Monday, June 30, 2014


Here is my small story for the "If you build it they will come" crowd.  It is for the people who think all your Van Goghs and Emily Dickinsons and Franz Kafkas always find their way out to the world, and that all greatness is destined by its quality to be at least some small part of the recorded history of human culture.

The greatest blog ever written was composed daily from 1949 to 1983 in the form of daily letters. They were from a woman in Ohio to her sister in England. They were funnier than I could ever hope to be, wise, witty, perfectly sketched, and frequently compelling. The language, though fluid and readable on an immediate level, was relentlessly inventive. It danced. Small things you say today, ways you talk and write, would be attributable to this treasure trove of letters, these dazzling essays, these sketches of the heart of the universe and its most trifling details. But they aren't, because only one person ever read these letters: the person they were sent to.

When the woman, the sister these letters were sent to, died, her family offered them back to her sister, the writer. They had been treasured and reread many times by the person they were sent to. They had been neatly boxed up in careful order as they were received. But the sister did not want them back.  And many years later the letters were simply thrown away.

Yes, these were letters, and they never made it to the Internet but for this glancing mention here. With the writer, the reader, and the letters all dead, they are a ghost. And though they weren't a blog really, the writing was exactly the same as what I mean by a blog. And it was the best blog ever. It dogs my steps. It haunts me. And like small gods and like great dreams and like enlightenment it belongs to a secret world we are forced to contend with. We are never there. No, no matter what I do, I am never there. I never can be and neither can you. We must do our best with here. All we can do is send our notes over to all majesty, to mastery, to small gods, to the fulfillment of our dreams, to enlightenment, and let them know how we're doing.

And hope that they are read and neatly boxed up.

Sunday, June 29, 2014


I have somewhere on this blog a list of my very favorite books. Thinking this is a natural for a blog that gets very writerly, is often about reading, and has as its original motivation working at a library, I have even done a few things to make my list a kind of central pillar of my blog. So while the initial feature of this list is really just to say what books I've loved, it is also growing into a kind of a central station for my blog itself. Find a book that interests you on the list, and, if you click on it, you'll be off to a blog post about that book, or a blog post sort of about that book, or a blog post that feels like that book, or a blog post with an incredibly tenuous connection to that book. It is a vast, interlinking, self referential, Internet book list, and anyone new to my blog would be well served by poking around there for a few hundred hours to get acquainted with the history of this blog, or to have the most fun they ever had, or whatever. I mean, that is, if I ever had new people on my blog. Which I don't, because they have been unable to pass the test. You have passed the test. Alas, they have not. But there is always hope for these poor, deficient, other people. It's not that hard of a test! At least I don't think so. Did you find the test hard?


But as I build this list and interlink it to my past essays I run into issues. For instance, what if I write a post that I'm really pleased with, and it's sort of about a book, but I only just like the book, or the book is on the borderline of love, or maybe just, well, the jury in my heart is still out, sitting in a room somewhere unable to come to a consensus opinion? My solution with something like this is to get it out on the list, but to make its sometimes highly qualified status known.

My most recent issue like this has had to do with this question: What if I pick up one of these treasured old loves of my past reading self, featured sunnily on my fancy list,  read it again and think "What the hell?!" 

People change. Even me!

The book in question here is My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell. I just finished it and, while I can clearly see what charmed me about it when I was younger, indeed there are parts of it that I am still charmed by, I also am now unable to look away from its many problems in a sufficient manner to allow me to love it so unreservedly.

My Family and Other Animals is a memoir about an eccentric English family of independent means who, between the World Wars, go off to live on an idyllic Greek Island called Corfu. It is told from the perspective of the youngest in the family, the only one who really was still a grade school kid, Gerry. He was a largely fearless, absolutely animal crazy kid for whom Corfu was heaven. The descriptions of the Island and fauna can be wonderful, and the sense of adventure is charming. I love how Gerry seems to run into idiosyncratic but always delightful and helpful people on the island. It's like his unrestrained interest in everything that walks, crawls, swims and flies, brings out the best qualities in himself and his dog and everyone he runs into.

So, good enough so far. This all is why I remembered the book so fondly from younger days.

Oh, but sometimes.

First of all there is the problem of Gerry having to catch and capture and own every damn animal! I don't suppose I shout much at books, or, maybe I do, but more in my head, and at this one I often enough found myself sort of shouting at young Gerry "Just leave the beautiful animal alone! It is a hundred year old magnificent Tortoise! It does not want to live in your bedroom!" I suppose it should be no surprise then that our author grew up to be a zookeeper. I'm afraid though that's rather like saying "Our author grew up to be the Warden at a jail for innocent people." I just had a hard time getting all that out of my head, maybe because it belonged in my head while I was reading the thing.

My other difficulty was Gerry's family. I think they always reminded me a bit of my own family, only better. It's just that there was plenty of room with my family for a different family to be better than mine before that family was actually good. I quite like stories about eccentric families, but I find they tend to fall into one of two categories. The first I will call the Addams Family version because they're such an excellent example. This eccentric family is underpinned by harmony and love. They delight, whether quietly or loudly, in the qualities, pursuits, natures, and successes of their relatives. Their eccentricity issues from their centeredness, their pure love and interest standing in contrast to received ideologies, that is, in contrast to the often false and self serving ideas of our culture, and social norms. They are not normal. They don't do things the way we assume things should be done, and they are better for it. The other kind of family is clever, antagonistic, and often playfully at odds with one another. Except the playfulness is sometimes just a disguise for being mean. Alliances shift among them, they sometimes come together against outside forces, but while they may or may not like to suggest their bond is, deep down, really love, it never feels like it. And love is a feeling, so if it doesn't feel like it I don't believe it. Sadly, the eccentric family in My Family and Other Animals is rather far more in this latter category than the enchanting and more rare Addams Family version.

So, yes, a good and bad book. It is sort of recommended, once loved, now more... mixed. Do I take it off the list?

After I can link it to this post? I don't think so!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Regular sized

Yes, I have been watching the World Cup. Apparently it's this soccer tournament that's very popular in Europe, the Americas, Africa and parts of Asia. Oh, and in Australia too. Probably in Antarctica and possibly in outer space somewhere as well.  It has been fun to learn the minutiae of all the rules of the tournament and to race to get nominally up to speed on the sport and players. We have been showing the World Cup on a screen in the Teen room at our library and it's also a treat to stumble upon the diverse collection of followers gathered to watch the games in there. The river of nations flows through my library indeed, and when some fans watching were bitterly disappointed when Cote d'Ivorie lost to Greece and was bumped from the tournament, those people were sad because they actually came from Cote d'Ivorie, unlike me, for instance, whose attachment to Cote d'Ivorie was based on the fact that I like jackets that are an off-white color. So, when I have some break time I generally head to the teen room. I suppose I might even check in there a little more than I should.  I enjoy getting briefed by Marcus, the teen librarian in there, who possibly would be considered a futbol Johnny come lately by your random fevered European soccer fan, but is considered something of a knowledgeable devotee out in our part of the world and answers all my questions with an impressive amount of color commentary and background knowledge. But happily I find that whatever librarian is in the teen room when I walk in has some interest in the game.

If there was one point where I went all in on this World Cup, I would have to say it wasn't at some thrilling or beautiful goal or pass or play (though without that there would be nothing), it was when I realized that one of the players was, I believe, five foot four inches tall. That just melted my heart. I think it hearkens back to my first love of sport, baseball in the seventies. It was the end of an American era where baseball was still almost, or just barely, America's sport, the last time that the best athletes might live down the street from you (The 1974 baseball MVP lived down the street from me!) and where that same athlete wasn't likely to be any larger than your local grocer. Shortly after that time Football and Basketball seemed to take over, and with it came gigantic athletes, and it was no longer sufficient to play endlessly and be magnificently talented, you had to be large first. 

So soccer has brought me back to that, a sport played on the ground, by mortals who rely entirely upon skill, and are conferred little, indeed probably no, advantage by sporting the mountainous size of some mythological figure or some astonishing great height. On the contrary, the greatest soccer player in the world right now is about my height. And I  confess to you that I am not now, nor have I ever been, remotely tall. It gives one a kind of hope. At the very cliff end of my forties I don't know exactly what kind of hope. I will not be playing any World Cup soccer tournaments. But hope nonetheless. Perhaps that there is still a shiver of democracy in the world, that though millions may be whittled down to a rare few, there is still a whisper somewhere of an even playing field.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Best blog on the Internet part 412

I am occasionally seized with the desire to call this the best blog on the Internet. Feeling that some seizures are best indulged so that they can get a bit of exercise, I generally give reign to my evaluation. I haven't yet changed my blog masthead to read "The Best Blog On the Internet", but it could happen at any moment. I suppose there's a bit of the circus spirit in my giant claim, magic tricks, pratfalls, showmanship. You will see things here beyond the limits of human imagination!

But no matter what my reasons, when I start talking about my blog being the best blog on the Internet, THE BEST BLOG ON THE INTERNET, you invariably think one of the following things:

1. Oh, this.

2. Who can say? Maybe it is. Maybe it isn't

3. There are other "blogs"? Tell me about these "blogs".

4. How did I get to this page. I just want to figure out my plumbing problem. I hate the Internet!

5. Drat, I guess I'm not going to be mentioned in the blog again today!

6. My blog would be better than this one, if I wrote one.

7. I wonder if I should have spaghetti for dinner?

8. Damn straight this is the best blog on the Internet! I would tell people, only, who would believe that I, Bob Dylan, am so fond of a Blog?

But of course that list, though comprehensive, is also a mere sketch. Each and every one of you is ultimately fathomless, multivarious, endless, and subtle beyond any possibility of full accounting. Even if one of my above options captures the exact phrase that might run through your mind when I call this the best blog on the Internet, it is no real match. It is like saying a cappuccino is water run through crushed coffee beans with milk added. Yes, it is accurate, but it leaves off so much nuance and essence as to be painful to one who loves cappuccino. And that description is a best case scenario, just if I got your particular phrase exactly right in my list above.

But you and I know that really, "best", the whole idea of "best", is an illusion. There is no best blog, or best song, or best book, or best coffee, or best cheese, or best painting, or best world cup goal. 

For good or ill we know that such things and ideas are a game. Or at least I know it when I take some deep breaths and remember. 

There is only love, and life, and all that is broken.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Hotter for others

I was very hot again today. I don't believe it even made it to 85 and yet I was not alone in my suffering. I heard several other of my ice bucket colleagues complain about the heat. Wary of how much I complain I devised some secret rules for how much complaining is allowable.  It's not just how much one doesn't complain during the winter that allows for summer complaining, it's a balance of not complaining when others are complaining versus complaining when others are extolling the weather. I, for instance, was very non complainy about the weather this past intense Winter, and lots of people around me complained. This earned me a lot of complaining credit, but, as you may be able to tell from my bitter posts about the 82 degree weather just a few days into summer, I am recklessly burning through my complaining stockpile.

All of this has made me more aware of how other people feel about the weather here, perhaps even in a way I haven't much noticed before. Having become, at least for the past year or so, a person for whom there is no level of cold that actually makes me unhappy, and for whom 78 starts to enter dangerous territory,  I have sussed out the not insignificant band of co-workers and people about town who feel the same way. I have noted the people I walked with out into the dark bitter winter nights who inhaled deeply, in a way that said "Refreshing! Bracing! Invigorating!"  And too I have seen who comes inside from these 83 degrees and sunny days and says "Echh! It's hot out there!"  I take a kind of comfort in these people. I am not a freak, I am merely Eskimo leaning.

And I have been so absorbed in my strange new temperature range, my expanded cold-heartiness and perhaps slightly reduced tolerance for heat, that I have not, until now, noticed that, up here in Minnesota I am by no means at the extreme. Just the other day we had a child over for dinner at my house, and while we were getting ready for ice cream a brief discussion about the weather and Summer came up.  The kid said emphatically "Anything over 50 degrees is too hot for me." 

What a statement! What a kid! Get that kid a dog sled. Stop global warming now!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


All week when I am not thinking up ideas for blog posts, or writing those posts in my head, but I am nevertheless thinking about my blog, I think about clever ways to promote my blog. These are vast, ornate schemes that will bring it the worldwide notoriety that I feel my blog so richly deserves. I only manage to stop thinking of my promotion schemes by telling myself I can do them all on Thursday, Thursday is my big, down in the basement studio day, where I can fiddle with my blog endlessly and without interruption. A day of endless possibility and opportunity. Thus I defer it all to my Thursday self.

Fortunately I have always been a wiser person on Thursday, and so when Thursday comes I do far, far more clever things than promote my blog. I sleep late. I embed strange comments into what is already the vast history of my blog. I make fruit syrups to add to soda water. I become involved in The World Cup. I read whatever is closest to me. I walk on water. I close my eyes and try to watch the world grow older.  And all these things that might normally seem a bit throwaway to me become the friendly things that help me resist promoting my blog.

Now, at this point you might be wondering "Is promoting your blog so bad?"

No, no. Not at all. There are many people out there in the world who I feel should be doing just that. I think it would be good for them, a rich and satisfying hobby. I believe there are many people who take a much too passive approach to the arts, too corporate, too convenient, and for whom promoting my blog would be the perfect antidote for them, a bracing tang of bitterness, an antibody in their blood, a minute stake in the hidden culture and the mystery steam works of the world. 

But I am not one of these people.

And neither are you.

I will see you here again tomorrow forever.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

More Internet snapshots

The issue of the Internet comes up. People say to me spontaneously, at least every once in awhile, "The Internet is amazing!" And I am invariably compelled to answer this comment with "It seems to think so."

But there are problems beyond, or perhaps underneath, the Internet's astounding, creepy, viral skill at self promotion.

The biggest real problem with the Internet is that we don't know how to use it. Or maybe I need to put that differently. The amount of time, knowledge, skill, focus, discipline and dedication to use it properly is beyond all but the most dedicated professionals and the most rabid of Internet hobbyists. The rest of us use it like a stick, or better, like children with a dazzling shiny toy vastly beyond our developmental level . "Look! A button!" We cry. And we click. "I can click!" We cry. "Look! Funny! Ha!" We laugh. "Beautiful!" Click. "Oh, that's not what I thought was going to happen!" Click. "Kitty!" We say.  Click, click, click, click. "What do I click?" Click the loud thing, the big thing, the mysterious thing. Communicate! Know! Click, click, click. We get a phone so we can have the Internet in our pocket. The Internet is too amazing to do without! "I am playing checkers in my pocket!" We cry. 

"Do you have a small checkers set in your pocket?" Someone born in the 1900's asks.

"No!" You reply breathlessly "I have one of the most sophisticated technological devices in the universe!"

"So it does more than play checker?"

"Check this out!" You fumble with your phone. "This just takes a minute." You say. "Shoot. I hope I didn't get it wet." Then you say things about things not working lately. You might also say some mysterious grumbly things about reception. "I need to log in for this. I don't know why logging in takes so long!" Then "Here!" You cry triumphantly, handing your phone over.

"The screen's blank." The person says.

"Hmm." You say. "Oh, just hit this. Here. Wait." You take back your phone and tap. "There!" You exclaim, handing the phone back again.

"Is that your hermit crab?"

"Yes, I have 130,000 pictures of my hermit crab!"

"Cute. Can I see some?"

"Sure." You say. "Here." You take back your phone and begin fiddling. Then you crash your car.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Three stories

People bring me stories. This surprises me a bit because I think of myself as going around constantly telling stories. But no, I guess it's not constantly, because, along with all my many blog post ideas, jokes, and scattered observations, I find bits of other peoples' stories in my pockets, or in my brain, or, let us say, in my beak. Clearly some people are managing to tell me stories, and I, magpie, bring them all back here and make my endless nest, bit by bit.

Yes, you are in a warren of nests, a maze of nests, and birds are being born all around you. Little birds. Can you hear them?

I will tell you three stories now. The reason I am telling them all in a group is not because they are too slight to support individual blog posts of their own, but rather because they came natively in their own odd little group. Each story appeared in one day, indeed in a single one hour period, and though I have not sussed out a common theme, they are mysteriously magnetized, by their shared birth, into a group. They are triplets, though by no means identical ones.

1. I have the slip of paper in my pocket now. It was a request for information that one of our librarians received. The librarian gave me the piece of paper, a memento if you will because we had discussed this person's requests in the past. The patron wanted information on, or an example of "An explosive or dangerous mechanical part". That's the whole of what my little piece of paper says "An explosive or dangerous mechanical part". This particular patron comes in and her requests are all like this. "I need an example of a common liquid that burns or poisons when you touch it." You know, that sort of thing.

When I thought about telling you about this request, and about this patron's other strange requests, all of them requested with dead emotions and passionless earnestness, I thought you might worry. I wondered how to explain this person to you in a way that would let you know that no one is likely to be in any danger.

I came up with this:

Whenever there is some horrible murder or bombing or shooting spree and the villain is identified, people who knew the villain, or were merely vaguely acquainted with the villain, never say this: "I had no idea that this person was capable of operating a gun trigger."

2. Okay, this one is my story. I was at the desk, in between collecting stories. A librarian came up and gave me a lost card that someone turned in to her. Following procedure I put a note on the patron's record and I put the card in our lost card file. I helped a few more people. A regular patron with a bushy white beard came up to me at the desk. "I found someone's card." He said, pointing back to where he found it and handing me the card.

It was the same card!

3. My co-worker, who was working the front desk with me, said she didn't have any good stories. She only had other peoples' stories. She then told me a very good story that was her own.

She was sitting on the balcony of her apartment with her husband. They live on the river! And they saw a big eagle on a branch because bald eagles love the river. It was raining and the eagle was wet and majestic. Then, as they were admiring the glorious bald eagle it shuddered as if in preparation for some momentous action. They were thinking that the eagle would maybe spread its wings to take flight and a scattered stream of crystal rain water would fly in a great spray into the air as the great bird lifted heavily into the sky.

Instead the eagle took a big poop.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

No plan

I just love the idea of the Sunday post. I don't have to have any idea ahead of time. I just sit down and write. There's no secret plan or concept I have to explain or justify. I'm not trying to recall all the bits of thoughts I came up with earlier in preparation, and I don't have to piece them all into a coherent vision. I have no responsibility. Its freedom time! I just talk.

So, what should we talk about?


Boy this freedom's great!

Very fun.

I can do anything! And it's just for me. No one else's opinion matters!

How do you like it so far?

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Secrets of the desk

You, the patron, see three clerks gathered up at the front service desk. It looks like they might be talking about something important! They keep pointing up at a high place on the atrium walls, but when you look up there you can't see anything out of order. Then one of the clerks gestures towards the floor. "Water damage?" You wonder, "The recounting of a recent accident?". You think maybe it would be better to poke around a bit more instead of going up now for help and so interrupting them. Let them finish their important business, although, you do wonder a little what they're talking about. Something is happening and it's human nature to wonder. What, after all, is going on behind the scenes at your local library?

Well, luckily I was one of those clerks, and fortunately I am here to pull back the veil for you and reveal our secrets!

I see one of my co-workers at the front desk. She is pointing up towards the ceiling, generally our way of indicating where the fiction stacks are, so I go out and join my colleagues, what with how I have a couple minutes before I'm supposed to be somewhere.

"Are the Peregrine Falcons back?" I ask, looking up, because I like an occasional comic routine. Then I theatrically add for benefit of my non pointing colleague "We have a pair of Peregrine Falcons that are nesting up on the wall up there.

My co-worker who was pointing, and who I sometimes suspect is funnier than me, says "The librarians upstairs have been bringing in dead mice for them."

"The problem" I say to the non pointing co-worker who has been cast as our audience "Is that they can't reach the nests and so have to just sort of try and toss the mice across to them. But mostly they miss and we end up with piles of dead mice down on the floor in front of the requests."

And with that, we're done. 

There, they can help you at the front desk now.

Friday, June 20, 2014


I have looked at occasional co-workers that burst with energy and felt a kind of wonder. There they are running around the library with all that gusto, and there I am. Yes, there. See me? Just reading that book there for a little. I think I'm resting. Am I staring into space? Oh, there, I'm up! I bet I'm going to shelve a ton of stuff. Nope, false alarm. I appear to have just thought of a joke I wanted to tell all my co-workers. There I am telling the joke to whatever co-workers I can find, and that patron there. I think the patron likes it. Now I am helping the patron. Now I wandered over to another book. Now I am resting again. There I am thinking about things. This is all making me wonder when I work. Oh, right, I remember, it's because we're watching me. I try only to work when no one is looking. We better go back to the blog post so I can get something done.

I used to think that energy is something some people (not me) have a lot of, and some people (me) don't have so much of. But writing every day here has taught me something else. Energy comes in different forms, and for different things.

Let's roll back the clock on this blog post a bit. See that person, one of those ones with the energy we started out talking about. Look at them go. They are shelving this, and pushing that, and running over to get that. Sure I can get all critical about their lack of efficiency, but that's not what we're here for. This person, for instance, is pretty focused, dogged even, and just look at how much she's getting done. A lot! It's a nice use of energy.

Now let's go forward to me. Reading, hmm, resting, wait, that's not resting. Can you see my mind whirring? My mind is whirring! I'm up! I'm off to tell the joke. I don't tell it the same. I shift it, rewrite it in little ways. I bring in the patron as part of the community of the library. The patron needs a book. I know that book cause six weeks ago I read a bit of it while leaning against some transit boxes, or while sipping cappuccino somewhere. I know what the cover looks like. I have a feeling I just saw it somewhere. I get it for the patron. Another book catches my eye. Someone told me about it. A blog post starts stirring in my mind. I think I'd better shelve a cart as quick as I can because there are things I need to write down.


It belongs to the active and the indolent. It is smart and bland and blind and keen. And in the end it is invisible. We see only the effects of it, and embodied they can be utterly obvious or artfully concealed. Shimmering with life or... smuggled through.

I used to think I was somehow shorted on energy, but it's not like that. It just depends. Here, let's go find me again, doing my quick shelving up in the stacks. There I am in the large type section. Oh, I'm reading again. We'll just wait a bit.

Boy, that's a lot of reading.

Could someone maybe try and get my attention there. I'm trying to use me to make a point. What am I so interested in? Can you see what I'm reading? Oh, yes, my, that is interesting. I'll just sort of hover here over my shoulder for a while, looking on.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Precious city

I stepped out of my small, lovely house this morning to find a beautiful day. Or, at least, it was a beautiful day for half a mile of walking, so, I am saying, there was ten minutes worth of beautiful day. Then it was hot and I was reduced once again to being Gollum. "Ach! The sun! She burns, she burns us. We hates it!" Then I'd walk under a tree and it would be a beautiful day again for the seven seconds it took to walk through that shadow. "Oh beauteous irises, glinting graceful in the dappled shade. Your purple, sunshine song of summer...AAAAH! IT BITES! CRUEL SUN SHE BITES, SHE BURRRNNS US!" By the time I got to my bike station I was a damp, hot, weeping cloud of misery.

And it was fine.

I live in the Twin Cities. Our sensible quality of life is widely considered to be attributable to the fierceness of our climate. Whether that fierceness be ascribed, as it commonly is, to winters full of minus 20 and minus 30 degree temperatures, or whether it is, perhaps more unusually, ascribed instead to all the cruel, cruel times in June, July, and August where it grows humid and the temperature climbs above a beastly 82 degrees, is immaterial. The key thing is that most of the hoi polloi stay away, and the sociopathic impulses so common in places like Arizona and Mississippi tend to freeze to death. And so our cities, thus protected, can get so very nice that it's practically like Western Europe here; exotic architecture, the best parks and bike paths in the country, and coffee shops not, perhaps, to rival Rome, but better than Venice, London, Lisbon, and L.A., not that anyone from there would have any idea.

Their loss.

And if I have to endure yearly ice and fire purges for this paradise, well, so be it. Anything for my cities, for they are precious to me, yes precious, preeecccioouusss!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Joke week

Is it joke week?

Anger week, Joke week. Do we now have weekly themes here on clerkmanifesto?

Only by accident. Like when a car crashes and all the cars behind it can't stop fast enough.

So I was looking at that joke about a centipede and walked right into it. And I wrote a joke.

You get to hear the joke now.


Because it is joke week! 

I hope we don't get whiplash.

Okay, so, this joke is in the classic question and answer format. The question and answer format sounds challenging, but is merely rhetorical. Your only job ever in this joke format is to answer the question with "I don't know", unless, of course, you already know the joke, in which case you say, regretfully, "Oh, I've heard this one." But you can't have heard this one because I just wrote it today! So, anyway, there will be a question, then a long space where you can just sort of think "I don't know" and then there will be the allegedly funny part, at which point joke week will be over and everyone will drive a lot more carefully around here.


No, that's not it. Here. We'll start now.

Why are there no Muslim Eskimos?

Because when Ramadan comes during the Summer Solstice they all starve to death.


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The reading wave

I have been riding a reading wave. It is a big, beautiful wave, and I just keep going and going. I know it can't last forever, but boy is it sweet while I glide down its perfectly formed curl, my hand outstretched, skidding playfully along the translucent blue wall of water next to me. I am lost in a dream.

Eh? What's a reading wave? Oh, you know. You're riding one right now, cruising down the face of this wicked and dangerous blog, delighted, enjoying yourself, ready for whatever's next because it all works for you. It all comes home. Bells ring out in your heart. "Ah, what is that?" you say. "Sweet, sharp and burning truth. This feels right."

Lost you? Perhaps you are part of the two percent of our readership for whom it's all a bit more like hilly biking than hanging ten. We will start again, just for you, and when your legs grow so strong that all the hills of this blog are like the joyous surfing of a force of nature, please remember and be patient when we stop to collect all the wipeouts. These are some big waves!

What I mean by riding a reading wave is that all the books I have been reading have been great successes for me. Every book I have picked up for a month I have liked or loved. No diffidence, no wondering why so many people are wasting my time, no doubting that I even like books, no. It is all beautiful. The things I have been re-reading (Wise Man's Fear, My Family and Other Animals) seem somehow richer now that I can look more closely at them, now that there is no need to wolf them down, race through them, see what happens next, decide. I can look around in them and lo, there is their heart sitting plain to see, all beautiful and quiet and clear. The new things I read (The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian, The Saga comic series, Snow Crash) are allowed inside me where they tear open my oyster heart or crack open my walnut brain and reveal the sweet meat inside. We are good. Bless the books that let us know it. Oh, all these kind books. Let them talk!

Has my judgement gone? Are these books flawless? No. I can think of flaws for every one. But I will not tell you what they are. You can find out for yourself. But first you must run the gauntlet of love.

Is it me, someplace I'm in, more receptive, more ready for the written word, story, for people guilelessly crafting with their hearts? Or am I just reading the right books? Am I just getting lucky?

I don't care! The water throws me. I fall. The water catches me. And I am flying. Cowabunga.

Monday, June 16, 2014

The willies

I use the word "scared" in two different ways when it comes to animals.

The first encompasses how I feel about the occasional dog, running at me snarling, or perhaps ferociously barking in a sudden way just on the other side of some fence I am walking by, then hurling itself at the fence all growling and gnashing its teeth in its desperation to break through and rip apart my flesh. This makes me scared. Then it makes me wish that the dog's owner will get cancer and die, but only because, as a wise person, I have softened my feelings towards them from something natively harsher. I have also been known to be scared of bears, particularly at night, when I am all neatly packaged in my tent like a nice midnight snack and horses are screaming in unearthly terror nearby. When this happens my friend Grape and I go hide for a few hours in the primitive campground's porta potty, which does not smell great, but has a comforting exoskeleton.

Speaking of exoskeletons, this kind of fear with dogs and bears and such is not the same as the way I am afraid of, or scared of, spiders. Their strange eyes and crushing mouth, their jerking, madly efficient, staccato, eight-legged movement, oddly influenced by having their innards seemingly attached to an invisible line, their patience and exploding bursts of attack or flight, it all gives me the willies.

The difference can perhaps also be illustrated in how I have been friends with dogs, or in how I might be scared of a dog, but, once reassured, could, to prove how tough I am, give the same dog who scared me a little skirtch behind the ear and talk babytalk to it. I don't do this after I have calmed down from a spider dropping down to in front of my face. I have never given a spider any kind of a skirtch. The closest I have come is whacking the spider with a book, which, you should know, is not at all close to skirtching, in case you are feeling a bit affectionate towards something and were looking for fresh ideas. Scared as I have been of bears I have also spent an amiable couple hours rummaging around with two very large black bears on a remote beach in British Columbia. I'm sure I was a bit scared of them the whole time, but I also liked them, which is not a feeling I have ever held towards a centipede, outside of the charming, fictional ones in jokes and cartoons.

Here is another differentiation: provided the right context someone could tell me about being scared of any animal and if it's specific, and physically fear based, I can usually understand, but if it's willie based, I can't. I am not afraid of giraffes in any way, for instance, but if someone told me they were on safari enjoying the sight of the pretty giraffes when one suddenly charged them, in a fierce and alarmingly big way, I might get the picture. I would figure that I'd have been scared in that situation also (but afterwords would surely have rubbed the giraffe's tummy). But if the person was going on about the giraffes' creepy long necks and how their eyelashes freak them out, I'd just be lost. And that's the thing about the willies, other people's phobias are quite alien to us. Spiders are disturbing, but snakes? So smooth and delightfully slithery! Someone told me of a bird phobia they had once. How can I empathize with that? Sympathize, sure, but what a different emotional language of the brain than my own!

And yet, though the boundaries of the willies seem so impermeable, sometimes, mysteriously, they disappear, and brief glimpses of other understandings take their place. I love the squirrels of my neighborhood and, having no pecan crop to protect, delight in their antics. But a couple days ago I was walking to get a bike when I came upon a neighbor's yard that for some reason had two dozen squirrels messing about in it. As I came up to it all the squirrels scrambled over the sidewalk in front of me and raced over each other and onto a nearby tree. It was a little river of squirrels and evoked a kind of primal rodent horror in me; oh the clatter of their toenails, their bodies swarming over and under each other, yeesh! The willies!

And a day or two later I sat outside and saw a spider in the grass. I don't think it was hunting. It was minding its own business. It seemed delicate, quiet, lovely. It moved gracefully. It had so many perfect legs. Such an odd moment for me. I felt I could almost skirtch it behind the ears. Only, thankfully, it was too little for that.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The joke today

I wanted to tell you a joke today. I decided that this was allowable because of the following seven reasons:

1. It starts with an original list of seven items (you are currently on item one, only six to go), which fully qualifies it as an independent blog post. So the joke is only part of the post at the end and thus doesn't violate the "Original Material Only Rule".

2. It's not like I have an "Original Material Only Rule" which is probably why it's in quotes. No, actually I have no idea why it's in quotes. I do have an Original Material Only Rule, only it's more like a guideline and definitely not an "Original Material Only Rule".

3. It's not just any joke, but is a warm up for tomorrow's blog post. You will see this joke briefly referred back to in tomorrow's blog post. Also, it is a soccer joke designed to appeal to my readers who are World Cup fans and to make up for how I called it soccer. Anyway, what I'm saying is that it's a vaguely relevant joke, unlike the following:

4. I bought a new pair of shoes from a drug dealer. I don't know what he laced them with but I've been tripping all day.

5. Sunday is casual day at clerkmanifesto and so it's more like we're sitting around chatting except for how you're sitting quietly in another place altogether and I'm quietly typing and no one is saying anything and it's nothing like chatting at all.

6. This is my blog and I can do whatever I want, once we take in to account literally millions of tiny personal rules, limits of communication, ethics, need, and small and large aspects of the absolute limitations of art, communication, and being human.

7.  I take the core joke and spin it out into a full, original story of it's own.

8. Because there is free will, but you have to fight for it.

And here we go, but it was worth the wait because it's really funny and you will laugh and laugh and the comments below will all fill up with people telling me how they lol'd. It's just that funny.

The Joke

All the animals of the forest got together for their huge, every four years, championship Soccer game, except the animals of the world call it Football. The Creatures of the Hoof team was just destroying the Animals of the Ground team. It was six to nothing but was actually worse than that sounds. The giraffe in particular looked unstoppable. She was terrifying when she ran full bore, then she would stop and perform some graceful header that was utterly impossible to defend against.

But then, in the middle of the second half, as the vast array of animal spectators were thinking of packing up and beating the traffic back home, the tide of the game mysteriously started to turn. Every bounce suddenly seemed almost magically to go the Animals of the Grounds' way. The giraffe thudded down field only to mysteriously sprawl in the grass. Time after time the ball would land someplace inconsequential, vaguely in front of the Creatures of the Hoof team's goal, and then would mysteriously careen in to the back of the net, absolutely unstoppable. The first time this happened the Animals of the Ground's coach, an aardvark, ran out to the field to see what was going on. The team gathered around. There in the grass was the reason for the team's great comeback. A centipede, all dressed up in his tiny footballer outfit, was rejoicing his successes on the pitch.

"That was fantastic!" exclaimed the coach.

"Thank you." said the centipede humbly, high fiving all his teammates simultaneously.

"But where in the world were you for the whole first half?" The coach asked.

"Putting on my shoes."

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Joking with patrons

I joke with the patrons.

A patron says "My library card doesn't work here. Can I get it registered with you?"

"Sure," I respond lightly, then suddenly remember. "Is your calender clear for the whole evening? This will take several hours."

"Yep, all clear." They say.

Entering the new patron record I look up from their driver's license. "Is this still your birthdate?"

They assure me that it is.

When I hand them their card they say "Yay, I can check out books."

"Take them all." I encourage. "We're not doing anything with them.

Exit our new patron.

And why wouldn't I like these people. They are good sports, one and all.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Books in demand!

Upstairs shelving today in Fiction I came across a treasure trove of To Kill a Mockingbird. We had 12 identical paperback copies all lined up together neatly in a row, or, that is, lined up as neatly as our rows get, which is not very. This, for us, is quite a few to have on the shelves of just one title. Occasionally we'll glut up with some bestseller that's suddenly hurtled past its expiration date, but we usually manage to weed that stuff before too long. And besides, those titles rarely accumulate to more than seven or eight copies. So these 12 copies were quite a sight.

Now, as nice a book as To Kill a Mockingbird is, it did occur to me that perhaps we have, er, just a couple more copies of it than we necessarily need. And yet, even as I thought that, I caught a glimpse into a different reality.

I know I go on rather a bit about Jasper Fforde, and about his books, because they're all so wonderful and everything, but I just need to say here something about how his Eyre Affair books are set in, at least at the start of the series, a sort of alternate 80s England, one in which, among other things, reading and literature are the great fanatic passion of the population, much like movies or TV shows or popular sport, or all of them rolled into one, are in contemporary culture. So it was something of this reality that I glimpsed.

I saw myself seeing the 12 copies of To Kill a Mockingbird and having to suppress a wave of panic because we were down to so few! Something is sorely amiss! I look around in shock and note two other nasty shortages on the shelf, one alarmingly severe. The last person shelving up here was seriously slumming. I spring into action. Racing to the end of the shelves I hit the big red panic button. I pick up the speaking tube and will myself to be calm enough to talk.

"Emergency dispatch, I've got a code 616 on three books." I say clearly into the talk nozzle.

"Roger that 616, go ahead." I hear tinnily from the tiny speaker can.

"We're down to 12 copies, no, 10, NINE! copies of" I interrupt to yell down the aisle "Hey, kid! One copy per person for To Kill a Mockingbird! Get some Steinbeck if you need more! Sorry," I say to the dispatcher "So, we're down to nine copies of TKM, eight of Huck, and two of P'n'P!" Even through our crude communication system I can hear them flinching a little at our dangerously low count of Pride and Prejudice on the shelf.

"Roger that 616. Nine TKM, eight Hucks, and two P'n'Ps. Central dispatch has been alerted. We're going to have to sound a code 940 on the P'n'P. I'm sorry, but that means you're point protocol."

Crap. I'll never get my cart shelved. "Roger that dispatch. This is 616 heading to Austen for point protocol. Over."

Now I have to go stand with the Pride and Prejudice trying to convince people to wait until central gets there with four dozen P'n'Ps. Hopefully I'll be able to mollify them by handing out complimentary Bridget Jones Diaries. It should be about ten minutes to re-stocking. I just hope it doesn't get ugly out there.

Ah well, at least people are reading.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Sure, man

This spring I read some stories by Sherman Alexie, recently finishing his YA novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian. This is not a review. If there are seven channels on the Internet, and there are seven channels on the Internet, one of them is the Reviews channel. So if you need a review you need only rotate your internet dial a maximum of six turns to hit some reviews of said book.

We are are own channel here.

I am reluctant to praise The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian too highly because of the light way it sometimes swings from the wretchedly awful to almost magical successes of its narrator. Actually, I can think of several reasons more why I don't want to praise this book too highly, but for reasons you'll soon see I need to tell you right away why I am reluctant to praise The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian too modestly, too stintingly, too little.  I am reluctant to praise The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian too modestly because it arouses an overpowering jealousy in me. There is something about how and what good things happen to Sherman Alexie and his characters that makes me feel somehow like I wish I had gotten them, something that makes me feel I should be like that.

I should have been a braver, more gifted athlete, I should have hopelessly punched more people, I should have won a National Book Award.

But saying it out loud I feel a little silly.

I don't want to blame Sherman Alexie for glamorizing himself. I'm pretty sure I'm the one doing that. So I'm going to try going ahead and give him my seal of approval and just see what happens.

And here is a little secret for you. Writing is very fun, and satisfying, and interesting, and challenging. And it can even make you into a better person for awhile if you do it right. But writing is also, sometimes, just a little bit, like being in a cage. And you pound and pound on the bars of the cage, you rattle them from the inside. If you read something you really like there is all the writing and clarity and attention of the writer, the craft and magic of words, story, idea, art. But sometimes, what makes writing seriously good is that little sound, underneath, of the writer, deep down, banging on the bars, trying desperately to be, personally, absolutely, heard.

It's the dash of salt.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian?  I think I can hear Sherman Alexie in there.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


One of the great difficulties in thoroughly learning anything is the deceptive, increasingly difficult and slow pace at which we learn.

I will give you an explanatory example from my own progress this summer as a biker. Not long ago I recounted my early experience as an out of shape biker starting a new commuting plan. I believe there was some mention of a large hill, vomiting blood (don't worry, it was a metaphor, I was merely coughing up blood, and it was leaking from my eyes), and an exhaustion so profound I was having visions of enormous turkeys. Now I have been biking steadily for a couple weeks, pretty regularly, and though I don't breeze up that giant hill, I do ride up it. I do not need to stop and collapse for ten minutes. I don't need to stop at all. I just keep going. I consider this to be a lot of progress. Let's say I have, in two weeks, gone from being a beginner to being an advanced beginner. I think at this rather sparkling rate I should be a Tour De France level athlete by the end of the summer. No, seriously: two weeks to advanced beginner, two weeks to early intermediate, two weeks to intermediate, and so on to Professional level in about 14 weeks. There I'll be, on my green, 200 pound, three-speed city rental bike, competing with the greatest bicyclists on the planet. And when I finish in a respectable 43rd place I can say that at least I did it without steroids.

But this won't be happening.

It won't be happening because improvement is exponentially difficult. It is twice as hard to go from advanced beginner to early intermediate (say, a '2' to a '3') than it is to go from beginner to advanced beginner (1 to 2), and it is four times as hard to go from early intermediate to intermediate (3 to 4). So what I am saying is that though I improved a full rank in a couple weeks, I might, if I keep at it consistently, improve another rank sometime later this summer, at which point I will stall out. I will not be able to progress at all beyond that point, I mean, not without focus, pointed dedication, a much longer time period, and an increased commitment in every way.

We have a great many books at my library on how to learn a vast number of things. Many of them try to set you at ease by insulting you, thus the Dummies series and the Complete Idiots guides. Some just innocently claim to be for beginners. But whatever the selling approach the general conceit seems to be that a gentle approach to the basics will be appealing to those wanting to learn. In my experience they are reasonably good at this, but, and this is important, only for one or two chapters, whereupon they completely lose sight of the fundamental nature of learning: that each step is exponentially more difficult. These books will take you up to the early dawnings of intermediate level stuff at a relatively moderate pace, but then they will fully assume that you will continue to develop and learn at that exact same pace. You will be left behind because that is not the normal pace of learning.

There are some other things I have to tell you about learning, but don't you think this is enough for today? It all gets a lot harder from here on out.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Pirate day

Today was our Summer Reading Program kick off. For those of you unfamiliar with library bacchanalia this tends to be our most festive day of the year. Many children's events are packed in on this day and things are all a bit joyful and chaotic. This year we have a pirate theme. I have been keen on pirate themes ever since my early exposure to the moody and thrilling Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland when I was four years old.

My favorite part of this event filled day was when a parrot came flying out of the community program room, crossed in front of me at the Service Desk, and landed in the requested books section. But I have also very much enjoyed The Hardtack Jack Band, a pirate band playing sea shanties, particularly those of a pirate nature. While this group has curiously spent two hours in the staff break room for every ten minutes that they've played, making our break room smell all piratey, they have been great when they have played. For some reason no music I have ever heard performed at the library has seemed so natural and appropriate to the library as pirate songs. Perhaps this is because, for no reason I can properly explain, library work has always reminded me of the pirate life. I often feel somehow like I'm swabbing a deck or hoisting sail or making someone walk a plank even if I'm just cleaning a belt on our machine (swabbing the belt!) or emptying a bin (hoisting the bin!) or making someone pay a fine (Arrrrr!).

I suggested to our library director that we should all, dressed as pirates, take over an outlying branch library of an adjoining library system, annex it, or maybe just plunder their quality materials, if they have any.

I don't think she took me very seriously.

So I went back to the Service Desk, where I steer this ship of a library through the great Midwestern Seas, in love with freedom and the open oceans.

Monday, June 9, 2014

A short confession

I don't know why, but lately when I finish shelving I bring my empty cart back along the south side of the shelves. I guess it's just been working out that way. This brings me directly at the person sitting at the Reference desk before I make my turn to the elevator. So as I approach the librarian at the reference desk I say "Is this where I return my empty cart?"

No one, as yet, has found this amusing. Either the people who have been there do not like me or they do not think I am being funny. Sadly, every so often, these are exactly the same to me.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Anger week

I hope you enjoyed anger week here at clerkmanifesto!

Oh, you ask, it was anger week? Is it over?


So, this is all new to me too.

I could see how you might consider me a bit more, er, responsible than, for instance, you, for anger week. I do accept this. I agree with it even. 

But I still don't know if it's over. 

I do feel a bit less mad having yelled though.

At the library a few hours ago I was putting a book in a box to go to another branch, and it looked very interesting so I read as much of it as I could for ten minutes as I was putting it in the box. This effectively means it took me ten minutes to put one book in a box. Ah well. The book said that the three hardest words to say are "I don't know."

You know what I think? I think I don't know. I don't know if "I don't know" are the three hardest words to say. I think there might be harder words. I think there are probably harder words. I would tell them to you but...

I don't know.

I spent a lot of my week writing blog posts in my head. They are very different than the posts I write for real. When I really like the ones in my head I try to stop and make a note of them on a bit of paper in my pocket. Sometimes I can later look at my note and write something related to it, but often, with any notable delay, these notes become like a short dream diary entry of a dream I have completely forgotten. "Car watching." One note I have says. "Is best in neighborhoods." I have no idea what was going on there. It was supposed to be a blog post and all I can remember now is the mild high I had imagining it. It could have been this blog post if the universe rolled out differently. 

Maybe if it didn't turn out to be anger week.

And sometimes I have a strange thought, a single phrase that comes to me anywhere, unbidden, mysterious. For instance tonight, I had one while working on the library check in machine, somewhere between reading about "I don't know" and wheeling carts of books about. The mysterious phrase that comes is like a puzzle, an assertion that seeks answers. So later, usually, I write a blog post as a way to try and solve the puzzle. Sometimes it does solve the puzzle. Sometimes it doesn't. Tonight, working quite alone, almost content, the phrase I thought was: 

I'm too tired to make you like me.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Drive my car

I recently ran into a few news stories about Google's new driverless car. I guess it's just a prototype at this point. I imagine you get into your little pod of a car, say "Work" and it whisks you off to your job while you quietly read your copy of Clerkmanifesto: Best of the Early Years, 2013-2033, with all the shades drawn. "Oh!" you would say upon your pod arriving at your job "I'm here already? What a shame!"

Sadly I didn't get a huge amount of details on this driverless cars project because every commentator, reporter, and source for this story spent most of their time on two other issues. In the first issue they were rather skeptical of this car as a viable product because they couldn't imagine there were people who would want such a car.

Me! I want this car! This is my dream car! Am I the only one? Is almost everyone else so crazy about driving? You, Mr. NPR reporter, driving across a traffic congested city at eight in the morning with nothing better to do than listen to NPR and get irritated by other crappy drivers every minute, you can't imagine giving that up and doing whatever you like while your car drives you? Are rich people constantly shooing their chauffeurs over? "Oh, Jeeves there, looks like a bit of noxious congestion ahead as we work into the city. Why don't you skootch over and I'll take the wheel for a bit of fun."

Are we a nation of nine year old boys!?

Oh, right, oops. I myself play video games. How could I forget.

The second issue seemed to consist of a jokey hysteria about the machines seizing control of everything. "Ha ha ha." they all said "I'm a little worried about the computers taking over the world."

Well, here they have a better point. I work at a library everyday with a sophisticated automated check in machine, and I have lately become afraid that it has become too big for its britches. I am fairly certain that as it processes the books it has been changing them to reflect a more pro computer outlook. With each check in of 2001 A Space Odyssey HAL is becoming more and more sympathetic and more and more central to the story.

Also my clock at home is trying to talk me in to going to Disney World.

So I am okay with rolling back the technology level to somewhere just before TV, you know, to be safe.

But if we don't, I want to be driven around in a magic car! Thank you.

Friday, June 6, 2014


Rare is the day at the library where I don't fly into a tiny rage about some trifling, but notable thing.

"But" you cry out "You are the most spiritual blogger in the world. I cannot imagine you flying into a rage!"

I understand. I too struggle with the value of anger. But I do fly into a small rage over the dumb new place we keep the keys, or some pointless new survey, or an essential book that we don't have. There's plenty of stuff around here to fly into a rage about. It's not so bad.

In one of the greatest romantic comedies of all time, Nicholas Cage plays a character who has lost one of his hands. He explains how he no longer talks to his brother, Johnny, because Johnny came into the bakery he worked at, distracted him, and caused him to put his hand into a bread slicer, which promptly chewed his hand off. His fiancee left him. His life was ruined.

Cher, who Nicholas Cage is telling this to, is taken aback. She points out that his losing his hand and losing his girl was not his brother's fault.

Nicholas Cage cries out "I ain't no monument to freakin' justice! I lost my hand! I lost my bride! Johnny has his hand! Johnny has his bride! You want me to take my heartache, put it away and forget it?"

And what, you may wonder, does this scene have to do with what I am saying here?

I don't know. I can't make magical sense out of every problem and question! I write the greatest blog on the Internet! Every single freakin' day! Where are my million readers? Where is my million dollar book advance! Where are all the people yelling "Yes" to me?


So what does this scene have to do with what I'm talking about? 

Nothing, really, nothing at all.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

This will be an easy to read blog post

I was in a very fancy restaurant, an occasion restaurant, which is mostly a story for some other time, and I saw a group seated. They were given menus. A man at the table said very grandly to the waitress "I have studied your menu online for days and I am going to be making this incredibly easy for you. We are going to be your easiest table!"

I recognized this introduction. I have worked with the public for a very long time and know exactly what an introduction like this really means.

"I have an easy question."  "I just have a simple request." "This will just take a second." Are never the introductions to "Which way to the bathroom?" or "What time are you open til tonight?" or "What's your favorite cheese?" No, never. Because people who are going to be super easy don't mention it. They don't have to sell it. They aren't trying to prove something, to themselves, to me, to the world. "I have an easy question." is followed by "Can I get my fines waived and be taught how to use these computer things?" "I just have a simple request." is followed by "Can you call the police and have the alien agents following me arrested?" And "This will just take a second." is followed by "I need library cards for my eleven children. And, by the way, one of them threw up."

So I recognized  "I have studied your menu online for days and I am going to be making this incredibly easy for you. We are going to be your easiest table!" as "I'm going to be making things more difficult than usual for you."

And so it was. The man proceeded to order a tasting menu that had to be ordered by the whole table. His whole table had other ideas about what to order. The man had studied a menu that told him he couldn't do what he then proceeded to try and do. He contested the policy. The waitress needed to do a lot of explaining.

He wasn't a terrible person as far as I could tell, I mean, all in all. He seemed to take it well enough in the end. The restaurant had a lovely, soothing atmosphere, and he gradually made peace with his order, and saw its virtues. He probably had a nice dinner because that place could cook like no restaurant I had ever encountered before.

But he, and all those others I have met before, were not, and will never be, easy. And, strangely, as with many things, they let us know ahead of time, by telling us the opposite.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The seven virtues of the unfit biker

As I progress from wildly out of shape to generally unfit each of my commuting biking trips gets a little faster. Nevertheless I still struggle with The Hill. It's actually a bridge. When you climb to the top you can see the beautiful towers of downtown, or you would be able to see them except the blood you are sweating keeps pouring into your eyes and clouding your vision.

I know, you are likely wondering why I am saying that this is happening to you. It's not. It's happening to me. I am the one climbing the hill in first gear, bleeding sweat, and looking over at the old lady walking on the other side of the street traveling at precisely the same speed as me. And while I am delighted my community features so many fit and able 90-year-olds, I also feel a small blow to my pride.

This is why I have come up with this list:

                         The seven virtues of the unfit biker

1. While cars spew toxic gasses dooming the planet I leave behind only a bloody trail that is nourishing to local flora, particularly the salt tolerant carnivorous plants that the small children so love.

2. I make the plodding joggers all feel lithe and fleet.

3. I will live practically forever and walk around nimbly at age 90.

4. I seem to be able to write about it over and over on my blog.

5. The oxygen starvation induced by over exertion weakens my defenses and allows me to have spiritual visions of large mute birds.

6. When going flat or downhill I am flying! I am flying! Look out walkers I am passing you! Ha ha ha, passing you! That is, any minute now, I mean, I will be passing you. Here I come. Okay. Almost there! Hi. We are kind of even now for awhile. Nice day, huh? Now I am a little ahead, oop, small hill, we're even again, and, ohh, bit of downhill and, yes, I am ahead of you! Ha ha ha ha ha! Passed you walker! Sucker! Slowpoke! Ha ha ha ha ha ha!

7. It makes me a better and more gracious person.