Category: Uncategorized

Caminante No Hay Camino.

One of my favorite poems: Caminante no hay camino, by Antonio Machado.

Caminante, son tus huellas
el camino y nada más;
Caminante, no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar.
Al andar se hace el camino,
y al volver la vista atrás
se ve la senda que nunca
se ha de volver a pisar.
Caminante no hay camino
sino estelas en la mar.

Soneto de la dulce queja, by Federico García Lorca:

Tengo miedo a perder la maravilla
de tus ojos de estatua, y el acento
que de noche me pone en la mejilla
la solitaria rosa de tu aliento.

Tengo pena de ser en esta orilla
tronco sin ramas; y lo que más siento
es no tener la flor, pulpa o arcilla,
para el gusano de mi sufrimiento.

Si tú eres el tesoro oculto mío,
si eres mi cruz y mi dolor mojado,
si soy el perro de tu señorío,

no me dejes perder lo que he ganado
y decora las aguas de tu río
con hojas de mi otoño enajenado.

Translated conveniently into English, Sonnet of the Sweet Complaint:

Never let me lose the marvel
of your statue-like eyes, or the accent
the solitary rose of your breath
places on my cheek at night.

I am afraid of being, on this shore,
a branchless trunk, and what I most regret
is having no flower, pulp, or clay
for the worm of my despair.

If you are my hidden treasure,
if you are my cross, my dampened pain,
if I am a dog, and you alone my master,

never let me lose what I have gained,
and adorn the branches of your river
with leaves of my estranged Autumn.

Here’s To Shoving Things Out Of Windows.

All of a sudden, there is a burst of music. It’s less an unwelcome intruder and more an unexpected friend. The noise, pushing against the interlaced ossifications of my skull and, in a final effort, managing to break through and fall against grey matter and into my wholly satisfied arms, a lover who always leaves me first. I am a citadel of fixed proportions. I am a citadel, but sound never has to put up very long of a siege.

It’s Kishore Kumar. This means my father, but it also means something else. I find him in the office, sitting as neatly as one possibly can, hands folded like a schoolboy, back wide and rigid as though it were it were not the chair that was supporting his temporary leave from gravity but his own faulty body. I feel like finding every photograph I have of him and laminating them. He is wearing his new headphones, ones I recall cutting out of a hard plastic box with safety scissors. He’s plugged them into the wrong jack without realizing it, he doesn’t realize because he is completely deaf in one ear, he is smiling. In the next few seconds, I will grab his skinny arm and laugh at him, my ancient baby father. I will point out the right socket.

I think about mistakes, often. I like to address two parts of myself: a maker of mistakes and a corrector of them. I like to hear them fight it out in a trial where my two hands in sock puppets are LAW and ORDER, and then I like to play executioner. Here’s to shoving them both out of windows. I like watching a face evolve, and I think of the way mine did, when I made that breach between a moment where I thought I was fine and a moment where I knew I wasn’t, where time had stepped in and taken away my role as executioner. It’s a small mistake, not putting something in the right place, and why does it take something as silly as this for me to relate and fluctuate and detonate. And why did all those word rhyme, I didn’t want them to. There’s still Kishore Kumar all over the place. There’s still my father smiling. So I take a step forward.

(image source)

Terminal Buds Can Divide Indefinitely, Cells Following One After The Other.

You know that triangle puzzle you learned in grade school one Monday when the teacher forwent the lesson plan for something a little more “out of the box”? Or maybe when your uncle Wallace drew it for you on the back of a shopping list, getting the proportions a little wrong, rounding the corners a little too much? Or maybe when you were twelve, in the last section of the children’s menu at Romano’s Macaroni Grill, underneath the maze and the crossword and the drawing of the yellow crème brulée? Or maybe you saw it scrawled on a bathroom stall in Magic Marker, taped above a dorm room microwave, used as a major plot device in a paperback you bought in the Charles de Gaulle airport?

Yes, that one, the one anyone with a soul screws up on the first try. I like the premise, but I am not quite sure why. Graphic puzzles involving repetitive motifs are somehow enjoyable to me. I think there is something very gratifying about the patterns. Patterns are pretty, because they are recurring and as such peaceful to the human eye, but they are not as safe as they seem. They multiply and evolve and build and live forever, like 1 divided by 81, which is admittedly an unaesthetic number, yes, but it’s lovely because it continues a connection, it never dies: 0.012345679012345679012345679012345679012345679012345679012345679012345679012345679…

Chemical elements and crystallography and bee hives and the Vitruvian Man are shapely and regular and as close to perfection as nature can get. There’s something alluring in patterns, in the similarity between the two halves of a woman’s face, in that repetition. Sometimes there’s infinity there too, shrugging a shoulder in a background, constructing circles of an infinite number of sides. There’s something scary in patterns, to me at least, something very unsettling.

I think I will write a Lovecraftian horror story someday, and it will be about how marvelous and simultaneously horrifying the symmetry and beauty of patterns can be. If you think about it, everything that’s wrong about the world started because something deviated from the norm, turning the regular march of a pattern into a genocide. If you think about it, everything that’s right about the world started because something deviated from the norm, turning the regular march of a pattern into a revolution. I would like to know how these things happen, but I know I cannot. There comes a point where you cannot walk anymore. You bump against the walls of the world’s soft amniotic sac and you cannot do much more. Insurgents may cry, pressing the curlicues of their thumb prints into definite borders, wanting the space behind and in front and above and below and everywhere in between, the galaxy of things we cannot explain, the galaxy of things that don’t want to be explained. But we can’t guard over the creation of a nebula, or the coding of the proteins of an unborn human, these branching structures fracturing from the embryonic tree, the apex of a flower extending and and slicing and moving into a realm away from us, and the security of a pattern.

Going To Make Myself Some Toast.

Today I discovered that, among other things, I will never be a salesman. The boxes of confectionery I’m supposed to sell are sitting on the kitchen table, elongated pentagonal cupolas of brown (more black than yellow) polyethylene plastic. Yesterday a boy sold ten in half an hour, and I debated between throttling him or hugging him: which one would be more effective as a charisma absorption method?

I like asking questions, and I like the kind of listening we get when we’re in a waiting room together, or an origami exhibit, or a bridge overlooking a river. Most of the time people listen like they’re waiting for you to finish so they can say their bit, or like you’re both in an elevator, anticipating respective floors.  Maybe that’s why people don’t seem to have good conversations anymore.

It’s a little like when you hit your head in a public place, hard, and what you need is to scream with pain and indignation, but you have to force yourself to stare up at the ugly tiled ceiling and stop crying. People are watching, you know, and you can’t possibly cry with them there, you absolutely can’t possibly. It’d be nice to be able to have a good long cry whenever I hurt myself. It’d be nice for people to say whatever they wanted, like we were in a waiting room or an origami exhibit or a bride overlooking a river. I’d like to listen properly.

Um, was this originally going to be about being a sales agent and selling chocolate-covered things to pay for my tenth grade graduation trip? I think so. Well.

Careening back to my original purpose: the chocolate clusters in their pentagonal cupolas and I agree that I’ll never become a salesperson. If I cannot find these dairy orphans gastrointestinal tracts soon they’ll have to be sacrificed to the wholly unsanctified innards of the Great Alexander (conquerer of the world Pokemon). I apologize for the grave, grave indignity, chocolate clusters.

Me Regardless Of You.

I don’t really mind being the heretic for you, honest. It’s okay with me. But I’d like you, my Circe girl, my own human Strait of Messina, to know something: no.

There is no day, no fractal path, no possible dimension created from any combination of events leading from the Big Bang to the present where you would be able to do this. I commend you for trying, but I want you to understand: I will make you an aborted missionary, a defeated missionary. Little self-proclaimed apostle, I don’t love you enough. I don’t want to be your pagan concubine, nodding when you tie your hair back with a glittery rubber band and clapping when you try to tell me I’m not cool enough to hang out with you. Yeah, well, no.

This said I would like us to refrain us from killing each other. Look, we may be wary, but I don’t see why we can’t co-exist, especially since neither of us is at fault here. I cannot inject chaos into you, you cannot build structure in me, but we are. You may think it’s just me, but it’s always been the both of us. We cannot change for each other.

How To Make Believe.

I wish I could blow you a rolling molten glass bowl. Bristol blue, cobalt oxide left in the inside of your mouth: a hydria, a metaphor, a background voice. Eyelids are lined purple on the insides, barring and unbarring, the hem of your jacket as you bend down to open a bag floating and connecting with the polygonal shapes of my subretinal fluid.

Miller-Urey Experiment And Why I Can’t I Evolve (Chemically)?

I’m re-reading what I’ve been writing and, to be honest, it’s pretty baffling. EMMA IT HAS NEVER BEEN MORE OBVIOUS TO THE INTERNET THAT YOU ARE MENSTRUATING.

I find it difficult to compromise the different concepts of the human being evolution has deemed we become and the human being the modern world insists we are. Yes, I am the kind of person who asks these questions. My teachers routinely look at me and go NO EMMA METAPHYSICS IS NOT THE ANSWER.

I think that because certain events in my life have always been a little difficult to understand, turning to the reasoning in scientific texts and the austerity of explainable phenomena has helped me come to terms with my feelings. I can make stalwart little buildings with color-alternating Legos.

I feel sick today.

I Drew A Picture Of Us In A Blue Balloon.

There’s nothing wrong. I am girl fighting over bathroom jurisdiction, clothes still a little soggy from the clothesline, running in time with traffic lights and yes, I do catch that school bus Monday through Friday, you thought I wouldn’t, didn’t you?

It’s nothing glamorous. Elbow on desk, cheek in hand, books splayed and sweater discarded on floor, as it never stays long enough on the backs of these chairs. Long-legged boys can’t fit in desks. When I stretch, tucking my feet behind me, it is their not-apologetic, too-big shoes I crash into. The system and I are uneasy together, but we get along. I am non-existent in class, a non-revolutionary. We are drawn in by desire, affirmations of adulthood that get us through eight hours of government issued learning. Teenagers are naturally set to unhappy, or what they term as unhappiness. I am girl in economic terms, and it puzzles me that no matter how much I reassemble or rearrange there is not enough resources to help these little humanoids into satisfaction.

I have not quite finished puberty. I’m, we’re all still so awkward. We haven’t come to a consensus yet, we’re still uncomfortable with shhsexualityshh, but we are somehow snapping, somehow growing bold. My bones have matured and slipped into final resting positions, but my brain has yet to sort out the rational from the irrational, has yet to evolve to a point society will deem acceptable. What will I think then, when I am older and the paths of my neurons have grown to encompass hundreds of thousands of miles? Many things, maybe, if I am lucky. Perhaps I will be a little less stubborn, a little more sympathetic, but most of me is already unfixable, for better or worse. I know I can’t be separated into primitive pieces and made into a better person, and I think, what’s so very wrong with that?

I am girl who is not much, really. Look here, it’s true. I am girl trying to memorize dates for Spanish civil wars, forgetting that jacket on the coldest day of the year, listening to twee music in dingy headphones. I am a middle class fifteen year old at the national average for weight and height, girl indistinguishable in yearbook photos, in crowds, girl bumping into doorstops and the recipient of hearty bless you‘s when sneezing into elbows. But there is something different about me, something maybe no one knows. It’s simple, it’s downright stupid, and I don’t know how to define it, how to say it without feeling guilty, without negative connotations.

I am happy, dear God, I am happy, I am happy. There’s nothing wrong. I don’t need to be prettier, skinnier, taller, okay? I don’t need a boyfriend, walls painted sage green, miniskirts in different cuts and colors, is that alright? I don’t need to complain about the concerns of my neatly-ordered, clean-cut mornings and afternoons and evenings and nights. I could always be doing better, but I am okay now. Is there something wrong with me, something faulty in the part of me that’s supposed to disapprove, is supposed to be swollen with hormones and oh-so-righteously indignant? I really don’t know, and I really don’t care. All I know is that I am happy, I am happy always, and that is more than enough for me.

Oh, I Don’t Even Know.

We, nimble fingered, smelling of bay leaf and soapstone. We, ignoring the space where Pangaea breathes into Panthalassa, sea-sky becoming indistinguishable, bred into confusion and birds cooing upside-down. Cutting hair with dirty kitchen scissors. Taking bikes and going and going, not really wondering when we should turn back.

I wrote you an opera once, a sort of perhaps opera, about box jellyfish. It started with your hands are nematocysts, but I did not know what I meant by that. I wrote you letters once, you wrote me letters once, but I got tired, you got tired, didn’t you? We took bikes, but you were the one who turned back.

I am without water, and you are full of it, am I the Cassandra to your Poseidon? CPR doesn’t restart the heart, it only delays termination. Sea turtles eat box jellyfish, but we’ve never seen turtles. CPR only delays termination. When I stood next to you I could hear the chords for my perhaps opera in your pulse. I did not want to go home to an empty mailbox.

Panthalassa speaks untruths I hear, but I am the Cassandra to your Iphigenia. CPR doesn’t restart hearts, especially not nematocyst hearts. Did I do something wrong? I only wanted to cry you a perhaps opera. Sea turtles are immune, but you are silly flesh wired to a killable heart. We took bikes, and I dragged yours home. Rescue boats tied to the wharf, but you cannot make a drowned bird coo, and you cannot love that which has no intention of returning.

I Like Not Having To Sleep Off A Hangover.

Sometimes I’ll be talking as if vomiting, spewing and gesticulating with few pauses and poor enunciation. The way I do anything – move, write, smack – mimics the way I talk, which is absolutely furious. More often that not I end up with my palms turned skyward, or pressed to my knees, panting like some kind of animal. The unfortunate recipient (usually my father, because neither my brother nor my mother can listen to me talk for more than twenty seconds without going EMMA! GOD! THIS IS BORING! and walking away) looks at me with a slight frown, as if admiring a caged chimpanzee. His face is very OKAY, UM, WHAT WAS THE POINT OF THAT MONOLOGUE? but my father is too politically correct to usually say that. He just nods like he’s understood everything and offers to go make us a cup of tea or some couscous.

I don’t talk to my school friends about what really interests me. They don’t give a rat’s ass care about the stream-of-consciousness technique James Joyce used to articulate Molly Bloom’s thoughts in the last chapter of Ulysses, and they are not afraid to tell me so. Nature versus nurture, eugenics, Modernist literature: these topics are shot down with a heavy hand and a voice like an open guitar chord. I didn’t dress up as a slutty nurse this Halloween. I didn’t feel a need to go out and party and drink booze and sleep on the street. I like my bed, okay? Feeding on supermarket alcohol and dancing on folding tables and puking in my neighbor’s hydrangeas does not make me happy. I do not do things that do not make me happy.

The point: I don’t usually talk about what I would like to talk about, so I write about it. And even if I write like I talk, without proper punctuation and with an excessive amount of paltry adjectives, it feels nice to say something to any kind of human receiver, even if they maybe think I’m a little bizarre. That is okay. It is kind of teenage verbal diarrhea, what I am doing here, but I’d like to think that there is a someone and that someone’s screen somewhere and for once that someone would very much like to listen to what I have to say.