My tea kettle has died.
I first realized that something was wrong about a week ago – as water reached a boil the whistle began by sputtering before going into a slightly lower tone than before. I inspected the stained top and the mottled bottom, but found no cracks or oddities. In the same way that my right knee has become a little creaky and in the way that Pop Rocks just don’t taste the same, I decided, the kettle is aging. That’s fine – it’s not old, it’s just older.
It is blue and of the variety that has no lid – it receives and evacuates water through the same spout. It belonged to my old roommate Joe. When we moved, he was ready to throw it away; his new home had plenty of dishes. I would have let him, I’d left my kettle at a house where I’d lived before. But I went to retrieve it there, saw the state that it was in – lidless and rusty where the paint had chipped – so I claimed Joe’s kettle.
Since then it’s been the same old story (albeit at three different houses). It waits on the back burner, ready to boil water whenever the need for tea surfaces.
Today I washed it, scrubbing the outside and thoroughly rinsing out the inside. I opened the spout and peaked inside – there was a pinprick of light, a tiny hole. I filled it with water and held the kettle out in front of me. Alas, a little stream of water peed into the sink from the hole.
So, anyway, I guess I’ll have to get a new one.
“A printing shop was built at Sachsenhausen and the SS gathered engravers and other craftsmen from among the population of the other concentration camps. They were brought here to counterfeit English pound notes. Which seems especially relevant considering your group’s occupation. The Nazis were attempting to undermine the British economy by bringing huge amounts of counterfeit currency into circulation, causing out of control inflation. But the prisoners introduced tiny differences between their versions of the money and the originals and were able to sneak a letter to the British government warning them about the counterfeits,” the young guide explained to the group in his precise German-inflected English. He peered through his thick lenses and turned to Mr. Hanson, who repeated a translated version to the group gathered in the rebuilt barracks.
Apparently at around the same time that Chris and I inserted ourselves (with permission) into this tour being conducted for a group who we deduced must have been made up largely of Scandinavian engravers, 60 Minutes was searching a remote lake in Austria for a box of this counterfeit money.
Among the crumbling volumes in the back of ancient bookstores, scavengers are scanning pages. They believe that all of the world’s knowledge is long out of print. “I will find it, save it, and work it into my thesis. Somewhere, mis-shelved in a university library, is the book for me.”
They don’t know that this is the only proper context for this kind of knowledge. Attempts to preserve it, actually take it further from its proper context. (A story is only in context when one is unaware of its context.)
More meaning can be extracted from the typeface, the stain that soaks through the first three chapters, and the author’s birthplace, than from the book’s Dewey Decimal Number.
Yesterday I went down to the Bite of Seattle (I live on a hill, so I’m always going down to somewhere, except when I’m going over to something.) to meet up with Jim. Aside from when I ran into him a couple of weeks ago, I haven’t seen him since I worked for him at That Phone Company six years ago. He’s a year into a leave of absence from the twice since merged version of That Phone Company, where he’s worked for more than ten years. He talked about wanting to travel around a bunch, about wanting to buy a Jeep, about how much he disliked Phoenix (where he lived for the last few years) and Renton (where he lives now). He told me stories about people who I’d worked with but don’t remember. We paced around with the teeming masses, had a couple of snacks.
We had a beer and I said an awkward hello to a vague Amazon acquaintance. I ran into this guy once after he’d just left Amazon and he explained how he was taking his time working out the excercises in What Color Is Your Parachute?, working out what he’ll do next. So this time I said, “How’re you doing?” “Good, what’re you up to these days?” At a loss as usual I answered, “I’m not really doing anything. Still just hanging out.” “I’m working at something.com now, doing customer service.” And I almost caught myself saying, with no cynical intent – really, “Did you ever find out what color your parachute is?”
I’ve meant to write about the Zadie Smith and Nick Hornby readings I went to this week, and their books for that matter. I’ll be filling out the week with two more readings/signings. James Sturm & Dylan Horrocks signing their new comics on Friday and David Byrne signing his new book on Saturday.
I almost took a break from reading White Teeth because I thought it was dragging its heals a bit near the middle. I gave it another chance though, sat down to read another chapter, and got pretty engrossed in it again. That’s lucky, because it turns out that every aspect of the many layered themes developing through most of the book become focused at the climax. Suddenly the most ambiguous bits of dialogue from early chapters are revealed to contain levels of meaning. Not a word is wasted (except most mentions of teeth). Reading it is like watching a portrait being painted, seeing every line applied not having a very complete picture of the final shape of the thing until it’s finished. Zadie Smith’s reading was good, it was in a big packed lecture hall at UW. A couple of things she said, out of context of course: “I think there are too many opinions and opinion-makers.” “The writer as guru phenomenon is really unhealthy.”
The book I was going to interrupt my reading of White Teeth with was Nick Hornby’s How To Be Good. It’s pretty nice so far, I set it aside today for Banvard’s Folly though. Nick Hornby’s reading was alright, I was worn out that day though and probably could’ve skipped it.
I’ve started reading Banvard’s Folly, a book I was really excited to see. Paul Collins has had a couple of these stories published in McSweeney’s. (Okay, headcount. How many of the writers mentioned so far are McSweeney’s contributors? Three of six? Well at least it’s not more than half.) These are essays about long forgotten people who were big thinkers/doers and big failures. It’s really interesting. I always enjoy reading about people with big plans charging ahead alone. That, I guess is also why I like Lawrence Weschler‘s (Another McSweeney’s contributor. There goes the curve.) books.
Also when I went to pick up the new Built To Spill CD, I was excited to see a new Firewater disc. I’ve just put in Firewater, haven’t digested it yet. Woohoo, it’s so good to hear new stuff from both these bands.
My stock, my apartment, and my loads of books, comics, & things are grounding me. I’m thinking of getting rid of most of it, getting an around the world ticket, traveling for a year, and moving to NY or another city or back here.
Though I’ve certainly benefited from owning it, I’ve never had a good grasp of what to do with my stock. My apartment needs some remodeling, the bathroom, the kitchen cupboards, the false ceiling should be removed. But I don’t have the inclination to work on those now. I don’t have control of my living situation or money. These things are liabilities to me right now. To gain control, I need to simplify the situation.
When discussing (or rather IMing) this with someone for the first time, I went into a reflexive defensive stance. I’ve proposed similar strategies several times and haven’t followed through.
I will pare down portions of this plan to fit the practicalities of my world. I will regain my momentum, become the confident, active person that I’ve occasionally been in the past.
Sweeping statements like this and the sentiment behind them might seem immature, at least in the hands of an introverted, passionless, semi-compulsive 25 year old with a history of not walking the walk. But it’s different this time. In the past I’ve felt it, sometimes in my bones. Now I might not feel it as much, but I believe it. I believe it’s necessary.
Tentative calculations from a few days ago seem to indicate that my expenditures for July-September 2000 were approximately the same as my expenditures for the several months before and after. Whereas I generally stayed put & only had mortgage/co-op payments and day-to-day costs for all the other months, I paid mortgage/co-op costs plus travel expenses last summer.
Maybe further study will reveal something misleading in my math – irregardless, this is very interesting.
A setlist, black sharpie on unruled white paper, found at 12th and Pine, a block up from where the Capitol Hill Block Party stage was located yesterday. As usual, please refer to If on a winters night a traveler by Italo Calvino.
Make It Now
Long Way To Go
Blue ink on a sheet of notebook paper from a spiral notebook. Found on 11th, all spelling is correct.
name top right hand
Center title of essay
In this essay I will be talking about symbolism in the book Huckleberry Fin. During the 1800’s the Mississippi River served as the center of life in the United States. Many people depended on it for food, transportation, water, and a source of life. I think Mark Twain used this river because just about everybody in the United States knows where the River is located. In the 1800’s the Mississippi River was the backbone for the United States and I also think it is the backbone for this book.
In the book Huckleberry Fin, Huck and Jim travel the River. The book shows how much they change durng the adventure phisicaly but mostly mentaly. Huck starts to relize that Jim isn’t just a slave and he is just like Huck.
Later in the book Huck decides he would rather be with a slave than his white people. Huck would and did lie to people to hid Jim even though he thinks its very wrong and he thinks he will be going to hell for lieing about what he did. I think Huck doesn’t have raceism at all. If he did I think Huck and Jim wouldn’t be togeather.
A cup of tea at Bauhaus. The brand new released-today Built To Spill record is playing overhead and for now that’s a more satisfying kind of predictable than the crimes that were witnessed there earlier.