Friday, March 09, 2007


Me: I’ve sent this reviewer several pleas and still have gotten no response. His review is very late. What do you want to do?

Him: Send another reminder and tell him it’s urgent.

Me: That’s what I wrote in the last two e-mails. The manuscript was submitted three months ago.

Him: Tell him again. Keep telling him. Some people just need that.

Me: It’s very rude.

Him: Some people are just like that.

Me: I don’t have to like it.

Him: But you have to deal with it.

That's true. This is an example from a big barrel of both personal and impersonal islandic episodes.

My boss just delivered another life lesson. This one I already knew, but at nearly age 31 I don’t want to accept it, like a 4-year-old. I give consideration to other people and think I’ll get the same in return from everyone. Living on the East Coast should have worked this out of my Midwestern system, but it hasn’t yet. This will be the thing that either brings me down for good or which I transcend—into drug-like bliss where I’m able to smile at it.

Or maybe I’m not as considerate as I think, and maybe I am getting what’s due to me from sources indirect. It’s hard to tell from inside.

Or maybe this is just modern human protocol.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Last night I had a curious dream I’m going to try to bang out before I have to leave this seat.

I was on a bus, a public bus, I suppose, but it was smaller, somewhere between a regular yellow school bus and a short one, though it was white on the outside.

The café scene came either before or after the bus scene, or intermittently. I was with my grandma and my cousin Julie. Maybe we were headed somewhere and we needed something to eat. I don’t know why precisely the same bus would have waited for us.

Nobody in the café took interest in our interest in getting something to eat. We settled on something quick to take out with us. Coffee maybe. Maybe a muffin.

On the bus were roughly 14 people, maybe 12, including Uma Thurman and Brad Pitt. I had pre-dream knowledge, i.e., had learned earlier in the dream but also at the same time, that this was the scene in the movie when Uma’s emotional thrust comes to a head and blows.

She’s sitting next to Brad. All is quiet. She starts singing "Frere Jacques," quiet and pleasant. Then the melody overtakes her, she sings loudly, stands up, makes motions with her arms to get other people singing. A few chime in out of fear of the red her eyes and face have filled with. She’s got the animal rushing through her, blonde hair flying.

She looks at me, singing more loudly. I bob my head, sway, mumble out a few words to the song. Obviously, she’s disappointed, but Christ, was it up to me to make a monster happy?

She runs to the back of the bus, singing and thrashing—then leaps forward into Brad’s seat, gnashing a chunk out of his shoulder, bare for some reason, drawing much blood. She bites at his head many times, thrashing.

I had known this would happen. I had seen it.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

another person in the palm tree

The other side of the world returned me plagued by post-nasal drip and an elderly hack in my throat.

Almost two weeks ago I boarded a plane that would fly, 17 hours direct, to Bangkok. This was my first time in southeast Asia. The purpose: business need not be separate from pleasure. The air in the city was naseous with pollution. Despite it, I enjoyed a swank hotel with staff who treated me like royalty, solid gold Buddhas, ornately architectured temples, mystery food, karaoke, elephants, a sword fight, jackfruit, Singha, and many a taxi ride with silent drivers. The rest will remain secret to the public what has already been exposed in private pockets.

From comfortably warm to bite cold, I am back on America's east coast, pelleted by snow and ice like sand in the face and testy piles of brownish white that keep my car from going forward. Some people standing by laugh, some help to push; some do both.

And Valentine's Day has passed. During the angsty era I dishonored this day with black clothing and grim face. Post-angsty era, I just ignored it. This year I realized something: I don't care for the holiday. Its candy hearts and ridiculous teddy bears in support of one's love for another that should be active throughout the rest of the year anyway I find to be silly. Nevertheless, in the past years, when I've stubbornly resisted honoring the day, I felt myself stubbornly resisting the holiday instead of truly not caring. Social conditioning, I suppose. With preface, I requested the especially loved one's presence but with no streamers of goofy chocolates. Another weight lifted, psychocyst dissolved.

A few days ago a woman at work suggested our mini-fridge wasn't working, arguing that the temperature should be at 32 degrees and not at the upper 40-something it was at. I thought a second. No. 32 degrees is freezing and, thus, more appropriate for the freezer. The next day the baked tofu and soy yogurt I'd brought to work were frozen. The yogurt was tasty in this condition, the tofu not so much. Usually, I consider the fridge woman to be smart, down-to-earth. Maybe this wasn't her field of expertise, or maybe she was just having an off moment. Then it occurred to me that such a situation might be confirmation of not only the benefit but also the necessity of sharing one's life with another, and in the same household--so the significant other can see the refrigerator is set too cold.

This morning as I attempted to drive home from my especially loved one's abode, my car's wheels just spun in the snow and I got no further than half-way out of the parking spot. I couldn't get out and push and drive at the same time. Another situation calling up the necessity in this case of having another person close by, in this case the neighbor who happened to be walking by. I'd have sat there spinning snow all day if not for another person.

In Bangkok, another person traveling with me may have made the trip richer. I say this as a person who both wants and needs very much time alone. I enjoy seeing a movie by myself, seeing live music by myself, reading for hours entirely in solitude. I also like traveling by myself. However, the times I saw something I wanted to share with somebody, and couldn't even share it with a stranger because, at least in several instances, nobody around me spoke the same language as me, began to feel lonely. Not agonizingly so, just something to notice.

The flipside of not being able to share at the time is that observations gestated until I wrote them down and, then, experienced them again in a new way and made them more permanent.

Nevertheless, the close presence of another person bears light and forward motion, a multi-faceted view and act.

Friday, December 29, 2006

bathroom snaps and hotcakes

Some day I will snap and tell all the secrets and behind-the-backs I’ve been told, thereby bloody-facing the melodrama that gets fabricated in this workplace.

That said, I’ve got another bathroom tale.

Last week, someone beat me to the closer bathroom so I trekked to the far bathroom that smells like flowers and poop. One person was in one stall; I went to the other. As I was shutting the door, I saw That Woman (our office leader who wants to steal both my office and my potential for smiling) come in as the person in the other stall came out. They began speaking a craggy string of names and office politics. I didn’t care. I don’t care. I won’t care. Besides, I was peeing, a time during which I tune out things involving other people.

They began whispering. Clearly dirty gossip was happening. One of them (M) said to the other, "Who’s in there?" And they took their whisper a notch quieter. "I think it’s Sara," one of them said, and they continued to whisper. One always hears one’s name in whispers, whether it’s there or not.

And then M said: "I shouldn’t be looking in there."

I looked up and the woman was actually looking into my stall through the crack where the door latches.

My first thought: "What the fuck?" Dignified and real. My second thought: "What the fuck."

When I came out of the stall, That Woman said, "Oh it’s Sara. She’s Switzerland. She won’t talk."

And, no, I wouldn’t talk because, like I said, I don’t care. However, because my privacy had just been seriously invaded, I wanted to talk, though I would never do so, and I hadn’t actually heard anything anyway—because I keep to myself in the bathroom.

"I actually have Swiss ancestry," I said to them. This is true, and it was the only thing I could think of to say to keep from feeling uncomfortable and glaring hot strawberries into their cheeks.

That Woman tried to make conversation about my new haircut, but I was done with them. Or so I thought.

Later in the day we had farewell office cake for one of the staff. I walked in and sat in one of few available seats, which happened to put me between That Woman and M.

(History: for some reason, at work, I can’t put food of any kind into my mouth without somebody commenting on how much or how little I’m eating, or simply observing and naming what I’m eating, followed by a comment that I’m thin. For those of you who have never seen me, I’m thin but not grossly so. I'll say no more so and instead bite my bitter.)

M looked at my empty plate and said (to me, mind you): "Look, Sara finished her whole piece of cake."

I like cake.

I had no response. I don’t think an appropriate one is possible.

M: "I just didn’t know you ate cake. I mean I’ve never seen you eat cake. It’s just that you’re so thin. I mean, do you eat?"

Me: "I’d be dead if I didn’t."

(pause) (pause) (pause)

M: "I just meant do you eat a lot…"

I don’t know what else she said. I tuned her out. It was clear I’d caught her off guard and offended her. I considered apologizing for being short with her. But objectively I thought it was a funny piece of dialogue between us and, besides, she’d looked in at me while I was using the bathroom. She needed a snap in the face.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

fantasy football in the white-tile way

Stupid tired is the day, in which sense I am the day.

Here is a fantasy I keep having on my way to the bathroom here at the hospital—but first the backstory:

Where my office at work used to be, the closest bathroom is a two-staller which is always out of at least one of the following: toilet seat covers, toilet paper, hand soap, or paper towels. And always it smells like any of the following combinations: flowers + poop, papaya + poop, pine + poop. You get the idea.

Where my office is now, the closest bathroom is a private, one-person, spacious room with a toilet and sink. What a boon. Unfortunately, this bathroom is often occupied. Worse, however, is this:

I’m on my way, walking fast as I always do—and yet faster when I think I hear footsteps that sound like they're headed to the bathroom. (This is what urgent pointed purpose sounds like, no matter particular click or pad of the shoe on the tile. It’s the way it hits that speaks clearly.) One of two things often happens:

1. Someone walks out into the hallway just before I do, in front of me, and I can hear by the footsteps, see by the sway of the back of the head, that that person is headed to where I’m headed.

2. Someone rounds the corner, from the direction opposite me, and heads toward the bathroom. This person will beat me there because the corner is just a leap from the bathroom door, while I still have a whole hallway to cover.

My fantasy is this, and I’m particularly eager to enact it on people in Category 1 because those people will be unsuspecting:

Just as Person 1 reaches the bathroom door, I take off running at him or her (it’s usually a her), leap quietly like a cat from a few feet away, pushing the person aside, and, as I land in the bathroom, kick shut the door.

Person 1 would never know what hit her. And she, instead of I, would have to pad a little further to the two-stall bathroom where people are likely to enter and launch into talk, sigh, or moan.

Monday, December 04, 2006


Never imagined I’d find myself watching boxing on TV in a room full of Germans. Being in the presence of multilingual, even bilingual, people makes me feel dumb and lazy. I love language, but I cannot speak another language well enough to communicate. I’ve spent many hours and pencils memorizing grammars and reading the codes. In high school, French, but that was high school, and not having spent any time around the French, the nasally strings of vowels are half-sleeping in me. In college, Latin and Greek (the latter of the ancient variety, which is nothing like the modern spoken variety). I haven’t spent any time around long-dead toga-wearing folk either. In a room with only three native English-speakers, the dozen Germans that night for the most part spoke English.

I continue to find myself with polyglots. They’re speaking to each other, to me, to waiters, reading menus, and I’m looking like a deer. One girl, Polish, told me I’m lucky to know English because things are easier and more accessible that way. I suppose this is true, but that isn’t my way of life. Making things more difficult than they need to be is part of my personality. (Why? I asked the tree. It could not tell me. And so I licked it.) Meanwhile I try to rake back languages I’ve learned and begun to lose, by bobbing my head in occasional buckets of it. You should see my wet wet chin.

And there are other sorts of languages to learn: those of boxing and football. Before I die I will understand why it’s engaging to watch two men pummel each other when they’re not angry about anything (and maybe why people pay hundreds of dollars to see this done live). I made some headway regarding football, the American variety, this weekend. Why learn these languages? Because I don’t want to leave any avenue untouched. Because I’m a pervert in the park.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

i once was hot but now i jitter

Earlier a visual memory came to me: when I was a little girl, at the grocery store with my mom, I wandered away. She looked up and down aisles for me and finally located me lying down in the freezer where the frozen pizzas were kept. "I was hot," I told her.

Frenetic-thought day, pictures and booms, and then quick inner-visual show about blood pressure running to the sound of accordions and a mouse occurred, and a wonder about sickness of no specific sort. The bathrooms here are not clean and that can’t help the sickness.

It would be a whole different world if we began each of our words with a z. Zand zthen zI zsaid zto zher, zbite zme. It would be a whole world different if none of us had noses. This possibility has been visiting me for the past 15 years.

I hope universal nose-loss doesn’t ever happen because it creeps me out as much as plastic mechanical toys that sing and dance.

There is no theme here but bad coffee jitters and a stack child-high of manuscripts on circadian rhythm, and an accordion that continues to loop storyward partially eastward, and gravel.