Thursday, May 27, 2010

It has been two years now since I came back from Italy, and I find myself drifting into daydreams of other places, ranking where it is I would rather be, changing my imaginary plan and the places I want to see. Distantly, when I am done with grad school I want to spend a little while in Greece and then maybe Spain, but that is far from now. I want to carve out tiny pockets in the wall of all this time to go other places, to climb to the tops of new buildings and lean out far into unfamiliar winds, to sit in dim bars late into the night talking to strangers, sink my bones into unfamiliar soil. I don't know how so many people stay so firmly planted.

So I am making plans, friends, and that means that in just a few weeks I am going to see the Grand Canyon. It has always been on my list of places to go, but vaguely--it would be nice, and all, but who goes to Arizona? Turns out, I do.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The end of my first year of graduate school is rapidly approaching, which means that I am something close to halfway done. This looks like progress but still feels like the very beginning of things. Time has turned into a series of funhouse mirrors that I am very much on the wrong end of. I'm sure that at the end of all of this I will say that it seems like it started only yesterday, and if that happens someone should probably just go ahead and kick me. Hard.

There's quite a bit of traveling coming up, to the east coast and back and then down to the southwest and up--if you have been wondering to yourself whether or not I am doing anything mildly insane in the name of adventure soon, the answer is, as usual, yes--but first I have to get through the next couple of weeks. Turns out, these final papers aren't going to just write themselves.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Given an opportunity to have my genes looked at and analyzed and pinned to boards like butterflies I of course went for it. Our bones are mysteries that we can see like shadows, but our genes are as remote as space and I will takes the chances I am given to look both out and in.

It's reassuring to find out that my genes tell me things that I already know--that I am likely to have a heart that beats in 3/4 time and creaks now and again, that I have blue eyes, run poorly and with little coordination, am overly sensitive to pain and less likely than average to learn from my mistakes.When all of my puzzle pieces were fitting together even before I was a person, the universe was making for me these possibilities, leaving unlocked doors that would turn out to open without me even knowing.

We're still parsing genes, of course, and science is science but even it can't go very far. Sill, space is always coming closer and so are our insides, and it might not be too long before we're sure that we ourselves are where they meet in the middle.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Some people study zugunruhe, the urge in migratory animals to move. When they're trapped and unable to go anywhere we can watch them, notice the disruption in their sleeping habits and how anxious they get just around dusk, measure the changes in their endocrine controls and what it is in their bodies that tells them where to go and how to get there.

You can fake zugunruhe by simulating long days, tricking brains into thinking that time is moving in different ways inside than it is outside. Our brains don't know both at once, of course, so the trapped fakely long days are what's real, forever, or at least until they end. They think that the more days a creature is stricken with zugunruhe, the longer their habitual migration might be. You'll have the longing to move for many more days if you're going across the world or to the moon or all the way under the water than if you're just going downstate. For example.

For a long time they thought that only species with active migratory patterns felt the longing, the endocromatic urge to run until it's too dark to see, for days and weeks and months. But now they have started really looking, and have noticed the restlessness even in species that seem perfectly content to stay where they are. The feeling is just as precisely timed for these animals, too, but they have evolved to think around it and stay put. It's still there, though, somewhere, and if they ever need to move again their brains will remember how, and where to go. They can all get somewhere else, once they realize that they need to.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sometimes life writes itself, but most often it wriggles in my hands like an impatient kitten wanting badly to be somewhere else. Which is a shame, really, because what we ought to be keeping closest is the afternoons sitting sun-drenched and laughing in favorite places, making outrageous plans that will never come to fruition because their appeal lies entirely in the planning. The time smiling and high fiving about adding a new member to our little community to bring up with love and laughter and outrageous plans. The waking up slowly, content, in a bright strange room slowly becoming familiar, listening to the songs from nearby church bells. This is what we fight through the everything else for.

Things tend to all go wrong, one after another, but every now and again they go right in the exact same way.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Honestly, what I could use right now is a vacation with a swim-up bar and for this baby to go ahead and get himself born so that I can snuggle his tiny face off and then commence with our very serious agenda of reading AA Milne poems together. I'm getting kind of tired of reciting "Buckingham Palace" to myself.

This morning between snooze alarms someone knocked at my front door, which is never good news, since good news sleeps between 2 and 8 AM. Sure enough, I stumbled groggily to the door and opened it to find my building manager in his bathrobe, standing in a lake that was suspiciously specific to my apartment. At some point during the six hours between when I went to sleep and just then, my water heater finally gave up the ghost.

Honestly, it's something of a relief. I had been waiting for the thing to go since my refrigerator gave up last year, all of the new appliances signaling that I have been living in the same place for perhaps too long. Not that I'm going anywhere, except eventually back home to see what in my apartment is seaworthy in case Lake Samantha sticks around for a little while. I've always wanted to stage my own pirate battle.

Friday, May 07, 2010

The thing is that I only know how to play my cards anywhere but close to my chest, handing them out to strangers instead, showing them to anyone who passes by, planting them in fields across three counties. Cards visible from space! Cards sewn into the lining of all of my clothes and craftily made into hearts to wear on my sleeves.

You would think that, after losing all of these decks of cards over all of these years, I would have learned how to be cautious. To figure out the intentions of the other players before I throw my hand in the air like confetti on new year's. You would think that, but you would be wrong. Head first is the only way I know how to run, no matter how many paper cuts, or where.

The real trouble is that I want to see all of your cards, too, but there's just no delicate way to ask without looking like I am cheating at this game, when the truth is that I don't even know the rules, and I am tired of cards. Tired of cards and rules and hearts and space and wondering and betting and losing and running.

One of these days, I will show you my cards and you will show me your cards, and then we will leave them on the table and go walking instead. One of these days.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

I think I went back to Florida partly looking for a story, for a narrative to tie together all of these threads that had suddenly been snipped. I hadn't expected to be so untethered, so frightfully lost, and so somewhere inside the folds of my brain I was sure that giving it all wrapping would make things make sense, would explain how I had ended up in this place without a path. Even if I had to force it a little.

When we were younger we wore mood rings, and our insides never matched the cool blue of their stones, so we would blow on them to heat them up. The effort of turning them red paradoxically cooled our rage for a moment, giving us time to take another breath before everything started up again. The thing about everything is that it always starts up again.

There aren't any stories, of course, which I really knew all along. Everything that throws us off the rails doesn't get to mean anything at all. I might not like it, but the act of looking diverted my panic enough that when I looked up again I realized I could figure out a way back. Not to where I thought I was going, maybe, but in the end somewhere is better than nowhere.

Monday, May 03, 2010

The buttercups started showing up this weekend, stretching gold through all the green, poisonous if too readily handled but sweet all the same. By next weekend my slow stroll home from Sunday brunch will be lined with them, sparkling invitingly, asking to be held to all manner of things in order to show the truth. If I could I would pickle a jar full of them to have in the silent winter months when yellow means nothing at all.

This morning I ate a tangerine too ripe to wait, falling brainlike from the peel before it was half gone, tumbling itself into sections around my hands. It was too sour to eat, maybe already past the point of ripeness, and it made the whole peeling experience suddenly somehow sinister. I am blaming all of this on the wind.