Saturday, April 15, 2006

late night work and the beauty of books on tape

It is four in the morning and I've just finished a run of non-tiredness - that past tired, non-thinking state where my fingers moved to string pieces of the batik together without needing any instruction. It is four in the morning where posting on my blog seems quite easy - suddenly I have plenty to talk about which all seems important and charged with meaning.

But somewhere in my now slowing brain (seriously, I can almost hear even its directions for mechanical movements chugging to a stop), I know that my sudden blog-inspirations are the leftover effect of listening to a book on tape - on CD - to be precise. For the past four or so hours I've been listening to Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich being read to me by some female voice - whose presence within this sleep ridden apartment became so palpable that I started to visualize what this reader looked like (and also to confuse and merge her with the actual author). And just like those optical illusions where you stare at the Stars and Stripes in black, orange, and green for 60 seconds and then look at a blank wall and see white, blue, and red, her voice is left in my head resounding in a weird version with my own words. Currently I'm trying to flush it out with a little music.

I catch myself doing that a lot after reading for an extended period of time - feeling the thoughts in my head parroting the tone of the author. "I'll go to the bathroom now and then return to my drafty bedroom where the air conditioning is stirring..." and it goes on. Mundane thoughts that are not normally even allowed to be constructed into verbal forms, much less into full sentences, are suddenly canned with the author's voice and laden with italics. Good grief. At least it is slightly entertaining while it lasts. But like all optical illusions, the colors start to fade and my own thought patterns kick out such an intruder.

Nickel and Dimed, meanwhile, is an interesting read (or listen) about Ehrenreich's experimental "old school journalist" exploration into what it is like to try to survive as the U.S.'s working class poor do. While she describes her life as a waitress and then as a Merry Maid trying to make it by (pay rent, eat, not collapse from exhaustion), I become increasingly grateful for what a wonderful job I have. Teaching art for goodness' sake even though I had no previous experience doing this. At a school where all the teachers support each other. The return of my italicized thinking marks how deeply Ehrenreich had me in her grasp. I sat trying to finish up this art project and even started to thank the stars for the 8th grade girls who, although they may seem to plague my time at the school, really are a good group - and much more enjoyable to deal with than having to tackle a kitchen floor on my hands and knees (well, on most days). I've done that before - just once a week for a summer (at a bed and breakfast) - and have no desire to ever trade in the mop and its nice long handle for a rag.

But now that the last resounding Ehrenreich-induced thoughts have petered out of my head (and the fact that it will soon be dawn, not to mention that this blog is getting kind of long), I am going to go seek some sleep.


Maria said...

I enjoyed your blog. You are such an English major. And I really liked that book when I read it for a class. Are you done sewing now?

Chadd said...

I just finished making Black Forest Cake for my brother's birthday. Hopefully it tastes as good as the one from your birthday. Oooo, my tongue's dripping with hungry lust just thinking about those layers of chocolate, cherry, and whipped cream... mmm...

And oh, by the way, Barbara is quite the author. I often thought of her during my 8 months of pizza prostitution, pretending that it was all some elaborate, undercover investigation on my part. Fun reading.

Mom said...

So Danny suggested I just post a note on your blog.
Here it is:

Love you!