Reader #13 to #17

11/31/2013 Reading Caleb Carr's The Alienist, loose bun, his face a bit pockmarked, with one of those comfortable gray shirts we wear on Saturday mornings, and cargo shorts, darker than gray. He was glued to the book. His bag actually reminds me of Sir Christian, the kind of fabric which fades well, the print kind of pinstriped, the one which you tie a knot to become a shoulder bag. I think it looks effortlessly wise and fashionable, in a sense. From North Avenue he read intently, as passengers filled the trains for the long weekend, or the bus stations for the provinces. He was using a makeshift bookmark, and by turns checking his cellphone, anxious about the trip, or the book he's reading. On his left wrist was the thick Sanrio bands used to tie the hair. His right hand is doing finger exercises, the kind which we do to crack the knuckles and let loose our joints, synovial fluids, whatnot. At Shaw he kept his book and stared at eye-level: pants, Otto paper bag, Converse all star sling bags, sometimes unusual crotches, uniforms, belt buckles, G-Shock wrist watches, fake Chanel bags, cellphones and fingers tapping them, and unwanted faces staring at other people's messages. His face had a goatee which might rule him out as someone who has a rock band since thirteen and who incidentally reads Caleb Carr. Tattoos on his left shoulder (a thin band just below the hems of his shirt) and his left hamstring.

10/2/2013 The other woman on our row was reading something. I couldn't see it through the dark, until she sort of closed the book: "The Proposition," the print reads in fancy curlicued script. She is using the reading light I used to have, the kind which you can clip on a thick ream of page and let it stand alone, the one I bought at Strand's, fueled by those little batteries the size of medicinal tablets.

Then it rained; the woman closed the book, folded the reading light. At least four people are on their smartphones: Youtubeing a talk show; watching her daughter walk on colored rubber tiles; watching stretched-resolution videos of gymnasts doing cartwheels and inhuman backflips; playing a racing game, complete with imitations of the odometer and dashboard.

10/2/2013 The man sitting in front of me is reading a pocket Bible. Romans 11. Bookmark header says I <3 AUS. Volvo logo on a shirt, and on his black backpack. Reading glasses, rectangular, tugging his shirt collar. In his late 50s. Thinning black hair. Newly shaved mustache. Brown shoes. Earphones plugged in his ears. Eyebrows raising once in a while. Very solitary face--rarely gets mad.

9/26/2013 One character is Salander. He's tall, about my height, earphones plugged in both ears, his back at me. He is reading a thick book with a Salander character. This is the only thing I know. He's wearing a black short-sleeved polo, burgundy/purple pants and Asics shoes, dirty white. Sling bag, black. He tilts his head with his book. His hair is in a tight knot. He stood straight from Ayala station, without any interruption, just reading intently.

8/29/2013 I havent came across anyone reading an interesting book--or if they are, I was lousy to write about it. Recently, I've changed jobs (a long story) with a 10AM schedule and have seen interesting ones from the slew of train commuters.

Last night was this woman in her late forties wearing a more formal version of a daster, reading a David Baldacci. When the train reqched Taft I decided to sit next to her, only to realize that the coach I'm in is for the women/elderly/disabled/pregnant, and that the entire coach is looking at me, wondering at my age or my malady. so I left as quickly as I can, trying to snoop at the title but ended up remembering what's written in her eco-bag instead, somethig like Save the Planet, Plant Trees, in concentric circles.

The other guy was just this morning: a guy reading Paper Towns by John Green. I found myself guessing for the last name since my view could only manage to read the first name and the title from afar. Is it Steinbeck? Updike? Whoever John it is (or Joan Didion's husband). The guy was around my age, spiky hair, wearing slacks, black shoes and a long-sleeved polo shirt which has a stiff white collar, the rest a patchwork of pinstripe, chambray, etc. he has reading glasses on and looks like a fast reader--or yes, John Green isn't that hard to read on a commute (if you want a corcus of a ride, try Thomas Pynchon's Crying of Lot 49). The guy went down at Gil Puyat, clutching only his book, while I wondered if he was a law student (wihout a bag?) or some Human Resource person