They Seem Very Busy

05 Jun, 2014

by Anja Notanja Sieger

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The woman does not want to be identified.

The woman can make you an iced coffee.

The woman frequently makes me an earl grey

with a side of questions concerning Harry Potter.

 

She first read Harry Potter as a high school student

back in her homeland, the third major island

of the Philippines’ 7,107 total islands.

“I think every kid was inspired by Harry Potter,

he’s not perfect, he has a lot of flaws,

but the people around him make him strong.”

 

This management, accounting and law school graduate

has been in the states for a year now

working at her first job of all time

and has observed:

“Things are cleaner over here,

and the people here are on their own always

instead of compounds of families all living together.

Things are very peaceful here,

but people have no time for other people

they seem very busy.”

 

She would tell me more

but a line has formed,

it is three in the afternoon

and everyone wants

a medium cappuccino

or some other brown dessert drink

that requires rituals & cream.

 

I go away to become busy

and am reminded of something

Joe Charney described before parting ways:

the ‘zombie grocery store,’

where Joe goes to get his food,

is a place where people go to ignore each other.

“They don’t mumble to themselves,

they pass each other,

but no action or reaction,

statement or thought,” he said.

People pushing their carts around

all demonstrate something he called, “the stare:

looking straight ahead, but not side-to-side.

They are unaware!

I often think that one of them could be stabbed

a little to the right of their field of vision

and they wouldn’t even notice.

Like horse blinders.”

 

I know what he was talking about,

but luckily here at the Pfister people greet each other

like in the elevator where I am asked,

“Hey, where’s your typewriter?”

And I say, “It’s heavy, I can’t lug it with me everywhere I go.”

“But heavy things are good for your muscles.”

“That’s true, but you see I have snake arms.”

I roll up my sleeve and expose my thin, straight arm.

The elevator rider laughs,

“Snake arms! I like that. I myself would call them ‘buggy whips.’”

 

Now there’s a term that is at least as old as the hotel,

pre automobile

and pre virtual fake reality network friendships.

‘Buggy whip.’

When horses wearing blinders

clomped down Wisconsin Avenue en masse.

 

I go back to the café and the line is finally gone.

I ask if I can take a picture of her tattoo,

and she says sure, it is not her face

though it has an eye of Horace

to represent restoration—

not bad luck

like some people think.

I think it’s pretty,

she got it here in the states

since in the Philippines it would be too controversial.

She tells me that both “The Da Vinci Code” author Dan Brown

and boy band “One Direction,”

have been banned from the country

she hopes one day to return to

though she now has a golden snitch

engraved on her arm to represent time flying.

 

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About the author

Anja Notanja Sieger

Anja is pronounced (ON-JUH) and 'Notanja' (not-ON-JUH). Anja is the person-conduit and Notanja is the spirit writing the letters. Both currently hang out in the Pfister Hotel and would like to meet you. "I am a performing typist who interprets other people's thoughts in the form of “prosettes.” Prosettes (poetry-letter hybrids) are typed for the customer on-the-spot, usually on a typewriter. For me the typewriter offers the pre-computer era tradition of translating ideas into clacking physicality. Customers can choose from the following options: Poetry, Love Letter, Insult Letter, Letter of Recommendation, Short Story, Letter from a Pet, Other. Writing letters requires me to pretend for the duration of the composition that I am the client.”

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