October 4th, 2002

The gentleman is always properly dressed

...and I can do anything!

I arrived late to my meeting with my special friend yesterday. I was late enough that I found I was muttering to myself in the elevator on the way up. I don’t like to rush. I especially don’t like to rush when circumstances are beyond my control. The T had been late and it was crowded to capacity.

I don’t much like the crush of people either.

I hurried into her office, catching a glance at the clock. Ten minutes. Time to come up with an explanation that will satisfy her enough to avoid the question, "Is there a reason why you don’t want to be here?" I walk in, smile, and say simply, "Sorry, my train was late, slow, and full."

Her light went out.

Now, the light is one of those halogen floor lamps, and I’ve never actually seen one burn out. The next thing out of my mouth was formed by surprise and amusement. "I don’t think I’ve ever seen that happen before."

E... went to the lamp and seemed puzzled. She cranked the switch a few times. Off. On. Off. On. "That’s odd. I just changed the bulb, too." She paused, smiled. "Say that again."

"What? My train was late, slow and full?"

Off. On. Off. On. "No, that didn’t work. I don’t know how you did that, but it seems like its gone." She laughed. I really like it when she laughs.

"Gee, E..., I’m really sorry I broke your light."

She laughed some more as she walked across the room and took her habitual seat. "It’s funny that you’re so willing to take responsibility for it."

"Are you kidding?" I’m laughing now, too. "I get to lay claim to a super power. I can go home."
  • Current Music
    R.E.M., "Superman (The Clique)"
The gentleman is always properly dressed

On free association

I’ve been listening to Coltrane most of the day today. I suppose this is unremarkable in and of itself, but it got me thinking. Coltrane is irrevocably linked in my mind to Northern Exposure, and more specifically, to Chris, the over-educated ex-con dj at Cicely’s radio station, KBHR.

The disk I’m listening to belongs to my housemate. Unless you count picking up the "Romeo is Bleeding" soundtrack, Joe’s only just recently been exploring jazz. As a guide on this perilous journey, he’s relying on the knowledge of a coworker, who is himself something of an aficionado (runs an e-zine, and everything.) Coltrane was recommended after a discussion where Joe expressed a liking for jazz that doesn’t stray too far into the experimental. (I understand what he meant... generally, jazz that was meant for mere mortals, and is not some sort of musical joke that a professor at Berkelee would get off on.) He brought it home, popped it in the player and recognized it. He was a little disturbed because he couldn’t for the life of him remember why it seemed so familiar.

Joe used to watch Northern Exposure, too, and introduced it to me, in fact. He didn’t remember the Coltrane was Ed’s favorite musician, or that Chris played some for him at one point when Ed visited the station in a funk. He didn’t remember that Maggie had once made off with one of Chris’ Coltrane albums. The association just wasn’t there for him at all. The name had been part of the throwaway dialog for him.

But I digress.

I actually wanted to talk a little about Chris, if only because there have been a few people who have said Chris reminded them of me. I remember hearing this and being flattered, partly because these folks also said that of the denizens of Cicely, Chris and Ed would be their top choices for friends. Honestly, though, I thought that they were giving me too much credit.

I think where I stumble the most is in trying to fill Chris’ presence. Presence is an elusive quality that I’ve never truly cultivated in myself, in part because I seem more content being witness than being noticed. While I’ve never gotten the impression that Chris tries to be at the center of attention (he’s far too laid back), there is a way in which he is able to use his words to carve a place for himself. He is witty and charming in a way that only a talent for infinite digression can bring. I can draw connections between diverse ideas and often stray into the realm of the obscure, but not nearly so naturally, and certainly not with the same air of confidence. While I don’t always agree with the way he approaches things, he’s always made me think. He challenges perception, stretches you.

I’ve always envied his eloquence and his seemingly endless capacity to quote dead white men.

Chris is also a great deal more free than I am. It would never strike me to build a catapult just for the sake of making a statement. I am not an artist. I’m too logical. There is something very calculated and deliberate in most everything that I do. As much as I’d like to, I don’t live sensing poetry and music. I don’t know if it’s because I don’t have the background or just don’t have the right (heh) mind for it. Art seems to be a part of who he is. I tend to struggle to find it in my life.

He's flawed, too. I think Chris can be way too self-absorbed, and as a character is arguably a weak man. Still, he is well liked by the ladies...
  • Current Music
    John Coltrane, "Count Down"