Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Suppose for a moment that all of those concave Hollow Earth theories are actually true, that we are in fact living on the inside of the Earth with the universe around us and the sun on a battery, that if we were tunneling it wouldn't be in but out. That our antipode wasn't really around but above and that looking up at the stars was really looking at the lights of other cities.

If things were at rights in this outside-in Earth it would be the work of nothing at all to toss some tin cans with strings telephones to the other side of the universe, throw across paper airplanes with jello salads in their cargo holds, lower a basket with a fancy hat and a kitten in it all the way down. Gravity might be a problem, of course, but then I find that gravity is generally a problem anyway.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

I am pretty much a walking petri dish this month, having acquired a bad cold to go along with my recently enhanced bout of bronchitis, all of which has left me exhausted and bad-tempered and wheezing and unable to go within three feet of my couch without waking up on it four hours later. My apartment is a mess and I can't hear anything and I'm fairly certain that I'm keeping my neighbor awake with my all-night coughing fits. Being sick is taking up all of my energy, and probably also the energy of everyone who is putting up with me whining about it all the time. It's not really a fun time for anyone.

I am really, really glad that I got that whooping cough shot last year, because I would bet that that would be next on this list. I am anticipating coming down with leprosy any day now.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

It isn't staring at an eclipse that hurts our eyes, the times when was was bright has turned dark, but the moments after when the sudden influx of light alters the chemistry of our cells and damages them. With age the damage becomes less and less each time, our lenses yellowing and becoming too callused for the sunlight to break through. But still each time our pupils have become too wide in searching for details in the dimness and are photochemically dented. We're not made to go from dark to light so suddenly.

I often wonder about all the creatures that have evolved themselves into no eyes, sitting in the dim places, slowly losing the potential for light. Straining to see something through the gloom until they stopped straining and learned to parse the darkness in other ways. Like all of those things with fins and tentacles living under water and using whole new organs to feel the electromagnetic pulses from muscles moving nearby. Seeing differently, but perhaps not worse. Not even remembering what having eyes was like.

And I think about how sometimes there's no rational explanation for heading into the caves or down under the water, how you just go there because it looks like someplace new, and how sometimes you go to open your eyes and find they have sealed themselves shut while you were busy with your other senses. I think it takes almost no time at all to evolve yourself out of eyes but more time than you have to evolve yourself back into them. I think that one day you close them to avoid the bright flash that comes when the eclipse is ending only to find that you are yourself the next eclipse. And you forget where your eyes ever were.

Monday, March 23, 2009

We see these things only in flashes, glimpsed like telephone poles from the window of a speeding car, adjusting our poker faces to suit the landscape just passed. Moving like a mantis shrimp, which is neither mantis nor shrimp but which can still punch like a bullet. Staying totally still and yet somehow managing to lose the hand anyway, having given away our cards with the whirring of our brains.

But the thing about the mantis shrimp is that its eyes are too complex for our brains, so evolved that they can almost see forward through time, and maybe this is why they stick together for 20 years or so while we manage only the most fleeting of dalliances, the moments between the closest-set of telephone poles. Maybe these failings are between our vitreous humor and our brains, instead of any of the other places we looked.

Last year we drove down roads and talked about that photographer who took pictures of cans of unclaimed remains from Oregon mental hospital patients, cans that had corroded beautifully, in cascades of blue and green and silver, as though the better parts of the madness trapped inside had finally leaked through all of the dimness and the grey. I suppose we should have realized, surrounded by all of those trees, that we were building an afternoon that we would carry around for ages, waiting to see what colors it would turn once everything inside had burned.

Friday, March 20, 2009

I am mostly recovered from my terrible wasting disease, except for some lingering coughing and a general vagueness of brain. I'm having a whole lot of trouble focusing on anything, including conversations with other people and my own impulse control, which has led to fortunately less damaging wackiness than it probably should have. It's only today become spring, so I think everyone's a little slow to respond.

I probably should have spent more time this week resting and recovering, but after spending a whole week trapped in my apartment without the energy to do anything but put in another movie, I couldn't. I hated the idea that fun things were probably happening without me, while I was wasting all of this time just trying not to die. (Although I guess, in a broader sense, we're all always wasting all this time trying not to die, right? I just prefer to do that in a bar with my friends rather than on the couch with the plague.) So I've spent the last couple of days sitting in places and laughing and talking about my theory of always having three crushes at a time instead of sleeping, and I feel like that's a trade I can live with.

And today of course is the first day of spring, which means we're pretty much minutes away from outdoor drinking and having liquor splashed in my shoes and barbecues and being in public without tights on. I'm definitely ready for another season of saying yes to whatever comes up just in case it turns out to be interesting. Time for more adventures.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

So you've heard, I imagine, about that bat clinging to the side of the space shuttle this week, hanging there on the side up past where anyone could see him, staying warm and alive through liftoff and possibly all the way to space. Probably living out some bat plan dreamed up during long days sleeping in a huddle with all the other bats, during evenings hunting for insects and wondering about the moon it couldn't see but still somehow knew was there.

I imagine he tried to rally his bat friends, cornering each of the most adventurous of them and painting a million squeaky pictures about the adventure they could have. The moon was only the beginning of it--making it to space would be the hard part, and after that only a matter of flying. But although the constant darkness sounded tempting, the endless opportunity for flying, the sad news that there are no guarantees of moths in space, or in fact even of places to land and sleep, eventually drove everyone to decline. It wasn't him, he should understand, it was just that things were too good right there in that cave, in that barn, in those woods. Why go to a moon that no one could see, anyway?

But the little bat planned on, undaunted by the lack of support or company, committed to leaving the huddle and heading to space on the side of a rocketship.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Generally I'm not very good at being sick, all grumpy at being confined, so it's a measure of exactly how sick I've been that I hardly noticed not leaving the house for most of a week. I hate the flu, and how weak and pathetic it's left me, in this sad lump on my couch, living on tea and Dayquil. This morning the walk up to brunch was much more walk than I can handle yet, and I sadly took the bus home.

On top of the end of the flu, it has left behind a nice round of bronchitis. All the coughing and hacking a girl could want.

But it's on its way out, so I guess I've won this round, but I foresee a lot more napping and scowling in the week or so of recovery to come.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Oh man, do I ever have the flu.

It's been years and years since I've had the flu, and I forgot how completely miserable it is. I have spent almost all of my time at home for the last three days in a miserable heap on my couch, sweating and shivering and cursing germs and the universe and my dependably poor immune system.

I have always been sickly, if my baby books are to be believed--and given that my mom's not much of a liar, I don't see why they wouldn't be. I had colds that delayed my shots in the first few months after I was born, bronchitis for the first time before I was a year old, pneumonia at three. (Other things never change, too: by 3 1/2 I was trying to play Scrabble, and probably doing about as well then as I do now. "Mostly outgoing except around some strange men." I was also reading by then, and evidently doing my level best to explain to my peers how awesome books are. We are always fundamentally ourselves.) If something is going around, I will always get it.

I usually stay away from Nyquil, since it essentially makes me pass out on the spot and sleep for 74 hours, but I think these are desperate times.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I am very, very high on cold medicine today--that'll teach me to forget my hat, walking to work in the snow--and have spent a significant portion of the afternoon thinking about Coconut crabs, an arthropod that can get to be half as big as I am and would think nothing of crushing my skull like a coconut.

The part that has me all distracted today is that some people call them robber crabs because they like to steal shiny things out of houses and tents, and what sort of lunatic would go camping when there are huge claws all over the place? In a house, if you hear there are crabs in the neighborhood, you can just shut the door. And I keep getting a little distracted by imagining what it would be like to be laying in your tent after swimming all day in the ocean off of a tropical island, just lazing drowsy in your sleeping bag and planning a full day of pina coladas when you wake up sometime in the early afternoon, when all of a sudden there's the sound of claws snicking through the tent fabric. Which would, of course, alarm you, and you would jump to your feet, smacking your head on the top of the tent pole, imagining guerillas with machetes. Only instead, it's a giant hermit crab, and it is coming for your watch.

Which is enough to strengthen my vow to never go camping again. Coconut crabs can't use doorknobs, can they?

Friday, March 06, 2009

I was reading that scientists are using cotton candy to grow replacement tissue, pouring a chemical over the flimsy sugar and then dissolving it, leaving a network of tiny tiny channels where the candy's thin strands used to be. And if you line those channels with cells and seed the hardened chunk of chemical with more cells, by the time the science disappears you're left with a piece of tissue complete with blood vessels. Like magic.

But we already knew, you and I, that we had cotton candy wrapped around our bones, soft and sweet and melting in the rain. That it's only the holes we leave behind that are useful for growing new things, that we are more useful when we're leaving even if sweeter when we're not.

It makes me think of Frederik Ruysch and his tableaux, morality scenarios made of baby skeletons posed artfully on a well-preserved liver and surrounded by flowers, a prostitute's skull being kicked by the legs of a baby; grotesque meditations on the transience of life now lost to history. All of them discolored and filled with secret fluids. He made over two thousand of them, enough to fill five rooms of his house, and then he sold them to Peter the Great and left his name to history.

His name, and the organs of thousands.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

I read this with an instant shock of recognition: I do this all the time. Some of the things I tend to imagine against my will are:

Going in a car under an overpass and someone commits suicide off of it, landing on our car and killing whoever is in it in the resulting accident.

Somehow surviving the zombie uprising, living for years in the woods, and attempting to emerge back into the broken cities only to find that the zombies are still there and having to return to the woods after all that hope.

The elevator cable snapping and not knowing exactly when I'm going to crash and die until, suddenly, I do.

Gravity failing, and trying to stop from floating into space by grabbing on to a power line.

Walking over a sidewalk grate and it breaks open and I die of a broken neck on top of a pile of squished rats.

Hearing my sliding glass door open while I am in bed, and then subsequently hearing someone standing in my living room, whispering my name.

Getting knocked in front of an oncoming bus at the bus stop.

Being in the shower with all of the doors and windows in my apartment closed and locked, and the doorknob of the bathroom door slowly starts to turn.

Walking home alone a little bit late at night, under and past the St. Mark's Greenbelt, and a grumpy bear/coyote/mountain lion/crazy homeless man comes crashing through the brush and bites half of my face off.

An earthquake happening while I'm walking down a street, and there's nowhere to hide from falling things and the ground opening up.

Monday, March 02, 2009

I have spent almost all of my free time this past week--and probably a considerable amount of the time I should have spent doing other things--reading Gone With the Wind. I've spent the last few months with books that were pleasant enough, like conversations with friends of friends only in town for the weekend, but none that colored anything. Like reading marshmallows, no matter how well-regarded, how showered with prizes. Perhaps I have been reading too many things centered around men, and needed a lady main character to clear the air. (The South, she is a lady.)

In between times I forget the feeling of surfacing, of happy emptiness, of regret that it's not possible to read a book for the first time ever again. And now I'm a little lost, a little fumbling, not sure what will next take over my days. Short of words because they are packed so thickly behind my eyes.