April 22, 2005

working in a bathrooom stall

The plaza I go to at lunch sometimes is filled with people eating, talking, walking. People come and go such that over the course of an hour I may see two hundred or more. Although the crowd is mostly white office dwellers, it does have some diversity to it.

The plaza is filled with sound constantly. Trucks growl past on Second Street just a few yards away. Occasional Helicopters rumble high above, sounding like Harleys being swung on long ropes in and out of the buildings. The long, low fountains provide a constant hiss like a college football stadium heard from just outside. And the SBC building across the street hums and whines with what sounds like a thousand air conditioning units working at full capacity. It is not a quiet place. Over the din, only occasionally, you can hear other people's conversations--a barked laugh or a particular word pointed in your direction.

Everyone looks around constantly. Clearly, it is a place to observe people, yet it it also curiously private. Why, I asked myself, does this open-air plaza filled with people feel so much more private than my own cubicle back at the office, where perhaps a dozen people pass by each day?

Cubicles, I have always thought, are like bathroom stalls. They offer the illusion of privacy while exposing virtually everything about what you do. Even worse--unlike bathroom stalls, they rarely have doors and almost always announce who is inside. The tiniest sound travels right over the cube wall. Sound is omnidirectional as well, so everyone on every side hears what happens in your cube, just like everyone in the bathroom hears what happens in your stall.

The plaza, however, exposes people visually while shrouding their sounds. Since sight is unidirectional, you are not distracted by things outside your line of sight. You are not bothered by other people who may or may not be looking at you. And you can safely observe others until they catch you doing it. When they do, there is an equality because you have both been caught looking at each other. There is no resentment and little self-consiousness because you have a parity, and after all you've place yourself in a public location.

Sound is distracting. Sound comes from everywhere. Sight can be easily shut off or restricted. The plaza, I find, is a far more private location than my cubicle. Despite the presence of hundreds more people and the lack of any kind of walls.

Rather than trying to keep an office space silent, companies should provide a high level of white noise, an audio fog that will capture, muffle, strangle, and annihilate all those conversations you don't want to hear--or that you don't want others to hear.

April 20, 2005

exactly how many blogs are there out there?

blog blog blog blog blog
blog blog blog blog blog blog blog
did you read mine yet?

April 18, 2005

Blog haiku

Crowded room, white noise
Witness my enlightened truth
Hey, is this thing on?

clear-cut, barren hill
no more old growth, no new seeds
receding hairline

dark blemish growing
oozing blight on pristine scene
pen leaked in pocket

merciless hounding
beating me, unrelenting
Daddy, play star wars!

April 12, 2005

haiku (gesundheit)

sweet, wet, wretched stench
slime oozes, something sticky
take out the garbage!
. . . .

sweet, wet, wretched stench
slime oozes, something sticky
don't elect that guy!
. . . .

the big hand ticks once
one more and I'll blow my top
I hate "hold" music
. . . .

long, smooth cylinder
two double-A's bring such joy
plastic submarine
. . . .

pain, anguish released
willful fury, cold attack
pen touches blank page

April 8, 2005

Alive in the Rain

A gray, rainy day in San Francisco. Emerging from the Montgomery Street bart station, I smile at all the umbrellas going up and heads going down as people go the last few blocks of their commutes. I have a simple baseball hat and a waterproof coat, a warm, black number I've had for about three years.

People tend not to realize they are 80% wider when they have an umbrella. Their personal awnings jostle and nudge each other as they hurry down the street to get out of the depressing, cold, wet, rain.

I wish they would allow themselves not to be depressed by the rain.

I look up, close my eyes, feel the cold pinpricks of the drops. They have come all this way, from the sky, from the sunny side of the clouds, just to bring life to the growing things of the earth. The lines they cut through the gray air, the flowing hiss of their crashing to the pavement and the sidewalk and the cars rushing past--these things make me feel alive.

A tiny river hops and rolls down the gutter of Hawthorne Lane, its surface stroked with a crosshatch and vee shapes that glimmer in the flat light. I pass under an awning and feel a slight mist: second-hand rain. A woman stands outside the door of my building, trying to shake off her umbrella. I slide past into the stuffily warm, well-lighted, quiet lobby. At the elevator, another woman allows the rain that her crumpled umbrella has collected to drip off into the carpet. We smile at each other and share the ride to separate floors.

April 4, 2005


In honor of the upcoming movie, which features Vogon poetry, here are a couple of poems I composed after sitting in trains, planes, and automobiles for about 12 hours recently.

whisper whine
a train is riding me home
I'll take it as far as I can
it'll have to go the rest of the way
by itself

My clothes went on vacation.
I'm glad they took me with them,
And I think they're glad I came along.
We went out sometimes
And saw what type of people
The local clothes had.

And to top it off, haiku:

forty-dollar steak
worth every penny I spent
it was your money