austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

I observe the people, the ordinary people

My boss needed me, urgently, for a presentation at 10:30 am that Thursday and much as I wanted to be with my fiancee, he couldn't do without me. So like a good trooper I got up early in the morning --- and saw my mother in her rapidly deteriorating condition --- and made my way.

Often, we who go up gather at some spot, the office or the boss's house, to then go up in fewer cars. I chose to go up in my car myself, which was inconvenient because it meant driving for roughly 18 hours to those far-northwestern parts of New Jersey that are somehow more distant than Canada. I'll explain how that can be something. It also meant my car would be way over miles for the next servicing. But it would mean that I could take off the minute we were done with the presentation and not rely on my boss to get finished small-talking everyone in the county (which I grant is valuable to the company; it's just a waste of my time), and would save me hours of listening to the execrable ``New Jersey 101.5'' up and down. I seem to be the only person in the state who's noticed that station is an insult to everyone and the presence of traffic reports on the quarter-hour which will mention something other than the Parkway and Turnpike does not make up for that.

When I finally arrived, after 10 am, I got my iPad out and checked messages just in case. Oh. The boss wasn't going to be in and I should call the office. Oh. My phone was dead. Oh. I point out my phone showed about two bars out of five for its charge the night before so what it was doing dead I don't know. But, now, I'm supposed to meet I don't know how many people to present I don't know exactly what? Also, the department I thought I was going to turned out to not so much exist as be a rough idea in a couple people's heads for a department which could exist. Despite that I found the people I was apparently supposed to present to, not too late.

Did I mention by the way that I didn't have a laptop, although fortunately the system works on the iPad?

So despite all this, which was more frustrating at the moment than can really come across in print, I presented the stuff I've been developing and they seemed to see exactly why this was worth picking up. Good. They even agreed to send data we'd be able to use to make the site better even if they eventually don't use the thing, which I believe they will. But, still, I don't want to be sent out so completely alone and unready for anything again.

(According to the office, the boss missed his plane back from Florida the night before. I find this plausible, even though I've never been close to missing a plane myself except the time the Los Angeles-to-Tokyo leg was late and they had to hold the Tokyo-to-Singapore leg for us, but that doesn't really count as late, even if I spent 42 seconds in Tokyo-Narita running with my carry-ons from one gate to the next.)

After driving back home, following Google Maps directions that unnervingly took me on a different path until I finally found a major highway (they're rare in that part of the state), I found bunny_hugger sitting up in the living room and waiting with modest anxiety with my mother's cell phone number in front of her. My mother had come home about noon, and had decided she needed to go to the hospital regardless of what the doctor's office said, about five minutes before. The phone number was so that if the doctor's office did call my mother at home she could relay the message, and we were on this standby for the hour or so it would take my parents to reach the hospital. (My parents believe deep down that they live somewhere around South Amboy and that trips which are short from there are still short for them.)

So we waited for that, and not hearing anything for long enough, decided to go to a movie. We had both wanted to see The Secret World of Airetty, and it turned out that night was the last chance we'd have to see it in any of the local theaters, so whether we were standing by for news from my mother or not, it was now or never.

We went up to the Freehold Raceway Mall, where besides taking in a carousel ride --- we're getting close to the free ride on the loyalty card --- we were able to do a little dress shopping. bunny_hugger needs a proper dress for our wedding, and hadn't been having much success in finding something at home, so, why not here? In Lord and Taylor she ran across a wonderful lavender dress which I thought would be too dark but which on her skin came out beautiful. I mean strikingly so. She's always beautiful but this was a new level of beauty.

She considered the dress seriously, but didn't buy it on the spot, partly to look for other alternatives, partly because getting alterations and fittings in a store that hasn't got any outlets anywhere near her home would be difficult. But we also didn't find anything in the other stores that was as good, at least not that time. We'd have other stores we could try on other days.

Amusing thing: what with everything going on, neither of us had really eaten a proper meal before heading out to the mall and the movie. We considered getting a snack before the theater, but figured, we didn't really need to. We got, as usual, a large popcorn and we managed to eat that in full during the trailers. We've never done that before, or anything like that before. Fortunately the theater gives free refills on large-size popcorns.

Arietty was, besides beautiful, really charming. It's based on the Borrowers stories, of course, although I don't remember reading the Borrowers and The Littles came on the air when I was a little too old to become a fan, though the theme song's been running in my head ever since 1989 without pause. The plot had some curious elements, though, things where it seemed to be setting up developments that didn't pay off, and I don't know whether that's just a matter of different expectations between American and Japanese audiences or because the story was written to defy those setup/payoff structures, so that it could have more of the messiness and foiled expectation of real life. It's worth a more full essay than I can give it here, although I note I still haven't got around to writing up The Muppets and I said I'd do that months ago. It's been a busy winter.

Back home, the Toyota Something was outside, so I supposed that whatever my mother had wasn't too serious. Inside, it turned out my mother was staying in the hospital overnight, but, she was resolved to be back out Friday. bunny_hugger and I had a mildly early bedtime, because I had work on Friday, but, better work.

Trivia: Annual gin production in England in the middle of the 18th century was about eight liters per capita. Source: Tastes of Paradise: A Social History of Spices, Stimulants, and Intoxicants, Wolfgang Schivelbush.

Currently Reading: Steel Pier, Atlantic City: Showplace of the Nation, Steve Liebowitz. Among remarkable things shown off at the Steel Pier: the Gemini VII capsule, the world's largest typewriter (keys had to be pressed by a person jumping on them), Rex the Wonder Dog who turns out apparently to have been for real and not just a sarcastic reference to the dog who's done something dopey in your sight (seriously, doesn't ``Rex the Wonder Dog'' just sound nearly as sarcastic as, say, ``Lord High Admiral'' or something, and not just the name for The World's Only Aquaplaning Dog?), and then you get into ``what the heck, people?'' territory. Putting to the side the chapter on the diving horses but what the heck with those, people, there's Professor Nelson's Steel Pier Boxing Cats (``the funniest animal act on the American stage today'' and probably source of that grainy black-and-white footage Letterman drags out now and then), Abdy's Boxing Kangaroo, and then about Gargantua the Great, a gorilla who went from the Steel Pier to fame and fortune with the Ringling Brothers. But says the book:

``During his voyage to the United States in 1931, a sailor had accidentally thrown nitric acid on the gorilla's face, leaving a scar that looked like a hateful sneer.''

Oh, yeah. Sure. Nitric acid in the face accident. Happens all the time. What is wrong with people?

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