Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Bloor Line, cradled in the middle seat

Caucasian woman, early 40s, brown hair with blonde highlights, wearing an orange overcoat and scarf, and a striking black and silver ring. The umbrella in her lap is highlighter-green. Her hand is held to her mouth. She breathes into it like a mitt. The train empties and fills twice, and she sits, chest heavy, lost in her page.

Canoe Lake, Roy Macgregor (McClelland & Stewart)

Page 82:

The only light came from a bare bulb that hung on a cord from the ceiling. Eleanor had to use both hands and much of her strength to pull the bundles free, step outside the fire door, and spread them over the newsprint rolls. She then opened her purse and pulled out the notebook with the information from the graveyard.
Three hours in the emergency room you finally stand, frustrated, and march to the front desk.

"I can see the skin healing already. I had a tetanus shot just last year. I'd like to sign out."

"A doctor will see you shortly. Please wait right here."

A young man in a lab coat approaches and takes your hand like he's your prom date. You wince.

"Really, it's fine."

"We're just gonna take a quick look..." He unwraps the paper towels from your pinkie and a stream of blood empties onto a pile of file folders. She's standing behind him. She goes pale. The doctor guides you gently, his hand low on your back. Over his shoulder he calls to the nurse, and her.

"Curtain two. You can come."

She takes a moment. She can't stand the sight of raw meat. This can only be worse.

13 comments:

ZitaKatalin said...

I'd love to be as lost in a book as she was (her hand is held to her mouth, breathing into it like a mitt...) ...

I'm too damn composed when I read in public. Constantly conscious of others around me. I think so far I've only slightly smirked, and might have had a tear fall out of my eye = that's as far as my public display of emotions went while reading on the TTC.

I'm curious, how do you get those little sections of the book to include in your entries? Do you go to a bookstore and write the lines out yourself? Photo copy it? Borrow the book from the reader? Go to the library to get the section?

... must be fun.

Keep 'em coming Julie. I'm hooked.

Julie Wilson said...

Or, what about a laugh? Ever bust out one of those on the subway? :)

As for sourcing the excerpts, I do, indeed, go to a bookstore, pull the book from the stacks, and then find a nice place to jot down the text. Someone suggested I should get a camera phone, but I intend to start posting images to the journal pages shortly. I think it's more fun to see the scribbles!

shannon said...

I always find the better the book, the better able I am to lose myself in it no matter where I am. Occasionally I'll notice that someone is checking out my book, which is distracting, but if I can disconnect then the subway trip etc. goes a whole lot quicker!

But what is the consensus/etiquette on laughing out loud in these situations? The most I'll allow myself is a small smile, when really I want to guffaw (isn't that a great word?!)!

shannon said...

you beat to the laugh question Julie!

But seriously, any thoughts anyone?

Julie Wilson said...

Yah, it's hard to commit to a full on laugh. I've worked up to full on smirk. Baby steps.

bookish dark said...

the thing is that people like to hear others laugh! it makes us smile (plus, julie, it would alert you to an enjoyable reading experience you might not otherwise have noted yet)... i hate to think that you all are feeling wonderful things in public and holding back all the time! expressing our emotions makes us human and connects us to other people.

let 'er rip! and make eye contact with people, goddamit. share it all.

------

on a more somber note: last week, a woman next to me on my commute was weeping, reading through a hospital-provided folder that would guide her through the death and grieving process. she made notes for an obituary in the margin: died november 17, 7:07pm, about 13 hours before our subway ride. the deceased had had 9 children, each of whom has at least 2 children themselves.

it was such a terrible loss (i teared) but a kind of beautiful personal and human moment to witness.

ZitaKatalin said...

Hm ... well I'm a very shy person, that might be the reason why I try to hold back. Plus I'm usually on the subway during rush hour when, as you probably know, everyone is totally quiet and serious (or sleeping), and 99% of the time I'm standing.

It's more comfy to read sitting down with not as many people around you. If I'm certain that noone can see me (or better yet hear me) and I happen to be reading something really funny, THEN I'll quietly giggle. But only then. (baby steps? yeah...)

However, I do love to see others get totally engrossed in their books and not give a damn.

Guffaw = awesome word!

Julie Wilson said...

Wow, B.D., that's incredible. Could you have even imagined...? Wow, that's a story right there. Thanks so much for posting it, hey?

Julie Wilson said...

Zita, I've struck upon another idea. I think people should start book clubs where a group meets each week--just to read! Wouldn't that be a blast?! You don't talk about the book, just read it. Wouldn't even have to be the same book. Just reading and reacting and an excuse to take that time to be somewhere with people...reading.

ms peacock said...

thanks julie.

i think a reading club would be great! i'm in.

Julie Wilson said...

Maybe that'll be my next gig, showing up at people's book club meetings.

"Don't mind me. Just doin' a little readin'...Are there snacks?"

Incidentally, I went to your blog. Lovely pieces! I confess, my fave is the zipper!

ZitaKatalin said...

I've always wanted to join a reading club but I'm too lazy to find out more about 'em.

Um ... that being said, I'd still love to join one. Where do I go? What do I do? How does it all start?

Your idea of just showing up to read together (and snacking, mmmm) sounds really cool. We'd need a comfy place for it though, with lots of space ... ideas?

Julie Wilson said...

I've never belonged to one either. I think they're a great idea though. Word of mouth can propel a book from relative obscurity to tremendous success. And, of course, what a lovely way to relate to others. Alice Munro talks about her writing as a worthwhile and wonderful way to be of the world; readership is just as valuable.

Of course, for me, I have to remain incognito. So if you do end up forming a group, look for the girl in the fake nose and moustache!