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Avoiding Laundry

by Gordon MacDiarmid



I am avoiding doing the laundry. My only excuse for doing so, is writing. Therefore - well here we are.

My reasoning here is simple; If I ever do come up with something brilliant to say, it will most likely be when I am writing. Therefore: I spend a lot of time writing, well I try to.

I don't think it's possible to work in a bar and avoid drinking, although I'm sure there are those who can.

Somewhere in the world is always someone who doesn't like whatever you do. If there are more of them, if they are louder or richer, you'll just have to put up with it. This is called "Democracy".

It was late summer. I had temporarily given up the guitar playing and took a permanent (sort of) 9 to 5 as a shipping clerk. It was nothing great but I had to buy some things, and the only way to do that is to gather money.

It was late summer and I was gathering money. I had just returned from the last run to the airport. I had a flash of inspriation, so I wondered toward the massive iron storage cribs. I sketched an outline of the story and tossed off a bit of poetry to help me with the adjectives, later. I was picturing one of my characters, who would later be named Dorothy, and absently clicking my pen on my teeth.

"What are you doing?" My boss asked.

"Just writing something down. A story idea" At Twenty-two I could not fathom how anyone in their right mind could argue with that. What could be more inportant than writing?

This was the moment I realized that everyone did not agree with me on that point


When I was younger I learned to play tennis. It was not traditional lessons, but a sort of off-the-cuff version. The way most fellows learn to play stickball, on their home block. I didn't get it. I thought the point was to keep the ball going over the net, back and forth. The first one to blow it gets penalized. It made sense to me, but I was very young.

It was the idea of competition that escaped me. My Dad made a point of even handedness with the kids. The only time I remember him bringing up competition, was as my brother and I were punching each other out in the driveway. We were to the bloody nose, hyper-ventilated tears stage, when my dad leaned out the window.

"I take on the winner!" he said at the top of his voice. He frequently said "I Love You" at the top of his voice.

The Main Branch

The sound of my footfall, repeated against the granite. It was massively stoned; not ostentatiously so, but solidly granite. As if the great steps and colonnade were hewn from the Earth, and polished into the daunting edifice I approached.

The original doors were twelve feet high, and nearly as wide. They had lined the front wall of the building. All but the four on either end had been replaced by an insert of 8-foot glass safety doors with panic bars.

I was massively stoned, myself. As I whooshed through the doors, hard shoes met soft carpet. The sound level dropped so appreciably, that I heard myself swallow. There was a faint click, a muted 'ahem' and the syncopated whirring of turning pages.

Then I smelled it: the scent of aged dust on hard stock; the faintness of leather bindings; the aura of news ink; the undercurrent of oiled oak.

The age-stained oak stacks went on as far as sight could decipher. They were tall enough to make a kink in your neck and require special stairs. Here be books.

Not just books, book things, too. There were lists of books, pictures of books (would that be an oxymoron?), Books about books (redundant or inbreeding?), seekers of books, knowers of books, readers of books.

I read the entire Tom Swift Jr. series by the time I was 8. I was morose for six weeks after reading my only Hardy Boys book because they were a couple of dorks. Which is not to say that Tom Jr. wasn't a dork, but dorky protagonists were ok in a scientific setting. When I got to "A Wrinkle In Time" I really wanted to boff Meg, but I wasn't sure how to go about it with a real girl, yet.

Then I tripped over a copy of Starship Troopers. OK, they were dorks, too. As a matter of fact they were sort gung-ho-nazi-eagle-scout dorky, but here again, the science rule applies. My first lesson in galaxy came courtesy of 'Doc' Smith, but the reason I haunted observatories and sweated over calculus, was thanks to the Foundation trilogy. At Ten years, I explained dimensional theory to my parents, so succinctly, that they remained open-mouthed for several seconds before bursting into laughter.

When I was twelve I had conquered enough calculus to factor through most of the general theory of relativity and I began to wonder about strings. String Theory was being proposed by the radical fringe of physics and, as I had learned from my reading, those were the guys who saved the world because they were right all along. I read Scientific American, religiously. I always read everything I could about NASA. Unfortunately, we have lost the awe and reverence of space exploration, though I still keep up.

Somewhere in here I found The Martian Chronicles, Ambrose Bierce and Gulliver's Travels. Cat's Cradle. If you've never read it go find it and read it now. When I found authors like that I would gobble up everything I could find by them and by the time I got through Sirens Of Titan, I was permanently deranged.

Then was the summer of; Harlan Ellison, Hunter S. Thompson, and The Hobbit. It took me six weeks to finish the Tolkien trilogy, when school wasn't getting in the way of my education. Stranger In A Strange Land, further skewed my view of the universe. George Bernard Shaw, you are what you read.

I can still close my eyes and recreate that day at the New York Public Library, The Main Branch.

I can't get over the notion that Humans were meant to play, as a vocation. I mean, work is just an obsessive form of play, hobbies even more so. I believe it is this lack of "Honest Play" that makes people crazy, and so many are.

It is an old story, as old as we are. Some obsessive Cumpulsive Neurotic decides that they are special, better than others in some way. Superor Blood or breeding is one typical excuse, there are many others. Often there is a Fairy Tale involved, eg; Communism, Capitalism, Christianity, Democracy, Mary Kay.

It is interesting to me, Hanes has chosen an advertising campaign that features "tagless" underwear. As a casual observer, it seems to me that this would be a cost benefit to Hanes. Which is not to say that tags in underwear are good things,

This year, folks are finding out about elections. I have been watching the coverage of the Iowa Caucuses and my hat is off to Bob Franken for explaining it so succinctly. Many of the news networks have gone to great lengths to explain the process.

Some folks are catching on, it's not a vote, or an election. It's not a primary, it's a caucus. Caucus is an indian word that means 'mass confusion'. Many of the folks who are beginning to understand this rare bit of Americana, never realized it works like this. One of my freinds who asked for an explanation, got one from me. 10 minutes later she said, "Are you kidding me?"

No I didn't. I told her the unvarnished truth, which is much sillier than anything I could come up with.

They don't get it

Take music. It used to be that civilized folk learned to play music, as part of their basic education. Start before recorded music. If you wanted music, then, you had to make it yourself. Possibly, you would need to make the instrument FIRST. The result being, When listening to music, you understoos it.

I mean really understand it. The mathematical beauty of it, the humor of playing alternating fifths as counterpoint (which as what?). Why Eflat Minor is sadder than C Major.

Currently, if you are wealthy enough, you can sit in your car and say, "Play CD". You have music. Sort of.


Noise (noyz)
Music that you don't understand.

So as we understand less and less about music, the music we make becomes less. Until it devolves to banging rocks together and grunting. Until it's no longer music. That brings us to Rap.

First I shoould mention that I consider 90% of music I've heard to be below average, as far as genious and beauty are concerned. The way below average runs from mundane to downright vile ( say; Bubblegum to Disco)

To be continued...




revised: 2004.11.16

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