To Be Read, Spring 2018

This post is a part of Top Ten Tuesday, a blog tag run by That Artsy Reader Girl. Despite that, this list only has seven books.

Walden by Henry David Thoreau

I’ve been wanting to read this book after hearing so many quotes from it and about Thoreau. He’s lived a pretty interesting life, and Walden reflects what is arguably one of the strangest of them.

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

Peer pressure is making me read this book. But that’s a lie: it’s really because my mother told me she hated it (a good indicator I’ll love it) and I enjoy high fantasy with complex worlds and even more complex politics. But I also want to be able to talk about it with my friends.

The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

My english teacher recommended it to me last year. I bought it on a whim sometime over the summer. I still haven’t read even the introduction, and I feel terrible about it–just languishing on the bookshelf. It’s not terribly long, either.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

From what I’ve seen of the TV short (BBC) and the recommendations I’ve received from a friend, I should have read this book approximately eight years ago (that good!). Instead, I’ve just purchased it, and haven’t even thought about reading it yet. Whoops.

The Relic Master by Christopher Buckley

I started this sometime last year–well before December. I’ve restarted it twice. I’ve sworn I was going to read it over the weekend in one fell swoop countless times. I have not idea what’s stopping me. The story is interesting enough, but for the godforsaken life of me I am too busy.

The Secret Life of Cows by Rosamund Young

Honestly, it sounds entertaining. I like cows. Stories about farm animals–dogs, horses, cats, ducks–were the backbone of my childhood. I could still tell you all about James Herriot’s stories, and this book reminds me of them.


WikiHow Articles That Have Never Been Written

How to Disappear in Plain Sight: Three Steps (No Pictures)

Whether you’re just looking to avoid drama or want to see you will pay attention to you, disappearing in plain sight can be a useful skill. Luckily, unlike most other forms of disappearance, disappearing in plain sight is actually advantaged by technology, since people are frequently more focused on their cell phones and social media than on the person standing across from them. In order to successfully become a hermit in broad daylight, to disappear in plain sight, you must change your appearance, behavior, and social circle.

One: Changing Your Appearance

  1. Your appearance is the first thing you must modify to disappear. It helps to do this gradually, since sudden changes may cause your more observant “friends” to notice what you are trying to do, and this is the last thing that you want.
  2. Begin with the clothing that you wear. Adapt to what others are wearing. While it may seem that wearing only neutrals or even all black would help you disappear, it may make you stand out, depending on your social circle, job, and school. If your peers dress in neon rave outfits, you must do the same. If they all dress is black business suits with white shirts, follow suit.
  3. Stop wearing perfume. Olfactory memories are some of the strongest memories. You do not want a previous acquaintance getting too close and suddenly remembering you when your perfume reminds them of a past situation.
  4. Start to look a little distant. People don’t like getting in the way of people that aren’t all there. Once you have successfully done this, start to look a little sad. Make sure you don’t look sad enough that anybody would try to talk to you–just leave a glimmer that subconsciously leaves even the most extroverted people avoidant.
  5. By the end of this, you will blend in physically while remaining socially unattached. Remember: if you were a part of several different groups, you will need to act and look differently for each group.

Two: Changing Your Behavior

  1. Once you begin modifying your appearance, you should also start modifying your behavior. This can be difficult to do, but slowly adopting new habits will lend authenticity and subtlety to your physical changes.
  2. Begin, first, by softening your voice and speaking less frequently. If you’re normally a loud and extroverted person, it is important to take this step very slowly. People will notice this–your interactions with them–first. If people do notice that “you haven’t been talking as much lately”, make a vague excuse (“Sorry, allergies have made my throat scratchy!” or “But your stories were so interesting I didn’t want to interrupt!”). Eventually, you won’t speak, and certainly won’t be spoken to.
  3. Be good at everything, but not too good. Just good enough you’re third or fourth on people’s lists of people to call when they’ve got a problem. Remember that the third and fourth spots on those lists don’t exist. The most important thing to remember about this is don’t be special. No matter your personality or desires, invisibility requires destruction of the unique.
  4. Walk without purpose; drift aimlessly. Find yourself on the outer edges of conversations for a few brief moments, and then move on. You are becoming a ghost of yourself.
  5. Modify your personality to fit whatever group you’re stalking the outskirts of. Be careful, though, or you’ll forget you ever had one.

Three: Watching Your Social Circle Collapse

  1. Now that you’ve successfully modified both your physical appearance and social behavior, you can quietly sit back and watch the fruits of your labor unfold. Stand silently on the sidelines as your social circle stretches before your eyes and then slowly collapses into itself like a gaping black hole.
  2. Watch first from the corners of parties as everybody else is swept up in conversation. Then from the smoker’s porch as you no longer have anybody sweeping past you, mostly just to say “how’s it going?” Finally, watch from the safety of your living room, no longer invited out. The one time you break your fast from interpersonal contact, you text an old friend about whether or not they’re having a party this weekend. They reply that they should have sent you an invitation. They didn’t.
  3. Try not to die. There won’t be anybody to claim the body.

The Mind Palace

I move along the edges of the room, rough hewn floors, the opposite side of a roof. A dormer to either side, a surprisingly spacious attic. The floors barely creak with my passing, with tells me this is the place they walked, this is the path that they traced out as the paced after a long day, cleaning all forty-two toilets in this godforsaken hellhouse, trying to keep themselves worn even when their bones wanted rest, damn the seeping cold. Damn the seeping leak to the right of the left dormer, too. Drip drip drip drip.

I walk the road again, searching for something. There is only an ancient card catalogue, set against the wall opposite to me, and an old bed frame, mattress long gone, and a few boxes stacked haphazardly. This treasure trove, this bounty laid before me, was like a mammoth in the room. Except mammoths are extinct–so they like the elephant in the room.

Finally, I find it: a moth ball, wedged so far into the far corner that I can imagine that it’s been there since the house was first built, just after the lord of the estate had walked up his nervous maid up the stairs to her new home, told her to sleep here and work there and not be too loud. When I go to dig it out, it takes a bit of prying with my fingernails, and part of the circle had been folded into the two intersecting edges of a cube. I admire it for a moment, a freak of geometry, before tucking into in my pocket and resuming my pacing.

This mindless labor would continue until. Until what, I could not say. Only that it would continue until it was done and then I would know it was finished, and I could be free of this place. So on and so forth and back and forth and back and forth.

I cross again, this time to straighten the stack of boxes. It may have been my angle of glance, but they didn’t seem quite straight. Crooked stacks of boxes were unacceptable–simply unacceptable. I imagined the old lord of the estate saying that: “Simple unacceptable, Miss Daniels! Simply unacceptable!” The posh voice, the accent of a Brit only recently in the states, the voice dripping with honey and money. And then the follow up comes: the cane and the shouts and the sounds of wood hitting flesh, maybe even cracking bones. Unacceptable.

I was stuck there, stuck in my shoes, dazed for a brief moment, until I shook it off and went to finish with the boxes. It sometimes seemed like the house was giving my visions. I knew that wasn’t true, I wasn’t crazy, it just felt that way. Like the walls were so rich with history that it was impossible not to brush against it and be taken back to the past once in a while. I remind myself not to brush against the walls. They have seen too many things. And by that I mean, I swear I mean, that they are so old that I do not want to contaminate them with my filthy modern skin and modern fingerprints and modern cells.

When I am over on that side of the room, I decide to take a few glances at the card catalogue. The fronts of the cards carefully catalogued the previous owner’s extensive library, even though I had the haunting suspicion that he had read very few of them.  I was probably just being cynical. It is one of my worst traits, or so I’ve heard. The backs of the cards catalogued the librarian-maid’s extensive emotions. I gently pick up a yellowed card from the box marked “Zt-Zz”, one of her later entries, which only said “I am very tired. It is finished.” Much shorter than some of the notes left on the backs of the cards.

Christopher the Cabbage Boy had wanted to get rid of them, but I had asked him not to. When I told him about the maid’s diary he agreed. Then he agreed again when I told him that we could preserve the cards and use the catalogue for our own library. But I lied, and when he asked for my help in taking the cards out, I told him it was cruel and unusual punishment to remove to pieces of history so intrinsically intertwined with each other. It was like separating twins. That is when he started making that face that I didn’t understand.

He made the face more and more the more time I spent up here, cleaning it up, removing the things that didn’t belong. I let him keep four boxes there of our own things, because four is a good number, and there weren’t too many boxes to impede the space. Then we talked about how many boxes we could really fit up there if we didn’t leave room for the probably-existing ghosts, and decided that it was quite a lot. He made the face a few times, but not too many, until I asked him why I called him Cabbage Boy again.

He shook his head. “You’ve never called me Cabbage Boy before.”

And I said, “But I always have.”

His face never totally unfurled after that, even though I still don’t understand what could upset him so after a simple question on a Saturday evening.

The sound of footsteps on the stairs made my entire body tense up like there was a bear behind me, and I carefully closed the catalogue, trying to sweep away the lingering fears of an angry estate master. Maybe he was a bit of a bear, though. I didn’t have a photograph of him. I has always imagined a slight, perhaps even foxy, but rather charming man. But he could have been big and burly and overbearing, covered in hair up to his eyeballs.

Cabbage Boy stepped into the room. He said, “I just got off the phone with the doctor. She say she’ll see you on Tuesday. Tomorrow. At three.”

“Why?” I asked him.

“She said it was a…general checkup.”

“Okay.” I accept his answer.

He stands there for a second, awkwardly crossing and uncrossing his arms before he casts his eyes down and goes to leave. I call after him.

“Wait, you aren’t going to give me a kiss before you go?”

A wan smile crosses his lips as he crosses the room, delivers a swift peck to my cheek, and then leaves again, this time going down the stairs completely. I try to push back the foreboding feeling, that of being abandoned in the ninth circle of hell, surrounded by traitors and not being right with god. I know that’s a crazy feeling. After all, only crazy people believe that god is trying to punish them. And I’m not crazy.