Saturday, August 09, 2003

Door Above Me 

I park in the outside lot, since I'm a contract worker, not a company man. I walk toward the security office. There's no need to flash my badge, as it's a warm day and the cheap plastic rectangle on a shoelace is easily visible. The cheery security girl waves at me, and I give her the half-smile-and-raised-hand. It's a nervous, embarrased gesture which I perform every day I come to work.

These security folks have the best jobs at GE . . . at least at my location. There's very little to worry about protecting at an Ultrasound plant. So they sit there, watching for people coming in either on foot or in vehicle. Occassionally, they'll have to make a newby watch a ridiculous, dated safety video (which is followed by a true/false quiz . . . of which all 10 answers are true). But most of the time they sit there, filling out paper work they don't have to look at, grinning at the court TV that fills their afternoon. Texas Justice, Joe Brown, Judge Mathis, Judge Judy, People's Court, Divorce Court -- if they can't serve justice at GE, at least they can watch it.

I walk in to the middle door and make my way around the hall. This, beside leaving time, is the best part of my day. My door is on the left. Another entrance is in front of me. And above that . . . oh, about eight feet or so . . . is a door. I can't tell what's behind it, but I always kind of wish someone would step out of it and freak the hell out of me.

By this time, I've climbed the stairs and I can feel the day's run under my legs. I've been running twelve consecutive weeks now, and there's a lot I could write about as far as miles, averages, fitness, aerobic, blah, blah, blah. The only important thing is that I feel a run under my legs every day. It's a mild tiredness -- occassionally there will be some stiffness in my arches -- that's the most welcome, relieving sensation I can bring.

Friday, August 08, 2003

East Texas 

March . . . we wake up in the tent and it starts to drizzle rain on top of us. The sky in front of me is muddy blue, but I can still make out the box-on-stilt forms of the oil rigs in the gulf. They seem so far out . . . but then, our island seems to form a bit of a bay, so it's deceiving. We pack up -- I read IN THE LAKE OF THE WOODS as I wait for the shower to open up -- and we go, I driving because of my old age and insurance, Jessica sleeping in the seat next to me.

It's green, and wet, raining on us for much of the morning. But it's vibrant green, again shattering my conception of Texas. We wait in line for the car ferry which is so fast and organized once we finally get on. Lunch is at a Sonic, and then the sun shines the rest of the day. We drive east along the coast, though we can't ever see it, passing by all sorts of little towns full of shanties with big, expensive trucks parked outside. The highway is four lanes, but small, narrow, and often empty. I keep looking at the passing trees, wondering what they are. We have nothing like this in Wisconsin, I note, and I don't think I've ever seen trees like this. But they're everywhere here. Tall, old, gnarled, and imposing. I think I would see this in the deep south. Occasionally we'll climb a hill and the land opens up.

"Holy shit, Jess. Look at that!"

Nothing from Jessica.

"Holy shit! That's a fucking beautiful view!"

"Yeah," she says with lots of inflection. Inflection more for my enthusiasm than for the fucking beautiful view.

I've noticed this a lot lately -- me acting like my dad, getting all excited over big trees and beautiful views. Take last night for instance. Sister Amy is over with her techno-guru and wiring wizard husband, Kevin, who's setting up a phone line for us in the attic. He asks me where I want the jack.

"Right by this outlet. Yeah. I was going to set up the computer here, so if that's not too much trouble . . ."

Just a regular couple of sentences, but they sounded like my dad. The pausing before answering, the earnest reply, the length of the word "yeah". Scary stuff.

It's good I write this stuff down now, or I'd forget it, just like I forgot the story Amy told last night about my grandpa's reply to my dad after my dad got wind of my moderately damaging the back of the trusted 1992 Mercury Villager just before leaving Green Bay the day after Christmas:

"Material things, Randy. Material things."

My Grandpa is a national treasure.

Friday, August 01, 2003


Been thinking a lot lately about finishing the 2nd draft of SELLING THE FINISH LINE. It's about damn time, that's for sure. It could be a decent book, or it could be obvious trash, that's the interesting, frustrating thing about it. I still take the position that it only requires minor additions . . . I think I have to take this position to con myself into starting . . . er, finishing . . . the draft, rather than going ahead with a second short story, which I know is a throw-away.

The book needs more character, that I can't hide from. But I think I have a plot device or two that will elicit some character. What I need to find, without breathing into my readers' noses, is a nice symbol or two -- beyond the grass, which should be clear by now. Symbols, symbols. Why do people require symbols in their stories? Can't the story itself be a symbol? Do we all need some glorious image to agree upon or believe in? Hell, we'll all imagine it differently anyway. Is this part of our inner desire to assure ourselves that this is . . . (drum roll) . . . "One World"? Fuck "one world". But that's a rant for another book. Now, to find a decent symbol for Marty Evans to write about as he watches his classmates run . . . .

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