they hold landscaping contests and give out awards like "Best Decorated" or "Best Lawn" for those giddy, golddigging housewives to display in front of their whitewashed houses on signs stuck in front of their houses.
Where I live,
girls get cars for their 16th birthdays, boys inherit the businesses of their fathers, relatives fly in from far away states for holiday, and they all dress up to go to church every Sunday morning.
Where I live,
happy mittened children help their fathers hang lights from their roofs in icicle formations 25 days before Christmas while their adolescent siblings get drunk off of eggnog at house parties when they come back from school.
Where I live,
children write letters to Santa and sleep soundly in snowflake pajamas on Christmas Eve, knowing that everything they wrote in those letters will be wrapped in colorful packages by the morning.
Where I live,
we put the tree in front of the downstairs window to display for the others,
so perhaps, they will all believe that behind the locked doors of 118, there are also fires in the fireplace, those happy mittened children, a mother baking cookies, and presents underneath the fake, plastic tree.
It has been tugging at my brain, and I've figured it out.
My indifference funk this time isn't as much random as it is subconsciously premeditated.
It's a defense mechanism.
Because I can't afford to feel certain things, this time. I can't afford to have expectations, because I can't afford to lose expectations. I am in some small degree of trauma recovery, and my brain understood that before I did.
And because we can't choose to be selectively indifferent, here I am. How I am.
So perhaps, this time, instead of trying to fight indifference as I usually do,
I was strange, restless, but not restless in a good way. Restless in a lost way. Like I had to find somewhere I felt comfortable, because I couldn't seem to feel comfortable where I was.
It happens fairly frequently to me, every once in a while. There are some days when I'm just in a funk. I guess this was one of those days.
It was a sort of indifferent funk. I've been in it for about a week. I couldn't walk it off, nor could I sleep it off. Watching Holocaust movies didn't even work.
So I took the elevator to the top floor of the second-highest building around. And then I took the stairs to the roof. And then I climbed a 50-foot vertical ladder to an even taller portion of the roof with a book of 18th-century prose in my hand.
And then I felt.
As I climbed that tall ladder with a huge book in one hand and my other gripping tightly to the frozen cold metal rail of the ladder, I felt.
It was fear, but it wasn't indifference. Anything is better than indifference.
Maybe it was the knowledge that the only thing that kept me from dropping to a miserable, inevitable death was my one, shaking hand grasping onto one side of the ladder above my head and my two, shaking feet standing on the rung below.
But it was a rush, a rush of exhilaration stemming from the knowledge that my sole, short existence rested in the grip of one hand, literally. Knowing that I could drop abysmally though the gray, chilly air at any moment, and knowing that it was very possible.
Knowing that with each rung I climbed, I was a couple steps closer to death, closer to teetering on the edge, closer to not ever being able to finish the story I was reading.
I was too sick to drink coffee that day, believe it or not.
We stopped in Starbucks for some Tazo. I never really buy tea. I'm not sure why.
I was sleep-deprived, physically exhausted, garbed in huge basketball shorts that did not belong to me. My hair was down in a wavy mess, my eyes ringed with my smeared black eyeliner. Good thing I felt far too awful to care what I looked like. I probably resembled a cross between a racoon and a crack addict.
"What can I get for you?" The attractive dirty-blonde male behind the counter looked so cheery and clean-cut. That's one thing about everyone who works at Starbucks — they all look put-together, as if someone just clipped them out of the Christmas edition of magazines and put them behind counters to sell muffins and caffeinated drinks in pretentious flavors.
His appearance contrasted mine dramatically. He seemed to realize it.
"Hi, I just want a tea."
He stared at me for a brief second.
"I don't really know what weird flavors you guys have, and I don't care. I'm just really sick right now, and I want tea."
He glanced at me sympathetically, the frazzled mess on the other side of the counter, as if I were an absolute nut. But a tolerable one.
"Well, if you're looking for something ordinary, we've got Earl Grey. If you want something more soothing for a sore throat, you can go with a peppermint tea or the China green tips, which is just a plain green tea. We also have some other flavors. It depends on what you're in the mood for."
Fucking tea doctor.
"You know, why don't you just pick one for me? Surprise me."
He paused for a moment, as if he was trying to think of an answer to a hard problem, and looked me up and down with his piercing eyes. I suddenly felt oddly exposed, naked.
He reached for a cup and smiled.
"You seem like a Zen kind of person."
I never figured out what that meant. But the tea was fantastic.
It was cold. Not too cold, though. For once, it actually felt like autumn, a season we only get a brief glimpse of where we live.
There was nobody around. It made sense — after all, it was well past midnight on a Monday night.
But there we stood, four people on the rooftop of an 8-story building. It was just us and the loud whistle of the night wind that threatened to sweep us off our precarious balance on the top of the city. The city, if one could call it that. But even dilapidated cities look like real cities at midnight, when all we could see were the small dots on streetlights and skyscrapers that surrounded us in the distance. We could pretend we were somewhere bigger.
We could pretend we were something bigger.
But maybe we were bigger that night. Maybe there was something that felt bigger, as we took a bottle, a pack of Blacks and an anthology of Updike short stories and impulsively climbed the rungs of a tall ladder to the top of the world.
Maybe it was the fact that we didn't know the answer to "what's next?" that made us feel bigger, as if we, four people searching for everything and nothing at the same time, wielded the power of the unknown. As if we held, just for a brief moment on that windy night, the driving force of the world in our palms.
As if we suddenly realized what it meant to seem big and small at the same time. Powerful, yet insignificant. Omnipotent, but clueless. We felt infinite, but at the same time, terrifyingly mortal. A terror that we embraced, that we turned into a still calm,
Not that I needed Jung to tell me what kind of person I was, but it appears that he had me all figured out from the beginning.
Apparently, my personality is consistent with 3.3% of the human population.
INTPs live in the world of theoretical possibilities. They see everything in terms of how it could be improved, or what it could be turned into. They live primarily inside their own minds, having the ability to analyze difficult problems, identify patterns, and come up with logical explanations. They seek clarity in everything, and are therefore driven to build knowledge. They are the "absent-minded professors", who highly value intelligence and the ability to apply logic to theories to find solutions. They typically are so strongly driven to turn problems into logical explanations, that they live much of their lives within their own heads, and may not place as much importance or value on the external world. Their natural drive to turn theories into concrete understanding may turn into a feeling of personal responsibility to solve theoretical problems, and help society move towards a higher understanding.
INTPs value knowledge above all else. Their minds are constantly working to generate new theories, or to prove or disprove existing theories. They approach problems and theories with enthusiasm and skepticism, ignoring existing rules and opinions and defining their own approach to the resolution. They seek patterns and logical explanations for anything that interests them. They're usually extremely bright, and able to be objectively critical in their analysis. They love new ideas, and become very excited over abstractions and theories. They love to discuss these concepts with others. They may seem "dreamy" and distant to others, because they spend a lot of time inside their minds musing over theories. They hate to work on routine things - they would much prefer to build complex theoretical solutions, and leave the implementation of the system to others. They are intensely interested in theory, and will put forth tremendous amounts of time and energy into finding a solution to a problem with has piqued their interest.
For the INTP, it is extremely important that ideas and facts are expressed correctly and succinctly. They are likely to express themselves in what they believe to be absolute truths. Sometimes, their well thought-out understanding of an idea is not easily understandable by others, but the INTP is not naturally likely to tailor the truth so as to explain it in an understandable way to others. The INTP may be prone to abandoning a project once they have figured it out, moving on to the next thing. It's important that the INTP place importance on expressing their developed theories in understandable ways. In the end, an amazing discovery means nothing if you are the only person who understands it.
The INTP is usually very independent, unconventional, and original. They are not likely to place much value on traditional goals such as popularity and security. They usually have complex characters, and may tend to be restless and temperamental. They are strongly ingenious, and have unconventional thought patterns which allows them to analyze ideas in new ways. Consequently, a lot of scientific breakthroughs in the world have been made by the INTP.
The INTP is at his best when he can work on his theories independently. When given an environment which supports his creative genius and possible eccentricity, the INTP can accomplish truly remarkable things. These are the pioneers of new thoughts in our society.
I can't feel anything. There are too many books on my skin. I just want to sleep a slow, long slumber. But the silly girls and their pageant stances — they're stopping me. And so is the rock ricocheting in my head. I can't cough out the ash from my lungs, nor is it ever warm enough in the winter.
It's terrible that I wonder, when I stumble across photos, "Well, did you fuck her, too?" It's worse that I don't care. Or maybe it's better.
The air in the room is too dry to breathe. This time of night doesn't foster coherence. All the better. Let's just all stay enigmatic.
You keep to your side; I'll keep to mine.
Not that you could ever scale the walls around me anyways.
I guess there's not much anyone can do for a zombie with a death wish. And we can't all be modern-day Picassos.
People always, always say that language has limitations.
I've never disagreed more.
For me, language has never had any limitations. Every emotion, no matter how strange or obscure or powerful, can be described through words. It might take hundreds of lines of poetry, or perhaps a saga, but nonetheless, it can be done. One just has to know how to use the language in a way that conveys the nuances or sets a tone that will make your frequency resonate on the same frequency of the reader.
Which means you have to feel what you write.
When I say 'feel,' I mean it in the most profound sense of the term. It doesn't matter what you're writing. You have to strip down all your inhibitions to write. Everything that eventually comes out of your fingertips should first make its way through every bone in your body. You need to feel an adrenaline rush when you write, feel your mind tracing every word on the paper.
You need to feel the frustration of trying to arrange and rearrange your words so you can fine-tune to that perfect frequency.
And when you've achieved that perfection, you should feel drained, emotionally and mentally and physically, as if you've just run a 5K through a tornado.
Drained, but ready to do it again.
And when your readers read your writing and realize instantly that they feel the exact feeling you're conveying, then you know you've succeeded.
I think I write because it's a high. Because it's a challenge.
Because I want to see if I ever hit the barrier between words and emotions, and if I do, I want to tear them down.
I've never been that stable, you see. But neither was Beethoven. Nor Picasso. Nor Poe. Nor Hemingway. What's the fun in watching sailboats and sunsets all the time? Placidity never much suited me. I'm not sure what it is.
They tell me I was wired wrong. You're the odd one out, they said.You're strange. Maybe my brain was knitted with the threads of tornadoes. Woven nets of Expressionistic art, quietly catching all the passions of the Greek gods in its complicated trap. I have prickly bramble for grey matter, Tsunamis for cerebral fluid, stirring up my calm, rational thoughts until they're nothing of the sort.
If David Hume were still alive, I'd have him over for champagne. Perhaps he'd like Pour le Piano, too.
"No matter what the passion is: let it be disagreeable, afflicting, melancholy, disordered; it is still better than that insipid languor which arises from perfect tranquillity and repose."
Give me anything but slow slumber, for that is what wears me out the quickest.
Come to me, all silent sailors, if your seas are still tonight, if the world's not big enough for you, if infinity is at your fingertips, but not in your grasp. Come to me if you want to rip the electrodes off your pulse. We can run together to the arhythmic beats of our restless hearts.
We'll build a canoe with those dead, languid lives. We'll row our way to the Netherworlds. Or Jupiter. And then we'll catch them in nets, every fiery tragedy, every subliminal flight, until our backpacks are full. Until we have to hold those brilliant stars, like tiny crystals, in our hands.
I wish I looked that good in bandanas. Or in the clothes I danced in and slept in last night. Your voice sounds like the tinkling of small, silver bells. It goes perfectly with your tiny frame. You could almost pass as a ten year-old girl.
But your eyes give it away. Strange, blue eyes that look vacant until you speak. Then they look like they hold so many truths. Or maybe they just reflect the disorganized mess in your head, only sounding like truths because while we all hide our messes, you embrace yours.
There is something comforting about talking to you. Something deeper and more sincere in the way you ask questions that normal people wouldn't ask. But they sound normal coming out of your mouth. Just like nobody else could dance like that and not look like a whore. But you looked natural, as if it was something that humans were supposed to do. Don't ask me why. I couldn't tell you.
I couldn't tell you why you seem so artificial, not in a fake way, but in a department-store-toy-that-came-to-life way. As if someone dragged out the corners of a girl's doll to make you just large enough to pass as a real person. As if you don't need to eat, you don't need to sleep.
All you need to do is paint and laugh and ask strange questions to survive.
and I'm sure that for a brief hour, if the world had ended, we would've all died happy.
The night was cold.
Your room was cold, and so were you.
I wish I had taken fewer shots so it wouldn't be so blurred in my memory.
But try as I might, I couldn't make falling asleep on the couch afterwards while you made spaghetti
anything particularly beautiful.
That was all I could think about on the ride back,
trying not to think about trying not to think about you.
What was particularly beautiful, though, was the moon the night I got back, a canary-yellow orb suspended midway between the sky and the ground, cool wind blowing my wet hair and parched skin.It's impossible not to be happy on a night like this.
But I went back to my room and wept like a child who just lost a valuable possession.
Because it's exciting, I told all the curious onlookers, the nonchalant spectators in the stand. Because it's good for my studies. It'll help me get a job. Or if not a job, at least a double-take on my grad-school applications. Because I am ambitious.
Because I am restless and can never be in one place for too long.
Because I am hungry to see more, learn more.
Because my stage is never big enough.
Because I want a challenge.
Or is that what it really is? I asked myself quietly when they all went home. Is that all there is to it?
Or is the real reason because the plug has been pulled for so long that you don't know how to reconnect, so now you're left running, jumping, leaping from change to change in attempts to find change of the right size?
Because it's not that you're restless, but rather you're a little, unanchored girl, floating around in hopes of bumping into your roots.
Because you want escapism and this is the only way you know how to get it?
I don't know. I haven't figured out the answer yet.
I'd bleed it from my veins if you cut me, probably, sweat it from my pores, Every dark, bitter drop that flowed from my skin would engulf me. I crave it psychologically as strongly as a crack addict craves cocaine physically. Perhaps I'm high, too.
High on life. Not in the way most people use that phrase. People who say that are usually partiers, extroverts, or people who soak in other people like sponges. People who thrive off of bustling days and colorful lights and social interactions and sunny days. Non, pas moi. I'm no extrovert.
I'm high on life in all it's hidden, overlooked splendor, as bitter and dark as the drink that fuels my body every morning, every night. On the art in shadows, on listening to French music at midnight, on being able to laugh at spiteful hatred, on the feeling of being able to feel accomplished even though every bone in my body is threatening to collapse from not sleeping for days. On the smell of the worn pages of a book. On the feeling of silent, quiet growth.
On feeling like I am holding something others can't see, but not knowing what it is at all.
And on drinking coffee alone at midday, feeling like it's completely okay that I don't.
Who thinks with the other side of his brain, You're not of this world either— I can see things like this, just like you can see through walls with that stoic stare. The stare
that can bring down towers as quietly as you walk. And talk. But not like your thoughts. They're loud. I can hear them rattling around, I can see you rattling around behind those bars. It's almost like looking in a mirror miles and miles away.
Do you exist in colors, too? In large sheets of canvas and broken pastels? Perhaps your world, too, is bottled and corked powder that you mix with lemon juice to pour over that pale skin that probably hasn't seen the sun in years.
Are you ghostlike and enigmatic, lost in a flurry of your own nondescript thoughts, scribbling your way to Freedom (or perhaps to Europe) in spiral-bound notebooks?
Maybe Debussy should title a piece after you too. I would play it in the dismal hours of morning, while you're asleep with the rest of the world. I'd tiptoe quietly to your doorstep on my fingertips, hoping that 88 ivory keys may be just enough
"Why the hell do you write, M.W.? Why would you throw your thoughts out there forcefully into a gaping abyss and hope that it will somehow matter, whether it's now or in the long run? Why do you constantly insist on putting yourself in direct line of fire from the opposition?
Why do you spend endless, grueling, long hours sitting in front of a screen, tearing your brains out, trying to format your convoluted thoughts into something mildly coherent for all those crazy people out there to read?"
And then I answer myself:
Because you're crazy, too, and you give a shit.
And then I chastise myself for ever feeling the need to ask those questions.
At a strange house with strange people that we don't really mesh with. In a strange backyard
at a strange time of night with a dying fire and stale chips and spiked drinks.
Or maybe we feel free because of all that.
Because after a few hours and a few cups, strange people and strange places don't seem so strange anymore. And all that we would find hedonistic and despicable and uninteresting suddenly feels like art of a dark and mysterious form.
And then we're nothing but characters in a pencil-sketch, controlled by an artist.
And we're suddenly okay with that.
And even though we're walking around in a gritty, colorless world that has been smeared by the side of someone's hand, we feel like it's home.
Like there's no other place that could possibly be more comfortable than this odd, nondescript setting, where literature is more clear, and people are more beautiful, and a dying flame looks like a forest fire, and crass music starts to resonate with us when it would never have before.
And then you're more interesting, and I'm more interesting, and you're not really a stranger anymore because when the world is less strange, you're more transparent too. And I like the feeling of a not-really-stranger's hand in mine, though meaningless it may be.
But somehow, I don't want to believe that it was. Even though you'll wake up the next day, shaking off that pencil-sketch world like an artist shakes off a bad day of painting, and I'll wake up and rinse the embers off my fiery skin. And even though we'll go back to walking on either side of those railroad tracks,
somehow I'm still going to be left hoping that they're not perfectly parallel.
I am red-eyed, tight-lipped, searching, searching.
Born from the womb a silent mess.
Gales of wind and throngs of flames slashing through the treetops. The wildest storms that pitch burly men off shipsides and tear the shoeless from their mud-thatched homes. Hemingway and Keats and Poe and Aristotle and Huxeley and Plato. Tangled philosophies, morals erased and rewritten and erased and rewritten. Poets and storms and anger and love crumpled up and shoved into a
neat, clean skin.
Stretched and bound, like a new, leather journal. Wrinkleless, smooth.
Bottled and corked tightly, a crisp sauvignon. Corked so tightly, as a matter of fact, that it can't be drunk.
It's just as well.
There's too much strife in Pandora's box. Too much love and too much hate and too much music
and far, far too much poetry.
Of course, that's the most dangerous of them all.
So here I'll sit, corked and calm, tasting the color of the tornado in my gut.
Maybe one day, the plug will be pulled. My god, may the world be spared. But maybe it won't
and until that hypothetical, unknown day.......
I am waiting; you are waiting. For what? I don't know. Or maybe I do.
"I am quietly waiting for the catastrophe of my personality to seem beautiful again, and interesting, and modern."
The world feels so large today. So unbearably large.
So large that it seems like no matter what I do, no matter who I meet, no matter how many ladders I try to construct or nights I spend in small rooms with loud music, sputtering on liquid Lethe,
I will never be able to bridge the oceans or sew together that horrible gap of vast nothingness between me and everything else.
Where are you? Will I ever find you in the 7 billion people out there?
What is destiny but coincidence?
Odysseus said "Men are haunted by the vastness of eternity." Is it bad that it is not eternity's vastness that haunts me but rather the vastness of what is now?
The vastness of human possibility, the vastness of all that we can't achieve, the vastness of everyone I will never meet, the vastness of the ground I will never cover, the things I will never do. I usually don't think this way. I usually soak in and rejoice in the large unknown. I usually celebrate it.
It's amazing how many words you can speak without actually saying anything.
Endless rambles in attempts to connect a 3-pronged plug to a 2-slotted socket. Endless nights of hollow laughs and empty folly. Wrong words, wrong people, wrong places. And then you walk back home, trying not to admit it to yourself, but realizing deep down that somewhere in there, you're asking
Because in the end, you ultimately realize how much you wasted the precious time that ticked away through the cracks between your sore fingers, tired from playing the strings of the instruments that were not yours to play, melodies that you did not enjoy hearing. And then you realize that the more you speak, the less you sound like you and the more you sound like the tall, brunette down the street who owned a silver Lexus that her father bought for her, that beautiful, shiny car that you looked for on her driveway every time your mother drove you home from school. But, of course, it was rarely ever there because she was rarely ever home, and that upset you more than anything. No, it wasn't because you were jealous, you told yourself. Not at all.
But the more you speak, the less you sound like her and the more you sound like the girl in your economics class who used to always pick at her purple nail polish and talk about boyfriends she didn't have until her sister died in a freakish highway accident after running into a cement truck and getting suffocated in wet cement.
And your words disgust you, so you run to the sink and brush your teeth and wash your face, trying desperately and futilely to wash off the layer of skin that's not yours because it makes you itch terribly. And you realize you can't even remember the name of the nice boy with the red hair who sat there quietly, the one you ignored because he couldn't get you a six-pack and because he drove a slow car, not a fast one, and wasn't eager to hand out his number in a heartbeat like the others were.
So you crawl into bed, a tangled marionette, telling yourself that you won't do this again, but knowing that you will anyways because you don't know how else to do things and you're much, much too frightened to wake up and realize that it's okay to be alone because nobody ever told you it was.
It's too quiet here. Sometimes, quiet is good. Very good.
But sometimes, especially on those nights when the whole world seems to be in a pacified slumber and you're still sitting painfully restless in front of the computer,
wishing you had a giant cheeseburger and wishing you could sleep and wishing you could get over your crippling case of writersblock and wishing that there weren't so many damn crickets outside your window,
that's when quiet is bad.
That's when you log onto Facebook and start clicking "older posts" over and over and over again, not because you want to, but because you want to be somewhere louder, noisier, and there's nowhere else to go.
And then that's when the thoughts get so loud that even cricket rock concerts can't drown them out, and they progress from being situational to fundamental. Something along the lines of:
Why can't I have a cheeseburger? I'm really, really super hungry and super restless and why does my best friend have to be on vacation right now and why is it only me who suffers from this kind of insomnia and why aren't other people brains as strange and screwy as mine and why can't I write poetry right now and why can't I just make up my mind on what to do and why do I want to call him so badly and why didn't he fight for me and why did I never get a shot at that constant, exhuberant happiness that
so many people are wrapped up in and why must I always defy what is normal and healthy and
why do I think so much and why are people so stupid and why is the world so unfair and where is God And why am I here?
As you see, it's a dangerous, lonesome progression of thinking that leaves you with much larger and much more complex questions that what you had started out with.
The very worst part is, even after these long hours of circular, wandering thinking as you sit there zombielike, listening to an old, saxophony version of Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, you realize that you still have no answers to anything at all.
Flash, rumble, pound, shake. It's funny how dark it gets before the sky lights up, rattling trees, starting fires, shaking souls right out of the bodies of those eager onlookers, who peer sallow faces out of grimy bedroom windows, hoping that catharsis will come, not in the form of another oversung song or a colorful piece of Romanticism artwork, not in the form of tears or poetry or star gazing over rustic bridges, or the grand mess of glorified nothingness shot out of a satellite dish, but instead in the form a splitting tree, a city shaking from the force of something much larger than we will ever be.
I heard an amazing piece of music today, and I wanted to share it with you. But... I couldn't. So I had to share it with someone else, someone else who I knew didn't understand it as soon as this person said, "Yeah, that's kinda cool". I wanted to pick up the phone and tell you about a poem that I read -a poem that made melancholy feel tangible, a poem that made darkness feel bright, a poem that made rain taste like wine- but I couldn't. So I tried to share it with other people, all of whom said, "I'll look it up later." Of course, I knew they wouldn't.
Because how am I supposed to explain that a part of that tangible melancholy and a part of that bright darkness will always be laced into every faintly glimmering brainthread that you tread so heavily across?
How will those pixilated pictures of you ever stop wringing out my lungs unless I forget what you look like, forget that childish tree-climbing somehow made me grow up faster, forget that you never even heard me play the third movement of the Moonlight Sonata, forget there ever was a lonesome goatherd, strumming guitar strings for me on front steps,
who taught me how to say what I needed to say, even though it nearly killed me.
There are few things in the world that can make one feel more insignificant than being on an airplane.
If you’ve never been on a plane，it’s difficult to describe how the earth looks from 18，000 feet up in the atmosphere. Cars look like ants until they disappear. Then houses look like ants until they disappear into huge patches of green. And then the Golden Gate looks like dental floss and the Himalayas look like snow-capped Hershey’s kisses. And then countries blend into countries that blend into oceans and pretty soon, the overwhelming feeling of insignificance suddenly hits and you’re thinking，“Whoa, I really don’t matter in this world.”
It’s a terrible but simultaneously awesome thing to realize that the world is so big that continuously journeying for your entire life won’t even allow you to cover half of Earth’s surface or see 1/1000000000 of the people who live on it.
We, as relatively privileged people on this planet，are conditioned to believe that individually, we make a big difference in the world and we matter a whole lot. But somehow，18000 feet up in the air, I didn’t feel so sure of that at all. Up in the air, my previous illusions of grandeur were just as concrete as the obscure layers of the atmosphere I found myself embedded in.
We live our lives entrapped in microscopic bubbles. It’s not a small world at all, despite what they always say. It’s only small because we make it that way, trekking through our petty lives from one short day to the next, hoping that the few good friends we make and the few good deeds we do will change the world in one beautiful and bombastic instant.
Dream on, all you poets and artists, philosophers and orators. You can use all your mindpower and willpower, engineers and doctors, but there will always be corners that your tendrils of knowledge will not reach.
And sometimes it takes a window seat on an airplane to remind yourself of that.
Bittersweet days: highly anticipated before its arrival, deeply resented upon its arrival.
Bittersweet tastes like those goodbye melodies that linger on our tongues, the I'll-see-you-soons and good lucks, Stinging
our tongues like the tears that run silently into our mouths, our hearts like that sudden realization we all knew would arrive.
Because bittersweet means hard goodbyes but at the same time joy and deep gratefulness that we have people in our lives that are so hard to say goodbye to. Bittersweet means facing the final arrival of an anticipated and planned day but at the same time meeting a new anticipation of many more unplanned days.
Bittersweet is the feeling of being finished and the feeling of just starting of fear and excitement and deep sorrow and grand elation mingled together into one tumultuous tumble
They all knelt before you- O Holy Queen, O righteous reign. To the cloth that wrapped your mottled feet, Teach us, teach us, they said. Take our sandy morals and make them mud, And then we'll pray together.
Deliver us, daughter of Ethbaal, show us how to sell our masks to the gods where cedars line the road, how to sing Ahab's songs to the tarnished noblemen of the tap-house where you taunted them with your dance til the sun rose into a sharp, black sky.
But where is God? Where is God? Is he blind that he cannot see just as Ahab could not, just as you could not, Temptress of Jezreel. Does he not have eyes left for the dirt that clothes the naked land, the naked backs and blind Samsons crawling over the parched cracks of your forsaken earth?
Who will save us now, O Jezebel? Bring down your shrines of sculpted plaster so if the Heavens close the filthy gates to the lepers again we can die together, all wrapped in Sodom's rubies, our bodies painted with Gemorrah's molten silver.
There's a coffeeshop in the small town in which I currently reside.
People are all about Starbucks these days, the overpriced green logo that decorates a five-dollar cup of coffee, the new drive-through windows from which you can order your caramel macchiato or peppermint frappuccino or whatever the hell sugary, fruity, festive flavor draws the masses the most.
I'm not talking about that kind of coffeeshop, the kind that smells like coffee but feels like money. This one is nothing like that.
This one has a tiny stage, large enough to fit three performers standing up, at most, and a chess table in the back. This one has Christmas lights strung up, whether it's Christmas or not. This one has ripped couches, a broken typewriter on a shelf, an unused piano in the corner, still-life paintings on the wall, and books everywhere.
I've been to lots of cafes. Cafes in Paris outdoors, cafes in Germany overlooking the city. But still none can compare to this small coffeeshop out in the middle of nowhere, America.
I took my schoolbooks there, ordered a coffee-of-the-day with a side of espresso beans, and found a seat in the corner. A dressed-up couple was playing a pre-prom game of chess and being taught tips by a seven-year old.
Old people, young people, dates, friends, in, out, in, out. The place was alive with a sense of vigorous vitality, but at the same time, a woman sat silently in the corner typing out emails. The chocolate coated espresso beans. Bitter coffee and sugar. A balance that can only be experienced alone at night.
A small oasis amidst a violently sinking shoreline.
I'm not sure what it was, but somehow tonight, with the sound of grinding coffee beans over the indie music playing overhead and sitting on a cool chair in a warm room, it felt like summer.
Glamour doesn't only exist in a big city; you don't have to climb a mountain to see beauty. Class can be found outside the soirees of Paris and the stages of Broadway.
It was all there, sitting at my table on a high, wooden chair at the coffeeshop at ten at night.
"Let go", they say. "Those silly ideals, those high hopes. You were brainwashed for so many years. Now you see how the world really is. It's wonderful here- we promise."
No. Nonononono. Not right now.
What-ifs and regrets and those silly ideals and high hopes. Let me choke for a little while longer on them. I'm not ready to face a reality made of crisp, green paper and plastic faces yet. She didn't have to accept it. Nor did she. I'm not old enough to find as much injustice as I have.
Maybe those were silly ideals and high hopes and great expectations. Maybe they were beliefs founded on empty shells, on visions of romance, on prestige and infinite knowledge, on anticipations of nightlife in the city and a thriving youth,
on a desire to go far, far away from this tiny, smothering town in the middle of nowhere, to go somewhere I could release my mind, finally.
But those silly ideals were still mine for 12 whole years. I'm not that old, but even I know that 12 years holds a lot to let go of.
Glamor, they said you would get. Bright lights and noise and sequins that reflected the stagelights all the way to the floor.
Tall buildings, you said you had always dreamed of. A brightly lit New York skyline, wine in tall glasses on Tuesday nights at 3am. Taxis to take you home from work on rainy days back to your apartment, where men would wait to open doors for you.
You would get to travel the world like you always wanted. From San Francisco to Rome in Business Class, of course. They would serve you tiny dishes with utensils you had never seen, a spoonful of romance for dessert.
Cities of love, cities of lights, cities of life.
How long was it after you stepped out of that crowded bus after a sixteen-hour drive before you realized that your lipstick smeared and the glitter from your dress fell off when you walked? And the tall buildings still seemed so far away as you stumbled, drunken and alone, down the street at 3 am back to your apartment, your small, white shoes blackening in the sludge, to shove a frozen dinner haphazardly into the microwave while you washed the makeup off your face in the sink
grimly waiting for the morning when you'd do it all over again
"I bet your shirt will shrink in the wash" was the first thing to cross my mind.
All 100% of that cotton under my palms was what I was aware of the most.
The brain shuts off certain sensations and focuses specifically on certain others at one time. It's an intentional mechanism, built in ingeniously to avoid an otherwise overwhelming flooding of the senses that would prevent us from functioning.
Perhaps that's what my brain was doing, shutting off the sound of the trees that rustled in the pre-summer atmosphere, the feel of those airy tendrils that swept around my shins.
Perhaps it was just trying to shut out the feeling of fingers in my tangled hair that were not my own, trying to shut out the sense of gripping familiarity that locked me in its arms
while the scent of a warm front and trees and rum and laundry detergent filled my lungs and threatened to drown me
so that all I did sense were the soft, white threads of a stranger's cotton shirt against a blurry darkness.
Ten days to weigh options, balance pros and cons, to try to take a stab at what my future five years ahead is going to be like. Ten days to make an irrevocable decision Ten days to script my life Ten days to justify my past twelve years Ten days Ten days Ten days
I've never wanted to see my future. Somehow, the thought of knowing exactly what my future holds in store for me has always terrified me. But right now, I really wish I had a more concrete idea.
Ten days left, and I need to make the right decision.
-As much of a coffee junkie that I am, I will say this admittedly: Coffee is an ego booster. It symbolizes either a) a refined and cultured individual (if you're European), or b) a driven, fast-paced person (if you're American), or c) an addict (if you really are a caffeine addict). But see, what I've found in my life so far is that people usually drink coffee to give the impression that they're in categories a or b, whether they really are or not. It just feels good to walk into public with a cup of Starbucks in your hand, which is why a lot of people do it.
-I have immense respect for people who can write quality free-verse poetry. It gives me a kick when I log onto a site and end up reading something like this: "The fire of love burns through my soul painfully...."
Don't get me wrong- I'm no great shake at writing free-verse either, which is why I avoid it. Besides, I think rhymed and metered poetry sounds better. I usually associate those who write free-verse with those who are too lazy to bother rhyming and metering their poetry, because it's pretty hard. But there are some people who can make their free-verse sound like music, and those are the people I really envy. There are quite of few of these people on the blogosphere, I've found.
-I can't, for the life of me, understand the American desire to get tan. There are lots of things about American culture that I don't understand, but that's probably one of the tops on the list. What on earth are people thinking when they lay out in the sun with tanning oil for hours and hours to return home in pain, crispy burnt, and with a 70% higher chance of getting cancer? To what purpose?! To look browner in their youth, and more wrinkled and saggy in their old age? Let me redefine insanity for you here.....
-Speaking of America.... I love when vehement socialism-haters don't realize that America has been exhibiting so much socialist behavior for a very long time already. For example, college tuition- wait, I'm not even going to get into that. I'm too busy/sick to spend time on a political-economic rant.
I was told that my blog was getting increasingly depressing as of late, which is not how I want my readers to feel. I'm going to lighten the mood.
I often browse my photo archive to look at pictures from the four countries I visited last summer, because I can't really get enough of them. It's just so mindblowing to me that there are places so beautiful that exist in the world. WHY DON'T I LIVE IN THESE PLACES? One day, my friends, one day. To all my European comrades, you guys really are fortunate, so don't take it too much for granted.
I've been accused of being a Europhile, but how could one not be after looking at places like these?
It felt so familiar: the sound of silence and darkness and crickets past-midnight, the smell of the musky air transitioning from winter to spring, the sparse orange streetlights, the rocks and asphalt crunching under my light steps.
Even the question of Why am I doing this? was familiar as it flashed through my head. And it irritated me more that even though I asked that question, I still did it. You have no self-control, I chastised myself angrily.
I could walk that path in my sleep, those dark, winding roads, with my heartbeat pounding far too loudly in the silent darkness in sync with my steps.
It was crazy that even though so few things ever got me excited, this was something that always did. It was the only thing that ever made me giddy like a child on Christmas morning, the only thing I could spend days anticipating, and it was crazy that it still had that effect on me, even though I knew that things were different. Even though I knew it was a bad idea. Even though I knew it would crush my spirits and I'd spend the next couple weeks recuperating from it.
Only you could ever do that to me. One glance and I'd be reeling, tripping, falling, crashing, burning. Suffering. Yet I was willing to endure that. Isn't that how drug addicts are? It's pitiful that I behave exactly as those that I scorn. Absolutely pitiful.
It's pitiful that I knew I was breaking down everything I'd built up as I knocked on the glass, pitiful that I knew, even before walking that far in the cold with a fever and a cough, pitiful that I knew, even before you turned your head away like that,
that I'd return sick, sad, crushed to a pulp, and wishing with every bone in my body that I had never trekked that road again.
You with the fiery, constant laugh, with that air about you that screams Yes! My life is handed to me on a solid gold platter and it's great!
It's interesting how I used to be jealous of people like you. I've never really been much of a jealous person, but man, did I used to be jealous of people like you.
The people who wake up on the sunny side of town everyday and use a megaphone to broadcast it to those who don't. The people who have cocktail parties for Christmas, who get presents on every holiday and have their parents hide eggs for them on Easter, the people who have easygoing, happy lives full of happy friends and happy family and drift swiftly with the current.
I'm not jealous anymore. Nowhere close. What reason would I have to envy you-
you whose innocent smile shows that you've never known what it's like to fight your hardest and still lose, you who never had to beat against the current for anything, never been shoved on the front lines without mommy and daddy there to take blows for you, you who are not capable of being alone because you've never been before, with a perfect, glass bubble molded around you by other people because they think they're doing what's best for you,
you, skipping through life convinced that your happiness grants you some god-given immunity to everything else that either you don't see or you've chosen not to look at.
Well, Little Miss Sunshine, let me tell you something: There's a big, cruel world out there waiting to destroy people just like you. You don't have to believe me, because maybe you'll get away. But what if you don't?
If you think your life is perfect, then you're not thinking very hard.
.... and I, sorry that I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood to chase you down one as far as I could until I bent in mind and bones.
And then took the other because I couldn't catch up. Thanks a lot for making me feel slow- I thought I was for so many years. To think that I ever thought that...
And in that morning equally lay the reason those paths had ever split Oh, if I could only go back to that day! I'd kick your ass and spare myself. Yet knowing how way leads onto way I doubt I'll ever have reason to come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: I was totally brainwashed way back then. Two roads diverged in a wood, and I realize just now that it was about time.
Somedays, I feel poetic and artistic. Today is not one of those days. Sorry, Frost.
They used to frighten me, those big, yellow buses that parked in a ring around my school.
I rode them every morning and afternoon, my tiny hands clutching the straps of my bookbag. They frightened me from when I first became old enough to be aware of my surrounding to the very last day of middle school.
They frightened me because I knew what was in them. My stomach always clenched before I stepped onto those rubber steps and into the crowded bus, knowing that as soon as I did, my tan skin and stick-straight black hair would be a flashing red alarm for the kids that rode in the back of the bus, the "cool kids". I stayed away from them.
"Whatcha lookin' at?" The two older, white boys sitting in the aisle across from the seat I had just sidled quietly into glared at me with their sharp, accusatory eyes.
I turned my head away from the aisle wordlessly, purposely looking towards the window on my side. I didn't really know how to respond, and I was always taught to ignore things like that. But it was a stuffy day, a rainy day, and the bus was packed tightly. I felt like I was going to suffocate, so I turned my head back to the aisle.
"Whatcha lookin' at?" The boy with the curly blond-haired boy said loudly again, glaring at me while his friend laughed beside him.
I turned my head away from the aisle again. I was too young then to feel anger or hatred, too young to understand or try to understand what was happening. I only saw a large, infinite world and those two boys across from me on that filthy school bus.
They stuck their heads out of the windows of those big, yellow buses as I got off and on everyday. Light-skinned kids with shiny blond and brown hair, dark-skinned kids too. "Hey, chinky!" they yelled out the windows. "Ching chong!" I didn't know what those words meant. But I got used to those jeers soon enough. I got used to kids throwing things out the bus windows at me or trying to trip me or shove me out of the way.
I was in middle school when my social studies teacher asked, "Who in here has been subjected to prejudice?" A girl beside me raised her hand and said, "Well, I've been prejudiced against because I'm a blonde, and people always think blondes are dumb." Everyone in the class laughed, even the teacher. I couldn't laugh; it wasn't funny to me. They didn't know. They had no idea.
I grew out of that fear as I got older, just like we all grow out of being scared of the monsters under the bed. Those buses weren't frightening to me anymore like they used to be. I was bolder, meaner. A question such as "Whatcha lookin' at?" was answered with "your ugly face." It was how I had to adapt to survive as best I knew how.
Things changed in high school. Stabbing jeers turned into "Hey, girl, what's your number?" I'm not sure why. Maybe times changed, maybe people changed. I know I changed. I know that anyone who looked at me today would have a hard time believing that once upon a time, this same tanned skin made me the leper of the town. I know they wouldn't be able to see that underneath a hardened and confident shell lies a little girl who used to avoid people in fear of being mocked.
But I've still got faint scars on my arm after all these years in the shape of the deep, oblique gashes from the time that black boy tore through my skin with his fingernails. I can still remember going home with my arm bleeding while my mother called the school.
But I learned how to fight, how to appreciate. I learned about being tough; I learned a little about how to push through a cruel world at a young age.
Those big, yellow buses will follow me around for the rest of my life.
Be the frame for my tired bones to collapse on; let my sunken skin be yours to wear for a little while.
Meet me under the purple sky- I'll be the girl with a thorny rose pinned on her jacket, and an icepick in her other hand; We'll chisel the clouds of shale into a powdery rain; we'll wash our dirty hands beneath the silver setting sun. We'll be strong again.
Strong like the yellow shoots that spring through mountain cracks, strong like acid rain that burns through the brick walls of an empty apartment, where I'll stay and wait for spring to come and melt me back into the earth.
Maybe I'll be born again like a phoenix rising from its ashes, gritty, small, and wrinkled, but stronger.
Dread and impending doom. Faithless faith and hopeless hope. A lost second chance I never had.
I peeled away my winter clothing to let it douse my skin in its searing rays as hot as the flames that burned my house down
seven years ago around this time of the year.
Has it been that long already? Has it been that long since the day I ran onto the lawn, pajama-clad, to see thirty-foot tall flames eat their way into the vinyl siding of the house, to smell ashes, to hear windows explode into the frosty midnight air of early spring?
I guess it has.
Is the sun in the sky today really the same sun as the one that shone this time of year two years ago? Two years ago, when I felt successful in my naive endeavors, when the world was packed neatly in my fingertips to lay out on ivory keys, to scribble out on aced papers, to trace quietly down sweaty spines in dark houses..
I guess it is.
I wanted it to burn through me today just like it had burned our skin this time of last year, when we slept on sheets in forgotten dugouts under the raging sun. I wanted it to burn like your kiss goodbye, burn like the love I can't feel anymore, burn like the excitement I can't remember,
burn my permafrost bones down into liquid puddles.
But it didn't. It burned like the failure I know so well, like the stinging isolation that contrasted the blooming trees. It burned like the shock of being left, burned like the feeling of having lost.
I gripped the sides of my chair with my hands. I don't know why I did that or what exactly I was trying to achieve.
Perhaps it was to keep myself from hurling my computer to the opposite wall. Perhaps it was to steady myself because all of a sudden, I felt sick to my stomach. Perhaps it was just my way of telling myself to breathe
slowly. In, out, in, out.
I had wrapped them up, all those memories, all those thoughts. I had wrapped them up so tightly into a tiny ball and duct-taped it over. I had taken that ball and shoved it into the deepest recesses of my body where nothing could touch it. Where I thought it would stay for a long time.
I should've known it was just a ticking time bomb in disguise, counting down seconds until its explosion. Tick, tock, tick, tock... Boom.
So I sat there, doubled over in my chair as it struck, knowing that there are some things I can't stop, knowing that I just had to take the hit and silently wait for it to subside.
Because the more silently I sit, the more quickly it will leave.
Here are my two cents of satire for today: --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Once upon a time, there was a girl.
All throughout her life, she was told to shoot into the sky at night to collect the glittering stars that shone above her head in the small village she lived in. "The more stars you collect, the better your life will be," her father told her.
Everyone else did it. All the other girls and boys in her village and in all the villages in the country of Absurdia did it, jumping as high as they could night after night to shoot as many stars as they could reach.
But the more the stars were shot, the higher they all had to shoot to reach the ones that hadn't been collected yet. The more stars the boys and girls in Absurdia put in their straw baskets every night, the harder they worked to collect them the next night, building new contraptions and devising new methods to help them shoot higher to collect the ones that the others couldn't reach.
The little girl did everything she could to collect the stars in the sky. She built ladders to stand on, hoping they'd help her shoot highter. She practiced for hours every day on targets in her backyard. She polished her arrows and bought a new bow.
But no matter how hard she tried, no matter how hard she strained her mind to concentrate on the tiny stars in the highest corners of the sky, there were always those who had taller ladders, stronger arms, slicker bows. There were always those who could collect the stars faster than she could.
The next night when all the other girls and boys went outside to shoot stars, the little girl did not. She gathered twine. For the next few months, she spent night after night gathering twine, and for the few months after that, the spent night after night weaving the twine into rope.
When she finished, she had miles of rope.
The girl took the rope out one afternoon and shot one end into a tall tree. She climbed the rope slowly with a bucket of paint and a brush tied around her waist. When she got to the top, the opened the bucket and began painting stars in the empty part of the sky where the little boys and girls of Absurdia did not care to look. She painted for days, and when she finished, she took out her arrow.
She shot all of her own stars down and collected them. The little girl had more stars than she could carry. She took all her baskets of stars, put them in a small boat, and rowed out to sea the next night while the moon shone at its brightest.
She turned back to watch all of Absurdia from the other side of the river jumping and flinging arrows into the sky in vain, and she laughed.
And as she laughed, she dumped all her stars into the blackness of the sea behind her as she rowed far, far away.
It's so cruel, and it's so limited. I think about it a lot.
It's no wonder why so many people are religious, believing that there truly is such thing as fate, or as they prefer to call it, something like a "divine will". Everyone wants to believe that "everything will be okay in the end, and if it's not okay, it's not the end." Sounds wonderful.
The great thing about having faith in a divine entity is that there is always someone to trust when you don't know who else to trust. There is always someone you can throw all your troubles to when you no longer know what to do with them or how to handle them. Having faith is almost like having eternal optimism.
With me being one of the largest skeptics to exist on the face of the earth, the idea of "fate" or a "divine plan" is not an exception to my skepticism.
But today is one of those days when I feel like fate must exist. I've always been one to believe that there is no such thing as blind luck or a scripted plan of your life, and that the only thing your life is built upon is what you do with it- the choices you make, the action you choose to take.
But today, I'm not so sure.
Today, I feel the meaning of that belief. I feel the stinging loneliness, the darkness of the despair entwined in those words, that kind of hopelessness that drops like a stone in your stomach. Today I feel that if I was alone to fend for myself, to suffer disappointment by myself, to sculpt every aspect of my life by myself, to leave what I can't get to to the random entropy of the universe, it would be too much. It would be too much for any human being who had any semblance of a heart and a mind.
I hate not being in control, and that characteristic about me has been something that has molded me as a person for the last four years, especially. I hate not having my life tethered to strings; I hate not holding the reins. I've always hated the idea of luck because it's something I can't control. I'm not a drinker and I don't do drugs, mainly because those things would compromise the control I have over myself, and that's the last thing I would ever want to do.
But more and more often these past few years, I've been shoved in situations that I no longer find I have any control over, and I don't know how to deal with them anymore. More and more often, I've found myself no longer knowing what to trust or who to trust with the parts of my life that I can't control.
I always viewed fate as a cop-out excuse, the thing people blame or accredit their circumstances to so they don't have to take responsibility for how their own lives are. I've always been told, "If you work hard enough, you will succeed." Or "you can do anything if you try hard enough." It's not true, because there are always positive things in undeserving people's lives, and there are plenty of people who carry burdens that they don't deserve. Perhaps my rigid confidence in pure human volition was just my way of denying what I didn't want to believe, my way of trying to convince myself that the world is more fair than it actually is.
If only I could find it within me to surrender myself to the idea of fate right now, to release my life into unknown hands, to bring myself to believe that things will work out just fine. But I'm not conditioned to believe that anymore. I've conditioned myself to fight, and now I'm just not strong enough to drop my sword.
Is there really such a wonderful thing as fate? If only, if only.
Left-handed, coffee addict, idealist weathered into a high-minded, stubborn cynic. I'm young enough to look forward to life, and old enough to pretend I'm wise.
I hide during the day, roam at night, and have an extra limb on my body, otherwise known as my coffee mug.