Monday, August 24, 2015

vindication by proxy

Maybe I missed my calling.  I should have been a library detective, back when they had those.  I want to google that, to see if we still do have library detectives, but I won't. I'll leave a possibly erroneous statement in my blog. Imperfection: I'm trying to live with it.

Back to the library. Much like religious pilgrims returning to their homelands, I enter the quietest place. Even the jackhammers and fire truck sirens can't pierce the hum of peace, the cricking creaking of the stacks, the electric buzz of the overhead fluorescents. I've written about my shameless affection for libraries before.

Today's mission: check the shelf for a Per Petterson collection of short stories for a friend, who goes to the same library. I already had a trip planned, because, ironically, I was nearly finished with the Per Petterson book I was reading and needed another one.  (Must have one on deck, at all times.)  You see, my friend is being accused of not returning this short story collection and is even being charge a whopping $40 to replace it. He swears he returned it, knows that he did, but his word wasn't enough.

I hooked him up though.  Photographic evidence.  Right there on the shelf. Vindicated! Exonerated!  Sweet literary justice.

Thursday, August 13, 2015


I feel like there’s a character worming its way to the surface, wanting to be described, to speak and live and feel.  But it’s too soon to even guess what he might look like, or where she lives.  Does she live in a house, a tent, a hut?  Does she live at all?  I don’t believe I’ve ever written about a deceased character, but it might be something to try sometime. 

Lately, I think I just don’t have the patience to listen to what a character has to say, what his story is, his past, what kind of clothes he wears.  I hope there aren’t too many characters waiting for me, or worse they got fed up and have all gone away.  They used to show up, their stories already in progress.  It was all I could do to keep up.  What are they feeling, thinking, seeing; who do they love, were they funny, dull, boisterous with dry skin and an old car?  That they’re not around now bothers me a little.  I miss these unknown people but to be honest if they showed now I would only disappoint them.  My attention would wander. Rude, I know, and then they would fade away right there on the page, barely in their paisley skirts or just opening their eyes to a new day, and I’d be gone.

Another theory I have, and it pains me to mention because it’s so self-involved, which is really the same reason I can’t write about any characters, but OK here it is.  I think that the character worming its way to the surface is actually me. “Write about me, stupid,” she might say. “Oh I really don’t like to. Please don’t make me.” I might reply. I’ll stop here because you get the drift, and I can’t carry on with a conversation with myself more than one exchange.  If I were to have gone on any longer, I'd have a new problem altogether:

“Local woman gets into Twitter war with herself.”  OK, I don’t have a Twitter account but that’s more with-it than saying “Local woman in a spirited email exchange with herself.” 

Hold on “with it”?  I don’t think people say that anymore, do they.  Hip?  Is that OK?  Wait, I know: “trending.”  Well, perhaps not quite in context but at least it is somewhat timely.

Back to my theory.  Writing about me.  Gosh, that’s not easy. 

There’s always poetry.

Monday, June 8, 2015


You know how you get stuck in a rut, wish something would change, but you yourself are not willing to make the change, and then when change does come along you whine about it bitterly? Yeah, me too. I am doing my best to keep my inner child from assuming the fetal position. She doesn't like big change, you see. She doesn't like it when those in authority reveal to all that they have their heads firmly up their wazoos.

I know.  It's good to remind oneself that one is resilient, flexible, and can roll with the punches.  Really show 'em what you've got, and other platitudes.

So I will try to have fun.  Pretend I like all this and smile a lot.  

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Maybe a big sandwich

Hero.  A word kicked around far more in the past 10 years than I have heard in my entire life.  Are there more heroes?  Do we hear more about them because of the much-despised 24-hour news cycle?  Or have we just stretched the definition of the word? 

I don’t have a dictionary handy or I’d be forced to write those hacky, cringe-worthy words “Webster’s dictionary defines…” but it’s safe to say the most recent definition is something along the lines of a person who does something that another person admires.  That’s dumb, I know.  Really, I think the people who go around calling other people “hero” are really trying to draw attention to themselves. “If I say that my 7-year-old son is my hero, I’ll look cool and get laid!” says a fictional single dad as he sets up his online dating profile.  Oh yeah? How is a little boy your hero? Did he drag you from a burning vehicle with no regard for his personal safety?  No.  I think he just puts up with your crap and no longer pees the bed.  Hero?  OK, but it’s only downhill from here on out for the little guy.

If we’re spreading this word around, how about applying it to getting up in the morning when you’re tired, or depressed, sick or feeling too anxious to breathe or leaving your house when you feel ugly and fat and old, with nothing to offer the world but a sour expression and empty hands.  Is it heroic to walk through downtown before sunrise, navigating the gauntlet of sleeping bodies, speeding taxis and sewer steam only to sit in the same position hour and after hour at a task that seems meaningless yet somehow hysterically urgent?  It could be.  You do it with no regard for your personal safety – the safety of your sanity and wrist tendons.  But to whom are you a hero? The doorman, the barista, the guy playing bucket bongos?

Call me crotchety, but heroes don’t need to be named.  We all know who they are, and they don’t want to be called one.  Have you ever noticed that?  The reporter makes the suggestion and the hero refuses, “I was just doing my job.”

I seem to have meandered away from my thesis, unless I can change it from “Hero: A Word that is Overused” to “Here’s Everything I’ve Ever Thought About Heroes in a Point-of-View Shifting Essay.”

Thanks for reading.