So I haven’t written a real blog post since moving back to the USA in August. It’s at last time to bust that drought and give any remaining readers a friendly reassurance that I am, in fact, alive and enjoying myself. Maybe a good format for an update would be to craft a list of my newfound friends and enemies here in the States.
– Texas weather. Hey, it’s gotten gorgeous. Reasonable temperatures in the shade and in the evenings–I’ve been eating outside a lot at lunch and dinner–and this weekend we actually managed five inches of rain. The fifty-some consecutive days of 100+ temperatures are over.
– Patricia Ladd. For her possibly life-saving reply to my vitally important question about the possibility of cross-species zombie attacks.
– Typos. My new job is proofreading standardized tests for students in places as diverse as Florida, Illinois, and the United Arab Emirates. When a test form comes my way with no errors in it, I feel slightly disappointed. On the other hand, every typo makes me think, “aha! I’ve just earned my check!”
See, the thing is, I pretty naturally edit everything I read anyway–like last month, when I counted the typographical errors in David Foster Wallace’s 1,079-page novel Infinite Jest (amazingly for a book so huge, only 6). It still surprises me a little bit that somebody would actually pay me to do something that comes so naturally to me. It’s like getting $14 an hour for breathing, or eating cookies.
Anyway: typos are most certainly my friends. And speaking of friends at work:
– Whoever had my office desk before I did. Not only did (s)he leave two entire desk drawers full of nearly every kind of office supply (all but a stapler), (s)he also left behind a cheap pair of headphones. Huzzah! Now I can listen to music at work without using my enormous fancy-schmancy high-falootin’ wrap-around noise-cancelers!
One more Friend at Work:
– The awesome cafeteria sandwich guy. He cheers for the sandwiches he makes the way most people cheer for football teams (e.g., “chiipootlaayyyy maaayyyyyooooooo!!”).
– Queen Mary, University of London. For making my master’s degree official and even thinking my thesis worthy of a “Distinction.” As of October 5, I really officially am totally, completely finished with my year in London.
– The St. Louis Cardinals. Anybody who defeats the Philadelphia Phillies is a friend of mine, at least temporarily.
– The Philadelphia Phillies. (VANQUISHED)
– Roast beef. How can something that looks so richly flavorful taste so bland?
– William Jennings Bryan. My family and I watched the Ken Burns/Lynn Novick documentary Prohibition on PBS last week, and one of the many striking things about the series–like the stubborn misguidedness of prohibitionists in the face of their program’s failure, the power of women in making Prohibition happen (and the closeness of the Prohibition and women’s rights movements), and the impossibly cinematic life story (and wife story) of bootlegger extraordinaire George Remus–was that here, again, was William Jennings Bryan, busy being wrong.
Few Americans–maybe no Americans–have ever been as brilliant, as oratorically electric, and as centrally important to their era while simultaneously managing to be wrong about everything. WJB was wrong on his populist economic policy, wrong on his beloved Prohibition, wrong on nationalizing the rail system, wrong on religion being the only font of morality (his main extrapolitical cause), and wrong on evolution when he prosecuted it in Dayton, Tennessee. Do we admire WJB for the resolve, eloquence, and courage with which he was boundlessly wrong, or do we just sort of frown and wish he had gotten it all right?
– Preservatives. I think I blogged about this once already, but the fact that bread-based items from the grocery store don’t expire for a month is really creepy. It’s like if Michael Bay created a loaf of bread on his storyboard, only if Michael Bay had invented pre-sliced white bread in plastic bags, you could probably push a button and turn it into a 32-foot-tall hamburger.
Forget about the computers taking over the world. Start worrying about mutant superpower-endowed bread.