Essays of E.B. White

A few weeks ago the author the the Mrs. Peregrine’s series of books visited a local book shop, The King’s English, in Salt Lake City. The book shop anchors a block growing with businesses isolated in a neighborhood made of young families and forward thinking couples who “can see raising a family here.” The shop itself was once a home. The proprietors added rooms to accommodate their popularity or, as with most book lovers, to accommodate more books.

Our family likes to visit the small book shop. They invite authors we enjoy reading. Our kids prepared for the event. They finished listening to the first Mrs.Peregrine’s audiobook and watched the movie, “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children”. They were excited to ask the author questions.

Ransom Riggs, the author, sat in the room lined with children’s books. The room filled quickly with kids and even more excited parents. My wife and kids snaked through the maze of bodies. Their lithe limbs squeezed onto vacant patches of carpet toward the back.

I wandered through the other rooms hoping to find a chair. Success, a small room with a wicker chair. Next to the chair I found a section of books instructing me on the craft of writing. I noticed a light blue spine, “The Essay’s of E.B. White.” Not one to notice plain light blue book spines, I plucked it from the shelf.

I read the first sentence of the Preface. “The essayist is a self-liberated man, sustained by the childish belief that everything he thinks about, everything that happens to him, is of general interest (White).” I knew at that moment I shall read this book. I approached the cashier and purchased it before prudence set. Returning to the wicker chair, I started reading the first essay.

(White) Essays of E.B. White, First Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 1999

#thought, #writing

Taking pictures to share defeats the purpose of doing

I asked myself, “Self, if you were younger and bored, what would you want to do?” Self scratched his chin, “Well, frisbee is fun.” I don’t have a frisbee, well I didn’t and now I do, but on the drive to get the frisbee I had a social aneurysm, “Self, if you are going to play frisbee you will have to take video cause pictures will not really convey the experience.” The anti-rational me was like, “WTF? Seriously? How the fuck will you throw and catch a frisbee while you take video? And no one cares about you playing frisbee, except those you at playing frisbee with!”

Why is my second thought, “How will I share this experience with someone who isn’t here, who doesn’t want to hang out with me, who has their own stuff they want to do?” The rational me has excuses and metrics about social media, and sharing with family who isn’t here with us, blah blah, fuck that. The people here with me now care about me, they are with me now because they care or in the instance of younger kids, they have to. Either way, they are here doing shit with me. They care about this moment more than anyone digitally ever would.

The anti-rational me has it figured out. Do what makes you happy and enjoy those who you are with. Forget the future, forget the past. Live, now, live.

#me, #thought

I was there, they were not-ish

A few months ago I deleted my social media accounts. I do not notice any more. I do notice people around me. Last night at a Utah Jazz and San Antonio Spurs basketball game a couple sat in front of us. They had two boys with them. They appeared to be in their 40s. Both stared down at their phones while the game played below them. We sat in the upper seats so the giant screen magnifying the events below was in front of us.

I peered over their shoulders at their screens. I have written and backspaced a dozen sentences trying to justify or minimize my rudeness. The voice on one shoulder is laughing and the voice on the other is jumping up and down, “No, No No, that is a lie and you know it!” I was rude for doing so but I will continue with my story.

The wife was posting some text over a video clip. She wasn’t fast like I see the kids do whose thumbs are nearly as fast as myself on a keyboard with two hands and ten digits. She held her phone in the palm of her hand and typed with one finger clearly dating herself. He was on some social media feed flipping up mindlessly. A male voice yelled something at the court. I couldn’t understand what was said. I looked up scanning the seats below me. It sounded like it came from somewhere near our seats. I see a guy, a big guy. His head shaved with stubble left. The fuzzy wrinkles on his head looked like Sharpei’s face. He was only a few rows below us and to the left. He held his phone in his hand. He was text messaging someone with long paragraphs. To my immediate left was a youngish guy who had his phone out in his hand. I my rudeness would have been too obvious, so I didn’t look at his screen. I deduced some social media feed. His thumb flipped his screen also. To the right was a college age boy who also stared down at his screen flipping through something.

Six months ago I would not have noticed them. I would have been taking pictures of the game and thinking way to hard about hashtags. My wife would have commented about my lack of attention to the game. I would have commented about how I really don’t like basketball. She would say that it’s not about the game its about spending time with the family. I did not think about that narrative last night. Last night I was rude for five or so minutes. I then averted my attention to the game. “So what are the nuances of the rules?” My wife asks. “What do they call the percentage of shots they make? What is a good percentage?” I didn’t know the answers. I grasped at something’s from the deepest recesses of my memory. I opened my mouth and some, “Wah, wha wah,” came out. I recovered and said, “I really don’t know?”

The game was a summer game series. I do not understand the significance or lack of significance. The seats were really cheap. I do not follow basketball. Coming from the lineage of a Japanese grandfather, none of us played basketball. Coming from the lineage of a poor working class family most of the cousins didn’t play sports. I don’t have photos of the event on my phone. I don’t have a record of the event on social media. I do remember the game, the conversation with my wife. I remember my my daughter watching some halftime guys jumping on trampolines and doing slam dunk tricks. I remember my wife asking my daughter if she thought she could do that. She answered with a confident and absentminded, “yeah.”

#chris-wessells, #creativity, #me, #writing