Wednesday, October 8, 2008

10,000 flushes

Often times, I'll be walking around somewhere, and I'll see someone and think, "if I were (somewhere else) that would be (person I know)."

The association is often triggered by a gesture, gait, posture, or hairstyle. Sometimes, I even sit down in a public area and decide to 'assign' someone I know to everyone I can see. I create a world around me filled with people I know (but don't really know). It's great! I get to see them interact with each other in strange ways and ignore people they should acknowledge. I watch them make uncharacteristic purchases and laugh nervously. Sooner or later, my fantasy world dissolves into reality and I emerge invigorated on the other side.

This evening, I experienced a version of this fantasy with a whole new twist. I sat in the front row of the first David H. Liu Memorial Lecture in Design of the quarter and experienced Rives for the first time, and for the millionth time. As it turns out, Rives is my friend Scott (aka :srw: - you know him) exactly. Rives gave a design talk loaded with a free association of his path from paper engineer to multimedia artist, to spoken word poet, to observer of everything, to TV host living out the same free association fantasy that started the whole thing. Scott,
if you don't
know him, writes
emails like this. With
lines that allude
to a poem enough
so that you wonder
if they are meant
to be a poem and
then eventually you decide that
they must be so
you spend longer than
you should
composing your response.

The arc of connections between Rives and Scott is strong enough that multiple people noticed and pointed it out, including Scott, who happened to be sitting in the second row behind me and two seats to the left. I sat through the talk wondering if some sort of neat vortex would envelop the room as two soul mates oscillated on the same wavelength in such close proximity.

The whole experience made me wonder who my personality match would be. Who do people think of when they think of me? Do people ever get reminded of me when I'm not around?

The magical evening had more in store. Post-lecture, I stood with Scott and two other great friends, Jean and Capra, and we did a quick debrief about the latest in our lives. Capra told some stories of her recent trip to Amsterdam and highlighted, for me, two separate hotel bathroom experiences she'd had. One hotel bathroom had strange tubes that smelled of pee, and the other involved a stay on a houseboat that left something to be desired. Then Jean, one of the best if not the best synthesizer I know, said, "I think of you every time I'm in a public bathroom." Amazing! People associate me with public bathrooms. It all started when I put this

up in the women's bathroom last year. People that don't wash their hands after visiting the bathroom gross me out, and I wanted to call them out on it. Excitingly, the installation and meaning behind it have followed me since. I'll take it where I can get it. I might not ever experience the Scott-Rives vortex, but there's a chance that every day someone somewhere makes their own little vortex, washes their hands, and thinks of me. I love you all.

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