stolen from deviant art: elrisha

Monday, July 26, 2010

Starve the Ego, Feed the Soul

Trying to fit my words into the spaces between the sound of beating wings. The deafening wail of constant noise laying down over me and seeping into every pore of my body, slowing and suffocating me. A sedation of venom or morphine holding my arms and legs, turning the intention into molasses, sticky warm opium. Overrun by sap and pressed into a corpse of amber. Pressed under layers of sentiment until the outline is fossilized, until a new age has come to pass and my centipede lobes are stroked by children’s fingers on a museum field trip.

Somewhere then, respite. Look to the sky.

Up in the silent emptiness, the crackle of silence would sound like dry, brittle boughs splintering underfoot on a cold winter morning; lay on your back and stare down, out into the void with open solar plexus, daring to lay prostrate to the great expanse. It is there, just there, through the stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere, reflecting back so you can just make out your outline in the morphing rainbows on the bubble’s surface, hovering in the still air above your nose. It is there, the silent stillness of infinity hovers just out of reach, rumbling with singularity in the everyday backnoise of whirling axles and gears.

Human, then, explain thyself.

What is it your years of introspection and watchfulness have brought you? Ego, tell me more about the world through your eyes, your infallible all-knowing opinion on the nature of all you rule; I’m being sarcastic you son of a bitch. Your childlike fancy dressed up in heels too big and daddy’s power tie like you know the responsibility of social contracts and the demands of your soul. Grab your empty briefcase and put in all you can imagine you’ll need: yes that calculator must be necessary, and perhaps a pen and that pad of paper. And what of your toys? The piles of pink and purple plastic in the cracks between the baskets on your crayon-resistant shelf: none of these things are like the other. This must be the full extent of adult life. Put them away, put them away, back to the shiny world of fancy and lavish attention with your doe eyes and big curls.

What then, what would you like me to say? How do I explain my motivations and movements, intentions and inflections without rooting myself into childish fantasy of beanstalks and golden eggs? Get to know me by encouraging my braggart ways? My ability to impress upon you my own sense of self-importance? Do you want to fall in love with my self-assured swagger that I wear on Saturday nights with well-practiced heels, the one that covers apathetic digust and dusty fatigue that creeps into my bones with the winter chill? I weary of the child. Jaded cynicism that fills a room with silent, stilling tension and slows the beating heart and thrashings of my sense of justice and the cold rain slips down the concrete and my breath curls in the air and I can laugh with slitted eyes. I can laugh at myself and the horrific charade of it all, ashes to ashes, mirth to dust, shameless chance to the choice that underwrites all choices. Finally, let go. Laughter because it is no other way than it is.

Statement of purpose. Letter of intent. Direct questions of abstraction. Explain thyself. March your feats of introspection to the tune of of subject-verb-object triads; set your favorite motivational quote from stun to kill and pander to those illusions of grandeur to change the world. Full song and dance please. Audition for the leading role of this performance and be sure to name-drop at all the right parties with all the right people.

Are you not entertained? Have I managed to impress some kind of response, some stirring of emotion to objectify myself in your eyes? Have I instilled a sense of trust and mutual understanding with my two hundred word sweeping summaries and application of the agreed upon tenants of good living, of virtue, or worthiness in quantifiable ways with reference letters? We are the same, you and I. But I cannot impress this upon you in any of the ways that you ask me to do so.

In short, I really don’t know what to write for my statement of purpose for grad school.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Howling in the Trees

I have an entire bookshelf looking over my right shoulder, and I don’t think any of them approve.

No matter, they don’t have to watch TV.

I have a friend that reminds me that I’m just a monkey. She doesn’t introduce it inorganically into a conversation, like saying, “Hey, you’re just a monkey” but she’ll sneak it sideways, with just the right amount of irony and subtly, like an inside joke.

We’re all just monkeys, and it dissipates all my anxiety and frustration at the world around me when I remember to remember. Monkeys with overdeveloped frontal lobes, with overdeveloped senses of self-consciousness and awareness. With this thought, everything makes sense again and I don’t feel a murderous rage toward Fox News and that drunk girl over there, I just feel a vague belly laugh mixed with a bemused bafflement. Sometimes though, all I can feel is disgust.

Change the world? Address overpopulation and the steady destruction of our environment? Solve epidemics and poverty and immigration? Why? Everything is constantly changing, yet everything stays the same. History repeats itself. People never change.

The rolling stone gathers no moss.

Look at that protester over there. Doesn’t he look happy? Doesn’t he look like he’s working to better the world for himself and his fellow human beings? No? You’re right. He’s spitting at the camera like a snake and shaking his sign covered in hate-filled references and imperative statements. I can’t look at those people. It’s probably the most disgusting and ugly sight I’ve ever seen.

What then. How does one live with the constant grating nature of one’s fellow monkeys? We’re smart. Look at where our goddamn frontal lobes have gotten us. There must be some redeeming quality we can rely on, when the fight is on over bamboo or healthcare or transfat or toxic mud flooding the ocean and killing every living thing that crosses its path.

I tell you, in these times, in all this chaos and disaster whirling, you must find the pillars, the people who are sane, who still remember how to feel and walk with their eyes open. People who, as the world is falling down around us, can smile and talk as if nothing is going on, who can shrink or expand the world as necessary to banish the chaos for those brief periods, to restore order, to connect. To ground and re-establish some sort of meaning, direction, order. The ones that remind you that you are just a monkey, that we are all just monkeys.

‘You and I, we are here, and I don’t know what the hell is going on over there, but let’s just sit here and talk awhile. Or just sit and be silent. Two under the sky. Six under the sky. We find each other and there is a great settling, a vast peace in one tiny part of this universe unto itself inside my head.’

And then it’s time for work or dinner or I’m bored or you’re tired and drunk and we break rank to join our disparate orbits, to dive deep into the cold dark sea. Our paths will cross again and it will be like coming up for air.

I have a recurring dream since childhood, the same scenario repeated a hundred different ways. I’m in a swimming pool, just below the surface, looking up into the refracting light and I realize I need to breathe. I start swimming to the surface, push off the concrete bottom with water rushing in my ears but I can’t reach the surface. It hovers a static distance above me. I begin to panic, my lungs ache and scream and the water around me turns dark and at some point I say, this is it. I make the decision to breathe in the water. There is no time or space for compromise or haggling, I know my lungs will simply breathe in for me and I might as well be on board.
I breathe and my lungs fill with water and a warmth like my mother's womb fills my chest: I can breathe water.
I can breathe water.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

I'd like to take this moment to blame...

I am feeling notoriously unable to complete any sort of project.

In the past ten minutes, I have attempted:
1. to study for the GRE
2. to flip through the GRE book and find a good way to plan to study for the GRE.
3. register for the GRE extra materials online using the easy-to-follow instructions in the front of the book
4. to work on my statement of purpose for grad school
5. to work on any piece of unfinished writing saved on my laptop
6. to edit any piece of writing I have previously been working on

Enormously successful.
Using simple math, this means I have dedicated at least one minute and no more than 1.5 minutes to any of the above tasks.
I am really going places.

Instead, I am sitting on a porch being eaten my mosquitoes, drinking a tequila drink that is too strong for my taste and pretending to achieve something, which really just includes updating my blog and writing back to emails too soon. Green bananas, all of this.

It would be convenient to put all my goals on hold and age myself in an oak barrel. I would like to avoid these feelings of failure. This is why I don't try to quit smoking. It only leads to feelings of failure and another pack of cigarettes. I don't do guilt well.

Ironically, I have not smoked in a few days. One could even say I was quitting, if I allowed that kind of talk in this house. So far so good, except the fact that I have had an ongoing tendency toward violence today, specifically punching something that might yelp and yield. I would not mind blaming the lack of nicotine mixed with the most frustrating World Cup final game I have ever seen.

In the meantime, I get to struggle with this writer's block. I can't tell you the feelings I have when I open Microsoft Word and stare at that blank page. Intimidating as fucking hell. I'd rather stain this deck I'm sitting on than face that blank page, but no one asked me to, and I spent the day lounging and watching 'Deadwood'. And now I have to face that page.

Don't get me wrong; there is no shortage of ideas. I had a fantastic idea including 'The Darjeeling Limited' and the nature of the spiritual experience, forced and unplanned, in our society. Something I would passionately write about. The minute I stare at that screen though, all my sentences dissipate like smoke and I might as well pound the keyboard with fists rather than try.

Oh, there's that need to punch something again.

I do what I do because it's what I do.

I can literally feel myself getting stupider from being around television and the interwebs.
And by stupid I mean fragmented, ADD (yes, used here as a verb), and generally glazed over.

This is what it must be like to learn how to live with a crack addiction.

So, I've been couch surfing for more than three months now. Some would say that is a long time. It's been long enough that I can say I'm comfortable living out of a carry-on sized suitcase, my trunk and on my friends' generosity. I would like to claim I'm comfortable with instability, but I have to admit I actually waxed sentimental when I washed glasses by hand today. It may have been the wine, but the feeling of soap and warm water against glass- that squeaky sound it makes- gave me a sense of satisfaction I haven't felt in a while. That's probably the most intimate detail I'm willing to share in this post.

For a while, the finer things in life were the little luxuries I didn't travel with: nail clippers, lotion, miscellaneous body care products. And although there is still nothing like having freshly cut nails after enduring for days, waiting to run across a pair, I am desirous of more.

It is still enjoyable to watch the things I need just appear. Open a cabinet and I may satisfy an itch I have needed to scratch for days: q-tips, facial toner, contact solution, or, in the kitchen, freshly baked brownies, fresh fruits and veggies, soy milk, organic yogurt.

Let me tell you, I get the most entertainment from guys' houses. Open the pantry and find three year old cans of beans, two cans of tuna and some moldy bread. A fridge full of condiments. In the bathroom, I feel I am earning my keep by putting the toilet paper on the roll and washing my toothpaste down the sink. I get a kick out of using body-wash/shampoo/conditioner/aftershave-in-one, though it makes later body care product finds even more special. I ate a six month old bagel last week, merely because I couldn't read the expiry date. Laughter, always laughter.

This week its sunburns, sixteen pound watermelons and steaks. Sore legs and six hour drives. And of course, the World Cup.