From the Stacks

The book I wanted was classified as a reference book, which meant that it couldn’t be checked out and I’d have to study it at the library. So the librarian at the reference desk had someone retrieve it from the stacks, and I went looking for a table to study at. The first two had signs declaring them off limits to anybody not doing genealogy research. I skipped those tables and the next two, which both had people sleeping at them.

As I settled into my seat, a man at one of the genealogy tables looked over at me quizzically. I nodded a hello back at him, but he didn’t look familiar.

I noticed the man glancing up at me a couple of times over the next twenty minutes, while I dug through the book and marked the pages that I wanted.

When I found everything I needed, I got up and went looking for a photocopier. I walked back the way I came, past the genealogy tables, where the man who’d been looking at me earlier was re-stacking his papers and getting up. He stepped away from the table and started talking to me, so I slowed my pace down.

“As you get older,” he said, “you start seeing more people who look like someone you know. . . . But I was thinking, ‘That was thirty years ago.'” He hesitated and closed with a shrug.

I shrugged back and perhaps my face communicated some understanding or some sympathy, but we both keep walking. He headed one way, into the shelves, and I went another way.

He left that sentence hanging there because — I presume — he had little more to say besides, You look like someone I know, and because anything sounds more profound if you end it with “That was thirty years ago”.

Sun Day

Click on the thumbnail image to open up a larger image.

Swap the heavy jacket for something lighter. (But keep that heavy one within reach.) It looks like spring.

The first three photos are from Gasworks Park. The spider is on Samantha‘s balcony.

Birds Redux

[blur of bird]

The goose was sold today, he was the last taxidermied bird left in the store after an ’80s evening soap opera star bought up the other remaining birds. The supply of ceramic chickens has slowly been selling off. But earlier this week, Samantha’s boss brought her pet bird to live at the store. Maytag (his cage used to be on top of the dryer) is a nervous finch of some indeterminate variety. He doesn’t seem to like being photographed.


These are some of the things I noticed yesterday when I loaded up my building’s recycling bins and hauled them out to the curb: cardboard boxes for outdated household appliances printed with sharp angular letters in aesthetic schemes that might be unreproducable with modern printing technology, the box for a tranistor radio kit with a little white mono earphone inside, hundreds of crumbling newspaper clippings – recipes cut out of decades worth of the Seattle Times, a pile of ’60s women’s magazines – Ladies’ Home Journal and McCall’s, an issue of The Saturday Evening Post with a Norman Rockwell cover, and a copy of the National Enquirer from the year I was born.

There’s an older woman who lived here, in my building, for decades. Her health has declined recently and she’s moved into a nursing home. She’s about the same age as the building. It looks like her family has cleaned out her apartment.

The recycling is picked up every two weeks. Every two weeks the bins are empty and we start filling them up again with our newspapers, wrappers, bottles, and Ikea boxes – things that we’re done with. It just happens that among the things that my neighbors finished using over the last two weeks were these lifetime collections.

Crazy Chicks

In winter 1997, several of my coworkers and I worked for a month at Amazon’s Delaware warehouse. At the end of our first day there, Glenn and I were waiting in the break room, as the rest of the Seattle group was finishing up before heading back to the hotel. A local named Donnie was in the breakroom talking to us. This is what he said: “The University of Delaware is the second biggest party college in the country. I go down there all the time. And I know everyone, so if you want to party some weekend, I can set you up. The bitches, . . .” here he hesitated and decided to backpedal a bit, “. . . uh — the girls — are all crazy chicks though.” We didn’t react, so he clarified the last part for us, “I don’t mean they’re bad looking, . . . I mean that they’re hoes.”