Thursday, March 21, 2013

Then, and Now...

Well, the first thing on my conscience, this morning, is my... failure to publish a post here, yesterday.  My feeble excuse?  The internet was down, or broken, or lost, or something.  It's difficult to think about something so non-substance-related as being able to break, but, seemingly, it did. 

I could've written something anyway, I suppose -- but it's the publishing something every day that seems, to me, more important than when whatever is airing was actually written.  (Maybe I'm just saying that because the internet failure gives me a supporting alibi?)  But in all actuality, in terms of providing fodder for writing, yesterday wasn't particularly generous. 

(I'm writing this in the Starbux on Rte. 22, next door to the Vitamin Shoppe and the Boston Market.  And because my comfy seat is right by the big picture window, I'm suddenly hyper-selfconscious about how... much cat hair richly festoons the keyboard, and clings to the screen.  Which also bears the greasy marks of the keyboard cover I use, to keep said cat hair, and other non-essentials, from working their way down into the workings of this technological wonder, and rendering it useless, except perhaps as a brooch that's far too large for practical wear...)

But back to yesterday.   I think what was most memorable was my little tally, made as I walked to the van after my last in-town errand was completed, of how many people I'd talked with, in the course of this unremarkable Wednesday.  I think it came to a grand total of ten, which is actually pretty impressive, given that none of my activities required that I speak anyone at all, really.

And there was one conversation, at the gym, that seemed as though it was possibly going to develop into an art connection, until the artist in question shared, via the wonders of a smart phone, photos of some recent efforts at sculpture.  And waxed enthusiastic about these achievements, drawn from the 'Birth of Venus' -- an impeccable artistic reference, one would think.  All I thought, under my veneer of culturally-necessitated approval, bolstered with a question or two, to learn more about how these... things... had been made.  And mentally calculating the impact of the many cast reproductions of these... works, once the artist had the necessary all set up in the studio.  I had mentioned that I had a piece of work in the Museum of Arts and Design, right not -- no curiosity was forthcoming, and it wasn't until later, really, that it even occurred to me that this was a little curious.  I also wondered, later, why people think that, by dabbling about with a few ounces of clay, one can be said to be producing sculpture.   In one's spare time.  After one's 'real' job has wound up for the day.

I guess this bothered me.  Though mostly retroactively, it seems.  My built-in engine for self-effacement and ego-reducing is so automatic and powerful that I don't even hear it switch on.

And I suppose brief interaction this qualifies as a kind of event in an otherwise placid day.  The only other time I remarked on anything like a rise in emotional temperature was on my drive home, when I got stuck behind a little vehicle that seemed incapable of operating at speeds of over 5 miles per hour.  Instead of stewing and twitching, and trying to figure out if I could take a very little detour over a neighboring lawn, and back onto the road, so I could resume driving at the speed to which I've become accustomed.  But this time I uncomfortably imagined that I was one of the two figures in this little dinky car, and then I started trying to calculate just how long it would take, for this transformation to have taken place.  And wondering if I would be aware of this shift in social roles, either while the metamorphosis was taking place, or after I've become a crabby, cranky, bitter old man people cringe to see...

Ah, but all this was yesterday.

Today, I'm sprawling in as much comfort as is possible, given Starbux general atmosphere of fake collegiality, especially when perched on a narrow neck of land between streams of traffic yearning to... take a detour over the neighbor's lawn, as it were.  I've just had one of their fat-laden sausage-egg-and-cheese sandwiches, and the largest possible coffee sits within easy reach.  How mundane, one might think.  How unremarkable.  How cliche.

Oh, there's jazz too.

But... this morning, at 8:15 am, I was to have reported to the Essex County Courthouse, wedged between the uncomfortable merger of Market St. and South Orange Ave., in downtown Newark, for the first of two days of mandatory, unavoidable, legally requisite Jury Duty.  I'd planned, in my mind's eye, how I was going to dress, in order to present a mute but undeniable statement of my eminent unsuitability for any of the upcoming trials for which I might be called.  Something slightly stuffy, but a little weird.  Like a retired college art professor might wear, without even thinking about it.

Enter, late last night, as we were preparing for sleep, my heroic boyfriend, Dr. John Sheridan, who wondered if I wasn't supposed to do something, re: jury duty.  Something like... call the night before, to check in, or something?  I'd been so scarred by the notion that I had no choice in this use of two irreplaceable days of my too-fleeting life, that I hadn't read anything on the form before I struck it to the fridge, with our 'Exactly How Much Fun Can I Have Before I Go To Hell?' magnet.  So I went downstairs to fetch same, and he located an appropriate phone number, and dialed it up.  And we both had to listen twice, to make sure that the voice said that 'Jurors in Group 19, with numbers between 00080 and 003990, were excused from duty, until such duty could be reassigned'.  I was in Group 19.  My number was 003752.  Maybe we should call again, to make sure the date of the recording was right?

Hallelujah!  I know it's liturgically incorrect to use this exultation for at least another ten days, but I can barely express how thrilled I am.  They say that one of the best gifts one working adult can give another is to cancel a business meeting; multiply this joy by a factor of 16, plus not having to get to the courthouse and back again, plus negotiating what wonders might be on hand for lunch...

So, I've got laundry languishing in the washer at home, and I've just done a bit more shopping, for men's pink garments, at the local Goodwill Outlet, and now, when I've finished my truly unnecessary coffee, I'm driving up the road to stop into the Barnes and Noble, to see if they have on hand a mystery by Carl Hiaasen that I haven't read, and buy it.  If it doesn't seem too bitterly cold -- spring having legally sprung yesterday, I think -- I might even dare to make a stab at delving into the portal of Hell known as our garage, in search of boxes filled with a particular selection of artworks.

And, if not today, I could always do that tomorrow.  Because, well, I'll certainly have the time...

©    2013                   Walter Zimmerman

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