Somewhere near Death Valley, before we hit a vulture.
Since last posting, I saw Yann Tiersen and a performance of Pride and Prejudice. Saved a lizard from the women’s bathroom while maintaining a brave countenance (I think it was genuinely brave). Did not say bad words at other drivers very often (I keep the venom for when I’m on the road and people can’t talk back), which I think is to say I’ve been in mostly fine spirits. Ate a ton of cookies and don’t feel at all guilty. Told several people on several occasions to stop whining. Managed to not get stressed in stressful situations. Sat down with an old rowing friend for the first time in over a half-decade. Have consumed no beer, but, yes wine, but, better: more than the recommended daily amount of water. Managed to not carelessly forget to recycle. Sketched a valentine that I will post for all of you should I still be here come the 14th.
And, bam!, I’ve said it. I’m leaving this blog. It’s had a good, chugging haul. I am not deleting it (too many links! learned my lesson with LiveJournal!). I am not leaving Tumblr. Just moving. The reasons for abandoning Locomotive Hootenanny are related to the reasons I’m starting a different blog:
1) It’s change. A minor change, but a significant one. I have this idea that starting a new blog will muster up the gumption to get more involved with other new things, take other things more seriously - cooking, learning design, seriously writing.
2) The new tumblr contains my name, and I hope that will make me consider what I’m posting.
3) It is tied to my flavors.me account, which in addition to being a personal resource, is a professional one and the blog linked should have a more professional title.
4) I know some of you are tired of me. Hell, I don’t even know multiple-thousands of you. This move gives us the chance to casually fall into a state of mutually conscious forgetfulness - we can just forget to follow one another.
5) I feel as if I have, erm, how should I put this…lost the ability to control how I am perceived on Locomotive Hootenanny. I’m not claiming to be a deep thinker, no, not saying that. But I feel that somewhere along the line, it turned into a blog given solely to public entertainment. And for various reasons - none of which are exciting or surprising - I don’t need the Internet-attention anymore.
But, my god, I like the Internet and the outlet it provides for organizing thoughts with the added reward of interacting with like-minded people. I like many of you more than a lot and some of you I like more than you likely deserve. Hell, let’s face it - the new blog won’t be much different. I hope to rework and edit the “facts” of the family stories I posted long ago; I hope to post more recipes that I totally intend to cook; I hope to post more things that I have created. I will probably start tagging, but not ironically. I may use it as a bookmarking tool more than I have in the past, or I may not. My tastes may not be yours, but they’re alright - I think you could bear them. So, let’s gradually make the move, shall we?
I’ll be here. There’s a joke-bio up at the moment, but it’s something.
I’ll start following some of you over the weekend when I have more time to cull through. I’ll probably post on here for a while longer. Moving is a disgusting process and I’ll try to avoid sounding too desperate or morose when my feelings are invariably hurt by your refusal to follow me (it took me months of clever devotion to get some of you to follow back). But maybe the heartbreak will make me a true artist or something.
The plan was to pick a still from this video to illustrate how I look like Shades in That Thing You Do, but then Betsy did this weird thing at the very end (she calls it, “arch your back, scaredy cat”), so here’s the whole video.
My sister sent a package of the practical goods every career woman needs at her desk.
It’s Wednesday and I feel hideous. I will make myself look as absurd as possible to cover up.
It is a somewhat miraculous fact that I have managed to make it nearly a quarter-century without being despised by a single person. I should probably add, “that I know of,” to that sentence. I am sure I have been and am envied; I ought to be. I do not believe in luck, but I am not so black-and-white to deny that I meet the popular definition of “lucky.” That being said, I have felt a little rotten over the past two days, and by god, this is a blog and I’m going to talk about it!
I suppose it all began…no, that isn’t quite right. I suppose I noticed this emotional discomfort while idled at a red light. Across the street were a pair of people arguing over a fender-bender. I find witnessing minor accidents to be emotionally excrutiating in a very particular way. Whereas in major accidents, people are just relieved to be alive, minor accidents always seem to contain one member of the party trying to retain a bit of dignity by denying fault - “You stopped short!” they’ll accuse. These excuses are fruitless and they know it. Yet instinct makes them do it.
It seems to me that dignity - sometimes considered pride - is the quality within ourselves for which we are most unflaggingly protective. Why is humiliation such an effective punishment? Because it is the sudden and forced stripping away of dignity. What is someone without their dignity? Who are we without the dignity that defines us?
Have I mentioned explictly on here what it is that I do at my new job? I can’t remember. I do a jumble of things, but in short, I am a proofreader at an advertising agency. Each day I watch people as they’re told their ideas aren’t good enough, that they are not eloquent enough, that they simply don’t do enough. Sometimes the bruising of dignity leads to a greater end-product - I understand and appreciate this. Yet, no matter how tactfully criticism is given, watching someone try to fully retain their dignity is heartbreaking.
The most difficult thing about my position is that it is my job to nitpick and sound like a know-it-all. This isn’t my character and I often find myself apologizing for doing my job. It’s stupid, I shouldn’t do it. But I feel that with each request for a change, I am threatening the receiver’s dignity. I’ll sometimes get carried away with suggestions and despise myself for it later - like, say, tonight. I hate myself tonight, and I doubt it is even necessary. My hope is that everyone understands that my job is to criticize only to the extent that I want to make their work the best it can possibly be. I hope I am tactful, but sometimes I doubt it. And all the time I feel like a complete fool because I am telling people who have been in the industry years and decades longer than I, who have made names for themselves without a nagging proofreader, that they have been doing it wrong all along. Your success has been a fraud.
Most of the time I feel exhilarated to do what I do. But days like today leave me feeling like an asshole. And for the first time in my life, I feel that at any moment, I’m going to run across the first person who will say they despise me.
But if this and an out-of-tune ukulele are my two greatest worries, then I am what many of you call lucky.
Also, P.S.: I realize I am a proofreader and probably make the greatest number of errors as anyone you know on Tumblr, but, c’mon, I doubt I need to remind this is blogging - not an excerpt from my unconsidered novel.
Work desk/home desk.
Post-it notes, phone numbers, important books (raccoon bookends), ads to proof, things once made meant to inspire me to make again. Not shown: several posters, file folders, a lamp fashioned from driftwood, an IKEA chair that miraculously does not look cheap - and greater plus - is not wobbly.
Laptop on a wooden tray placed upon an old trunk, upon which also sits a moss terrarium, an owl-shaped water pitcher (contents: bookmark, thumbtacks, cord for my phone), a glitter-by-numbers of the moose at NYC’s Natural History Museum, a mason jar (contents: rocks, leaves, pine cones and bird feathers from Ireland, Scotland, New England and California.) Not shown: a lamp carved with cherry blossoms and some pistachio nuts.
- - -
The greatest thing I’ve learned in this month of office-life is just how incredibly useful copying (Cc:ing) somebody can be. Previous to this, I could not comprehend the purpose of it - if you want to convey the same piece of information to two people, then why copy the email? Why not just put both addresses in the To:? The truth is, I still cannot explain the use for it, but I know it is useful. It is an intuitive thing. You just know when one is meant to be told to eavesdrop on your email.
Today, CBS Sunday Morning wondered if the thank you note is a dead thing. Well, certainly it is dying. Do I plan on spending the next several paragraphs bemoaning the shuffling out of the thank you note? Perhaps! I’m not very sure where this is heading.
Let’s state outright that I understand why people don’t write notes. I am hardly a powerhouse of these things, but I write them. My manager from my previous work is allegedly still fussing over the one I sent to her. I write thank you notes to everyone I’ve met from the Internet, particularly as meeting them involved in every case their providing me insight into their towns. I write thank you notes to people who send me gifts. I drew a thank you note when I was eight to my grandparents; the note was on the fridge for at least a decade. I wrote a thank you note to myself once, left it in my wallet.
This particular segment related the thank you note to the curtsy, two things we should be pleased to cast away. Hell no, I say. Curtsying retains flexibility and balance, far as I can tell - no harm in it. I reckon I grew up in a household which demanded the thank you note. We weren’t staunchly mannerly. I was told, for example, to never “sir” or “ma’am,” and as an adult, to not feel obligated to “Mr.” or Mrs.” I should never present myself as being inferior, and even as a child, my voice was as worthy of the airspace as any adult’s. Likewise, I was expected to be a conscientious child, and I certainly wasn’t going to get away without expressing thanks.
Are words that are handwritten any more meaningful than those in an email? I don’t know, probably not, but maybe so. You could argue that if someone goes through the trouble of putting a stamp on an envelope, then they must mean it; rattling off an email is simple and careless, nothing exists between the lines. But let’s not get carried away and presumptuous - words are words. Despite how hard we may try, the receiver can manipulate them to say what they want them to say anyway, making the words and the medium pretty unimportant.
Getting letters from people you care about is an entirely different thing altogether. Being able to touch what they have touched that has touched many of their things that has soaked in the air around them - well, that can’t be beat! E-mail can’t compete with that, video chat can’t compete with that, you sitting in bed next to me can’t compete with that. Having a tactile memento of a person small enough to fit in a pocket with enough context to build up enough happiness to last days is one of the finer things in the world.
People just make too much of writing, as if it needs to be hard and mulled over for days. I will admit that I tend to type out letters before writing them, which is a terrible byproduct of blogging and my comfort in knowing that things can be cut out and rearranged. Not so in a letter! and I will be damned if I render a letter-pressed card useless by an err of the hand as led by a faulty mind.
Now, in the television segment, one man offered that you write thank you notes to honor. I suppose maybe he meant to honor the gift or deed, but my initial interpretation was to honor yourself, to present yourself as a respectable person.
OK, quick - I need to find a purpose to this whole post. I suppose what I am saying is, well, 01) I should write more letters generally, and 02) I don’t think it matters how you provide thanks, just take the slight effort and ultimate privilege to do it. Don’t allow people to get to the point where receiving thanks from you is a surprise, you asshole.
When you leave a job, it is amusing to find out what pieces of information your coworkers associate with you in your absence. In this case, the horror that washed over him when I explained that although our store chose three different versions of “Hallelujah” to play during the holidays, the song isn’t about Christmas and now don’t you feel uncomfortable watching elderly ladies reading the newspaper while that particular line is moaned?
In Savannah. This photo serves the purposes of 01) I took it!, and 02) it’s a cemetery.
I was on a history tour in a cemetery a few evenings back. A second ago is history. This history tour did not cover too many seconds ago; this isn’t a very aged town.
This is a city likely named after one of Shakespeare’s protagonists. The first crematorium south of D.C. was in Orlando. Over a century ago, a man picked up your piss buckets and your vermin and disposed of them in a sinkhole and in a backwater town three-days journey north, respectively. During this time, Orlando had an opera house. We no longer have an opera company. Amongst the city’s inventions include the reflectors that line the center of roadways. An ordinance written into the books in the late-19th century declared no other land fit for human burial, and so Greenwood is the only cemetery in the city. Haitian gypsies throw change at the gates each morning, sometimes they leave fowl.
Within the gates are two bald eagles, soon to be more. Eagles mate high up in the air, plummeting together, dispersing before hitting the ground as if repelled by a sort of magnetism. There must be a better way, although it is hard to deny its impressiveness. Other animals on the grounds include coyotes. Well, only one of these. Heaven knows how it got there. Once, there was a gopher tortoise. The creature burrowed under the plot of an old family, hitting the air pockets where bodies once were, causing the grave markers to be swallowed by the ground. They spent $5000 to relocate the protected tortoise, and within a week, a 90-year-old lady ran over it in her Cadillac.
There are two wooden grave markers, nearly petrified. One mausoleum with a birth date, but the man was so hated by the end of his life that nobody was around to carve in his death. He is in it alone, an all too symbolic statement on death. On the highest point in the cemetery - also the highest point in the city - stands the tombstone of the cemetery’s architect. From it, one can see the skyline, a spattering of multicolored lights. A contest in the early part of the 20th century provided this town with the moniker, “The City Beautiful.” But from this view, the runner-up seems more apt: The Magic City.
I like this town in a way that cannot be shared. It is not a great town, it is not one I would recommend visiting. But it is my hometown. You learn to love the things you cannot choose until you forget why you love them at all.