169 tagged with #daily

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Office Space

The photocopier jams approximately every thirty pages, and I have developed an intimate familiarity with the various panels that need to be unfolded in order to reach the crumpled strips of paper that have prevented copies from neatly exiting the machine. Other users of this machine look at it as if it was a magical box that creates duplicates of any flat object they give to it, and its recent habit of unreliability has puzzled them to the point that no one else will use it.

They told me not to bother trying because it would inevitably get fouled up again, but I have copies to make and there is nothing scary about tugging on latches and popping open rollers to gently extract offending objects. My knuckles are criss-crossed with papercuts.

I am often the last person willing to tolerate spending more time fixing something than using it. Declaring something as hopeless, dying, or dead is one of the only certain ways to convince me to latch onto it until the tatters are plucked away from my stubborn hands.

Sometimes, I wish I knew how to quit.

03 February 2014 11:30

Return To Sender

Mail for former residents comes in bursts, rather than the occasional trickle I'd expect. They used to own the house until they sold it to my landlord, and continued renting the downstairs floor while racking up gambling debts, DUIs, and medical bills. I can't imagine what sequence of events led to the condition they were in by the time we moved in upstairs, and now that it's been years since they transferred to assisted living, I have all but forgotten the pervasive sadness that had crept upwards through the floorboards into our lives.

Most of the time, we get their unpaid bills, legal notices, impersonal mailing list distributions, and catalogues. Occasionally, we find a handwritten envelope in the shape of a greeting card, lovingly addressed to our former neighbors whom I couldn't quite bring myself to resent, despite how many times I've endured pest invasions, doors left unlocked, laundry machine fights, televisions blasting all night long, drunken death threats, cars colliding into the building, and nights lying awake listening to their lives peter out while struggling to accept how much of a personal burden I could make of the problems of strangers I happen to live near.

I want to write back to those people after bouncing their cards and let them know that their people no longer live here, but that I lived above them for almost two years and have always wished there was enough love in their lives to pull them away from their pain. Our landlord and I stood in the basement one afternoon, shining flashlights through the rotten piles of trash they had hoarded there for decades while we tried to determine what we could do to help them move out.

"I feel sorry for them, because they are old and no one cares for them," he said after a long silence, in his chronically resigned manner of accepting whatever life presents him. "At the same time..." he made a gesture of throwing everything out in an unmistakably relieved decision.

I couldn't have agreed more.

I wonder how much longer we'll be bouncing mail addressed to them.

02 February 2014 17:44

On Jesus Clips

"I wonder what's holding this little spring-loaded button in," I said to myself, moments before the last thread of the screw came undone and the spring and button both dropped to the sloped floor of my office.

They're named for the word you exclaim when you come across one. And that once you've discovered one, only the son of God could find it again. And if you manage to locate a replacement, only Jesus could work the miracle required to put it back into place.

There are a number of tripod plates in our inventory that will never quite work the same since I've released their jesus clips.

01 February 2014 13:51

Horse Year

I don't have a lot of strong feelings about holidays, but I've always let myself have some quiet thoughts about observing the transition into a new year. I like that it's downplayed, that my living environment at the moment does not involve obligatory decorations and celebrations that I have to partake in whether or not I want to. It lets me pass the day on my own terms.

It's a moment to clean out old dirt, forgive old grudges, cut loose some of the things that have been sitting on your shoulders, and prepare yourself to accept another year of life. There will be fortunes and misfortunes and problems to solve and opportunities to snatch, and the more old burdens you carry from the old year, the harder it is to face another one.

So, I do the proper thing of sweeping the floors and wiping down the counters and preparing food, while I let my mind clear of the things that I've decided ultimately don't matter. It's just another day, just another year, but it's hard to see the bigger picture changing when the day-to-day ticks by in moments.

The morning was warm, warmer than I've felt in weeks. I couldn't keep the grin off my face while I was biking down to work, as if this is that first day of spring when it's suddenly obvious that the skies are blue and the grass is green and the air is warm, only it's still winter and I am still nauseatingly excited that there's snow on the ground and the clouds are still pressing overhead. Perhaps it was the freedom of movement I've gained from shedding an entire layer of clothing; after getting accustomed to the gear necessary to ride in sub-zero temperatures, outfitting myself for 30F makes me feel naked.

It's called Spring Festival, even though it's still well within the winter season. Nominally, months have names assigned to them so that we can mark the passage of time, but how could we fail to notice time passing? It's the month of sometimes cold, sometimes really cold, sometimes slushy, sometimes stink bugs wake up confused because it's too early for them. It's the month of the crows that have forgotten to go home.

31 January 2014 13:01


A man exits his car on my street, wearing shorts and old running shoes under a peacock. He carries a Chrome messenger bag over his back, with a hard guitar case in one hand and an armload of clothes in the other. His house is only a few steps away. Heat rises off his bare shins. I am wearing three pairs of pants and have sweated through the first two, but I cannot feel my toes.

My breath still smells like the meatball with apricot barbecue sauce I sampled at Trader Joe's. There are rice and beans and bread and hummus and apples in the kitchen, waiting for me to eat them. It might only be my imagination that the posts holding up the porch steps are growing farther apart every day. They are covered in ice, and I take off my gloves to grip the frozen handrail. By the time I get to the back door, I can't hold my keys. The first thing I do after I get inside is to strip two layers of clothing and stand with my toes bare against the kitchen tile floor, waiting to feel the cold seep in.

Feeling the cold is better than not feeling at all.

30 January 2014 10:57

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