Category Archives: Bibliothek

Well, I walked over the bridge into the city where I live

Last week, I went to Borders to study for my neurobiology and my molecular & cellular bio final exams.

(As an aside, nothing has made me mentally curse over the past few weeks as much as thoughts of neurobiology do: Friggin’ hell! I understand that NPB stands for Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior, but, friggin’ hell, maybe I’d actually understand it if it were less physiology and more behavior. So, once again, friggin’ hell, man! Alright, I’ll stop. Moving along now.)

I walk into the Borders cafe, a bit chagrined to find all the tiny, individual tables taken. The only one that looks nearly empty is the long, rectangular table in the center of the cafe, occupied only at one corner by a mother and her small daughter. I approach them from the opposite end of the table and smile. “Mind if I sit here?”
The mother shakes her head. “It’s a bit too big for just us.” The daughter, sitting in her mother’s lap, regards me wide-eyed.
I smile my thanks and drop my messenger bag on the floor, place my discman and headphones a bit more carefully atop the table, and pull out a chair at the corner diagonally across from them.

“I saw my daddy today!” the little girl tells me as I sit down. “And he brought me this juice!”
The little girl is Asian, although her mother apparently is not. The daughter has lots of shiny black hair and huge, dark eyes, and she’s gulping down an Odwalla Superfood beverage, holding the opening of the plastic bottle right up against her mouth in the manner that little kids are wont to do, so that her mouth is totally surrounded by a large green-black ring. In a word: Adorable. I suppress a smile.
“Is the juice good?” I ask with genuine interest, since it looks really…well, greenish-black, and I’m trying not to wince at the color. She nods enthusiastically.

She points outside in the direction of the parking garage. “We came down here in the elevator!” And then, with characteristic forthrightness: “How old are you?”
“I’m 24. How old are you?”
“Four. No, four and a half.”
“Not yet,” laughs her mother.
A stranger sits down across from me, smiling politely at us before delving into his book.
The little girl watches him curiously “Do you know him?” she asks me. “Does he know you?”
I shake my head, while her mother speaks softly into her ear.
“How old is he?”
“Maybe not everyone wants to say how old they are,” says her mother.

I take my books out of my bag and spread them out in front of me while the little girl watches. “How did you tie up your hair?” she asks, pointing at my headwrap.
“Well,” I say, accustomed to hearing this question often, “I doubled my hair up in a pony-tail, and then I tied a bandanna around it, and then I just wrapped this other big scarf around my head.”
“Can you show me?”
Her mother tries to shush her. “It probably takes a lot of time, and I don’t think she would want to take off her scarf and re-do it all here.”
“I can tie up my hair,” the little girl murmurs. “I can tie my hair around my hair, too.” She gathers her hair in front of her and starts braiding it. I’m smiling to myself, because this is the most talkative, articulate four year old I have ever met. And also because she is sitting in her mother’s lap with her back against her mother’s stomach, and her mother seems to have no idea of the large black ring around her daughter’s mouth.

As I pick my sweater off the table and drape it across the back of my chair (never underestimate the speed with which my fingernails turn blue in air conditioned environments), the little girl remarks, “You look different without your coat.”
“I do? How?”
She shrugs. Her mother smiles and correctly points out, “She wasn’t wearing her coat when she came in.”
“Yes, she was!”
As they get up to leave (the mother finally noticing and trying in vain to wipe the black circle off her daughter’s mouth), I turn around in my chair to say goodbye. While passing by my chair, the little girl gravely sticks out her hand, and I shake it just as solemnly. “I’m Yasmine. What’s your name?”
“Lily.”
“Bye, Lily! It was nice talking to you.”

Only after she is out the door do I realize I could have added, “We both have flower names!” But maybe that would have been overdoing it. After all, I do laughingly refer to my own as a “generic flower name” often enough.

I find a small table of my own and move my stuff over, but now that Lily and her entertaining chatter are gone, I’m bored already. I watch everyone else around me, in an effort to distract myself from studying, and cringe at the too many girls under twelve who sashay about in their ruffled mini skirts. My blend of pity and irritation is soon alleviated by my amusement at the old man gravely reading “eBay for Dummies” across the room, and the South Asian boys next to me fervently discussing the merits of “Nintendo Power.”

I look up for a split second, and the woman sitting with her back to me at the next table is perusing a book whose pages address concerns such as “Flaking Eyeshadow” and “Bleeding Lipstick.” I want to say, “Buddy, eyeshadow is fun, but seriously, makeup is not worth all that drama if you have to read a whole book about it,” but decide to leave her to her reading.

When I get bored of biology in all its various forms, I wander over to check out the real books, because we all know textbooks don’t count. The Calvin and Hobbes compilations hold my interest the longest. I stand there and laugh, speedily flipping through the pages – like I used to with those mini animation booklets we made in elementary school – then drag the books back to my table, against my better academic-oriented judgment. “I’ve got nothing but consonants!” continuously exclaims Calvin in outrage, spelling three-letter words as Hobbes condescendingly put far more elaborate tongue-twisters. It reminds me of all the times I’ve played Literati over at Yahoo! games with Chai & Co., and whined about not having any vowels at my disposal.

A middle-aged gentleman leans over my table on his way out and says, “Thank you for brightening my lunch,” then turns and scuttles away before I can even think to formulate a proper reply. I don’t know why exactly he was thanking me, unless, knowing me, I had probably smiled absently in his direction whenever I turned my head to scrutinize the local Persian artist’s paintings hanging on the wall just behind his table. I laugh silently at how I am The Most Oblivious Person In The World™ (yes, it merits capital letters and a trademark symbol, it’s that bad), and am reminded of H#3 and his habit of shamelessly flirting with every girl at our workplace. One morning, I walked over to his cubicle to grab some paperwork and greeted him with my standard, “How goes it, buddy?”
“Better now,” he said smoothly.
“Oh,” I said with concern. “Were you not feeling well?”
His winsome smile slipped away, replaced by a wide-eyed, incredulous, “ohmygod she totally didn’t get it” look. Meanwhile, I wandered off obliviously, and then laughed out loud when it finally hit me while I was sitting at my desk, a good hour or so later.

I listen to Amos Lee on my headphones while consuming ice-blended chocolate drinks and a raspberry latte. Two years later, and I sadly still don’t know the difference between espressos and mochas and lattes and whatnot.

As I am leaving Borders at the end of the day, I catch a flash of movement out of the corner of my eye, and turn to see a little boy running by, exclaiming in wide-eyed awe, “Dad, I SAW BUTTERFLIES!” My wide grin comes naturally, as does the irrepressible laugh that follows. The other cafe people look up with vague interest, then return to their magazines and coffees and books and muted conversations.

Those were the best parts of my day: Lily and Calvin and The Butterfly Boy.

as if i haven’t already amply proven my nerdiness….

as if i haven’t already amply proven my nerdiness…

Hi, my name is Yasmine and, lately, all my posts seem to be about books. I am a complete and utter nerd. The end.

Alright, so Baji is making me do this survey thingamajig under threat of incarceration, which actually doesn’t seem so bad if it means I get to take all my books with me.

Let’s begin:

You’re stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be?

Apparently, everyone is hella confused about this question. If you’re asking what book I want to douse in gasoline and light a match to, then, to be honest, I really have no idea. I usually only buy books I’ve already read and liked, so I’m slightly attached to all the books in my bookcases. If there were any I ever disliked, I most likely sold them back.

Oh wait, I know! Jasmine, by Bharati Mukherjee. It was handed to me by my 10th grade English teacher, who was amused by the similarity between my name and the protagonist’s and thought I would enjoy a novel by a South Asian writer. Umm, no. First of all, we all know how much I hate hate hate the name “Jasmine.” Vomitrocious! [See below.] Secondly, Jasmine was just highly annoying and kept making stupid life mistakes and apparently had multiple personalities because she kept changing her damn name: Jyoti>>Jasmine>>Jase>>Jazz>>Jane. What the holy freakin’ smoley?

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

Do they have to be fictional characters from books? Because I did want to marry MacGuyver when I grew up. Okay, fine, at the risk of destroying any sort of literary credibility I’ve established, I would have to admit to crushing on the Goblin King from Labyrinth. Hey, I was ten. I remember watching the movie a few years later and just about dying of laughter (it was released in 1986, so what do you expect? Most other ’80s movies I grew up with totally rocked though). The Goblin King sounded much better in the book than he looked in the movie. I was a shallow kid, okay?

And I don’t think this constitutes crushing, but I’ve certainly always had a soft spot for Sidney Carton (he’s so damn jaded yet genuine) from Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities and for Charlie Gordon from Daniel Keyes’ Flowers for Algernon. I read the latter for the first time when I was about twelve, and I think it was the second book that made me cry. The first book was Wilson Rawls’ Where the Red Fern Grows, when I was ten. I wanted a best friend like Billy Colman, and I totally bawled my eyes out when Old Dan and Little Ann died. Alright, I think that’s it.

The last book you bought is:

How to Eat Like a Child: And Other Lessons in Not Being a Grown-Up, by Delia Ephron with drawings by Edward Koren. I bought it a couple of days ago from the Friends of the Library section at my local public library, and it’s hardcover, so it cost $1. Paperbacks cost fifty cents. The flyleaf says, in cursive handwriting dated 7/25/79, To Alexis, This is so you never forget how to act like a child. Love, Gwyneth.

Highlights include sections entitled “How to Laugh Hysterically,” “How to Tell a Joke” (Immediately repeat ten times.), “How to Torture Your Sister,” “How to Talk on the Telephone” (Hello. Are you English? Are you Swedish? Are you Italian? Are you Finnish? Well I am. Goodbye.), etc. The crowd-pleasing “How to Express an Opinion” offers the following word choices:

Yucky
Gross
Dis-gusting
Ugh
Sick
Sickening
Scuzzy
Smell-y
Oh, barf
Creepy
Icky
Obnoxious
Boy, is this dumb
Creeps
Crummy
Vomitrocious

And how could I not share with you all the author’s sage advice on how to eat ice cream cones?

Ask for a double scoop. Knock the top scoop off while walking out the door of the ice cream parlor. Cry. Lick the remaining scoop slowly so that ice cream melts down the outside of the cone and over your hand. Stop licking when the ice cream is even with the top of the cone. Be sure it is absolutely even. Eat a hole in the bottom of the cone and suck the rest of the ice cream out the bottom. When only the cone remains with ice cream coating the inside, leave on car dashboard.

…and french fries?

Wave one french fry in air for emphasis while you talk. Pretend to conduct orchestra. Then place four fries in your mouth at once and chew. Turn to your sister, open your mouth, and stick out your tongue coated with potatoes. Close mouth and swallow. Smile.

I freakin’ love this book! LIKE OH MY GOD, BECKY, YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW. Okay, I’ll stop now.

The day before that amusing purchase, I bought Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart for $1 from the American Cancer Society shop in downtown.

The last book you read:

Audre Lorde’s Zami: A New Spelling of My Name, a “biomythography” of her life as a queer woman of color. While the writing is pretty sexually provocative at times, it is for the most part also lovely, poetic, and fascinating enough that I’ve left dog-eared pages all the way through the book. If you can handle reading about queer women of color, then I highly recommend it.

What are you currently reading?

Gloria Anzaldua’s Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. It was assigned reading for a womens studies course I took last quarter. I’ve only just started it, so I am quite obviously an academic slacker. Also, I read two chapters of Karen Armstrong’s new memoir, The Spiral Staircase : My Climb Out of Darkness, standing up in the unversity bookstore this morning, so I think that totally counts, especially since I’m planning on buying it eventually, unless I just end up finishing it by reading a few chapters every time I stop by the place. And last night, I started Deafening, by Frances Itani, which I had bought months ago (for $1!) and then promptly forgotten all about.

Five books you would take to a deserted island:

Do you realize how painful a question this is? You’re killing me. Five?! Geez louise. Alright, here we go:

- The Quran, as edited by Abduallah Yusuf Ali, because I agree with Baji – footnotes are a good thing. And I haven’t read the entire Quran in translation nearly enough times yet.
- The Complete Sherlock Holmes, by Arthur Conan Doyle. If there was one single book that helped me survive eighteen months in Pakistan (ten years ago) with limited reading material in English, this was it. My brother and I swapped it back and forth and discussed each story in detail, endlessly. Not to mention all the times the binding started coming apart and I had to keep gluing the pages back in. The brother still has it, because we’re all sentimental fools in this family. Hardcovered, four novels, fifty-six short stories, over one thousand pages… The island’s not looking so bad after all.
- The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. “The narrator is a downed pilot in the Sahara Desert.” Hey, if he can make it, why can’t I? It’s a simple, rich, and poweful little book.
- Bradbury Stories: 100 of His Most Celebrated Tales, by Ray Bradbury. Quantity and quality, all at once. I love this man. ‘Nuff said.
- The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke, as edited and translated by Stephen Mitchell. As I mentioned recently, I love this book; it’s definitely one of my favorites. The funny thing is, though, that I keep re-reading the same poems and bits of prose over and over, so I definitely need a desert island in order to make it through the book in its entirety.

Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why?

Baji is making this so difficult by already having picked the other bookworms I can think of straight off the top of my head. Who else likes books around here? Alright, here goes:

- Najm: because my fellow vampire child was online really late the other night, and, in response to my interrogative inquiries [is this a redundant phrase?], he confessed it was because he had been reading a really good book. In my haste to go to sleep, I forgot to ask what the really good book was. I also want to know what all those other books are, the ones he’s stockpiling on his shelves but has never gotten around to reading in their entirety. [Dammit, kk beat me to this. I shoulda posted this deal last night instead of saving it as a draft. What was I thinking? Well, fine then! I'll find someone else! So there.]

- BAQ: because he’s a bookworm and I know it, and also because, as with me, conciseness is not his strong suit either, which means I’m anticipating a pretty thorough post in response, so I’m already rubbing my hands together in giddy expectation. Also because maybe this will give him a push to update.

- Queen_Hera: because she is the absolute best QUEEN of books, and I can imagine her eyes lighting up at these questions, and only someone with such an enormous collection of books would appreciate my excessive nerdiness.

- bki./: because he likes Eric Carle (which is always a selling point with me), but he clearly also likes a lot of other literary stuff as well, if his awesomely-composed “globalog” is anything to go by. Besides, he knows German. How many of you know German, huh?

Also, I’d like to cheat (and monopolize this quiz thingamajig) by saying that I’d enjoy hearing from the following people as well, if you’re up to it:

- Yaser: because he’s blunt and straight to the point, which I think is an admirable quality and so I always always trust his book reviews.

- Fathima: because I want to know what books are being read/recommended by someone who writes as amazingly as she does mashaAllah.

- HijabMan: because I’m thinking it’s going to be good, unexpected, or, at the very least, definitely different and thought-provoking.

- Sister Scorpion: because she reads everything. Also, because someday I would like to be as articulate, open-minded, hilarious, and talented (say, “MashaAllah”). So I gotta get a head start by stalking her bookshelves.

- Knicq: because he needs to update that joint already, and nagging fellow ramblers is so much fun. Plus, he thinks I’m funny, for some reason, and I totally suck at accepting compliments, so this is my lame kindergarten way of responding along the lines of, “Thanks, I think you’re cool, too, so, Tag! You’re IT!” [Okay, kk beat me here, too. Ugh! Creeps! Crummy! I give up.]

If you absolutely love books and I’ve inadvertently left you out, feel free to participate. Let me know so I can add to my ever-increasing list of future books to read. On the other hand, if you’re not a bookworm at all, please accept my deepest apologies. We’re so outta control. I accept full blame.

for all my fellow bookworms. Check this: The 100 …

for all my fellow bookworms.

Check this: The 100 favourite fictional characters… as chosen by 100 literary luminaries [via Kottke]

Tin Tin! Dr. Watson! God! Jane Eyre! Paddington Bear! Antonia Shimerda! Anne of Green Gables!

(I think I need to expand my literary collection, is what.)

And, in response: Character witnesses, as chosen by Independent readers

Sidney Carton, Holden Caulfield, Tom Joad, Rebecca de Winter, Jo March, Atticus Finch!, Eeyore!

(Ditto the parenthetical confession above. Good lord, why haven’t I read barely any of the other books on this list?)

And: My anti-Hero (because the bad guys are so much more interesting)

Also, because I am now obsessed with the Enjoyment>>Books section of this site:
- Interviews with authors whose books I want to read:

* Nuruddin Farah
* Eric Carle (one of my very favorite authors/illustrators of children’s books)
* Asne Seierstad
* Sarah Vowell (a.k.a Violet Incredible!)
* Nadeem Aslam (“Most ordinary Muslims say, ‘We just want to get on with our lives. Don’t identify us with the fundamentalists.’ But it’s a luxury. We moderate Muslims have to stand up. As a child I was really frightened of the game Hangman. I was terrified that my not knowing the answer was going to get somebody killed. As a grown-up, I feel that a game of Hangman is being played on an enormous scale in the world, and that sooner or later I’m going to be asked certain questions, and if I don’t give the right answer somebody is going to get hurt.”)

Plus, an argument: Independent versus Chain bookstores

Knowing that life is life, not mood

I’m not too easily embarrassed. But I don’t need the drama of trying to use a credit card when I know perfectly well that there is no money available there for me to use, and I’m not the type of person who’s so mortified that I will offer the cashier, my companion, and the other customers in the line behind me an explanation as to why my credit card was declined.

So when, on my way out a bookstore the other morning, I swiped my debit card to pay for a pile of books and found it declined, I didn’t turn red or shuffle my feet apologetically or stammer a possible explanation for that unexpected turn of events. But I did raise an eyebrow and say confusedly, “That’s so weird. I know my deposit cleared,” because a quick phone call just five minutes beforehand had confirmed that I did indeed have money available in my bank account.

I was in the bookstore because I can never pass up the chance to duck inside one. And because I love bookstores and their wide floor-plans, comfy armchairs, café tables, window seats, and, of course, the endless array of bookshelves to wander through, fingers trailing along the books’ spines as I hold my head to the side to read the titles.

I really wasn’t expecting to buy anything, until I came across Tamim Ansary’s West of Kabul, East of New York: An Afghan American Story, a memoir that my father had loved and made the entire family read and had raved about to friends and strangers for weeks afterwards. Turning it over in my hands to skim the back cover, I smiled to myself, remembering an email I had written to a friend in July 2002, soon after reading the book myself:

There is a passage in the book, where the author is talking about Pashto, and I was remembering your IM to me the other day that your friend dictated in Pashto. (Pashto is a kickass language, for reals.) I thought you and your friend might find this amusing:

“Pashto was the language of the ruling clan and the official language of Afghanistan, and no one was allowed to make fun of it or insult it. My father infuriated the authorities by going the other way. He championed Pashto too much, loudly proclaiming it ‘the mother of all the languages.’ He drew up lexicons of words in Pashto and other languages that sounded similar, and drew forced etymological connections. The name Mexico, he claimed, derived from the Pashto phrase ‘Maka sikaway’. Pashtuns, he explained, had discovered Mexico but didn’t like it, and when they came home, they told their friends, ‘Maka sikaway’, which means, ‘What are you doing? Don’t do that.’”

Isn’t that hilarious? I think the Afghani Pashto is a little bit different from the one we speak at home, because we would say it as, Muku sukaway. Or actually, in the real order, it would be, “Sukaway? Muku!” But that whole thing about “Mexico” being derived from Pashto just totally made me laugh, though.

I switched Ansari’s book to one hand, knowing that I wanted my own copy. Continuing through the bookstore, I stopped eventually at a table where books were selling for a fraction of their usual prices. I found a 2003 collection of Alice Walker’s poetry, Absolute Trust in the Goodness of the Earth, and flipped through the pages for a few minutes:

Loss of vitality
Is a sign
That
Things have gone
Wrong.

It is like
Sitting on
A sunny pier
Wondering whether
To swing
Your feet.

A time of dullness
Deadness
Sodden enthusiasm
When
This exists
At all.
Decay.

The sticker on the back said it cost $5. I held onto both books and continued down the table, breathless with surprise and delight when I came across Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Fifth Book of Peace. Four hundred pages, hard-covered, for $5 again. Months ago, I had stood in a different bookstore as rays of late afternoon sunshine drifted across the carpet, having just picked out a card for HijabMan, and reading the first twenty pages of Kingston’s desperate rush into the Oakland-Berkeley hills in a failed attempt to save her home and her material possessions. Everything she owed, including the manuscript of her novel-in-progress, was lost as the hills were ravaged by fire in October 1991 just as she was driving home from her father’s funeral. I remember driving up through those winding roads with my own father soon afterward, on one of our endless trips to the Children’s Hospital Oakland, as he gravely explained to me about the fire, while I, ten years old and terrified of losing my home, gazed out the car window at the blackened hills I loved even then.

I had been sorely tempted to buy Kington’s book that first day I came across it, but I had had only enough money for one book, and that had to be The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke, as edited and translated by Stephen Mitchell, for which I had been searching for days and had finally found on the bottom shelf of a bookcase, somewhere in my bookstore journey between the revolving card-stand at the window and Kingston’s book on the table in the back. So Rilke it was, an identical copy of the book I love, true to the original German and beautifully rendered into English with both languages displayed on facing pages, clean and smooth compared to my own mercilessly dog-eared copy, the perfect gift for a new friend who possesses amazing wisdom and clarity of vision and who was about to leave on an inspiring journey. And I don’t even give books as gifts. But that’s how perfectly fitting Rilke’s book was.

So that was all a few months ago. On this day, then, I had three new books picked out, which is usually enough to make me giddy, because that’s just how much a nerd I am. To celebrate yet further, I scooped up a few Lindor truffles from the little bowl at the end of the register counter while waiting in line behind a lady with two young children.

When it was my turn to pay, I piled the books onto the counter and laid my truffles next to them. I chatted with the girl at the register as she rang up and bagged my purchases, she asking about my headwrap and I smiling a lot because it turned out she was Pakistani and her name was the same as that of one of my aunts. And then, as mentioned before, my debit card was declined, much to my confusion. “That’s so weird though.” I swiped it again, and again the same. The girl looked apologetic. I shrugged unconcernedly. “Can I put these on hold and come back for them in the afternoon?”

“Sure,” she said. She grabbed a pad and pen to take down my name.

From behind me, I heard a voice say, “I could pay for those.”

I turned in surprise. The man behind me in line was perhaps in his thirties, and so completely nondescript that I cannot now remember anything about his appearance, except how very grim and solemn he looked.

“I can pay,” he offered again.

“Oh no,” I said. “I couldn’t let you do that.”

“I’m paying for my stuff anyway,” he pointed out. “I can just add yours to it.”

“No, really,” I protested, “Don’t worry about it.” He shrugged, still unsmiling, and I looked at him and the counter girl helplessly, torn between laughter and awkwardness and pure amazement at his generosity.

The girl stepped back from the counter, throwing up her hands in surrender. “I’ll let you two fight this out,” she said in amusement.

“Look, it’s okay, it’s not like it’s a hardship for me,” he said, holding up his hand, “I have a gift card, see?”

Oh yeah, I thought, I have one of those, too, suddenly remembering that the university’s Women’s Resources & Research Center had given me one the other day as a thank-you for designing and facilitating the women of color discussion circles this quarter. Flattered and touched at the gesture, I had slipped the gift card somewhere in my messenger bag and then promptly forgotten all about it.

I smiled and said out loud, “I really appreciate the offer, but don’t worry about it, I’ll be back later for all this.”

He stared at me for a second, and I was disconcerted by the juxtaposition of his gruff demeanor and generous offer.

“You sure?” he asked.

“I’m sure,” I said firmly. “But thanks so much for the offer. I do appreciate it.”

He shrugged expressionlessly, holding his hands palms-up in what could be construed as a gesture of defeat. Or an unsaid, Your loss.

“Have a beautiful day!” I said, moving away from the counter.

He nodded brusquely and turned away to place his books next to the register.

For a split second, on my way out the door, still moved by this unexpected kindness from a veritable stranger, I looked back to see him standing at the counter, face blank and eyes shuttered, and wished I had let him pay after all, if it meant he would have smiled.

from Ray Bradbury’s The Beggar on O’Connell Bridge…

from Ray Bradbury’s The Beggar on O’Connell Bridge

The snow was falling fast now, erasing the lamps and the statues in the shadows of the lamps below.

“How do you tell the difference between them?” I asked. “How can you tell which is honest, which isn’t?”

“The fact is,” said the manager quietly, “you can’t. There’s no difference between them. […] So what does it prove? You cannot stare them down or look away from them. You cannot run and hide from them. You can only give to them all. If you start drawing lines, someone gets hurt.”

[…]

A moment later, going down in the haunted night elevator, I found the new tweed cap in my hand.

Coatless, in my shirtsleeves, I stepped out into the night.

I gave the cap to the first man who came. I never knew if it fit. What money I had in my pockets was soon gone.

Then, left alone, shivering, I happened to glance up. I stood, I froze, blinking up through the drift, the drift, the silent drift of blinding snow. I saw the high hotel windows, the lights, the shadows.

What’s it like up there? I thought. Are fires lit? Is it warm as breath? Who are all those people? Are they drinking? Are they happy?

Do they even know I’m HERE?