December 19, 2007

Snippets and Snow Globes

There's a snow globe I keep on my desk at the office, made entirely of one unseamed surface of clear glass: a sculpted mountain peak and, in one tiny crevice, the Swiss flag painted in red. I tend to pick it up in the mornings, as I'm waiting for my coffee to cool, and tip it two or three times. Once the snow settles, I try to get some work done.

When I was flying home from Switzerland (completely unaware that I'd already won a book prize), I panicked that they would confiscate the snow globe from my carry-on bag bag. And as it turns out, the TSA has a rule dictating that they should have done just that. The TSA also has a rule that their employees "are trained not to communicate, distract, interact, play, feed, or pet service monkeys." Monkeys? Is there a substantial service monkey contingent I had missed?

This is a quiet ending to a noisy year.

I've been laying low on the poetry front, working on a prose project that--while unlikely to come to fruition, I keep sternly reminding myself--would be a dream opportunity if it did. There's a musculature to the short essay (under 1,000 words) that is really winning me over. "Just enough time to open a subject, expand it, and close it again," said my friend Richard. Just enough space that you can illustrate a story with a few quotes and moments genuinely remembered; not so much space that you're tempted to add filler that may or may not be true. That, to me, was the ethical intricacy (and ultimately, discouraging factor) of creative non-fiction.

If you're looking for a distraction over the holidays: Reading Life, with Sven Birkerts. As someone who usually detests "books about books," I was utterly captivated.

Also: hot cider, spiced with rum. Mmmmmmm.

2 comments:

Anne said...

Service monkeys are cool! I met one once. People who are quadriplegic sometimes use them; the monkeys can pick up dropped things, fetch things, fasten or open things, turn the pages of a book, and so on. You don't tend to see a ton of them out in public because the monkeys generally don't care for unfamiliar environments, or so I'm given to understand.

http://www.helpinghandsmonkeys.org/ is a good place to learn more about them.

And yes indeed to hot cider spiced with rum. Wish I had some right now!

Sandra said...

Damn, you really DO learn something new every day. Thanks Anne!