Print Story Mystery Train? Soul Train? Orient Express?
By aethucyn (Wed Dec 13, 2006 at 05:48:37 PM EST) (all tags)
In which our hero (anti-hero?) books a trip, re-writes recent history, is approached by a mysterious stranger(?)

Two is company, three is a crowd, one is a wanderer -James Thurber

I might very well have mangled that, it's been a great many years since I read that particular story, and I think with a recent effort to find The Macbeth Murder Mystery for somebody in my book group, it's probably been a long time since I read Thurber at all. I'd pledge to re-read some of his work, but it seems there is so much I want to read, and even re-read, that he's far from the top of the list. Anyway, I digress, or wander.

I spent a good part of my adult years in the same spot, and a fairly small and isolated spot it was. Over time, I began to chafe at small town life. I resented being in the same place so long. But one is a wanderer, not two. I'm on my third city since we broke up. I'm likely to stay here a long time. I'm not sure what would draw me away, and given how bad I am about making friends in general, I'm not sure I'd be up for starting from scratch again. Still, I finish my eight hours a day indexing papers, and I sit for 30-40 minutes waiting for my train back to Boston. While I wait, three trains a night pass by going southbound. It took exactly one week of this job before I started looking at these southbound trains with envy. Providence, New Haven, New York City, Philadelphia, Washington D.C. And I just want to hop on the next train. Run down to the platform and throw myself through the door just as they're closing. Sometimes, I think the only reason I don't is because nobody would notice that I had. If a tree is impetuous in the woods, does it make a sound?

Tonight, I sat in the upstairs waiting room as usual. I briefly opened up the laptop simply because the ipod needs to get an extra little charge up if it's to last the rest of the way home. It might not actually need it, but since the ipod keeps me sane at work, it's playing from the point I leave my apartment at 7 in the morning. For a moment, I considered writing, but I've been in weird headspace this week, and not up for starting something new. The subject of my sunday coffee date has been revisited, with an e-mail exchange between me and her, in which she made it quite clear that she thinks me utterly self-absorbed, and yeah, she has a valid point. Probably the fact that I thought it went reasonably well, while she did not at all would indicate that I was not picking up on whatever signals she was emitting. So yeah, date didn't go well. I'm not really weeping over it, more like a learning experience for me. I'm not inexperienced with relationships, but utterly new to dating. So I offer her applause for telling me what's the matter with me instead of a vague blow off.
So, I just close up the computer, and pull out my sketchpad instead. If you saw my entry in the last CFC, that's about the expect one can expect from my hand. Which is to say that if I produce anything better than most people it's simply because instead of declaring, "All I can draw is a stick figure!" I make some small effort. I've been doing a couple of drawings, somewhat based upon characters from my NaNo. Suddenly, I realize that there's somebody standing rather close to me. I look up, and there's a Chinese woman in her 40's, and she say something to me. I remove an earphone, "Huh?" "Your drawing is really neat." "Oh, umm, thanks." I glanced down at the page bashfully. Self-absorbed, maybe, but utterly self-concious about somebody complementing me to my face. She disappeared, and I finished up the work on my drawing. I look around, but she seems to be gone. I start on another one. I'm working on a face which is not turning out right at all, when I realize that she's back and watching me. Now, it's really not turning out right at all, I erase an eye, decide to cover the other one with hair. I want to tell her to not watch me, but I also don't want to be petulant. She walks off again, and I manage the pencilling by the time I have to rush down to Platform 2 to get on the 6:02. I ink it on the train (inking in my case being me going over the lines with a black sharpie). Not one of my favorites. Her left eye is too far to the left, her arms are too thin, and I've done nothing to disguise the fact that I can't draw hands (a great many of these sketches feature characters with hands in pockets or behind their backs, only you know that this is not a stylistic motif, but a coping mechanism). I give it a quick initial, and figure I'll give it to her if she's in the station tomorrow. If she likes it, why not?
Finally, when I got home tonight, I booked my long planned trip to Providence for the long Christmas weekend. Not much planned for it, just wandering around a city I don't know. Satisfy a bit of wanderlust, stare out at the ocean and feel stronger wanderlust. And of course, I'll be taking the train there.

< this song | BBC White season: 'Rivers of Blood' >
Mystery Train? Soul Train? Orient Express? | 9 comments (9 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
fyi, etc. by BlueOregon (2.00 / 0) #1 Wed Dec 13, 2006 at 08:22:44 PM EST

Half an hour ago I finished Special Topics in Calalmity Physics—in the near future there will be a boiary about it and other such things.

Ah, dates. Even coffee dates. I agree with the idea of coffee dates, as I wrote in the last boiary. When I look back on my success with them, I guess I have to note that none of them developed, and most were stillborn at and after that one encounter. Perhaps, again, why I like relationships but hate dating.

The drawing story reminded me of standing around Zoo Station last May waiting for a friend to arrive. Rather than a person I was sketching a simple landscape, and was interrupted twice, once by an Asian woman (but not 40-ish) who went out of her expected path so as to see the surface of the paper and then by two young German women who stopped and asked to see what I was working on and what else was in the sketchpad. That rarely happens to me in the US (unless you count the one barista a couple years ago).

Every so often by aethucyn (2.00 / 0) #5 Thu Dec 14, 2006 at 03:27:35 PM EST
people will want to take a look at what I'm doing. This was decidedly better than the last time when I was working a temp job, and was riding home on the same subway as somebody I was working with. I didn't mind her wanting to look, but I wasn't keen when she asked me to draw her. Usually, I draw from imagination, sometimes I'll draw from a photograph, but working from reality that's right in front of me is very hard, particularly if it's a person and she knows what I'm doing. It was pretty awful. Similar thing happened at the beginning of November, when a co-worker who usually goes home another way took the train one night, and wanted to know what I was writing, then asked if she could be in it.

I think mostly, though, drawing or writing in a train station, or on the subway or in a cafeteria on my lunch break, only attracts the interest of people who are the least artistically inclined.

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I try to be discreet by Kellnerin (2.00 / 0) #8 Thu Dec 14, 2006 at 03:57:47 PM EST
when writing in places like train stations, on trains, etc. Mainly because most of the time what I'm writing is what the person next to me is saying.

"If a tree is impetuous in the woods, does it make a sound?" -- aethucyn
[ Parent ]
People amusing enough to be overheard by aethucyn (2.00 / 0) #9 Thu Dec 14, 2006 at 04:15:04 PM EST
are not the sort of people who notice what you're doing.

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(Comment Deleted) by Herring (2.00 / 0) #2 Thu Dec 14, 2006 at 12:58:27 AM EST

This comment has been deleted by Herring

vs2fp by 256 (2.00 / 0) #3 Thu Dec 14, 2006 at 05:28:22 AM EST
life is a series of escapes. personally, i just try to keep escaping to things rather than from them.
I don't think anyone's ever really died from smoking. --ni
At this point by aethucyn (2.00 / 0) #6 Thu Dec 14, 2006 at 03:40:36 PM EST
I don't think it's either a run from anything or to anything, it's just to feel the movement.

[ Parent ]
Re: Impetuous trees ... by Kellnerin (4.00 / 1) #4 Thu Dec 14, 2006 at 06:07:49 AM EST
No more sound than usual, but it may change the concentrations of certain minerals in the groundwater. </stealing-ana's-line>

There's something about the cadence of train announcements I find utterly mesmerizing, especially combined with the local accent reciting the names of towns. I can stare at maps and schedules for hours (I did some of this, actually, while procrastinating ondoing research for the NaNo.) Given recent developments, though, I think you should take over my franchise.

"If we build it, will they come, and what will they do when they get here?" -- iGrrrl

It's been a long time since I was quote in a sig. by aethucyn (2.00 / 0) #7 Thu Dec 14, 2006 at 03:44:05 PM EST
So is it now a coffee shop/library/publishing house on a train? It would be a mobile party though we'd get complaints if there wasn't any wireless.

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Mystery Train? Soul Train? Orient Express? | 9 comments (9 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback