TMZ: Observer

People at airportPost #2 at thomasmarkzuniga.com! Only 1256 posts to go until I hit 1257.

And then I’ll have arrived.

As promised in my inaugural entry, I’m going to start explaining the six topical words in my banner and how they’ll relate to this blog. First up, observer.

Each one of us has been observing for a long time. We emerge from the womb a bloody crying mess, and once the shrieks and tears subside, we silently observe the world we’ve miraculously entered.

Every year on my birthday, one of my aunts loves to tell me the story of my birth, how I turned and smiled at all my family members as I was wheeled out of the hospital room. The story is endearingly repetitive, and I’m glad my day-old brain somehow told my day-old mouth to smile at the incredible people who would be my family.

You don’t have to earn a degree or pay a fee or even learn how to pee humanely in order to observe.

One of my favorite places to go is airports. Airports always fascinate me for the simple mind-blowing fact that thousands upon thousands of people converge in a single place before dispersing to all corners of the earth. And every single person has a story. An incredible story worth telling the world.

When I go to airports, I carry a small moleskin notebook and simply jot down what I see. In fact, let me pull out said notebook and tell you some of what I saw at LAX when I flew to Minneapolis this past May:

  • woman with blond hair settling into a seat with a cup of soup
  • young lady with panda slippers
  • brown-skinned couple with baby, toting a LONG picnic-like basket (for the baby, right?)

Now, you may be saying: “Tom, that’s freaking weird. Why do you stalk people at airports?”

To which I’d respond, stalking involves a creepy pursuit of people. All I simply do is sit back in my seat and watch, headphones in my ears as my pen dances upon the page. I love this exercise because it opens my eyes to the vast uniqueness in our world.

Who wears panda slippers at airports?

Who snuggles into an airport lobby seat with a cup o’ soup?

And who totes LONG picnic-like baby baskets?

Isn’t it fascinating? Don’t you want to know where these people came from? Where they were going that day? What they’re doing this very second?

I love the human story.

Everyone and everything we observe contributes to our human existence. Some people and things will contribute more than others, obviously. But they all play some kind of part nonetheless.

As for this blog:

I might observe an abandoned doll outside my apartment complex or a homeless man straddling the median with a cardboard sign as I drive to work. And then I might decide to simply blog about such things.

Or perhaps I’ll observe something on the news and offer my thoughts on such happenings — so long as my alter-ego at tmz.com isn’t already covering such life-altering events.

Or maybe I’ll kick back and observe some of my favorite television programs and write delicious recaps on those episodes. Survivor, Amazing Race, Office fans — holler!

Ultimately, this topic of observing knows no bounds. I can’t wait to share what catches my eye from my vantage point in southern California and observe right along with you.

  • Observation is key to any writer. If one of your characters in one of your future novels is ever at an airport, he or she just may observe a woman with panda slippers. Or, heck, maybe he or she will be wearing the panda slippers. And then that random woman who you saw at LAX, who doesn’t know your name or that you even noticed her slippers, will have found herself a piece of a work of fiction. Isn’t it neat how that happens?

    And isn’t it neat to think that maybe someone, somewhere, has observed us, and pieces of us are in notebooks and stories that we will never see nor read? It’s quite mind-blowing when you think about it.

    • tmz

      Such a cool thought. I hope someone’s observed and written about me! Or actually, on second thought…

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  • LarryInLynchburg

    TMZ – Random thought stemming from your discussion – I had a discussion in the office this week about airplane travel. When I was young [in the 1930’s 😉 ] everyone dressed up to fly [Mr. Bamford still does – my kids were amazed when we picked him up at ATL one time – jacket and tie… the man has class]. Now we go ‘casual’ — and Carrie has flown often enough to take ‘casual’ to extremes – jogging pants and a hoodie with an iPod.
    Ok, as I said, random… Mazl Tov, LVB

    • tmz

      Love the different ways people dress as they travel. From “ancient times” to today. So fascinating. Thanks for sharing!

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