Friday, March 31, 2006


The Berkeley Police are good at getting their car.

Yesterday Kent went to hop in his car and toodle off to work. Only there was a blockage. Someone had parked across the driveway. Every so often someone does this.

We always wonder what's going on with them. It's pretty easy to tell you've parked across a driveway. The red paint on the curb is worn murky. And the curb is kinda low anyway. But the weeds are getting high in the dirt strip between the sidewalk and the curb so it's obvious when the weeds stop and the driveway begins. I mean, it's obvious to us. Must be obvious to most people because impacted as parking gets around here there's seldom a car parked across the driveway.

Then there's yesterday morning. Kent came in, "Where's the police number?" Groggily, still abed, I said, "Look in the phone book." Kent found the nonemergency number, dialed, read the dispatcher the car's make and license.

This was 8:15 or 8:30. By 9 the towtruck was rumbling away with its prey. Unless you're in a big hurry a half hour to 45 minutes isn't a traumatic inconvenience. The police officers are always friendly, though calling a tow truck must seem kind of a dumb duty. And the towtruck operators are efficient and courteous. I suppose the city gets a bit of change off the business.

When last I came home to find a car parked across the drive I was walking and Kent hadn't yet driven in. I made the call and the process took about 30-40 minutes. It's a good service. When Kent got home that evening I told him, "Ten minutes earlier and you wouldn't have been able to get in the driveway."

I remember Mom would get irked by people parking across her drive. I don't remember her calling the police to have any cars removed. But I do remember on Apple Blossom weekend in Sebastopol parking would get bad so Mom would haul sawhorses out to the curb and set them up in front of the drive, red rags hanging off them, and a NO PARKING sign. Nobody ever moved the sawhorses in order to park there.

Back to yesterday. Kent is gone. It's 9:20. I'm lying in bed. Still feeling groggy from a thrashy sort of night (man, this bug I caught has been a bear) and I hear a heavy knocking on the front door. I lie there wondering about getting up to answer. Voices. Can't make out them out, 'cept for something about "parking" ... Uh huh. Parking. Pound pound pound goes the caller. I lie there in the dim room trying to think what getting involved in this story would do for me. Would I offer them use of our phone to call the towing company? If my car had disappeared I figure I'd call the police. "My car is missing!" They'd happily tell me, as Kent says, "the good guys got it." There's a grocery store a two minute walk from here; there are pay phones there. But doesn't everybody have a cell phone these days?

And would they be upset, would they want to tell me their story? Would they be upset with me? What's with the angry pounding? I didn't get up. They went away.

Sure, once in awhile you make a dumb mistake. It was obvious you shouldn't have. But you did. Didn't stop Kent & me from musing over it last night. When did they realize they'd parked in a driveway? When they got back and their car was missing? Oh. Look. A driveway. When we were parked there we couldn't see it.

Each time I think yeah they knew but they were in a hurry. Park there two minutes, ten tops, rush to the store or to the friend's house and be right back. Surely I couldn't be so unlucky as to have my car towed in that time. The car yesterday was sitting there at least an hour before the owners returned.

We used to think, you know, if they left a note on their dashboard what house they were visiting we could go roust 'em to move their damn car. They'd get an earful but save the impound lot charges. But then we discovered how efficient the city towing service is.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

a second job

Man, being sick is hard work!

I'm feeling better today, 'spect I'll go to work tomorrow. All eight hours? Oh. Yeah. Sure. I think I'll be able to remain upright.

I went out for lunch. Had a pizza & a small coffee at Bel Forno, a cafe around the corner that's pleasant to hang out in. They tend to have the classical or light jazz station playing, both of which are (except for commercials) easy to tune out. The food is good and not too expensive. And there are windows all around. The view is mostly streets and parking lots (Long's, Safeway) but the natural light is the best.

I wrote & read. Finished Bitter Fame, the biography of Sylvia Plath. I've begun reading Plath's Collected. Rather dark, isn't she? I added another line to my one-line-a-day poem. The restriction is amusing me. Sometimes the line I write today is pretty much the line I would have written yesterday but mostly it isn't.

Should I burn a new mix CD? Maybe I ought to hold off till we buy a new stack of recordable CDs, as we're quite low.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

title swap

I sent Steve Mueske three prospective poem titles. He sent me three.

These are three I sent him:

Crossing the Water with My Rubber Ducky
The Monument to the Empty-faced Girl
Night is the Mother of Bad Laughter

These are the three Steve sent me:

Weapons of Minutiae
Light Fuse and Get Away
This Morning, Over

... I've been mulling the last of those three. Have written versions in my head. This is what I've committed to the page:

This Morning, Over

We see clouds. We see clouds, over.

Yes, clouds. What we see are clouds, over.

Can we describe them? No. They are white, over.

They are frequently white. Sometimes they are not white, over.

Yes, sometimes they are walking, over.

Yes, I said, they are walking. We cannot see the earth, over.

Are we on the shoulders of clouds? How could we tell that? over

I understand. Repeat, I understand, over.

We don’t know how far we have to go. Do you have any idea where we are? over

Repeat, do you have any fix on our location? Can you make a guess? over

We see clouds, yes. That’s what we see, over.

Monday, March 27, 2006


A scratchy throat, fever coming on yesterday. So I've been home all day today ... I've already called in sick for tomorrow. It's been ugly stormy out. If it'd been cozy sunny I probably would've taken a book out to the lawn chair in the back yard. Instead I've been trying to keep warm. Is cold!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

what to say

You don't have anything to say, right? So you look at the space available for a castle or a hut and you think, I could speak any sort of structure into existence, then walk inside and look around, spy on the people who live there, sniff what's cooking on the stove, scoop up the cat and rub its head, then lie down on the bed and wait for him or her or them or it -- who lives in this house -- to step in and lie down. Lie right down beside.

But ... neh ... that's kinda creepy. Kinda creepy, yeh? Walking into an imaginary house, poking around, ending up on the bed where something unmentionable could happen.

Something you wouldn't want to talk about if you could, tongue all tied up with a leather strap and buckles or numb with novacaine, the room spinning like a vinyl single at 12 rpm. There are all sorts of things not to talk about.

It's better that way. Holding your tongue. Submissive tongue. Yours a language with no word for that anyway, no word for what you don't want to say so can't think, can't think about anyway, a notion you can't entertain because you have no place to do entertaining. The revolution is the turning of the room. Just when you thought the door was available, a door you could get to if you could get off the bed, a door you step through to begin the journey, the journey ready to take you to the new land, the land where words for what you can't say are waiting ready on shelves in haberdasheries and drugstores.

Just when you thought you saw it, already open a crack, the door has rotated away and all you face is wall. Maybe there's a picture on the wall. But what of?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

a line a day

Jack has been working a poem, adding only a line or two a day. I'm not sure he's still keeping up the one I'm referring to. While he was going I took his first line then riffed on his subsequent lines, posting them as replies to his poem as it lengthened. This is the last bit I posted at Jack's blog:

Trees don't get confused.
Although I have known trees confused.
Birds unfold wind and sky and distance
grows smaller, the sky next to your mouth.
This road goes here & there, distancing
itself from leaves. The hand at the end
of the mind looms, an elm woven
over its knowns, a shuttle zooming
into focus the means of ends.


I've never done a poem only writing one line per day. Seems awful restrictive. Unnecessarily so. But I haven't been pumping out poems lately either. So a few days ago I wrote a line that's a bit of collage from the titles of the books in my bedside pile. In subsequent days I've added one line, using essentially the same method. I'll see it goes.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

first day

I started the day reading books to a first grade class at Washington School. Dem kids was kewt! There was a low chair set up for me. And they'd all signed their names to a "Welcome, Mr Ingersoll!" sign which included a snapshot of the class standing at attention. Yes, I brought that home.

The children all gathered on the floor before the reading chair and I did my best to hold the book open wide and often found myself reading the text from the side or upside down.

I started with The Eye of the Needle. They really got into it. The Eskimo boy goes out to find food for himself and his grandmother but he is "SO hungry" that whenever he comes upon a piece of meat -- whether a tiny fish, a salmon, a seal, or a walrus -- he gobbles it up and promises himself he will find something bigger for grandmother. At last he swallows an entire whale and slakes his thirst by sucking down a river. When he goes home to grandmother she rescues the bounty her grandson has swallowed by making him pass through the magic eye of her sewing needle, which releases the fish, the seal, the walrus and the whale.

Then I read And Tango Makes Three, the gay penguin story. The male penguin couple Silo & Roy build their own rocky nest, just like all the het penguins. But they have no egg. One finds an egg-shaped rock but brooding it produces no chick. "Why do you think that was so?" the first grade teacher asked. One of the boys tsked, "Because it's a rock!"

Some kids seemed a bit dubious about penguin boys in love but nobody protested when the zookeeper introduced an egg into Silo & Roy's nest and the two raised a chick the keeper named Tango. When I got to the page that showed the family swimming together among all the other penguins, one child cried out, "There they are!"

So that was fun. A good Drop Everything And Read Day, eh? Maybe I'll do it again next year.

I then caught the bus to the Claremont branch. I was at the Circulation Desk all day (though in the future I will split my time between it and the Information Desk). My only real beef with the RFID self-checkout machines was their whirring fans. Except shortly after noon all the computers started fritzing. Hassle! Curiously the self-checkout machines seemed to be available more often than the staff machines.

Still, I was glad to be out in the world again, away from the closed-in cubicle life.

Somewhat to my horror I see the break room has a television!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

who notices

The months go by and you're convinced you have three readers (occasional). Then you get an email from somebody you've written about. And maybe it wasn't even anything recent. In Val Gerstle's case I mentioned her poem in a post from January 05.

To my surprise (as I noted in my last post) a Google search for "Val Gerstle" presents LoveSettement as the first result. Curious about Val's lack of web presence and LoveSettlement's relative prominence I tried other search engines, yahoo and dogpile. Though dogpile claims it includes search results from Google neither it nor yahoo found the LuvSet mention. That's what I'd expect if not for Google. I mean, technorati, which says it restricts its searches to blogs, will sometimes overlook mine.

I don't even have a stats service these days so I'm not obsessing about my web presence. It's just curious.

My brother once posted a list on his blog of all the old high school friends he wondered about. He thought, if they google themselves maybe they'll find that I want to know what they're up to and will drop me a line.

I suppose, too, if you want a search engine to discover what you write you should write about subjects that few others are writing about. Don't bother bemoaning the evils of Halliburton or cooing over Brad Pitt. Natter on about someone who is only known to himself or to an exclusive subsubsubset of the technically challenged. It probably helps if their (salty grain of) fame crystalized at least several years before the internet age.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Val Gerstle

I got an email from Val Gerstle:

Hi Glenn,

Who are you? I'm flattered you like my poem.

Val Gerstle

And I thought, Who is Val Gerstle? Lately the only comments on poems I've posted online have been at other poets' blogs and I didn't recall visiting a blog run by a Val Gerstle. So I ran a search in Google for Val Gerstle. And to my surprise this here blog was the first search result. Go ahead, hit the link, I bet it's still true.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

a glass of wine with dinner

So I'm feeling kind of groggy. Not in a bad way.

We had a nice meal at a nice place. Haven't been there in awhile.

A little bit of a celebration. Only two more days in Technical Service. I start at Claremont next Tuesday.

I get the feeling I'm the only person who's ever voluntarily reduced his work hours. Are most parttimers at the library clamoring for fulltime? As the preponderance of jobs at the library are parttime I suppose most people who are unhappy about the number of hours they work are going to be people who work parttime. And maybe since I have one of those few so coveted parttime jobs others think it strange I'd give it up.

This is a very expensive place to live. Can I make it without fulltime work?

You can't buy time. And I could sure use some.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Info Desk Blogging

OK. Only so many times I can stand blogging about people asking me where the bathrooms are or where the videos are shelved or how to get a library card.

Then there's rain. We had some today. I did bring my umbrella. It's not raining now. Maybe it will be raining by the time I get to go home. Saw on the weather report last night that we're to have a series of rainstorms through the week, each colder than the last.

While I was writing a pretty young woman appeared who started signing. Naturally I broke out my rusty ASL and fumbled along. She was surprised and pleased, which made me self-conscious of course, my mind getting blanker all the time. I had to ask her to fingerspell two & three times before I got a word. She seemed more amused than perturbed by my denseness.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Sundy occupies a favored roost

Oh. Hey. What's that? A dangling camera strap? Or a mouse tail? Did you say "mouse tail"?

photos by KLM

Saturday, March 04, 2006

I'm outta here

photo credit: nga's blog

I've been working with these folks for the past four years. I'm in the lower right, eyes closed, showing teeth.