Sunday, April 25, 2010

[Poetry Warp] Sunday, April 25, 8:35 A.M.

So I woke up this morning after a particularly intense dream about my father. He was on the roof of the garage of our old house on Silman and was making something on the roof with rope. It was my Mom's name. At this point of the dream, the thought hit me (unwanted and rather rudely) that this could not be happening. Particulary in light of having been dreaming about kicking asses with strange, dreaming martial arts (which is more what I like to dream about).

But when I woke up, I realized rather sharply that I couldn't just call my Dad and tell him about this crazy dream. I hate when that happens. So I wrote a poem (first draft) about it:

and sometimes I wake up with the
ghost of you on me
like the cotton of my sheets or
the skin of my limbs

remembering you are
the fine sand of Folly Beach

remembering that I have lost
the only man who loved
me without preamble or addendum
not even in the moments between dreams and waking
with the ghost of you on me-

I thought we would have more time

and now,

sometimes I wake up with the
ghost of you on me
like the cotton of my sheets or
the skin of my limbs,

only just realizing that you are gone

Thursday, April 22, 2010

[True Work Tales] The Case of the ID and the Eyebrow

I am a librarian. A librarian at a private medical affiliated college in the Metropolitan NY area. My students are awesome. But sneaky. This is a true story.

As of March, I am officially in charge of the ID making machine for my (very small) college. At some point (probably during the massive overtime of accreditation), the ID Machine and I – not unlike King Arthur and England – became one. This explains my strange binary dreamscapes and why the ID printer sometimes hums the Allman Brothers. Taking pictures of the students at my college has allowed me to meet lots of new people – which I love – and to learn their names (which is good, because no one can escape having to sign in at the library desk for usage statistics). And to hone my guerilla tactics to get them to come back and utilize the burgeoning powerhouse that is my library. This last has been very successful.

You… well, maybe it’s just me… but I cannot believe the amount of passion, emotion and angst that is involved with the rather pixilated photographs that are printed on the ID cards. I’ve been begged, bribed and generally amused by students who seem to be expecting a Glamour shot from our Watchport V2 camera. That is seriously not going to happen. I’m not a bad photographer when the camera is stationary, focused and instantaneous. But under fluorescents and with the graphic backdrop of the Cardiovascular System, miracles are highly unlikely. Although very welcome, of course. It probably doesn’t aid the photographee’s cause that I am not picky about pictures. The gem for my ID was taken in the sweaty lost hours of March whereby I suspended the camera to about eye level and snapped a shot. I was desperately in need of either a shower or a beer – probably both. I don’t think my well meaning: “Oh! That’s not that bad,” really engenders confidence in my finished products.

The other issue is the printing capabilities of the card printer – which has been likened in physique to a Roomba by the observant. It’s kind of awesome altogether and consistently churns out a finished product with a doggedness the USPS could envy. But it also has a tendency to recolor faces. In yellows and oranges – particular shades that are not much represented in nature. Except by the manufacturers of highway paraphernalia. This has also caused no end of complaints featuring a host of adjectives I have never heard before in my life.

And this is where my true story begins.

Mr. X*, a student at my college, lined up for his photo ID with the rest of his class (a cohort of about ten students who are graduating in August). From the first, he was displeased with his picture. We had some words over his using the adjective “Chinky,” in the library – which I have some control over – which actually fostered some interesting discussion about stereotypes, racist adjectives and the general ethnic population segregation of JC. His dislike of the ID never waivered however.

In early April, Mr. X came to the library to report that he had lost his ID. “It just blew out the window,” he explained, while I wondered how likely it was that it was actually thrown out the window. I was happy to replace it… with the same picture that was already in the database. Cue Mr. X’s sigh.

While we were waiting for it to print (which takes about 6 seconds), the true story of his ID’s demise leaked out. Either I am getting really good at interrogation techniques (which is possible) or his conscience was entirely too guilty to maintain silence indefinitely. Here is the sad – but very true – tale that was recounted to me: “Well… I did have it clipped to,” Mr. X points to his left eyebrow, “here with the window down.” I inquired as to why it was attached to his eyebrow. Through a complicated series of motions, it became clear that this was not the first time it had ended up there. “So I was on the phone with my friend and it just… flew out the window.” I mentioned that perhaps his eyebrow was not sufficient enough of a perch for the metal clip of the ID card, to which he responded, “Yeah. I’ll know better next time.”

My goodness, I love this job.

*names changed to protect the guilty

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

[32 Years] Day #1

So, as of 10:53 AM today, I have been 32 for 24 hours.

Personally, I’m kind of amazed that I – and most especially my body – has been around and functioning for quite this long. With normal respiration at 12 breaths/minute, I have taken 22,0752,000 breaths since my first. Equally, there have been 3,195,648,000 heartbeats between April 20, 1978 and April 20, 2010. 168,192,000 eye blinks. So many other unquantifiable things lost in the wake of time: an uncounted string of showers, the exact liquid count of tears or the audible capture of laughter.

After a couple of discussions that always come up around birthdays, I think I’m fairly certain that I would not want to be in my 20s again. Not that it wasn’t a good time, but there is a lot of ownership, self-knowledge and time-earned confidence in being in my 30s. I may not subscribe to the tangible American dream: a house, kids and husband – but I am unbelievably content. And I think over the last year, I realize that might be the goal of life – if there needs to be one. Whose contest am I subscribing to? Who am I competing against? I don’t really know anymore, although I’m pretty sure I thought I did a couple of years ago.

But such maudlin sentiment!

To celebrate my 32nd birthday, I went to a concert. This is all in keeping with the following Chinese New Year’s Resolution:

(1) Go to more concerts; even if I have to go by myself (and I know I will), I WILL go to at least 1/month. I will buy concert t-shirts for local bands and get more random lyrics stuck in my head.

Back in February, I was on a Nurses bender, and researched that they were playing in April with the Tallest Man on Earth. Not just any day in April, either, but my birthday. Score! I bought two tickets – realizing that I had plenty of time to beg, borrow or steal someone to come with – and sort of forgot about it. I also knew that the Morning Benders were in town that week – and snagged tickets to their spur of the moment Saturday show at the Williamsburg Music Hall. After an APB to my maligned associates, I managed to get Brandon and Anna-Maria to sacrifice their evenings to my madness.

So last night, kitted out in my NEW zombie threadless shirt from Anna-Maria (and painting my less allergenated eyes in gunmetal gray with veins of zombie green!), Brandon and I met up outside the Highline for the Tallest Man on Earth and the Nurses. And dude! Kristian Matsson – the Tallest Man on Earth himself – was standing outside the venue only thinly surrounded by unwashed Hipster Types (more on this later). And my goodness, is he a handsome man! I wanted to go up to him and tell him he was the sort of songwriter that guitars were made for, that his lyrics were visceral and beautiful and meaningful. But I just can’t bring myself to accost people. Brandon almost got me to turn back – but instead we went into the venue with me casting furtive and probably creepy glances back at him.

Upon entering the venue, Brandon and I suddenly became an endangered species: probably the only two people who had showered that morning. In fact, we were fairly certain that Williamsburg had pretty much cleared out for the night and were all in the Highline Ballroom. Things I noticed: that I was probably the shortest person in the venue. Seriously. I was the only person there under 5’9” – and that by a goodly amount (I’m only 5’3”). Although I was able to blend in better due to my dark hair, as pretty much every girl in the joint had long, black hair. Also, the WBurg Hipster Type seems to glorify the barest ideals of a thing. So they appreciate a good Cash cover – but would they know who Mother Maybelle Carter was?

The Nurses were pretty good. I bought a shirt from the drummer – who I didn’t recognize at the merchandising table. I also bought a shirt for the Tallest Man on Earth – thus satisfying the second part of the triune ChiNeYeRe #1. Awesomeness.

As good as the Nurses were, the Tallest Man on Earth rocked the place. His pickings were so clean and resonant – and his voice was pitch perfect. Pitch perfect. And thankfully, owning to my shortness in a sea of really tall people, I listen to him for his lyrics. So I could close my eyes and drink in every painful syllable. I don’t have his new Dead Oceans’ album The Wild Hunt (2010) – so I was pleasantly surprised with several new songs off the album – including a borrow of Sade’s By Your Side which kind of drop kicked my heart (in a good way). In particular from Love is All:

Well I walk upon the river like it's easier than land

Evil's in my pocket and your strength is in my hand

Your strength is in my hand

And I'll throw you in the current that I stand upon so still

Love is all, from what I've heard, but my heart's learned to kill

Oh, mine has learned to kill