Observing Observations

Coffee cups cross my path regularly while I'm out scrounging books, and an overflowing kitchen cupboard attests to my failure of will when it comes to purchasing interesting, offbeat examples.  I brought some to work in a (futile) effort to alleviate crowding, examples which were impractical for home use due to peculiarities of design or size, or fear of destruction at the hands of my heedless five year old.
But as they were integrated into my ritual morning visitation of the cafe next door, the baristas took notice-  workers in any retail environment being sensitized to the unusual, minor deviations from the routine casting outsize shadows, and so it went with my small collection.  Soon I was 'The Cup Guy', each new example passed around behind the counter for inspection.  And noticing things changes them- while out scrounging, I began imposing a new criteria on my ceramic finds; what would the cafe crew think of them? Were they interesting enough to pass muster?

Also, I began swapping cups more often.  
Traditionally I've had one cup at the shop, and that cup served a life sentence until lost or broken.
 Now I have three- a small cup for cappuccinos, a mid sized one for lattes and a large cup for mornings that require an upgrade to 16oz.  Every so often I'll stand down the current trio and bring in a fresh squad from home. 

Today I unveiled my holiday mug, white and rimmed with mistletoe above a cavorting Santa oblivious to the weight of his overstuffed gift sack.  He was greeted with enthusiasm, the validation of my thrift store selection kindling a spark of satisfaction somewhere down deep.  

A tiny thing, but gather enough together and they can sustain you through a cold snap.


Recently a friend asked for a Top Ten list of books I've read this year.
Given my amorphous sense of time it's not a request I'm structurally inclined to respond to.  If something happened one week ago or five years ago, my brain files it in the same drawer, a shadowy jumble labeled 'A While Back'.  

What books have I read this year?  I couldn't say.  I just finished Didion's Play It As It Lays, and M. John Harrison's Viriconium is one of the finest works of fantasy I've ever come across, but the rest all end up in the undifferentiated mass of everything I've read lately, with 'lately' encompassing a decade or so.

Happily for my pal, I'm a member of a Facebook book discussion group, which led to an informal keeping of tabs.  I made a list of what I read with a few notes for each title, which will enable me to compile a top ten.  
The process of keeping the list, of paying attention to my reading, had other benefits beyond the ability to join the year end list-making frenzy.  I could eye the list and see which titles were festering on my shelf (labeled as 'in progress'), which could inspire me to either pick them up again (as happened with 'Play It As It Lays') or abandon them (as with the grotesquely Colonial 'The Men of India').  

And absent the list if you'd asked me how many books I read this year I'd have answered just a few, A While Back's conjoined twin.

But counting them up, the tally stands at 50, with a few more destined for completion before the termination of the year.

Not a tremendous number, but many more than I'd have guessed and not a bad total for a working parent.
I think I'll roll the project over and see if I can top 50 books in 2014.

Fuss likes those books which are the spiritual progeny of Where's Waldo?, requiring close observation of a cluttered page to find an object or solve a mystery.  Last night we were perusing a 'spot the differences' variation which presented two nearly identical vistas on facing pages, and there discovered a problem.  
Fuss' examination was acute enough that he was spotting imperfections which weren't the intended differences.  

"Dada, does that doggies teeth look SHARPER to you?"
And yes, they did, but very minutely so, the result of an artist's lapse of attention, not an intentional difference. .

"Dada, does that alien's eye look SMALLER to you?"

This went on for a good five minutes after he'd bagged the last official, intentional difference, Fuss spotting increasingly minute fluctuations in technique and reproduction & dragging me along behind him down the rabbit hole.  

I once thought my own implacable eye for detail and nuance, my borderline psychic insight into the motivations and intentions of certain people, was a reaction to my childhood, the way front line soldiers learn to sense the atmospheric change occasioned by an incoming shell or rocket and subconsciously intuit the location of snipers & booby traps.
Being around Fuss, I think it's all just inherent.  My inability to dial it back or disengage it altogether is likely an evolution brought on by that unstintingly hostile environment, but the perceptive ability itself seems to be genetic.

Hopefully his placid, loving home life will endow Fuss with a more responsive control panel to regulate his insights than the sparking, malfunctioning Frankenstein lever that was issued to Dada.

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