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Saturday, May 22, 2004

Crazy in a Large City by the Bay 


We’re back from New Orleans! Almost a week of intense gluttony and dissipation left me in an exhausted state with no energy for blogging or much of anything else except converting rich food and alcohol to large storages of fat and fending off gout. Another big energy drain has been the book One Hundred Years of Solitude, which I finally soldiered through. While I found the magical realism style of Isabel Allende whimsical, illuminating and beautiful, Marquez’s was nightmarish and unsettling and, after a short while, tedious. I also cannot forgive him for renaming practically each character of the family's many overlapping generations the same name or a confusing variable of the same name, so I was almost never sure which character was doing what and couldn’t keep any of them straight. I have a feeling that more than a few members of Oprah's book club must have been reduced to tears.

Speaking of magical realism type situations, I’m back at the library and have a lot of odd incidences to report. Yesterday a homeless woman who looks a lot like Geena Davis spent most of the day parked at the table next to my desk. She had a thick mane of auburn hair which would be rather glorious if it weren’t so matted and unkempt. She was sporting a miniskirt and Flashdance style ankle warmers, and suffered from some skin condition which has left small purple scaly circles all over her legs and arms. It looked like an animal with suckers or the salt vampire on that Star Trek episode got after her. It’s probably just an extensive case of ringworm, which is highly contagious, come to think of it. Maybe as a courtesy the library should provide those bottles of disinfectant spray for its furniture like health clubs do for their weight machines.

She spent most of the day engrossed in a copy of Crazy in Alabama, and muttering and reading to herself out loud, cackling periodically as if to say, “I can relate!” or "You got that right, girlfriend!"
She was agitated and fidgety and keeps suddenly standing up and sitting down, displacing the air in her seat with a whoosh and driving it my way as effectively as bellows aimed directly at me would. Each gust of air was a nauseating potpourri of dried sweat, unwashed body, and that peculiar, characteristic chemical odor of mental illness. After she finished reading, she spent the rest of the day feverishly scribbling down notes on pieces of scrap paper, which I prayed that she will leave behind for me to read and add to my growing folder file marked "Writings of the Mad." No such luck, though.

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