Monday, October 17, 2016

Smoke that Won't Settle

The smoke is beginning to clear, but the sky shows plumes of dark grey rising high into the atmosphere. People are breathing easier in the Antelope Valley, but days earlier the “Sand Fire”, as the news called it, burned in Santa Clarita and crept close to Aqua Dulce and Acton. In Palmdale it smelled like campfire and visible pieces of ash floated in the sky like miniature grey grocery bags. In Acton The horse people toted their horses away in giant expensive metal trailers, and people evacuated their homes, but today, everyone is back home and the air is clear.
“Everyone breathing better?” A chipper jury orientation worker asked, “Crazy, wasn’t it? Much better today.” She answered herself.

A plaque is mounted in the front of the jury assembly  room requesting jurors to consider giving our juror fees to worthwhile court projects.  I’m reading the plaque and wondering why the state doesn’t keep the fees in the first place. Nobody appreciates the value the court pays per day for juror services. The fifteen dollars a day feels somewhat close to the insult of a shitty tip. It doesn’t change the feeling of having lost a day in the slightest, it even seems wasteful of the state: as if the energy to cool our irritation creates as much hot animosity.

 Regardless, never pay someone and tell them they earned it and expect them to easily part with it. Anything stated as having been earned quickly becomes indivisible from anything else that had been earned in one’s life. That fifteen dollars that could have just as easily been withheld instead gets mailed out, and made a small joke of, before it’s undeniably signed and deposited into a bank account. 

Two women are sitting behind me and one with a masculine voice has taken the reigns of conversation. In a matter of two minutes I've learned that she owns ten thousand VHS tapes, she doesn't believe in carpel tunnel, she only gives out gummy candy at Halloween, and she joined the basketball team as a teenage girl to date guys on the team but was only asked out by the short boys. People with such rapid and eccentric stories don't actually get excited when they are in the midst of an experience. It's like they're so under stimulated in everyday life they take the key points of each moment and turn it into a story. The second woman attempts to say a few things about her family to relate but the other woman sputters with noises during each fraction of a pause to kick-start her motor mouth.

 It's a shame people don't find satisfaction in talking to themselves. I think if they did, they would and to avoid looking crazy they’d do it in the privacy in their own home, laying down somewhere comfortable with the lights off. They’d go for hours on end seeking words to express their random, uninhibited, and uninterrupted thoughts like how an electronic toy malfunctions when it's batteries are low, taking liberty in irrational expression as it lulls itself to death. But most humans are in the state of living, and we need another human’s blinks and nods and yeses to know it for sure.

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