Sunday, July 27, 2008
Friday, July 25, 2008
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Here's the premise: One giant superstore has taken over every aspect of life on Earth. Its products result in so much garbage that humans have to be jettisoned into space for what is supposed to be a five-year, supersized, automated luxury cruise while robots at home compress the garbage into neat cubes and stack them up into garbage towers.
It takes the robots a bit longer than expected to clear out all that garbage, though, and the space cruise is still cruising 700 years later. Aboard the ship, humans over the generations stop walking or moving or interacting directly with each other. They become almost boneless, brainless, and blob-shaped. It was starting to remind me of an especially bleak J.G. Ballard or Ray Bradbury story, but Disney-ness, thank God, kicks in eventually and saves the day. That made me feel good.
I came out of the movie theater into a vast parking lot lined with big-box stores. I looked around and noticed that nearly everyone was obese, including the children. They struggled up into their Chevy Trailblazers and Ford Expeditions, panting. Although the endless asphalt glittered with heat, I shivered.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
read more digg story
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
The woman was old, but not desiccated-old. She was tall (well, anyone over five foot one is tall to me, but she was quite tall) and well-dressed in neat cotton slacks and a summery plaid blouse. Another tutor was giving her directions, drawing a map on a yellow sticky pad. As I passed by, I heard snippets of the conversation: walked to the library...can't remember just exactly...son will kill me if he finds out...
Having recently lost my mother-in-law to dementia, my senses are now more finely tuned to signs of a deteriorating mind. I interrupted and asked the woman if she would like a ride. Oh yes, she said, with delight and relief.
As I drove her home, she told me that she lives with her son and his family. Her daughter-in-law doesn't like her to talk to the neighbors, she told me, because she doesn't know them. This is a strange way of living for her, she explained, because up until her memory started to fail, she'd been a registered nurse. She was used to...she couldn't find the words.
Dealing with the public? I offered.
Yes! Exactly! She exclaimed, pleased.
When we got closer to the street marked on the yellow sticky sitting in my lap, she asked me to drop her at the corner. It sounded more like a plea than a demand. I asked her why.
If someone is home and they find out that I've been...lost, they'll be angry, she said. They'll keep me in. I was reluctant to leave her wandering down a street, but she seemed desperate.
Can I watch you go into your house, just to make sure? I asked.
She shook her head. Please, they might see you.
I stopped the car at the corner of her street. She thanked me quickly, pushed a five dollar bill into my lap, and almost leapt out of the car. I tried to give the money back, but that woman was making tracks. I put my car into reverse and inched back behind a bush, and watched her walk purposefully down the road.
I'll just watch, I told myself. Just to be sure. But she turned around and spied me and made an urgent "go away" gesture with her hand. So I made a K-turn and headed back toward town.
If it were in me, I would pray to have her determination should I face such indignity in the future. But as it is, I can only hope.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Friday, July 11, 2008
Carl, the craggily handsome, chain-smoking arborist, cuts down the less fit trees so that the others may thrive. (He quit smoking for a stretch last year and I discovered that his thick grey hair and mustache was actually vibrant blond. Then he picked up again, and he turned back to grey. But that's another story.)
The family on the corner lot cut down all of the trees. Every single one—30 or so, maybe more. The suddenness of the massacre got peoples' attention. Even the mailman almost ran into me as he craned his neck to stare at the lot while pulling out into the street. Next, a CAT logger appeared on the denuded grounds. The man who lives there drove the CAT around for a few evenings in a row, resulting in several neat stacks of logs piled up at the edge of the property. The logs disappeared, and an excavator replaced the logger.
We all waited and watched as the guy dug a wide, shallow pit across the lot. Oh great, my husband and I said to each other. He's going to put in a hideous 6-car garage. Or maybe they're planning an addition to their workaday cape? Perhaps a great room with cathedral ceilings and Palladian windows? A grand, Victorian-style solarium? Maybe an in-ground pool with a slate patio. Well, whatever he had in mind, it would be on display for all to see now that the trees were gone.
More waiting and watching. As I rounded the corner one day I almost drove off the road. I had to stop the car for a moment to make sure I'd seen it right. Yes, I had. The entire gouged-out spot had been seeded. With grass seed. The man had cut down his forest and built...a lawn.
A lawn? Why, why, why would he want more lawn? Lawns are the scourge of suburban life. To be a good neighbor, you're expected to water, feed, and add insecticide and herbicide to your lawn. And mow and mow and mow until you drop dead. More than half of the people here have tractor mowers. We don't. Nor do we perform most of the other lawn chores that we're supposed to do to be a good neighbor. Lawns—dare I say it out loud in this land of short green grass-worshippers—are stupid.
There, I said it. That was my one brave thing for the day.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
my car and wandered around a bit.
The place has a distinct air of disuse. Maybe it's the vegetation climbing all over the equipment, or the rust. I peered around the corner of this boxlike structure at right. What I saw next was a massive contraption that was definitely whirring and humming. So, apparently this quarry is still in operation.
What's weird is how little I could discover about this place online. I found the company website, so I know that the quarry produces "Hot Mix Asphalt." But there were no news stories about this particular plant. I thought that quarries were the object of scorn by environmental groups. Don't they dig up natural resources and leave gaping holes in the landscape when they're through? Don't workers get beheaded operating the machinery and end up as ghosts haunting the plant at night, rattling chains? This place, for all its hulking bulk, barely seems to exist.
And look at the office. Really, does anyone work here?
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
But I'm not being fair, because at least these kids (well, their parents) are taking advantage of public transportation. They don't add to the congestion everywhere within a two mile radius of the schools during drop-off and dismissal.
I won't slide into a rant about SUV Moms cutting people off to get their one and a half children into or out of the school parking lot. Or about the cops stopping traffic to let those SUVs in and out. Because that would be a cliché. Complaining about SUV Moms is so yesterday (not to be confused with regular moms, about whom, in general, I do not complain).
No. This post is about bus stops. My childhood bus stop was just a corner; not even a sign indicated that anything special might happen if you waited there. Everyone just knew where it was. My little sister Amy and I lived three blocks from it, which wasn't bad. Unfortunately, the last block was a steep hill. Amy had a strangely charming laziness about her that translated into, among many other quirks, an inability to get herself up that last hill to the bus stop. Every morning, weighed down with textbook-filled backpacks (those books are online now), we trudged up the hill. Amy would start to fall back, and I'd grab her hand and pull her. We'd see the bus rolling into the stop, which meant we had about 90 seconds, if we were lucky, to catch that bus. So I'd take Amy's backpack and swing it onto my back on top of my own, and with my right hand I would push that kid up the hill.
If we missed the bus, we walked—which stunk. But at least we could walk, and what a stinkin' luxury that was.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
The center of our town is marked by a 100-foot flagpole, erected in 1876. Sidewalks lead in four directions from the pole. The sidewalks remind me of Shel Silverstein's Where the Sidewalk Ends. At age six or so, I remember thinking: what a funny and absurd notion--a sidewalk, ending? Sidewalks don't end! The Earth is round!
They end in my town. They pick up again, anemically, at various points in the Commercial District. But they don't lead anywhere in particular (I don't count the banks, nail salons, or the CVS). People feel sorry for pedestrians here. Look at that guy! Why is he walking? Should we call it in? Maybe he's stranded.
Even in my car, I sometimes feel stranded. Yet, I've grown accustomed to this life. It's comfortable. The truth is that when I visit my home city, I often can't wait to get back. What does that say about the suburbs? About me? Hm.
Sunday, July 6, 2008
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
About eight months ago I started this blog out of desperation. I didn't really understand the blog world, with its nuances and idiosyncrasies. Or, really, why people blogged. I was in a downward spiral and needed to talk to someone. But I couldn't talk. So I started to write in this blog. At the time, I called it "My Anomie." I wrote for a short while, a week or so, about my deepening sense of isolation and lack of place in the world. Things got worse, and then everything stopped.
Zoom forward to Emily's article "Exposed," which came out in the May 25th issue of The New York Times Magazine, with the subhead, "What I gained — and lost — by writing about my intimate life online." I read it without stopping. It was so insightful, and honest, and unpretentious. Instead of a sensational self-exposé, I found in her story an explanation of Emily's specific cross-section of the internet generation. Of the personal blog that eventually led to her very public vilification, she wrote,
"I’m willing to let that blog exist now as a sort of memorial to a time in my life when I thought my discoveries about myself and what I loved were special enough to merit sharing with the world immediately.”
The blog Emily refers to, which I won't name here but is easy enough to find, still exists. However, its infamous archives are closed to the public. She learned the very hard way what not to do in the blogosphere—overshare (as she put it), and what to do—think (for at least a minute) before hitting "publish." I learned the easy way—from reading her article.
Emily is still blogging away in Emily Magazine, fiercely and humorously but not foolishly. And so, I believe, am I here in Kidless. It's fun and uniquely satisfying to share my thoughts and images with whoever might be out there. I thank Emily for explaining this new world to me.
And that's why I love her.
This is a shot of the inside of Jay Shafter's home. It's 100 square feet. My palace will be 2.5 times bigger. Imagine the possibilities...
According to Tumbleweed, the Loring actually has 400 square feet of usuable living space, once you include the loft (which isn't considered inhabitable because of the low ceiling but can certainly hold a bunch of my stuff). And the cost? Jay says that the price to build comes in between $100-200 per square foot. Let's split it and say $150, so...it'll cost approximately $37,650. Not sure if I have to count the loft footage but this is my fantasy, so I'll say no to that.
It will be like Walden, only not in the woods.