Tag Archives: 1994

Those areas just around a corner

So Shadowlands — great movie. Best I’ve seen since The Crying Game, but I love England, and this had much great footage. Great writing and acting — sad but not sappy like My Life. The Daily Illini said it was “romance for the literate.” Not of lot of deep philosophy but some — the whole pain thing. “The pain is part of the happiness” — it heightens the good experiences, because you know how bad it can get. The “Shadowlands” is a neat term itself. It refers to those areas just around a corner, or above the next hill, where you suppose you will find happiness — always chasing it but never here. But later Anthony Hopkins realizes that he is happy now

I love England — the architecture and countryside are beautiful — so green, like Illinois. The film also had a great, realistic kiss scene between Jack and Joy, which reminded me of me &  ___ , a caressing, passionate kiss. 

Why did Debra Winger have a Brooklyn accent? Sounded more Italian than Jewish. 

[From journal of Sat., 29 Jan. 1994 (written 30 Jan.), Journal 5, page 390]

The silliness that kept it somewhat interesting

The women there were mothers who had no choice, needed to support their families, and yet still see them, so they worked 3rd [shift]. Avery was not a career move for the binder ladies. [This sentence dated 9/15]

Little ladies who came in at 5 a.m. every morn to punch index dividers.

Sue C___ — talk we had the last night of overtime — she wants to be E.M.T.

All those women there who got trapped/thrown into this situation, no choice but factory work. Didn’t want 2nd shift — couldn’t see their kids at all if they worked 2nd.

My little black book.

The silliness that kept it somewhat interesting — I think it was something like a release valve: the throwing of paper balls, Sam and her stickers, Debbie and her lewd comments — Jeanie on her knees — “why don’t you wait ’til Ed gets here so it’ll do you some good”

Sam telling me to go get the hand fork by pumping her hand up and down, looked like masturbation.

[From journal of 5 Sept. 1994, “Work at Avery” factory, Journal 6, page 145. See more about this place, written on same day, here.]

I was bored at first but liked being there the last couple of weeks

I was bored at first but liked being there the last couple of weeks—probably because I knew I was leaving, but I also could do more stuff, knew how to keep busy. Could make boxes—I made of lot of boxes this summer. Brought boxes into existence. Or I could do handbinder, or punch press, or empty the trash into the Star Wars-like compactor, or sweep, or anything.

The job really did get more tolerable as it went on. I was interested first three weeks. I then had a week or two of boredom, not thinking I’d be able to make it through the night. Passed those weeks somehow, and last six weeks or so was the countdown ’til I left, and it wasn’t too bad. The nights themselves went quickly— I could keep busy ’til each break, which was only two hours from the last break. I would eat Nestle’s Crunch and Mountain Dew, a sandwich or water at first break, finish lunch at lunch and maybe read or write, then eat cookies third break. Bought a couple cases of Aldi’s soda the first couple weeks but got sick of that fast and drank water. I had many Nestle’s.

J__ was tough. Nice enough, but rough—all business, no compassion. Rough isn’t right word—crude language, “tough” maybe. She said that she’s hyper and likes to keep busy. Other people would say things about her, like it was her fault the machine broke down. “That damn J__”—and she would retort something but never something very good—a face-saving thing, though she hadn’t lost much—protection? Everybody knew they were kidding. J__ didn’t get mad. She said things like “there is the queen in question” about Y___ in relation to the M___ episode, that morning we worked over.

She called the other women “c__ts” all the time. Had a bumper sticker saying, “It takes a bitch like me to love a bastard like him.” Had me put cardboard boxes in her car once, and I saw a tampon box, though I wish I hadn’t. I was afraid that she thought me attractive for a while, but that fear didn’t last long. Never actually friends, we were probably the best acquaintances. We were both temps, so excluded from meetings. They tried to get her full-time but union procedures don’t allow her going straight to Forms [department].

She got three hours of sleep a day, slept all weekend. Small-volume hair pulled back, tail doubled back so as to make a stick tail. I never saw her eat anything, only drink bottled ice tea and smoke cigarettes. She said if she ate, she would fall asleep.

Though I smoked sometimes throughout the summer, I never smoked at work. Never sat at the tables outside under the roof where they all sat, chilled, and ashed into empty coffee cans. Smoke breaks—machine went down, D__ and  N__ would take smoke breaks.

S__ thought my little black book was intriguing. She tried to pull it out with pliers once, but wasn’t really trying. She could’ve had it. It was all just a game. They weren’t worried nor did they really care but it was something to tease me about.

Twice, I think, I went 36 hours without sleep. Got up before work, work, went home back to work. Slept immediately that second morning. Didn’t get much sleep the whole summer, especially Fridays after work when I stayed up all day and simply collapsed about 10-11 at night, like the time we went to Great America with [my friends] Dave, Molly, and Mike (same night as O.J. televised suicide chase).

40 hours/week, two 48-hour weeks. I felt like I had no free time. Really missed being able to read. Summer went incredibly fast.

[From journal of 5 Sept. 1994, “Work at Avery” factory, Journal 6, page 151-4]

Abbey’s identification of Industrial Tourists in Desert Solitaire

Abbey’s identification of Industrial Tourists in Desert Solitaire (which I read this evening) sounds like me and dad vacationing in the car, seeing all through the glass windows, only one step better than TV. It was a self-recognition—I had noticed and felt before that this trip seemed shallow—no depth, and thus was boring. All the beautiful scenery and I only wanted to get through it.

Yeah, we have chosen to see a lot quickly rather than a small amount in depth. Yeah, as Abbey condemns us for zipping through the parks—that’s true. Valid criticism. But he says something about it being tiring. Hard work. But it hasn’t been that.

The excitement of the road experience—it’s been a kind of macho thing for us. Haven’t felt pressured to get anywhere, nor have I felt hard-worked. We’ve set a goal—”hey, let’s visit Spokane”—and we did it. Fun, not hard work. No, we were never really in the environment, seeing all the country from the fuzzy gray seats.

But you get out in these damn national parks and they are incredibly shallow, too—all the damn tourists crowding, snapping pictures, absorbing history and culture by osmosis—I’m here, educate me. Not only that, but seeing these cliff paths paved over, such as at Roosevelt National Park. A certain packaged feeling—not that I expected it to be really dangerous, but it takes some excitement out of the experience when you’re not going anywhere [challenging]… I want to get to the real hill, just walk to someplace, the top of some hill, like I could at home. I want to just walk, not be confined (as I am actually not—I could walk off the path, but they wouldn’t want me to—and they already ruined it by blacktopping the trail anyway) to their outdoor sidewalk.

So it hasn’t been all that deep to get out of the car anyway. That breeds cynicism, believing that no place is good—I haven’t taken the time to really experience the place before judging it. I am saying that those places are no better than any other places, without being in the place. I’m only seeing, not experiencing.

But I don’t want to say that everything I do is flawed—don’t want to harbor self-hatred or be an ingrate. It’s cool what we’re doing, glad I’m here, though we may not be taking each park in its full depth.

We’re seeing Montana. In a way, it’s like I’m taking pictures now, experiencing later. That’s not my intention, but the way it turned out. Sometimes it feels like I’m the Trip Photographer. I’m taking pictures instead of living it the first time, reliving it before living it.

I said that I can’t wait til I get my pictures developed. And that’s what I meant—I want to see how they turned out. But a third person angle might be that I want to see what my vacation was since I didn’t see it the first time.

[From journal of 19 Aug. 1994, 10:20 p.m. Mountain Time, Broadus, MT, Journal 7, page 39-41]

The Individual Human is the most important thing

Jim said that physicists who do what he wants [to do] burn out after 10 years or less of nano research, but this is so interesting he wants to do it (he won’t burn out because he’s a chemist, not physicist).

In some ways, I feel like I’m already burned out—on science, anyway. I can’t live by precepts of “faster, better, more.” Not that I want specific goals either, but I don’t see business or science as that important. I simply don’t.

This is my point: I think that the Individual Human is the most important thing, more than Sum of Human Knowledge or Society or Politics. I see contentment and happiness as the highest aim. And while science has led to more knowledge about matter, and technology has made human work easier, neither of them has ever made us happier (possible exception of medicine, but that can be abused too). Knowledge, simple factual data, has never made us happy, never inspired real joy to be alive. I don’t condemn science in itself (although I do actively disagree with some precepts and directions and gods of science), but I simply don’t think it’s as important or valuable as a lot of people think it is.

[7 April 1994, Journal 006, page 261-2]