Lately, I’ve been taking to sitting in my car in various parking lots for an inordinate amount of time. Train station parking lots are my favorite places. At train stations, you’re still on public property & you are one car among many…anonymity. I can’t do libraries, & now coffee shops are out.
You see, I write. I don’t make much off of it, certainly not enough to make a living on, but every little bit helps & besides, it’s recreation.
When I was younger, I was able to use note books & do it longhand, but you know how age gets to you. You no longer have the patience to write things out longhand. Typewriters are a happy second, you have the speed of a keyboard & if you fuck up you’re forced to rewrite the entire page…but the thing is, on a typewriter, you can’t exactly self-publish & companies want emails & fuck it, you can’t buy ribbon anyway.
So now I have a collection of typewriters & word processors.
Now I am forced to a computer & that means I have to be the creepy guy in the parking lot.
The problem with writing is reading.
I’ve had to write research papers before & the research I can do at home, at least, I can do some of the research at home & the rest I have to go to the library & log onto things like JSTOR. Sometimes I have to go out in the real world & talk to people. Accumulating research is really all about reading.
Well, it’s actually more like untying an enormous knot, but you do it by reading, & you can do it at home.
I can’t write at home. I can start to write, but you know, television, friends, family, people, books…so then I can lock myself in the basement.
I sort of like the basement thing. Cold, concrete, bare light bulb. It has a certain crazy feel to it…I even made a tinfoil hat so I can feel like an Alex Jones Libertarian.
Nope, the tinfoil hat doesn’t work. There was actually a study at MIT showing that it has the exact opposite effect…or at least it has a mildly opposite effect…there was a study.
I’m not going to show you the study.
I’m going to show you a video instead.
Much better than reading a scientific report, or at least a little funnier…a LOT funnier.
The thing with the basement is that, well, my comic book collection is down there & I still have an internet connection.
The interweb makes it very hard to write. You try to get the ball rolling. You stretch out on the ground, prop some pillows under your chest & you write in comfort…you try to write in comfort. You kick back at your desk, you put your feet up, you put the keyboard on your lap & you write in comfort….you try to write in comfort.
What you really do is debate “effect or affect? I can never remember the difference.”
So then you look it up on the internet. And then, well, the word effect has its roots in Latin, ” effectus, perfect passive participle of efficiō…”
You know, because, yeah, now you know the difference, but you also want to know how the word “effect” came into the English language. Boring story. Sometimes words have better stories behind them. Check it. Check it too.
That post on the Bikini, that came from trying to write a report on mass evacuations to the Chicago suburbs following a radiological emergency for work. I took my work home with me. I tried to write the paper at home & then it turned into…Bikini is a weird word, how did we get that?
Etymology is a huge distraction when you are writing & the internet makes it s serious problem. They get in the way of your work….or your hobbie and the next thing you know…
late 14c., ethimolegia “facts of the origin and development of a word,” from Old French et(h)imologie (14c., Modern French étymologie), from Latin etymologia, from Greek etymologia, properly “study of the true sense (of a word),” from etymon “true sense” (neuter of etymos “true, real, actual,” related to eteos “true”) + -logia “study of, a speaking of” (see -logy). Latinized by Cicero as veriloquium.
Sometimes it is worth writing an entire blog about.
The next thing you know you are untying an entirely different knot & you’re writing a post about Bikini’s & Coconuts & the word file you had intended to work on is somewhere in the background.
Shit, I have to get this report done. Shit I really want to finish this story so no one will ever buy it & even less people will actually read it. I want to get this finished so I can get another rejection letter from Playboy, to add to my collection.
So you slam your laptop closed, you throw it into you backpack & you drive to the library….But the library has the internet…and then…
Hugh Heffner used to work at Esquire magazine writing promotional copy & you have some rejection letters from them too, don’t you?
You can access the interweb from the library, so fuck it, you want a cup of coffee anyway so, being smart, you go to McDonalds & not to a Starbucks &…
“The first Starbucks opened in Seattle, Washington, on March 30, 1971, by three partners who met while they were students at the University of San Francisco”
Even fastfood chains have internet connections….
But parks do not do they & the are public property. You can hang in public property for hours & not get arrested or bugged about loitering.
The thing about parks is, yeah, they are a great escape from the internet, but parents bring their children there to play & you are an adult male sitting in your car by yourself, in a park…with no child…occasionally staring at the kids.
But you aren’t actually staring at the kids. What you are doing is staring off into space trying to figure out how to retie that knot in a way that is informative & not so much of a pain-in-the-ass to read.
Because, you know, that’s the problem with research papers, people don’t take the time to make them fun to read…most people don’t. There are actually more than a few history books that are as fun to read as spy novels….Agent ZigZag…Uprising 1916…Bitter Fruit….A Nation of Enemies.
And your mind is wandering…& you are staring off into space….at children…& it takes a while to realize exactly how uncomfortable you are making their parents.
After a few trips to the park, you realize that the cops are swinging by because you have become that creepy guy that is a potential pedophile….& not a man segregating himself from the internet so he can actually finish a report on Volunteer Liability in a Disaster.
Parks are public, parks have no wifi, but clearly they aren’t the best place to work. I mean, there are kids there & just being a single man sitting in your car is making their parents think twice about bringing them to the park, & sure, you are not a perverted pedophile….OK, you’re a pervert, but you are NOT a pedophile….what you are is an asshole that’s keeping kids from playing in the park because you are making their parents uncomfortable.
Time to relocate. Target, there’s a lot of car’s there, but unfortunately they have free wifi too. You have to go somewhere….
Train stations. Train stations have parking lots. Train stations also have coffee shops only a walk away. Train stations have wifi, but their parking lots do not.
You are certainly NOT going to make empty parked cars uncomfortable. Nobody is going to hassle you. There are no children to make you a feel like a pedophile, or a kidnapper. You can sit in train station parking lots for hours, be invisible, & separate yourself from the internet….
But then…fucking cell phones….
In the 19th century the first railway locomotives were powered by steam, usually generated by burning wood, coal, or oil. Because steam locomotives included one or more steam engines, they are sometimes referred to as “steam engines”.
Put the cellphone down, you have to finish. You’re finished, now you have to proof read &, well, isn’t reading your own work a little too much like masturbation? You need someone else to proofread, it’s more like a hand-job that way.