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25 January Spiral

2012 Brooklyn, Portland, Oregon, United States
I already have a big day planned, beginning with coffee with a friend at Staccato Gelato, moving on to an interview with an opera singer at Portland Opera, and then a talk with a guy friend I’ve asked to give me some insight into his gender, which he translates as “pretend to be a guy.” Later work, a drive to the Asian Reporter office for the book Tibetan Calligraphy, and finally jail, where, as a volunteer, I am always relieved to come and go as I please.
Wage Slavery
Work has turned out not to be such a great place to read old newspapers while the Secret Computer dials phone number after phone number and I tap the various keys that tell the Secret Computer this was an answering machine, that was a number out of service, that was a wrong number, until finally a human answers and I launch into my spiel. In one of those old newspapers I found a story about farmers in India who brought a bag of snakes to a tax office, quite the inspiration for a collage. Meanwhile, back at the call center, I received one of those mysterious white slips of paper with lots of computer-generated numbers and a few words handwritten about what I’m doing well and what I could focus on improving. The numbers are all pretty incomprehensible to me, though my neighbor in the part of the room known as Border Town explained a lot, including that my performance review probably isn’t today but rather later this week, because I work a lot of not-quite-four-hour shifts, except for every Friday, which is a four-hour shift. Got that? Me, either. I’m just going to keep showing up until they tell me to stop. My neighbor does not seem to think my job is in danger, but I really have to wonder whether all the numbers are a way to keep us a little on edge. If so, it’s working.
In the wee hours, I began to think of anti-obsessive actions I could take, including returning my Trailer Park Figurines to their original locations, spread out along my Wall of Art the way I had arranged them, before the current object of my obsession took it upon himself to gather them all into a group, like a little community get-together, a neighborhood watch meeting, or a block party. Sheesh. It would never have crossed my mind to move his stuff around.
Be yourself
I latched onto stories other people told, gave my own story a theatrical spin, and ended up in uncharted territory. The emerging theme seemed to be not only daring to be ourselves but also liking ourselves. I told the story of how I was born daring to be myself, how after my afternoon nap I used to like to stand up in my crib and recite as much of the Rime of the Ancient Mariner as I had committed to memory at that point, until my mother appeared in the little space where she left the door ajar, and I clammed up. “It was not for her,” I noted sotto voce in a dramatic aside, “It was for me.” My mother was only the first in a long line of close associates made uncomfortable by my rich and ferociously-defended imaginative life over the years, including my current sweetheart who admitted just the other day that there is a lot about me that freaks him out. Maybe not everybody likes us being ourselves, I mused out loud.

2010 Hampi, India
Be yourself
It is absolutely fine that I am not a hugger or a kisser of people I barely know. It is absolutely fine that I prefer to climb rocks without benefit of others’ lending me a hand. It is absolutely fine that one reason I rented a bicycle yesterday was to get some exercise, which meant riding as fast as I could some of the time. When these preferences were brought to my attention yesterday by someone I barely know, who managed to subtly convey that I must be cold, distrustful, and oblivious to my surroundings, it was absolutely fine that I began writing this paragraph in my head.
Pet peeves
We were looking through postcards, and my companion kept saying, “Look at this, look at this!” It reminded me of all the times I have been trying to read, and other people have been trying to tell me about what they were reading. None of these people would come out and say, “What I am doing is more important than what you are doing,” but I wonder if they might muse on the possibility that this is what their actions imply.
We never got close to where we were going yesterday, learned later on that we had gotten lost almost immediately upon setting out. But at least we saw the waterfall, which is more like a disappearance of water into the earth and a scattering of gorgeous rocks worn into bulges and curves when the monsoon swells the river. Oh, what a place Hampi would be when it rains.
Today I will visit the temple, and probably some of the surrounding hills, and photograph the other end of the bazaar with laundry hanging from lines anchored to ancient pillars. What is it about laundry? Seems I take pictures of it everywhere I go.

2009 Krakow, Poland
Ago today
A year ago today I wrote my journal entry on an airplane. I am afraid there won’t be many words from those first two weeks in Poland, what with a new job and the beginning of my master’s degree classes. But my commitment to writing no matter what has deepened in this year alone, and these days, back in Krakow and more than halfway to my master’s degree, I seem to write here even when I wake up late, even when I’ve been sick for what seems like months, even when my dear roommate points out that she can’t seem to stop talking.

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