Sunday, January 22, 2006

Sydney Carton's Third Double

"Waste forces within him, and a desert all around, this man stood still on his way across a silent terrace, and saw for a moment, lying in the wilderness before him, a mirage of honourable ambition, self-denial, and perseverance. In the fair city of this vision, there were airy galleries from which the loves and graces looked upon him, gardens in which the fruits of life hung ripening, waters of Hope that sparkled in his sight. A moment, and it was gone. Climbing to a high chamber in a well of houses, he threw himself down in his clothes on a neglected bed, and its pillow was wet with wasted tears.

Sadly, sadly, the sun rose; it rose upon no sadder sight than the man of good abilities and good emotions, incapable of their directed exercise, incapable of his own help and his own happiness, sensible of the blight on him, and resigning himself to let it eat him away."

-The Jackal, A Tale of Two Cities
Charles Dickens

Sydney Carton has many doubles. Observe, please.

Either of us could go to the guillotine for the other.
Hell, we could go together.

Friday, January 13, 2006

microwave Burns

For some unaccountable reason, the microwave in the cafeteria at work plays "Auld Lang Syne" when the food is finished.
Why should this be?
Why that song?
Is it so you don't forget your food?

Just another example of post-modern disconnect in a world with a place for everything and everything all over the place.

My mother claims that in Tokyo (or was it Yokohama?) the sidewalk lights play "A Foggy Day in London Town" when it is time to cross the street, and that when you are supposed to stop and wait, they play "Pennies from Heaven".

I may be misremembering her song choices.

And the cars, way back when I was a girl in South Korea, played Fur Elise when they were backing out of a parking space. So it isn't new. I just didn't realize it applied to microwaves.

But when did everything become a music box? It's all so pop-goes-the-weasel--as if we are children who need distraction, entertainment, or--and I think this is closer to it--consolation. But god help me if I can't stand by for 30 seconds in unconsoled silence while my food reheats. The lonliness can be unbearable, for those 30 seconds, but the song of the microwave only confuses me and underscores my sense of dislocation. Auld Lang Syne has to be one of the saddest songs on earth. Don't offer it up unless you're also serving champagne, with kissing to follow. Please.

Who can we plead with? The programmers? The machines?

Now it's stuck in my head. And my food isn't even hot.
I am not the most logical of women even on those "sane days" the tampax commercials never mention and well, after a week of playing the good sport, lending my favorite dress to my much-buffer-more-toned-and-buxom younger sister who always looks better in my clothes than I do (thereby ensuring that I will never wear them again: the ones I don't give to her on the spot, that is; this is the same sister who fell in love with the man I was in love with and was sleeping with until he fell in love with her as well, thereby plunging the three of us into an Oedipal nightmare that we are only just waking up from) to wear for the wedding, doing my older sister's hair, smiling at the Bad Smell and pretending that I really wasn't completely self-absorbed and self pitying because I was the only person at the wedding who was Single; and giving myself little Jane Austen type lectures about affection and duty; and then feeling underneath it all how unloveable and outright doomed I am to spinsterhood and poverty and not wanting to take it on the chin or take one for the team because I am so filled with entitlement that I have to be the center of the universe just like everyone else, I am tired.