Thursday, June 10, 2010

Social Interactions

Today after school I got a cup of coffee at Floyd's. I wanted to sit and zone and check email and be in my head, but around some other people. The end of the school year is rough. I'm done, the kids are done, and we all still have so much work to do, and it's not over.

But there's this old guy at Floyd's today, he wants to chat. He's on the couch, I sit in an armchair nearby with my coffee. He ruminates about how important coffee is to this nation. I nod and smile--he's right. He says, "Where would we be without coffee? I say, "Asleep. I'd be asleep." Then he starts telling me about how his dad's parents came from Norway--I say, "My dad's parents too." He keeps talking then he says he forgot the story he was going to tell me. The guy in the other armchair moves to a nearby table. I get out my computer and open it, shutting him out. I'm not unfriendly, but I'm not friendly. A little while later, he leaves.

No conclusions. Still thinking about it. Lots of thoughts. Thoughts about Portland vs. Brooklyn and how much less I interact with strangers. Thoughts about generational interactions and how those are also much more rare these days--I have very few people in my daily life who are older than my mother, and not many people in my daily life who are her age. Thoughts about choosing my computer over hearing his story, as much of it as he could remember. Thoughts about loneliness.

Also thinking about how many of my interactions with strangers happened on the subway in New York, on the buses, on the street. I am an interactor. I welcome the interactions and they come to me. But it happens less here. And it wasn't sustainable there.

Like I said, lots of thoughts.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

My hundred most influential writers, continued.

Today I cut the following people off my list, and in this way I got it down to a hundred:

Rosemary Wells
Ezra Jack Keats
Peggy Parish (Amelia Bedelia)
Edith Hamilton (Mythology)
Lorrie Moore
John Cheever
Brian Selznick

Below are the others who didn't make the final list (but who got written down--I should've written down more of the writers who flew through my head). I am still uncertain about comic book artists and zinesters. Cindy Crabb (Doris) is the only zinester on the list as it now stands, and Lynda Barry is the only comic book writer. Celia and I were discussing this, and she said how it would be interesting to make lists every few years, and see how they evolved. My list at twenty would've had more zinesters on it, I'm sure. Maybe this list should too. But I think partly I feel like my friendships with zinesters were the influence, as much as their writing in their zines. It was the dialogue. This list isn't about dialogue, it's about writers who made a deep impression on me through their books, through their published words. I'm annotating the list now, and I'll post it sometime soon.

Amy Hempel
Zora Neale Hurston
Walter Mosley
Arundhati Roy
Amy Bloom
Toni Cade Bambara
Thornton Wilder
J.R.R. Tolkien
Isaac Bashevis Singer NP
Leo Tolstoy
Ernest Hemingway
Vladimir Nabokov
Thomas Hardy
V.C. Andrews
John Saul
Stephen King
Ralph Ellison
Richard Wright
Susan Cooper
Charles Simic
Naomi Shihab Nye
Katzuro Ishiguro
Michael Ondaatje
William Maxwell
W.G. Sebald
Ntozake Shange
Tennessee Williams
Arthur Miller
Jose Saramago NP
Mimi Nguyen
Aaron Cometbus
Langston Hughes
Joy Williams
Wallace Stegner
Harper Lee
Gary Larson (Far Side)
Bill Watterson (Calvin & Hobbes)
Berkeley Breathed (Bloom County)
Mad Magazine
Nella Olsen
Dorothy Allison
Leslie Feinberg