Wednesday, October 15, 2014

stuck on a feeling

I’m a little bit addicted to emo songs about heartbreak and romantic failure. I’ve read all the articles touting the masochistic curative powers of the perfectly executed ballad extolling the virtues of crying constantly and praying for sun, even as the sun burns your skin and birds sing behind you. They may as well be falling out of the sky, dead. How else do you feel an emotion?

There’s a great scene in Immortal Beloved (with Gary Oldman), where Beethoven corrects his ardent admirer regarding the power of music. The gentleman who admires Beethoven declares that music “exalts.”

“No!” Beethoven barks, “Music controls; music tells you how to feel.” This is not exactly what Beethoven says, but I do believe I have the spirit correct, for this is true. There is nothing uplifting about a heartbreak ballad, not even the ones that declare “everything you own in a box to the left.” If one were to pick apart that song, it is quite depressing indeed.

Whatever the aural science, there is an undeniable kinship in hearing a song and realizing that the writer understands, and maybe even the performer too. How else could they write exactly what you are feeling at this moment?!

And thus, you listen to the song over and over and over again, compelled by the downbeat and the plaintive wail of someone so pretty and yet so sad. “Yes,” you think to yourself, “this is suffering.”

At some point, the song you listen to repeatedly becomes merely aural wallpaper, but then you realize the playlist has advanced without you paying attention; you immediately rectify this, slightly anxious until those old familiar notes wash over you. and you realize: you don’t want to feel good.

Regarding Object Writing

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

musings on an airport cocktail

Does everyone order a Bloody Mary at the airport bar (me included)? The second most popular option appears to be beer (which I have also ordered). I'd love to see the metrics on this --dearly so, in fact.

I'm not sure when the scales tipped for me, or maybe I always loved Bloody Mary's. Perhaps because, along with the ever-popular at brunch mimosa, a Bloody Mary is the only acceptable way to drink vodka before noon?

It's never even occurred to me to order a vodka soda at an airport bar; the very thought sort of makes my tongue curl and my tummy squint. I can almost hear my liver cackling softly, "Girl, you stupid."

There is no charm in airport bars; I can't imagine that there ever was, though the bombastic, optimistic architecture of the older airports try to scream otherwise. As we all know now, those airports were wrong.

My headphones are turned up to an uncomfortable level. I never realized until I had to crash overnight on the most uncomfortable airport "bed" ever how loud airports are.

Perhaps you do not notice because you are so busy rushing between gates, your heart pumping as your body propels forward in a 1,000-meter dash it never trained for, your heavy bag digging into your shoulder while your other bag mysteriously drags behind you despite being on wheels and sweat sticks to your skin despite the stale, recycled air.

Don't worry --I never noticed before either. Airports were always this gauntlet to get through; not a space in which to ponder the aural qualities --which are terrible.

But the airport Bloody Mary's... for some reason, while the prices have fluctuated wildly, the flavor has always been precisely what you wanted.

Regarding Object Writing

Thursday, October 9, 2014

fear of flying

I’ve actually been to more concerts than I claim. Perhaps because I’ve been impressed by so few, so I only lay claim to the ones that really have stayed with me as an overall experience. It’s not so much that I have outstanding expectations; it’s just what I remember that matters. On this one occasion, I spent the evening at concert that was fun but not particularly memorable, except that the day after I had to fly somewhere (and, honestly, I do not recall where) and it had to be without a doubt the absolute worst flying experience of my short life.

There’s a certain discomfort in traveling. On the one hand, I absolutely love traveling. On the other hand, I absolutely hate traveling. The packing, the physical discomfort, the rupture to one’s schedule --all just things I could happily do without; I look forward to the day when teleportation is a real thing.

On this particular occasion, I don’t recall the cattle-call like feeling of rushing to the airport, bags half-packed in a hurry, only to encounter long lines in the interminable security lanes and then squish into a seat that’s actually fine for me size-wise, but almost never so for my more robust row-mates. No, on this occasion, the only thing I remember is how badly my eardrums hurt when we finally took off.

Chewing my gum, looking out the window, and not expecting anything more than the usual very slight pressure, the intense pain took me by surprise. I was practically crying in my seat; my eyes were watering, at least. I wanted to cry out, but I kept my discomfort to myself. At some point, in the haze of pain, I realized my eardrums were paying me the price for being overtaxed the night before, at the concert which hadn’t been all that spectacular anyway.

Now that they were being subjected to the sorts of pressure no human was designed to suffer, my eardrums felt as though they might explode in impotent rage. I felt nothing else but this localized pain; the rest of me did not exist.

The intense pain, as though a hot drill bit were being driven into each ear, seemed to last forever. Would the plane ever reach a cruising altitude? Were my eardrums actually bleeding? Would my eyes stop watering?

Am I nervous about flying now? No, I still look forward to each flight and each trip with anticipation. I know, as long as I don’t go to another concert the night before, I will be just fine.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

life under the gun

It’s autumn, hunting season. I don’t remember much about it, except the raw, metallic smell of the freshly oiled metal and the fierce kickback into the shoulder after each shot. And I remember seeing the carcasses of the kills hanging upside down as they bled; the empty stare of the eyes as they blankly watched you from the bed of the pickup truck or the hook from where they hung.

Underneath them, on the dirty, oily concrete floor, pools of blood and other dark fluids mirrored their reflections back up at them and at you. In these memories, everything is always cold and dark. The lighting is always that harsh yellowed, yet fiercely bright, light that every garage always seemed to have. Probably it is dark because the men spent all day in the woods, pretending they were warriors who could only come home if they killed something.

On this particular day, wearing a camouflage jacket that is no doubt too large, you try to hold the rifle in your hands; you try to set your sights on the can in the distance far ahead of you; and, you try to squeeze off a round. Are you wearing ear protection? You don’t remember, but you don’t think so. This is real country; no one wears anything more protective than the camouflage and everyone considers the bright orange that is required in the woods an offense against authenticity.

The trigger sticks under your finger, and you’re not certain you’ll have the strength in this one tiny digit to make the trigger go back. The curved metal feels tight, so tight it actually hurts a little bit; biting back into your flesh as you try to force it to do what you want it to do. When the trigger finally clicks back into place, the moment goes by too fast and too loudly for you to really appreciate it; it’s not slo-mo as in the movies.

Instead, in an instant, the round fires, the rifle butts (hard) into your shoulder, and the crack is enough to make your eyes water.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

my heart is as open as the sky

Maya: Knowing love, I can allow all things to come and go, to be as supple as the wind and to face all things with great courage.My heart is a open as the sky. Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love (1996)

There’s that moment when the iron bands around your heart break, and you finally feel light on your feet again. It’s unexpected and you are surprised by the feeling of liberation and freedom. For so long, you’d felt weighted down and you knew why, but there was nothing you could do about it. Everything just felt heavy and hopeless, and you were lost.

You still feel this way in the morning, too hot because of the heat, but knowing it’s cold out there, so reluctant to crawl out into the darkness, because the weather has turned, and now you are always up before the sun. If you had your way, you wouldn’t be up at all. The cold makes your skin constrict; combined with the persistent night, the only thing you feel is tired.

If only you could close your eyes again, but all you have then are weird dreams.

You trip around in the dark, reluctant to turn on the lights, because lights on mean there is no going back to sleep. When the light switch is finally switched, your eyes immediately hurt. It’s in this moment you can believe that light is a physical thing as it stabs you in the flesh. After a few blinks, the moment passes, but you are still cold and the dark is hovering at the edges.

When you were younger, you were afraid of the shadows and the secrets hidden there. Rationally, you know there is no such thing as monsters, but the real terror comes when you are outside, walking in the snow under the moon, which is casting a thousand dark shadows across your path, and the only sound is the crunch of your boots in the frozen snow and the anxious breath you keep expelling, hoping you’ll make it where you want to go before the shadows produce something monstrous that will hurt you.

It takes you years of perspective to realize that the monsters are the ones sitting at the table opposite of you, the kids you go to school with, the people you trust(ed). But it doesn’t matter --you’re still afraid of the shadows and the cold and the night and the smell of your own fear, which is oddly damp.

Inside your mittens, your hands are sweating and a bit of ice from your shallow breaths are clinging to your soft yet scratchy scarf. Someone knitted these things for you; someone who hurt you.

Regarding Object Writing

Monday, October 6, 2014

the blackberries in summer

The end of summer, when it was still hot though, always meant freshly ripe blackberries. There was a covey (if that’s the term) of blackberry bushes (or trees? The bushes were enormous and may well have been trees) around the “corner” from the house where I lived in the country, (thus, “around the corner” being a relative term).

At that age, very young with even shorter limbs where every distance seemed at least a mile, the trek was up the hill arduous, yet quite worth it. The walk itself, despite the intense heat and humidity, which slicked your skin with moisture and made the dust stick to you, was actually not all that bad. In fact, all you thought about and all I remember now is the taste of those stolen blackberries.

The walk would begin up the dirt path that melted into the clover --the clover not quite like anything you might be used to, for this was _real_ clover: tall and sensuous, long-limbed and green, with a glorious bright, light purple head at the top. When you pulled your nose up close, the scent was intoxicating, and you could see why the horses loved it. The scent, besides the heat and the dust, was the scent of honey and flowers, but not in a heavy way; you just wanted to eat it, and the marvel was that you could (sort of).

The field we had to walk through was pure clover, so there was nothing to see for the entire trek but the tall, purple-headed clover, the strong green grass struggling around and in between it, and the short, weirdly stunted sour apple trees, (from which we also gleefully stole when they were ripe too).

As you walked in the midday heat, the sun burning the top of your head, the anticipated memory of the plump, warm, wet blackberries in your hands, heavy and tangy sweet, the clover grass gently scratched against your legs, inviting you to stop and roll around with it instead. You knew if you laid down, the grassy meadow of purple and green would be strangely soft, like that scene out of The Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy and friends are lulled to sleep by the witch’s poppies.

And maybe you did lie down, because it was so hot, with flies and gnats buzzing around your ears and head, eager to take a bite of your warmth, as if it wasn’t already hot enough. And, if you closed your eyes, you might pretend you could feel the earth start to spin beneath you, but maybe you didn’t stop, because that feeling was so much more intense when you camped out at night, before the grass became too wet with dew, and the stars pressed down so close they formed a black velvet blanket above you.

And, maybe you didn’t stop, because a few steps more and those blackberries would be staining your hands and your mouth.

Regarding Object Writing

Thursday, October 2, 2014

musings on the necessity of jewelry

I can’t remember if I was a willing participant at the time, but I had my ears pierced years ago at the mall. I was probably excited and then rueful. As it turned out, I’m allergic to most metals, because, of course, why not? I wore earrings anyway, but my poor earlobes did suffer.

My skin is hypersensitive, something I was always blithely unaware of, and any time anything touches it, my skin looks like it’s broken out in angry, red welts.

I still wear jewelry, but I don’t know why. It’s this haphazard activity I engage in only reluctantly, though I do seem to own an inordinate amount of jewelry for someone who doesn’t really wear any.

These days, as if I’m a high-powered executive who can’t be bothered to think about it, I wear every day the same mismatched bracelet and earrings to work. The bracelet was a gift; it’s simple, it’s wood, and the design is a pleasing starburst that repeats Escher-style, so, of course, I must love it.

Naturally, my skin has other thoughts about this piece of jewelry that I slap on my wrist every morning with almost no thought. Throughout the day, it bothers me, my skin, that is, reminding me how bothersome this bracelet really is. I try to accommodate my flesh, by either sliding the bracelet off and leaving it off, so, then, really, what is the point, or by sliding it over my cuff, (if my top happens to have a cuff, which, of course, usually it does not).

The wood of this bracelet has a pleasing, Braille-like texture under the fingers, because, really, it is an elastic bracelet composed of many tiny pieces of wood, each one eager to bite into my delicate flesh and declare to the world: this person has _style_.

Absentmindedly, I have noticed myself playing with this bracelet in my hands, stretching the elastic and hearing the satisfying and soft sound of the tiny bits of wood colliding when they meet; the sound is like that of a rattler, but only if each piece inside the rattler were wrapped in something that made them whisper when they touched, rather than clang.

I’m a bit afraid I’m going to snap the bracelet too hard or stretch the black elastic too far one day, and then be forced to watch in imagined slow motion as the 100 tiny bits of wooden circles that comprise the bracelet go flying, most likely across a meeting table in front of my horrified / bemused colleagues.

Regarding Object Writing

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