Thursday, January 27, 2005

Dear Winter

There are some things about our relationship that I think need to be addressed. I know that in the past we've been pretty good friends: you were always very reliable when it came to getting days off from school, you always snowed during winter break and then warmed up just enough for a trek into the woods, and you were often very packable for purposes of making snowpersons, snowballs, snow forts, etc. Oh, and you smelled nice. By that I mean you didn't smell like anything and that can be a great quality. In short, Winter, you were good to me.

But something changed. I think it happened on the day I was run over by a sled and practically knocked unconscious. I resented you, and I think you knew it. The next year, you didn't even show up and Spring had to cover for you. The year after that, you went overboard and inflicted a vicious storm on me every time I needed to travel by taxi. I think you were trying to murder me, and frankly, Winter, that kind of behavior really makes me rethink all those poems I wrote about you in eleventh grade, glorifying you--only to find out that you're a common thug.

This year has shown no improvements. First you were late arriving, and then you seemed to mistake the Hudson Valley for the arctic tundra and the inhabiting humans for woolly mammoths. When I go outside, Winter, I have an immediate brain freeze. You make my eyes water and then you freeze the tears; you make my nose run and then you freeze the snot; you make the shower cold and then you freeze my hair so that it creaks and clinks when I walk to class. In case hypothermia doesn't kill me, you make a death trap of any slope or stairway you can find.

You also freeze the batteries in my camera and that really annoys me.

Because I am the bigger person, and also have the advantage of being sentient, I'm going to forgive you first. Winter, I hereby declare peace on you. This peace will be contingent upon the following:

1) Temperatures may be decided at your discretion but wind factors may not exceed -5.
2) The formation of icy pathways will be considered "acting out".
3) A consistent, yet gentle, pattern of snowfall will be mandatory.
4) Any attempt to emulate the ninth circle of hell, i.e. encasing all living things in ice up to their necks, will automatically end the truce.

I'd really like for us to be friends again, Winter. But you have to do your part.

With equal parts affection and fear,

Monday, January 24, 2005

apology to a small, dead spider

i have my own bathroom. i pay more money every month to have my own bathroom. i live with the guilt of stealing this bathroom from my roommate jeff ( who really really wanted the bathroom) every day. i suffered enough to get this bathroom. this is the reason i do not check the shower for living things before i turn on the hot water. everyone in the house knows it's my bathroom! alas, the spider missed the memo. i stepped into the shower this morning and saw him struggling on the tile floor. i figured once i blocked the flow of water he would just climb out-- spiders are supposed to be resourceful like that. he was even showing signs of progress; every few seconds he would climb part way up the wall, leading me to believe he was not only alive, but enjoying the shower. it was like playing in the sprinkler. but then he stopped climbing. i thought he was just resting but he started to look a little stiff.

not wanting the spider to get too water-logged, i leaned down to give him a hand (knowing full well if he actually crawled up my arm i would have to reenact the psycho shower scene, letting out the most blood curdling scream you have ever heard and smashing things with a shampoo bottle). sadly, when i leaned down i realized i have a drainage problem in my shower. the little spider had actually drown in a quarter inch of water while i was washing my hair. call me heartless, but i was almost relieved. if he crawled up my arm i would have gone into cardiac arrest. oh well, i still felt bad when i washed him down the drain.

in closing: small, dead spider, i apologize for being unable to differientiate between a drowning victim and a happy bather. as a lifeguard it's my responsibility to save swimmers in distress. please, next time wave your arms and yell a little louder... or try hanging out in the boy's bathroom, they're used to sharing.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

workin' it

my typical working day consists of drinking coffee, checking my email every four seconds for job offers, avoiding car insurance websites, and saying over and over "no i do not know where that tape is. no i don't know where that one is either. yes, feel free to look for yourself. yes, you're right, someone who worked here before me must have taken it as a souvenier. oh, you don't think it spontaneously combusted? you don't think it was very cute when i said that? oh so sorry. i didn't realize tape stock was such a sensative issue." honestly, there must be some disgruntled employee sitting around watching tv in their underwear with a full set of BetaSP master tapes serving as cheap substitutes for plates and coasters. not that i blame this person. i am close to doing the same. it would be oh so satisfying to say, "yes, i know exactly where that tape is. it's propping up the loose leg of my patio table. jerk."

Monday, January 17, 2005

slight nargh

well, it's january. i should be hibernating. sipping hot chocolate and reading under multiple fleece-lined blankets. but no. i am here. in los angeles. where i have no excuse for sitting in my room hour after hour being bored out of my mind. so, this weekend, instead of sitting in my room hour after hour being bored out of my mind i moved my newly inherited rocking chair to the balcony and sat there watching humming birds flying around in the lemon tree... and being bored out of my mind. i felt like an 85-year-old. no doubt it was nice, but i found myself wishing i worked weekends, or that the painful blisters on my feet would heal so i could go running, or that i had friends in los angeles that also dispised sitting in rocking chairs watching birds and wanted to go adventuring. I even contemplated calling the over zealous co-worker i rejected last semester. Friday (my new honda civic) and I went to the grocery store, but he's not talkative and pretty submissive... not good friend qualities. so i am sending out a blog of slight narghs. i am bored here. work is fine, work is good, but i certainly wouldn't mind a decent running partner or even another over zealous boy to reject... ::sigh:: slight nargh.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

It's international; I can't throw it away.

Some people, when they clean out old coats or purses or seldom-used pockets, find things like $20 bills or Borders gift cards. Today I found a packet of sugar, practically caramelized by now, from the British Library.

Friday, January 14, 2005

All this picture needs is Heathcliff banging his head against a tree and weeping.
I did not notice the tree doing the limbo until after I took the picture.
Yes, in case you wondered, a Diffuse Glow is absolutely necessary for winter pictures.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

the itsy bitsy spider climbed up the water spout

i moved to los angeles last wednesday. i said a tearful goodbye to my faithful puppy and my mother and set off for sunny california with my good ole' dad. upon arrival i realized instead of packing sheets and towels, i probably should have brought a collapsable arc. yes, you probably saw it on the news, southern california almost fell into the ocean this week. at work, our main source of entertainment was standing in a warm, dry edit bay watching people cross the street. when three or four feet of calf-deep water fills both parking lanes you can really see creativity blossom in your co-workers. take josh, the new post coordinator. josh thought he could outwit the river formerly known as lankershim blvd. josh wore flip flops and rolled his pants up before he even left his car. his co-workers cried out in dismay when they saw josh had planned ahead. it's no fun watching prepared people cross the street. but, as josh entered the rushing water, the audience saw a look of horror cross his face. as he emerged from parking lane #1 josh sadly watched his flip flops float towards the los angeles river. he scrambled barefoot across the street. poor, poor josh. mwahahahah.

A Revelation Concerning Ombeline

A year and a half ago, my hard drive emitted its death rattle and gave out, three or so days before I was to leave the country for a year. I ran up and down the halls screaming and weeping while my father calmly performed the miracles that a computer programmer, the Holy Man of the modern era, can do. He saved all of my files and installed a new hard drive, and I got on the plane with a healthy and happy computer.

I was plagued by one problem, however, of a very Disturbing nature: a philosophical nature. Philosophy goes in the Disturbing category because it’s always forcing you to make decisions between the life of your grandmother and your adorable, helpless puppy or asking you things like, “Is there a difference in value between one life and a million lives?” These are questions I feel I am no more qualified to answer than, say, George W. Bush.

On second thought, the fact that I may actually be slightly more qualified than George W. Bush is enough to put him officially in the Disturbing category along with his entire Cabinet, Willem Dafoe, probability, the death of Douglas Adams, Mr. Rochester’s idea of moral correctness, global warming, misused punctuation, and my uninsured and jobless future.

Anyway, the replacement of my computer’s hard drive gave me cause to regret not paying attention in Philosophy 105 when we talked about whether Joe is still Joe after his brain transplant. Watching the hard drive being physically removed from my computer, I asked myself tearfully, “I am witnessing the death of my faithful, if not entirely trusty, laptop? Is my Ombeline still Ombeline?” Until this question could be answered, I resorted to calling my computer Noripsni.

Yesterday my dad, the aforementioned shaman of electronics, was updating some software on my computer and he was supposed to name it. He was about to type in NORIPSNI when I began to bemoan (again) the tragic loss of Ombeline. And he said, “The hard drive is more like the spleen. The processor would be the brain.”

As he spoke, rays of divine light shone down upon Ombeline, and all present struck Classical poses with handkercheifs and garlands, and wept.

And that settles the excrutiating philosophical question around which my life has been centered since October 2003. Ombeline survives! And hopefully will forgive me for calling her Noripsni for a third of her life. The alarming question I now wrestle with is this: will the transplant of Ombeline’s spleen affect, in anyway, her French accent?

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Go ye not unto the Gravel Pit!

A week or so ago, it was pretty warm here. One night, around eleven, I opened my window to let cool air into my room. Then I settled into my bed to read more of King Hereafter (which, if anyone is interested, has improved). A half hour or so passed (in which time, if those interested before were planning to read the book solely on the basis of the character named Skeggi, I should tell you that Skeggi dies--sorry) Then, as I was contentedly reading, I heard, outside, something which seemed closely to resemble the sound of a lion killing a wildebeest. This not being the African savannah, that scenario seemed unlikely. Though my survival instincts were telling me that the correct reaction was to run and hide, or get out the machete, I heroically turned off all the lights and peered out the window.

Silence and a slight breeze. A zephyr, even, if you will. If my life was Jurassic Park, that’s when the hungry uber-predator would have smashed through the window, torn off my head, and drunk all of my spewing blood. (In my Jurassic Park, they apparently found the DNA of Grendel.) However, I ended up just going back to my book and forgetting about it for a while, and it was all very anti-climactic.

The next morning, my mother went for her routine walk with my dog when she heard the following sound (this is a quote from my mother): “Aroo-aroo-aroooooooo!” It sounds like Scooby-Doo is in trouble when I do it, but she, an infinitely more intelligent person, recognized it as the unmistakable call of a coyote. A coyote. One more time: coyote. She saw one of our neighbors and said, “I think there are coyotes in the gravel pit.” And he said, “I think so too.” And my brave dog, my fierce dog, The Mutilator, said: “Holy Mother Mary and Joseph, SAVE ME FROM THE THING THAT MAKES THE SCARY NOISE!” (The Mutilator is not religious but she has an excellent sense of verbal effect.)

The Mutilator then leapt into Shaggy’s arms.

My mother did not, however, relay this information to me until after dinner tonight, a week later. Let us review the information: there are hyenas . . . oh, excuse me, just coyotes . . . living in packs in the gravel pit across the street, planning a hostile takeover of our defenceless neighborhood, feasting on the flesh of the local wildebeest population. You might wonder whether there actually is a wildebeest population anywhere in the lower 48 excluding zoos. There is not. And I think we can rule out Alaska and Hawaii too. You might then wonder, as I wonder, what are they eating?

Says my mother, “Apparently they’ve been known to take small children and cats!”

She follows this up with, “Are you going to take the dog out?”

When the child-eaters get me, at least I will be remembered as the first casualty in the war between suburbia and the Wolf Platoon . . . I’m sorry, I meant Coyote . . .

Saturday, January 01, 2005

In Which Simon Attempts to Make up for Not Posting by Writing Something of Excessive Length

Because I detest the idea of boiling down an entire year to into one sentimental blog, magazine article, newscast, or other media type of your preference, this will have nothing to do with today being the arbitrarily selected first day of a new year. I realize my boycotting this holiday may serve the mortal blow to modern use of the Roman calendar, which I think we all realize is only hanging on by a thread, but my recklessness simply cannot be stopped.

I have very little to say because I am home, and while home has the advantages of being generally cleaner than C9, less dubiously constructed than C9, better-functioning than C9, and having a kitchen sink that is distinctly superior to C9’s, the native population tends to be a little sterner, somewhat disapproving, and all-powerful in the way of annoying the bejeezus out of my housebound and increasingly irrational self. In short: I miss home. The other one.

Here is what I have been doing whilst imprisoned:

1) Running. I have not run regularly for so long that it’s torture now, and the only reason I go is because when I get back to my street, I can see my dog sitting outside watching me with a big doggie-grin on her face, eagerly waiting for when I get to the driveway. . . . Once I get there, of course, I am accosted by the Hound of the Baskervilles, a.k.a. Georgie, who lives next door and does not approve of me running, stretching, walking, or breathing without her assistance. She likes to assist by suddenly looming up from her driveway, with which she blends perfectly, and directing several throat-closing barks in my direction. If she could do that before the run, the I-AM-GOING-TO-BE-MAULED adrenaline rush might be helpful. As it is, I do not find myself wanting to be her exercise buddy.

2) Reading. If you have not read Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, you should. If you have not read America: The Book, you should. If you have not read King Hereafter by my beloved Dorothy Dunnett, it might be just as well, but you should not be denied the pleasure of the name “Skeggi,” which will doubtless be the name of my first son. After I move to Iceland.

3) Listening to old A Prairie Home Companion shows. The pre- and post-election shows are comforting:

My feeling is that born-again people are citizens of heaven. That’s where their citizenship is, is in heaven. Not here, among us, in America. If you feel that war in the Middle East is simply prophecy fulfilled, if you believe that tribulation and suffering are just the natural conditions of life, if you believe that higher education is vanity, unnecessary, that there is only one book that one need to read, if you feel that unemployment is God’s way of making you more dependent on him and drawing you closer to him, if you feel that lousy health care is simply a portal to paradise, then you don’t really share our same interests do you no you do not. So if you vote, why not Canadians, why not Scandinavians, they speak English, perfectly well-informed . . . but we have moved on! It’s all behind us. No bitterness remains.

4) Sleeping. I have been going to bed around 2 and getting up at 10. Or 11. Or 12. BECKY HAD BETTER READ THIS.

And as this is now much too long, I think I’ll go back to doing one of the above four things. If you can think of a fifth, call me and tell me.