What's a Lisl?

Writings and Rantings

Rewriting

I have a little tiny black book. It was given to me a few years ago with very specific instructions. The book holds my life story up until this point, blank pages past the words representing the days to come. A kind gift, I thought. To see your whole life story, word for word, thought for thought, written out for you is truly something special. You never have to worry about forgetfulness or memories fading. If I want to flip through my best days, I can. If I want to fixate on my worst days, I can.

Once, I was in a relationship that wasn’t so satisfying. It wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t great. I wanted to end it, but I didn’t know how. I’ve always had a flair for the dramatic, so I went back through and highlighted every small slight, every misstep, from the awkward stutters of the getting-to-know-you-s to the real grievances that happen when a person is working out how to be with another person.  I highlighted and cited and inflated every little word just because I had it on hand. I went out with a bang on that relationship. And now that is part of the story too.

Of course, the best part of having this book is the editing. When I got it, it came with a fancy little pen with which I could cross out what happened and rewrite it how I wanted it and that would be the way it happened. With a quick line, I could rewrite history, my history. And I did. Often, as many wish to do. I would trip at the grocery store and then quickly scratch it away like it never happened. When I went to the movies and the employees said, “enjoy the show,” and I replied, “you too,” I could make it go away. I never had to be embarrassed because I could make it all go away.

But of course, it didn’t really go away. It was there, under the scratch marks, and it was there in the words that represented my thoughts rather than my actions; thoughts of how I should change my story. Yet it went away in reality, and that was what mattered most at the time. The worst was when I did something wrong. Something really, truly wrong. Once, I spent weeks manipulating a friend with my book, just to see if I could. Rewriting moment, after moment, after moment. When they found out, they were furious. So, I removed the time when they found out, but they found out again, so I removed it again, and they found out again. I realized there was no way I could change it so they wouldn’t. So, I sat down and crossed out all those weeks, word by word. I rewrote them, carefully, and in the end, we were friends again and they were none the wiser. At least two months, completely crossed out, rethought and rewritten. It was my favorite hobby.

It was all in good fun, an ultimate power I could use and abuse and enjoy as I wished. In a few years, I got bored. Life loses its flavor when nothing is permanent and everything can be changed to your whim. A few years later, I realized my mistake, the one mistake I could not just cross out and rewrite. I only had so many pages. If I lived a second, thought to cross it out, crossed it out, thought how to change it, and wrote out that change, that was five seconds written and only one truly lived, and a flawed one at that, one that no longer existed. I was living a fifth of a life, and that fifth was a false one. Imagine how many more seconds were spent debating changes that were never made, or trying to remember the ones that were, or flipping through pages, rereading the past—each second of that written again, taken again from my finite future, only to be crossed out and rewritten and crossed out and rewritten as the pages ahead got shorter and shorter. Imagine how many seconds, how many pages were spent considering this waste of pages, and how many more were spent considering it enough to put it into the words I am writing here in these, my final pages.


Potholes

We must’ve hit a series of potholes. There’s creaking and bouncing and somehow in the cramped space I end up upside down. My feet are where my head just was, but I am still folded in half, unable to move any better than before. There’s a new scratch on my back from sliding down against the wood, but it’s no worse than it was before. I inspect the splinters in my fingertips, close to my face because it is hard to see. Using my nails, I scrape at them until they bleed. One rips out entirely and when I hiss with pain someone shushes me in the distance and it echoes off the tin walls. Somebody must be trying to sleep. The blood drips onto my bare stomach but there’s nothing I can do about that. It’s quiet except the sound of the street as it stands still but we zip by.

We hit a couple more bumps and I end up in a more comfortable position. My knees are under my chin and my feet are tucked in close. My neck is angled sideways, but I don’t have the space to move it and that’s alright. A horn honks too close—probably another passing semi—and it hurts a little but all I can do is snicker at the soft cursing I hear from down the row. There’s whispers around so I guess everyone is awake now. Good. I could use some good conversation.

“Hey,” the familiar whisper springs from the distance.

“Hey,” I call back. There’s no response, so I continue, “Did you hear that bird before?”

“Sounded like a hawk.”

“How would you know? You’ve never even seen a hawk.”

“I don’t know. It’s the only bird I know the name of.”

“Huh. Me too I suppose. What do you think they look like?”

I consider the question carefully. I’ve heard stories from the outside, swapping of vague ideas of how things are to pass the time. But that isn’t what the voice wants to hear. They want fantastical imagery and dreams of intrigue. “I think they look like those signs. You know, the ones outside the gas stations, that glow? Like those, but more colors. With big, sharp, pointy teeth, and wings, you know, because they’re birds, but wings with big claws on the end.”

“Sounds beautiful.”

“Yeah.”

We fall back into silence, the lull of the street beneath us. We hit another pothole, hard, and I feel something strange. A give in the edges, splintering. One more pothole, and the whole truck wobbles, and I feel more give, more splintering. Once more, and BANG. The wooden crate explodes around me, bursting open at the seams. Splinters and nails sit around me as I warily stretch my limbs, barely noticing them scraping up as they move. As freed as I feel, the stretch of my muscles hurts, and I wobble as I try to stand. I look around and see light filtering under the heavy metal door. In the gleam I can see more boxes, small, wooden crates, some stacked, but most simply sprawling next to each other, filled with people, moaning at the pain of the last bump.

Over in a far corner, I see someone else, also standing warily, eyes darting over the tops of crates we know so well as voices. Whoever it is—if only they would speak, I might know—finally makes eye contact with me through the dark. We stare for a moment, nod, and both slowly sink down, sitting in what remains of our boxes, just as we were trained to do.


From Afar

You’re so pretty from afar. It’s all big picture, dressed up in lights and wrapped with a bow. You can’t see the imperfections, flaws blur into oblivion, and with my poor eyesight you might as well be heaven personified.

You’re so pretty from afar, but take a few steps closer and things get rough around the edges. You come into focus and your flaws become clear, etched in deep like they have always been there. There’s cuts and scrapes and surface wounds, left by others that got too close. They got close and they couldn’t handle what they saw. The closer I get, the more I fear that I will leave my own marks one day.

You’re so pretty from afar, but standing face to face your scars make constellations and your scowl curves like a sickle, a sharp harbinger of doom however innocent it was made to be.  You’re not quite symmetrical and not quite urbane, but you are far from ordinary.

You’re so pretty from afar, but where I stand, closer than I ever thought I could get, the glow of your skin burns like the sun and I feel I might combust at a moment’s notice. There’s a hurt in your eyes that hurts in turn, but the pain is comforting, familiar and steady.

You’re so pretty from afar, but you’re absolutely gorgeous up close.


Little Rivers

Authors note: I apologize for any formatting issues, I’m on a cross country road trip and I’m writing and posting from my phone.

There’s a man that lives by himself in that big house at the end of the street. In the mornings before class I bring him groceries and I feed his cat, in the afternoons I wash his dishes, and every Saturday I clean what needs cleaning, cook us dinner, and read him the stories I’ve written. Sometimes he responds; most often he sits and stares. I rarely see him move from one place to another, but sometimes he sits in a large rocking chair on the porch and sometimes he sits in an armchair by the big window filled with small porcelain figurines and potted plants. It feels like we have always been this way, that this routine is part of who we are.

He has a hole in the side of his head, right above his temple. I pretend I don’t see it; that’s the polite thing to do. When we first met, when this routine didn’t quite exist as such, he would tell me about his grand adventures. He told me about friends he made and people he loved and places he’d seen. He told me so much. But there was always more, another story saved for another day. Back then, the hole was very small. I could see it, but I could not see inside.

As time passed, the hole got bigger. One day–it was fall, I brought him fresh picked peaches–I looked into the hole, and I could see inside. I knew it was impolite, but he didn’t seem to notice, and I’ve always been just on the wrong side of too curious, so I looked. The top, where you could see if you weren’t being nosy, was black. Empty, void. But, if you looked at an angle, deeper and down, there was something. It looked liquid, and it swirled gentle, beautiful, spinning colors. Some patches were neon, some pastel, some outlandish color combinations you would never expect.

It’s rude, I know, but I couldn’t stop looking. I’d seen people with these holes before, mostly elderly, some very ill, but I had never gotten this close. They say as you get older, everyone gets one, but they usually stay small until you are very old. I didn’t consider him old, nonetheless very old, but I certainly didn’t consider the hole small.

Winter came, and the growing slowed. The hole seemed to stay the same size whenever I visited. I came more during the week, shoveling the driveway and bringing some of the baked goods that appear throughout my house around the holidays. That made him smile.

In the spring, he yelled at me. I hadn’t seen him this active in at least a year, probably much longer. He was yelling at the top of his lungs about how I needed to get out of his house and how he didn’t have anything worth stealing. He seemed genuinely terrified, like he didn’t know who I was, like he didn’t know I got in using the copied key he taught me how to make. He threatened to call the police so I backed out slowly and then ran home. The next morning I came to check in, and he had forgotten the whole thing, welcoming me in with renewed energy and telling more stories. When I looked, the hole was bigger, but what’s worse, it was leaking. The glowing molten rainbow I had previously noticed flowing around the bottom of his cranium was leaking out slow, like molasses.

A drop ran down his chin, creeping down and sticking to his stubble, but he didn’t seem to notice. I wanted to say something, but it was sort of mesmerizing. Hot pink and shiny, clinging to the end of his chin like it didn’t really want to fall, it just hung there. But of course it fell just the same. It hit the floor with a quiet pop, then fizzled for a couple seconds, before dissipating completely.

He froze then, only for a moment before picking right back up where he left his story, but for long enough that I could tell something had happened.

I had heard the stories, everyone had, but seeing it happen in front of me was nothing like I could have anticipated. I had been told they were beautiful and precious, little drops to be cherished like liquid gold. I was told that when they fell, it hurt, not like a wound, but like an ache in your heart for something you can’t know you’ve lost.

They were memories. Every drop a moment, all flowing like a river of a life lived to the fullest around in each person’s mind. No two drops are the same between people and no rivers are similar. In one ounce of memories is a million thoughts and a million more emotions and once they are gone they are gone forever. The river is constantly growing until the day a hole forms. From then on it acts as an overflow drain, releasing a little bit at a time to keep the same height river even as you make more memories.

It took me a moment to realize he had stopped talking, and I looked up from where I had been staring at the floor where his memory fell–which memory I can never know. He looked annoyed, like he could tell I wasn’t listening. He didn’t know what I saw. He couldn’t know.
I apologized and he continued telling his story, and this time I listened. Really, truly listened. I clung to his words, out of respect, but also out of fear. Fear that as that hole continued to grow, as pieces of his life slosh out and disappear, they will be lost forever.

When I went home that night I couldn’t stop thinking about the single pink drop. It may have been a story he already told me, or it may be one he kept to himself, but he won’t know now. He’s going to lose every memory he has ever made, and only a select few will live on in me, in the form of his stories. Then, one day, a hole will form in my head, and every story will be gone.

I sat down at my desk and write. Every story he had ever told me from his memories went onto paper. It’s only slightly more permanent, but that’s all I could ask for. I wrote well into the night, stopping only to drink more caffeine and to pace when I couldn’t remember details. I wrote past the point of my hand cramping and my eyes burning and when I looked out the window the sun was back, high in the sky.

It was around noon and I realized I needed to go check in on him. I was exhausted as I drug myself down the street, my mind still reeling with borrowed memories. When I opened the door, I expected to be yelled at for forgetting about him, but when I looked inside I instantly realize it was worse. He was in his armchair, staring blankly at me, tears falling silently. The hole had doubled in size since the day before and there was a steady trickle of color running down and mingling with his tears.

He whispered and I had to crouch on the ground and lean in close to hear. He was babbling about no one remembering him, about dying alone and forgotten. I wanted to tell him he isn’t alone and he won’t be forgotten, I wrote him down, and I’ll make sure he’s remembered. But that wasn’t what he meant. I was too busy trying to hold onto his memories, and forgot he was still there, still around and still in need of being remembered in person. I forgot him when his memory let him forget that anyone would remember him, too busy preserving a life already lived to consider the one still happening.


Hell on High Seas

There’s a storm out west that stretches too wide to go around and too deep to see the end. We knew it was coming before we could see it, but still there was nothing we could do. We bark commands and tie our knots and prepare for a rough night. We hunker down in hammocks and pray it’s not as bad as it looks, or we sprawl out in captain’s quarters and curse nature for the setback. We are three days with a strong wind away from another little x on another map and have not seen another vessel for ages. We ran out of fresh food and water the day before last and can only hope the rain catchers on deck are stable enough to weather the storm, though we doubt any caught will be sufficiently clean. The waves toss us about and we clutch to anything stable as the ship is inundated with frigid, briny water, lifting anything not secured with an ease only the ocean could manage. This ship takes a whole crew to steer, but a mere flick of a wave could ruin everything.

There’s a crash above the deck that sounds more like a million breaking plates than a wave and some of us lose our grip and slide around, struggling for purchase on the wet floorboards. Something cracks and we rush to find out what. Unsecured ropes whip through the air, deadly to anyone above. There is no telling how long this storm will last, though indicators show it won’t be ending any time soon. It feels like it has lasted hours already.

A midst the waves, a sound arises like it is floating on the water, bobbing up and down and not broken by the crashing swell. It sounds a bit like tinkling glass and a bit like magic and a bit more like heaven. The waves dip down a bit and there is a large rock from which the sound is emanating. It looks smooth and it glitters, gleaming brightest with each crack of lightning. Close to it, there is no storm. The water around it is calm and inviting. Enticed by the promise of smooth sailing and heavenly music, we steer towards it, closer, closer. The sound gets louder as we approach, clearer and more beautiful by the second. That is when we see her, a woman, lying on the rock. She looks elegant, like she is made of the water and could flow back into it, be a part of it. Myths of mermaids do not begin to measure up to the true nature of this creature. A siren. She must be. And yet, even with the knowledge of what she was and what she would do if we get closer, we get closer.

We call, to her, asking her name, and her response is a mere whisper, floating above the waves as part of the music, “Come closer, dear, and I’ll tell you everything.” It sounds like a promise, like ‘everything’ truly means everything.

Knowing the risks, knowing certain death awaits us, we steer closer, closer, grazing the rock, or maybe hitting it, or maybe more, but everything is fuzzy, warm and fresh and dry and soft. Welcoming. For months our mouths have been filled with the taste of salt, but now the air tastes fresh and clean, like a field of flowers. Our thirst is gone, but our hunger grows, not for food, but for something more.

She rises from her position draped over the rock, glimmering like sunlight and beckoning us towards her, towards the promise of satiation. Sea weariness turns to elation as we approach and the world outside our bubble of peace fades away. There is no longer a storm. There is no longer a sea. There is no longer a ship beneath us. We are floating on air, or so we think, closer, closer. Then the peace breaks.

She turns on us suddenly, shrieking terribly, noise crackling through our ears, her feathers beating at the air, scrambling backwards in what looks like fear, scaled feat scratching deep claw marks into the rock. The storm kicks up around us, seemingly doubled in strength and emanating straight out from her, winds pinning us to the deck. The haze clears as she points frantically at the hull of the ship where we now see a hole, wood splintered and caved in, exposing the insides. We wonder how it got there. She is still shrieking and pointing as the violent waves overturn what it is she is pointing at. A pile of corpses, some tied together, some with lose pieces of flesh hanging from them, but many just bones. They smell dreadful, rotted to unrecognizable, but we know them. They are us before we were us.

Individual bodies, weak and fragile and dying one by one, were sacrificed for the good of the collective. We became us.

The siren’s shrill screech clears a fog in our brains we did not know was even there. It shows a new, clear image. One of us. One of the past. We are singular, individuals each plagued by sickness, being killed slowly by an unsympathetic ocean. The image shifts, and there we are, that same pile of bones, only alive. We are being tied together though we are too weak to struggle. The strongest of us holds the ropes with a crazed look of desperation. The ocean kills us faster now, now that we are stuck in a pile, each losing blood from cuts carved in our flesh by two unsteady hands. We die in pain, but our suffering does not end with death. Bit by bit we are carried above, flesh cooking slowly in the scorching sun. Teeth tear our flesh, bit by bit, and slowly, we become us.

We look down and see one set hands where there was once many. We glimpse our reflection in the rock and see one face where there once was dozens. That one face is the face of a devil.

We jump overboard to the sound of a siren’s scream rather than its call, at the mercy of the waves below, dreading the hell that surely awaits us.

 


Scream

When you were younger, you decided that each person got one real scream in their life. No one told you this or even put the idea in your head, you just decided it. It became fact to you. Each person gets one real, earth-shattering, every-head-in-the-vicinity-turning scream. Most people use it when they are young. Small children who think scraped knees are the end of the world. Infants who can’t articulate their needs. Toddlers who can, but don’t want to. Some people use it in moments of frustration or anger or sadness. Moments when their world is collapsing around them or when they are in grave danger. You have been saving your scream.

Once, you were in a car accident. It was bad, blood and broken glass and spinning out of control. The smell of burst air bags and smoke. Your voice felt stuck in your throat and you couldn’t seem to make a sound. Once the car stopped spinning, you screamed. You were not sure why, the worst was long past over, your reaction was too delayed, it didn’t matter if you made noise now. But you did. Afterwards, you worried you had used your one scream.

Once, after you got your first car, you went out for a drive. Windows down, music blasting, so many ideas of freedom running through your head. You wanted to scream from excitement. You didn’t, of course, maybe because you were afraid you couldn’t anymore, or maybe because you were afraid you still could.

Once, you were attacked. Maybe walking down dark streets alone so late wasn’t a good idea. Maybe staying at work so late wasn’t a good idea. Maybe working in that neighborhood wasn’t a good idea. When it happened, you didn’t scream. You couldn’t. All you could think was that you had already used it. On the ride home from the hospital, you screamed. Now you were just angry you still could, but didn’t.

Once, you had a nightmare. It wasn’t the first and it wouldn’t be the last, but when you woke up, you could’ve sworn there was someone else in the room. You were sitting bolt upright, drenched in sweat, sheets tangled between your legs. You felt paralyzed. You whimpered to make sure your voice still worked, and when you saw a shadow move, you screamed. When the cops showed up some time later (you don’t know how much, it may have been seconds or years) saying your neighbors had called about yelling, you were sure that was it.

Once, you went shopping. It was a nice day, sunny but not too bright, warm but not too hot, breezy but not too windy. You had bought some gifts for friends. Nothing too fancy, but all very personal, well thought out.  You watched a small child dancing on the sidewalk to the sounds of a street performer and you felt okay. Without a care, the child spun into the street, right in front of oncoming traffic. You dropped your bags, reaching towards the child with all of your might, like you could somehow close the twenty-foot gap between you if you could just reach hard enough. You don’t even realize you are screaming until you stop.

Once, you got fired. You were sort of expecting it. You hadn’t really been performing your best, but when it happened, you were angry. You felt like the world had turned against you, like you had been dealt the worst hand there was. You tried to scream at your boss (ex-boss) but your voice was hoarse and scratchy from the emotion filling it. When you left, you didn’t think you had the energy to scream, and when you got home, the noise you let out was closer to a wail, the product of too much pent-up emotion, a dam bursting inside of you. You wondered if that would count.

Once, you got very sick. The doctors gave you six months. You wanted to go on adventures, travel the world, jump out of an airplane, swim with sharks, but you could barely get out of bed. You wondered if you had ever used that scream. You wondered if it mattered. You wondered if you mattered. You never once considered that maybe you had been wrong.


The Skull on the Desk

There’s a skull sitting on a desk in the front of the room. Of course there is. It’s a physical anthropology class, we are here to learn about how that skull came to be how it is. It’s got a big A1 written on its forehead, for cataloguing I assume. It’s written sloppily in black sharpie, right there on the bone. Beneath it there is a cut in the bone that doesn’t quite go all the way through. I can’t imagine how it got there. It’s too straight, too clean, and it curves with the bone.

It feels strange to me to be able to stare at this skull, some of its teeth missing, the rest glued into place, but it’s right there. I can touch it, I have touched it. There’s a class down the hall where people are learning to pick up the same skull and tell everyone about it. Its race. Its age. Its sex. Where it lived. When it lived. Who it was. But that’s just the problem. None of those things are ‘who it was.’ It seems ridiculous to try to assign a who to an it. It was beneath flesh and above brain and it was alive some time in some place as part of somebody, but it wasn’t somebody.

I’m a psychology major. I’m used to sitting around, talking about what makes up a person. How all bits of things come together to make up someone. Their race and sex and age and where and when are all a part of that, of course, but there is so much more. There are thoughts and feelings and emotions. There are friends and families and communities. There are religions and illnesses and struggles. This person, now reduced to a skull, lived a whole life before landing in front of a bunch of students half asleep on desks, counting the seconds until they can get to the next part of their day, whether that be a drive to work, or re-caffeination, or a nap.

This person lived and died and is left now, bones and glue and sharpie, nothing. There’s no person left there, and there’s no way to know who ever was.

At one point femurs were passed around the room. Three of them, different lengths, different colors, different people. The professor says something about buying them off eBay from a doctor who  worked with indigenous Australians. These bones had context, a story. Somehow they still meant no more to us than that skull.

In the other anthropology class I am in, my professor had us all write about a moment where we knew what it meant to be alive, what it meant to be human. It’s a strange question, but we knew what she was asking. It’s a feeling. Overwhelming and large and infinite that vanishes all too quickly. It feels like knowing purpose, but it isn’t. I wrote about sitting above the Golden Gate Bridge, high in the air, cool and foggy and so close to wonder and so far from everyone. I felt that feeling then, but if you had asked me, in that moment, what it meant to be alive, or what it meant to be human, I still wouldn’t be able to answer. I might shrug and say, ‘this,’ but I wouldn’t know. No one knows. But we all knew of those moments.

I was wondering what the skeleton knew of those moments. I wondered how many he experienced, if any, and where and when and how. I wondered what in his life made him smile and laugh and feel happy. I wondered what made him cry  or scream or feel sad. I wondered what he feared most.

My professor showed us a movie about various primates across the world, and the skull sat on the desk the whole time. We watched orangutans help their babies find ripe durians, and Japanese macaques fight for space in hot water, and tarsiers yell out to alert one another of danger before springing back to their homes in tangled tree roots. And while we watched them, the skull watched us.


Flat

She painted me that night in reds and yellows. Splashes of blue flecked my cheeks and I watched the deepest shade of red in my hair drip down the canvas like blood running down, down, down. Down my forehead and over my nose, splitting my lips and sliding past my chin, breaking the depth and continuing as if there was no barrier between the ending of my face and the continuation onto the background. My neck jutted to the right, turned to show my back, light green freckles sprayed thicker than I knew of myself. The girl on that canvas was not someone I knew, no matter how familiar the face was. I reached up and brushed my fingers across my eyes, wondering if they held the depth of panic I could read like a book from the painting. It took me a second to remember I shouldn’t have moved, but she seemed not to notice, not to care.

I could’ve left then and she likely would not have noticed until morning. But I didn’t. I stayed to watch. I watched more colors drip down, paths changing slightly at outlines, splitting and covering but never muddying the details of the face. There was so much emotion in that picture, emotion I didn’t have the depth to feel. I looked at her, searching her face for any of the emotion she was detailing in front of her, but her face was frozen, a statue, concentrated and wild. Her hair stuck out and her hands were covered with paint and she looked so dialed in to her own thoughts, jaw and eyebrows set angrily, like she might punch the painting any second, no matter how gentle her brushstrokes. I wondered if it was her that the woman in the painting was afraid of.

Maybe if I was on the receiving end of that look I would seem that panicked too.

When she asked me to model for the painting I didn’t want to. It didn’t feel right. I’ve always been a writer, constructing people and giving them a purpose, never the subject of such construction. But I really wasn’t. I wasn’t the subject at all. I was the pose, the face, the structure, but I was none of the things that filled the space between that frame. I don’t have the capacity to fill that space. I don’t think she does either.

I went home early in the morning. She had stopped painting at some point and just began to stare, her eyes breaking down every square centimeter and analyzing it. She shook her head sometimes, violent, quick, but small movements, barely a shudder, and that was all. She didn’t move. Not to get up or wash the paint off or edit the painting in any way. She would grunt in what sounded like dissatisfaction sometimes, but mostly made no sounds. By the time I left the paint on her hands was cracked and I wasn’t sure if she was still breathing.

I don’t know how long it had been since she stopped painting when I finally left; I was far too deep in my own thoughts. I couldn’t remember what I brought with me, so I just stood and left. I walked down the street, not sure where I was going, but definitely headed towards the sunrise. I couldn’t help but think how flat people are. We look at paintings and writing and the sunrise and try to find meaning. We make poetry and search for purpose. We see these flat pictures, flat paged books, flat backdrops of sky and think “it’s deeper than it looks.” But it isn’t. It just exists as flatly as it looks. It accepts its flatness, but we refuse. We look for emotion but it’s just materials. We are just materials. Flat people, looking for emotion, for depth, in everything. In art. In nature. In each other. We make it up because we want it to be there, but it just isn’t.

I realize I have to head home eventually. At some point I have to get on a train, go home, prepare for the day, continue my life. I don’t question why, even though I do question why I don’t question it. But I know that answer. I don’t question it because once I do, the spiral begins. That spiral that always, always leads straight down into the bottomless pit that is the search for purpose. There’s no point in falling through it again. You never find the bottom. Sometimes you will hit a wall and think “this is it, this is the bottom,” but it never is. You could think you’ve found the bottom your whole life, but you’re wrong. There isn’t one. You’ll die without ever finding it.

Eventually I get on the train, which arrives two minutes behind schedule, because that’s what it does, and I go home and get ready for the day, because that’s what I do, and I continue my life with everyone else, because that’s what we do.

A few months in the future, I’ll go to see the finished painting before it is sold. I’ll stare at it for a while, trying to see any changes that have been made since I left. The only one I’ll notice is the shimmering, golden leaves woven into the hair. I’ll look at it and think “I was part of something,” but I wasn’t. Someone will buy it for whatever reason they have, hang it somewhere where they think it looks perfect, but it doesn’t. People will keep looking for purpose, in the painting, in their life, in the world, but they shouldn’t.

One day I will die. Who I was when I was alive will be written on paper or etched in stone or carved in wood. People will talk like I was something that meant something, but to them I will finally look just as flat as I am. My body will break down, whether by fire or water or earth, it will break down, and become a part of something and a part of nothing and flat. Flat, flat, flat. Flat line, flat person, flat body. Flat something, flat nothing, flat everything.

 


All In Time

Do you ever just wish you could capture a moment? Not just a picture, not just what you see. You wish you could capture all of it. The way the air feels on your skin and the exact color of the sky. The way the emotions and thoughts running through your head line up. The way everything smells and tastes and all the feelings you are feeling in that exact moments. It might not be a perfect moment, but it is one you want to hold on to. But, of course, those moments are the most fleeting.

I have to do a presentation in a few hours that I am by no means prepared for. I practiced, but it’s about my life. It’s a lot to share, a lot that has hidden background to me that I will not be sharing, but I will know. It’s too close. As someone who does not like presenting in the first place, I am just walking anxiety at this point. (I also put this site in the presentation, so, anyone who is seeing this that is in my interpersonal communications class…yo. Also, thanks for checking this out. There is some nonpersonal stuff I tend to think is kind of interesting sometimes, mostly the fiction. Anyway.) This presentation is mostly a powerpoint of pictures. My life, nice, neat, tied up in fifteen cute little slides. Making it has been…emotionally taxing. Looking through pictures, regretting things I said, things I did not say, things I did, moments I let pass by. But it is not just regret. I only put in information for happy things. I left out the sad, the bizarre, the whattheactualfuck, though those are my friends favorite stories. Yet, it all feels wrong. It’s over, it’s the past. I cannot go back and I have no plans for forward and right now, this moment does not feel real. It shows the friends I’ve made, it revolves around my life, but it’s not me. I don’t know. I guess I am just feeling kind of somber. I’ll figure it out. It’s just a strange feeling, looking back like this, wishing I captured more moments, realizing I captured none.

I realize I have not posted in a very long time. For all two of you who care, I am sorry. I have been having quite a difficult time writing recently, and as you both have probably noticed, I like to vary the order I post things. I really do not want to post two personal things in a row. I wanted to post some fiction. I have had a million ideas since I have last posted, but none of them seem to work. I have created about twenty new pages in the past few months, each with single words or sentences, just general ideas that do not seem to want to come together. This post is like….a last ditch effort. I thought maybe if I posted something, wrote something, finished something, accomplished something, maybe I could get my words flowing again. We shall see. All in time.

Anyway, this is just useless rambling. I think I have accomplished what I intended. An apology, an explanation, an expectation. We shall see. We shall see.


Where I was Going, Where I Hope to go Now, and the Great Contradiction in Between

I was going to be an engineer. I was going to have a doctorate. I was going to join engineers without borders. I was going to help people. I was going to make a difference in my own way.

I took the first step. The first few steps, even. Went to a specialized high school, ran the robotics club, built robots as independent research projects, got into a college with a great engineering program, and started on my way.

Well, the classes sucked and I was miserable and I woke up every Wednesday wanting to cry when I realized I had to sit through a three hour Fundamentals of Engineering Design lecture. I failed physics even though it was my third college physics class and dropped my calculus two class even though I had a ninety nine average through all of calculus one. I did not drink enough to blame alcohol for my shortcomings in the things I used to be the best at, and I did not sleep enough to blame not trying. I tried. I tried with everything I had, and yet, the only thing I managed to ace was humanities. As a mechanical engineering major.

Needless to say, I had big dreams, none of which could be fulfilled by what was proving to be minuscule ability and rapidly dying motivation. This whole past semester I have tried to find the ambition I needed. The ambition to go to my engineering classes, to study for physics, to become an engineer, to push towards that doctorate. Even with my dead ambition and the feeling of my soul withering inside of me, I did these things. I went to my engineering classes and I studied for physics and I tried to become an engineer. With each new day, I tried a little bit more, and each time it was a little bit more than I could take.

Now, here I am, planning to transfer, or maybe even not go anywhere at all. I want to write books, short stories and novels and so much fiction. I have been told that I have the talent, I know I have the ideas. The money? The experience? The time? Those I have none of, and I will not be getting any of those from college, especially as an engineering major. College is taking my money and my time and giving me connections in the wrong field. I could go to college now for journalism, start making the kind of connections I need, increase my chances of getting a job I will not abhor and making money. Yet, that would not launch me into what I actually want to do. It will take more money, and more time, to keep making more hardly useful connections, and give me experience in one field, without even guaranteeing a job the way my engineering major did, and definitely not guaranteeing enough money to get to where I want to be. I need to experience life, the world, cover as much universe as I can. Live, learn, experience. That is what I need. Not that you seem to have any value in this world unless you have that one extra line on your resume.

My heart breaks a little more every time I hear or see the word engineering. Typing it hurts because it feels so familiar, so safe. For the first time in a long time, I have no direction, and god, do I hate it. I miss the thought process, the drive that having a goal gave me. Now? Now I have nothing. My plan was shattered, a plan I spent years formulating. I do not even have a vague direction of where to go to use as the basis for a new plan. I am lost and stumbling and I have so many people screaming that I need to know NOW NOW NOW. And, of course, they are right. I do need a plan, right now, right this very second. I am too old to have no direction in this fast paced world; I am an adult now, who needs to make adult decisions about my life and my future.

It is too late to turn back. Too late to not waste my time in a technology and science based high school (not to say nothing good came of it, my English teacher for three of the four years improved my writing beyond what anyone else could have), too late to apply to the right schools and give myself a chance to learn some of what I need to hone my writing skills, too late to not waste my first semester of college in classes I physically could not care less about. So, since I cannot go back, I must go forward. Not that I have any idea which way is forward at the moment.