Archive for April, 2008

I have a cold

Posted in hit bull win steak on April 8, 2008 by samsondoggie

When I close my eyes, white bursts of light pop up on my eyelids. My nose is blocked. I am unable to control the slow leaks that are slowly, but surely, irrigating my pillow. I want to relieve the pressure on my forehead. Maybe I could massage my temples. But wait, my chest aches.

It is 1:34 a.m.

What is it about being sick and strange dreams? Not dreams with subjects and narrative aspects. More like something out of cover art for a Robin Trower album. Dreams where the hue of copper modulates, and nothing else. I relish the journey.

I began to come down with something over the weekend. It was a mix of the usual suspects. My chest was scratchy, my lungs didn’t want to fully expand, my head ached..

Time passed. Shadows cast by the sodium vapor lights in the alleyway came and went. I was. I was. I was just lying in bed in our quarantined guest bedroom, waiting for the wal-flu to kick in, when Susie entered with Rosie in her arms.

“Daddy, daddy, daddy,” said Rosie, “I have a question.” Her voice was quiet, but full of concern. “Why aren’t you sleeping in our room?”

I think the reason was obvious, and I think Susie shared my opinion.

“I tried to tell her,” said Susie, “for about the last thirty minutes. I don’t know what to do. She won’t go to sleep.”

“Well, Rosie, I am sick. You know, like a cold. My throat hurts and I have a cough and I feel bad. Don’t worry, I’ll be back. And Samson is keeping me company.”

It was true. Samson had taken a spot in the room to watch my recovery. What a dog. By the way, life is bad for Samson right now. He is wearing a plastic collar. It looks sort of Elizabethan, but it keeps him from passing through narrow door ways or accessing his bowl.

Rosie thought for a second. And then she yawned.

“Let’s go to sleep,” she says to her mother.

– –

Sample of comments from today:

“What does genius mean?”

“I wish that I could make doing that illegal, and they could put you in jail.”

“Have you been to Thailand?”

Also, today was a huge milestone in our home.  We have entered the Dawn of the End of Diapers.


You can photocopy my Jimmy

Posted in literally happened on April 5, 2008 by samsondoggie

So I was done with my garden burrito and I had a few minutes, so I thought, let’s get a passport photo!

The Kinko’s is right next to our Cosmic Cantina. You walk in and although the main service desk is in the back, there is a kiosk at the door. The kiosk attendant looks out for the 10 or so copiers that are running at the left. A digital camera is mounted on a tripod facing the wall next to the kiosk.

It is always good form to make a line, right? That is what three people ahead of me had done. They were in line, clutching materials in their folded arms, as if simultaneously ready for their various Kinko’s jobs but also on guard against, I don’t know, maybe a marauding horde of creative economy assailants. Our collective que-forming was all the more remarkable, given that we were waiting merely based on the expectation that someone would ultimately arrive to staff the kiosk.

I had the least at stake here — since I was last in line. Also, I didn’t have any materials in my hands, so no worries about the hordes. I decided to roam the bay of copiers. Maybe there’s an automatic machine here. That is a good assumption. There are more machines and fewer people in Kinko’s every day.

I should now mention something. Normally, there are more than enough creative types roaming around Durham. I suppose that is because of Duke, all of our non-profits, and RTP. But right now, its even more like that, because there is a documentary film festival in town. There are all kinds of people wandering around, looking out of sorts but also incredibly curious and optimistic. There they are, making verbal notes in their ipods, at the sight of the Durham bus transfer station. There’s another, unhooking his green lexan bottle from a suede messenger bag, while he walks by the Liggett and Myers nicotine research center. Yes, he thinks, this is interesting.

Well, I felt the same way, when I saw a lady who I imagined to also be taken with her own creative search, busily photocopying a set of her potato chips. I stopped and admired it. They were Pringles. With their cantilevered shape, I imagined that copies would be especially challenging. She had laid them out in two rows of three and two rows of one. The short rows were next to a large tag.

And I could make it out, standing just three feet away, that there were words on the chips. She was making color reproductions, and the copier was handling the job just fine. The result was egg shell blue lettering on wheat, set against graphite black.

Yes, I get it — it must be an announcement for a house party! Maybe a flier for a rock concert! The next PETA protest! Critical Mass rides on first Thursdays, no? I was choking up on the thick confluence of creativity. I had to tell her. I wonder if it would work with fortune cookies…you know, three broken, a fourth open and the message is “Come to our house for dinner and drinks!”

“Hey,” I said, “that is really clever. And you are getting such deep blacks. Those chips really pop out!”

She turned to me. She looked for a second into my face. Her eyes were bloodshot.

“Do you think? Because I really am let down. They said these chips were going to have something about Jimmy Johnson written on them. You know, he’s my favorite driver. And I don’t see it. Not even his number”

She was right. The chips had words on them. There was blue ink that said things like “Fantastic” or “star-spangled.” Nothing about Jimmy, or even loosely about Nascar.

“I ate a few,” she said. “I thought maybe I missed the ones with Jimmy. So I put the rest away. I waited two weeks, though, when I had enough money to buy some more chips. I went back to the same Kroger, of course. I got some more. But this time, I didn’t eat them. I mean, not at all.:

Having said her peace, she set her thick wrists on the expanse of hip and leaned into the copier.

It was quiet, except for the drone of the copiers. I guess she expected me to see the injustice right away, but just to help me, she added the finisher:

“And there still wasn’t anything about Jimmy.”

She had a point.

“Now, there was about two weeks in between, so I’m worried that they are going to say the product is out of date.”

Hmm. This was not, perhaps, a documentary filmmaker. More like someone waiting to be the subject of film, though. It is an imaginable error, to not pick up on the right clues in passing.

Consider the small but still tectonic shifts in wardrobe. In passing, its easy to miss on who is a creative type. Magenta sweatpants can be the right look for a film editor. With just a few extra mustard stains and the right pair of white Reeboks, though…Voila — a mystery shopper. No bra on a 24 year old could be great for summer in the Hamptons assisting the Spielbergs. Its a look that projects a difference, though, if you are 44 and in property management at Mobile Home Estates.

I offered to her that I thought it was effective.

Inside, I wondered what was the logic of spending a dollar to photograph ten sets of eight chips in order to get a $1.29 refund. This would reflect my differing marginal rate of utilization.

I listened to her story.

“I had the same problem with the kids soap and even with the toothpaste. You know, they have that squeezy soap that makes a spot on your hand and then it wears out. The toothpaste didn’t seem right either.”

Hopefully, she did not photocopy those products. And, knowing how rebates and coupons work, she probably won’t get justice from Pringles.

I like this experience. It is really an “only in the Bull City” kind of event.  In this place, we have trajectories of our past and future that are butting up against each other all of the time.  It used to be a tobacco and textiles kind of place, where you could leave the truck running while you ate your biscuits and gravy and washed down a Cheer Wine.  Now, its hard to avoid tripping over Ph.D.s, and impossible to have a tree fall without witnessing a list serv debate begin to erupt.

I heard that there is going to be a movie, filmed in Durham, about this very topic, actually. Made by a creative type who lives in Wilmington and California, but who loves Durham and tries to make as many movies as he can here.

I wonder. She might not get her refund. I might not get my passport in time. But what kind of place is there for our trajectories to meet? Is there a point on the finisterre where everyone gets what they want? I think of the variety of dreams: can we have kubotas with a riding deck and an excellent turning radius? Can we have lots of affordable visits to Whole Foods? Do we all smile when we think of the possibilities of what would happen if the announcer’s wistful ideas on NPR actually came to be. Somehow, I doubt it. We need something more fundamental, more universal. Too much of our politics believes in some kind of material answer, but that seems like Babel.

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