Showing posts with label magical realism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label magical realism. Show all posts

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Slipping messages

Something inside me
Constantly bleeds toward god.
That's why I keep writing,
Slipping messages under the door.
-Dorothy Walters

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

WW3: A Memoir. Part 2: The Test

 I didn’t make many bad grades on history exams, which is why I still remember getting 78% on one of my history midterms at Loyola University in 1988.

It didn’t make sense to me – I had attended every single class, I took detailed notes in pretty pens, rewrote my notes on notecards and rewrote them again and again making sure I would remember every key detail and score every point possible.   

I learned everything the professor had taught in class and gave it all back to him in great detail, so... maybe he made a mistake in his math? Maybe he skipped grading one of the essays?

After all the other students left, I handed my test to the teacher and said I didn’t understand what I could have missed.

He looked at my exam and handed it back with a short diagnosis. “You didn’t buy the textbook.”

“I *did* buy the textbook!”

“Oh. Then, you clearly didn’t *read* the textbook.”

My 19 year old self crumbled just a little, then asked, “Why do we need textbooks? Your lectures are so good, they cover everything…”

He put his hand up to stop my babble, “No educated person gets all their information from one place.  You always need two sources, at least.”

He nodded.

I nodded.

I read the book and earned an A in the class.

I’m not exactly sure which book I was reading when WW3 broke out.


WW3: A Memoir. Part 1: The Before

(from June 2017)

The Before

I used to know where information lived.

By the age of 8, I knew for certain that information lived in the stiff heavy leather bound Encyclopedias lined up in shelves around a large rectangular table at Cypress Elementary.

Want information about cotton? There it is, easily found in the “C” volume, one paragraph, a picture, a map of where cotton is grown.

I knew, without being told, that the other Encyclopedias would have pretty much the same information – maybe more, maybe less, hopefully a table or a map too – and that if I wanted more information I should look in the card catalog to see if there were any books on the topic

 I didn’t expect each book to describe cotton differently (example: Cotton – the worst disease to hit the country of Genovia; Cotton -  the forgotten food group; Cotton; something invented by George Washington Carver after he won the Battle of Epcot) because I trusted everything in print had been curated and edited by persons whose great pleasure and responsibility in life is to present good information to others.

This remained the same through my time college in the 1980s and the better part of my graduate work in the 1990s: the library was the primary place where information lived, where Census records, United Nations reports and decades of newspaper microfiche waited patiently to be discovered by information hunters.

Then came the big boom of internet search engines. Information – facts, pictures, stories, maps, livestreaming lives – explodes like confetti, separated from context, free floating, uncurated.
So much information everywhere, so easy to get.
Ask anything.
Be anyone.
Find anything.
Question everything.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

A Tale of Two Machines: How different could they be?

 For almost 2 years I had a car that I really loved, but then Volkswagen offered me a chunk of change to buy it back as part of a huge lawsuit that you either already know about or don’t.

Anyway, I ended up buying a newer Volkswagen, and it might even be a bit prettier and posher.

It has seat warmers in the front and back seats and all sorts of navigation stuff and soft buttery leather that still smells like new car.

It certainly is politer and kinder than any driving machine I have ever known.

 It turns the music down a bit when I brake, and it makes a sweet chime when a car passes behind me so that I don’t think about racing backwards and hitting it.

Nope. Not with this car watching my back.

This car cares about me.

 It has a setting that slows me down if I get too close to the car in front of me, and blinks pretty yellow symbols when other cars pass near just in case I’m too busy singing or judging someone in another car. 

Oh, and also, my new car is especially sweet in that every time I turn it off, it reminds to me to take my cellphone. Like, literally, “Don’t forget your cellphone, Melissa.”

 Awww, of course I won’t, thanks! it’s in my purse THANK YOU, I answer happily, every time.

A few weeks ago, I headed out in my new car to buy a replacement for my old K-cup maker when it  died for the 5th time after being the backup for the newer K-cup maker that died 4 times.

 Coffee is a vital food group and weight management tool that I take seriously, so I usually spent upwards of $30 a week on k-cups, often disappointed by one or both of the dying k-cup makers.  

Still, it seemed better to make one fresh cup 5x a day than make a pot of coffee and drink too much and then think about reheating it but yuck it never tastes good again, so I stuck with k-cups for years. 

It was a sad (and angry) week in my world when both of the k-cup makers died and I had to live on my stove-top Cuban coffee maker which was fun but cafecito should be served in thimble sized cups, not Yeti mugs, so it just didn’t work out.

I believed there was something better out there waiting for me.

I looked at  $300 and $200 systems that required pods and such. Nope.  

I found a $79 coffee maker with the thermal carafe and all these cool settings. Perfect. 

But wait, there was a $49 coffee maker with a thermal carafe right next to it. How different could they be? I bought the cheaper one, brought it home, and spent the better part of two months drinking fantastic coffee, all the time knowing that the coffee maker didn’t care a bit about me, not like my new car did.

The first time it happened I was puzzled. I ran through the steps in my head. Coffee. Filter. Water. Buttons. Light goes on. Wait. Gurgles. Steam. Coffee. What part had I missed?

Oh. The water.  Fine. I added the water and the coffee maker steamed up at me like, “LOL look who doesn’t know how to make coffee.  Not that I care if you have coffee or not. Whatever. Go away.”

The next time it took me a little less time.  I ran through the steps in my head. Coffee. Filter. Water. Buttons. Light goes on. Wait. Gurgles. Steam. Coffee. What part had I missed?

Oh. The water.  Dammit.  DAMMIT!  I added the water and the coffee maker steamed up at me like, “Heyyyyy look who still doesn’t know how to make coffee.  What do you want from ME? To alert you? Nope. I get paid the same whether you drink coffee or not, so whatever.”

I drank the coffee anyway, but it was a little bitter.

The third time it happened it took me even less time. ….  I ran through the steps in my head. Coffee. Filter. Water. Buttons. Light goes on. Wait. Gurgles. Steam. Coffee. What part had I missed?

Oh. The water.  THE FREAKING WATER.   AGAIN. BECAUSE THERE IS NO WATER LEVEL INDICATOR AND THE WHOLE DAMN POT IS OPAQUE. BUT OK. I needed coffee so I added the water and the coffeemaker coughed a cloud of steam at me like, “You are hopeless at simple tasks and will never know the meaning of covfefe.”  

That’s OK. Whatever. Maybe I am. Maybe I’m not.
I waited until the coffee machine exhaled one last shudder of steam before pouring myself a big cup and going out to sit in my car and hang out with my favorite machine, the one with seat warmers. With competition like this, there’s nothing the coffee machine could have done to become my #1 thing anyway.