Saturday, October 23, 2004

The Suit

number three

A day of ceremony, walking, and clothes that come in their own special bags. 699 words.

DC—My new suit is hanging over there in the closet, back in its plastic bag with a knot tied in the bottom. My mother and the suit and I are staying at the Key Bridge Marriott in Arlington, VA, looking out over the river into DC. Three blocks from the Metro stop at Rosslyn (on the orange line) seemed like a pretty available locale on-line, but it feels longer after you factor in all of the roads that you have to cross that are sort of like highways. In the other direction, the same distance brought our troupe to Georgetown and some top notch Ethiopian. It was much easier to want to walk that way.

It has been a big week for spending money and organizing my trip to DC. I had to search all over for a room in the area, noting that I was going to be in no mood to walk too damn far through the city in my slick-soled little shiny new shoes. Plus, I had to actually buy those shoes, buy pretty much every other thing I would be wearing from there up, and have it all sized and clean and ready for departure. Departure was also a headache, even after the destination had been found and reserved. Two days before blast off and I still had no real handle on how many people I was supposed to be co-coordinating and how many destinations I was supposed to be helping direct those people to. As it turned out, I am a big whiny bastard: all was refreshingly easy and we arrived in plenty of time. Fretting makes sympathetic magic, I said to nobody at all. Whiny bastards get to talk to themselves a lot.

And while I am whining, I just spent a whole lot to look fitting for the Deputy Secretary, Sunshine’s new friends, the whole graduating class of new Junior Foreign Service Officers soon breaking for the far corners of the world, and, hopefully, the rest of my long life of non-casual functioning as arm candy. Sympathetic magic wins out, and I think that the hundreds of dollars helped you look pretty good, me.

So this was the swearing in. There were plenty of things like bag checks, metal detectors, and little stickers explaining to the security staff that I was not to be seen unescorted. Sunshine put her hand over her heart sometime after this sticker had fallen off my new suit jacket and repeated after Richard Armitage until she was duly sworn. I sat in an audience of parents and lovers and friends; most of whom, I remain convinced, wore some percentage of brand new clothing. After this blessedly neat ceremony, we were escorted, sticker or no, upstairs into an amazingly hyper-posh reception with balled melon and furniture expensive enough to have proper names. The view from the balcony was a map to all of Washington with Arlington and Pentagon City thrown in. I could see every single field trip destination I’d ever had in the nation’s capital. It was nice, the little finger desserts were quite good, and everyone had that familiar feeling of collective relief after publicly swearing an oath. We all relaxed and enjoyed ourselves until they all but kicked us out.

Of course, we immediately walked around the corner to the other State Department entrance and went through the whole metal detector thing again (this time with guest cards on neck lanyards and photos taken at the security desk), all so we could go to the last fifteen minutes of the State Department book sale. I didn’t buy anything but Sunshine’s dad bought a large decorated yak skin. Got it for a pretty decent price, too.

So after some Metro riding and highway crossing and deliberation; vegetarian nachos, bottles of champagne, and a taxi ride caught on the street at a closed Metro stop, here I am back where I started this morning (and in my framing device), one day old suit back in its bag and tied up tight. Its only got about four hours on its meter, and there’s still no way I can wear it again without cleaning it.

Except on Halloween.

Quiet Reading Room

This is a quiet reading room. Often, I find it is uncomfortable to digest long tubes of columned text directly off a computer screen. This journal is dedicated to the collection, percolation, and ultimate integration of my personal experiences. Subjects that I want to examine and then talk about--sometimes talk a lot about--€”are presented here. This central content can tend to thousands of words, maybe millions. I was afraid that readers were leaving the presentation boggled, spinning, googly-eyed. Or perhaps when confronted with twenty-four inches, or yards, of monitor sprawl they were just giving up. I am not even certain that I have necessarily solved this inevitable content problem of modern information enjoyment, but here is what I have done.

After long and highly scientific routines manipulating double-blind control- and test-subjects, peer reviewed journal publications, and hours and hours of hands-on experimentation, I have crafted this quiet reading room. There is no scientific way to control the length of the articles I write, but careful handling can somewhat soothe the contextual presentation. In other words: I have dropped the traditional speculation about lexicon, and attacked the question of the matrix itself instead. Brilliant. After years of diligence what I eventually crafted is this reading room.

The walls are contoured to relax instead of constrain; the paper is made to soften instead of reflect. The light is dimmed--just so--€”to prevent strain, angled to prevent umbra, and color-coded to soften harsh red lights and deepen wimpy light reds. There is nothing I can do to control aural environment, but my recommendation is that it should be kept quiet. About ambient sound: these entries are probably best read as far as possible from emergency vehicles, preferably from beneath the muffler of a vintage fire fighter pilot's scarf, puffy old duvet, or snow that is still falling.

My theory is that the wide web world is filled with potent and material opportunities that are just too difficult to digest for many people to take part. Enjoyment of this stuff is regulated to the routines of crawlers and robots at the peril of humankind's peaceful future survival. In an attempt to delay this likely outcome: welcome to this quiet reading room. It is for people like you to relax, kick back, and hate my content for better reasons than the dizzying vertiginous specter of its lousy dpi presentation.

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