Thursday, May 19, 2005

Look Before You Leap

number twenty-eight

All I ever seem to write about is homemaking and my burgeoning domesticity. But Jesus, there are books laying around freakin’ everywhere. 808 words.

[NL]—Fifteen days ago we noted that there were some really neat, albeit smallish, bookshelves at the grocery store closest to our house. We had liked them, but since they were close, we had decided that we would like to see what other stores had to offer. Fourteen days ago we were at the same grocery store, picking up some things, and we noted that one of the shelves was gone. Over the following weekend we looked at shelves at Costco, and various and sundry other stores, many of which were grocery stores. There was nothing, really, comparable. The next time we were in Carrefour, the grocery store closest to us, two of the three shelves that we had picked out were gone. We asked an employee about it, and he said that they were planning to receive an order, maybe just after the weekend. So we waited through the weekend.

Sunshine’s job provides us with a house when we are posted abroad, as well as the furniture for that house (in most cases). We had heard going into this thing that bookshelves were a rare commodity. I do not believe that this is because there is a very pressing need for shelves among Sunshine’s compatriots. Rather the opposite: no one really needs many bookshelves, so there just isn’t much supply. In the “special requests” box on the housing form, where many people ask for central location, school accessibility, room for pets, southern exposure, or bathtubs, Sunshine had requested a bookshelf. And that is what we got: one bookshelf. I took the whole thing up with my DVDs, and then we got all these boxes. Looking for more shelves stretched out for weeks.

During this period, I had been fixing up the house. Sunshine had spent a great chunk of her first full week back to work after my arrival working the Hemispheria Summit, a trade corridor congress that included dignitaries from most of the US and Mexican states that border each other. Governors, Cabinet Members and the President of Mexico were there. Sunshine filled her days being a member of Monterrey’s go-to team, and her conversations became peppered with words like “motorcade,” “armored car,” and “advance team.” Her seventeen-hour days during this summit afforded me between ten minutes and half an hour’s company for several days straight, and what I did with all of my alone time was crank out the house. By the end of this latest weekend, I had lifted almost every large piece of rental furniture in the house and hauled them from room to room. I had unloaded nearly every box. I had then broken down those boxes, and set them out for the trash guys. I had made all of the food every day. I was getting exhausted; but I was also getting the hang of domesticity. It was exciting, because the house made a good goal. I couldn’t help but notice, kicking back with a rum and Coke at the end of an evening, that there were still about thirty forty-pound boxes of books laying all over my otherwise quickly-shaping homestead.

On Sunday, when the conference was finally totally over, we went to Home Depot, and bought the first and second bookshelves we saw. Less extravagant by far than the perfectly square book cubbies we’d seen at the Carrefour, these were utilitarian at best, but would still match the house (if not the other furniture). Mostly, I was just sick of all the damn boxes, and had learned that “look before you leap” is a bad rule for furniture.

We got three shelf units. Two are large and standard (blond wood-looking, with six adjustable shelves), and the third is more like an adjustable wooden CD rack that we are using for paperback books. We had Home Depot ship them, and they arrived today. It took me about fifty minutes to put the first big one together, and about ten to put it together the second time. The little one was a little more difficult, but I still had them all ready to go by the time Sunshine came home.

It took us about two hours to fill them up. There were still about ten boxes of books sitting around the house, but that is a whole lot better, right? We ate a nice Thai noodle soup (made from ramen) that I created, and talked about getting more shelves.

Finally, fifteen days after losing our opportunity to buy the first shelves we saw, we have four new units (two big and two small, identical to the ones above) arriving by delivery tomorrow. These will compliment the three units we already have, and should take care of the rest of the books with some room to spare. Now I feel like the house getting really close to finished.

And it is a good feeling.

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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