Saying Hello to Steve

“Hey, Jeff. How are you?”

“I’m good.”

“It sounds like you have a cold.”

“Oh. No. It’s, umm . . .,” for some reason while hesitating, I pointed off toward the street, “uh, allergies.”

Steve had a puzzled look on his face. He was trying to work out the connection between allergies and the direction I was pointing in.

“. . . I guess I’m pointing at the pollen.”


(I blame the allergy medicine – “Drowsiness may occur. Excitability may occur, especially in children. Be careful when driving a motor vehicle or operating machinery.”)


The Kinko’s clerk commandeered my project after noticing I was looking critically at a dot the copier had left in the top margin of my resume. There were scratches on the copier’s glass, he tried to polish them away with Windex and a paper towel. He called me by my first name, the first time looking from the corner of his eyes for my reaction to see if it was correct to shorten “Jeffrey” (what he’d read off the resume) to “Jeff”. I excused myself to retrieve an invoice for the computer time I’d used earlier. The guy at the main desk found the invoice and said, “I can ring you up in just a minute, . . . except it looks like you might have some other business,” staring past my shoulder. I turned around, and my friend was gesturing for me, “Hey, Jeff. Come back. Come back.” Back on his side of the store, I asked, “What’s the problem.” “I need you to get some more of this heavy-weight paper.” He’d burned through the fistfull I’d grabbed earlier. I went back behind the clerk’s desk for some more. Every copier he tried left its fingerprint on my resume, but we both pretended that the last one didn’t. “See these look great. Wasn’t that worth it?” I thanked him. He gave me a discount. I walked out of the store with a small stack of resumes; and each resume had an identical line of a dozen tiny dots scattered across my name.


I spent half the afternoon trying to decide my stand on the clear and clean sky. I can’t quite get a hang of it.

There have been a surprising number of sightings of adults wearing Winnie the Pooh sweatshirts today. I chalked the first one up as an anomaly. But without looking for them, I’ve noticed a number of others throughout the afternoon. It’s possible that this isn’t a fair sampling. People who were caught off guard by today’s mild weather may have had to search their closets for a light jacket or a sweater, but ended up settling on a Pooh sweatshirt that they were given for Christmas.

Having just made what could be read as a dismissive remark about adults who wear shirts featuring the likeness of a cartoon character, I feel it’s only fair I disclose that I sometimes wear a t-shirt with an image of a cartoon rabbit, McConey, printed on the front. Judge me if you must. (I’m sure I would.)


The water boils and if the steam weren’t able to escape through the opening in the capped spout, it would reach dynamic equilibrium inside the kettle. (Dynamic equilibrium – one of a handful of things I remember from high school Chemistry.) The cap is a whistle. The escaping steam causes it to vibrate and a tone is generated. I rush over and lift the kettle from the glowing hot burner. I tilt the kettle back, expecting the tone to fade, but instead it gets momentarily louder, then fades to nothing for a second as I tilt the kettle forward again. The tone is only silenced when I flip the cap back before pouring the water into the French press or a mug.

The whistle on my newer tea kettle is high and shrill. When it goes off I find myself rushing over to silence the kettle as quickly as possible, not because the sound bothers me much, instead I have vague thoughts about my neighbors hearing it. Why should I be worried that a neighbor will hear my tea kettle whistle and deduce which times of the day I drink tea? Maybe I’m concerned that someone will hear it and think, “That sounds like a minor key . . . looks like D3 couldn’t afford a tea kettle with a decent whistle.”

The whistle on my old tea kettle made more of a sputtering sound than a whistle. The whistle component appeared to be better made than the one on my newer kettle. But it didn’t fit into the spout very snugly, it only rested against the spout’s opening when in the lowered position. The steam that was meant to force itself through the tiny whistle hole would leak through the gap between the whistle and the opening.

Fittings for tea kettle whistles should be standardized. You should be able to mix and match kettles to whistles. Also the whistles should have tuning adjustment.


I walk through the wind and arrive for coffee with my ex-girlfriend as a rattled, worn down, tensed up wreck. And I stink, I have big stinking pit stains. We chat and old acquaintances walk past the window. Discussion turns serious. It goes badly – but I guess it would have if I’d arrived fresh and clear-headed too. On the way out I see Victoria, another old coworker and I steal a “Wow, it’s been a couple of years.” I head down to Dale‘s to turn over the bookkeeping project I’ve been working on for him. He asks if I’d like something to drink, “Some tea?” “A glass of water would be good.” “That’s not very interesting,” he says. “Okay, make that a scotch on the rocks,” I joke back. And of course he brings me a scotch on the rocks. He goes over the document I’ve made for him and finds a number of problems – one stupid mistake after another. We go through the changes, talking to crossed purposes, confusing each other. When I’m done, Dale gives me a ride home. He offers me a couple of other bookkeeping projects. I hem and haw, noncommittal. I don’t want to think about this, or anything else. I just want to get home. I think I was looking forward to getting home as soon as I stepped outside today.

La Mancha

I’d misread the movie listings, so I found myself at the theater hours before the first showing of Lost in La Mancha. So I was in the University District with no movie to see. At the University Bookstore, I lost and then found again a collection of vintage photobooth pictures. I walked up The Ave, or what’s left of it. The street is a trench now, filled with yellow bulldozers and heavy construction machinery, and there’s an empty store front on every block. I was a little sniffly and my eyes were feeling slightly irritated and I experimented with a few deep breaths, trying to work out whether or not allergy season has started up. I had tea at a coffee shop, where a clean-cut student sat silently at an out of the way table, laying her head down on a pile of text books, an alarm clock on the table beside her. A grad student type wearing an outdated sports jacket played pinball, putting a new quarter in the machine every few minutes. When I was thinking of getting up to go, the Built to Spill album, There’s Nothing Wrong with Love started playing – (first stopping a few seconds into the first song, like someone was skipping to another CD, then playing again from the begining) – so I stayed through the end of the record. Eventually I ended up seeing The Quiet American, which was pretty interesting – upsetting and messed up. Michael Caine looks a lot like Graham Greene – which was a nice touch.


I was glued to the TV through the two hour Joe Millionaire finale; and I was invested enough in the show that I had come up with some half-baked theories. (I was right that he chose Zora, but I thought that it would turn out that she’d been an undercover millionaire the whole time.) The show ended. The local news came on and I flipped through the other channels. There were two news magazines with competing stories about how creepy people think Michael Jackson is. I turned the television off in disgust. Who watches this?