Monday, January 31, 2011

Favorite place

A whale showed itself on Friday, unexpectedly, off the side of the ferry. Not an Orca, but other than that we really can't be sure what sort of whale. Gray, perhaps. The ferry passengers all united in excitement for a few minutes. I missed the first appearance, but I looked back in time to see it spyhopping, probably just as curious about us as we were about it. It was a good omen for us, but I'm not sure that the same is true in reverse.

I think about all of these trees along all of these coasts, locking up their years in rings. Growing more dense or less dense depending on the pressure of the world outside. And all of the things that they have seen locked up in there too, all of the first explorers and the last whales, all of the animals coming and going and some of them never coming back. All of the ones that never knew people, growing remote and then falling before anyone had a chance to come through, recording only simple histories of rainy years and dry years, fat times and lean times. If those trees could tell stories I'm sure they would choose not to, holding them instead deep in their bones.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

This place

For the next three days, all I plan on looking at is this. It's lucky that it's so easy to go to a place so close and make time disappear.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

They say that it's mostly when your brain is tired that you experience jamais vu, when you can look directly at something that you know you know and yet still not recognize it. In a way that's creepier than the opposite, if only because feeling connected is better than the alternative. Our brains get tired so easily, if not so easily as they should.

I find it comforting to read all of these lists about the names for the ways that we feel in all of the languages that they happen, I guess because fitting boxes around feeling disconnected and tired and strange makes it all a little less. I like making order out of something that ought not to have order, someplace firm from which to go forward. Because mostly there's so much that means so little.

I like maps so much, after all, and all of these words are really just maps to places that might otherwise be invisible.

Friday, January 21, 2011

You know, Herodotus told us that the fruit of forgetting is all that the Lotophagi eat, that it is sweet and that they also make wine of it. There are a lot of candidates for what the lotus fruit is, exactly, because the Greek word can mean any number of things, but more and more I think that it is all of them. Clovers and persimmons and soporific water-lilies, nettle-trees, thick desert shrubs.

So it would be easy to never make it back out of the land of the lotus eaters, surrounded by hills and meadows and shores filled with something sweetly distracting. Odysseus hauled his sailors off, but I imagine that not one of the men who had tasted the fruit ever really stopped wanting to go back. And I would bet that at least one of the sailors who had been left behind to guard the ship slipped away one day, drawn back to the island by the tales of his companions and the lure of those flowers.

Still, the thing I really want to know is what happened to the Lotophagi, and where to find seeds for all that they grew.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

At first when I woke up and my face didn't quite fit, I didn't think anything of it. It is after all winter, and my habits of both hydration and moisturizing are haphazard at best. My skin often feels incorrectly attached. But now under my skin are all of these secrets, an elephant nose and a sunken treasure ship, five songs and thirteen poems. I'm not sure where they came from, but now they are mine. My skin will just have to learn to adjust.

In Utah last year we reached the salt flats and I squinted for a while at the horizon line, trying to make out its shape. I had read somewhere that it was so flat that you could see the curvature of the earth, which seems suspect to me. I like that this is a thing that we think about, though, all of the places from which you can possibly tell that we are on a planet and not just this ground in front of us. I couldn't tell if it curved anywhere, but the bright hot white stretched out in front of me and I thought about the Donner party, struggling through that land, losing the days in a slow battle that would lead to catastrophe. Even I am not dramatic enough to have seen that as a sign at the time, although I would be lying if I told you that the thought hadn't occurred to me sometimes in the very late nights since.

I've been doing a lot of research on tuberculosis lately, which obviously means I have subsequently being doing a lot of thinking about adaptability, the ways that we keep up and the ways that we are left behind. All of the ways that everything is bigger than we are, even when they're also smaller.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The first rule of fairytales is not to go into the woods alone, so what happened next shouldn't have been surprising, all of the wolves and dead ends and houses made of hundred-year-old candy. But I mean, what else was I supposed to do with this handful of bread crumbs? Seems to me like trails and adventures, or else nothing at all. Wolves made of hundred-year-old candy notwithstanding.

I've been eating mulberries lately, softly dried and by the handful. They say that mulberries are good for your cardiovascular system, so at least if my blood sings in the key of sentimental it will also be tasting of apricots and raisins and perfume. It's better to be delicious if you're going to wander off into becoming a meal. Pyramus and Thisbe were to meet under a mulberry tree, entering the woods alone, and look at what happened to their cardiovascular systems. A handful of bread crumbs wouldn't have helped them, either.

I keep walking holes in the bottom of my shoes and not noticing until the weather veers toward wacky and I end up with really cold toes. Still, I bet this means that my footprints will be recognizable, should you need to find me once the birds have made off with my trails and the hundred-year-old wolves with candy have made off with me.

Monday, January 10, 2011

I keep imagining rats everywhere in the middle of the night, waking fully to find myself standing in the bathroom door staring hard at a dark corner trying to separate the rodents from the shadows. Sitting up straight in bed knowing full well that the shapes beneath my mirror are shoes and yet still believing that they are rats. It amazes me how each time I think my brain has showed me all of its tricks it still manages to pull something new out of its hat.

The sources all say that rats in dreams mean nothing good, that they mean poverty and illness and untrustworthy associates, but the thing is that my dreams are full of dancing. It's only my sleepwalking that teems with rats. Which is probably worse.

I know where the rats are from, but that doesn't seem to be making them go away. The world is full of dangers even where you don't expect them.

I don't usually sleepwalk on vacation, though, so it's lucky that we're planning another trip to our island again, although this trip has gotten much bigger than I would prefer--not only my urban family, but people on the outskirts. This is a distinction only I seem to make ("INFJs are selective about their friends"), but I'm really uncomfortable with the new direction, not being one who believes that more actually equals merrier when so many strong personalities are trapped on an island together. In the end, though, it is neither my plan nor my call, and so I am using it as an opportunity to practice things I am not good at--letting other people make all of the decisions, not investing in the plan. It feels like I'm losing something important, but I'm hoping that if I'm patient enough I will gain something equally valuable. Orcas is made of magic, so anything is possible.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Today was the perihelion, and for once it was sunny, so the sun and I could see each other and chat without any complicated levers and pulleys and baskets and semaphores. The sun leaned in close to listen.

So I told it about the funny little yellow-faced sparrows that have shown up in my trees recently, sparrows who will almost certainly become a nuisance once it's time for plants but who for now spend a lot of time tumbling hilariously on and off of branches. About the patterns left on the side of a building once covered with vines and now empty, white flashes of leaves and roots against the flaking brown paint. I told it about the smells, the sharp curled leaves under a coat of frost, the warm brown smell of a working slow cooker and the soft sweetness of a pear this side of ripe. About Stendhal and crystallization and love, dipping empty branches into salt mines and drawing them out covered in rainbows and sparkle, transformed only for those who have eyes to see them. There aren't any salt mines on the sun, but it knew about them anyway.

I told it that I worry that the places that we bend just trying to get through will ultimately be where we break, that we might not get past all of these brambles, that our eyes are made of glass and our bones cotton candy. That we might end up wrapped in chains just for something to do. I told it about dreaming of bonfires made of bones, burning hot and low and sweet, fogging the air. And all the sparks that we throw, upward by the handfuls, trying to light whatever wherever they come down. Just for the sake of light.

And then I told the sun that I have been reading Rebecca, which is really just a story about letting the weakest parts of you write your narrative, how even though the truth can be bad it's at least what's real. But instead we're protecting ourselves with more dangerous shields, letting those same old brambles pick our way. Which isn't the worst thing, just another one. Something else to keep track of.

The sun told me about its plans for tomorrow's eclipse, a quick dance with the moon and changing eyes all over Europe and North Africa first thing in the morning. Teaching people through spectacle to see everything differently, remember just how much bigger everything else is. How of all the things it looks at from space, these events are almost exclusively the only time anyone is looking back. Putting on a little show just for the sake of transforming for those with eyes to see.

So I shined the sun's dancing shoes and told it three secrets and five wishes, handed it a box filled with sugar and magazines and something cool to drink. In the end it never matters exactly what we say--we always understand each other anyway.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Hey there, 2011.

I'm not sure we knew exactly when you showed up last night, but we counted down in the corner booth at my favorite bar anyway and cheered and kissed. Later, we ended up at a party in a furnitureless apartment covered in paper where people were inexplicably punching phone books, my sequined dress somehow drenched in cheap champagne. A poor life choice or two later I rode home in a cab just before dawn. So far I have spent the majority of you here in my bed with my new laptop, watching movies and listening to the comings and goings of my neighbors.

2011, I'm expecting a lot from you. There are a lot of weddings coming up, a lot of adventures, my final year of grad school. True love and high adventure, right? I'm up for it if you are.