Thursday, September 29, 2011

I hear that in Haiti there are all of these gingerbread houses that survived the earthquake, left standing where everything else had been shaken to rubble. The houses are more than 100 years old and have largely fallen into disrepair, all fading wooden lace and ghosts. Now in the absence of anywhere else to go people are moving back into the gingerbread houses, rehabilitating them and re-imagining all the ways they can be used. Given that it's Haiti, I'm sure everyone will just live alongside the ghosts. Which is an outlook we would probably all do well to learn.

I have been reading a lot of John Muir lately, thanks in part to a really thoughtful birthday present. In one of his essays he talks about a valley with two skies, blue above and an unbroken carpet of gold below, both stretching as far as can be seen. Lately that's how all of these paths are looking, two skies and something lovely in every direction, all wrapped up in the soft approach of fall.

Monday, September 26, 2011

In the night I crept through quiet rooms, stopping to rearrange your strings, wanting to make this game of cats-cradle the easiest to win and lose. My hands are clumsy and my heart worse, and it's not really cheating if you're only stacking the deck a little bit. It's only that I've still just got enough iron under my skin for this one nail, so it would be a shame to let it all go to waste. There are so many things that can be fastened by so little.

The answer lies somewhere in those strings, wrapped around your heart thumping sweetly in your chest. I have every intention of creeping in as often as possible to move them around, to make more room for the winning hand. And if while I'm in there rearranging I happen to expose a tiny golden frog or untold treasures, well, that will just be one more good thing to add to the list.

If I were to come with a set of instructions, they would tell you to look for me in the maps without oceans, where the territory that falls off the edge is the same as what starts over again on the other side. They would point to my own heart and its uneven wobble, to the chambers all full of gold dust and candy. They would tell you to look for me, scattered, sown broadly across the land, becoming strong in the sun and the rain and torn backwards by the wind. Some assembly required, certainly, but perhaps not recommended.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tomorrow I start my last quarter of graduate school, and if I had it to do over again I would definitely rethink the also working full time aspect of things. It must be easier to do one thing at a time, instead of all of the things at once. I'm feeling spread thin, and there already wasn't much of me to go around.

Still, it's funny to think back to the start of it all, to the summer of not overthinking and all of the ways things have not changed. I've made it almost all the way over this mountain, and still I don't quite know where these foothills lead. To somewhere better, I hope, or at least brighter.

During the summer that this all began I was also supposed to be writing a horror movie with a friend. I've still never seen a horror movie all the way through, and I also still haven't written one. Maybe the ends of all of my paths are covered in haze. Maybe they just don't have ends.

Friday, September 16, 2011

I started an ant farm last week--because this year I turned eight and started an ant farm and tap dancing lessons--and the main thing I have learned is that nature is even more inscrutable than I thought. I could chalk this up to the fact that these ants are living in space gel instead of dirt, but I feel like they would have responded in pretty much the same way. The very first thing those ants did as soon as I dumped them, chilly and hazy, into the tank, was to build themselves a tower. And even though they have since dedicated some time to constructing tunnels, they have devoted equally as much time trying to figure a way out.

This isn't a thing mentioned in any materials anywhere, how determined these ants might be with their giant jaws to chew their way through the rubber seal and then presumably through the plastic above it, and so I'm not really sure how to respond to it. For the moment I'm content to let them work it out on their own, but I worry that there will come a time not too far from now that they figure out how to break free, standing on each others tiny shoulders and eating their way out. Fortified by space gel, it'll probably only be a matter of moments after that that they will also eat their way through me.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I have all of these secrets, all of these things to say that, honestly, will probably turn out to be untrue some time in the near future. No matter how true they are right now. I've been thinking up ways to preserve them and see if they keep. What if what's true now keeps being true? Stranger things have happened, I'm sure. Somewhere. Ghost ships might mean storms, but then they might also mean that the atmosphere has gone perfect for just a little while.

Anyway, what I want to do is write all of these secrets down and plant them next to something that flowers soft and small and sweet. If it grows with those words printed all over those petals, I'll know for sure. At least, as sure as I ever know anything.

But about those ghost ships and their atmosphere. I was reading about Fata Morgana the other day, the trickiest kind of mirage, where you could be seeing basically anything at all that's not actually there and believing that it's real. Over and over and over again, sometimes. Upside down and backwards all at once, and totally solid all the way through until you get there, which of course you never can. Because the atmosphere is tricky like that. This kind of thing caused all sorts of problems for explorers, naming mirages after people and mounting expeditions to find lands that don't actually exist no matter how real they look through your binoculars.

I'd be perfectly happy to go and check on what exactly it is that's just over the horizon, casting these reflections, if only it would stop slipping ever so slightly out of reach.

Friday, September 09, 2011

It was only after you proposed a new adventure that I paused, caught in the puzzlingly indestructible beam of your glance. And here I had thought it was just the sunlight filtering down through the trees, all this time. Had I turned just a moment later I might have crashed into that beam and smashed all the plates in my hand, never really understanding that what was getting in the way was only how you were looking at me. But I saw, and everything shifted, and it turned out there was adventure just in front of me where before I had only seen tables and chairs. In the usual way.

Last night I went to look at some Bierstadt paintings, glowing sweetly through all of the rooms. It's probably not surprising that my favorite was the one that turned out to be almost entirely imagined, a landscape based on what he thought rather than what he had actually seen.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Science speculates on what happened to the magnetic field of Mars, whether it was catastrophic or slow enough that no one noticed. Did a giant asteroid or two knock the heat flow in the middle out of commission? We know that it had a magnetic field once, and that without it it has ever since been systematically stripped of atmosphere and water and tiny televisions and shades of green, we just can't be sure what made it up and leave one day. I imagine that being a magnetic field is not particularly interesting, always guiding everything else and only staying put, and so I find it likely that it used the asteroids as an escape and is still out there somewhere, touring the universe.

The better story lies somewhere in what would happen if it came back.