An old lady perfume? Very distinctive, almost cloying, don't wear this when committing a crime, they'll know it was you.
The power of fragrance is primal, it can be almost overwhelming in its ability to elicit memories and emotion. A former lover wore it, almost as if to say, "sniff this and always remember me." It worked. Years later, a co-worker would wear it on occasion. She learned of my experience with it and after she left that job she would occasionally send me an envelope, with only a scented tissue in it.
It seems that most modern scents are more complex, with different notes coming to the fore and then receding. Some, especially deodorants, are just plain bizarre. The internet hasn't yet embraced "odorama" - there are a few crude "scent players" marketed - but they are more in the line of room fresheners (another strange realm). I could appreciate a few subtle nature aromas if I was reading about exotic places but most of the modern world is either neutral or offensive in its olfactory presentation. Nevertheless, I will always have "White Shoulders" to take me away - sometimes most unexpectedly - to a special place in my memory. What is your nose's most cherished association?
Bjartur And Asta
In Halldór Laxness' great novel Independent People is a scene that takes place between the protagonist, Bjartur, an Icelandic farmer and his pubescent daughter, Asta. They have gone to Reykjavík, he on business, she on her first trip to the "city".
As money is tight, they share a bed in a cheap rooming house. In the middle of the night, Asta who is cold, snuggles closely to her father and is overwhelmed by a new feeling, Bjartur rejects her and leaves the room. Asta is crushed, and she doesn't understand what happened.
When I was younger, I spent a lot of time playing with a sister who was five years younger than me. We would often wrestle, in a playful fashion, never hurting, she loved it. When I was about twelve, we were wrestling together, and I had her in a pin hold, face to face, with me on top. Suddenly a strange and powerful feeling engulfed me, I broke the hold and we never wrestled again. My sister felt rejected by this, but she always fondly remembered our roughhouse antics, and was sad that they ended.
More on Halldor Laxness at Laxness in Translation
Fund Drive Fan
You may have noticed my lack of comment on television programming. It's not that I don't watch, (well not much, anyway) it's just that my tastes are a little oh...masochistic...to say the least. You see, I am a Fund Drive Fan. Public televison, local cable outlets, Jerry's Kids, Black College Fund, bring 'em on, I say. And not for the "Celebrity" cameos either. I want to see the execs, the VPs of marketing, the dowager donors, people who shouldn't be on TV because they are the death of interest. I love to see them beg, plead, cajole and brow-beat the viewers into submission. I love watching the phone bank volunteers, especially when things are slow, with their fake pick-ups, their purposeful doodling, the pasted-on smiles. Like televangelists they want you to become a true believer, to send them money for their righteous cause. I want to believe. I want to send them all tons of money, money that will heal the sick, cure the lame, uplift the downtrodden, or keep Antique Roadshow on for another season. I just can't decide who is worthy. This is reality TV.
Down A Lazy River
One summer, the eldest and I canoed down the Rum river, about twenty miles, from St. Francis to Anoka. The eldest knows proper technique, and has done a lot of canoeing. I know which end of the paddle goes in the water. Most of the year, the Rum is pretty tame, although we did find a few little rapids - He had to "shoot" these - I was along for the scenery. Because the Rum meanders in sandy soil, there is little development along its banks - there are long streches of it that are virtually unchanged from Indian days. The shoreline trees' shady overhanging branches combining with the cooling effect of the water make it a perfect place to spend a hot summer's day. Mile after mile, hour after hour, only seeing a few fisher-folk and some boys tubing with no particular place to go. We made it home at dusk, and portaged the five blocks back to the house.
Tonight the Rum still flows, pelted now by freezing rain, turning to snow. Only the fish and a few ducks are enjoying this miserable weather. But the thought of that summer trip warms me still.
Cream, Any One?
Oceans of cream, dollops and tablespoons of cream.
Poured, whipped and stirred.
Butter - solid cream.
Pats and dabs and pounds of butter.
Ice cream, anyone?
Mammilian milk fat, pure and simple.
Milk of our mothers'.
I will never be weaned.
Of cream, cream, beautiful white cream.
The creme de la creme.
Pink N' Black
Pink n' black - pink n' black
Woman's givin' me a heart attack
Pink n' black - Pink n' black
Those boots on the street going clackity-clack
Black heeled boots and hair dyed the same
A pink woolen coat settin' me aflame
Into her car and out on the road
A sporty black coupe - I shoulda knowed
Eyes of black and lips of pink
She drives by - gives me a wink
Pink n' black - pink n' black
Woman givin' me a heart attack
Joy of Cooking
Sometimes, simple meals are best. With all the preparations for Thanksgiving coming up, regular meals can get the short end of the stirring stick. While cooking tonight's dinner, I thought that this is the meal that really counts. Thanksgiving, with its glorious excess, is a stunt, a bit of a show-off. This meal tonight, just the weaver and me, simple chicken, rice and beans; eaten mostly in silence - we'd each had a long day - was a quiet statement about ourselves and our life together. No need to shout, plain nourishment, and a sense of completeness. We'll have the big show Thursday, with relatives and turkey. A table for two will do tonight...simple meals are best.
Tips For Shoppers
In light of the Thanksgiving holiday, I will share with you some techniques sure to enrage fellow shoppers at the grocery store.
1. Always park your cart at an angle - especially at the end of an aisle.
2. If you have children, teach them to hang on the SIDE of the cart - if they are at the front or rear, they will not impede traffic.
3. Learn the cell phone twist - have someone on the phone try to direct you to a certain product; you will soon be twirling around looking for it - most entertaining for others.
4. If you must leave your cart, don't park it next to a pallet - people can still get their product from the other side - leave it in an aisle (better yet next to an aisle display.)
5. If your spouse is along, use this quality time to rehash every single petty argument you have had in the last twenty years.
6. If you have coupons, make sure that none of them match the products you are buying - this takes a little work on your part, but it will be rewarded with long arguments at the check-out!
7. And finally, of course, the old standby, keep your wallet, check book etc., in a safe place, that takes at least three minutes to find - and NEVER, EVER LOOK FOR IT UNTIL THE CLERK GIVES YOU YOUR TOTAL!
Actually, I enjoy grocery shopping. People watching at its finest - the "real you" is revealed, no pretense, no pride. Now were was it that I parked the cart?
Let's call it for what it is. The U.S. invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq is solely and completely the responsibility of George "Dubya" Bush, the current president of the United States of America. By a series of deceptions and misjudgements, he has, by his own personal choice, created this mess and it should never be stated otherwise - it is Dubya's war. Let this millstone hang around his neck to warn other usurpers and modern-day Napoleons that we will never forget the person who is responsible. If there are any that think this war is not a mistake, ask yourselves this: Where will the world be a year from now? Four years? Twenty years? Wouldn't the world be a better place if "Dubya" had worked with allies to carefully combat and isolate terror groups, rather than stage a poorly executed takeover of a weak country? This is Dubya's war. We will all pay a price for his folly, let's make sure that history gets the name right.
Mary and Will
Just got back from a gig. A folkie-style act, Myrtle Jean and the Bubs, with the two main stalwarts being Mary and Will. I ran their sound, just for fun. The fun of it was hearing two people, married for years, make beautiful music together. Mary writes and sings the songs, and plays guitar and a little banjo. Will takes the lead parts on guitar, with some dobro thrown in. Mary's songs are all from the heart, pretty well done, not a false note of emotion in them. Will had both classical and blues training, and complements Mary's style perfectly. It is more than music, it is love. It is so much fun to watch people in love make music together, because making music is an act of love, and a couple can another dimension to it. This may be their final hurrah, or just a hiatus for this group. I felt that I had to run sound for them, this one last time, to be a small part of their love.
It's -11°C out there and everything is white. The low winter sun shines bright and gives the mountains surrounding the city a magical golden glow. Mittens, hats, scarfs and other wollen accessories are no longer optional. It's now a question of survival.
The snow is powdery which makes it impossible to make snowmen and other winter creatures out of it. Instead the young at hearts run to every insignificant little hill with snow sledges and black garbage bags and get ready for an awsome ride. When the snow comes even the most mature of men turn into five year olds again and throw snowballs at passing colleagues and friends. Girls all ages make snowangels and then run to the nearest café for a hot chocolate.
On days like these my little city really shows why it is loved by so many. We may only have daylight for a few hours but oh my does the sun use those few hours. Before long the bright blue skies will turn pink and then the pitch dark takes over. The nature's beautiful display of colour is not over though because it's almost certain after a day like this that the dancing green northern lights will make an appearance. Finally my island is living up to it's name.
In A Mist
My weekly sojurn to the library had a new dimension tonight. A mist, a ground cloud if you like, has enveloped the heartland for the last forty-eight hours. Not as fine as a proper fog, but enough to soften the landscape and make the street lamps glow with a praeternatural sheen. As I arrived at the trail proper, its gnarled oaks' finger-like limbs appeared to be beckoning, as if they were ready to caress me with their shaggy bark. Stopping to check on the now-nutless feral cats, I quietly went into their bower and opened a can of sardines. The shadows quickly came alive, and soon a dozen felines surrounded me.
They were in their perfect element; barely visible, with the damp quieting all sounds of movement. I resumed my journey.
Past the deserted hospital grounds, into the dark pine woods, and then on to the library. I glimpsed it from about a half mile-off; it looked like a great ship - the boat of longing - lit up in the night and sailing in a sea of prairie grass.
Later, when returning, the mist had lightened a bit, I could see yard lights from homes across the river, and the flashing red light atop the water tower became a UFO. I came across a man on the trail, I slowed so I wouldn't startle him. He had been shopping, he carried a plastic bag with a carton of cigarettes clearly visible in it.
"Nice night, huh?" he ventured.
"It is a beautiful night, indeed."
The makers of Viagra had to stop their 10 million dollar ad campaign due to a complaint by the FDA (commerce interruptus?) This ad, which has been in heavy rotation throughout the fall, features a balding, middle-aged man and his perky wife shopping for lingere as he sprouts blue devil horns. It seems that the FDA objected to the voice over, which suggested that the man could, if he takes this nostrum, become the youthful lover he once was - " The Wild Thing". There was also no mention of (possibly lethal) side effects in the ad. As we get more and more heavily advertised "Enhancement" pharmaceuticals, the line between dope dealers and the drug makers is getting blurry. Plenty of money for pills to give middle-aged men erections, while we have a drastic shortage of flu vaccine. I'm getting a funny feeling about this...or is it the flu...or just a boner?
I live with a weaver. It makes for an interesting house, full of looms and strange mechanical contraptions for winding thread and yarn. Bushels and bushels of yarn. The weaver makes things with this yarn and once in a while has a sale, along with other crafters, in time for the holiday season. This sale started 20 years ago, and has grown every year since. Part of the requirements is that you bring five dozen "Home Made" cookies. Storebought not allowed. Well, as you can imagine, this is the sort of thing that you don't have time for if you are trying to get your crafted items ready for the sale. Guess who will make the cookies? So it is time to put away my mortarboard and don my baker's hat. I have my sainted grandmother's sugar cookie recipe, written in her own hand, as my guide. I've made them before, they are pretty good, but not quite my grandmother's. She could whip those out using a wood stove, no timer, no thermostat, no problem. I will completely destroy my kitchen, and hopefully not burn too many. But if I can capture a little of my grand mother's magic (she probably got the recipe from Betty Crocker - personally) then my contribution will be a success.
"So what do you want to do tonight?"
"Oh, I dunno...why don't you go get us a video?"
"Something domestic or foreign?"
"Not domestic, but no French! Maybe Mediterranean, you know, Greece, or Italy..."
"Greece might be hard...how about Tuscany?"
"Yeah...With a villia, and big family meals, colorful locals..."
"Oh, no coming-of-age, and no creepy older men and young women."
"How about an older woman and a younger man?"
"Named Marcello!" No, no, no..."
"Ok, that narrows it down a lot. How's this? Recently divorced (and bitter) writer goes on a Gay Tour, finds a run-down villa, moves in, her pregnant lesbian daughter comes to live with her, she has hints of romance, befriends a local young couple, has the marriage at her villa, her daughter gives birth, she starts a new extended family in the villa, writes the Great American Novel, everyone lives happily ever after?"
"Well, OK, make sure that the villa is remodeled, and the writer is a gourmet cook!"
"No problem. I'll check under the fantasy section."
I came back with Under The Tuscan Sun. It met most of the requirements - except it did have the main character fall for a younger man...named Marcello...He told her she had "beautiful eyes" and it worked! (Then he ditched her.) Like I said - fantasy.
My trusty one speed bicycle, The Ranger, became a time machine today. I needed ink for my printer, and the office supply store is only about 2 miles away. As I rode, I left my neighboorhood - the houses are of varying ages - some over a hundred years old, some brand new. A tornado in '39 took out about a third of the town, the many empty lots were filled in slowly, over the last sixty-five years. As I got to Main Street, I saw that the commercial buildings fit this pattern too. Lots of variety, and all still in use. People were strolling from one specialty shop to another. There is the Beehive building, from 1890, with a weathered tobacco sign from the forties still visible painted on the alley wall. Old man Lehn died last week, he had a small electrical store in that place since 1934 and he worked in it until last summer. Heading east, the business district ended, and another mix of small houses built mainly in the 50's and 60's took over. Nothing special, but well kept, with different colors and styles of decoration keeping it fresh.
Now I came to the edge of town. Even ten years ago this was mostly farmland or scrub prairie. Now it is home to "developments", cheap townhomes and tacky single family units on tiny lots. All the same color - computer beige ("putty"). Each exactly the same as the other. There are covenants prohibiting remodeling, landscaping or yard displays. The sidewalk ended. A few die-hard pedestrians had beaten a single file path into the dirt on the shoulder; when the street went over a railroad track that path ended too. I was coming upon the new shopping "area" of Riverdale Commons. This isn't a mall, it's just a bunch of gaudy stores spread out over one square mile. Nine lanes of traffic. No sidewalks. No rhyme or reason in the off-roads. No way to get to a store except by auto. Even in a car, the roads are so haphazard that you may be able to SEE the destination you want, but you CANNOT drive there without making several wrong turns. I braced myself, and descended in to the maelstrom.
I did get my ink. I went outside, set my time machine for "past-perfect" and I left "future-tense". Progress.
It is 1am and I am sat in my kid sister's bed in the dark. All I can hear is a passing car every now and again from outside and my sister's snores coming from the next room. I think about how lovely she was as a baby and hope that she will grow up to be the strong individual I know she can be. The reason I am here in her bed, up to my ears in stuffed animals, and not my own is the flu. I've not gone to work for three days because of it and I was bored out of my mind alone at home. I sent my mother an emergency call and asked her to come pick me up. Being sick at my mother's home is always better and especially now when the teachers are on a strike and I have my two little sisters to entertain me all day.
Although I enjoy my own company, solitude for too long can be a nuance. Your mind is free to wander and sometimes it stumbles up on dangerous territories. Like the fact how it sucks to be sick and single. If it had not been for my own efforts I would not have heard from a single person those three days that I've been sick. Like Princess Fiona, kept from the world, I've been spending my days in my basement hole watching videos and sneezing. I'm not mad at my friends or family being too busy with their lives for little 'ol me because I've been there myself. What on the other hand makes me sad is that all of them have people who call and check up on them which I don't have. I love my mother dearly and I know she cares for me but there is a distance between us and sometimes I don't see her for weeks. The same goes for my father but with him the time is closer to months than weeks. Without wanting to sound too dramatic I could have been dead for three days without anyone noticing except maybe the folks at work but they would probably just think I had fled the country or something. Actually I think I can pretty safely say that if I had infact died three days ago nobody would have known about it until my toiletpaperthief of a neighbor would have smelled my rotten flesh and notified the landlady. When this is the case you sort of know that you are on your own in this world.
Now, I'm a relatively healthy individual despite my flu so people in my life probably don't automatically think sudden death when they have not seen me around for a while. Still this loneliness and need to belong haunts me and the thought of being a crimpled old lady alone somewhere in my basement hole when it's my time to go scares me. I'm not saying it will be like that, I've not given up on finding the place where I belong yet, but I'm realistic at the same time and know it is a possibility. What if I become the girl the world forgot about? The friend you always meant to call but you never did? I can't make them remember. I can't make them care.
Like I said, dangerous territories. I also thought about the trip my mum and I are taking over the newyears. Like two queens we are staying at a classy hotel and before I knew it we had met devilishly handsome and filthy rich businessmen and they were flying us over to Brazil in their private jet. Just because we are so marvelous. I wish sometimes that my brain had an off button. That I could sometimes just be.
A small metal box, painted yellow, with a switch and a terminal on it. Found in a junk store, it bore the once-familiar CD logo. CD as in civil defense, a program designed to keep us scared out of our wits in the fifties. The box was for checking a radiological tester (Geiger counter) - it was not radioactive, it just had a circuit to see if the electronics were OK. You used to see a lot of those CD logos, schools had them, some buildings downtown had them - in the basement of the CD buildings were dozens of thirty gallon pails, filled with drinking water, medical supplies, and hard candy. There was a radiological kit, too - that must have been where that box came from. When I was in primary school, twice a year we would have CD drills, we'd put our heads under our desks or go out in the hall and huddle in our open lockers. It made you think. What if the bomb was dropped? Would we be in the blast zone? Would we be survivors? At the height of this nonsense, the Air Force would practice bombing runs over our town, complete with sonic booms.
We actually did get attacked. We were "bombed" by our own government with "safe" radioactive isotopes, just to see what would happen. That program remained secret until a few years ago. Perhaps my little box was used in that project, to make sure that the Geiger counters were accurate as they measured the radiation that swirled about our midwestern city. I guess it beats duct tape and plastic sheeting.
Batty Comes Clean
The following account contains explict details of sordid and illegal malfeasance, if you are offended by this type of reading material, stop here!
Dateline, 14 January, 1972
...I was wary, wary of that funny little cigarette that I had been given by a certain Mr. "Stoner". "Save it for later, man..its some heavy sh*t, man." Well I knew that it had a slightly malodorous scent, but I was certain that it was not excrement, and it was actually light as a feather. I slipped it into my shirt-pocket and thanked him, not knowing what havoc this seemingly innocent gesture would wreak on my simple existence. I went home, and went straight to bed, for I knew that I had chores to do in the morning.
Saturday morning I awoke refreshed, ate my usual breakfast (Oatmeal, O.J. and Ovaltine) and went straight to work - Laundry. I was carefully emptying the pockets of my garments (I almost washed a five dollar bill once!) when I rediscovered the aforementioned "doobie". Hmmm.... I had the house to myself, I was stuck here for a couple of hours at least, why not? I found a book of matches by the hot-water heater, and proceeded to "burn one".
Now let us pause the narrative here, and allow me to explain my post-grad laundry technique:
I was well into step 2 when the first effect of the potent narcotic hit me. Somehow the laundry room became an enchanted fairyland, and the hum of the washer was a symphony, with the scent of the detergent ambrosia. The cycle ended with a chime, or rather a great Tibetian gong, calling me to rescue my now limp attire from its watery ride. I somehow manage to fill the dryer and start it, and then took the regrettable step of relighting the "devil's weed" and consumed the remainder. Perhaps it was the dope mixed with the chemicals in the dryer sheets that caused me to take the next step. As the dryer stopped, I took out my togs, and instead of casually tossing them into a hamper for the trip upstairs, I began to carefully caress each one, examining the stitching and fabric.
How long I was in this stupor, I do not know. All that I remember is waking up, hours later, surrounded by neatly folded and stacked laundry, sorted by drawer, and color (darks on the bottom, then colors, with whites on top.) I never again smoked that filthy stuff, but I have to admit that, to this day, my clothes are always neatly put away when they are clean.
Some people would maybe find it strange to find a shopping cart in their backyard. The same people would probably remove it and try to find out what the hell it is doing there. I took a photo:
Somebody told me I use and abuse men. I toy with their emotions and make them cry. I resent that. Someone also told me that I'm amazingly beautiful and that I'm the only one that doesn't see it. He told me in order to gain the self-confidence that I lack I just have to believe it. Walk with your head up high he said and then he tried to kiss me. I almost believed him. You have to enjoy the irony of it all.
"Where is the line with you?" - Björk
The line, the line between us all. Beween strangers, between lovers. Between friend and family. Courtship (what a quaint word that is these days!) is all about finding the line. One reason that casual sex may be so unfulfilling is that the line is ignored, no boundaries are established, nothing comes out of the experience - it is intimacy wasted. When relationships are established, the line becomes defined. If two people have greatly differing ideas of where the line is, strife and misunderstanding will ensue. If they share similar ideas about the line, both will grow in their relationship and in themselves. This has only a tangential relationship to right and wrong or "morality". If you survey couples who have been together a long time, each may have reservations about the other's ideas, beliefs or traits. But they will know, with a high degree of certainty, where the line is. Good friends always know where the lines are with each other. Families have special problems with lines, every familial relationship has another dimension to it - you were born into a family, you didn't chose them. The lines have been set from an early age, before the self was even defined. A lot of people struggle throughout their lives when the lines separating them from their relations are hopelessly entwined with those lines that connect them. Destructive behaivors - addictions, abuse and hatred - abolish the line with disastrous results. Where is the line with these blog entries and comments? Part of the appeal of blogging is the distance that we share - the line is "out there" somewhere, and we can be a little freer in our expression, and a little more open to the ideas of others.
Most of us, if we have ventured forth into the world at all, have met a pair of Mormon missionaries. Now this post will have nothing to do with the validity of the Latter Day Saints, their theology or sociology. This last week I was approached twice, once on the street, and once at my door. I have to hand it to these guys (always a pair). They are invariably handsome, well-groomed young men, dressed conservatively (yet stylishly) in black. They are invariably polite, and actually quite pleasant. I'm certain that they may win a few converts just for their appearance and manners. The problem with them is that once you have heard their pitch, you either accept it and become a Mormon, or reject it. And reject it. And reject it. About 100 times in a typical lifetime.
Let us backtrack a little now. My great-grandfather's grandfather's uncle helped found the Mormon religion. He was the number two man, he was the first baptized Mormon and he baptized the founder. He transcribed the book of Mormon from Joseph Smith's translations. In every book of Mormon, on the first page, is the testimony of the witnesses. His is the first name: Oliver Cowdery. He was also the Judas of the Mormon church - he resigned in protest over certain practices of the fledgling church. (No need to enumerate them here) All of this brings us to the point at hand.
What can a normal person do to rid oneself (in a civilized manner) of these pleasant but persistent pests? Four magic words. Four words, whose power is so great that the missonaries have been taught to flee from anyone uttering them, flee as if it were Satan himself uttering this foul blasphemy. Trust me. It works. The words?
"Oliver Cowdery was right!"
...Oh, and don't forget to smile! After all, they really are very sincere young men.
A toilet war
Last night I was watching Pretty in Pink, a classic 80's cult movie, with a lot of pink clothes in it. The story line is really not that complicated. Poor girl meets rich boy. Rich boy asks poor girl out. Poor girl accepts and falls in love. Rich boy asks poor girl to the prom which poor girl accepts. Rich boy backs out because poor girl is not rich enough. Poor girl shows up in a hideous pink dress to prom and rich boy realizes he loves her. And they live happily ever after. Honestly, what was wrong with people in the 80's?
Pretty in pink really has nothing to do with anything. I just wanted to point out how utterly pointless and bubble-gum pink it is. What happened after I watched the movie is what matters here. I had to pee.
So I go into my toilet and when I'm about to loosen the belt I realize my toilet roll is gone. I was totally amazed and equally furious at the person who stole the roll. I recommend that right about now you run off and get some coffee because this story is about to get a bit complicated. To make it a little less complicated I have to tell you three very short and completely unconnected stories
Story 1: I was very poor last month, about as poor as I have ever been in my life. We are not talking about pot noodle poor, we are talking about not eating unless someone gives me something kind of poor. But I'm over it now, and I'm fine. Except I ran out of toilet paper in the middle of this poor season and had to steal a roll from work. I've never stolen anything from work before and when I finally did it was a massive toilet roll I had to hide in my bag while my unsuspecting boss drove me home.
Story 2: I wanted to curl my hair the other day as I was thinking about going as a gypsy to a Halloween party and felt I needed to have curly hair for that occasion. Since the office toilet rolls are not good for using to make curls, a friend of mine gave me one of his rolls. It was Andrex, you know the one with the puppy on them and are supposed to be extra though as well as soft. I never got round to curling my hair so it has been sitting rather oddly on top of my stereo now for quite some time.
Story 3: I now live in a basement room, down town Reykjavik, which I rent from a suspsected alcoholic landlord and her very peculiar husband. It's been lovely. I have my own bathroom, with a shower and a massage bathtub, and have had no trouble at all with the people in my house. Unlike my previous home where I tried to light the place on fire amongst other things. Well, there was a incident where the alcoholic landlord broke into the basement by smashing a window because she forgot her keys but other than that, nothing. Until last weekend when I was on my way to the shower that is. I met on my way two youngish looking men surrounded with furniture. One of them, I don't know who yet, is my new next door neighbor. The new next door neighbor from whose room I hear even the smallest farts and I know exactly when he's having a cigarette because the smoke finds it's way into my room. He has a different bathroom than me. Which is highly odd since there is nothing in this basement except the two bedrooms and the two bathrooms. He doesn't have a name yet, nor a face since I don't know who of the two is the smoking farter.
So there I was, peeing my pants, and the roll gone. I was too involved with the hole having to pee thing that I didn't think about who had stolen the roll. I suddenly remembered my other one though and ran back to my room to get it. I took it back, put it on the bathtub next to the toilet, turned around and my belt slammed right in to it so the roll went from the tip of the bathtub straight into the toilet. THE WHOLE ROLL. Then I was faced with the awful task of getting the roll out of there because obviously you can't flush a whole roll at a time. Especially not when it's the extra fluffy puppy type.
In my toilet paper rage I suddenly remembered the damn smoker. I ran to his toilet and what do you know, there was my stolen roll of toilet paper stashed on his sink. I can't even describe my frustration and in a state I ran to my room and wrote him a harsh letter. I've now decided not to deliver it. I'm going to keep it though, in case he tries to steal anything again. Maybe I should put the wet and disgusting roll where I found mine as revenge. The nerve of some people.
Once exclusive to telephone switchboard operators and jet pilots, the headset - an earpiece and a microphone on a flexible holder - is becoming ubiquitous. In the late seventies, office receptionists started sprouting them - sometimes it was impossible to tell if they were talking to you or on the phone: "...Hello, may I help you?" "Why yes, I'm here to see about the.." This got you a stern look of rebuke accompanied by a warning finger shake. The person on the phone is always more important.
The next big inroads were with fast food order takers. Usually they were kept in a special area, so as not to get your hamburger mixed up with someone elses' fries. Now, of course, as an adjunct to the cell phone, they are everywhere. With newer and lighter versions, they are becoming a fashion accessory, almost like jewelry, Mr. and Mrs. Jetson (and Judy!) never had it so futuristic.
As for me, I want the ultimate. A headset that says: POWER! AUTHORITY! IMPORTANCE! I will get a big, shiny, wrap-around NFL-style coaches' rig. Then when I talk, I will make wild gestures, my face will contort, and when my call is over, I can tear it off in a fit of pique. Oh Yes. Fear me - the great communicator!
Last June I wrote about a meeting I had with three Icelandic women, in the Kaffe Nauthól in Reykjavík. The events of the last few days triggered my memories of those conversations. We talked of the war in Iraq, of John Kerry's abilities, and many other subjects. The one topic that came back to me the strongest was something much more intimate, much more personal. One of the women mentioned the recent influx of immigrants to Iceland, and the peculiar problem that many of them had. Of course, language was a difficulty (I will testify to that) but her concern was with the immigrants children. The children, being children, could readily pick up Icelandic, but the parents became more and more alienated from the culture and their own children. Many of the parents had no literary tradition, and could not pass on their heritage to their offspring. She said this was a great problem, because there was no way for the culture of their society to be passed on. It is through the sharing of stories, of literature and the arts - an education in the humanities - that a child becomes an integrated member of society.
In the United States there is currently a war going on. It is not the war with Iraq that I speak of, but a war against American culture. The "No child left behind" (no child left alone?) act is an effort by religious fundamentalists to destroy public education. It has a chilling effect on the humanities, on science, and on any local input into the curricula of public schools. It has been underfunded and set up to fail, and when it does fail, so will the schools. President Bush is one of their own, and his election has increased their power. This is a war of hearts and minds, and if it succeeds, a new dark age of fear and superstition will reign over enlightenment and culture.
Ok. I promise - no more rants political - for a long, long time.
may i go away? may i leave this tower of babel and the constant barrage? may i go back to that quiet summer's morning spent exploring a small pond, looking for tadpoles, smelling the earthy scent of the shelf fungi on the rottting stump at the water's edge? where the hum of the insects was the only sound. the world was only as big as what i could touch. the madness was unknown, unknowable to a five year old. if i go away, i will not come back. i cannot go away.
It's Monday. The weekend with it's cocktail umbrellas is over and I find myself back in my old weekday routine. A lot happened this weekend, nothing that matters in the long run though because the weekends come and go and leave little behind. During the week I am a sane responsible individual with a vision and plans to conquer the world. The weekends on the other hand are all like a big bad acid trip where I float on a bright coloured cloud, sprinkling purple fairydust and giving people the finger. Time and space don't exist during the weekends. Neither does the act of thinking. I open my mouth and the words run from it like a colossal waterfall and the brain never catches up with them. Not until Sunday that is, when the moral hangovers make themselves a cozy little home in my mind. Like an ostrich the only thing I can do to escape them is to stick my head in the sand and hope they go away. Which they do, most of the time.
It's Monday. I sit in my dead end job and watch life pass me by. One hundred million questions run through the thought highway in my head and I have answers to none of them. I pinch myself to see whether this is really it or if I'm stuck in a recurring nightmare. There is a scratch in my life's vinyl and I'm in a loop. It's Monday. Again.