Thursday, November 30, 2017

200 Reviews of Rome: Orso 80

Orso 80


2 Stars

First of all, I'd like to apologize to Orso 80. I had a really lovely five days off from work and it was so great hanging out with my wife and going for long walks that when it came time to go back to work I just felt...


Just, you know, generally, mad.

So I needed someone quick to take it out on. But probably it would be better if it wasn't a co-worker, or a patron, or someone like that. And what more is there to say about Republicans, even if they richly deserve it. And if I take it out on the Refs of La Liga, the Spanish Soccer League, it'll all get too emotional.

And that's when Orso 80 popped into my mind.

The sad thing about Orso 80 is we went there more than a decade ago, and though it wasn't great, or even terribly good, they brought all these large bowls of food to our table, vegetables, meatballs, stuffed things, tomatoey things, and it was charming. It was like our own personal buffet on our own personal table. A buffet without shuffling around and mixing with the hoi polloi! We were delighted.

I'm not big on the hoi polloi.

So one night in Rome last year I said "Let's go to Orso 80 for dinner." It was down the street from us, sort of, and just opening for the night. Lots of people were waiting to get in. Almost all at once we were all seated, and almost all at once we filled the restaurant. There was even a strange sense of occasion to it.

They brought us water, wine, menus.

Do you ever go to a restaurant and you look at the menu and absolutely nothing appeals to you? But then, just before you start to panic, just before you have to start inventing an interest in something, you see it. Right there on the menu is exactly what you want but didn't even know you wanted. Unanticipated, unexpected, it is exactly what you were dreaming of eating, the perfect thing for dinner.

This happened to me at Orso 80!

It was the swordfish, cooked Sicilian style. That sounds good doesn't it? I don't remember what "Sicilian Style" meant. I think maybe it had to do with lemons and pine nuts, maybe? Whatever. I was very excited, and unusually certain about my perfect choice.

My wife had lamb, I think. I got some appetizer that I thought would precede the exciting swordfish in a complimentary way. The waiter brought the antipasti, and then the waiter said "We don't have any swordfish. What would you like instead?"

What would I like instead?

What would I like instead?

I would like to give Orso 80 two out of five stars.

And I'd like to be spending today at home with my wife.

Thank you for asking.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Bullshit sale wednesday!

On Black Friday you saw our biggest discount of the year, 30% off! We only offer a huge discount like that on the most special and outrageous occasions! Black Friday was that unique occasion. But you may foolishly have hesitated or missed it and were full of self-recrimination and bitter regret.

Fortunately, on Small Business Saturday we let you know, through six emails, that we were offering an amazing 30% off! This is the biggest sale that we offer all year, and it was a great opportunity for you to support small businesses like ours.

But you might have been busy, or missed our emails on Small Business Saturday. Thank goodness then for Cyber Monday. We know there was a lot of excitement and anticipation for Cyber Monday and we played it up a lot with our mailings to you, and ads, and emails, especially seeing as we are a "Cyber" venue. So after all of that we didn't want to let you down. And I don't think we did because on Cyber Monday we offered our very biggest sale of the year, a full 30% off!

I'm guessing you grabbed up one of these frankly unbelievable and unique and generous deals. But what if you didn't? Did you miss out? Is it all too late, and is the season of specials over?

Ha! No! Even better, you are being rewarded for your patience and discipline despite temptation because today is:

Bullshit Sale Wednesday!

It is our biggest sale of the year! Thirty percent off!

That's right, you heard me correctly. Thirty percent off of everything! You can't do better than Bullshit Sale Wednesday.

Sales like this don't come around here everyday, that's for sure!

Pinch yourself all you like, it's real.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

A not terribly famous quote

"There is no one we hate more than those who tell us the truth we don't want to know."

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Um, excuse me."


"That quote is not by Ralph Waldo Emerson."

"Henry David Thoreau?"

"Er, no, sorry."



"Dickens, Shakespeare, Austen, Bronte?"

"Sorry, but..."

"Yogi Berra?"

"No, it's..."

"Zig Ziglar? Myley Cyrus? Bjork? Abraham Lincoln? J. K. Rowling? Madeline Albright? W. H. Auden?"

"No. No, no, no, no, no."


"No. It's, er, not by anyone."

"You bastard."

Monday, November 27, 2017

Trying to fix things with time

Not long ago I discovered that the elevator at the library I work at travels not just between floors, but it can go to any time of the day that I want! I was thrilled by this, and full of wonderful ideas of how it could work to my advantage. Sadly, none of them played out like I hoped. Maybe it was just me, or maybe the real problem was that what I really want on any day is just to go home and hang out with my wife. Maybe this simple fact doomed all the adjustments I'd try to make in my day: More lunch! More reading! Only work when I want! Correct mistakes that dampen my spirit! Skip the day altogether! None of this turned out to be very good for me, and the "me" occupying any of the time I tried to skip over turned out to be a real self-centered jerk who could not be trusted and, worse, wrote really bad blog posts.

So I resolved only to go back in time, never forward. But this just made the day longer, so I hardly ever used the elevator anymore at all, except to go between floors.

But this afternoon I was hungry, so I took a break to make a salad and eat it before shelving in fiction. I was in the back corner behind the phones and just as I was finishing up one of my managers popped up out of nowhere to chirpily cry out "Are you going to do any shelving?"

Harry Potter fans take note: Yes, this manager has a touch of Dolores Umbridge to her.

"Of course." I replied. "I'm just finishing a break."

"Well of course." She said, with what surely was a touch of asperity.

I raced to the elevator, not to shelve, but to roll time back. I got out and before I could go anywhere there she was.

"Are you going to do any shelving?" She asked.

I got back in the elevator and went back to the start of the hour. But now I was hungry again. I made a salad quickly and ducked into a hidden room. Finishing quickly I waited for the coast to clear. Silently I slipped out of my secret spot and...

"Are you going to do any shelving?" 


I went to the start of the hour again. I ignored my grumbling stomach and raced over to one of the shelving carts. I tripped over an untied shoelace and fell to the ground. I was okay. I tied my shoe and...

"Are you going to do any shelving?"  

"No." I replied, exhausted.

"No?" She asked. "You are scheduled to shelve."

"I'd prefer not."

"You prefer not?"

"I prefer not."

And then slowly I walked back to the elevator, out of ideas.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Mysterious co-worker

In the work area of the library where I am employed there are two private staff bathrooms. Both are located down an out of the way hallway that dead ends in a rarely used shower room. When one enters this hallway these bathrooms are to the left, and to the right is a sort of space tucked behind the hall entry where we used to unadvisedly keep the staff lockers but where we now just store... stuff. 

When I walk into this hallway heading off to, well, you know, I am surprised by a dark, looming figure standing creepily in the corner to my right. My heart jumps, skips, stutters. Is some mentally unstable co-worker waiting to leap at me as I'm going to the bathroom?


One of the things stored in this space, hidden behind that small bit of entry wall, is some kind of folding contraption, maybe used for a portable library that my system is temporarily and inexplicably interested in. The contraption is wrapped up in a case. It all looks like a cello maybe, or even a bass as a professional musician would travel with, but with some extra stuff packed into it. If one looks at it directly it doesn't look much like a person of any kind, but if one is going to the bathroom, and thinking about other things, and sees it out of the corner of one's eye, it looks a lot like a mugger, or a bogey, or a sinister spectral figure of doom.

So my heart stops. "Yike!" I cry out inside. Or maybe more like "Aghh!" with a shiver.

Oh, it's just the bag, the bag that has been there for a year or two. The bag that I have seen 600 times.

One would think I would remember it. One would think I would grow accustomed after being startled 600 times.


It's "Aghh!" with a shiver every time.

After 300 times I thought maybe it was something to do with me, how could I not learn and remember this illusion and fright no matter how many times I have experienced it? But after 600 times I no longer blame myself.

I have learned.

That bag is up to something. I blame the bag.

Saturday, November 25, 2017


After the feast of Thanksgiving, and then a day to wallow through the leftovers, one invariably comes to Saturday. That's today! And after that little holiday break you had from the Internet you open up a a nice search engine, you know, like Alta Vista, to type in your inevitable search:

"What do I do with all my turkey leftovers?"

And you see the number one hit: Turkenstein, from clerkmanifesto.

That's where you are right now!

I'm here to help. This is not your everyday turkey leftover recipe. This is a turkey recipe that acknowledges the truth of your situation: there is nothing that can make turkey palatable to you right now. No, this is a recipe that answers a higher calling. That's why it is so popular on many of America's most heavily used web search engines, like Alta Vista, which is my personal favorite.



Leftover caracass
Leftover meats
Gluey stuffing
Needle and thread
Run over squirrel (head in tact)
Lightning rod or light socket

Molding your Turkenstein:

Fill a metal pan with a half inch of water. Place the remains of your turkey carcass in it.

Place your run over squirrel into the rib cage of the turkey with his in tact head in the place of a turkey's head.

Using meat and gluey stuffing simulate the shape of your bird as well as you can.

Bind and shape further with lots of gauze.

Sew it together in any places that seem to be leaking or falling apart.

Wrap freely in wire making sure wire connects at some point with squirrel brain.

Connect wire on long line to lightning rod in lightning storm. If there is no storm coming you can try to wire directly to a socket.


This is dangerous, so you should perhaps call over your hunchbacked assistant Igor. You do this by calling out 

"Igor! We must make this turkey live again. The secrets of death mock us!"

Igor will reply "Yes Master." And then he will attend to the electrical hook-ups.

Cry out "Igor! NOW!"

Igor will flood your creation with electricity.

Nothing will happen.

Cry out "NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" Sobbing and pounding your fists into the turkenstein monstrosity.

Igor will say "Master, it moves!"

You will not hear him in your grief.

"Master it moves."

Look at your creation, Turkenstein. It looks back at you. "Gobble." It says.

Look at Igor, who will give you an encouraging look. Look back at Turkenstein.

"Gobble." It says.

Cry out "IT LIVES! My creation lives!" Laughing madly hug Igor.

"You are a genius." Igor will say.

Celebrate for hours.

Open the door and set Turkenstein free.

"Farewell Turkenstein." You and Igor will say, waving as Turkenstein wanders off into your neighborhood to frolic and mingle with the villagers.

"Gobble." Turkenstein will say as he waddles away.

"Good work." You will say to Igor.

"Thank you Master." Igor will reply.

Shed a little tear with Igor over the loss of Turkenstein and begin the long, eleven month wait for the glorious holiday where you will all be reunited.

Let me know how your recipe goes in the comments below!

Friday, November 24, 2017

More tricks with time

The elevator at the library I work at no longer simply serves the mundane purpose of traveling between floors, but now it also allows me to freely travel at will throughout the time of day! I have been using this miraculous ability to eat more lunches (nice, but only fun for a bit), read a lot of books (there is ever the problem of finding good ones though, even in a large library!), and, by timing my bursts of industry, impress people with my dedicated work ethic (no one has noticed). Wary of wishing my life away I have not used the elevator to whisk through the day. Instead I have used it to accentuate, deepen, and repeat the more appealing aspects of the day while skipping over the less palatable parts.

At first this seemed to be working pretty well. But then I started noticing that something was going wrong with the time I was skipping. I'm pretty sure, for instance, that I have been shelving books randomly for instance, or just very badly. Also, once I came out of the elevator after going forward in time an hour and casually said hi to one of the automation services guys.

"You know what?" He said. "Screw you."

What was that about?

If I'm not there living that hour of my life, who exactly is? I'm finding my personal dishes dirty in the sink, money missing from my wallet, and tasks I'm responsible for untended. In fact I started jumping forward only 55 minutes so I could take care of the increasingly horrible messes I was leaving at the end of my hour shifts. Once I had to go back to the start of the day to get rid of a tattoo I'd gotten, on my bicep, of a sports car. Why would I get a tattoo of a sports car?

Also I started finding blog notes. Sometimes when I'm working I'll jot down blog posts or blog ideas on post-its I always keep in my pocket. After going forward in time to miss some shelving or something I'll take a peek at my post-its. It appears I have been writing blog posts in my invisible hours. They are not very good.

Here's one:


By Feldenstein Calypso

Shelving sucks, and it's boring. I don't see why I should have to do it. Fuck you.

Yes, that's all. They don't tend to be very long and I think that was, sadly, one of the best ones I wrote. Was it a message to me? My blog posts are usually better than that, aren't they? So again, who am I that I don't remember? It's beginning to freak me out.

And that's just it, this whole time traveling elevator seemed like an absolute miracle at first, a gift from god. Only, step by step, it has become a tangle of problems.

Oh well, that's... life, a miracle at first, then a tangle of problems.

And back, and forth, and back again.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving Day, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving Day 2018! 

As is our custom here, I'd like to share what I'm thankful for this year. And there's plenty of it. Wow, what a year.

First of all I am thankful for my wife, who makes my life worth living.

I am thankful for my MacArthur Genius Grant. I know I've made a lot of jokes about winning grants and awards like that, but I am truly shocked and humbled by this and really thought all those jokes were truly jokes. This has been amazing.

Of course, I am also thankful for my lottery victory. What a huge surprise. I can already say that a lot of money doesn't solve life's problems, but it can, used carefully, really sweeten them up a bit.

I am thankful that I lived to see our first contact with the aliens, and am especially thankful they turned out to be the wise, kind, mostly helpful variety of aliens instead of the scary psychopathic kind. And along those lines I am thankful for my new friend Clive, also known as Thorprix 9-XYcapleprob. Hey Clive XY!

I am thankful that that whole Trump nightmare is over, and that it resolved so neatly. Who would have thought an easily curable alien virus could have such an alarming effect on World and American Politics. Things really are looking up!

I'm thankful for our new penthouse apartment in Rome that looks out onto the side of the Pantheon. We plan on spending a good deal of 2019 in that slice of paradise.

Naturally I am immensely thankful for...

What's that?

It's not 2018?

It's 2017?

Wow, that's really different. You're sure?

Okay, no, no, I believe you, just, it's, no, it's okay. I just need to make a few small edits and we'll be back on track. Thanks for letting me know! 




Happy Thanksgiving Day 2017!

As is our custom here, I'd like to share what I'm thankful for this year.

First of all I am thankful for my wife, who makes my life worth living.

And, um,

Oh! I am also thankful for my friends and colleagues, at least the ones who read clerkmanifesto, not the other ones.

And, er. Hmm. Well, that's enough. I'm good with that. I'm happy. 

Big year coming up though. Big year.


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

A how-to for Dan

I have told this story around my workplace perhaps as much or more than any other story. It might not be because it is so much a better story than others, it's actually a hard story to tell if you don't know the principals. Rather it might just be because even now, so many years later, it still amazes me. 

Or it might be because it has a universal quality among my co-workers. 

Or it might be because it can give the newer people hope.

It's about Dan, who I have worked with for maybe 15 years. He used to drive me crazy. No, really, it was agony. I would bitterly complain to my co-workers.  I would go home to my wife and ask for advice on how to endure. But it might be hard to explain why. There's the way one might go into the back room to look for something for a library patron and Dan would immediately and eagerly ask "What are you looking for?" even when he had no intention or ability to help in its finding. It might be the way he'd wander off from the desk, leaving me alone for twenty minutes, only to return after there was no one to help and say "I'm going to go on break then." It might be the way he'd spend so much time with a single patron, engaging them in banal, irrelevant discussions, so that I might end up helping five people for his every one. It might be the way he'd race around on some peculiar, obsessive, mildly useful job of his own, then proudly tell me about it before leaving me with a swath of unfinished details and untended tasks that might take me most of an hour to take care of. It might have simply been all the inattentive, frenzied chaos he always seemed to leave in his wake.

I seethed. I would see him talking with people, patrons and co-workers (and it is almost always for a very long time), and I'd think "Why are those people smiling? How can they stand it?" I was mystified.

Then one day I sort of yelled at Dan.

I'm not much of a yeller. And I'm sure this wasn't too much of a yell. It was probably something like "Don't ask me what I'm looking for! It's not helpful!"  Or "Dan! You left all these books that are supposed to go to St. Paul sitting here! Take care of them!"

And to my surprise he said something like "Oh. Right. Sorry. I know I can be irritating." Or he said, really apologetically "Yes! Sorry. I'll take care of them, just leave them there. I know. I'm a mess."

And I said "Hmm." And I felt better.

For a while it would build up and I'd get all irritated, and it would build some more until finally I yelled (in my small way), and I felt better. And slowly the peaks and valleys of irritation and correction came closer and closer together until I didn't wait anymore. I just said whatever. I didn't even worry about being so justified. I'd just blurt out anything with Dan. I would tease, cajole, and condemn freely.

Dan would say "Look, I emptied all the bins for you!" and I would say "Thanks, but you didn't put any tags in them." And he would say "Right, right. I'll get tags in them."

And all of the sudden one day I realized I liked Dan. He's fun to talk to, ridiculous, has some interesting experiences and Twin Cities lore to share. He's good to yell at. Even the way he undercuts two parts of real productivity with three parts destruction can be amusing. Sure, he's a person I like and feel sympathy for and will treat occasionally with respect, but he's also like a cartoon character, or a friendly stuffed animal. Yes, I quite like him. I find him sort of comforting.

And when co-workers who have been around not super long, but long enough to have established their place in our library world, complain to me about Dan I absolutely understand. "Oh, yes." I say. "He is unendurable, and that was so rude of him. But give it a year or two and you'll probably feel differently about him." Then I tell them some version of this story. 

And then one day they sort of like him too. I mean, not enough to stop complaining about him, but well enough.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

No, of course that's not the real one

After decades of having a relatively unsecure, rarely changed password to log in to our library system, everything changed. There is now a new password. And only a select group of people are allowed to know it, as chosen by certain managers.

This is what I like to delicately and gently call "a stupid idea." But its not the agenda of this missive to address why restricting the access of people fully entrusted in the use of a key tool from being able to get access to that tool on their own is misguided. The agenda of this missive is merely to say:

So I went into my manager's office to get the password.

He said that I was absolutely positively the very last person that he was going to give this password to. He said this with some vehemence. And he said, with unusually grave seriousness, that I was most emphatically not to share this password with anyone. And he meant it.

He wrote the password for me on a post it note.

I made lots of jokes about how I would indeed not share this password but rather would ostentatiously lord it over those who did not have it. I also made jokes about how I would clear the library on the occasions that I had to log in, on any of our nine work computers, to our library circulation system.

I could instantly see in his eyes how unfunny he found these particular jokes, and the dawning of a regret that he had shared the password with me. 

But he had nothing to worry about.

Anyway, the password is 


Don't share it with anyone.

Monday, November 20, 2017


There is a card in our break room from a recovering co-worker. On it she thanks us for our prayers. When I read that I thought "I'm glad you feel better, but... I didn't pray for you."

I don't believe in prayer.

If I believed in prayer I would not work here. I would stay home with my wife and pray. I would pray for world peace and for a box of hundred dollar bills and for a visit from a kitten. And after petting the kitten and counting my hundreds I would ever so politely say "Thank you, God."

You may say I am misunderstanding religion, and God, and prayer. And you may be right that I don't understand. But I have been paying a pretty close attention and I feel it is safe to say that, fine, fine, but neither does anyone else.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Magic elevators for fun and profit

Recently some upgrades were done to the staff elevator at the library I work at. Instead of punching the buttons for the elevator to take one between the floors of our building, one punches in a time of day. As the elevator changes floors it also, more importantly, changes time. This is to say that by using the elevator now at my job I can freely travel through the time of the day, so long as I remain in the same midnight to midnight day I am already in.

My first inclination with this was to time travel to the end of the day so that I could go home. Going home to my wife is what I live for. But wary of wishing my life away I resolved to not cast away hours of my life. I resolved to experience and engage with at least as many hours as I am scheduled to be at work.

This does not mean I cannot make use of the unique opportunities such an unusual elevator offers.

I eat lunch a lot. I also read a great deal. Writing unfortunately does not work for the same reason eating four lunches in a row does. The food I have eaten disappears from me and reappears in tact in the refrigerator when I travel back in time, just as the ink on the page disappears and reappears in the pen I used. 

I do also work. Surprisingly I like some aspects of my job well enough to sometimes do them. I like the front desk quite a bit, so long as there's not too much of it. The automated check in machine is fun in modest doses. And I like to shelve and write as well. I shelve some, I write some, and I try not to take too many books downstairs with me that seem more appealing to read up in the stacks than they ever do at home.

One problem I have with shelving though, and really with many aspects of my job, is that my managers have an uncanny habit of sort of popping up whenever I'm not working. I'll admit I spend my fair share of time not working, I feel doing so is everyone's moral obligation, but even if I spend 40 minutes cutting a swath through some non fiction shelving, the single moment I stop to jot down a note, or read a recipe, is invariably the moment one of my managers will walk by on some mysterious errand. The elevator is a godsend in this regard.

Now when one of my managers walks by and I'm reading, or leaning, or chatting, or writing, or eating, or staring into space, I simply totter off to the old elevator and travel back a couple minutes. Reappeared in the momentary past I start working with a feverish intensity, and so I am engaged when they walk past.

This is very strange and satisfying for me.

After a few days of this I thought they would be amazed. I thought at least one of them would say something to me like "You seem wonderfully focused on the job these days!" or maybe "Are you okay?" But, no. I don't think they've noticed a thing. Dozens of times in a row they've gone by me and every time I have been pouring my heart out into my job and yet I don't believe I've gotten a glance.

This has been strange.

I've thought about it quite a bit. I have decided one of two surprising things must be true:

1. They are only capable of seeing me when I am not working.


2. They don't really care, but I do.

Well, I guess it could be a little of both.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Staying late

As I write this, the back room at my library, which at this time of night should normally hold two or three people, has seven people. As of 20 minutes ago five of them should not be here.

This perhaps is a good time to remind you of one of our great workplace dichotomies:

There are two kinds of people who work at this library: those who try to be here as little as possible, and those who try to be here as much as possible.

Of the five:

One, who is here seven days a week, called in sick and then came in anyway.

One, on his way out of the library, drifted into an impromptu office meeting about things that I feel confident are neither useful nor important.

One is talking to a co-worker that I'm afraid he likes overmuch.

One is... just... here. Like a potted plant.

One is doing many speedy little things, and zipping around, all like she is trying to leave, but can't figure out how.

I could also say:

There are two kinds of people who work at this library: those who have somewhere else to go and those who... don't.


There but for the grace of God go I.


Soon enough they will all be gone for the day, and so will I.


Friday, November 17, 2017


If you have been following clerkmanifesto for some goodly portion of our 1,750 blog posts you will have read a lot about the library I work at. And in all that reading you will have met many of the fascinating characters I both work with at the library and help out at the front desk.

Oh? You haven't met any fascinating characters I've written about at the library?

Hmm, I guess you're right. I mostly just write about myself.

First of all, I'm a lot of characters around here.

And secondly, you see, some of it comes down to protecting the anonymity of our patrons and, even more importantly, that of my co-workers.

Then thirdly there are those very few people who I feel entirely comfortable writing about by name, like Marcus, for instance. Marcus was, until a few seconds ago, the teen librarian here. But he's not really a character, he's more like a person. And frankly I don't have time to write about people! Do I look like a literary novelist!?

Really? Why, thank you.

But lately I have been noticing a lot of amusing little stories laying around about a co-worker of mine named Dan. And I thought "Hey, here's just the thing!"

So I went to Dan and I asked "Hey, Dan, can I write amusing true stories about you, by name, in my blog?"

Dan never reads my blog, but he well knows it exists. And here's the redeeming thing about Dan: He has deeply irritated most of his co-workers. He does a huge amount of shake your head at it kind of stuff, but if you ask him if you can write about him in your blog he asks "Is this going to be about all the crazy, ridiculous things I do around here?"

(And I say "Yes, pretty much.")

Then he says, just a little resignedly "Yeah, sure, whatever. Go ahead."

And though there may be better ones in the future, that's my first story about Dan.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Magic elevator

I didn't notice it until the mid afternoon. They had done some work on our staff elevator at the library. There were new clocks. There was a clock above the elevator on the outside, and there was a big new clock inside the elevator. I wheeled in my cart of fiction to shelve and went to press the button for the second floor. But they had changed that too. Instead of floor numbers there was a digital display where all one could do is enter a time of day. When one entered a time of day a big green button next to the display lit up. On a hunch I entered a time an hour in the future, that is, three o'clock, and then I pressed the green button.

The elevator went up a floor. All the books on my cart disappeared and the door opened. Even though it had just been two o'clock, the clock outside the elevator now said 3:00. My watch said 3:00. I got back in the elevator and went back to 2:00. My cart filled. I memorized a few specific books on my cart and went up to 3:00 again. I went out of the elevator into the stacks and found my remembered books duly and properly shelved, presumably by me!

I went back to the elevator and set the clock for one in the morning. The elevator opened on a dark and empty library.

"Hmm." I said quietly to myself.

I got into the elevator and immediately set the clock for 9:00 in the evening, the time I leave. 

I love going home. That's where my wife lives!

But then I remembered something I wrote many years ago. It was about being careful about wishing my life away, even the little bit more irritating parts, like being at work. Though I was keen to go home I made myself do a quick calculation: If I came to work every day and got in the elevator to advance time until the end of the day I would be effectively erasing as much as 20% of my life!

So I got back in the elevator and went to the start of my dinner break. I had good bread, a nice Camembert, some smoked salmon, arugula, and a marmalade shortbread cookie. I read a book. Then I did the exact same thing three more times, growing hungry again each time I traveled an hour back in the elevator, but not forgetting what I read. I shelved for a little while, writing as I went. I worked a steady hour at the front desk.

And then I went home.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Three random quotes

Here are three random bits from my blognotes; such things that were not interested in becoming whole blog posts on their own:

1. Libertarianism is Anarchy, but just for rich people.

2. I am never quite so raring to have a go at ambitious tasks as I am when I'm precluded from doing them.

3. (From what I chose not to say to a gathered group of my favorite co-workers upon my arrival one day at work (for fear they might misunderstand)): 

I am utterly delighted to see every last one of you, however, if I could somehow retire now and never see any of you again, that would be nice too.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Dog and cats: the rapproachement

During my accustomed walk today a group of dogs were barking. There were four of them in the front corner of a chain-link fenced yard. They were upset and making a racket. But they weren't barking at me. I was across the street, coming from down the street and they were barking ferociously at a man who was on their side coming from up the street. 

There was a little dog, a medium small dog, a medium large dog, and a big dog. They were all insensible with fury, wild with some kind of doggish alarm and their varying voices combined together in an entirely unmusical way.

I did not like it. I thought bad things about the dogs because I am inclined, unless given specific information to the contrary, to think poorly of dogs.

But these dogs were very much not barking at me, they were barking at some man. And I had a moment of reconsideration.

What if the dogs knew something bad about the man. What if, with their acute animal instincts, they indeed knew something truly horrible about that man? What if they were desperate to alert everyone to the terrible things they sensed about this person.

What could be so horrible about a man to warrant such an outcry?

What if they knew the man did not like cats?

Monday, November 13, 2017


In just yesterday's missive I was explaining to you how I like to stay on good social terms with my co-workers. While ideally I would like this to be entirely achievable through the use of witty quips, mostly as performed by myself, I'm aware that pleasantries are even more important to the lubrication of the social wheels. And it's not just pleasantries. One apparently must ask occasional bland, TV host type questions if one wishes to stay on good terms all around. "How was your weekend?" or "How is your son enjoying school?" or "Does that guy you call a boyfriend have some kind of job or does he just sit around in your house all day?" are the kinds of things that make people feel valued. And it's not that I'm not interested in the answers, it's just that all too often I find they can go on for what feels like hours when it's all about dentistry, or sheet purchasing, or the plot of some TV show they watched, but it gets all shockingly curt and brief when it's about their child's prison sentence or how they got their face tattoo.

No, alas, no one around here has a face tattoo. It was just a for instance.

But the thing I'm saying is that it's really not so difficult for me to get interested in what my co-workers have to say. It's just that it rarely seems to happen in response to any of my questions. And yet just let me sit somewhere unobtrusive where I can overhear them and I am invariably fascinated.

Sunday, November 12, 2017


It's a fairly social atmosphere where I work at the library. I don't suppose it has to be for me, but I feel better keeping in touch with as many people as possible in the building in case they have important secret library information that they might let slip out in casual conversation. Oh boy do I like important secret library information!

"Like what?" You inquire.

Well, I haven't heard any yet, but it's only been 23 years.

So it's important to keep up those relationships. And as far as I can tell one does that by asking polite questions one is not terribly interested in hearing the answers to. Like "So what did you do this weekend?"

"Uh huh. Really? Your car you say? In the wheel? But you were able to find the pebble? So that took the clicking away? No? Ah, a paper wrapper. Wow!"

It turns out one has to ask these sorts of questions so that people will ask you what you did on your weekend.

"Not much." I say. I mean, that's my business. I don't go around asking them what... Oh!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The green tree

So many wonderful things happen to the world in Autumn that I forget about them. This allows for the pleasure of surprise and rediscovery. I can only hope I forget it all again.

Around here strange, late flowers bloom. Leaves twist in their hearts and distort into wild colors. The moon grows moody and soon night is everywhere. Snow falls and cold mornings curdle exhausted foliage. Slowly all the color begins to leach out of everything. Winter is coming.

And so here we are. For us this is late fall, and each tattered remnant of fall is a pleasure to me. Soon all will be white and desolation, howling winds and picturesque Christmas lights. We, meaning me and the Natural World, prepare for this by killing everything, wiping the slate clean. I walk through my neighborhood over leaves broken to dust and slime. Old pumpkins, torn apart by squirrels and rot, are scattered bleached on the doorsteps of houses. All the ever greens, livid oranges, and freaky burgandies have somehow, still recognizable, faded to some kind of gray. I think "Well, it is all over."

And then I see the green tree.

I don't know if it happens every year. I don't know what kind of tree it is. I don't even understand it. I suppose it would be easy enough to miss because it all happens in one singular day tucked inconspicuously into November. A great classic tree somehow dodges all of Autumn. Its leaves are wide and opulent on a mighty tree with a grand spread. And while all around them the leaves of other trees go lurid, burning up in death and pouring to the ground, this tree's leaves sit quietly unnoticed, olive colored and invisible, thick and heavy as if nothing has changed and nothing ever will.

And then, in a matter of hours, they all fall. Brilliant green they thickly carpet the ground. And in a world fast growing colorless, these are an illumination, a wonder. It's like summer bursting out in one wildly late and glorious gasp. Green, green, everywhere green, burying death itself.

And I suppose that's exactly what it is. Summer, in one last, mad, showy triumph, says goodbye. The leaves dry up in the night, and then it's Winter instead.