Two Solitudes
Carl Steadman

The Net can be a fast and direct way to communicate. But it's still only a connection between separate points and separate realities: it doesn't make two things the same.

Date: Sat, 24 Sep 94 15:36:20 CDT
From: Lane Coutell 
To: Dana Silverman 
Subject: hello...

Dana -

I am writing this to you, so that when you first access your 
account, you will have mail waiting for you. I hope the new 
setup works out for you.

You only left today, Dana, and I already miss you quite dearly. 
I hope things work out with your mother, and that you'll write 
me often. Three months seems like a long time - and will I even 
see you then?

Lane Coutell

  We will not be looking for change, and will not oppose the fixed 
  to the mobile; we will look for the more mobile than mobile: 
  metamorphosis... We will not distinguish the true from the 
  false, but will look for the falser than false: illusion and 

Date: Tue, 27 Sep 94 19:21:19 CDT From: Dana Silverman To: Lane Coutell Subject: Arrival Lane - I have arrived safely, found the electrical current here suitable for everyday use, and, hence, am writing you. Infrastructure. Roads, airports, electrical grids, telephone lines. After all this, still you. There are many things for me to do, here, on my arrival. "I am unpacking my library." Yes, I am... Don't play in the middle of the street, Lane; also, don't go into Mr. McGregor's garden. Be careful, be good, be nice. Dana ~~ Dana Silverman

Date: Wed, 28 Sep 94 09:47:35 CDT From: Lane Coutell To: Dana Silverman Subject: progress... > I have arrived safely, found the electrical current here suitable for > everyday use, and, hence, am writing you. I wonder if anyone's created a device to 'listen' to alternating current... not only its steady, rhythmic hum, but also its fluctuations, its surges, spikes, and brown-outs - which makes me think of the old Frankenstein-type movies, with the crackles and pops of 'science' and 'progress.' Instead of hard science, of course, we instead realized a soft technology, so we now have the warm, silent convenience of plug-in air fresheners... So, do you prefer the water in Des Plaines to that of Minneapolis? > There are many things for me to do, here, on my arrival. "I am > unpacking my library." Yes, I am... "History is an angel being borne... backward... into the future." I always wondered why the Angels "sounded like a lot of lawnmowers... mowing down my lawn." I suppose this is why they were Strange. My love. ___________________________________ Lane Coutell "When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less." "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words so many different things." "The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master - that's all."

Date: Thu, 29 Sep 94 18:36:29 CDT From: Dana Silverman To: Lane Coutell Subject: Mice, Baseball, and Moustaches Sometimes, Lane, I sit and think. I think about how nice it would be to have a mouse that worked, and other things too. Yesterday, I sat and thought about a baseball game, because I was watching one. It was a neat game, but we lost several innings and finally the whole game, after two extra innings. I was trying to think of a winning strategy - the strategy I would use if I were the owner of a baseball team. I suppose I would hire only people who could hit the ball out of the park. No one else could be hired. I suppose they would be like that one team that Bugs Bunny had to play. Remember them? With their cigars and five-o-clock shadows? Remember how they used entire trees as bats? Remember how they were in a conga line, each holding on to the hips of another, dancing around the bases in a continuous home-run-hitting line dance? What did Bugs Bunny do to all of them, finally? I do not remember that. I just remember that they were the opposing team. I also thought about balancing the entire field on a centrally located spike, so that as players moved about the field, their weight would tilt it. I think that such a moving plane field would make the game more interesting. I am already amazed at how much strategy is involved. This would be so engaging. Later the idea became grisly, when shared. But in its original form, it was a nice idea. The first and third base coaches were more than just coaches, I fear. They seemed to talk to the runners much too much to just be talking about the game at hand, and there was too much reassuring back- and bottom-patting. I suspect that each of these oddly-suited men is actually a sort of Dear Abby for the members of the team; not only reading the pitcher and judging the game for them, but also providing advice and reassurance in all areas of a ball player's life. > I always wondered why the Angels "sounded like a lot of lawnmowers... > mowing down my lawn". I suppose this is why they were Strange. I believe this was because They Were All Singing Different Songs. I *hate* moustaches, the names "Stacey," "Tracey," and "Bruce." But you I like. I like you. Dana ~~ Dana Silverman

Date: Fri, 30 Sep 94 23:53:35 CDT From: Lane Coutell To: Dana Silverman Subject: munkustrap, quaxo, or coricopat.... Greetings and Salutations. I cleaned the top of the refrigerator, today. I had first tried glass cleaner, which wasn't terribly successful, which made me conclude later that Comet was indeed a wonder potion of much sacredness and value. > Sometimes, Lane, I sit and think. I think about how nice it would be to have a > mouse that worked, and other things too. I have one that squeaks. Would you prefer that? I'll send it down. Chester, the cat, says "mrow." "Though it's not love, it means something." I've started work on a new Poem, for Purposes of Diversion and Entertainment. It's a frivolous verse about cats. This is the first verse: Between the idea And the reality Between the motion And the act Falls the Shadow. No, actually that's not it. That would be a bit heavy for a frivolous verse about cats, and it neglects to address the subject matter (unless the Shadow is akin to Macavity). This is what I wrote: In this world there are people who like hornets and gnats. These folks are far superior to those who like cats. Lane ___________________________________ Lane Coutell We could write all this with small alphas, betas, gammas. Everything which could serve to define the characters as real - qualities, temperament, heredity, nobility - has nothing to do with the story. At every moment each of them, even their sexual attitude, is defined by the fact that a letter always reaches its destination.

Date: Sat, 1 Oct 94 22:38:51 CDT From: Dana Silverman To: Lane Coutell Subject: Being a Temp. So today I was being a temp, and I could see the way everything had a halo-ring around it, was burning, glowing. Well, maybe not burning, but I had guessed so because of my fever. It was very pretty there, even though it was very spare. Less than a month ago, I was told, there was no furniture, just phones, four phones in the middle of all this blue carpet. They were allowed to smoke there. This was not helpful. I do have some strange cold, and this morning before work I took a large teal-blue pill. It made my nose run for a while, and then made everything just burn. I needed 12-hour relief. Outside the window where I was a temp were some fantastic stone plants, with windows between them. The windows, though framed and upheld by the plants, seemed puny and out-of-place. They only looked right when you saw people pass behind them. That justified those silly windows. It was a sunless day, and this made the scrolls look better. It made them fit together, made the stone the world. If the sun had been there, the building would have had to admit its separation from nature. But with no sun, it was as natural as the rain. The inside environment was, well, strange. People there rushed about and talked a lot, and stood when talking on the phone. It was that much power they were pushing through the lines. When something would happen, one or the other person would simply speak loudly and those who were interested would listen. Would I be able to decide who to listen to from one moment to the next? Perhaps it was because I didn't understand most of what they were saying that it all seems so bewildering to me. They were trying to convince many people of many things. Some suits would wrinkle as the day wore on, and others would not. Why wear a suit if you do all of your work on the phone? Can you imagine a job that was so - *exciting* - every day? They were all so very excited. The men drank a lot of coffee and hummed little tunes. Many of them should wear some sort of undershirt. One man's last name was Fengkui, which when I said it, sounded quite awful, but when he said it, sounded lovely. Truly. I usually do not say such things. And I do not simply think that it was my lightness of brain today that induced me to think this. Across the street from where I was working was where Jonathan works, an old friend I think you've met once. I wonder if he was working there, today. I didn't visit. I wonder how it is that child actors can act so well, as if they are ill and dying, or knowledgeable in strange subjects, or abused. How do they learn to do these things? During my lunch hour, I gave half of my sandwich to a beggar and he told me that the sandwich had fallen from heaven. Not that it somehow came from heaven, but that it had fallen, actually. I told him it was peanut butter. He accepted. The man asked for a quarter, and I gave him a sandwich. Sometimes they ask for odd amounts, like 61 cents, or 37 cents, and I wonder if they would give change, then? Or why they ask for such odd and difficult amounts? Who would sort through their bag before sharing? Now that I'm home, the effect of the pill has quite worn off. Now it is just a fever head I have, and a light burning in the mucous membranes from the suppressant drug. When I was on the train this morning, I was so confused by the drug that I was afraid I would not be able to work. Everything seemed to have either too much or too little impact on my senses that I was not able to make sense of things fast enough. So I just sat and watched, and helped out this woman who was partially unbuttoned. It was on her back. So I helped her. Or at least I think I did. Perhaps her back was so lovely that her act had been intentional. A seduction-to-be. And I ruined it. Alas. She was one of those people who, in an effort to get off the train first, stands for the last 10 minutes of her trip in the tiny steel stairwell. This I do not understand. So long to stand, and with no windows or seat. Those last 10 minutes pass through some nice rail yard, which is interesting to see. Also, it is the time when free newspapers become available. All the others who pack the stairwell sometimes leave them, neatly flopped over the rail, section by section, ready to be read again. I think when I grow up I will get some magazines, but I will listen to the radio for news. The radio is good, since you can do things while you listen. Listening is good. It's a transferable skill! And it is a skill. But a radio can give you nearly everything you need. One low price. Entertainment and Information. And a skill (or two, if you knit or wash dishes while you listen). This I write, on the Information Superhighway. I have a verse for your cat poem: Cats sneak about on their fur-covered paws; to creep in the dark and disregard Laws. ~~ Dana Silverman

Date: Sun, 2 Oct 94 17:42:41 CDT From: Lane Coutell To: Dana Silverman Subject: thinking of you... Sitting outside, under the stars, with my PowerBook. The phosphorescent blue-white light from the screen reflects on my glasses and attracts a mosquito or two. It seems as if my PowerBook glows with the same light as the stars. Technology. Sitting here, watching the battery go down, thinking of you. Not much to say. I love you. ___________________________________ Lane Coutell Hornsboodle, we should never have knocked everything down if we hadn't meant to destroy the ruins too. But the only way we see of doing that is to put up some handsome buildings.

Date: Mon, 3 Oct 94 10:12:11 CDT From: Dana Silverman To: Lane Coutell Subject: Sleep. Lane. I remember watching you sleep. I liked to do that. I would watch, and it would often make me smile. I remember when it was hot, you would get all flushed in your sleep. But even when you were all red, I liked to look at you. Perhaps this was a violation. But I would look at you from all different angles, trying several different approaches, and enjoy the way your appearance changed while I moved. Sometimes you looked so childlike, sometimes so strong. All different things, you seem to be. Dana. For the boy who doesn't get enough mail. From the girl who loves him. ~~ Dana Silverman

Date: Fri, 7 Oct 94 20:58:31 CDT From: Dana Silverman To: Lane Coutell Subject: Wherefore do Ye spend Money for That which is not Bread? I am now temping for a Nursery. Not the plant kind, but the child kind. It is true, and just as you remember: at Nursery School, they have Nursery Rhymes. Although these have begun to be supplanted by more commercial, contemporary entertainments. Yesterday, I went shopping. I boarded a train at 10:40. The only seat available was in a corner, so I could only see the other people, one of whom was a huge man with jittery eyes. His eyes jittered because he could see out the window and he was trying to follow everything, but the train was moving very fast. After the train ride, which was filled with overheard conversations, I walked up State Street. I was thinking that the thing you would not like is the "Audio Equipment" stores which have very open fronts and compete with each other by playing extremely loud music. This is something I passed on the way to Skolnik's where the bagels cost almost a dollar. But that is because it is downtown. While I was there I saw several small groups of people congregate spontaneously. Mostly older people. This amazes me, the way certain people just strike up conversations which actually are shared, just like that, under the L. If that ever happened to me, if I even *met* someone I could have a 20-minute conversation with, just on the street, I would be very excited and talk about it a lot later. My next stop was Saks Fifth Avenue, to use the "Lounge" which has marvelous trompe l'oeil wallpaper. Then, at that same place, there is an Irish store, and since it seems that at times you wish you were Irish I thought that would be the perfect place for a gift. I found Peas: peas grown, canned, and marketed from Ireland! But because of the weight of the can of peas, I decided this was not a good idea. I then proceeded to the Newberry Library, where I found a biography of Zelda Fitzgerald, the "Paris Sketchbook" of William Makepeace Thackery, _One Hundred Years of Solitude_, and something else I don't right now remember. I almost bought you a 1948 Esquire pinup book, but it was $20 and the faces were really poorly done. Also, they were *hardly* naked. So on I went. Betsey Johnson and some Italian store which had some sort of *authentic* $595 Parker Lewis silk shirts. They were glorious. But $600 was a bit much. Still is. Shortly after this I had some lemon ice that was tangy hours after I ate it. Quite good. Then I went to the J. Crew store. It was very, very nice. It was a store in which to touch, as well as to look at. They are doing a brisk business. After this I went to the Swatch Neuseum at Marshall Fields Water Tower. This is the only other place I have seen my sister's Swatch. In a Swatch museum! I'm still strangely drawn to the Swatch which needs no batteries, never needs to be wound, and has the theme "Your life is the power of Swatch" or "Love is all it needs" or somesuch. If you take it off for over 36 hours, though, you may need to wind it. Next stop was Nike Town, which has the nicest linoleum I have ever seen. Also, the Aqua Sox are displayed by this gorgeous saline aquarium. Near this, there is a glass floor under which there are monitors showing the surface of a pool. So one can walk on water, glowing water. There is a basketball court inside Nike Town where one can test the shoes. The shoes are sent about this three-level complex inside dumbwaiters and air capsules. There are lots of clothes all there waiting, but you must ask for the shoes to be shot to you. You can request and evaluate them via computer. They carry 30 sizes of kids' shoes. I saw two great sets of street musicians. One was a band of six that sounded like a Motown record. There was a bass and guitar and incredible vocals. They were so good that the crowd interfered with the regular flow of traffic. I was amazed. Then, at the next block, there was a percussionist and five dancers seemed to contain within their movements a greater deal of authenticity than the dancers for Peter Gabriel, et al. But we know the search for sources and origins to be a futile one. Still, they were very good. I omitted the visit to Henri Bendel, perhaps because it is always too much. But they had wonderful hair things and bed things. It is, as they claim, a Lady's Paradise (Straight from Paris). I hurried on to catch a train. And I did. But it was an express and not going to my mother's house. So I arrived at the train station in Arlington Heights, which is a lovely place. I'm glad the train *did* stop there. I made my way home from there. Shopping. And I don't need a thing, I just want to get presents for my love. I love you very much and wish I could share all good things with you. Be careful, be good, be nice. Dana ~~ Dana Silverman

Date: Sat, 8 Oct 94 23:12:09 CDT From: Lane Coutell To: Dana Silverman Subject: bela lugosi's... The bad sucker fish jumped out of his aquarium. I don't know what he was thinking. I found him, on the floor, so far away from the aquarium that I thought, that's odd, what's a fish doing there? It was quite a belly flop this guy did. I thought he was dead, but I picked him up and dropped him back in the tank. He seemed to think he was dead too, for awhile, but then he started to think he might not be, and from the way things look now he's still deciding. We'll see. I looked over and saw the Cheshire Cat smiling at me. I was surprised. So many nice toys I have! And so many were gifts from Dana! Another verse for Rats To Cats!: Cats are, as a rule, quite ill-behaved. They won't sit or speak and rarely obey. I made cookie dough this evening. Tomorrow, I make cookies. ___________________________________ Lane Coutell For West End girls, love comes quickly with many opportunities to make lots of money in suburbia, but it's a sin, and what have I done to deserve this? - you've paid my rent and you were always on my mind and in my heart, and all the while I was domino dancing because I was left to my own devices, but it's alright, even if it is so hard, because we were never being boring where the streets have no name, and I can't take my eyes off you because of my jealousy in this DJ culture and so I ask, was is worth it?

Date: Mon, 10 Oct 94 22:57:51 CDT From: Dana Silverman To: Lane Coutell Subject: Fernando the Cat Meets His Neighbors Dearest Lane, Late at night, sometimes, I take my cat for walks. I am not as good at this as some other people I've seen, but still I do it, and I enjoy it. I hold the young Fernando in my arms and we go walking, and looking, and smelling. Last night we met five young raccoons - a pack. We stared at each other for a while before deciding to proceed. Oh, to be Doctor Doolittle and know what the animals think. I wanted to know what they think about the neighborhood. How I might improve their stay. Last night I had a bedroom mosquito. Little could distress me more. Why must the bites be itchy? I could even stand the welts if not for that. I don't miss the blood, really, either. > I made cookie dough this evening. Tomorrow, I make cookies. You'll have to send me some. You're making the chocolate chip melt-a-ways, yes? That reminds me. I've found a new recipe for waffles, in a book named _Cook Away, the Outing Cookbook_ by an Elizabeth Case and a Martha Wyman. The recipe is copyright 1937, and, as such, does not require Bisquick. You'll have to try them: Waffles 3 eggs (beaten separately) 3/4 cup butter (melted) 2 cups flour 1/2 tsp salt 2 cups milk 3 tsp baking powder Beat egg yolks very lightly. Add milk, then flour, gradually, and beat all, thoroughly. Mix in melted butter, baking powder, and salt. Lastly fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. The batter should be thin enough to pour. ~~ Dana Silverman

Date: Tue, 11 Oct 94 17:04:18 CDT To: Dana Dana Bo Bana From: Lane Coutell Subject: (The Furthering Adventures of...) > You'll have to send me some. You're making the chocolate chip > melt-a-ways, yes? But of course. Hopefully, they'll turn out. > That reminds me. I've found a new recipe for waffles... > You'll have to try them: I'll do just that. Talked to my mother on the phone. I reminded her, again, that I don't believe in God. She said that she thought that I really do, and that I'm just confused. I said no, that wasn't the case; I'm just not one to subscribe to conspiracy theories. She then asked me - later in the conversation - that I still pray, don't I? Doesn't the one preclude the other? I was channel surfing a little earlier, and came across the Smurfs for a few minutes. Gargamel's cat is named Asrael. Which is a cool name. What I really couldn't understand is why Gargamel hates the Smurfs so - though, I understand how they might get on one's nerves, after a while. But Asrael is definitely the best. I miss you. Lane ___________________________________ Lane Coutell There are so many songs about love. But I was thrilled the other day when somebody mailed me the lyrics to a song that was about how he didn't care about anything, and how he didn't care about me. It was very good. He managed to really convey the idea that he really didn't care.

Date: Wed, 12 Oct 94 23:27:17 CDT From: Dana Silverman To: Lane Coutell Subject: Today! Dearest Lane: Today was a very good day. Let me begin with the fact that there was no work today, and that is what led to the proliferation of large, strange birds and tiny, white flowers that I later saw. Had I been at work, there would have been no birds, no flowers, no woods, no Bicycle. The birds, being so large, also had large alarming whistle calls, which they called and called in an alarming way. Let me add to that a temperature in the 90's, sudden showers which produced waves of hot steam and cool mist and who knows what other conditions over blacktop and forest. But I was there. Somehow, I managed to wedge vegetation into the tiniest parts of my bicycle - a sizable portion of this vegetative matter must have been an Onion, because that is now all I smell when near the bicycle. I went down by the river, to where the Methodist campground is (which, Lane, I think is a perfect civilization). I then passed through town to where the convent is and marveled that the people there had in 1952 built Jesus yet another tomb which He might dwell in and then Flee. There was a great bare hill there of mown weeds-and-grass and there was a Saint there with a child protected in his cloak, holding up a broken arm to the wind. I think it was Christopher, but it was a beautiful picture, with nothing but grass all around, and big billowing clouds in many colors passing rapidly with the wind, only briefly interrupted or diverted by the vestigial hand of that Saint. He was unable to influence the clouds in any way. The Methodist Campground is this little, tiny world. There are small houses in it, a swimming pool, a dining hall, and a huge barnlike enclosure where there is room for any project you would imagine. All of it, except the swimming pool, was built in the late 1800s when one could use the river for hot-time swimming. The additions since then are largely homemade, and those, I think, stopped happening around 1960. The houses each have different angles and patterns and textures and they are all very close together. Each has its own garden filled with tall perennials and their butterflies. Usually these houses are freshly white; some are not, but mostly the houses are white. And there are lots of screen doors that bang and hinges and handles in obscure and overly decorative patterns. Nothing is like anything else there, and there is like nowhere else in the world. One rides and rides down the narrow streets that were meant to be driven by graying, fantastic old ladies in shapeless calico dresses and big smiles on faded blue or red bicycles with large baskets on the handlebars. The grips on these handlebars are white rubbery plastic. The ladies ride from their own little cottages to others where their friends are, or to go to the post office in Des Plaines. They plan elaborate sharing suppers together and mourn the passing of eras and moments. They could teach you how to make 55 excellent crafts from old milk cartons and a few items You Already Have at Home. Or they could teach you to crochet lace. The streets are barely wide enough for a single creeping car, but have plenty of room for two, or even three, bicycles. There is a map of the camp which adequately describes the maze. I will have to send a postcard to you, if I return and take some photos. Now a Raging Storm is arriving, and I am safe inside. I did clean my bicycle and made it happy too, so all is well. So then my mother says to me "I'd be more comfortable if you put on a dry shirt and dry shoes." I laughed. You see, there is one downspout which is the keystone to the entire Silverman Aqueduct system. And some unfortunate Lawncare Technician disconnected this spout. So we pushed it back together, but it is not the same without the rivets. So early in this colossal storm, the water started to collect at the side of the house and into the Window Wells. So I had to bail and to reconnect the downspout. I bailed and bailed. The walls of the house were protecting certain centipedes from the storm. They come out of the crevices in the ground and cleverly align themselves with the grout in the bricks. Eventually I removed several gallons from each well. Still, some water did seep into the basement. I hate how that smells, when it smells. And it does, whenever there is lots of water in a house. So I was there, with a little Tupperware freezer container, nose to nose with centipedes, and I am getting very wet. When I went into the house, those were the first words my mother spoke. Hmmmm. One touch of Irony is that I had planned to go to the Y tonight for a swim. That seems like a lot of work, now, walking there in this rain. So I am just going to make some cookies, cookies you might have sent me. They were selling sugar sprinkles in those 90's retro colors, that particularly sunny orange-yellow-green set, as seen at the Gap, and also purple-pink-and-teal. You know which colors these are. So I'm going to make cookies shaped like big dippy asterisks. I already tried flowers, but they just weren't pressing out right. ~~ Dana Silverman

Date: Fri, 14 Oct 94 07:32:41 CDT From: Lane Coutell To: Dana Silverman Subject: don't like the look of this old town... Today I take Chester to the vet. He is now sitting on the plant stand, looking out the window. But there's a certain tenseness about him: every once in a while, he looks back into the apartment, and now he's staring at me. He's now taking a resting place on the couch very close to me, but also very close to the PowerBook, with its whirring disk drive spinning at 3600 revolutions a minute the words which I write you, yet maintaining the whole. There's something comforting in a technology that works and something placating in the continuous whirring sound of the disk drive. Still, I think Chester suspects something. The bath last night, the morning grooming (which he never gets in the morning). And me, practicing in front of the mirror for when Dr. Boynton chides me for not keeping Chester to his diet: "But, he likes to eat!" ...or, perhaps "But, what can I do... the cat, he likes to eat!" When I last brought Chester to the vet, he weighed 15 lbs. and I was scolded for letting him grow so fat; now, he weighs 20. But if I do take a year or so off of his life, at least the years he does have will be much more content. If only someone were to indulge the both of us so... but we'd probably get tired of eating Science Diet Light day in and day out. Yet, Chester never suspects. I looked for a larger cat carrier yesterday so Chester wouldn't look so big inside of it. But, the pet store I went to only carried medium-sized cat carriers in this awful shade of blue, which reminded me of the Periwinkle crayon in the Crayola 64 set. I never liked the Periwinkle crayon, never quite knew what they expected you to color in that dull shade of half-hearted blue. But now if I ever come across a coloring book page with a medium-sized cat carrier I will know exactly what color to color it. Well, time to be off. I am thinking of you, always. My love. Lane ___________________________________ Lane Coutell "It's a Missage," he said to himself, "that's what it is. And that letter is a 'P', and so is that, and so is that, and 'P' means 'Pooh,' so it's a very important Missage to me, and I can't read it."

Date: Fri, 14 Oct 94 15:19:35 CDT From: Dana Silverman To: Lane Coutell Subject: Conveniences and Conveyances Dearest Lane: I am never quite able to convey my thankfulness for the things you do. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your daily presence among my things and in my computer, and all of that. It really is too nice of you. And what do I do for you? I got a new smoke alarm today. You test it by flashing a flashlight at it. It is very nice. I wanted them to fix the old one, but the girl at Sears thought that was an outrageous request. So I bought some chocolate, because I suffer from intermittent bouts of depression, and it helped, if only briefly. Tomorrow morning I will feel better, once I am alone in the daycare rooms. Tomorrow I will teach the 21 children about flight, and they will love it. They always do. They want to be close to me because I present them with moving clouds and flapping marionettes and we make earthquakes together. I do teach a lot of Chaos, at least the little bit I was able to learn from the Gleick book so long ago. I cannot tell you how often that book and that knowledge colors my thinking, but once again, there you are, every day. Thank you Lane. Lananh, a recent addition to the neighborhood, is my friend now. Initially she liked me, until she found out about my sordid past. Now she knows I am not a girl of little ethical thought. She now thinks I am all right. She is lovely, and lovelier in the pictures she's shown me, with her hair wavy and with no glasses on. She is still silly because she is Younger, and I remember when I am with her how it is to be Younger and I like that. And I make her look forward to being Older, I guess. She thinks anyone over 20 is old. I remember feeling that exact same way. I never thought I'd be like This. Another verse: Cats aren't very social and at times, downright rude. They like to ignore you to go sit and brood. Be careful, be good, be nice. Dana ~~ Dana Silverman

Date: Fri, 14 Oct 94 19:47:31 CDT From: Lane Coutell To: Dana Silverman Subject: ...what goes up must come down > I am never quite able to convey my thankfulness for the things you do. I > cannot tell you how much I appreciate your daily presence among my > things and in my computer, and all of that. It really is too nice of > you. And what do I do for you? So, I assume you got the mouse? Well, went to the vet. I was, indeed, reprimanded for Chester's weight, my rationalizations notwithstanding. Dr. Boynton's assistant, Amy, gave me a brochure on pet "obesity", but she was kind enough to cross out the "Obesity" title and relabel it "Weight Control Measures" in blue ink pen. I laughed, of course, at the edit, but it strikes me now that some pet owners might indeed require the euphemism. Chester, it would seem, doesn't care. I called him "obese" right now, to his face, and he didn't blink an eye. Admittedly, I usually call him "fat," so perhaps "obese" hardly has any sting after that. But there's something biting about the cold "thingness" of a medical term. At any rate, Chester's now on a weight-reducing diet: Dr. Boynton sent me away with a prescription for Hill's Prescription Diet Feline r/d. I was worried for awhile, since Chester weighs 20 lbs. (exactly! or, near exactly (or, really, not exactly at all) according to the vet's scale), and the feeding guide on the food ends at 15 lbs. But now, I see, "the amount to be fed is based on the desired weight rather than the obese weight". Of course, one would never do that for obese *people* - feed them what they should eat if they were to weigh what they should weigh - but then again, in the SlimFast commercials, you drink a glass for breakfast, and a glass for lunch, whatever your weight. Perhaps it's that "sensible dinner" that makes all the difference. Hmm. Not much else going on. ___________________________________ Lane Coutell "Yeah, that's fucking bizarre. That's one I'd never heard before. Not even on the Internet." -- Bob Mould, on rumors that he and Grant Hart were lovers when Husker Du broke up, Spin magazine interview, 10/94

Date: Sat, 15 Oct 94 17:11:52 CDT From: Dana Silverman To: Lane Coutell Subject: See More Glass. >So, I assume you got the mouse? Yes. It is too much of an improvement! A story, for you: Once upon a time, there was a little girl, and she liked to play outside. She was outside, once, with a boy named *Steve Jones*. They were both from the *wrong side* of the tracks, and that is why they played alone. Just they two. They were sitting on the bars on the 5th and 6th grade playground. But they were neither in 5th nor 6th grade. No one can remember. Maybe it was 3rd. Steve was "cool." He was strong and tan and feared. (Aside. (Needn't read it.)) He was also short and smart. He took an "S.A.T." in 5th grade. No one knew he was smart. He was a behavior problem. The test scores never made sense. The little girl was very little for her age. She was not "cool." But she was strong and tan and feared. She decided to run. (She did that a lot.) She ran and ran and then decided that some of these bars on the jungle gym should be vaulted. So she ran toward one of the lower bars and prepared to leap. But she did not make it. The first leg didn't, and all of her followed it into the bar. She did not cry. Because Steve was there. She did not tell anyone later, because it did not matter. But it *did* hurt. That's why I limp some. I broke my knee. We found out 6 years or so later. I remembered the story about a year after that discovery. Sometimes it hurts a lot and I get *grumpy*. Sometimes it hurts a lot. Rilke wrote (or I remember he wrote): Love consists in this: two solitudes that protect... that touch... that greet each other. I probably didn't remember it right. ~~ Dana Silverman

Date: Wed, 19 Oct 94 18:35:47 CDT From: Lane Coutell To: Dana Silverman Subject: joe camel is a bad camel... Matt, as you know, is trying to quit smoking (not because you know he's trying to quit smoking, but because Matt is always trying to quit smoking), but when he dropped by last night he had a pack of cigarettes with him. I traded him gum for the Camels. Tonight, when I was biking (it's cold outside!) I saw a derelict of some sort and remembered I had the cigarettes in my pocket. I asked him if he smoked. He tried to tell me he had to go home. I told him yes, but did he smoke. He continued to garble on, but it seemed a very affirmative garbling so I handed him the pack of cigarettes. The garbling got quicker and perhaps more enthusiastic. It's hard to tell. But then, as I was leaving, he gave me a thumbs up. I returned the sign. The other night I went visiting and I saw this sign on my host's door - "Hey Kids! Don't smoke! Joe Camel is a Bad Camel. Just Say No!" It was accompanied by our friendly phallus, hawking cigarettes in his inimitable way (well, until R.J. Reynolds comes up with another cartoon character cigarette salesperson). Which reminds me - a few weeks ago I was told by Someone Who Should Know that the dromedary on the Programming Perl cover wasn't anatomically correct. That the head was a head of a two-humped bactrian, not the one-humped dromedary. Now, I'm not sure I quite believe that, and we both know that People Who Should Know Often Don't. Still, this is what that person said. You, however, are anatomically correct. I sigh, thinking about it. ___________________________________ Lane Coutell My opinions are my own. They're my feet and I'll put them in my mouth if I want to. Do not expose to open flame. Under penalty of law, do not remove this tag. Caution, contains silica gel, do not eat. Do not read while operating a motor vehicle or heavy equipment. In case of eye contact, flush with water. This supersedes all previous notices.

Date: Thu, 20 Oct 94 23:56:27 CDT From: Dana Silverman To: Lane Coutell Subject: A Rush and a Push Would you like to read a joke? A young lady bought a postage stamp. "Must I stick it on myself?" she asked.  "I should say not," said the clerk. "Stick it on the letter." And another: Mrs.: Whenever I'm down in the dumps, I get a new hat. Mr.: Oh, so that's where you get them!! I did my laundry today. It's nice to have a washer and dryer in the basement. You know, I still cannot fold sheets. I remember my father getting very angry with me, and insisting that my six-year-old height was no excuse for not being able to fold sheets. At the time, I should have asked him to fold a sheet on his knees. But little girls don't do that. But even now I am not much of a sheet folder. Yesterday night I took my neighbor's dog for a walk. Molly is quite middle-aged, but is of such small brain that one could never tell from seeing - but especially walking - her. She approaches every driveway and tries to go up it, seeing if perhaps it is our destination. I am not very good at yanking on leashes, but I learned. Her owners have a high-tech spool on the leash, with a sort of trigger grip, which makes quick jerks on the leash quite impossible. Towards the end of our walk we passed two small children with a proud white Standard Poodle. I was so embarrassed. Their dog was a model of domesticity - even without the pom-poms. Mine skipped and hopped all over. I rearranged my bookshelves again. I am generating space somehow. (I don't know how, but when I do I will tell you about it.) I went out for breakfast, with Jeanne. I asked the waitress about the waffles. "Is it one square?" I asked, forming a square using the thumbs and index fingers of both hands. "Oh no," said the waitress. "It's a waffle, just a waffle." She was skinny and somehow misshapen. Her uniform was meant to suggest the shape of a woman, but in the various tucks and pockets, it was clear there was nothing within. The ceiling of the restaurant was pink, and many people there were dressed in pink as well. When my waffle arrived, it was an extremely generous circle, and quite tasty. I was happy with it, although I generally won't eat breakfast anywhere but home. My father always refinishes bookcases thus: he puts wallpaper on the back of the inside; he stains the wood a dark, dark color. He does this always, for every piece he refinishes. I wonder if he papers the insides of desks? The undersides of chairs? I mean, he put this Holly Hobbie wallpaper inside this one bookcase and it will be there forever. And in one picture, one of the girls is doing this strange thing with her toes. That image of toes has always bothered me. And it is behind my books. Now I want a snack, and then I think I will go to bed. I think of you with sincere fondness and love. So have you taken a Super Ball into my old bedroom and set it loose, while wrapping your arms around your head for protection? Have you prepared yourself for another joke? Well, on my way to get a snack I misplaced my joke book, so I cannot tell you another. Without that book, I am quite humorless. I am also very cold. I had intended to write more words to you, as I had last night, but by 12:30 I had expired. And now I must be off again. You deserve so much better than this. I will try. Soon, it will be better. Soon, it will all make sense again. Things do always turn out. People much more foolish than you or I have done OK. We must dedicate ourselves to coming out splendidly. I will let you train my dog. I think you might be very good at that... I love you terribly! (and also, I love you!) Dana. ~~ Dana Silverman

Date: Fri, 21 Oct 94 11:37:12 CDT From: Lane Coutell To: Dana Silverman Subject: no doubt it has always been that way... Dana - Watching Reading Rainbow. It's one of those things you do when you're sick. Today's show topic is jobs. So they showed us tons of people all perfectly happy with their jobs - i.e., exclamations of "I love this job!" or "I have the best job in the world!" This extends to grocery store check-out clerks, pizza makers, and the woman who makes all the Lego models. There was also a very hot redhead of small build who runs a dog-walking business: she was walking seven dogs at once on the show. So I guess I'm just a another down-and-out "generation nothing," too lazy to do anything. They also featured a 15-year-old from the Bronx hawking nail polish to pay for his college education. More frivolous verse: Cats like to leave fur-balls all over the house: they get in the toaster and cling to your blouse. Lane loves you, Dana. Even though I'm sick, I still love you. Lane ___________________________________ Lane Coutell I was walking on the ground. I didn't make a sound. Then I turned around, and I saw a clown. It had a frown. It stood up on a mound. It started barking like a hound. Clowny clown clown.

Date: Sun, 23 Oct 94 22:18:52 CDT From: Dana Silverman To: Lane Coutell Subject: New! This morning I rode in the MS bike-a-thon and it was OK, except that it was raining very hard. I got very wet and I rode all the way home that way and it was very heavy and cold. Then I took a bath and invited the cat to come with me into the bathroom. He watched the water and the bubbles and did, at one point, hop in, but then he hopped right back out again. After that I went to the Art Institute, because I truly cannot stand my mother. I did not want to spend a single minute near her. But once I was there, I had to keep my fingers in my ears most of the time, because the people there were so loud. I wanted to think and couldn't think; I could barely read with all the racket. Perhaps some people thought I was strange, but I had to chuckle as I was looking at the extensive collection of ceramic pillows from China... so very many of them had pictures of a duck or a goose on them, or sculpted on them, and I was musing about the discomfort of a ceramic pillow as opposed to a feather-down one. It seems that something was lost in the transfer of the pillow idea. The cat just crept onto the bed, said softly "New!," and then ran away as fast as he could. What was he thinking? The cat likes to make noise. He will sing while eating or drinking, or yawning, just to make different sounds than the usual disastrously high-pitched noo, new, or naa that he usually produces. Lane, I am very lonely. I have no one to think thoughts with and no one to tell the thoughts I think. I want to make all sorts of things but I lack the time and the materials. In short, I am going through a phase of frustration. I have accepted many responsibilities at my old church, under the assumption I would have assistance in getting these things done, but no one is ever around to help me. On the weekends I am often without transportation, so I am stranded here in this house where my mother lives. During the week I am working. So I cannot move the furniture I promised to collect, I cannot meet with the other kids to plan outings. So I look like a lazy idiot, when in reality I am working so hard and getting nothing. I conveniently lost my credit card and my cash card so I don't need to worry about spending money right now, although I do still have checks. I wonder what I did with these cards? I wonder if someone else has them now? Oh well, at least I am not spending. That is all. I'm gonna go now. I have to run some errands in the night. Be careful, be good, be mice. No, don't be mice. Chester would harass you then. Much Love, Dana ~~ Dana Silverman

Date: Tue, 25 Oct 94 15:25:40 CDT From: Lane Coutell To: Dana Silverman Subject: du kannst, denn du sollst... So I think of famous personages I should model my life after. And although Ralph Waldo Emerson and Gandhi come to mind, I can never think of a personality more worthy of my emulation and respect than Chilly Willy the Penguin. You've got to admit, Chilly Willy's really got it together. He's got his priorities straight. He's cold, 'cuz he lives in the Antarctic, so one of his goals is To Be In A Warm Place. He's hungry, because most things are frozen in the Antarctic, and he can't afford any Swanson Hungry Man frozen dinners, so his other primary objective is To Eat Good Food. And in these two objectives, with his endearing stubbornness, he usually succeeds. "More pancakes?" "Uh-huh." "More butter?" "Uh-huh." "More syrup?" "Uh-huh." The best part is, Chilly Willy is a proto-revolutionary Marxist if I've ever seen one (and I wonder if I ever have). He regularly questions the capitalist ideologies of "private property", of Law, and the State in order to realize his Needs, determined by the Nature of his Existence, all with a zealousness which can only be described as, well, revolutionary. Marxist without Manifesto. Chilly Willy the Penguin. Lane ___________________________________ Lane Coutell "Voyez-vous cet oeuf. C'est avec cela qu'on renverse toutes les ecoles de theologie, et tous les temples de la terre."

Date: Wed, 26 Oct 94 06:37:28 CDT From: Dana Silverman To: Lane Coutell Subject: No Subject Lane, No message. Just wrote because you love getting mail so. Dana ~~ Dana Silverman Ceci n'est pas une .sig file.

Date: Thu, 27 Oct 94 22:03:39 CDT From: Dana Silverman To: Lane Coutell Subject: H is for Hedgehog My dearest Lane, Yesterday I went to the zoo. I saw a hedgehog there. It was a bit larger than a billiard ball. A woman was holding it in her gloved hand. It was in this billiard ball form. I asked her if I could see the rest of it. She turned the hedgehog over and it looked about the same on the other side, except that there was a slot in it. Occasionally this quaking ball of thorns would heave and make a loud Piff! sound. Surely a death by terror wherever it lies. Hedgehog. I really wish I could introduce them to some nearby hedges. I'd love to see them wobbling around. I later saw the deadly Echidna, which is like a hedgehog, only different. It flattens to a spiky mat and half-buries itself. A living landmine in the New Guinea forest floor. Just looking at one makes you think of pain. I have never seen one whole. Just its exposed deadly spines, rippling with Echidna life. This morning on the bus I thought about the world's largest flower. This flower is huge and orange and sits on the forest floor upon a mat of its scaly leaves. I suppose this flower is pollinated by bears which step on the flower as they walk about, and carry the blossom-pollen on their paws from flower to flower, never realizing their vital place on the ecological chain. Spectacled bears live there, in the vanishing rainforest. They are the ones who pollinate the giant Rafflia flower. I feel excessively cheery. I feel overstimulated. The detergent I put in the dishwasher this morning looked like applesauce, and this thrilled me. The dew on the lawn was exciting, as were the three elderly Russians who shared the bus stop with me, the boldest of which asked me two-oh-nine, yet? And I said no, not yet. And then the three chattered away, and read newspapers printed in Cyrillic. Yesterday I also went to American Science & Surplus, where all of the drinking birds are somewhat deformed. I saw a perfect glass dome for planting experiments - but it was made of red glass. Everything there is rather cheap, but since I have gotten old and sensible, I have little use for the wild toys and nice scientific glassware. I am truly distraught, despite my maddeningly sunny disposition. I need sanctuary. I need a reliable, dependable world. I need to be alone. I still love you. Be careful, be good, be nice. Dana ~~ Dana Silverman

Date: Fri, 28 Oct 94 23:14:10 CDT From: Lane Coutell To: Dana Silverman Subject: D is for Dana > I need to be alone. And yet, you write me this. I saw Breakfast at Tiffany's just recently. In Breakfast at Tiffany's, the writer goes to the New York Public Library with Holly, and looks up his book. He's supported by an older, married woman, who gives him an apartment and a closet full of suits. In Breakfast at Tiffany's, Holly's cat has no name. In Breakfast at Tiffany's, the writer gets to tell the story at the end. Even in Sunset Blvd., the writer gets to tell the story at the end, even though he's dead, from his own story. In Breakfast at Tiffany's, when the writer tells the woman he loves her, she runs away. Isn't it just like a woman? In Breakfast at Tiffany's, the writer gets published in The New Yorker. He gets published in The New Yorker, because he can tell the story of how the woman left him. In the end, of course, the writer gets the girl, after all. That's 'cause he's the writer. My love. ___________________________________ Lane Coutell What system had proved more effective? Indirect suggestion implicating self-interest. Example? She disliked umbrella with rain, he liked woman with umbrella, she disliked new hat with rain, he liked woman with new hat, he bought new hat with rain, she carried umbrella with new hat.

Date: Fri, 28 Oct 94 23:16:42 CDT From: To: Lane Coutell cc: Subject: Undeliverable mail Your message was not delivered to the following recipients: dsilverman: User unknown

Date: Sat, 29 Oct 94 08:13:52 CDT From: Lane Coutell To: Dana Silverman Subject: Re: D is for Dana Dana? ___________________________________ Lane Coutell Just then Grandfather Stupid stopped by. "Welcome to heaven," said Mr. Stupid. "This isn't heaven," said Grandfather. "This is Cleveland."

Date: Sat, 29 Oct 94 08:15:21 CDT From: To: Lane Coutell cc: Subject: Undeliverable mail Your message was not delivered to the following recipients: dsilverman: User unknown

Carl Steadman ( is the cofounder of suck and a columnist for The Industry Standard.

InterText stories written by Carl Steadman: "The World Is Held Together By Duct Tape" (v4n4), "Two Solitudes" (v5n1).

"Two Solitudes" originally appeared as a series of e-mail messages sent between the two participants, with carbon copies sent to the piece's audience. Thanks to Mark Nevins, Jeff Curtis, Tim Connors, and Eric Tilton. Special thanks to Jim Miner, Matthias Neeracher, Scott Custer, and Melissa Pauna.

InterText Copyright © 1991-1999 Jason Snell. This story may only be distributed as part of the collected whole of Volume 5, Number 1 of InterText. This story Copyright © 1995 Carl Steadman.