Saturday, December 27, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
I orient as prescribed, and wake an hour later (with a cat under my pillow) when my childhood love, now deaf and blinding, begs to come in. Of course I can't let him. He'll be heartbroken at my infidelity. My heart breaks.
The holidays, one hopes, are about something bigger than religious ceremony and the ritual of commercial give and take. This is the time of year when, more than ever, we are asked to think about others, the people we care about, the people who care about us, and what we mean to one another, what we're willing to give up for one another, monetarily or otherwise. Little things become meaningful, not just from ourselves and our loved ones, but from perfect strangers as well. Some of the most meaningful conversations I carry with me, the talks that remind me why my loved ones mean so much to me, are snippets I've gleaned from the people around me at coffee shops, on the subway, in stores, on the street.
Eavesdrop. Pay attention to what people are saying all around you, people you know, people you don't know, maybe a little bit of both. Once you've found a snippet that appeals to you, incorporate it into your piece for the week. Try to keep it verbatim, but if you want to make a few minor changes, feel free to do so. (Let's avoid paraphrase; you're not making up this conversation, you're utilizing it.) The conversation can be of any length; this isn't about length, it's about content.
Have some fun, and may all your holidays be happy!!! Love your loves, tip your servers, and if you give anything at all, give a damn! :-)
Sunday, December 21, 2008
A length of floorboard was all we traversed on the way.
Black gloves don’t keep the weather out,
But this is winter in your sleep:
Our hands insistently press against
Cold cubes cut from cutthroat snows
That are warmer than the bend in the back of my knee.
One of my cubes is losing a corner that crumbled when I wasn’t looking.
I pile on the snow from the ground
But it isn’t the same when the snow’s not the same,
It doesn’t pack on the right way.
You can see how I tried with the seam,
It’s broken and we can’t hide it,
Now everyone will see.
Why did we have to drag it?
We were enraptured by being with each-other. We held each-other and that was all there was.
Out of nowhere, a Pringles truck screamed by our alley, shattering the silence. We heard a dampened rhythmic thumping from the truck when it passed, but the truck covered it with a gigantic screech when the driver slammed on breaks, swung the back around, and began to tip over. Astoundingly it came to rest on its back door, wheels touching the brick building, and the thumping got stronger and faster as the truck settled. The rhythm hit an apex, the truck hissed and split down the center, and the music exploded out.
It was raw rhythm and tone and motion and power. It drew deeply on the two of us, pulling something out of each of us that we had been neglecting. The tempo began to drive everything: our arms, our legs, our torsos, our breathing, our heart-beats, our muscles, our marrow. We needed to move, keep time, be the music. We needed it. There was nothing else.
People from the truck were moving fast. Two were at control boxes on the side of the building, two on the deck with modified mounted guns, shooting glowing neon streamers and glowsticks on and over everything on the street. A DJ in the back was moving between his decks and the switches for foggers, hazers, and lazers. Finally, at least ten people ran out to be the start of the crowd. They knocked on every door, pulling anyone who answered onto the street. People multiflied—cars and buses, bikes and segways, pole-vaulters and traceurs. The girl and I walked around a corner to see people on rooftops setting off confetti cannons and throwing down glowing streamers. There were hundreds of people, everywhere, all a part of this grand experience.
The truck's people on the control boxes finish hacking the emergency systems. Yellow emergency lights flash everywhere and the music streams from every loud-speaker in the City. Within a minute, the entire city is engulfed in rhythmic rapture.
The music was alive and the people of the City made its body. And the body danced.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
It snowed today. And while the streets are covered in ice, I'm haunted by the sweet smell of her perfume. I've been drifting in and out of sleep, each waking bringing the mourning of her again. Its too cold outside for dreams and the scent of Rose is on the air.
Two months have passed since I wiped her sweat off my body with a cold cloth in my girlfriend’s old apartment. I’ve been with her for a few years now. With Susan. I don’t really know how long because we lost something along the road to this brand new house with brand new friends. Perfect, she calls ‘em. The friends and the house.
But perfect just ain’t us. We’re the girls you see on the streets. Tattoos from a hurried youth hidden under sweaters and loafers replacing combat boots. We’re the girls who never fit in during gym class. The ones whose eyes didn’t dart away fast enough in the changing room. The ones who take dyke and turn it into damn. We smell like sweat and sex. Nothing like roses.
Oddly enough, it all started to feel right again when I first walked into the pub to that smell of hers. Rose's. That smile could have melted anyone. Even a love-sick cunt like me in the coldest new England winter since the 1800’s. Guess that’s just how it goes some times. Love.
My first night with her ended like any other one night stand. We fucked all night and most of the morning. Till our legs ached. Shy good byes. A promise to call. And 15 text messages reminding me that Susan was none too happy with me. I’d talk to her later. I was too busy thinking of a soft pink nipple between my lips and sweet nothings in my ear. My ear that had recently only received dates, figures, and a reminder to feed the cat. Maybe it was her soft moans or the feel of her chest rising beneath mine. Maybe it was the movement of her hips. Maybe the movement of our hips. Perhaps it was the intensity of our connection that broke her lamp and brought me toppling down on her. Down on her in a pile of clothes that just wouldn’t come off fast enough. Damn bra. I knew I shouldn’t have worn one. Damn buttons. She didn't really need those pants on anyway. But mostly, I think it was her smile.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
All there is is me–
All there is is me and the gentle curve of her smile–
All there is is me and the gentle curve of her smile and the rigid rise of her body–
All there is is me and the gentle curve of her smile and the rigid rise of her body and I want.
I want to press my mouth to the sharp ridges of her body.
I want to press my mouth to the sharp ridges of her body and break it open, ease the pressure of my blood and see if it will vibrate the same way free of my flesh that it does trapped within.
I want to press my mouth to the sharp ridges of her body and break it open. I want to taste myself, the hot-thin-red-old-penny taste. I want to break myself open and taste the way I change, cooling, on the surface of her skin, the sharp ridges of her body.
I want to let go and fall and fall and fall and fall–
I want to let go and fall upwards into the granite of her neck.
I want to fall upwards into the granite if her neck and rupture, smear myself across her.
I want to fall upwards into the granite of her neck and rupture, smear myself across her until my intestines drape like pearls across the jut of her collarbones. I want to rupture and shatter so that she brushes the shards of my bones from her shoulders like dandruff.
I want to fall upwards into the granite of her neck and rupture, smear myself across her. I want to make her skin hot and red and shiny with the slick of my body, the smear of my self.
I want to burst myself against the craggy hills of her body and soak in. Soak in until there is nothing left but–
Her and the gentle curve of her smile–
Her and the gentle curve of her smile and the rigid rise of her body–
Nothing left but her and the gentle curve of her smile and the rigid rise of her body.
Nothing left but her.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Linds here. Maybe its the wacky weather here in Portland, maybe its some cycle of the moon, or maybe I'm just a nutter but recently I have been having lots of weird dreams. I know I'm not the only one out there. So lets hear em folks! This weeks "assignment" is to write down a dream you have in the morning right after you wake up. Come back to it later and use it for inspiration. A narration? A poem? Song lyrics? Whatever you do, rock it! Looking forward to seeing what you post!
Love, luck and lollipops,
Sunday, December 14, 2008
My uncle is dying. Too much lung cancer. You’d think just having the cancer would be enough, but he’s got it in spades, there’s more infected tissue than healthy. Also he’s leaking fluid all over his body, fluid from the kidney, or maybe the liver, I don’t remember what the family says the doctors said to us. They didn’t say anything to me. I’m never around for these things when they happen. And these things, you know, they happen.
With his eyes closed, without his glasses on, I don’t recognize him as himself. This particular uncle, I know him by his glasses; I know him by his eyes magnified in lenses. Now he looks more like his younger brother Joe, with dark, glamorous eyelashes and a full, naked face. I would have walked right by him in the hospital, missed the room completely, if my aunts hadn’t been in there by his side.
His heart, it’s floating in his chest, pooled in the fluid from the kidney-and-or-liver. There are so many wires and tubes and cables that I can’t tell which one is supposed to be draining all that liquid from the cavity in his chest; I’d be more likely to pick out the catheter tube or the intravenous meds, or the oxygen. He’s not even breathing on his own now. The air moves into him and out from the machines, forceful and automated like perfectly scheduled clockwork. I watch him breath with cables in his mouth and tubes in his nose, not at all like himself, and his chest rises and falls in three repetitive steps: up, out, down. Again. Up, out, down. Perfect.
My parents leave me alone with him for a few minutes, because who knows how much I’ve got to say? Maybe it’s fifteen minutes, or twenty, or longer. Nurses and guests pass our room in the hallway, and I turn to greet every new step, expecting to see someone I recognize who might have more to tell him than I do. I look at him, and my mind won’t settle on anything. All I can say is “uncle na, uncle na,” like I’m talking to a child. I try to whisper “uncle na, mahal kita,” but it doesn’t sound right, like it’s done for show, so I stop and take his hand instead. He’s cold, and he doesn’t feel human at all. There’s a disconnect between me and our hands and my uncle. Still I stand next to him and I don’t let go. I have to warm his hand, as if that could be the secret to bringing him back to the family again. It’s all that I can do, the only thing I can give him, squeezing his cold hand and cooing “uncle na.”
The curtains in the room are pink, like a muted and dusky rose. The light cast on them comes in wide, vertical slats, angled from the setting sun and looking for all the world like an Edward Hopper scene, dusty and somber and soberly everyday. Set by the window is a gift from cousin Nora in a small, yellow bag. Wickedly attached, an aluminum balloon, labeled “Get Well!” Sitting at the forefront, a porcelain angel kneels in prayer, eternally vigilant, poignant. Precious.
It snowed today. And while the streets are covered in ice all, I'm haunted by the sweet smell of her perfume. I've been drifting in and out of sleep, each waking bringing the mourning of her again. Its too cold outside for dreams and the scent of Rose is on the air.
A super-computer became bored
It searched through the internet horde
It found Einstein's lost son
in a server and won
An Exceptional Collector Award.
Self named albums have long been around
They help rock bands establish their sound
The lists from the sixties
of albums all pick these
because of The Velvet Underground.
Kilimanjaro is a marquee
It helps landscape exposition, you see?
A photographer knows,
So preeminence goes
To Hatsutarō Horiuchi.
Carbonite Manganate Bisulfite
Mario had a size crescendo
eating a mushroom (innuendo?)
He ate buildings going
onto other things, growing
larger until he ate Nintendo.
Friday, December 12, 2008
In the present darkness am listening to the coyotes and the quiet crackle of rain hitting my many windowed cabin. There are no curtains and the droplets freeze to the glass. Though I’m cozily sitting by my wood stove, I am unnerved by the lights which are dimming and flickering, seemingly of their own accord. The ice must be affecting the electricity connection again. I just hope I don’t need to try to walk outside tonight to fix it.
Rain fell with a slow even drizzle starting in the predawn oblivion and persisting until now. The chilly accumulation resulted in nearly two centimeters of wet ice sheeting its way across every surface. Black ice, it is called. I slipped earlier today in the brief twenty meter walk between the milking barn and the chicken barn. It was as if every aspect of the world had been encased in glass, and my job was to learn how to ice skate in farm boots.
Now mid-December, I am strangely aware of the approach of winter solstice. I find this fact suddenly obvious in my day to day life as I rush to complete my outdoor work in the few hours of long light before retreating into the barn where I milk the cows and stay warm in the presence of their steamy large bodies crowding into cramped space.
I am mesmerized by the feeling that my world expands and contracts as a direct result of the season. During autumn, fields need haying, cows graze pasture land, the sheep live on the islands, and my job runs the gamut of moving animals from field to field to graze, fixing fences, changing batteries, driving tractors, herding sheep and running far and wide over acres and acres of green land in search of newborn calves or sick mothers.
Now, though, my sphere has tightened considerably. The telltale signs were all present. I installed windows in the chicken barn. I stapled up layer after layer of thick plastic covering openings, and hammered strapping on all edges to combat the inevitable winter winds. Billy weed whacked all the dead plant stems and underbrush to make way for the large white bale pile. We fixed the large barn doors and drove in the greenhouse stakes three and a half feet deep, hopefully deep enough to avoid too much frost heave. We began building a sheep shed for bad weather and finished baling the final hay before first frost.
All necessary actions around the farm became consolidated under roofed buildings and in insulated spaces. The square bales are staked thirty feet high on the first floor of the big chicken barn now. The sawdust mountain encroaches on the baby calf pens in the basement, directly next to the large bedded space where the large herd can sleep at night. The basement holds sixty calves and cows in it every night, not to mention the three overhead floors of nearly twelve hundred chickens. That’s a lot of living going on in not a whole lot of space.
Yet I like the idea of winter streamlining my life. I do the things most necessary for my own life and for the lives of the animals in my charge. I chop wood. I light fires. I feed sheep, cows, chickens and calves. I cook wildly inventive meals to avoid having to drive the nine miles to the nearest supermarket to replenish my pantry. I walk in straight lines on well beaten paths from one building to the other, no longer detouring to pick wild sunflowers or Queen Anne’s lace. This feeling of being at constant odds with the outside world, challenging me with rain, sleet, hail, ice, snow, cold and wind, serves most of all to remind me daily of how very alive I am.
Still, I make no claim to be living “the simple life.” The cows are fat and well fed, and sleep in a cozy, if close, quarters. Yet here I am in a dimly lit peaked cabin with an upper floor, a downstairs studio, a kitchen, a wood stove, a claw foot bathtub, and a writing desk, and I am the only one who occupies this space. I need fire and insulating flannel or wool to keep me cozy this dark night.
I hope the sheep are safe tonight. The electricity has gone out for good and the band of coyotes outside sound like they are either howling in delight and ecstasy or tortured distress. I prefer to think the former.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
The Wind, of course
a physical force
and puts the $3.00/gallon gas into our tanks
to make it to the polls for the first time
and to feel like a part of
a positive march
towards the wordly and tolerant
what turned it around
was all the death we found
trickled in, high gear
of a liberal media smackdown
Monday, December 8, 2008
“I just don’t understand why,” Nalani grumbled. “I mean, I came here for the military program, so why am I given the same assignment as…”
“As the weaklings that decided to come here for the phenomenal education?” Adelle completed Nalani’s sentence with a grin. Her friend gave an exasperated sigh. “You’re not weak, but yes!” Nalani returned the grin. “Seriously, what the frak am I supposed to write about?”
Adelle chuckled appreciatively. “You know, for such a hard-core military chick, you can be such a nerd sometimes. I don’t know, I’m going to Google ‘contested electoral district’ and see what comes up.”
Nalani shook her head. “Google’s not authorized for research,” she said disapprovingly. Adelle shot her what she hoped was a withering look. “I’m not using it for reseach, just to find a contested electoral district. Then I can go to the library or whatever to look it up.” Sometimes, Adelle wondered what went on in Nalani’s mind, assuming there was even space for anything other than the old Battlestar Galactica she insisted on watching ad naseum. “Besides, I thought you didn’t have any brilliant ideas?”
Nalani thought hard for a moment. It was true that she could not afford to fail this class, even taken as an elective. She had only signed up for two reasons: because it sounded easy, and because Adelle was in it. She figured they could suffer the boring content together. The only problem was that the class was proving challenging, and Adelle not only loved the whole political side to a military education, but she was so good at bullshitting that she could do something random and still get a high mark. “I… I guess I could do that crap election in the United States that time…”
Adelle’s face displayed her amusement, though she at least tried to hide it.
“You mean the 2000 contest of Florida’s vote for that idiot Bush?”
“Yes, that’s the one. Bloody bastard, getting into a mess he couldn’t clean up. Even his nanny of a vice couldn’t keep him from screwing liberty in the ass, eh?”
“You mean the very contest that the professor told us was off-limits, because everyone wanted to do it?” Adelle managed to restrain her laughter at the look on Nalani’s face.
“But I thought that would be perfect! Damn him!” Nalani would spend the majority of the evening cursing the professor’s name. Meanwhile, Adelle turned to her computer and typed in her search phrase. One hit seemed to jump out at her, simply because she knew that no other student would be looking for the district.
“Nalani, I found it! Look, look!” She’s practically got me smelling her computer, Nalani thought, as she looked at the webpage in question. “What the frak is this crap?” she demanded.
Adelle sighed. “It fits the requirements.”
“Yeah, but Ade, do you always feel the need to stick out like a sore thumb?”
“Ah, Nali, when I’m chosen to be your CO, it will be due to the fact that I don’t blend in with the newbies. Sticking out is a virtue.”
Nalani snorted. “Yeah, but it also gets you a great many male enemies, not something to strive for here.” She finally took in the information on the screen. “Jesus Hell, are you crazy? ‘Joondalup’… in Perth? Isn’t Perth that planet in those frakking dragon novels?”
“Firstly, no, you’re thinking of Pern. Secondly, apparently Perth is the capital of Western Australia, so… still, no. Thirdly, if you’re going to curse, do it properly. We’re not on basic cable, you know. It’s not like you have to use ‘frak’ when you can just say ‘fuck.’”
“Eh, frak is more entertaining to me; less vulgar and all that crap.” Adelle rolled her eyes. Her greatest worries at Theresianum were often that her friend’s vapidity would rub off on her, and that the males at the school would one day beat her down for outshining them. Though why they should worry about me is incomprehensible. “It’s not like I’m a great athlete and, you know, actual competition for them.” Adelle didn’t even realize that she had spoken aloud until she caught the look on Nalani’s face.
True, at a school like Theresianum, athleticism in the women was mostly looked down on, and most of the few women accepted were more similar to Adelle than Nalani. But Nalani had military in her blood, and having no living sons, her father had started her training early in her childhood. Nalani had the physical equivalent of Adelle’s intellect: she was rapidly becoming a fierce soldier, but for once, it did not faze the men at the academy. Perhaps it was partly due to her insistence on being treated as any other soldier. She bathed in their showers, wore men’s uniforms that she altered herself, and even wore custom-sized men’s boots. She was able to take a joke, and a hazing, like a man, and even managed to drink some of the officers under the table.
The only thing she did not do with the men was sleep. Oh, a quick nap in a bunker during a week-long exercise was fine, but she always enjoyed her return to the room she shared with Adelle. They often joked that they lived in the Favorita, but were far from favorites. The men, the soldiers, accepted Nalani, but never the women. It didn’t hurt her terribly, but Adelle was on the other side of the spectrum. Well-liked by the professors and few females, the men teased her mercilessly, making her life as close to a hell as they could. Adelle put up with the light abuse for the pleasures of living in the Neue Favorita Palace, and the incredible poli-sci education she was obtaining.
Adelle often wondered what it would have been like to be paired with anyone other than Nalani. The Italian-born Nalani had more in common with Adelle than either cared to admit. While Nalani was not ostracized when her true birthplace was revealed to the other students, she sometimes wondered why Adelle had fought so hard to enter Theresianum. It was, after all, an Austrian military academy, and Adelle was a half-jew who had been born in Stare Opole, Poland, for Christ’s sake. If anyone had a reason to shun the elite academy, it was Adelle. Nalani, for her part, had been raised in Bianco, where there was an undisguised contempt for the military, and she had been eager to leave the seaside town of her childhood in favor of a good, rigorous training academy in Austria.
Nalani put an arm around her friend. “It’s not like I’m smarter than these guys, I just use their strength to my advantage,” she said quietly. “You outthink them on every level. You know that I would not be half as good as they think me if not for the tactics you’ve been teaching me.”
Adelle sniffed in what she hoped was a contemptuous manner. “Yes, but evading their brutish attacks with more Eastern-style maneuvers, that’s looked down upon if I mention it. When you actually use it, they hail you as some sort of military genius. I’m only considered intelligent as such in class.”
Nalani was concerned with the sniffle. It sounded more sad than uppity, but she wouldn’t hurt Adelle by voicing this opinion. “Well, it just seems that you know infinitely more about military strategy than any of those ‘brutes,’ regardless of your rather weak physical prowess.” Adelle gave her a genuine smile. Her lack of physical prowess was a standing joke between the two.
“Can I just ask… I’ve been curious since you told me, but… Why did you decide to school here?”
Adelle looked at Nalani, stared hard at her, and finally answered. “I don’t want to tell you yet.”
I want to watch the military. Keep them in check.
Nalani met and held Adelle’s eyes. “I’ll tell you why I’m here. I never want them to use Italy again, but I can’t ensure that without insider knowledge of their military.”
She hesitated for a second. Perhaps she had read Adelle incorrectly. Perhaps this wasn’t the person in whom she could confide a secret of this magnitude. Suddenly, Adelle tackled her, taking down the seasoned fighter with an unexpected embrace. “Thank you,” she said, tears in her eyes.
“Don’t mention it. Literally. Ever.” Nalani tried to look threatening, but succeeded only in looking amused. “Now, let’s turn that TV on before we miss the beginning of the movie.”
“What are we watching again?”
“…And what is it about?”
“A member of the IRA who has to inform on his fellow terrorists because he gets caught. Idiot even failed his mission.” Nalani had no sympathy for idiots who bungled their operations and got caught. No sympathy whatsoever.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Sometimes our best work comes out of the serendipitous and unexpected; surprising, obscure facts and histories become the starting points for passionate writing, and add, in increments, to the knowledge that we each carry with us in order share with others, and to learn more about ourselves. We write about what we know, but what we know should grow by strange leaps and curious bounds, especially since we live in an age where information is almost always at our fingertips.
Wikipedia has a random article function that, when clicked, brings you to (unsurprisingly) a randomly selected article within the Wiki universe. Click this link at least ten times, so that you end up with at least ten articles. From these ten articles, you will choose at least five articles, all of which will be incorporated into your piece for the week. If you choose to click more than ten times, please select at least half the number of articles you end up viewing. So: If you view 10 articles, choose at least 5; for 20, choose at least 10; et cetera.
The topics you discover can be elaborated upon, or they can be mentioned very briefly. But please use at least 5 of 10.
The random article link has been provided for your use of ease (and once you are in the Wikiverse, it appears in the column on the lefthand side of every page):
So, example: I just did five random clicks, and turned up
Tammy Parks (a former Penthouse centerfold turned porn star)
Columbia College in Sonora, California
Nanaimo-North Cowichan (a provincial electoral district in Canada)
Eric Harland (a New Zealand politician)
Windows NT Startup process (the process by which Windows systems initialize)
Billy attends Columbia College, and to avoid writing his paper about the contested validity of Nanaimo-North Cowichan as an electoral district, he decides to watch some of Tammy Parks' adult movies online. However, his computer is not virus-safe, and so in the midst of watching "Strap On Sally 8" the viruses from the dirty site take hold and shut off his PC. He is forced to repeatedly endure the Windows NT Startup process until he can't take it anymore and he has to go to get his computer fixed. One of the tech guys is a New Zealander and is reading a book about Eric Harland; when asked about the origins of the virus, Billy is embarrassed, and cannot take Eric Harland's smiling face staring out at him from the book cover, ever judging. He mumbles something about writing a paper about Tammy Baker and clicking a bad link. The tech guys know better. Oh well.
See? Have fun!
(two cop outs in a row = epic fail. sorry guys)
As for sex, as far as I can tell it was about recreation; procreation wasn't even the suggestion of a shadow from the glimmering corner of a thought in anybody's uninformed head. Who knew what a child was, and what it was for, we created ideas, and what we made together was life for the present. Pleasure was a release from the demands of the everyday, the strains of invention and discourse, the inevitable boredom that attaches itself to timelessness. It made us feel good, and connected, and much less alone, the handful-hundred of us that existed. If there were predecessors we never knew them, our origins were hypothetical at best. We had always been the sole beneficiaries of the universe. The only lonely generation. We might have lived forever, and it already seemed as though we had: the first ageless nation, and the last.
Beauty held no meaning to us; where is the value in your youth when it returns with the seasons, cycling back after sixty or seventy more summers? Decrepitude was not the end, it was a winter that melted into autumn, it meant that soon you would be young and strong again, christened a thousand times under the sun's inescapable heat. Our tribe was never separate, and nothing was ever forgotten. Our collective conscious was an encyclopedic brain trust, a history of the world from the time we first came to know it. "It" was everything, almost. We still did not know about the time before. We had never known death.
We knew, or else we wanted to know, that there had to be something more than ourselves. We had exhausted our potential, learned all we could within reason, however much a people can learn given hundreds of thousands of seasons for aging and adolescing. All that was left was the time before, and the time that would come after, the unknowable darkness preceding awareness and following in its stead. And suddenly we had to know, what is it that we don't know? What is in the dark that belongs in our history? We began to dream of a world where the rising of the sun did not follow its setting. We wondered if it gave us meaning, and if it was cold.
When it did finally happen, there was no saying where it came from. Maybe it was magic, maybe we willed it to happen, maybe some unknowable, all-powerful force deemed it should be so. Perhaps we had simply evolved.
It started with the women. They would be beautiful again, at the end of their spring, but then they would be ill for days at a time, and bleeding from the place that the men loved in women (if the men were not in the place that they loved in the other men). Then it would happen that almost all the women would suddenly stop their bleeding, and they would grow round and fat, and we became aware of a bizarre, unfamiliar beauty, an unnamable quality in the female form that hinted at a secret, at a new kind of knowledge waiting to escape, something we had been waiting to learn all our lives.
After that the cycle fell apart, breaking away from its selfsame path and veering linearly forward. We were the first, and suddenly there was a next, and that was who they were, the small ones who had lived in the women but who also looked like the men. The men, they did not swell and produce the newlings, how could they when the small ones would have been trapped inside the men, there was no opening as there was with women. And the women, something changed with them, and after many of the newlings came to us the women would lie still, and they would not move and they would not age. They were the first to escape the sunrise.
Then our winters came. One by one we submitted, in our frailty, to the unmoving stillness that those first women had succumbed to. Everything we had ever known, it would have gone with us into the shadows if we did not tell it away. Our inheritors were the newlings, and we parted from them to sojourn to the final mystery, to the place where fires have died and ashes have cooled and left nothing behind. They carried our knowledge out of our old world and into a place beyond the present. This is a place I cannot go to, now I am obsolete. There is nothing left to tell now; I am the last one to leave.
We rode down the avenue, my arms wrapped tightly around her waist as we sped along on her motorcycle. Weaving in and out of traffic, dodging cars as she ran red lights, she laughed lightly. I couldn’t see my own face, but it was surely white, if not green, by this point. Mercifully, she stopped at the next light, and turned around to ask if I trusted her. It sounded like she already knew the answer, and I felt better as I realized that trust her I did. She still hadn’t told me what we were searching for, nor where she had acquired such a fine motorcycle. While I was more than willing to drive us around the entire lower half of the state, she had insisted on bringing me herself. I had never known her to have a license, but an inexplicable urge forced me to get on behind her. Trust was implicit in the arrangement, regardless how my stomach behaved to the contrary.
We picked out several dresses, ranging in style and color. We began with a simple, wine-colored dress that lightly trailed out behind me. “Careful, nena,” she whispered in my ear. “Don’t fall too hard.” We continued our expedition, which had become an extended shopping trip, picking out my classic jean-and-t-shirt combinations, along with a slew of heels, boots, flip-flops, and sneakers. Some looked newer than others; I leaned towards choosing comfortable, worn in clothing. She would return to dress me in stiff, new outfits. Each one came with its particular warning.
I lost the need to speak during our outings. It seemed that she could look into my heart and read me, anticipating my verbalizations until they became superfluous. Her voice was quiet, and my own internalized. We must have seemed invisible to the world at those times, as we became lost in the noise.
This became a regular ritual; whenever I was feeling particularly stressed, she would arrive out of nowhere, white hair blowing in the wind as she rode down my street. I would climb up behind her, wrap myself around her back, and she would find something new for me. Only once did she refuse to let me see her finds. "It will be waiting for you when you get back," she said. "You will not find it today, nor tomorrow, but it will be waiting until you are ready." The last time I can remember, she surprised me, taking me down to the beach. “You are disappointed today," she observed. "It has been a difficult time for you, but keep this in mind: Everything works out for the best,” she told me, her voice growing small among the sounds of the waves hitting the sand. As her voice grew softer than I had ever heard it, mine grew louder in my own mind as it tried to stop from drowning in the surf. I looked over at her, and somehow, I was not surprised to see her fading away. My voice escaped, crying as it had the last time, and I heard her say that I would see her again, but I didn’t quite believe her. My eyes had followed my voice, and through their tears I could no longer see clearly. All I saw was that the trust that had grown between us was evaporating, and soon there was nothing left for me but the keys to her motorcycle, lying in the sand where she had been sitting.
The first place I went was a cornfield in Iowa. I'd never been to that area of the country before, and I always wondered what it was like. So I snapped my fingers and presto, there I was, all alone in a scene from the early part of "Field of Dreams." That was enough confirmation for me that not everyone was the same now. But we all make mistakes.
A few hours later, after the initial shock had worn off, people remembered they still had jobs to do, kids to feed, and loved ones to find. Everyone came home and recounted their jaunts, and I was pleasantly surprised to hear about my coworker Carl's journey through the streets of an Eastern European mining town, and my neighbor Suzanne's exploration of the water towers of Ontario.
Within a few weeks, your average man (or woman) had done everything: seen the Wonders of the World, eaten real Italian food, gone ice fishing, and seen the Mona Lisa. And our newfound ability gave us all a sense of being superhuman, which of course was ridiculous, since it was obviously a part of our very nature. (You didn't see squirrels bouncing around to Acapulco; someone would have noticed.) Nonetheless, you started hearing more and more stories of people leaving to do incredibly stupid, dangerous things, as if they had no regard for their own lives.
Exploring the inside of a live volcano? Check. Looking for a giant squid at the bottom of the ocean? Naturally. Picnicking on the surface of the moon? You betcha.
The problem was that none of these people ever reported back. Now, I'd like to imagine that before this all began, it would have been pretty obvious these morons had gotten themselves killed. But as I said, we were starting to believe we were capable of anything.
That's how the rumors got started. Within a few days, half the people I knew were convinced the missing hadn't died, but had simply chosen to stay at their fascinating new locations. Jimmy's swimming with the dolphins! Sophie is exploring Mars! The believers started following suit, and a week later there was hardly anyone left around here.
It's been a month since then. The kids left straight from college, with barely the decency to send a text message. And my wife... she left two weeks ago. She said I was tying her down, while all our friends were off exploring the universe.
Everyone's gone. I suppose they could be right--maybe we are indestructible now. But I at the very least, am not a superman, not as far as I can tell, and I'm not about to test that theory with my life.
I'm only a guy who can go wherever he wants, just like everybody else. Except while everyone else has gone off to the destination of their dreams, I'm stuck by instinct in this lonely nightmare.
"Your change," the cashier blankly stated as he handed me two quarters.
I quickly snapped out of my fantansy that this cute cashier would tell me what a nice smile I had and swiftly pocketed the coins. With his dark rimmed glasses and bangs covering most of his hazel tinted eyes, I desperately tried to catch another glimpse as I started for the door.
"Hey," he sheepishly called out.
I turned back and that's when our eyes met.
Of all the things I could of said or done, maybe reply with a "yes?" or smile, I instead turned as red as a freshly picked strawberry.
He smiled that sweetly seductive smile of his, hinting that perhaps he found my strawberry red face cute, and slyly said, "you left your book."
Not thinking it was possible to turn even more red, I blushed harder. I gingerly made my way back to the counter, making sure to avoid his eyes for fear of exploding from embarrasment. As my fingers traced the spine of the book, I looked up to meet his gaze...
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
The kittenMan will only drink water from my big soup pot. which i only learned today. he never drinks water, except on a rare occasion from the toilet (with relish), and always seems thirsty. so i guess i won't have soup for a while.
i, on the other hand, have a very discriminating taste in beverages, as i am spending the week a tea conoisseur. A differentiator between black bagged Twinings varieties. Yes, i do have Darjeeling. Here are my findings:
(a large feline is threatening to wage war on the flower army.)
Early Grey: smoky, liccorice-y. Wissotsky makes a tea that tastes like russia and emulates how train rides should be if eaten with sogged biscotti. this is the british take on russia. they have much pointier noses and less flesh in general.
Lady Grey: (using earl grey as a baseline. this order and the explanation of each could be shifted around the rotation being established, if only we inserted the stats for the new first) creamier, vanilliny. doesn't really use up any olfactory energy.
English Breakfast: sweeter, in a high fructose syruppy kind of way. purpler. oranger. much more seventies.
Irish Breakfast: very slow to steep. somehow hardier. leatherier once the flavor comes out. at first it is the john doe of teas.
and the Prince Wales is brewing now.
hmm. flours. flowers.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
I am twenty-three years old and I just discovered that I am a mother. My daughter is round eyed, snotty, and, weighing in at nearly fifty pounds, will mostly likely grow up to be quite a cow. Yes, literally.
I knew the day would be a long one when I saw Wayne holding the binoculars to his eyes to peer out to the far field, a half mile from the main barn, “I think I see a splotch out there,” he warned me, indicating that one of the cows in his herd of thirty had calved.
My directions were clear. Walk out to the field and carry back the newborn calf. The mother, with all parental concern, should simply follow me back to the barn.
All eagerness and energy, I practically jogged the dusty laneway toward the field. This is only my second week as a farmhand, and all of my experiences still sparkle with novelty.
The calf is laying quietly in the middle of the clover-filled field; its mother stands some meters away, licking complacently at the gummy sac of afterbirth which she has dropped behind her. I approach the calf, surprised at its disinterest in me. The last time I had to help carry back a calf it sprinted a good fifty meters before we had a chance to tackle it. This calf, however, seemed barely conscious. Its fur is matted in manure and afterbirth, and I slide my hands beneath its legs, despite my displeasure. Collaring my arms around its front chest and rear end, I stagger up and nearly slip in the wet grass as I attempt to walk with this deadweight calf. The early morning sun slanting long light into my eyes, I trudge stolidly toward the barn. After a few hundred meters I begin to worry. The calf has barely made a sound and shows no signs of struggle. Most calves are incredibly energetic and unhappy at being separated from their mothers. Yet this one’s quiet and despairing attitude is unsettling.
Despite the heavy load, I grit my teeth and push on to the barn. Wayne helps me bed down the calf and we look her over. She is smaller than most, and the mother has not followed her down from the field. “This happens sometimes,” explains Wayne, “there is trouble during birth, and the mom just ain’t interested in her calf after.” I nod, still concerned. What will happen to this newborn? Will she grow up without a loving mother? Wayne senses my concern, “How about you try to get some milk into her? She’ll do a lot better soon, I promise you.”
I teach the calf to suckle a short while later. Lying beside her in the wood shavings, I hold her nose to the plastic nipple and hum softly as I rub her back, attempting to imitate a mother cow licking off her dirt. During this process, the connection was made. Suddenly, I was more than a hand on her back, I became her mother. Between carrying her from the field and giving her milk, I had given her the attention and the care she craved. Her wide dark eyes fixed on my face. I could imagine her stomach(s) working for the first time, juices and processes set in motion through the shockingly nutritious creamy thick which poured down her fresh throat. No mother could be prouder.
While I may have certain misgivings regarding my current employment, all of my doubts are quickly swept away when I consider my newfound daughter. Born on a day that comes with enough baggage of its own, her beginning was an understandably difficult one. Nevertheless, despite her limp as a result of her complicated birth, she walks with confidence, swift to punch her head into my hip, forcefully demanding milk and attention. I appreciate her scrappy attitude. Stubborn cow.
“It’s just that, well, I woke up and couldn’t find my penis,” Ben says and looks expectantly at Claire.
“Hmm.” She says and doesn’t bother looking up from the newspaper.
“No, really. I mean, it’s not, like, a huge deal. I’m sure it will turn up and all, but I can’t help missing the little guy.”
“I always find people anthropomorphizing portions of their bodies to be really creepy.” She flips to the funnies and says “mentally distancing yourself from your reproductive organs can’t be healthy. It’s like you’re giving up control of them, basically saying: this isn’t really part of my body and so in a way I’m not really responsible for what it makes me do. Creepy.”
“Yeah, well, I always find detachable body parts really creepy, but apparently I have one. So, there you go, sometimes you just have to deal.” Ben shifts from one foot to the other, then back again. “So you really haven’t, like, seen it or anything?”
Claire looks at where Ben is standing in the doorway, one large hand cupped protectively around his groin, eyes wide and worried. She looks back down at the paper, where Brenda Starr has managed to get thrown from a moving vehicle and come out of it with her manicure miraculously unharmed. She considers just ignoring Ben until he goes away because, honestly, it’s not like she has a vested interest in the whereabouts of his dick, and it is eight o’clock in the morning. Ben makes a little whining sound in the back of his throat, the same sound he made when Denny died on Gray’s, and Claire thinks shit before tossing down the paper.
“Jesus Christ. Ben, are you serious?”
“Yes,” he hisses, “what? Don’t believe me? Want to see it?”
“Yes! No! What the Fuck!” She takes a moment to breathe, eyes closed, count of seven in, hold for three, count of seven out. When she opens her eyes Ben is still in the doorway, hand still at his crotch like he thinks something else is going to walk away. For a hysterical moment she considers asking him if he still has his balls or if the whole package is gone, but that probably wouldn’t help matters much. She takes a moment to eye his crotch, wonders how he came unstuck, wonders if she really wants to know, before she notices the tightness of the muscles in his arm and the way his eyes are still a little too wide. Her examining his naughty bits (or lack thereof) is probably more trauma than he needs right now.
“No. No I don’t want to see it,” she says and watches him relax again.
“So, you’re gonna, like, help me look for it, right?”
“And risk willingly catching a glimpse of your junk?”
“Or you could not, and deal with a perpetually sexually frustrated me.”
“I could move out.”
“I lost my penis.”
“We don’t know that.”
“Maybe it left you. Maybe you weren’t showing it enough love and so it went to find someone who would fulfill its needs. Maybe it decided to try its luck as a traveling dildo, spreading joy and orgasms and STDs the world over. Maybe you listened to Don Quixote one too many times and it became inspired and is even now wandering the big wide world in search of a damsel in distress to save.”
“What the fuck!” Ben flails expansively. “Maybe you are fucking insane and it just fell off and rolled under the bed or some shit like that. Also, did you just call me diseased?”
Claire grins at him and he plants both fists on his hips and frowns.
“Yes, I do feel better. Now get off your ass and help me look.”
“Fine. You start in your room and I’ll start in the kitchen.”
“I seriously doubt that you’ll find it in the kitchen.”
“That’s kind of the point.”
She’s moved from hesitantly peering behind the good china to gingerly poking under the couch cushions when Ben yells from his room that he’s found it. There are another five minutes of panic while Ben flails around trying to put it back on, and then a further ten minutes of contemplative silence while he figures out how to take it off again. Claire wants to know why the fuck he wants to know that, when it's what caused the trouble to begin with. Ben thinks it would probably be a good trick for in the, you know, bedroom. Claire calls him a sick and twisted fuck.
Turns out Ben is right.