Professional Objects

March 30, 1998


For this exercise, participants wrote on small scraps of paper thename of an inanimate object, and on a separate scrap, a professionculledfrom Julies book of Professional Women. Picking an object at randomfroma hat, and a profession at random from a basket, participants were askedto write about the job from the point of view of the inanimate object.Nostylistic constraints were imposed beyond the generative device,allowingfor an entertaining variety of voices. Significantly, this writingexercise was not collaborative, which is comparatively rare in verbatim.


The Suffragist Sidewalk (Caffeine Andersen)


My friends, I am here today with a message. Im here because I, likeyou, am sick of dog shit, of ice cream flops falling on me, of livingoutside in all weather, covered with ice, slush, baby drool. But most ofall, my friend, I am sick of the shoes! Im through with being steppedon!And things are going to change around here. Theyd better watch theirmothers backs, because my cracks are gonna start tripping people up. Ive got a plan. See, these structures that look so monolithic, wecanchallenge them, we can overturn the status quo. Its the American Way,its the American Dream, and my paved-over friends, we can live thisdream. If every concrete square, every cobblestone, every manhole cover--and even, yes, despite the animosities of the past, every square foot ofhighway, freeway, city street and alley -- if we could unite, myfriends,unite and fight for the vote, we could gain a voice! A voice, myfriends,to express our demands! Let them come in with pickaxes to break us up and return us to thequarry, to mother limestone and father sand! Let them degrade us withpumps, wingtips and sneakers! We will remain united and strong until weget the vote, and then our voice will turn the world upside down!Theyllbe asking permission to cross the street, buffing us every Sunday,scolding the child who dares to touch us with one dirty toe! And untilthat glorious time comes to pass, I suggest that we make life difficultfor them. No more complacency! Let the tree roots push you up, let thesuns rays make you boil! Let the wind blow your dust into thepedestrians eye! Let the world know that we will no longer lie down andtake what comes! From now on, were in charge.


Button Diver (Julie Ebin) I live a life of depth. When I sink through my medium, thoughtsescapethrough me like the air which rises. Square eyes I have, like the namesglasses arent called. And I control my center through their fourdirections, navigating my darkness with a manufactured light. I ampartlydrawn to this realm because of the shiny scales which inhabit it. Theyareso similar to me, and yet so alien, so primitive. I study the way theyflash by in fabrics, as seamless as if they were manufactured that way,and not sewn together by hand. The shells, too, fascinate me with their fastenings, their organichinges. How can they grow so perfectly matched and joined? Not even thebest zipper can do that. Indeed, they are worthy objects of examination. But the things at which I most am continually amazed are the corals.There are some which resemble cousins of mine, others, which are like nomaterials that I have ever seen. They are rigid, sturdy, yet appearfluidand delicate. Truly, they are a commodity for the fashion world to focuson and strive to emulate.


Object: Shoelace. Occupation: Casino Operator. (Lucia Maraniss) I was born in Elkhart, Indiana, and Im a twin, if you want to know.Mytwin brother and I -- his names Rick, mines Vick -- we run a casino onthe reservation just outside of Montreal. So Rick and I, we have changed over the years, and I like to thinkweve changed for the better. Weve gotten softer, thats for sure;werethe kinds of guys, if we see some poor sucker throwing his last red centaway at the roulette table, we put something in his drink to knock himoutbefore he can run himself into the ground. Also, weve added lots of decoration to this place. It used to besortof grubby and broken-in; comfortable, but not what youd call elegant.Thechandeliers used to be so chintzy, but now weve got real crystal, andgreen carpets to match the black jack tables. So, Rick wont admit to being any softer in his old age, but we cantreally kid ourselves. But we can pull ourselves up by the straps, youknow? Hell, we started this joint alone; we were just sitting around,grungy and spineless until I had this idea. So now, were happy, Iguess.Happy as pigs in shit, to use my moms expression.


Object: Spade Profession: Wrestler (Adam Tobin) I know HOW TO, dig? I know how to THROW people onto and into the ground, yknow what Imsaying? I know how to throw people, but keep them grounded -- keep thempinnedsix feet under the mat, but KNOWIN exactly where they are, see, forTHREEafterlives, for THREE second chances, for three eternities. I know the ropes. I dig fate, and I have a firm hold on matters oftheflesh -- but I do not understand WHY ...


Object: Saddle Vocation: Rebel Girl (Modus Operandi) I didnt set out intending to be a rebel girl ... when I wassmaller,I was just a saddle like any other. I come from a normal, working-classfamily of saddles most of my relatives work hard every day around thefarm. I guess what Im trying to say is, Im not a showbiz saddle likeyoud see in a rodeo or a circus, all sparkly with rhinestones. Thosesaddles never worked a day in their lives, and it shows. I dont likethem ... theyre gaudy. And mostly youll find them shallow,self-obsessedand egocentric. Naw, I guess you could say that I became a rebel girl by dumb luck,when the filly I was riding was RUSTLED by the famous GIRL OUTLAW, BelleStarr. Since then, my life has been full of non-stop action ... bankrobberies, armored car heists, you name it. All in a days work.