Tuesday, October 31, 2006

yea, that's the story of the hurricane

you raise up your head and ask "is this where it is?" | and somebody points to you and says
"it's his"
and you say "what's mine?" | and somebody else says
"where what is?"
and you say "oh my god
am i here all alone?
because something is happening here
but you don't know what it is
do you, mister jones?

Einstein, disguised as Robin Hood | With his memories in a trunk | Passed this way an hour ago With his friend, a jealous monk | He looked so immaculately frightful | As he bummed a cigarette | Then he went off sniffing drainpipes | And reciting the alphabet | Now you would not think to look at him | But he was famous long ago | For playing the electric violin | On Desolation Row

Friday, October 27, 2006

the amazon trail

las islas y los bosques tropicales estan llamando...

when i was little, my parents bought my brother and i three computer games for our old school acer windows 95 system. all three were in the vein of adventure-educational-psuedo creativity inspiring (now, in retrospect, also ridiculous animated depiction of american manifest 'bullshit' destiny and colonization) and they were as follows : the first was the oregon trail [old standard, no explanation needed for any child of the 90s]. the second was the yukon trail [go digging for gold with the klondikes and the 49ers of san fransisco in the rugged alaskan wilderness. use a dog sled! play at a shooting gallery in an oldtime saloon! meet old grizzly men named mountain ted! seriously.] the third, my personal favorite, was the amazon trail.

in this particular version of global exploration, the character meets up with an english speaking 'mestizo' guide [of the gender of your choosing] in the headwaters of the amazon river, and after buying supplies, both set off in a canoe down the fabled waters of the south american lifeblood. upon your journey, you had free choice to stop along the banks of the river to explore further in the jungles [los bosques tropicales] and enjoy the extreme biodiversity. i must admit, combined with many hours of discovery channel rapture, 20+ trips to the minnesota zoo (which has a tropical rainforest exhibit, albeit rather small) and a lust for books some would refer to as unnatural [hush!], i garnered much of my preliminary knowledge of south american flora and fauna while navigating the amazon trail.
the purpose of the game (besides educating youngsters about bromeliads, the dangers of malaria, and the supposed [i.e. mangled] accents of latinoamerica) was to complete a collection of photographs of a specified (50?) number of animals, plants, and locations throughout the amazon. some of these (the bromeliad, fire ants, and red bellied piranhas, etc.) were terribly easy to find, and often sprang unwanted into the frame of your shot, interrupting the act of photographing some other creature. [you think i'm kidding? it's a good thing that the film was magically unlimited. i can't even count how many times i took pictures of trees or slow-moving lizards when i was really aiming for the elusive black-banded anteater, or the hyperactively spastic scarlet tanager.] others were not so easy to find (as i mentioned) and were often found only once or twice throughout the game. as one could not continue navigation without obtaining the photograph (which would then be placed on a mayan shield to be given and studied to indigenous kings at the end of the game, apparently...) it was often a game of patience and frustration.
me: we've been on this section of the river for three weeks!
guide: [in a calm, accented, computerized voice] oops! we already have a picture of that one. let's go back to the river and try again later.
me: i was aiming for the bird!
guide: maybe we will have better luck tomorrow.

the game also included the navigation and exploration of the amazon itself. this was often frustrating as well, because pre-2000 computer animation made it difficult for a trolling mouse movement to navigate a canoe around a giant log deceptively close to the image on the screen.
me: the jaguar was in the tree! [the jaguar was particularly difficult to find, and often turned up swimming in the middle of the amazon, disguised as a log. however, unlike an annoying leak which would appear in your canoe when running across a log, the canoe and all of its contents would tip into said river when running across a jaguar. i'm surprised they didn't design graphics of violent jaguar-eating-humanflesh type scenarios. it would have been more realistic. what self-respecting jaguar wouldn't eat the stupid person who ran over her in the river?!]

there was also the typical 'death news' update from the guide, similar to the 'gary has dysentary' message that occured frequently in the oregon trail. however, this also included side trips and backtracking to various larger villages along the river. which meant that supplies were run-low, money disappeared, and the guide became impatient. also, valuable photographic time was lost, and jaguars and pink river dolphins swam tauntingly close to the boat as you turned in the other direction, and whilst you were unable to photograph them.
guide: you don't look so good. maybe you have a fever.
me: i don't have a fever!
guide: uh oh. you have malaria. we have to find a village, so that you can trade for medication.
me: but i haven't taken a picture of the bird yet!

another part of the amazon trail similar to that of its north-american counterpart was the fish-hunt for food. done with harpoons, there were various types of fish available for consumption along the river.
guide: our supplies are running low. if we don't fish soon, we will starve.
some were as small as the piranha (aka the squirrel of the river), but others were so large as to go about promptly capsizing the canoe if you attempted to catch them (most likely meant to mirror the charging buffalo). and guess what! you can catch weeds. woo. or, even better, electric eels. and rays. which means, aha...
guide: oh no! you have been electrocuted by an eel. your burns require attention. we have to turn back.
just when you thought you were making progress down the river.

i promise i'm not bitter. i LOVED this game. i'm just rather frustrated, as i must admit, i never made it to the end. it was hard! the birds were too quick for my camera. i was much too susceptible to malaria and dengue fever. and my computer froze occasionally, coming back to life only when it was much too late for me to navigate away from a giant waterfall (thus ensuring that i, and my obnoxiously emotionless guide juliana, would have to resume at the beginning of the river. sans all photographs, and carrying harpoons.)

but, all of that will be remedied. as this girl is going to ecuador.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

. . . yesterday i got lost in the circus . . .

never mind that the nanoseconds in between
are some of the darkest darkness that you've ever seen

i was emotionally healed, for a time. [thanks, ani.]

staying awake for forty hours straight has a tendency to give the world a surreal sort of glow. something about the day rising from the other side of midnight is essential to this surreality - i can't quite wrap my words around the sensation, but it's in between the oxygen and the carbon dioxide that keep out the reflections of the sun for long enough to send a warm buzz across the lake. and by warm, i mean in color, in emotion, in hope and happiness and anthropomorphic imagery, not temperature. it is cold in this city.

but oh, oh, oh what can I say. . . I adore you

i wish i was cold. but then you go and give me that look, the one with the tired eyes, the pirate smile, and somehow, i manage to find myself apologetic. how does that happen? i wish i was angry. it's exhausting, though. i think that's mostly why i give it up; i'm too sleep deprived to deal with anything more emotionally taxing than a rainy day.

but you can't fool the queen, baby

nancy died in september. the last time i saw her, i knew it was the last time. she knew it was the last time. we reached across the counter top and clung to each other. . . she was so frantically happy, it broke my heart. she kept saying,
"'it's so good to see you!
it's so good to see you!
look at you,
you're beautiful,
and all grown up."
neither of us said anything about it. but it was there, hovering. the reason we were both so terribly sad. how could i have known? do you get that feeling every time, when you have seen someone for the last time? because i've never felt that way before. does that mean i'll see everyone i've ever known again? somehow i don't think that is true. those five minutes, in the rushing chaos of a saturday at work, some clearance sale and a mass of people, and noise, and one giant fucking mess of a blurred time four years ago...those five minutes are stuck to the inside of my heart. and it hurts.

that is, according to light and gravity | and baby this is you, according to me

october is sinking into my bones. i used to love october. i have a jar of dried leaves from freshman year in high school, and they still smell like brittle yellow oak. they still smell that way, the way that fall smells. six years ago, i carried a handfull of leaves in my sweatshirt from the douglas trail. that scent swept into my nose and i had to get off of my bike, i had to stop right there in the middle of the trail, to keep it in, soak it into my skin. i picked them up, all crispy and fallen and fragile, and i pushed them into my pocket. carried them home. and they still smell that way. every time i come home from school, i smell the jar, just to find it again, that feeling. that sense of urgency, of terrible violent beauty. i used to love october.

i am holding my breath | i am feigning my death | when I'm looking in your direction

quiet heaving, gentle rocking.
the path of one leaf through the air, from the tree to the ground.
warm hands on soft stomache flesh.
falling in to sleep.
sonic resonance in a stairwell.
hot water early in the morning.
being bare, and watching trust seep.

making up songs and words and singin from the soul | he got up to his feet and he sang hallelujah

Monday, October 09, 2006

elephants > people.

their hearts and minds are bursting with emotion, and all the world sees is ivory and a circus tent.

if they live long enough, they forget everything.
most of them don't live that long. nine out of ten are slaughtered in their prime, decades before their memories have started to drain. i speak of the majority, then, when i say it is true what you've heard: they never forget.
they themselves think this accounts for their size. some go so far as to claim that under that thunderhead of flesh and those huge rolling bones they are memory. they contain memory, yes, but what may not be so well known is that they are doomed without it. when their memories begin to drain, their bodies go into decline, as if from a slow leakage of blood.
before then, every odour they have ever sucked into their trunks, every flicker of sunlight they have ever doused with their tremendous shadows is preserved inside them as a perfect and instantly retrievable moment. they rarely ask, do you remember? the remembering is taken for granted. it is the noticing that they question: did you smell that? did you see it?
they see better than you may imagine. don't believe the stories about their being half blind. they gaze at the horizon, make out what's there, and unlike the carnivores are never dazzled by a herd of moving zebras. if the herd is close enough they can pick out individuals, knowing them by their stripes alone and from a brief look years earlier. the precise tenor of the wind that lowed in the acacias that day, how the sun slammed down through the foliage - these accompany the memory and are re-experienced, and what was scarcely noticed at the time can now be dwelt upon.
suppose, off to one side, waves of salt dust had swirled up from the pan. in memory, they can turn their gaze on the waves and ponder this phenomenon of a lake bed dreaming its lost lake.
which may start them weeping. to a degree that we would call maudlin they are sentimental; even the big bulls are. any kind of loss or yearning breaks their hearts.
- prologue from THE WHITE BONE [barbara gowdy]

Thursday, October 05, 2006

hard to concentrate

ceramic mugs of turquoise and brown, with broken handles.
dangerous hugs.
having fabulously precocious breasts. [i meant precocious.]
extremely vivid dreams, seven days straight.
peppermint-eyebright-lavender-lemon verbana tea.
"the europeans were awarded five points because sergio garcia was happy" - the onion.
amusing my parents.
procrastinating my ass off, and being completely apathetic about it.
impulsively buying things from amazon.com. things being namely grey's anatomy.
molly, and her infatuation with mohawked men.
running six miles [minus the terrible muscle cramps the next day.]
greenbush donuts and coffee.
having small yet meaningful moments remembered by others.
awkward situations in library easy chairs.
morning dog kisses.

And finally you have found | Here we go.