Friday, November 20

The internet on this airplane isn’t working. I’m much more irritated by this fact than can possibly be reasonable.

I’m as addicted to the network as anyone I know, at the best of times, but that’s usually just me looking for another easy hit. It always seems like another thing altogether when I’m physically stuck somewhere. Looking for another hit, sure, but the way you mean it with a lab rat in a sensorily impoverished environment. Why is everybody on their phone in the waiting room, at the bus stop, in the airline terminal?

Well, because, Jesus, who doesn’t want their mind out of the neutral-colored carpets and stale HVAC air? It’s like being back in highschool. Going to gym class. Sitting in the kind of meetings that have consultants in them. There you are, stuck, and then the network gives you a pipeline out to the part of life where your movements are your own and you’re not standing in line for anything at all.

You go to a lot of meetings these days (if you’re living the kind of life with meetings in it) and people will have tablets or laptops or whatever it is in front of them. Maybe they’re pretending to take notes (maybe they are taking notes, sometimes). Maybe they’re checking their e-mail. Maybe they’re looking at cat pics on Instagram, or writing the code they’ve been thinking about for weeks, or arguing about Science Fiction novels with people on MetaFilter. Who can tell?

There is an impulse to describe this behavior as disrespectful of others' time, which is more or less correct but incomplete: Is it rude? Certainly. It is a breach of implicit social contracts. But then it’s also a turning back on itself of the disrespect for time that is structurally innate to all but a handful of meetings in general. It’s clawing back a thread of interiority and selfhood from the howling void that is Meeting Time—a kind of time within which countless people spend a majority of their working days.

(I was going to write “their working lives”, but when Meeting Time reaches a certain density, it consumes so much of the official workday that people who are inclined or required to produce things not produced by meetings are forced to extend the “actually doing shit” part of their jobs into nights, weekends, nominal mealtimes, very early mornings, and vacations.)

You laptop-using meeting goers? You compulsive touchers of iPads? You with your distracting screens and your shattered attention spans? You have my approval and support. Something is being taken from you, and in the depths of your soul, you know it is something important. You have quietly elected to take a little of it back. Shine on.

Saturday, November 7

Today the county jail work crew is out putting lights up in the trees along Main Street while the local citizenry shuffles through weekend routine.

Friday, November 6

It snowed today in Longmont, for a minute, with the sky halfway clear along the edges. Later you could see fat drops on car windows and plastic chairs where it had melted in place.

Driving down to Gunbarrel, where I hardly go anymore, it was already turning well into dark. By the time I walked away from my friends and the brewery, it was cold enough for frost on windshields. I sat in the parking lot for a long time with the Toyota’s engine running, waiting for the frost to clear and poking at radio presets.

At this altitude, it’s the season of low-angled light. Of color in what trees there are with leaves, a certain deepening and broadening of tones in the dying grass and the rocks and clouds. A contrast between down here and up there, where snow is accumulating on the peaks. You get those painterly sunsets, or rolling clouds of doom down off the mountains as the foothills get their first snows.

It’s fall, but the usual signifiers feel off-kilter. It’s too warm this late in the year not to notice. I picked a ripe tomato outside my front door a few days ago. (Tonight’s frost will turn out to have ruined a dozen more.) My neighbor and I sat around my front porch in shirtsleeves and flip-flops, sweating, moving chairs to stay in the shade. I had to find a hat to shield my eyes a little.

Maybe this is nothing. It’s probably well within the bounds of expected Novembers in a place as variable as this one. Probably. We talked a lot about global warming anyway, sitting there in the heat.

I got sick for a couple of days early this week and couldn’t do much more than sleep. Composing e-mail was somewhere past the outer limits of my usefulness. It scared me—last year by this time I’d been coughing and wheezing off and on for a couple of months, a cycle that in retrospect didn’t really stop all winter.

I’m getting on a plane for New York in a couple of days. Air travel and then the city, all incoherent and feverish, sounded like a special hell. I’m better now, mostly.


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