Margaret, circa 1945
Melissa: One thing I realize is so great about OS is I’m getting to do so much more reading now. I get to read because I have to read.
Michael: If that’s what’s happening, I’m delighted.
See, I picture the lone writer hunched over a computer—
Melissa: You mean the demon stereotype put there by the media?
(E) What did you say, “the lone hmmm-hmm”?
Michael: (E) “Lone writer.”
Melissa: (E) Oh, when I heard “lone writer,” I heard “lone rider.”
(E1) Arrff! I can’t remember the fecking smarts switch—
Michael: (H) That makes you sound like you’re barking. Arf! Arff!
(H) What did you actually say?
Melissa: (G) (typing)
Michael: (G) This is meta-meta, love, right now you’re meta-metaing. Avoid this unless it’s really indicative of something, or—
Melissa: (G) Uh-oh.
Michael: (G) What?
Melissa: (G) Well, that means we’re going to have to start introducing the new system before we introduce the post in which we determine it. Namely, the fabled art post. Not fabled, um—
Michael: (G) Promised art post.
Melissa: (G) Right!
(G1) I don’t think we ever actually needed to employ the sub-sub-system we hinted at here.
Michael: (G1) You mean the numbers and letters?
Melissa: (G1) Yeah. The scientific notation variation. For sub-subs.
(I) You know what’s funny?
Michael: (I) Michael?
(M) You know what I say when you ask, “You know what’s funny?”
Melissa: (M) What?
Michael: (M) Exactly. I asked, “What?” Look at line 42, love. Your mistake. You say, “You know what’s funny?” And you have me saying, “Michael?”
Melissa: (M) Hahaha.
(M) So now we have to change “Michael?” to “What?” Darn it.
Michael: (M1) You’re gonna have to get rid of all that if you do.
Melissa: (M1) You’re right. So let’s just leave it.
Michael: (K) I’m afraid you’re not gonna let us speak anymore without a way of recording it. And I bet you’re recording that, aren’t you? Or figuring out a way to record it.
Melissa: (K) (tapping on phone)
(J) I wish I could be recording what I was saying just now, but I can’t remember what it was. Feck. I should never take my hands off the keyboard.
Michael: (calling from kitchen)
Which would you prefer, a potato fork or a spoon?
Melissa: A real spoon?
Michael: Yes, is that what you want?
Melissa: For a tamale?
Michael: Your choice is either a potato fork or a spoon.
Melissa: (F) This is great when I’m laughing while reading it backwards.
Michael: (F) Reading what backwards?
Melissa: (F) The lines.
(F) I’m reading upwards as I’m going back and adding our name prefixes.
Michael: (F) I see, you’re reading the lines in reverse order.
Melissa: (F) Right. And then inserting this in forward order. Help.
Michael: (F) What’re you saying? That’s normal, love. It’s like saying, “What is that thing above the subtext, they don’t talk about that.” You mean like when you’re inserting things in forward order? You mean writing? You write characters in forward order, you write words in forward order, you write sentences and paragraphs in forward order. I think that’s called writing.
Melissa: (F) But I’m talking about when I’m going up backwards through the text—I’ve thrown the editor into reverse as I’m adding the “Michael:”s and “Melissa:”s.
Michael: (F1) You gotta get rid of the little emphases before them.
Melissa: (F1) I’ll deal with that later.
Michael: (F1.1) Oh, good. . . . No, this is meta meta. Don’t do it!
Melissa: (F1.1) Okay, that’s it. Here we go. What the hell was that letter?
Michael: (F1.1) Haha.
There are no more real forks. Only potato forks or plastic ones.
Melissa: And you checked the dishwasher?
Michael: This is what I’m looking in right now. I’m looking in both dishwasher and drawer simultaneously.
Michael: Well, love, your food’s getting cold.
Uh—spoon. If it’s real.
Michael: It is.
Melissa: Thank you, sweetie!
Are you cold at all, sweetie?
I think you’re going overboard, sweetie.
(P) Sweetie, sweetie, sweetie!
(L) And there’s a problem up there. That’s why it’s flagging it.
(L) See, you have two ampersands.
Melissa: (L) Wow, purple is bad.
Michael: (L) Yep.
Melissa: (L) Okay, I wanna finish now, so let’s try not to say anything else!
Michael: I know about storytelling. I know the story’s not about the person who came in 27th. But I know that there’s a 27th, and a 26th, and a 28th, and the one we’re given as an example is the freak, the abnormality.
Melissa: Yeah! I wanna hear a story about the person who came in 27th! That’s exactly the person who interests me. I’m bored by the person who comes in first. They’re all over the place, in the media, anyway. But not the ordinary. The ordinary are precious in terms of media presence, which makes their presence in something like home documentaries so much more the precious.
(S) Precious, precious, precious!
Michael: (Q) What do you mean by “the ordinary are precious in terms of media presence”?
Melissa: (Q) By “precious”, I mean “rare”.
Michael: (Q) It seems like a strange way of putting it. Using “precious” to really mean those neglected by the media.
Melissa: (Q) Not just neglected—I do find ordinary people far more compelling than celebrities, so that’s why I was using the term “precious.“
Michael: In many cases, these examples the media gives us are actually quite dull. Their lives are so prearranged for them. It’s the people who wake up every day with no guarantee of love from anyone, and they just go out there and they make their art, and they hope some kind soul will be moved enough to even thank them for it and maybe even help try to support them, and of course, because they’re 27th, we’ll never hear of them, we’ll never know about them, they’ll remain anonymous. But the thing is, that person’s life had value, worth, meaning. I can’t say the same thing about people who have so embroiled themselves in the world system that they can’t even see the human being in the other person anymore, they just see a contact or a target audience or a good guy or a bad guy.
Melissa: Whoa, I was suddenly feeling like the keyboard was an extension of my fingers, and I was actually grooving to the conversation as I was typing it. I was feeling at one with the keyboard, so I could completely focus on the rhythm of your dialogue.
Michael: That’s great. It’s as though the keyboard for you has now become an instrument you play, rather than just a tool that you enter text with—
Melissa: Yes, except unfortunately, I start to feel my tendonitis kicking in—
Michael: Yes, and this is the thing I worry about the most. If it would save your wrists to go to taping and transcribing, we would definitely do that. I just—of the couple of tapes that we’ve made—
Melissa: You mean, digital recordings?
Michael: Sorry, did I say—oh jeez, help.
Melissa: It’s not necessarily the transcribing as we speak, although that certainly puts a strain on it. It’s also the crappy position I’m always sitting in while typing.
Melissa: “Money, I a”?
Money I owe
Avalanche and roadblocks
I was a snowball in hell
Melissa: (A) After “Money I owe, Money-iy-ay,” what was the third one?
Michael: (A) Melissa, this is just a They Might Be Giants song.
Melissa: (A) You’ve heard this recently?
Michael: (A) Yeah, I hear it a lot.
Melissa: (A) Really? I haven’t heard it. Where have you heard it?
Michael: (A) I heard it in a movie.
(A) (looks up lyrics)
(A) Okay, wanna hear ’em all?
Melissa: (A) What movie is it?
Michael: (A) I’m not telling you yet.
(A) Wanna hear the lyrics?
(A) (reads lyrics)
(A1) What do you have between “avalanche”—?
Melissa: (A1) “Avalanche and roadblocks?”
Michael: (A1) It’s “or roadblock.”
Melissa: (A1) “Avalanche or roadblocks?”
Michael: (A1) No, just singular, “roadblock.”
Melissa: (A1) “I was a snowball in hell?”
Melissa: So I realize the story of the 27th person ties in perfectly with this ordinary strand that came up in Newton’s post. That whole synchronicity exchange about the ordinary.
Michael: Don’t you recognize it?
Melissa: No . . . kind of.
Michael: I actually know why you don’t know. It’s from Haiku Tunnel—it’s ’cuz you fell asleep the last two times we tried watching it.
Melissa: Oh, right! I can’t seem to stay awake for movies anymore.
Michael: That’s an interesting idea, though, someone psychoanalyzing what we’re writing. Because this is—
Melissa: (B) Do you remember what you said there? “Because this is so—”?
Michael: (B) “Because this is so close to the conversation.”
The makeup’s on, and we’re wearing nicer clothes is all, but it’s pretty real.
Melissa: We don’t even have makeup on.
Michael: Well, nonono. What I’m referring to is the pieces that we write—they’re cleaned up a little bit, there are certain parts that may lead off but not go anywhere, those are . . . parts . . .
Melissa: (C) I realize how well our new system works now.
(C) The best thing about it . . . oh wait. Never mind.
(C) I thought we could actually skip applying it while I’m transcribing, because it’s determined by the structural logic of the conversation. In other words, we could come back later and apply the meta-lettering retroactively, simply based on dissecting the logic structure. But then I realized, that’s still only part of the equation. The other part is representing time moving forward in the conversation, so we do have to letter as we go, since we’re also recording the chronology of the strands.
(C) So I’d better go back and “(A)” those earlier ones before I forget.
Michael: These Exacto scissors are frightening. The only scissors I’ve felt this sharp are haircutting scissors.
(N) Help. You’ve even got the Exacto stuff? What won’t you not put in?
Melissa: (T) You’ve got a double negative there.
Michael: (T) I ain’t got no double negative there!
Mwaaa! (sound of something dropping)
Melissa: (D) This is the post.
(D) Aren’t you gonna ask what post?
Michael: (D) I know what post you mean.
(D) You mean your grandma’s memorial post?
Melissa: (D) No, not memorial!
Michael: (D) Oh, what is it? Sorry! Your grandma’s birthday post.
Melissa: (D) Right! Happy birthday, grandma. Here’s the preview for the documentary we made for you, but you didn’t get to watch :-(
Michael: (D1) What did you say?
Melissa: (D1) Something sad.
Michael: (D1) Well, can you repeat it?
Melissa: (D1) I don’t know.
Michael: (D1) Do I have to turn on screen sharing?
Melissa: (D1) Are you on?
Michael: (D1) Yes.
(D1) Can you turn on line #s?
(D1) (broken) Maybe that line needs a sad face.
Melissa: (D1) We missed June 17. We missed her birthday.
Michael: (O) I know! We’re posting it late in honor of your grandma, because she was a procrastinator, too.
Melissa: (R) Happy belated birthday, Grandma.