Friday, June 15, 2012

as i come down to only a couple of weeks left at work before i officially retire, it's almost as if the building i'm in is screaming at me. that's right, the people are all being really nice, and even the weather is nice, but the building itself is going bonkers. the workers directly outside start up at odd hours with their jackhammer right while i'm trying to teach. they've broken gas mains twice and we get e-mails about possible evacuation. once the lights went all the way off, and i was way back in my cave-room which is technologically very nice, except that, with no electricity, it was very dark. a colleague suggested that the workers had busted the gas mains out of latent hostility for the academic culture or merely the fact that we teach every day, and they are out there digging in the dirt etc. i didn't buy it. for one thing, if i was out there digging in the dirt, i'd bust a gas main too, just out of sheer cluelessness. it's easy to bust a gas main. it's easy to bust two or three of them. i've come to saying that in fact they are making a round concrete flowerbed, raised up off the center, so as to provide a venue for the skateboarders who have been in the shadows for years as i enter and exit the building in the afternoons and evenings. these guys love the concrete edges, the flat spots, the angular concrete drabness of the place which of course make an arched back, a rounded skateboard, and a bloody knee all the more colorful by providing a backdrop. in a perfect world the university would say to them: we need you to provide the entertainment; we will provide the venue and not bother you when your wheels chew up the concrete, as long as you fall once in a while and remind us that we aren't young anymore, and are lucky to have a steady job in this drab, angular, flat, concrete behemoth of a building. i used to complain about the flat roof, the leaks, the moldy carpet, the incredibly gray pocked surface of the walls but in fact it got me to getting my camera out and taking pictures of the trees and plants, the live things that would appear in front of it, and i also wrote "abstract and concrete" which tells a little ironically about teaching concepts in a building such as this. i don't know if i will or could collect all this documentation, it's out there, it's in this blog to some degree, it's also on youtube where i put this a few years back; it's around, but now i'm remembering all that & thinking, this building is one of the things i'll miss. now you see, i have a cell phone, and first thing i pop-arted it and started up again with my documentation. i can't resist. this drab old building is screaming out at me. in the hallway by my office is an old garbage can with a simon sticker, see below. this sticker is faded and yellow, maybe thirty years old, predates me by about twelve, but when it's poparted, it can be any of several colors. somebody pointed out, i'd survived a number of crises, whole eras. this is what i notice as i take out my files and dump them into the recycling bins. if i had time i'd slow down and read some of it, but time is already running out; i only have an hour or so a day to devote to pitching and sorting, and even that, i'm too tired to do. i take a break and go get another cup of coffee. it seems like we, cesl, and the construction guys are about the only ones around. construction fences, boarded up walkways that have become concrete tunnels, dust from cement and constuction of a nearby building, trucks pulling out as i get my putt-putt out of a sun-baked parking lot. i'm trying to teach too. you can pitch the paper; there's tons of it, and it was just waiting to be pitched. the concrete, though, has gotten under my skin, it's become a part of me. in its splotchy, flat-roofed kind of way, especially when you come to the glass, and you look at the reflection in it, and what do you see but more splotchy gray concrete. it's like i'm looking right back into my own soul, but even the color, any color, is just an illusion, a little pop art created by a camera. in reality there's no color no color at all, just shades of gray.


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