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Sunday, August 20, 2006

Notaries from Underground

Zombie notaries rise from the undead in N. Noon Mismailian's $150 billion epic. Beware of Notaries from Underground. This time your fate is sealed.

Actually, I wanted to write a little bit about the advantages of being underground, advantages, at least, if you are a writer.

While mailroom workers get little if any respect from those whose lives they make easier, they also have--as a result of that lack of respect--access to offices and areas that other employees don't get. When you work in the mailroom, pushing your cart from floor to floor, you get exposed to all the backstairs gossip and petty rivalries and machinations, the triumphs and disappointments. It's akin to being a domestic in a Victorian household. You get to see everyone unclothed because they don't completely recognize your humanity.

And so, I''ve been gathering material.

Also, the class war gets thrown in your face several times a day, and so ideas for essays percolate and develop.

Finally, working underground has helped me add an element to a story I've been trying to write for the last 20 years or so. The story is called "Timon," and it is a loose updating of Shakespeare's retelling of the legend of Timon of Athens. I've tried writing it as a play and as a short story, but it hasn't turned out quite right yet. But working underground has had its effect.

In shakespeare's telling, Timon flees his financial woes by taking refuge in a cave. It took me all this time to realize that working in a mailroom could be the analogue to that. Yes. I think I'll have my modern, corporate Timon wind up in a mailroom plotting revenge.

And that has been the most salutary effect that the mailroom has had on me: The daemon has returned and I long to write. Fate is currently engineering another turn of events for me, one that might allow me to add to the family treasure while giving me time in which to write. At least, that is the hope. It means emerging from underground, but still going undercover.

One step at a time.

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