Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Other

image via
Let me just start out by saying: I'm sure I'm not suffering from multiple personalites. I worked for a psychiatrist who will vouch for me.

I picked up a book at Borders the other day called Don't Quit Your Day Job. Not that I have a day job. I'm technically self-unemployed.

Anyway, the book is a bunch of southern authors explaining how the round about way of becoming a writer is part rite of passage, part pain in the (choose physical location).

My takeaway from Howard Bahr's piece was The Other: That sentient being who seems to observe the situation from afar, who notices little details that, if one were alone, one would miss in the fleeting moment. Apparently, Mr. Bahr has one. Do you have one? I know I have one.

I know The Other is always with me, because I notice ridiculous things all the time, but I can count on one hand the amount of times The Other has made a strong presence known. The sun slants a certain way. The geese flying overhead sing a special song. The scent of earth, or sea, or perhaps chrysanthemums pervades the air. And laughter. There is always laughter, but to The Other, it seems far away. Only the details of place snap into focus.

Last time I was in an emergency room, The Other took notes on the color of the cords.

How the indistinguishable, putty tangle plugged into seemingly random receptacles.
How the floor tiles cracked where there was a surely buckle in the concrete beneath.
How someone really needed to clean the baseboards with good, strong bleach.
How bleach would have been a preferable scent to the plastic and antiseptic floating around.

There were pages of notes. They were the observations of The Other, because I was worrying about the sleeping boy on the bed.

When we were discharged, The Other watched some EMTs wheel a grey-faced man into an ambulance. Watched the doors close. Felt the whole room breathe again.Watched the wife crumble as reality crashed down.

The Other is there when I just can't be. And I'm glad for it. Who can bear such joy and such pain?


Old Kitty said...

Oooh I like this sentient being The Other!! I'd give mine a nicer name though - like Binky or Bob!

But seriously - it's the little details that make a whole story.

Take care

Carolyn V said...

Oh, I like The Other. Plus Don't Quit your Day Job sounds great! I'll have to check it out.

Matthew MacNish said...

I think I have this.

PK HREZO said...

I believe the Other exists all the time, and thank goodness! Someone has to take control when things get out of hand!

LTM said...

ooo... that's an interesting way to look at it. I think I'm too much with the Other half the time. And I know my youngest is... LOL!

Great writing, C~ :o) <3

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

Yesterday, I saw an O.T. who wore open-toed sandals with the toenails painted the same color as her fingernails. She wore a fake designer purse, had enough peroxide pumped into her hair to bleach it down to the roots with the hair tossed and weaved throughout. Pushing fifty, it was quite the image despite the fact that I was in a hospital trying to impress upon her assistive technology for the severely handicapped. I could imagine such a person fooling with urine-filled leg bags and drool just all seemed so surreal. Outside the hospital room was a wall of white faces dressed up in their Sunday best. A plaque announced them as the Board of Directors...not a minority amongst them...all pasty white blue-eyed caucasians. Underneath them was the bronzed statue of one of their own to whom they venerate. The staff walked by in pristine green scrubs, carrying $5.00 mochas from the Starbucks just down the hall.

Perhaps my "Other" noticed these things? It just didn't seem like this was a place where sick people go. Sick is nasty, dirty, and so is death. The hospital would make me ashamed to even be there, spilling all my fluids...dirtying up the place with my death. How strange.

Golden Eagle said...

Interesting idea that there's something Other; especially that it notices the little things.

It sounds like an interesting book!

Janet Johnson said...

Great post! The Other does a lot more than we realize sometimes. And yeah, I definitely have one, too.

Glynis Peters said...

My other noticed three things on your blog, each one triggered a sentence or two for her next novel! I needed a word trigger or two and the other found:

Geese flying overhead
scent of the sea/earth
Sun slant

Permission to recycle?

Carolyn Abiad said...

Recycle away, Glynis!

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