Field Notes: Song of Myself

I have poked fun at outside entities in previous field notes entries (here, here, here), but I’m going to make fun of myself this time.

It has been a shameful amount of time since I was last here:  I blame political angst (or “That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore,” my new official name for this) combined with paper-writing overdrive.  My mind is dull, and I’m tired of looking at the word “qualitative”(and implications thereof!) on this screen.


I’ve mentioned in previous posts that you really can’t take me out in public, as I lack multiple crucial filters.  I can try a bit of explanation:  when you’re an introvert who spends a lot of time in their head already, the things that have been building up join up and then pop out as seemingly bizarre thoughts at apparently random times.  It made sense to me; the problem is, no one can read my mind.  Wait.  That’s good, not a problem.


I was at a medical office recently and had explained that the code for something was “1066.”  I thought I’d picked an easy one, but it wasn’t sticking and kept getting transcribed incorrectly.  As I left the individual’s office and was standing in the hall, I blurted, “Battle of Hastings!  Don’t forget!”

What’s really unfortunate here, apart from yelling about the Norman Conquest in a medical office, is that out-of-the-blue allusions to William the Conqueror probably don’t seem all that odd in the context of everything that has come out of my mouth there from 2014 to present.


My brother joined me for lunch this past Saturday; it could have been two adults having adult conversation in an adult way.  What really happened is (I’m not even going to explain how this topic came up) that I ended up describing the original/cut ending to Clerks:  Dante gets shot at the end of the day.  The problem here is that I talk with my hands, so I was miming shooting a convenience store clerk– when I remembered that there was a children’s birthday party at the next table over.

Red card for lack of filter on that one.


I also accompanied by (poor, long-suffering, you’re thinking at this point) brother into a big box baby store in search of a particular item.  At the time, I was completely dressed for a night out, featuring both glitter on my face and glitter tights.  I’ve never even been in one of these stores, so while he took off in search of his quarry in a businesslike fashion, I put on brakes at a display of car seats and proceeded to translate the price into secondhand clothes, used books, etc.  The looks suggested that bystanders think I have a baby that I strap to the roof of the car as I drive in search of these items to spend car seat money on. (Clarification: I did not realize how much they cost and was surprised.)

Alice has a very nice carrier.  Just want to put that out there.  Not that she’s ever expressed anything approaching appreciation for said carrier:  more like Geneva Convention violations.

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I possibly have an outlandish number of pictures of Alice.

As we continued to have difficulty locating the item, I finally asked for help in a request that involved the phrase “child thing.”  I was not referring to children, incidentally.  My brother says I might have passed for a new mother or, more likely, an eccentric aunt (the second is accurate).


 

With another unfortunate in tow, I went in Barnes & Noble.  Yet another long story, but I was in search of a collected or complete Ezra Pound.  I chose the store as the place to discuss whether buying Ezra Pound in a physical store would cause the employees to think I was a fascist and possibly mad (versus finding a copy online and cloaking the mad-fascist bit in anonymity).

The not-unfamiliar suggestion that I might possibly be overthinking things came up with this one.


 

Those are the ones that I can come up with immediately, but I really don’t like to skip a day of making a fool of myself.  However, I’m reaching my self-imposed word limit for a post, so that’s all for now.


UNNECESSARY APPENDIX (heh)

1066 and All That is a book I probably first read (choke) years ago.  I still recommend it.

More about Ezra Pound (plus a lot of poems) here.

Actually, some background:  Pound came up because of a theory I have about the political race and Godwin’s Law.  At the time, it was a joke.  Now:  That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore.

 

 

 

 

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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.

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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!

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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: 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)


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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?


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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?


 

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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?


 

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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.


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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.


 

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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.


 

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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.

 


 

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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?


 

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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.

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).

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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.

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. . . 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

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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.
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AND WATCH ORPHAN BLACK WHEN IT COMES BACK!