Yesterday, for about the fourth time in my life, I went to a booksigning for my big hero Lynda Barry. (Her name appears on the right side of this page, in case you hadn’t noticed.) She was talking about this concept of an image, which I can’t explain as well as she, but it’s something between memory and imagination. I realized for me I have an image of Lynda Barry, which is not the REAL Lynda Barry. I carry around the conversation we’ve had at these books signings as if they were offerings from a goddess. When I’m waiting my turn to speak of her, I have several imaginary conversations with her. Then I don’t know what to say without sounding like a stalker.
Heroine worship is a strange thing. It’s so one-sided. It’s the most unnatural relationship you can have.
This morning I realize that no matter what I say I can never convey to her what she’s become to me over the last twenty years. That conversation can only exist in my head, which feels a bit sad. But looking at her new book, What It Is, made me feel better about it. She shows how the what’s inside our heads is a vast and wonderful landscape, whose borders aren’t limited to ourselves.
Yesterday, well I was on my afternoon stroll around the block, I got talked into giving money to a volunteer for the Democratic National Campaign. He was going to Nevada next week to try to convince folks to vote for Obama. He also said the DNC are prepared to tackle voter fraud when? if? it happens (I think when). I thought, well, I’m just talking about it the hopelessness of the future, but here’s something who is actually trying to do something about it. I gave him some money and he gave me some hope.
Throughout the day, I’ve been overwhelmed with sadness when I remember that it’s September 11. I keep seeing the images before me that I watched over and over that day: the Towers collapsing, the people jumping and falling from them. When I think how absolutely terrified those people must have been, it overwhelms me. When I think of how much terror has been perpetuated since them in the name of that day, I feel defeated and hopeless about humans.
By coincidence, my Jango station played Le Tigre’s “New Kicks” this afternoon, which is basically a audio montage of the peace march the day The War started (or restarted, or amplified). I was at the protest in San Francisco, and I’ll never forget looking down Market Street and seeing wall-to-wall people as far as I could see. For one day, we shut down the city in the name of peace: 800,000 people in the name of peace.
That was a good day.
Sorry for my absence. My schedule got kind of insane. Last week was the first week in many, many months that I had an entire week with nothing scheduled in the evenings. It was great. I was incredibly unproductive. I did keep telling myself to write, but I was so happy to lay on the papasan (and later in the evening, the bed) and read or watch a movie. Down time rules.
Now I want to tell you about an incident that occurred with a coworker of mine a few weeks ago. My team (we’re not considered a department) consists of only six people, and one particular Friday, only two of us bothered to show up. As an aside, let me add that the entire team is never all there on Friday. I seem to be the only one who is always there on Friday. In any case, this coworker, whom I had never spoken to one-on-one, suggested we lunch together. So far I had found him to have an acerbic and amusing whit, so I was looking forward to hanging out with him.
Much like many bad dates I went on in my lifetime, this man thought that “getting to know you” meant “let me tell you all my personal shit you don’t want to know”. He told me how the workplace was out to get him fired (oh, I’ve never heard that before), and how my boss didn’t deserve to run the department, and how this other supervisor was a shithead, etc. Let me say that all this may or may not be true, but the veracity isn’t the point; the inappropriateness of saying this to a newbie at the job is.
Now the sad thing about this whole scenario is, because he is my coworker and I didn’t want to be rude, I went into Nice Girl mode, and nodded sympathetically (I could only nod, he didn’t let me get a word in, which is quite a feat) to his tale of woe. And, since he’s obviously painfully self-absorbed, he didn’t see through my façade of giving a fuck.
Since that incident, I avoid him as much as possible, and when he tries to engage me in an exchange, my voice takes on a tone that I (but apparently only I) recognize as indicating complete irritation. I was beginning to think I should try to control that, but last Friday he actually asked me to join him for lunch again. And I realized, oh, he fell for the teeth again.
I have a theory that my teeth are so large, white, and shiny — and I smile a lot — that people believe I am a Nice Girl. I think I should get a shirt that says “The smile means nothing” or “Don’t be fooled by my teeth.”
Plus, people just aren’t very observant and can’t see how much I hate them even when I think it’s pretty obvious.
In the end, though, I blame myself. I should drop all pretense of the Good Coworker, Nice Girl, Miss Manners, and use a line that K actually told someone once, “Wait a second. Are you telling me this because I need to know this, or because you just want to rant?” (Probably a misquote, but you get the point.) Because I now see that it’s better for me to be a little rude in the present than to be polite and then hate the person forevermore. Being rude would have really been doing both of us a favor. He wouldn’t have told me all this shit, and I wouldn’t hate him, and everything would be copacetic.
So I’m going to learn from this, and whenever possible never, ever, listen politely to bullshit again.