Monday, September 28, 2015

staples for life, a mystery

Months ago, I noticed my stapler was out of staples. More accurately, the stapler was likely almost out of staples. I purchased staples at -- where else? -- Staples. I bought a package of staples. The purchase encompassed two plastic-wrapped cardboard packages of 5000 "standard staples" each, or "agrafes standard," in French. From a glance at each cardboard package, the staples have yet to be used. At all. They are arranged in 12 rows, with each row piggybacked oppositely with its twin set. Staples of beauty, order, precision. (Allow me to do the math: 5000 staples divided by 24 rows, equaling 208.3333 in each row. That sounds wrong for this assemblage of one-quarter-inch (6.35mm) staples, made in China. Nevertheless, I am now disquieted by this observation of staple abundance, overabundance, if you will. 

I will not be able to use up all these staples in my lifetime.

Not even close.

Perhaps if I went on a binge, an orgiastic, frenetic outburst of stapling activity, I could approach the use, the employment, of 10,000 staples (remember: each little carton says "qty 5000" [without the comma]). Still doubtful. 

I could try some sort of performance art or stapling obsession of loose documents, papers, receipts, bills, notes, scraps.

Still doubtful.

Why does this bother me?

Supplies of salt, pepper, and paper clips do not disquiet me in the same way.

Something to do with grasping versus letting go? Mortality?  Numerology? The metaphors that "staples" invoke?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

'we apologize for any inconvenience'

Isn't that a business's most lame statement? (Or any other entity that declares it.) It's false, phony, insincere, inauthentic, self-regarding, fraudulent, shallow, unimaginative, superficial, provocative, one-dimensional, wrongheaded, insipid, and dumb. And the icing on the rancid cake is the fact that "inconvenience" is often spelled wrong!

Monday, September 21, 2015

pair this

Foodies, gourmands, and assorted oenophiles love to toss around, as in a salad, the verb "pair." You've seen it. Or heard it. "The escargot retains its maritime yet diffident character when paired with a 1973 L'Armandaise Bleu." That type of pinkies-out remark is readily slurped up by aesthetes. "Via Va Voom Venuto's menu boasts a zesty pasta sauce, called 'gravy' by the local denizens, that pairs well with a bottle of handcrafted red from the nearby GMO-abstinent, non-frackable vineyard."  

Pair. Pairs. Pairing. Paired.

Such a genial word, with its seductive invitation to couple, twin, or more! 

And yet.

And yet let us admit to its linguistic impediments.

Some pairings are ill conceived and ill fated, are they not?

You wouldn't pair a Trump with a Sanders, would you?

Or a vegan with a carnivore, a liberal with a conservative, a dove with a hawk -- WAIT! Maybe those are the very pairings we in fact covet and crave. Maybe we indeed need to conspire and courageously conjure oxymoronic pairings that will yield unexpected civility and eruptions of harmony and blasts of bonhomie.

Ya think?

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Knowledge is power

I rolled up to Colonial Laundromat. From Bubble-Up car wash, I hear a voice. He's talking to me in rapid-fire fashion. Shades of the Midway. Step right up. Something about $15, wash and wax and polish your car, $20 inside and out, while you do your laundry, $50. Hunh? I walk up to him. One five or five oh? I ask. One five, he says. Twenty, inside and outside. I have to go up the hill, I tell him. Which I do once I start my wash. I come back. I go for it. Inside and out. What's your name? Knowledge, he says. You should have a T-shirt that says Knowledge is power. I take him up on it. This entrepreneur with a bit of the showman and the entertainer. Philosopher, too. You gotta love what you do, he sings out as he makes some change at the laundromat. As I dry my clothes, and he does my car.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

fragile liquid perishable hazardous

The postal clerk asked the typical and mandated question: “Does this parcel contain anything fragile, liquid, perishable, or potentially hazardous, including lithium batteries and perfume?” 

(Technically, I believe she did not mention "including lithium batteries and perfume.")

I responded, "I don't think so. Are words perishable or hazardous? It's a book. I guess words can be perishable or hazardous."

She half-smiled.

"I guess you have a point."

Upon post-shipping reflection, I concluded that words can indeed be fragile (the infinite space between yes and no is but one fragile example), liquid (flowing in several directions, pliant, not solid, moving, healing as a balm), perishable (even set down on paper, words can be lost, burned, evaporated, forgotten), and potentially hazardous (yes, subversive too; think of the Declaration of Independence, or a declaration of war or marriage vows or divorce decrees or papal bulls or misreadings of traffic signs).

But I nevertheless betrayed my vocation and craft by answering "no" to the clerk's query.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

'true medical emergency'

You've heard it. You call the doctor's office. (Excuse me, you call the office of your aggregated healthcare practitioners.) Before a human with a voice attends to your need or query, a recorded voice declares: "If this is a true medical emergency, hang up and dial 911." Curiously, though, later, as one of the options presented, you are invited to press 1 if it is for a medical emergency. Hmmmmm. Which summons the obvious cerebral (in my head, at least) debate about what constitutes a "true" versus an "untrue" medical emergency.

TRUE MEDICAL EMERGENCY: Unasked for amputation.
UNTRUE MEDICAL EMERGENCY: Unasked for ampersand.

TRUE: Cerebral hemorrhage. 
UNTRUE: Cerebral hemorrhoids.

TRUE: Aneurysm.
UNTRUE: Androidism.

TRUE: Four-hour erection.
UNTRUE: Four-hour erection.

TRUE: Fibula fracture.
UNTRUE: Fractured fable.

Got more? 

Comment below.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Monday, September 07, 2015

endless summerish

Even though you hear about Labor Day signaling the end of summer, and all that, you have to wonder: is it? Oh, sure, Labor Day is the end of summer in the sense of "let's get back to work again" and "school is back in session" and that sort of thing. On that note, a few comments: first, in the borderless landscape of constant work tied to constant digital access, not so much. The crossing over from vacation to work to vacation requires no moral passport anymore, which is a shame. As for myself, the Labor Day As International Dateline Between Fun-Lovin' Summer and Work Drudgery simply does not exist. I'm delighted to have very little anxiety concerning post-Labor Tuesday. It's simply tomorrow. And as for the "back to school" theme, ditto. I'm glad to have jettisoned, via age and circumstance, the dread that would accompany the first day of school, both as a student and as a teacher. I don't miss it. But, to "be-Labor Day" the obvious, simulacra of these anxieties continue to wait in the wings of my quotidian fears. I can let these anxieties assault me if I choose. (Do I truly have a choice? Some say yes, some say no.) Or if I feel assaulted by these nervous apprehensions, I can face them or ignore them, embrace them or fight them. Or, to continue this endless summerish wave of speculation, I can surf them, ride them -- savoring the saltspray and the speed and the danger and the whatever else.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

interlocutor interruptus

Yeah, no

But then I

You know


If only

Know what I'm sayin'

And then

You don't understand

Me too

You were wrong

Told you so



No, yeah

Not me

You're crazy

So I


That was like



Tuesday, September 01, 2015

pebble in the shoe

I put on my socks, yellowish, thin, summery. Then, I covered my left foot by slipping on a shoe, a handsome brown dress shoe, from Famous Footwear. I put on my right shoe. (Truthfully, this sequence may be imposed after the fact. I cannot recall for sure.) Then I felt a pebble in my left shoe. It was an annoyance. It was less than a pebble; call it a pebblette. I removed the shoe and shook it. Nothing seemed to fall out. And I couldn't feel anything with my naked hand as it surveyed the shoe for the culprit. I put the left shoe back on. I walked on it. Pebble (or pebblette) still in the shoe. Problem still afoot, though invisible and not tactile. It has been said such a petty bother can unsettle a person, that it can drive someone (even an abstinent person) to drink. I held that notion in my head to nudge me toward some calmness as expletives prepared to explode into the room peopled only by the author of this blog post. I recalled the broken shoelace and its aftermath chronicled in The Mezzanine by Nicholson Baker. I removed the offending scruple, "again," this time with more comfortable results (as evidenced by a test-walk). 

The metaphorical applications of this vignette await your parsing.

This, from the Online Etymology Dictionary, may help you in your reflections:
scruple (n.) Look up scruple at
"moral misgiving, pang of conscience," late 14c., from Old French scrupule (14c.), from Latin scrupulus "uneasiness, anxiety, pricking of conscience," literally "small sharp stone," diminutive of scrupus "sharp stone or pebble," used figuratively by Cicero for a cause of uneasiness or anxiety, probably from the notion of having a pebble in one's shoe. The word in the more literal Latin sense of "small unit of weight or measurement" is attested in English from late 14c.