Benjamin Franklin (Part 1)

In the morning, if I don’t feel like riding my bike or if it’s raining, I take the brown line to work. The brown line is slow, winding between old brick buildings and over busy streets on its way downtown. I ride in the last car and when the conductor goes fast around a curve it feels like we’re about to be flung off the tracks. The people who ride with me wear khaki pants and blue button-up shirts, or pencil skirts and sneakers and large diamond rings, and they work in the financial district. Many of the young men have bought their khaki pants and blue button-up shirts in a size too large, so they can grow into them. They eat steaks and drink beer every evening after work in order to hurry up the process. This morning, one of the young men in a baggy blue shirt is reading The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. I take this as a very good sign. I love The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. It’s one of my favorite books.

I work in a building that used to be a printing office. Now it’s just an office. My boss likes to show people how the floor is slanted so paper could be rolled out the door more easily. The building across the street also used to house printing companies and the facade is covered in tile murals of printing scenes from Benjamin Franklin’s time. When I sit at my desk at work and look out the window, I see a mural of a man with a great big round belly. I think of him as Ben.

I recently bought an awesome new tool that I’m super excited about, a big, heavy, guillotine paper cutter that can cut a whole stack of paper at once. Until now I’ve been cutting each piece of paper one at a time, and I spent many many hours this winter and spring trimming hundreds of chapbooks for Meekling Press by hand. Now I can trim books much more tidily and a stack of paper in a few minutes. I love it. At my friend Ruthie’s suggestion, we’re calling him Franklin, or Frankie for short.

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