Saturday, October 31, 2015


I like to bring joy wherever I go, but if I can't bring joy I'm okay bringing dissatisfaction.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Jimmy Johns

I'd like to introduce you to my new sponsor: Jimmy Johns. No, I personally loathe the sandwich shop, but, sadly, I am always desperate to raise enough cash to afford ever more expensive cheeses. Even with sponsorship I am not likely to anytime soon be able to try a Swedish Moose Cheese that's about $500 a pound, but I am certainly ready for Gorau Glas, a Welsh cows milk blue that goes for at least $40 a pound, or the Italian Bitto, at about $55 a pound. Not that Jimmy Johns would know a tolerable cheddar from a piece of cardboard.

Oops. There I go about Jimmy Johns again. But don't worry, I am violating no terms, they're not really a new sponsor. I'd be as likely to take them on as a sponsor as I would be inclined to turn to my occasional friend Bob Dylan and say "You've got to admit, it was a mistake for you to go electric."  Actually,  I should totally do that. There's something about his "You clown" look that I find endearing.

Every In Service Day my Library serves us box lunches from Jimmy Johns. I try not to make a fuss and instead just quietly go get food elsewhere. But I do make a small fuss. And I think very dark thoughts about my co-workers, who all seem to like these box lunches and don't dump the food contemptuously on the floor crying out "I've never been so insulted in my life!" I also like to spend most of the afternoon fantasizing about having a breakout session on how commercial, mass market meat is raised in America until everyone is sick to their stomach.

But then, a couple days ago, I walked into the break room. We were having a big Friends of the Library book sale and during the sale prep they bring in guys from the County Workhouse to help move stuff, prisoners really. These guys were sitting in the break room, covered in tattoos, pale and muscly and out of jail for a bit. They were having lunch, from Jimmy Johns. And the first thing I heard, as I walked into the room to make my cappuccino, or maybe grab a piece of Bleu d'Auvergne cheese, was one guy saying, with true pleasure and appreciation:

"This is the best food I've had since I've been locked up."

And that's my story about Jimmy Johns.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Falling is better than despair

Here is my metaphor: When the walls close in and I keep going down the dark and narrowing tunnel of life until it no longer branches, and I can never now find my way back now, and the way I am on has come to some strange, unalterable end, I stand there, lost and abandoned. I am desolate. I have exhausted myself and worn my virtues to bone. And though all my sins, real and imagined, shed a kind of light, they only reveal that there is no place to go.

So to hell with all my sins. Right there, hopeless, at the end of the tunnel, I abandon all my failings; real ones, made up ones, instilled ones, and even the ones that are secretly virtues.

I make plans. And in my plans I become perfect. I will never fail, or waste a moment, or make a mistake ever again. I will be perfect and committed and energized and pure. It is a simple and glorious solution and everything is wonderful.

And that is how I fall. I do not intend it. It is not part of the plan. Reaching for perfection I fall in that very second.

Let me tell you, despair is better than falling. Terror comes first, and when I hit the ground I am battered and broken and there is no part of me that does not hurt. Lying there hurts most of all so I get up, shaken, trembling. I wipe the blood from my eyes, and I look around. I find that I can now go anywhere, there are no tunnels here, no walls. I can go anywhere, anywhere at all as long as it's up.

So on the gentlest, softest, easiest path I can find, I head that way.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The library is the bastard child

I started working in a library during a different political era. At that time we were the bastard child of the County. Our public popularity was boundless, but we had to struggle on in a world where less exciting government services dominated and we had to skimp by on meager budgets. We were barely recognized, little spoken of, begrudgingly tolerated.

But oh that popularity! As the Nation's ideology hammered down on the uselessness of government and the inevitable drabness of Socialism, there we were, untouchable, raggedly beautiful; Socialist Government smelling ever like a rose. Or perhaps that's not a good analogy because we don't usually smell so great, but still, everyone loved us at the library. We just sat there, handing out books and movies and music, nothing much else to it really, sometimes we helped people find information, and they were smitten with us! Smitten!

But we were still the bastard child of the County.

So we started selling the County on how loved we were. Our management got more political and clever. We hired a non librarian administrator to be our library director. We conducted opinion polls that were ridiculously favorable towards us. We spread out. We taught classes and hosted programs and did outreach. We employed dynamic librarians to walk the land preaching 3D printers and interactive science and the great electronic conspiracy. We allied with schools and government agencies and Social Services. The County sat up and noticed. They got interested. Our budgets started beating the curve every time. We built an array of grand new modern buildings and our bureaucracy and power grew.

But here's the weird part, the funny part: All the new money and new space went to all the new things. The book budget struggled on with no gains and occasional losses, as did the space for those books and the hours we were open. Meanwhile programs and classes and dynamic modern ventures like chromebook and ipad schemes with school systems, social services hosting, homework helping, computer classes and community outreach, performances and technology all grew and grew. We stopped really talking about the ancient library of books on shelves and a static, passive, interesting, useful place to go. At my library's In Service Day one might hardly know we were a library by the old standard. We looked forward and ever struggled to redefine ourselves, modern, innovative, clawing to the imagined future.

But underneath, there we were. Books on the shelves, tables and chairs, a few staffed desks with someone reasonably knowledgeable ( well, roughly 60% of the time they're knowledgeable!) to help. A library. Our space, the old library's space is unchanged, our budget if anything is less. But it's still what it's all about. It's still what everyone who loves a library really cares about. When the library talks about the library it is all initiatives and outreach and programs, but nearly always, when someone talks about loving the library, they just mean the stuff they can check out, the place they can go, and maybe a little bit the help they can get with the stuff.

Once my library was the bastard child of the County. Now my library is the bastard child of the library itself. But it doesn't much matter. Leave the library as an underdog. I don't mind working in the coalpit of the circulation department. I am a renegade plumber of the information empire. Let my director and her ilk fuss with glamour. The library is supposed to be a bastard. It is happiest that way. Down on the ground you plant your feet and grunt and heave and hand out literature and give people bad ideas, dangerous ideas, all the wrong ideas, and the door to the light stays cracked open. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Chocolate covered bitterness

Bitterness is bacon. Bitterness is potato chips.

One would not think it to look at bitterness. I would not guess, to eye it in its fierce, piercing astringency, that my heart would cry:

A feast!

But here I have been again, bingeing. Like it's ice cream. Like it's bacon, french fries, barbecue flavored tortilla chips, Roman pizza, pastries, burgers, fried shrimp, milkshakes, and caviar. My stomach is bursting. I cannot eat another bite! But it's so good! One more little fever of bitterness and loathing, one more furious vision. Just let me see as clear-eyed as this for another minute. Let me have this sharp and terrible taste flaming in my head until the whole world is laid bare and completely transparent to me. Unfixable. Exposed. Its flaws and successes revealed in a light brighter than any god's. Yes, God, you too are laid bare!

And me?

Five more minutes? Bitter, lucid, munching away, packing it in. Please?

No, I am bursting. I can't take another bite. My heart is clotting up, growing hard, and turning against me.

It is time to take up once again the muddling burden of wonder.

Monday, October 26, 2015


Once a month or so the Atheists book our large meeting room. It is always on a Sunday, giving the feeling that they're setting up in a direct competition. They were here just this past Sunday while I was at the front desk. The vestibule that leads into the meeting room is white and lit up. It even glows a little. My desk partner kept directing people who were looking for the Atheist meeting by saying "Go towards the light."

"In deference to their beliefs you might want to offer more scientific directions." I suggested. "Like, head 30 degrees South by Southwest and take the first branching left."

Later in the back room one of my colleagues surprised me by confessing that the Atheists kind of creeped him out.

"But there is no God." I teased him.

"Wait." He said. "You believe in God, don't you?"

I gave him my standard Polypantheatheist speech. "I am a Polypantheatheist.  I believe that there are many gods, that god is everywhere, and that there is no God. In fact, I'll believe just about anything. The only thing I refuse to believe is that there is One God. I refuse to believe that anyone could be that bad at their job."

I suppose I was being a tad willful, and theatrical. A nearby volunteer was keeping a conspicuous poker face. My colleague was too eager to go outside and smoke his cigarette to pursue the matter, and my own words forced a reckoning in me. I looked around my library. I looked at what I knew of the world. Most people are entirely that bad at their job!

Still, I refuse to think any of them are God.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The greatness of America

I have been carrying around something I heard from a linguistics professor a few months ago. He said that people everywhere, all throughout history, have spoken more than one language. It is part of human nature to be multi-lingual, and what we see in America, where so many people can only speak one language (this super cool one I am using right now!), is a historical anomaly.

I don't generally take aspersions cast against my people very hard, but when they apply directly to me as well I don't find them entirely comfortable. I only speak one language. And though I could bluster through the whole thing on a Quality over Quantity argument, I have remained uneasy. Unconsciously I have cast around for a compensating genius of America, something that would let us Americans say "In your face Europe!" or "In your face Africa!" or "In your face Asia!", but in the way of friendly competition as opposed to our fallback of bombing.

For months I came up dry and all we could do was kill random people around the world in frustration.

But last night I went to The Riverview Cafe. My wife and I bought some wine and settled down at a table to watch the ever entertaining Thursday night open mike night. As far as I can tell the rules change slightly based on how many performers show up. You can sing, or play, two songs on busy nights, three songs on more moderate nights. There's a time limit too. The excellent host/soundman strictly enforces those limits.

I looked around the room with trepidation. My shamefully judgmental, image conscious nature escaped from its holding cell and expected disaster. The assembled crowd was not glamorous. I faced an old man whose mouth hung gaping open. An obese woman who yelled inappropriate things brushed her hair obsessively in front of me. A weird, super folky guy with a comb over prepared his harmonica and emotionally got in the spirit with thin blonde woman who was a dead ringer for the lead singer of the Muppets rock band (that's Janice, then, of the Electric Mayhem), but aged on another 30 years or so. Old people, street people, people with bizarre chins, all there waiting for their strange moment in the spotlight.

And, huzzah, everyone of them was good. Old people, crazy people, creepy people, they were all at least pretty damn good!

Take that!.... someone.

Out of every caricature came a person. The catalog of songs was deep. Songs that were covered were unpredictable in choice and approach, and the ones that were written, at their best, went so far as to approach greatness. People who could barely seem to talk could sing. No one abused their harmonica. And everyone could play guitar.

Everyone could play guitar.

And there we are saved and can stop bombing and assassinating the world. We are lost in the hegemony of our language, complacent in our cultural domination. We are smug in our power and psychotic wealth. We are weird, uncouth, self-destroying, and savage. But here, in America, every last one of us can play the guitar.

Take that, World.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Greatest In Service Day ever!

My library's In Service Day was pretty amazing, and the reason I'm only outlining my personal experience with the day, as opposed to telling you the full variety of options that were offered to everyone during the day, is in a desperate attempt to try and mitigate your inevitable jealousy. But even with my mitigation the cause is hopeless, you will be writhing in agony as you read this account, eating your own heart out from the inside. Sorry.

8:30:   I arrive promptly for the start of the day breakfast only to find the breakfast buffet is vacated. While bagels, doughnuts, and coffee are on offer, it turns out they have to be eaten on one's own time. Too many fine things are ahead of us for them to pay us to eat as well.

8:32:   I arrive in the program room two minutes late, juggling a half of a bagel and a large coffee. All eyes turn to me from the presentation. Are they thinking "What is wrong with people? What's so hard about showing up 15 minutes early?!" No. They are thinking "Help me. Please god help me."

8:32 - 9:45:   Opening "State of the Library" presentation by upper library management. The general gist of the presentation? "Libraries have been growing less popular over the past four years, but don't worry, we are fully committed to our plan to become more like community centers and less like libraries." Actually I'm kidding. That wasn't the gist, it was the entirety of the content.

9:45 - 10:   Chair moving.

10:00 - 12:30:   Assembled by name tag numbers into groups of six, we... nope, it's all gone. I remember writing stuff down on paper for our group, a sense of crushing despair, and I remember... nope, it's all gone. I can't possibly be expected to retain such rich content for a full 36 hours after the event!

12:30 - 1:30:   I abandoned the fast food box lunches that most people are perfectly happy with, but that fill me with rage and hatred, in order to go out to a nice lunch with Jim. Please see pictures on Jim's phone where the food, which was actually only moderately good, looks extremely delicious due to modern phone technology and Jim's growing skill at food photography.

1:30 - 2:30:  Bland, information free presentation on mental illness issues. This was cleverly planted into the middle of the day to make all the other presentations look scintillating by comparison. After the session let out I stared for ten minutes at the janitor closet door in a state of rapt wonder.

2:30 - 2:45:  Post session assimilation period (see above), followed by opportunity to horde small packages of nuts to snack on for the remainder of the week.

2:45 - 2:48:  I arrived fashionably late at the session on "Micro Aggression" to find that the presenter hadn't arrived, or was waylaid, or didn't feel like getting out of bed, and so was speaking to us from the Internet while we watched a giant screen of a computer doing nothing. A look of insulted disgust crossed my face and I said firmly "No." As I walked out I wondered if I was expressing a micro aggression.

2:48 - 3:45:   I squeezed into a crowded presentation on the last of our major library building projects.  That the library in question is going to look exactly like all libraries look these days was no news to me at all, but that we are cutting down so many trees to build this library that we have to pay blood money to the local municipality was strangely encouraging. It is the historical mission of libraries everywhere to kill trees.

3:45 - 4:30:   Branch meeting. It was resolved that we can do nothing about the smelliest patron we have ever had unless we can catch him in the act of peeing on one of our chairs. And it has to be an upholstered one. If we can just wipe it down it doesn't count.

4:30 - 4:45:   Wrap up. A tad awkward as we had done nothing of any note for the entire day. That can be hard to summarize! We were encouraged to help ourselves to any food that was left and to take it home with the blessings of the library administration. The remaining food consisted at that point of three unwrapped from the package Target "Archer Farms" muffins.  We were also richly instructed in the final chair moving procedures.

4:45 - 5:00:   Chair moving.

Sweet nothing.


Friday, October 23, 2015

Grape's birthday

The question is asked:

Why on this blog do we celebrate Grape's Birthday every year despite regularly celebrating no other occasion?

I don't know.

So the question is asked:

How do we celebrate Grape's Birthday?

We're not sure. Like this?

And sometimes, I am guessing, even Grape asks:

Who is Grape?

That is an interesting question! Going from my own experience I bet Grape finds it a very interesting question.

And when there are enough people gathered here, which occasionally there are, a few people ask:

Why should I care about this Grape's Birthday when I don't even know this Grape person or much of anything about him?

And that's when I suggest we all sing him the birthday song before we get headed in entirely the wrong direction.


Thursday, October 22, 2015

Jerry Lewis on the phone

People call the library from deep in their own worlds, and sometimes I get calls from the heart of raucous home lives, children wailing, groups of people arguing in unfamiliar languages, mysterious household sounds as if I am being called from a boiler room, the back of a long haul truck, or maybe a submarine. And who's to say I'm not being called from one of those places?

A short while ago I got a call from a calm woman who had what I took to be a baby or toddler in her arms or her lap. Whatever the creature was, it let off bizarre, ear-splitting, exquisitely timed yowls that made the woman sound deranged. Actually it made her sound sort of like Jerry Lewis.

"I just need the barcode number off your library card." I said.

"44285" She started evenly and clearly. "WERAAAAAAAGGGHHHHHYAAAAAAAA!!!!" She screamingly interjected. "00458." Then a bloodcurdling "BLEYAAAAAAGGGHHH!!!" Then "965." A screeching "RRRRRUAAAAAAGGGGHHH!!!!" and shortly after that the concluding "8321."

"Thank you." I replied as my liquified earwax dribbled, with traces of blood, out of my head.

But I don't know that there actually was a kid in her lap. I was just trying to come up with some kind of an explanation. She could have simply been sitting around watching The Nutty Professor over and over, getting ideas.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The little things

Oh, I have spiritual turmoil to discuss, deep stirrings of the soul, big issues, but not today! Just here, now, the world for a moment is deliciously smaller than all that...

The automated check in machine at my library ground a book into its rollers. It caught an edge of the book's curling paperback cover. It pulled that book down, and it chewed into the book. Alerted to the strange high squealing sounds such an incident produces, I headed to the rescue. One of my co-workers got to the book before me though and wrestled it out of the gentle but powerful, remorseless teeth of the machine. My co-worker smiled and held the book up to me like a trophy, and he let me read the title of the mangled book:


Tuesday, October 20, 2015


In an attempt to succor my uneasy spirit I took a walk to the heart of fall. The late afternoon was covered with a sleet sky, but leaves fell more than rain. It should have been a holiday out there. I suppose every day should be a holiday, but this one was the most colorful day of the year. That should be worth something special, shouldn't it? Spring can be full of color, but its lovely shades are relatively simple. Fall twists and turns in its colors. They go lurid and disappear and then become too strong for our eyes to see anymore. But the thing that always surprises me in the fall is that all those summer and spring colors are in there too. Purple and yellow flowers, fresh green leaves and grasses, the prairie is all still blooming right up to the frost. I picked a bright yellow flower out of a bank of a thousand of them and stuck it in the lapel of my long black coat. As I readied myself to scowl at anyone I ran into on my walk, or at least to studiously ignore them, they preemptively smiled sunnily at me, and I remembered my flower. Don't they know that the rain could fall anytime now?

The path hugs the edge of the river bluff. I scramble down a treacherous pitch to a short stream running towards the Mississippi. A giant cement pipe, overgrown and mossy, like something from the ruins of a civilization, runs down the center of it, and the broad top of it is the best place to walk. It is 90 percent wonderland down there, 10 percent wasteland. I come out on a wild bay of the river, with only a little garbage, and I watch the waves swirl in small, complicated patterns. Three ducks are there. We speak only polite acknowledgements. Tiny golden leaves fill the waters of the sheltered bay.

I climb a bluff full of rocks that are so convenient they are nearly stairs.  I am back on my ledge path over the river. We are before the part of fall where my feet are kicking musically through piles of crisp leaves, so my walk is quiet. The water of the river below backlights the fire colored leaves in a cool silver. I feel as if I am hallucinating. I am looking down into the sky.

I go back into my neighborhood; it is but five blocks from all of this to my house. I am talking to my blog the whole time. Out walking it is the same to me as thinking.

I open the door of my house and take off my shoes. I feel no different. My spirit continues tossing fitfully. But I have one bright yellow flower that I add to the vase on our dark brown table.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Letter to University President

Dear University President:

I often walk through the campus of your University. Most of the times that I do bring me along your Scholars' Walk. There I gaze upon the notable accomplishments, prizes, awards, and honors that have been bestowed upon your faculty. It's very interesting and an excellent credit to your historic Land Grant University. It also reflects well upon our state.  Well done!

Unfortunately though, I have noticed some thin spots in your walk of fame. Your obelisk for National Book Award winners has but one name on it, John Berryman, and the single date inscribed there is from almost 50 years ago now. Your list of MacArthur Fellows is only marginally better, maybe only two or three names. And while your Nobel Prize list is almost okay, there's no University in the world that couldn't stand a bit of embellishment in that category.

Fortunately I am here to help. I have an idea.

I have already more or less won a MacArthur Fellowship (I blush when people call it a genius grant). I am also in what I would describe as advanced talks with the Swedes for my Nobel Prize and kind of have an unofficial one already. And the only thing between me and a National Book Award at this point is publishing, which can be a bit tricky. The only real problem is how to link up myself and all my major awards with you and your Scholar's Walk so my successes can shine their bright light upon your University.

The first thing is simple. I'll need some kind of honorary doctorate. That's a good start, and we certainly don't need any especially fancy ceremony. The usual kind will do just as well, and I don't mind being lumped in with a few other honorary doctors for the economy of the thing. The next step is adding me to the faculty. I would need just a teeny tenured professor position. I suppose the English Department would be most appropriate. My job as a library clerk keeps me pretty busy, but Thursday is my free day and I could teach my class then. I was thinking of a sort of interdisciplinary arts class titled "A life in the arts with no commercial success whatsoever." I think kids today with their beards and their phones and their apocalyptic convictions would find such a class useful and interesting. I hate bragging, or slightly dislike it in specific situations, but I think I'd be quite good teaching this sort of thing. Experience is half the battle.

So let me know when you want to get started on all of this. The great thing about all my pending awards is that they're not exactly "official" yet, so if we get me all hooked up with your University promptly we can have no ethical compunctions when we start chiseling my name into all your obelisks.

Go Gophers!

F. Calypso

Sunday, October 18, 2015


Sometimes when a patron approaches me at the library they start with a telling introductory comment. Many of these introductory comments indicate something at profound odds with what they're saying. Indeed, they are reliable in their inaccuracy.


If a patron approaches me and says "I would just like..." I know with an astonishing amount of surety that what they are going to say is "I would just like to get a library card." This one is annoying because registering a library card is pretty far over on the more irksome side of my job tasks. It's also full of steps. There's no "just" about it. Your car is fine. We just need to rebuild the engine.

Similar to the "just" issue is an interaction I had on the phone a couple hours ago. The patron introduced her needs by saying "I have a really weird request." I have learned from long experience that, sadly, there is never anything weird about a request prefaced this way. They are invariably commonplace, generally annoying, and then made more annoying by the disappointment of their not being weird after all. It turned out she had an item on hold that was expiring and she wanted to know if she could be put back on the list for the item. I guess that would be weird if she wanted to do that every ten days for all eternity and change her name to Dracula, but she didn't.

On the other hand when people ask me for a "really big favor" at the library I am home free. "I have a really big favor to ask." They say. "Do you have a scrap of paper?"

Why, yes, I do. Here, but you owe me.

Saturday, October 17, 2015


There is a longtime volunteer here at my library that I have written about before. Due to what I guess one would call developmental disabilities, her repertoire has certain limitations. Nevertheless she is very affable and I'm always happy to see her. Mostly what she says to me involves "the corner". She seems to have a wide definition of what constitutes a corner; a section of the cubicle where we process requests and answer phones, a computer over by the printer, or even occasional areas that just happen to be in the general vicinity of a wall. And what she says to me by way of introduction is something like:

"What are you doin' in the corner! You're in the corner again!" 

This is unless I am somewhere that cannot be considered by her to be a corner, in which case she says:

"You're out of the corner! Who let you out of the corner?" 

My disabilities are different than hers. And I am not keen to repeat witticisms. So one day our conversation goes like this:

Her: "What are you doin' in the corner! You're in the corner again!"
Me: "I know! I'm like a spider or something!"

And the next day it goes like this:

Her: "You're out of the corner! Who let you out of the corner?"
Me: "Thank God! I was starting to mildew!"

And the next day it goes like this:

Her: "What are you doin' in the corner! You're in the corner again!"
Me: "You think this is a corner? You should see the corner they just let me out of!"

And then the next day our conversation goes like this:

Her: "You're out of the corner! Who let you out of the corner?"
Me: "I finally found the right palms to grease."

And on and on it goes. 

Part of me worries that one day I'm going to run out of new responses, that one day she'll say something about the corner and I'll just stand there stammering. But the greater part of me understands that it doesn't so much matter what I say. I merely need to play my part.


Friday, October 16, 2015

Crisis in readership, day 42

As you know clerkmanifesto has been experiencing a readership deficit causing our revenues to drop from a 24 hour pro rated 0.00 USD to an alarming minus 0.012 EUR adjusting for transfer fees and international taxes. To rectify the issue our first plan was to explore established print publishing venues. After composing hundreds of queries we ran into what I call the stamp problem. I was unable to send my print queries without stamps. So I immediately composed several letters to likely Grants Foundations asking for stamp money. Unfortunately, in a classic Catch 22, I needed stamps to send those letters as well! Being enormously resilient, I came up with a new plan. I decided I would bypass the print media and query all 7 billion people on earth, taking the problem directly to the people. But as I was writing these people I suddenly felt tawdry, like a beggar. I thought I could perhaps be doing something more noble, so I sacrificed my immediate needs on the altar of the greater good, and, directly in contact with every human on earth, I advocated for the improvement of human kind. Plus I needed stamps to send those letters anyway.

So we were back to square one.

And that's where readers like you stepped in! Anonymous wrote: "What can I do to help?"

Before I could even respond to that, Anonymous wrote: "What can I do to help?" This might have been the same "Anonymous" having problems posting a comment on my blog, perhaps with their phone, or due to glitchy Internet, and so it was conceivably a duplicate comment. But as I was pondering this I received another message. Anonymous wrote: "What can I do to help?"

Yes, this could still have been the same person again, but because "anonymous" represents a random person out of billions, the odds had to be astronomical for one "anonymous" to be the exact same as another "anonymous". Therefore, I determined, three different people were looking to help. And it is a well known fact that any Internet comment is the mere tip of the iceberg. One comment almost invariably reflects on many more readers feeling the same way.

So, many of you would like to help. Many of you would like to know what you can do?

What can you do?

Nothing. You are all wonderful just as you are.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Naturalist of the library

There is a book I have loved called The Tracker. It is a true story, sort of, but then aren't they all, of a boy growing up in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey and his journey of learning how to read nature and to survive in any wild situation on his skills alone. There is big fat red quote by the author, Tom Brown, on the back cover:

"When someone moves something in your house, you notice it. When somebody moves something in the woods, I notice it."

Though I loved the book this emblematic quote never fully resonated with me because the "you" didn't manage to apply to me. I am not terribly alert to people moving things in my house. I'm pretty sure sometimes things in my house move of their own accord. And when they do I'm not all that clear on what happened.

So the quote just sat there, waiting for its personal revelation. A year, five years, ten, twenty, and then suddenly one night I was at the library, working again, tracing down some infinitesimal sin of one of my co-workers: a misplaced scissors, a wrong date, an abandoned cart, and finally, after these many years, that lightning bolt struck.

I am a naturalist, a survivor, a tracker of the library workroom.

This is where I have eeked out my living, attuned to every detail. I know the footprints of my co-workers, the meaning of every item left lying around, the tell tale signs of the computer screens and their open tabs. I know whose initials have been casually withheld from that unhelpful note. I know who's doing their job well enough, and I know every tiny corner someone cut in their workload and left in a box for the next person to deal with.

The staff at my library is undergoing a notable downgrading. Good solid people are leaving, or have been, and many of the new hires have serious problems and deficiencies. So the woods of the backroom of the library are a small chaos for those who can read the signs. It's like there was a snowfall and now endless tracks are everywhere. I can read a thousand stories a day at the library, none of them in books, following the tracks to some laziness, some cleverness, or some small, bloody disaster splattered into the snow. They are all stories of a days work. 

There are not many of us left who can read this environment in such detail. If you look around you can probably spot us if you look for those of us muttering bitterly under our breath. We have been there for years now, ever students even as we become masters. We are tracking every tiny movement and disturbance, knowing that only our furious knowledge, after all these years, can keep us alive.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Dear human of earth

Mass mailing, with small revisions, to each human on earth, template:

Dear Human Being:

If you are receiving this letter it is because you are a living human currently alive in the universe. Good work. Life is not easy and people are dead all the time. None of those dead people are receiving this letter.

A cartoon character named Linus Van Pelt, who carried a security blanket at all times, once said: "I love mankind, it's people I can't stand."

I have been mulling this over for the past 42 years. As clever and perfect as I have always wanted this witty quote to be, whenever I try and work out this bit of philosophy for myself I always come up with the opposite:

I love people, it's mankind I can't stand.

And this is why I am contacting you individually as opposed to just putting up a message on billboards, or really using any kind of mass communication. TV, computer posting, Movies, Radio, Print, Recordings are all methods of communicating to mankind. I just wanted to talk to you.

Originally my reason was to mention my blog to you. But now that it comes down to it that seems ridiculous. You will not care for my blog. If I am going to go to the trouble to contact every last human being on earth I am not going to waste my one opportunity on marketing, something that I am terrible at anyway. Oh how marketing vexes me!

No, I want to do good!

And so I want to tell you something. It's going to sound strange. You haven't really heard it before. It could go very badly. But I feel it's your only chance:

You've got to find some way to stop working together with others.

Just think about it, okay?

Thank you for your time,

F. Calypso

Wokondedwa wokhalapo:

Ngati mukulandira kalatayi ndi chifukwa ndinu munthu wamoyo panopa moyo m'chilengedwe chonse. Yabwino. Moyo n'kovuta ndi anthu akufa nthawi zonse. Palibe anthu akufa anthu akulandira kalata.

A zojambula khalidwe dzina lake Linus Van kuponya, onyamula chitetezo bulangeti nthawi zonse, anati: "Ndimakonda anthu, ndi anthu sindingathe kuima."

Ndakhala mulling izi kwa zaka 42 zapitazi. Ngati chili ndi changwiro monga ine nthawizonse ndinkafuna izi zoseketsa amagwira kukhala, pamene ine kuyesa ntchito imeneyi pang'ono nzeru ndekha ine nthawi zonse ndi zosiyana:

Ndimkonda anthu, ndi anthu sindingathe kuima.

Ndipo izi N'chifukwa chake ndikukulamula kulankhula payekha, monga kuyenera kulolerana uthenga zikwangwani, kapena kwenikweni ntchito mtundu uliwonse wa mawailesi. TV, kompyuta lolemba, Movies, Radio, Sindikizani, Recordings onse njira amalankhulira anthu. Ine ndimangofuna kuti ndiyankhule kwa inu.

Poyamba wanga chifukwa anali kutchula angawo kwa inu. Koma tsopano kuti wotsika kuti zikuoneka kupusa. Simungathe kusamalira wanga blog. Ngati ine ndikupita ntchito yovuta kulankhula aliyense otsiriza munthu padziko lapansi sindilola kuwononga wanga wina mwayi pa malonda, chinachake chimene ine ndine yoopsa pa mulimonse. O momwe malonda vexes ine!

Ayi, ine ndikufuna kuchita zabwino!

Ndipo chotero ine ndikufuna kuti ndikuuzeni inu chinachake. Iwo kudzamveka zachilendo. Inu ayi anamva izo kale. Iwo akanakhoza kupita kwambiri mavuto. Koma ndikuona kuti ichi ndi mwayi wanu wokhawo:

Inu muyenera kupeza njira kusiya kugwira ntchito limodzi ndi ena.

Tangoganizani za izo, zabwino?

Zikomo chifukwa nthawi,

F. Calypso Nyimbo

אויב איר זענען ריסיווינג דעם בריוו עס איז ווייַל איר זענט אַ לעבעדיק מענטש איצט לעבעדיק אין די אַלוועלט. גוט אַרבעט. לעבן איז נישט גרינג און מענטשן זענען טויט אַלע די צייַט. קיין פון די טויט מענטשן זענען ריסיווינג דעם בריוו.

אַ קאַרטון כאַראַקטער געהייסן לינוס וואַן פּעלט, וואס געטראגן אַ זיכערהייַט קאָלדרע אין אַלע צייטן, אַמאָל געזאגט: "איך ליבע מענטשהייַט, עס ס מענטשן איך קען ניט שטיין."

איך האב שוין מוללינג דעם איבער פֿאַר די פאַרגאַנגענהייַט 42 יאר. ווי קלוג און גאנץ ווי איך האָבן שטענדיק געוואלט דעם וויציק ציטירן צו זיין, ווען איך פּרובירן און אַרבעט אויס דעם ביסל פון פֿילאָסאָפֿיע פֿאַר זיך איך שטענדיק קומען אַרויף מיט די פאַרקערט:

איך ליבע מענטשן, עס ס מענטשהייַט איך קענען ניט שטיין.

און דעם איז וואָס איך בין קאַנטאַקטינג איר ינדיווידזשואַלי ווי קעגן צו נאָר פּאַטינג אַרויף אַ אָנזאָג אויף בילבאָרדז, אָדער טאַקע ניצן קיין סאָרט פון מאַסע קאָמוניקאַציע. טעלעוויזיע, קאָמפּיוטער פּאָסטינג, קינאָ, ראַדיאָ, דרוקן, רעקאָרדינגס זענען אַלע מעטהאָדס פון קאַמיונאַקייטינג צו מענטשהייַט. איך נאָר געוואלט צו רעדן צו איר.

אָריגינאַללי מיין סיבה איז געווען צו דערמאָנען מיין בלאָג צו איר. אבער איצט אַז עס קומט אַראָפּ צו עס אַז מיינט לעכערלעך. איר וועט ניט זאָרגן פֿאַר מיין בלאָג. אויב איך בין געגאנגען צו גיין צו די צרה צו קאָנטאַקט יעדער לעצט מענטש אויף ערד איך בין נישט געגאנגען צו וויסט מיין איין געלעגנהייט אויף פֿאַרקויף, עפּעס אַז איך בין שרעקלעך אין סייַ ווי סייַ. טאַקע ווי אָפּזעצערייַ וועקסעס מיר!

ניין, איך ווילן צו טאָן גוט!

און אַזוי איך ווילן צו זאָגן איר עפּעס. עס ס געגאנגען צו געזונט מאָדנע. איר האָבן ניט טאַקע געהערט עס איידער. עס קען גיין זייער באַדלי. אבער איך פילן עס ס אייער בלויז געלעגנהייַט:

איר ווע גאַט צו געפֿינען עטלעכע וועג צו האַלטן ארבעטן צוזאַמען מיט אנדערע.

נאָר טראַכטן וועגן אים, אָוקיי?

דאנק איר פֿאַר אייער צייַט,

עף קאַליפּסאָ

Tokotaha Human here:

Ki te whiwhi koe i tenei pukapuka ko te reira no te mea he koe i te tangata ora i tēnei wā e ora i roto i te ao. Mahi pai. E kore te mea ngāwari te ora, me te he mate te iwi i te wa katoa. Tetahi o aua iwi mate e te fariiraa i tenei pukapuka.

He pūāhua cartoon, ko Rinuha Van Pelt, nana nei kawea he paraikete haumarutanga i nga wa katoa, kotahi mea: "E aroha ana ahau te taata, te reira te iwi e kore e taea e ahau te tu."

Kua mulling ahau tenei mo mo te 42 tau o mua. Rite tupato, me te tino rite ki ahau kua hiahia tonu tenei faahitiraa atamai ki hei, te wa e tamata e ahau, ka mahi i roto i tenei wahi o te kaupapa hoki ahau i haere mai ahau i nga wa katoa ake ki te ritenga:

Aroha ana ahau ki te iwi, te reira te taata e kore e taea e ahau te tu.

Na tenei te aha ahau whakapā ahau ki a koutou fakafo'ituitui rite te ātete ki te tika maka ana ake he karere tu'uakí, ranei te tino whakamahi i te ahua o te kōrero papatipu tetahi. TV, posting rorohiko, Movies, Radio, Tā, Pūkete he tikanga katoa o whakawhitiwhiti ki te taata. Ahau noa hiahia ki te kōrero ki a koutou.

Te tīmatanga ko toku take ki te whakahua i toku blog ki a koutou. Tena ko tenei e haere mai ki raro ki reira e mea wawau. E kore koe e whai whakaaro ki toku rangitaki. Haere Ki te mea e haere ana ahau ki te haere ki te raruraru ki te whakapā atu nga te tangata whakamutunga i runga i te whenua ahau e kore ahau e ki te ururua toku kotahi faingamālie runga i te hokohoko, te tahi mea e ahau e wehingia ana i tonu. Aue pehea marketing vexes ahau!

Kahore, e ahau e hiahia ana ki te mahi i te pai!

A na e hiahia ana ahau ki te korero ki a koutou te tahi mea. Te haere ki te tangi ke. Kihai i rongo tino e koe te reira i te aroaro o. I taea e haere te reira i tino kino. Ko ite e ahau te reira koutou tupono anake:

Kua ka koe ki te kitea te tahi ara ki te mutu te mahi tahi ki ētahi atu.

Feruri noa e pā ana ki reira, pai?

Mauruuru no to outou wa,

F. Calypso

પ્રિય માનવી:

તમે આ પત્ર પ્રાપ્ત થાય છે, તો તમે એક વસવાટ કરો છો માનવ હાલમાં બ્રહ્માંડમાં જીવંત છે કારણ કે તે છે. સારા કામ. જીવન સરળ નથી અને લોકો બધા સમય મૃત છે. તે મૃત લોકો કંઈ આ પત્ર પ્રાપ્ત કરવામાં આવે છે.

બધા સમયે એક સુરક્ષા ધાબળો ધરવામાં જે લિનસ વાન પેલ્ટ નામની કાર્ટૂન પાત્ર, એક વાર કહ્યું: "હું માનવજાત પ્રેમ, તે હું નથી ઊભા કરી શકે લોકો છે."

હું છેલ્લા 42 વર્ષ માટે આ પર mulling કરવામાં આવી છે. હું હંમેશા ઇચ્છતા હોય છે હું હંમેશા વિરોધી સાથે આવે છે પ્રયાસ કરો અને મારી જાતને માટે ફિલસૂફી આ બીટ બહાર કામ જ્યારે હોંશિયાર અને સંપૂર્ણ આ વિનોદી ભાવ હોઈ:

હું તેને હું નથી ઊભા કરી શકે માનવજાત, લોકો પ્રેમ.

અને આ હું વ્યક્તિગત રીતે વિરોધ તરીકે તમે સંપર્ક કરી રહ્યો છું ફક્ત બિલબોર્ડ પર એક સંદેશ મૂકવા માટે, અથવા ખરેખર લોકસંપર્ક કોઇ પણ પ્રકારના ઉપયોગ શા માટે છે. ટીવી, કોમ્પ્યુટર પોસ્ટ, ચલચિત્રો, રેડિયો, પ્રિન્ટ, રેકોર્ડિંગ્સ માનવજાત માટે વાતચીત તમામ પદ્ધતિઓ છે. હું માત્ર તમે વાત કરવા માગે છે.

મૂળ મારા કારણ કે તમે મારા બ્લોગ ઉલ્લેખ હતો. પરંતુ હવે તે હાસ્યાસ્પદ લાગે છે કે નીચે આવે છે. તમે મારા બ્લોગ માટે કાળજી નહીં. હું પૃથ્વી પર દરેક છેલ્લા મનુષ્ય સંપર્ક કરવા માટે મુશ્કેલી પર જવા માટે જાઉં છું, તો હું માર્કેટિંગ પર મારા એક તક, હું કોઈપણ રીતે ભયંકર છું કે કંઈક કચરો નથી જઈ રહ્યો છું. ઓહ મને કેવી રીતે માર્કેટિંગ vexes!

ના, હું સારું કરવા માંગો છો!

અને તેથી હું તમને કંઈક કહેવું કરવા માંગો છો. તે વિચિત્ર અવાજ રહ્યું છે. તમે ખરેખર તે પહેલાં સાંભળ્યું ન હોય. તે ખૂબ જ ખરાબ જાઓ શકે છે. પરંતુ હું તે તમારા માત્ર તક છે લાગે:

તમે અન્ય લોકો સાથે મળીને કામ કરવાનું બંધ કરવા માટે કેટલાક માર્ગ શોધવા માટે મળી છે.

જસ્ટ ઠીક છે, તે વિશે વિચારો છો?

તમારા સમય માટે આભાર,

એફ કેલિપ્સો

 Annwyl Being Human:

Os ydych yn derbyn y llythyr hwn, mae'n oherwydd eich bod yn byw dynol yn fyw yn y bydysawd ar hyn o bryd. Gwaith da. Nid yw bywyd yn hawdd ac mae pobl yn marw drwy'r amser. Nid yw'r un o'r bobl wedi marw rheini yn derbyn y llythyr hwn.

Dywedodd gymeriad cartŵn o'r enw Linus Van Pelt, a gynhaliodd blanced diogelwch bob amser, unwaith: "Rwyf wrth fy modd dynolryw, mae'n pobl nad wyf yn gallu sefyll."

Rwyf wedi bod yn mulling dros hwn ar gyfer y 42 mlynedd diwethaf. Fel glyfar ac yn berffaith gan fy mod wedi bod eisiau y dyfynbris ffraeth i fod, pryd bynnag yr wyf yn ceisio gweithio allan ychydig hwn o athroniaeth i mi fy hun yr wyf bob amser yn dod i fyny gyda y gwrthwyneb:

Dwi wrth fy modd i bobl, mae'n ddynoliaeth Nid wyf yn gallu sefyll.

A dyma pam yr wyf yn cysylltu â chi yn unigol yn hytrach na dim ond rhoi i fyny neges ar hysbysfyrddau, neu mewn gwirionedd yn defnyddio unrhyw fath o gyfathrebu torfol. Teledu, postio cyfrifiadur, Ffilmiau, Radio, Print, Recordiadau i gyd yn ddulliau o gyfathrebu i ddynolryw. Fi jyst eisiau siarad â chi.

Yn wreiddiol fy rheswm oedd sôn am fy blog i chi. Ond yn awr ei fod yn dod i lawr iddo sy'n ymddangos yn hurt. Ni fyddwch yn gofalu am fy blog. Os ydw i'n mynd i fynd i'r drafferth i gysylltu pob bod dynol olaf ar y ddaear nad wyf yn mynd i wastraff fy un cyfle ar farchnata, rhywbeth yr wyf yn ofnadwy o beth bynnag. O mor marchnata vexes fi!

Na, yr wyf am ei wneud yn dda!

Ac felly yr wyf am ddweud rhywbeth wrthych. Mae'n mynd i swnio'n rhyfedd. Nid ydych wedi clywed o'r blaen mewn gwirionedd. Gallai fynd yn ddrwg iawn. Ond yr wyf yn teimlo ei fod yn eich unig gyfle:

Mae'n rhaid i chi ddod o hyd i ffordd i roi'r gorau i weithio gydag eraill.

Dim ond meddwl am y peth, iawn?

Diolch i chi am eich amser,

F. Calypso


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Note to my eleven readers

A note to my eleven readers:

I have said in the past that my goal for acquiring readership is plus one minus one, that is, I hope to, roughly, gain or lose a reader with every post. Unfortunately I have found that I consistently lose one reader, but my last new reader is from March, 2013 (welcome!). This has created a crisis in readership.

This crisis drove me to study the matter scientifically. So first I exposed three additional readers to my blog and found, cumulatively as regards all readers, I lost one reader. Then I introduced ten readers to my blog and lost one reader. This was followed by tracking down a hundred readers, whereupon I lost one, then, with difficulty, a thousand readers, and again I lost a single reader from where I started. Better mathematicians than I would have felt hopeless at this point. But I am not actually a mathematician at all. I am a writer! So I decided, based on my research, that what I needed to do was show my blog to all seven billion people on planet earth.

How does one contact all seven billion people on earth? I was thinking via the personal letter. But since it could take me months, even years, to write seven billion personal letters I thought it might be better to write one letter and maybe just change up tiny parts of it for everyone. Tomorrow I'll show you my letter. I'm merely warning you now so that you don't panic when you see that it's an incredibly long letter. Don't worry! It's just long because it includes 1,346 different languages. I will put your native language at the top. You won't be missing out if you can't read in any of the other 1,345 languages. They are merely translations.

You are also probably wondering how I will get seven billion stamps, most of them of the more expensive international variety. Easy. I will ask the USPS to give them to me. There is a tiny part of me that is insanely optimistic. Because my cause is just I believe that one day people are going to start giving me stuff, important, supportive, essential, and useful stuff, like billions of dollars worth of stamps.

Hopefully that will include envelopes as well.

Monday, October 12, 2015

A third follow up letter to the editor

Dear Editor,

Thank you for your kind words regarding my submission to you. It means a lot to me that you thought well of my writing and found it amusing, or interesting, or entertaining, despite it not meeting your publications needs. And before I go any further I'd like to acknowledge that your heart is in the right place to take the time to respond, to encourage, and to speak well of what I sent despite the fact that we won't be working together.

Unfortunately there is one small problem.

I have a 32 year history of artistic rejection.

I'm not blaming you in particular. I'm not even going to try and talk you into anything. After all, my history of not being able to talk people into things goes back even farther than my history of artistic rejection. I think it goes back about 45 years. I only try to talk people into things now out of sheer reflex or, more commonly, for the comedy of it.

What I'm trying to tell you is that I wrote this letter to you before you wrote yours. That's how familiar a scenario your letter is to me. I know I'm a bit of a loose cannon. I know I'm not the sort of person people in positions of responsibility and authority take crazy chances on.

I understand. You may even be unusually openhearted, a little wise. And you may read this and think. "Yes, you're an okay writer, I guess, I laughed, but seriously, you have to do things the right way. If you did things the right way maybe I'd give you a chance."

Ah, if only I could. If only I could.

Thank you again for your kind words. You may hear from me again if I can't help it. What a world, eh?


F. Calypso