thoughts on soup

A man calls the office asking about if our Master’s of philosophy can be done online. I have no idea. I ask to put him on hold and I google it. I think the answer is no. He hangs up on me.

The copy machine is a big fancy Xerox machine. The toner comes in a huge tunnel that you have to feed slowly into it. My supervisor gives me advice on how to use the copy machine to copy a book. I think about copyright laws, and about all the PDFs of books I have read for creative writing classes. The stain of the copy machine, down the spine, across the edges. It’s always clear that it wasn’t a real photograph.

***

Yesterday I saw a blue flyer that advertised basically my job except in the English department. I thought about it really hard. Next semester, maybe. I have two papers to write today and a midterm to finish and who knows if the English department would let me do any of that. It’s probably all copying books. It’s late enough in the semester that they don’t need anything copied out of books, says Rachelle.

At community college, I couldn’t afford the science textbook that everyone was using, and I figured I would just wing it. One of my lab partners spent all night copying her copy of the textbook and hole-punched it herself and gave it to me in a binder. I was so touched I cried in front of her. I was nineteen and everyone else was like, twenty-six. I felt so old and so young at the same time, impossibly both without and within.

I’m reading articles about Amtrak trains again. I desperately would like to go on a train trip. They have just remodeled a bunch of the trains so this summer is supposed to be the best time to go. The only trip I’ve ever been on by myself was to Seattle in the summer of 2019, and I flew. I have dreams of carrying on Emma Goldman’s legacy but in reality I am just the kind of anarchist who brings soup to people who need it. Direct action! Also, that’s good soup.


I am reading another article about data privacy. My Big Project as a Computer Person was making a robot that told me what to wear. It lived in an Amazon smart speaker and it took photos of me wearing various outfits. I had just figured out how to make it play music and then Amazon stopped supporting the smart speaker that it lived in. The software still exists. I could port it to something else, it wouldn’t be so hard. But also I think that if I have to code anything ever again I will have to lie down, and possibly I would never ever get back up. Anyhow the data privacy thing is about how your smart speaker records everything you say. Which is true. And it keeps those recordings. Which is also true. And it uploads them to Amazon. And fuck Amazon. And that’s just kind of the end of all of that. We live in a surveillance state and your phone is tracking everything you do to sell that information back to advertisers so you can get more personalized ads about whatever. I could worry about this but honestly I just do not care. There is so much going on and nobody will do anything about it. All I got is a couple of cans of soup.

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