i recently emailed my mother and referred her to a picture i took -- the same one down there, a couple posts ago.
this is an actual, unaltered paragraph excerpted from her reply.
I liked your picture of -- what is it, Big Ben? Or is that like looking at a picture of Mark Twain and thinking that it's Einstein? Anyway, it looks nice and warm over there. We're into the 100's every day, and I have discovered quite scientifically that we are the opposite of lizards. Whereas when it's very hot, the lizards get frisky, when it's hot for us humans we just get sluggish. Every little thing seems hard -- like work, to take a random example.
since my computer isn't easily transportable, i've been doing most of my web-surfing on LSE network machines in the library or computer rooms when it fits into my schedule. i have a fairly consistent routine of logging in every day between 1:00 and 3:00 at the library and a nonroutine habit of popping into the computer room at my residence once every day or so, and it's allowed me to notice some of the basic character types to be found at the various computer workstations.
type one is the dedicated emailer. the DE types emails in outlook or using webmail with a great deal of intensity. no gratuitous open windows are used by the DE; single-mindedly committed to maintaining the lines of e-communication, he or she has fingers on the keys, eyes on the screen, and brow wrinkled in potent concentration.
type two is the american sports fan. the ASF is always, without fail, male. sometimes he reads yahoo sports, but the window he normally has open is espn. the ASF spends more time at a workstation than any other user, because there is JUST SO MUCH TO FIND OUT ABOUT IN AMERICAN SPORTS AND HE DOESN'T WANT TO MISS A THING WHILE HE'S OVERSEAS.
type three is the over-the-shoulder watcher. the OTSW is monstrously irritating. after logging in, the OTSW allows his or her eyes to drift over to the computer screen in front of his/her neighbour, and they stay there, presumably reading and prying, until the neighbour turns to look pointedly back in annoyance. the OTSW actually does very little on the computer; he or she usually checks email, ryanair.com and one or two other sites of miscellany. more concerned, it seems, is the OTSW with the activity of users around him/her. the OTSW is very dense in the cranial area, and even after repeated pointed looks fails to realize his/her rudeness.
type four is the hard worker. you can't really say anything negative about HWs because, well, they work so damn hard and you must admire them, plugging away at any time of day with piles of printed material in their laps, books and notepads on the desk surface, and spreadsheets or powerpoint presentations gleaming from the monitor. you almost feel sorry for HWs, but they seem to thrive in their particular mode of operation, so you let 'em enjoy it. besides, maybe there is a finite amount of work in the world so that the more they do, the less there is for you?
type five is me. i'm like the food pyramid of computer users: a bit of everything.
have a reason. if i have to argue with you, i should deserve it. if i disparaged your kin, slept with your best friend, or kicked your dog, bring it on. tell me off. teach me a lesson. but if your contention is that i was "snobbish" and/or "different" to you in the days that followed a few hours' company, then perhaps an angry confrontation in the street is a bit premature.
have evidence. when i ask what 'different' means, shrugging is not a particularly enlightening response. nor does it help to repeat your statement that we had one pleasant afternoon together after which i was different. yes, thank you, i heard you the first time. what i did not hear was any sort of definition for 'different' or justification for your shaky claim.
have a point. news flash: when i say, "i'm really sorry; i had no intention of behaving differently or snobbishly toward you and i apologise for giving that impression," and you say, "that's not what i want," i must say i'm left at a loss for discerning your purpose in starting the argument. furthermore, the sentence "i just wanted to tell you" actually tells me very little apart from the fact that you clearly think you not only have all the answers but also have the duty to impart them to others. why thank you.
have some decency. you've got nerve, my good man, to pull the "you're only 21" card. if you think age is so unsurprisingly deterministic, how is it that i slipped through your immaturity detector before? it's terribly convenient for you to blame your dissatisfaction with me on an elemental quality the implications and meanings of which can be twisted and yanked to justify a whole range of possibilities for my behavior. it's less convenient, i daresay, for you to recognize that there was a disparity between your expectations of me and the extent to which i fulfilled them. if i haven't lived up to your hopes, maybe your hopes were inflated. and especially after you made such a show during our last meeting of passing judgment -- good judgment -- judgment that included, notably, the words "mature for your age" -- you're in no position to blame on my paucity of years your unrealized designs for our relationship.
have respect. even sarcasm fails me here. how dare you condescend to me. your complacent shrugging, your rolling eyes, your self-satisfied assertion that the way i've acted is "not how to treat a person" -- it's flamingly hypocritical. how dare you accuse me of denial. my claims to confusion rest legitimately on an understanding of our relationship that is somewhere between nonexistent and wrong. how dare you put blame on me for my naïveté, for hoping you had no agenda. you make my innocence out to be a conniving scheme aimed at your frustration. you validate my worries that you had an ulterior motive and then punish me for not playing along. how dare you assume that i owed you anything.
have some class. stopping me in the middle of a busy sidewalk in central london? please. give me some warning next time; i'll put on a gown and stilettos and we'll fight in style. the heel would fit perfectly into your face.
when you go to the half-price ticket booth and they offer you £26 tickets in the back of the first balcony, opt out and take your chances with the subject-to-availability student discount at the box office thirty minutes before curtain, because you just might score front row, first balcony seats at twenty quid apiece.
on a related note, i think one sure sign that you've scored good seats is being asked to leave by someone who thinks you're in his seat until you point out that he's in the wrong circle, sorry, and will have to go up another level. something about the way his smile disppears tells you you're in an enviable spot.
this spring, i compiled a mix that a few weeks ago made its way into my cd case and thus into my backpack, onto an airplane, over an ocean and ultimately, tonight, into my player. i'd nearly forgotten how much i liked it, a perfect soundtrack for my late evening hours:
the programs abroad office at my university just forwarded me an email which goes something like this:
I am a student who plans to live in London for the next year. I have gotten a flat with two other students which is spacious, located at the heart of central London, and affordable -- about $460 a month given the current exchange rate. We are looking for someone with whom we can share the flat. Can you forward this message to other students in London?
The Angel of Temptation
trying - to - resist - trying - so - hard - to - resist --