is Now?,” but perhaps Morrissey sends the wrong message . . . . Also, I tend to forget I’m old.  Really, really, super-old.


Credit: Kaineiribas, DeviantArt:

Credit: Kaineiribas, DeviantArt:

I sat down next to a guy affixed to his computer who, oddly, tapped his headphones when I sat.  The Unstated Coffee House Code of Conduct generally forbids that sort of thing, so I was puzzled, and I had no idea what was particularly of interest about his headphones.

I found out pretty quickly.

I can normally tune people out when I’m reading, and, as I said, the music generally is a good cover here.  Maybe it was the pitch of this girl’s voice?  Only the scientists who hunt her down and trap her for further study will have the answers.

Here’s a sampling of what I learned in the short period of time that preceded putting my headphones in (sitting down –> waiting for my order to be called):

*Religion is not the same as spirituality.  Religion is Baptist.

*Saddam Hussein was/is President of Iraq.

*America is not the world police.  (cue me mentally humming Team America theme song)

*Her parents are worried that she is a spinster.  She’s almost 24 already!

*She can take care of a dog, so she is totally ready to start having babies!

*Her parents are worried about her brother-in-law because he hasn’t produced any children yet.  (No, I didn’t understand, either.)

All attempts at further socialization went into the toilet once I hunkered down with coffee, as that’s when my headphones went in.  At first, it was something about the tone of her voice that made her hard to tune out, just on an aural level.  Then it was these– aphorisms?– that kept coming at her companion (and everyone else in the vicinity) that turned into can’t-turn-away utterances.

It was headphones or live-tweeting, and I figured no one could miss me doing the second.  Also, I can’t type that fast.  Or read while live-tweeting, which would defeat the whole purpose of coming to get a quiet cup of coffee in the first place.

I get the feeling it might be a problem.

I get the feeling it might be a problem.

In the end, The Smiths [book] and I had coffee with The Smiths [music].  Party of three, alienated and with a thorn in our side.

Unnecessary bit at the end, by way of seriously lightweight book reviewing:  The review of the book I’m reading now (A Light that Never Goes Out) is accurate; the book is full of information, but the pacing is sluggish, and Fletcher is no writer.  I’m on page 161, and the band hasn’t even formed.  For every great quotation or musical reference, there are pages of so much detail that I end up flipping back.  Clearly, I haven’t read enough to say much more than that.

Girls to the Front, by contrast, is practically page-turning, and it’s interesting that both books cover limited spans of music-time (a briefly-lived band, a briefly-lived movement).  Marcus clearly also did serious and exhaustive research, but she doesn’t exhaust the reader with the weight of it.  If you’re interested in early Riot Grrrl, this is a good one.  As this review acknowledges, the only real thing of note is that she sometimes lets people and the issues that divided them off slightly more easily than they may have deserved.  There’s generally enough context that you can spot these points yourself, though.  

If you just (like me) read Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, this is a good time to pull this one off the bookshelf (where it may have happened to have been sitting for far too long) (cough).  My review of that one is on LibraryThing and Goodreads, for what little that’s worth.