Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Being Human

One of the things I tend to be most blissfully unaware of is my body, this thing that I’m trapped inside that I’m constantly bumping into things. Even now, I have bruises on my legs from I know not where; the most strenuous thing I do on any given day is walk on the treadmill.

Today, though, I’m feeling rather hyper-aware of every corpuscle. The way I smell (clean); the way I look (slightly too dangerous for the office, so no stilettos today, because that would be over the top); etc. I’m feeling contained, something I’m generally not aware of, from the way the artificial fabrics are clinging to my skin, especially my rarely revealed bosom and waist.

I realize that today’s outfit would have been perfect for a happy hour; as busy as I am, now I wish I had one to go to. It’s not often I’m aware of my physical presence in the world, and I just feel like throwing it around a little bit.

Generally, I’m tiny (I suppose), but I’m not much aware of this either, and I know this is a detail that others forget as well. I have a way of filling a space that makes me seem quite substantial --until one sees me in photographs next to abnormally large people. It takes a moment for the realization to click: Ooh, those are “regular” sized people; holy cow, she’s tiny!

I talk fast, I move fast, I eat slow (unless I’m alone, where my capacity to inhale is only slowed by my desire to drink), and my body, in general, simply cannot keep up with my brain, which is always elsewhere and 50 miles ahead. Make that: “50 years ahead.”

Perhaps this is where we meet: both my body and my brain are bored. And I feel strangely compact, though I’ve done nothing to deserve this feeling. I’m eating a second breakfast, for goodness sake, all washed down with a first cup of coffee, which will become a second.

But, what does it really feel like, to be human?

Regarding Object Writing

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The "Phone"

Why do we like the feel of smooth plastic, especially when the edges are rounded and the object slides across your palm like a piece of silk? Something about it feels like skin, but -somewhere in the rational part of your brain -you know that is merely the warmth of your hand. In essence, as you touch the plastic, you touch yourself. Literally, you and the object are as one.

When its warm heart beats, yours beats a little faster too. When it is excited, so suddenly are you. This thing has no smell and no taste, and yet it feels so wondrously alive. Every vibration pumps through your veins and you do not need to imagine the little lives trapped inside, each aching to reach out and touch you.

Much like you, this object is light and heavy, a thing to be both worshipped and reviled --only the greatest and the lowest cultures could ever lay claim to such magnificent importance --and now you both are as gods: mysteriously always available but somehow always too busy for the quotidian vicissitudes of life.

When you hold the object up to your cheek, it is an act of prayer; a true devotion. The weight in your hand feels just right and yet too much. The soft whisper in your ear is really just the air around you, pulsating to the same brief heartbeat. The warmth is really just your warmth, mingled with the unseen world outside. The stars could be falling, but if it’s not happening in your hand, do the stars really fall?

Everybody wants you, but nobody takes the time, until they really need you.

Regarding Object Writing

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Blossoms

It’s cold, which seems incongruous with the icy white blossoms and the bright green grass. The sun knifes through the blossoms, almost as blinding as the intensely pale blue-white sky.

This is spring in the city, when everyone wishes it was warmer than it was; when everyone knows it’s about to be too hot to bear and this is the moment.

He asked me to turn my head ever so slightly into the blossoms, because we are taking those photos that everyone takes among the blossoms --head tilted, blossom grazing a cheekbone, sun and sky winking behind, and the blossoms like 10 million jewels in the background.

There’s no smell on the air except the ice cold spring wind, and that’s a relief. The air just smells cold. When you breathe in, you simply breathe in cold air, but it’s just warm enough that you cannot see it when you breathe out. Your nostrils fill and expand, and it feels like a gift.

If only you had a jacket or a sweater, this afternoon in the cold spring sun would be perfect; it will certainly look perfect in the photos.

When you reach up to touch a blossom, it feels insignificant. It’s actually heavy, and you notice more the weight than the silk, because all you care in that moment is to move the branch of blossoms this way or that --for the photo that matters more than this moment.

There was a time, many years ago, before camera phones and Instagram, when you were walking up a hill in summer, and it was unbearably hot and dusty.

Along the side of the road, along with the buzzing of the gnats and flies, resplendent in their pugnacious glory, popped up the large, frilly white heads of Queen Anne’s Lace, and you always wondered what they were and why they felt so raspy in the palm of your hand.

This is what flowers really felt like --slightly unpleasant with an aroma masked by dust.

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Postcard

The postcard sits in my hand, flat and dry. The edges are ever so slightly raspy, but not in a way that will scratch the skin, unless you really try. The image on the front is always glossy and fun, yet somehow just as flat as the medium -usually a place you want to be that you remember, but can’t get back to again.

You can almost imagine the taste -it’s somewhere between paper and cardboard, and you’ve tasted both (for some reason). Because of the high gloss, the paper on the front side seems to emit a kind of light. You know it’s just a reflection in your eyes, but it (the light) seems to be passing through the paper anyway. Something about it is mildly uncomfortable, in the same way that the matte yet silky non-photo side also feels just a little odd against the warm palm flesh of your hand.

It is at this point that the postcard demands turning over, like something or someone baking in the sun, or a secret. or a rock. So you turn it over, a slight whoosh as you do so, your eyes trying to determine where your words should go and where the stamp and the address are to be placed in the hopes that the message makes its way from wherever you are to wherever you are going to be.

That little rectangle of white is just a blank square of hope, already diminished by the real estate required for the stamp and the address. You feel it in your stomach, that little knot that says, “What words can possibly convey ‘wish you were here!’ without sounding like a complete asshole?”

As you put pen to paper, the heft of the utensil feeling strange because to hold a writing utensil is such a foreign thing anymore and your handwriting is terrible “these days” (as you always say), you feel the slight drag of the pen as the ink and nib violate the gentle surface of the matte paper.

Ultimately, you know it doesn’t matter what you say or what you write.

The Coffee Mug

The other day, it was freezing in the office. It is, in fact, always freezing in the office. On the bright side, our office has an automatic French press, and I’d had the presence of mind to bring in a real, ceramic coffee mug.

On this particularly chilly day, on the advice of my VP, I filled the mug with freshly brewed and very hot coffee. The smell of a fresh brew is almost like chocolate, and I always marvel how far the smell of coffee is from its actual, to me not at all pleasant taste. A cup of coffee is really just something to be gotten through, and there’s really only ever been a few cups worth remembering -but perhaps the delight, in the same way that drug users are always chasing that first high, is always chasing that one remembered taste you simply cannot forget.

Something about it reeks of romance, and maybe the bitter taste in the mouth is the reality of what relationships really are -hope dashed against the grinds, wet and earthy, and as close to death as we will get until the day we die.

As I slowly drink this hot cup of coffee, I wrap my chilled hands around the warm porcelain, almost too hot to touch, but a welcome contrast to the frost hanging in the air of the conference room. The warmth in the cup, the kindness of the suggestion from the VP, the bitter taste of the coffee combined with its intoxicating aroma -it’s all a bit too much.

Every moment should be like this, and not laced over with milk and sugar. For some reason, though the weight would be the same, the black coffee I now drink seems lighter in the hands than the mocha I used to always drink instead. I worry what the black liquid is doing to my teeth, my stomach, and my general overall well-being, and try to limit myself to two cups a day.

I used to be wildly addicted to this stuff, needing it in a way that other people need drugs and sugar.

Friday, August 29, 2014

set adrift on mountain blue

She had been drifting up above the Korean mountains for quite some time, feeling both a wee bit sick to her stomach but also incredibly exhilarated and free. Since the tether had been broken --a bond she had been gnawing on patiently for years --she thought she might never touch the ground again. In her ears (though she spoke not a word of English) thumped “And She Was” by Talking Heads and beneath her feet (as in the music video for the song) the whole of the world slowly spun by.

From down below, he called up to her, not by speaking (words she would not have understood unless she was dreaming), but by tugging on her tether. Her eyes widened in alarm. Ever so gently, she felt herself dropping by degrees closer to the pedestrian earth, a realm she had never understood and always struggled to escape. But, there he was (ever oblivious and afraid of losing her), pulling her back to the ground.

Her arms flopped a little bit helplessly with each tug of his on her waist. The mountains loomed closer and then were her neighbors as she passed by. Nimble goats clung to the side, nibbling the scarce vegetation and not mindful of her at all. She may as well as have been a cloud, falling like a gentle rain.

The soft mountain breeze caressed the wet from her face, cooling her skin until she was under the shade of the forest. With a gentle bump, her feet touched the ground. She blinked a few times, as though being earthbound were the most alien thing. Gravity still could not touch her though (he tried). Her feet barely touched the earth as she wandered among the trees, trying to follow the sound of his longing.

He wasn’t anywhere he was supposed to be (he never was), but she knew she would find him.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

the room for poetry

she drove the car off the cliff, something she had always wanted to do, but -until this moment -never had the chance. as the car sailed over the edge, the list of all the things she was missing ran through her mind: trash bags, water filters, tissues. 

was this the sum of an entire life?

every time she was in the grocery store, the thought would run through her mind:  how pointlessly quotidian this all is. there would be 50 varieties of something; none of them good. 

she had the same thought at the airport, or in the train station, or wherever she was surrounded by a milling mass of ugly people, all dressed differently but looking the same: so much ugliness.

she'd been dinged for this once; told she was mean. people nowadays -they were so soft. everyone wanted to think that they were special, or pretty, or smart -but they weren't. she really was, so she knew better, but she mostly kept these thoughts to herself, especially where children and pets were concerned. people could really lose their minds when certain truths about their progeny were pointed out to them.

when she came home, she asked him what he wanted for dinner, but he was already cooking and neither of them were hungry. he vanished into another room rather than sit at the table across from her. she didn't particularly care. 

there was a shelf very high up and hard to reach in his mind where he kept certain things. she knew it was there, but never looked; she knew what he kept there. the times when she would rummage about in his mind looking for something, she would always come back hurt and feeling a little bit less -and yet more confident too.

it was always better to know.

she couldn't build the tower without it, and she was always building. it was really for herself; she just wanted him in it, where she could hear the echoes of his words against the glass walls, and the whole world could watch, and yet never really know what was in it.