Day 10: Books and Booking It

Friday; September 11th, 2015

Last night I finally met my downstairs neighbors. Suffice it to say, I am no longer smooth as fuck when I talk to strangers. It only took 13 days of mental isolation to bring me back to the awkward, bumbling, forgetful girl I was as a teenager. Social grace is a muscle: mine needs a ton of upkeep and I have not been flexing.

It occurs to me now that these few days would’ve been a good time to try out the solitary confinement experiment that K. and I were talking about back in December. The problem right now is finding someone who will feed me at odd hours and enforce the sound and light proofing of my bedroom. Maybe I could use the spare room for the experiment sometime later in the year, assuming I make friends once my program starts. (At this rate, I’d probably befriend weirdos like me who have lost their social grace and are TOTALLY DOWN WITH LOCKING THEIR FRIENDS UP IN A ROOM ALONE INDEFINITELY. Yeah.)

Today’s plan was to check out MakerSpace right outside Monument station. Turns out, their weekly newcomer meet-and-greet is on Wednesdays evenings from 6-8. If nothing pops up that night, I think I’ll make a trip down. I don’t have many project ideas at the moment other than maybe doing the Twitter moodbox project I was dreaming of last year, but dumb little me left my Arduino and other parts in Tucson. Luckily, I walked by what looked like a local electronics supply shop in Cullercoats a few days ago, so I might pop down and see the prices once a project idea really comes to mind.

The Laing is just down the street from MakerSpace, so I popped in and browsed through the ground floor gallery. An intense feeling of being out of place overcame me when I exited the exhibit and entered the cafe floor. I’ll go back with M. later.

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Figure A: UK Version
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Figure B: US Version

I do have to confess, I finally gave in to the urge to check out the Waterstones near Monument. First impression? UK book covers have a subtle elegance to their design that I really appreciate. On the whole, US book covers seem to have a bold and more graphic look to them that seems to emphasize the front cover real estate to a fault. The covers in the shop were designed with the shape of a book in mind. Front cover aesthetics wrap around to the back cover in a way that feels like a decrescendo when you start to read the descriptions and praises for the book. I thought my great preference for the UK cover of Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus over the US version was a one-time occurrence.

Then I looked up the US cover for Alice Hoffman’s The Museum of Extraordinary Things and have to say I am very glad to currently be owning a UK copy. The little circus landscape that lines the bottom third of the front cover wraps around and dims down along the spine and back cover, which evokes a dreamy and peaceful mindset. I don’t think I would’ve been as inclined to purchase the book if I’d seen the US cover. Then again, I have a great weakness for circuses in fiction, so I am particularly biased toward the UK cover design.

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Figure C: A Shitty Picture of All the Books I Now Own

But then we come to Murakami’s The Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki. I almost bought myself a hardcover copy last month at a Barnes & Noble, but I stopped myself knowing I had an impending move. Now I’m especially glad I didn’t since I get to own the paperback solid black version that has a much more striking design. Below is the stack of today’s purchases combined with the things I picked up at Blackwell’s and the two books I had with me on the plane. This should keep me busy for a while.

I spent a couple hours in the afternoon at Cafe 1901. I’m pretty sure the baristas there got kind of annoyed with me. I started asking questions about which seats would be best for charging my laptop. We got caught up in conversation and I left my £5 change at the counter, so I had to go back up and collect it later. I feel really weird about that second exchange…

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Figure D: A Shitty Cell Phone Picture of My View of the Counter at Cafe 1901

Part way through my sitting there with my scone and coffee, I started getting something that was a mix between intense anger and an anxiety attack. I tried to be subtle and to collect everything neatly, but I flew out of there shaking. After I got back to my place and changed for a run, I realized I’d left my cell phone there like an idiot so I had to go back and retrieve it. The look I got from the girl behind the counter made me want to shrivel up. I’m just glad they picked it up though. I was going to go back to the Cafe tomorrow, but after this last experience, I’m a little too embarrassed to return for a while. I’m going to try out another place within walking distance of the flat tomorrow since today is the last day for my weekly saver metro pass.

Exercise has been a useful response for me when it comes to fighting off anxiety. I can see the tortured metaphor of using it to ‘run away from my problems.’ I ackolwedge it. I recognize that considering the catalyst for this particular anger/anxiety swell, that was exactly what I was doing. I accept it. I use it to better myself.

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Figure E: A Walking/Biking Path

True to my usual exploration-prone running style, I picked a direction and booked it. Just, started sprinting for as far as was socially acceptable with bystanders and logistically feasible considering traffic. Part of me was testing my sense of direction during this run by trying to get myself completely lost. Along the way, lucky me found an idyllic little bike path (Figure E) where I finally was able to lose my bearings and test my navigation home skills. Happy to report: I found myself walking in the opposite direction of the same road I took home from The Biscuit Factory on Day 5. That led to a crossroad I know pretty well from my other runs. From there, I sprinted home past some bewildered onlookers.

I miss seeing red rock and the mountains in the distance. I would say that I missed the clear skies, but it’s been 50/50 on clear and sunny versus cloud and rainy days here since I arrived. Once autumn and winter set in, dry heat and shorts at noon are probably going to be the default daydream.

It didn’t escape my mind that today is 9/11. I’m not sure what to do with that fact other than wish my friend D. a happy birthday and hold the national memory in my mind. This sentence is my active act of acknowledgement.

Tomorrow: one trip to a cafe/coffee shop and then a whole day in with a book.

Always,
Jam

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Day 10: Books and Booking It

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