I bought a book today.

I don't usually buy books. There's not much point. I finish them too fast. I read most things out of an idle curiosity; I seldom re-read things, and especially with dead-tree format, there's no point in purchasing and storing and moving an object I'm not likely to use for its intended purpose ever again. I have cheaper, lighter junk I can use to prop up wobbly tables.

One roommate has developed some highly unrealistic expectations, and the other one says she agrees with me that they're unrealistic but so far as I know has not done anything about it. I assume there are reasons for this that I'm not privy to, and I like to have some faith in humanity, so I further assume they're good ones. It doesn't stop me from feeling like a polite robo-voice has broken through the shitty phone Musak to tell me that my call is very important to them before demonstrating how much they mean that by putting me back on hold for another 45 minutes.

"I agree with you but don't bring it up," is functionally equivalent to, "You're on your own." I get it, but that doesn't make it fun. It makes me feel as though I've been judged a liability and cut loose. Again.

It has been my observation, over the years, that the only person I'm important to is me. Most folk try to resolve conflict by creating the least possible disruption. If they can't get the number of upset people down to zero, they at least try to upset the fewest people they can manage, and try to avoid getting too much of the social circle upset by proxy. I'm nobody's wife or girlfriend, and effectively nobody's sister or daughter now either, and so far as I am aware, nobody is in the habit of getting het up on my behalf. Socially, I am the most expendable, and the easiest to sacrifice.

I like to think that other people justify this calculus by assuming that I am strong and resourceful, that I can adapt to anything, that I don't really need anyone's help, and that I will always land on my feet. I don't, but by the time I go splat they've long since decided the matter is resolved and aren't paying attention anymore, so they don't notice. I don't know that any of this is true, but it's one of those things where it will happen the way it happens whether you understand it or not, which makes their reasoning immaterial, and it lets me continue thinking that other humans are basically decent until proven otherwise.

I bought the book mainly so that I could kid myself that I had a reliable connection with something.

The idea that I have an intellectual lineage has always been much more useful to me than the biological kind. A bunch of people were born somewhere, lived somewhere, and died somewhere. None of it had anything to do with me. I never met most of them, and judging from the relatives I did know, I probably wouldn't have liked them. There are a few things I'm glad I inherited from my family, but they're all genetic or epigenetic -- potential for intelligence, appearance, that sort of thing. They didn't put any conscious thought into what DNA I'd get, which is probably good, because the family culture is about 90% dysfunction and 10% frantic wallpapering over it when other people insist on being around. One of my grandparents did a bunch of genealogy in which I was completely uninterested, because from the bits I heard it was just more of the same.

But I like being able to trace the origins of stuff I think. I like being able to track Oliver Sacks back through Alexander Romanovich Luria and Edward Liveing, and Douglas Hofstadter back through Willard Van Orman Quine and Bertrand Russell. I don't care if I have my great-great aunt's hair color, or my grandmother's nose, but I find it incredibly sentimental to go back and find how much of my writing style I get from people like Martin Gardner or Douglas Adams.

Shopping doesn't usually make me feel better. It mainly makes me worse; I never have enough money, and even going out to spend it on things I have to buy like dish soap and food is sometimes enough to make me freak out. But this time I just ended up kneeling by the shelf in the B&N at the Pru, texting the bank. Here's my balance, subtracting the check I just wrote and the things I need to get at the store and ignoring the deposit that isn't going to hit yet is more than enough to buy the book, just buy the fucking book and quit just lurking here on the floor, you're in everyone else's way.

I paid $16 for a stack of words on paper solely because it reminds me that I do come from somewhere, even if I feel like I have nowhere to go from here. It's a stupid talisman, but most talismans are. As useless objects go, at least it wasn't that expensive.


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