Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Miniature Non-Adventures

I got stuck at work at the last minute and ran out to catch a later bus than usual, but as it turned out, I had no more money stored on my Go-To card.  Since I was late already and had to walk down to the MTC office to refill the card, I called Rebecca to see if she was getting off work early so we could bus home together.  I met her at Starbucks not long after that.

Usually we catch a 4 southbound to our neighborhood, but if we're early enough the 6A is still running.  Where all the other 6-buses turn right from Hennepin onto 36th St, the 6A turns left onto 36th and heads toward our house.  The route technically stops there but as a matter of courtesy I ask the driver if I can ride a few more blocks.  Most drivers are cool with this--only one gave me a dirty look and acted like I was inconveniencing him but grudgingly permitted me to ride.

There was just this one sketchy character in the back of the bus tonight.  The bus was crowded so we were forced to sit next to him, one of young, vain types who takes up a lot of room by spreading his legs.  This is a power play as well as a suggestion as to the girth of his testicles.  He was dressed in oversized clothing, which was a large white starchy baseball cap, a yellow-and-blue plaid buttoned shirt, and acid-washed blue jeans that rode below his hips.  I was immediately on guard; Rebecca noticed nothing.

We left downtown and went into Uptown.  People mostly left, a few got on, and as seats opened up we were able to sit slightly ahead of where we were: rather than sitting next to the man of inner-city fashion, we were seated directly ahead of him.  I was pretty sure that he'd get off around Lake St., being the other center of activity after downtown, but he rode through it.

I started to get worried, getting paranoid.  It's a common belief that when things are going too well for too long, something terrible must happen.  Also, I'd recently read a couple short stories and heard one personal anecdote about people dying suddenly or within short periods of time, in contradiction to all their plans.  Being that I love my job and the weather's getting better, maybe I was due for a mugging.  It's been 12 years since my apartment was broken into, 11 years since I was mugged in the middle of the street, at noon, in front of a line of cars.  I feel that crime, like any force of nature or statistical likelihood, builds up over a period of time until it hits critical mass and you're overdue for a personal tragedy.  I was psyching myself up pretty badly, in summary, while Rebecca noticed nothing.

Finally we got to the end of the route.  The last few lingerers on the bus disembarked and we went to ask the driver if we could ride a couple more blocks.  "Ride all you want!" he said breezily, and we thanked him as he flipped on his "NOT IN SERVICE" sign.  The dangerous-looking kid remained in the back.  Four short blocks later and we'd see whether he had marked us or not.  I secured my bag's position across my shoulder, tightened up my coat, and pulled my gloves on, readying my defensive posture.

We got off the bus, immediately running into one of Rebecca's friends, Dylan.  He didn't want the 6A, he wanted the 23, which runs along 36th St. but he didn't know whether he was early or late for it.  The 6A pulled away and I glimpsed the kid slumped against the rear window, asleep.

He'd been asleep the whole time as I psyched myself up for a miniature class struggle, and now he was headed to the MTC bus garage.  It's possible he was dead, I suppose, but his bowels hadn't evacuated in any noticeable sense.  He could have taken a large dump and then boarded the bus and died, but the more you have to rationalize something like that, the less likely it is: he was probably asleep.

We offered Dylan a ride to wherever he was going since Rebecca was going to do some errands anyway.  Now I'm home: I've fed the cats and started the grill in back, and Rebecca's pulling up to the curb.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Shapes in Photos

Last year or the year before, I walked throughout the Minneapolis Skyway system and took pictures of some of the more interesting ceilings I encountered.  It was a fun test to see who could identify where these ceilings were located, and it also pointed attention upward as there's a lot of great art and architecture up where people don't look.

Today I undertook a similar project to a much lesser degree: walking around over lunch, I photographed a bunch of circles as they appeared to me.  The first batch is actually in reverse order, which I didn't realize until I was halfway through arranging them, and I'm too lazy to correct that and it doesn't really matter anyway.


I hadn't realized at the time how many photos I was taking.  I hoped to fill a 4x4 grid but had way more than that, so I eschewed some of the crappier shots and just created a second collage.  These shots do appear in the order in which they were taken.


I wouldn't ask anyone to guess where they came from, because some of the images are so basic and common they could appear anywhere, but other items are specifically from one certain source.  Mainly these are just to look at.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Disgruntled

This was taken with my phonecam while I waited for a bus on Hennepin Ave.  The quote was actually implemented in a social campaign downtown, trying to drum up support and pride in the city.  I never interpreted it to mean how the campaign clearly construed it.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Hold Tight, We're Shifting Our Schema Again.

Very disappointing: Facebook has, quietly and without notice, modified its Terms of Service. Now it claims legal ownership over everything its users upload to its service. I'm deleting my account there, fully aware that it has also stored everything I've uploaded to it, but I'm not contributing any more. The more I think about this, the angrier I get, but there's not much I can do about it except vote with my boots. I don't imagine there will be a mass migration away from FB, as it is an awfully convenient service for the computer-illiterate, and the alternatives (which are also free but protect your rights) are just too hard to learn.

What can you do.

What I can do is rejuvenate my own interest in this blog. I post in other locations as well (no longer on/through Facebook). My interest had waned in blogging in general just because I'm a little higher in profile, as it were, and can't freely discuss some of the things going on in my life because I could hurt friends' feelings or make my employer nervous, for example. I've started a pen-and-paper journal to mitigate this, because even if there isn't an audience I still need to give some small voice to the bile within me, but now that I'm channeling away all resources from Facebook I'll just have to be a little cleverer in what I write about publicly and can redirect that energy back to here.

I've also got a blog at Open.Salon.com--do a search for "sxoidmal" and you'll find me. I usually only wait to write something really brilliant there, however, and have recently been advised that my really brilliant stuff should instead be submitted for publication (and pay) to real magazines or print literature, so... who knows what I'll do on Open Salon. Still, it's fun.

Well, what sucks about this Facebook debacle is that there's been a recent wave of old friends and acquaintances finding me and getting in touch. I've tried to set up beacons all over the Web for people to find me, but one has to be a bit Web-savvy to begin to hit upon those, I suppose. I keep a MySpace page up so people can find me, too, but that has been considerably less successful. I'm loathe to keep an account there since Murdoch bought the stupid thing out, but it's free.

It seems that the more convenient something is, the more you compromise your freedom to use it. There's got to be a more eloquent, all-encompassing way to phrase that, because now I'm thinking about those horrid "fruit flavored drinks" that come in plastic gallon bottles, are bereaved of any nutritional content, and are cheaper than water. It's so much easier to get a bag of Doritos and a bottle of Pepsi than to plan a balanced meal, but look what happens to you if you live on Doritos and Pepsi. It makes one wonder whether the hard way to do things isn't the better way all around.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Is it Mid-February Already?

Sorry, didn't mean to fall silent here.  It's just that I've read dozens of articles of well-intentioned (or not) people talking about their work in their blogs and getting busted.  I've seen some really interesting work cross my desk but all I can talk about is that I can't talk about it.  But I can say I love this freakin' job.  It's one of those jobs that you conjure in your head, when you lean back in your chair in your cubicle in your unpleasant real-life job, when you're trying to envision what a much, much better job would look like.  I thought a job like this would only exist in Manhattan or Los Angeles--I had no idea Minneapolis was hiding such a gem.

Do I love editing?  Yes, I do love editing.  I re-enact the Jabba's pleasure-barge scene from Return of the Jedi when Luke's compelled to walk off the skiff into the Sarlacc's pit, except it's me.  Things look dark and the crude hirelings are chortling to themselves as I step closer and closer to the edge.  Then I jump, grab the plank, flip myself around, and R2-D2 fires a single red pen up into the air.  I compel it to my palm, uncap it, and then the real slaughter begins.

I had a great time in class tonight.  We discussed point of view and I read my project, The Trial of St. Euphrasia.  I had researched it way too much and couldn't use most of my research in the piece, so I've stored it as a file and hopefully it will be useful for something else later.  I do not want to write creative historical non fiction.  It was just really interesting to read about Theodocius the Younger, "the Calligrapher," and his history.  Theodocius was Euphrasia's father's boss, that's why it was relevant, but I couldn't really include it in a piece that was supposed to be about an unwilling patron saint compelled to watch over a naughty young girl.  I've also been reading Xenophon's account of Cyrus' bid for power, and I wish to iterate that I am not a history buff, but this is just also a really interesting story.  I really like the ancient writers Xenophon and Seneca: the former because he tersely summarizes points of military strategy and diplomacy but goes into detail about what it's like to discover new animals and new food in new countries; the latter because he has a grand sense of humor as pertains to social commentary.  He loves to use the "why, you may ask?" technique to give himself permission to answer questions nobody asked, a playful approach one might not assume with a classical philosopher a dozen centuries dead.

The moon is full tonight so the cats are charging throughout the apartment like a tiny black-and-grey stampede.  Rebecca was playing drums on Rock Band when I got home, but she put them away and listened to my short stories from class.  I'm glad she makes the effort to share my work, even if some of my writing isn't within her favorite genre.  She's very supportive of my writing and I'm grateful for it.  I'm also plowing through some Neil Gaiman and Gene Wolfe compilations, and the fact that they have so many compilations full of so many short stories in each kind of shames me, as I have not written nearly as much, but it also inspires me to write my pasty ass off, just start cranking out these ideas I have and submitting them wherever relevant.  More's the pity that the Writer's Market Web site seems to be suffering a prolonged illness...