Tuesday, November 29, 2011


I started out the work week in sort of a weird way and now it's been a weird Tuesday, damn it, the weirdness is spreading.

I went to take my garbage and recyclables out Monday morning, all dressed and fresh and caffeinated like a good self-employed person, not some mental patient working and shuffling at home in pajamas, unfit for public consumption, which is what a lot of people remark on when I mention I'm not office bound: "Oh, you work from home? You get to work in your pajamas."

After years of hearing, and having to refute, this observation, I can't help but wonder if they're picturing me in pajamas and if so, what kind? What kind? I want to know. Then I want them to tell me if I was an animal what kind of animal I'd be.

When I was coming back up the stairs after dropping off my trash, I found myself at eye level with a tall ten-year-old girl wearing a cool headband and vomiting on the sidewalk, a weird thing to walk up towards.

A woman was standing off to the side sort of glaring at this girl, a not very sympathetic mother, if that's who she was, and the porter came out from the lobby of the building to gape at her.

I didn't find it to be a horrifying vision, just weird from my original vantage point. She's a kid. She got sick. Help her or stop staring.

Haven't they ever thrown up before? Isn't it somehow crossing from voyeuristic to creepy to gape at a child that way? And where are their Iphones?


Monday, November 28, 2011

On: Turn Phone Off

It's happening more and more: people using their phones as walkie talkies in public, not only on the subway, it turns out, but also in the lobby of my building this morning. So now we're all privy to not just one side of the conversation, but both, often at loud volumes. Or we all inherit an unwanted dj blasting crap music, the only kind that ever seems to be blasted out of these shiny tinny devices, ain't it a shame?

What makes people okay with doing something they must, on some level, realize is disturbing everyone around them -- something with no higher purpose, other than to disengage from others -- meanwhile involving them all the more? Yet what's considered rude is to say anything about it, like "Do we all have to listen to that?"

I will admit to heckling a {terrible} harmonica player with that line on the Long Island Railroad, after ten long minutes of it, to get him to stop. He did -- after I used the line three times, hidden several rows back from faux blues man, behind those tall LIRR seats that can be just ideal for blaming the person in front of you for any undesirable comments you utter. Also, I was hungover.

Wouldn't you know it, though? Right after he gave it a rest, one of those portable music players erupted from the guy right across from him, who clearly heard negative feedback but went ahead and defied some harpy's evil bid to censor him anyway. A real freedom rider. I didn't have the stamina for another heckle in the key of both polite and bitchy, by then.

There's something sad and infantile to me about insisting on playing your music or playing walkie talkie in public transit spaces. In a park, I'm all for it. On the street? That's what the street was made for. It makes more sense to me in the subway, but I find it offensive, unlike musicians or random speakers or even inquisitive freaks. If human oddity makes you uncomfortable, well, it used to be that I could genuinely say you're living in the wrong place, but now that's less and less true thanks to Lord Toad and his smug, vapid, mean little apostles. The Machines.

Yes, new millennium, crap sound products in confined transportation spaces piss me off. And then I can't help but wonder what's next: airplane walkie talkie? Whereas I'd laugh if someone got up and starting singing on a plane, particularly if they were drunk, if someone started with that crap walkie talkie phone sound, that high-pitched bleep over and over, I'd be annoyed, partly because that sound makes my leg want to kick out and partly because it's putting shit that's not there over the people who are -- and are stuck there, unless they opt out of the car in motion by way of the subway door, which gives me the creeps. (What if I tripped?) (I've watched too many strange train films.) At any rate, I still think it's much harder to resist the urge to be loud when you're inebriated, or even just excited, than it is to simply put some damn headphones on.

Bleep. Bleep. Bleeeeeeeep. Sweet Jesus! Did their mommies and daddies not explain to them that they are not the center of the universe, that manners matter? People scoff at that last point as some sort of archaic, passed-over notion, thereby ensuring etiquette's continued irrelevance, ain't it a shame? And tsk, look how far we've fallen from the reign of those guys who would walk around with boom boxes standing on their shoulders. Their music was gooood. I hope the break-dance kids can still save us.

Or will we all soon be engaged in constant noise wars, performing but not performers, out in public like we're at home in private, clutching our respective devices and activating them in the "me me me only" battles? If I cover my eyes with both hands, will the sounds go away? Headphones...remember those, the main way people used to listen to music in public just five minutes ago?

Where's my harmonica!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

On: Charades

People berating college graduates, or students, for taking out loans under the guise of how it's irresponsible to incur that much debt, as if it's not irresponsible to charge that much tuition.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

On: Easing Public Speaking Jitters

Subhead: Things I Told Myself Tonight That Are Not Actually Helpful

At least it won't be at a funeral this time.

Hang loose.


Remember that time the friend you became more than friends with, garbling the friendship until it was time to leave for grad school, showed up at your first class of the semester years later and you taught it with him there staring at you, both of course realizing you were in the wrong more than him? Adjuncts' names often aren't listed in the class schedule, so it might just have been wacky karma that he picked that class to try & enroll in. The part where he had to talk about himself was fun, once the suspense of whether he was going to say something confrontational had diminished. He didn't. Then it turned out the person in charge of these things said there wasn't room for him there. And he won't be there tomorrow. Yeah.

I better have a desk. I'll have a desk. A podium's okay. Not another stage though, please.


I wonder if my voice will do that weird thing.

What if I don't feel like talking?

Or I might really start having fun, i.e., start rambling, a mixed bag.


One of the other guest speaker people works for MTV, peh modern MTV. I'm not digital, I'm Billy Idol MTV. I'm still picturing transparencies you use hard copies with -- just project the damn printout, was that so bad?

I wish I was one of those people who are super enamored with talking about themselves in public instead of feeling like kind of an asshole for it...