This one is for you, Jenn — it takes 1387 steps to get from the corner of Shattuck and Dwight and Sacramento and Dwight. In case you were wondering and all.
The M-W Word of the Day today is “galumph” — a fine word to be sure, but the quote they used to illustrate it is from Jonathan Lethem’s Motherless Brooklyn, one of my favorite recent reads from one of my favorite authors. There are the authors whose books you read on a recommendation from a friend, because they were a gift, or because they were well-reviewed. But there is something special about walking into a bookstore, browsing the shelves aimlessly, picking out a book by an author completely unknown to you, buying it anyway (you can always sell it back), and then falling madly, totally in love with the words. Lethem was like that for me — I don’t think he’s perfect, but as the song goes “with all your faults, I love ya still. It had to you be you, wonderful you, it had to be youuuuuuuuu!”
At the entrance to the Dumbarton Bridge, on the east side of the bay, there is a Safeway. Next to the Safeway is a drugstore named, of all things, Drug Emporium. I might be alone on this, but that name is not one that inspires confidence in the quality or legality of their wares.
It’s a bit morbid, but I’ve always wondered what it is like to watch someone die. Not that I think I want to, but there’s something about that moment which I can imagine would be transformative. It might be a way of confronting death to come to grips with it, or it may serve to remind one of the tenacity of life. Or its frailty. The movie 21 Grams has a lot to say about that, I bet — I still have to see it. A recent NY Times article (reg. required) talks about people who visit those dying alone to comfort them. I’ve heard there’s also some terrible TV show whose protagonist collects souls for a living — perhaps that feeds a societal obsession with the moment of death.
I think these morbid thoughts come from the graphical descriptions of the deaths and horror during the French Revolution in Marat/Sade. Hacked buttocks lying in the street, people being carried to the guillotine in dung carts, their eyes still moving after the blade fell. It’s repulsive, even more so knowing that text cannot possibly do justice to the experience of being there — that is something only imagination can provide, and it takes a monumental effort for me to force my imagination to grapple with those images.
CSS Zen Garden expresses perfectly the reasons for choosing to structure a website using Cascading Style Sheets. If I had about fifty more hours per week I would become a CSS Zen master myself, but as it is, I can just go and enjoy the eye candy every once in a while. If I even absorb one trick a week from there I’m sure my web design will be twice as easy and twice as good.
So I’m spending about 12-14 hours a day working on prep for the Mystery Hunt, and although I’m the most stressed I’ve been in the last year almost, it’s also one of the most invigorating sensations I’ve had in the last year. The fact that I can sit here and work for so long on one thing and that I make some progress every hour almost gives me hope that when I go back to school I will be able to do the same thing, work really hard on one thing and get it done, or at least make progress. This project for me is a psychological springboard into my real work.
The MIT Mystery Hunt is coming up soon, and I’m off to Beantown. It’s like a piece of theater, really. Next week is tech, and we open on Friday. Good thing I’ve done so much theater, or I might be tempted to panic.