Thursday, October 29, 2009


stentorian\sten-TOR-ee-uhn\ , adjective;
1. Extremely loud.

My eyes seem dim, but all the sounds around me are very loud and present.
This is almost like those dreams I have where I can't see and all the while I am straining to open my eyes wider and wider and make the things around me go from static to clear picture. It's hard and it turns out it is also impossible. I can't see. And around me there is chaos. Someone is out to find me. Someone dangerous. Someone who I fear might want to harm me. Someone I would have to see to run from, to protect myself from. Someone who could very easily take me, grab me, nab me. Someone I would not be able to stop.
I take my fingertips and I try to pry my eyelids open but I know it won't help. It is something at the center of my eye; something behind my eye that I cannot get to that is dulling everything. It is like a white noise. I can feel it. I can feel it like my breath. Like my breath when it is caught. When I can't take in air. When I can't complete an inhale; and I panic then too. But panicking never helps. So strange how that is our body's reaction, when it is the opposite of what it needs. How about that, Darwin? How does that make sense?
Noises. Loud noises. Extremely loud noises. Not only in my ears but cascading over all of my skin. Ripples of sound, as if I am lying where water laps against a shore. Head first, it consumes my head but then continues to glide down and I feel it at the perimeters of my arms, then my chest, my stomach, and my head is underneath the whole time. Only when it reaches my toes and I am consumed, while my head feels close to exploding and I do not try to stop it, does the loud-sound-water start to recede until I am left only wet and waiting, knowing it will return again shortly to start all over. This isn't pleasant. If the noise is the water, then the water is freezing. Bone-chilling. Cultivating fear to grow.
Blindness and sound. Being chased. Stumbling. Drowning under ice-cold water. These are my dreams.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


galumph\guh-LUHM(P)F\ , intransitive verb:
1. To move in a clumsy manner or with a heavy tread.

The truck rocked back and forth as we went over another deep pothole, and Gary only mildly swerved to miss it. It felt almost simultaneous as I squooshed and scraped my shoulder against the door handle and window, as my butt left the seat, the skin of my thighs feeling as if they were being ripped from the faux-leather seats; it was so hot, they wanted to stay stuck to the vinyl.
"What the hell, Gary. Jeez," I'd say, as I set myself right again, trying not to recreate that peeling feeling between my legs and the seat. I hated those seats. Too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter, but Gary just loved them. He thought the whole vehicle was top notch. It was vintage Chevrolet and red and in just about mint condition. Only the bench-style seat needed to be reupholstered and leave it to Gary to pick the ugliest, banana-yellowist, most uncomfortable fabric ever.
"Oh calm down now over there. Quit your fussin'. You're the one that asked for the ride, so I don't wanna hear it."

That was true. I did ask. I was working on getting my permit, but couldn't get anyone to agree to teach me. I guess I asked too many questions. He was wrong about one thing though. I hadn't asked for a ride. I had asked for a lesson, and so I said as much:
"I thought I was going to be drivin', not ridin'."
"I know. I know. I know. But what or who made you think that I would let you drive Julianne?"
"Julianne? Julianne! You named your truck after your ex-girlfriend? Are you crazy?! Oh my god, you are crazy. I see it now. I really and truly see it...let me out of this vehicle..." I make sure the door is locked and then I start pulling at the handle, like I'm trying to escape, as we're speeding down the road. I wasn't laughing for long before Gary slams on the breaks and swerves to the side of the road, bringing us to an abrupt stopped position and again my upper body flies dangerously close to the windshield. I notice outside the windows the clouds of upset dust and dirt swirling and aiming to settle back down to the earth. I'm stilling bracing myself, hands against the glove box.
"Is this how you think you're going to get me to let you drive my truck??" Gary howls.
I'm still recovering from the sudden shift in movement, so I don't answer him right away.
"Huh, Gracie? Is that what you're thinking? Because pissing me off is going to get you nothing of what you want. I'll tell you that."
He's sitting facing me now with his left arm slung over the steering wheel; his right knee bent at an acute angle and propped up on the seat, pointing in my direction. Even though his words are tough, his tone gets softer as he says the last few words.
I look up over at him and say, "Well it got you to pull over, didn't it? Now come on. Let's switch seats, huh?"
He just looks at me and starts to laugh, a deep chuckle. He slaps the back of the seat about halfway between our bodies. I jump a little, but I'm not scared. Laughing means I'm about to get what I want.
"Come on, Gare. Just let me try. Yeah?"
He slaps the seat again in the same spot.
"Well goshdarnit Gracie. Why didn't you just ask nicely in the first place? Come on. Crawl over." He puts his right foot back on the truck floor, clicks open the door and slides out all in three quick movements. As I slide over, the door knocks shut and I can barely believe it worked. I'm settling, nervously, into the seat curiously setting my feet on the pedals and fingering all the bells and whistles when Gary plops himself down on the passenger side. I feel like I'm in heaven, but I have this feeling that Gary, my guide, is about to show me that heaven ain't all it's cracked up to be.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


scuttlebutt\SKUHT-l-buht\ , noun:
1. A drinking fountain on a ship.
2. A cask on a ship that contains the day's supply of drinking water.
3. Informal. Gossip; rumor.

The name of my pet bug. Only I could see him and he followed me around everywhere. It's a good thing he was invisible, because if my mom had seen all the places he was getting up into she literally would have killed him. Mom was deathly afraid of bugs. She hated black flies, brown spiders and even little red ladybeetles with the little black spots on them. She either had a spatula in her hand or a fly-swatter, and she'd use them in just about the same way. Flipping burgers and puncturing eggs with the same quick movements as she would smash a housefly. Little did she know that Scuttlebutt was up on the counter or sitting in the sink or right in the middle of the kitchen table, watching her and wincing with every swat, looking at me with wide eyes and shivering. He never did get used to her viscous ways toward the tiny things that always scrambled to get out of her way.
In general I tried to avoid the kitchen for this reason - to protect Scuttlebutt. I didn't like to see him distressed and since he followed me everywhere I thought it might be cruel to force him to watch his kindred being shot down one after the other. Of course Scuttlebutt was different from any other bug I had ever seen or found squished under a napkin. He was a color that was a bunch of colors in one; he could blend in with anything. And I don't mean like a was almost as if he was every color all at once and he just became more solid of a color when he wanted to blend in with what was around him, when he wanted to hide. Like when my mom was talking directly to me, he would just disappear, become part of the sofa or something like that. And he was big. His shell came up to my knees when I stood up and if I laid down it was possible to hug him like a long pillow because he was soft too. Not squooshy or fuzzy but huggable, if you know what I mean. Anyway, he was my friend and so I kept him away from mom. I knew she didn't have a swatter big enough to pop him, and it wasn't like she could see him, but I wasn't going to risk it. Scuttlebutt was the only friend I had.
You'd think it would have bothered me to have a big bug following me around all the time, but it really didn't seem like he had anything else to do and I certainly didn't mind the company. I was 5 years old and had already given up on the idea that mom and dad might one day bring home a brother for me to play with and by that point I had already learned you couldn't play fun games with a baby. Couldn't build forts with them or climb trees or conduct contests to see who can do stuff faster or better or longer. Not that I did any of that stuff with Scuttlebutt. That just would have been weird. And mean. He just didn't have the legs for any of it. Mostly he just watched me do stuff on my own. I think he just knew that it was nice to have somebody else around, someone to talk to. When it's only you most of the time you start making up things to do and eventually I started to experiment with building things. I'd take bits of recycling and old newspapers and odd electronic parts that mom or dad were getting rid of and collect them in a heap under my bed. Piece by piece I would take this or that and see how I could stack it or fit it or glue it together to make something else. Things without an obvious purpose or logic about them, but that made me glad when I looked at them. Scuttlebutt liked them too. Of course I think part of the reason he liked them is because a lot of them would end up looking like him. Well, variations of him. Metallic bugs. Tiny ones. Medium ones. And Scuttlebutt-size ones. Those were the ones we both liked the best. I called them Scuttlebutt Sculptures. But then we'd always have to try to hide them somehow, or even take them apart and put them back together again later, because mom was always trying to throw them out.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


milieu \meel-YUH; meel-YOO\ , noun:
1. Environment; setting.

Milieu. Million. A million places to be. A million people to be. Milieu.
Will you walk with me? Will you go with me to these places? A hand to hold. A body to walk with. Footfalls. I see us walking along a river. Cobblestones under our feet. The ground is uneven. I cling to your fingers and palm. You clutch mine. Reassure me with a squeeze that you are not letting go. My shoes are slippery. I do not trust them. You can see this in my face. The way I look to you, expectant, but smiling. Worried, but not worried. It has just finished raining. Or it is still raining. There is a faint mist, a drizzle. For some reason in my vision I am imagining Paris. The Eiffel Tower in the distance. Crowds at our left side. A ferris wheel? A river to our right. My hair is brown - or should I say "brunette"? That is much prettier. I do not look like me. My skin is olive and very smooth. I look good in winter colors. My hair is not curly, just wavy, and only half pulled back. That is not me. And the man. The man I was only just recently imagining was holding my hand - I cannot make out his face. Just that he is handsome. And he is smiling. He is French. He can only barely speak American. Ah so that is why the two characters smile at each other so much. They cannot speak. Neither can ruin the moment. Perhaps they are laughing at that too. It is funny in a way to think that speaking could ruin a moment. Well actually that is not so funny. It is true. Oh to not be able to speak - no - to not have to speak in order to communicate. How lovely that must be. I still see their faces close up in my vision. Their eyes sparkle, reflect the rippling water. A silvery glow. The air is crisp but gentle. No rough wind. The sky is gray but it is not gloomy. It simply offers a quiet backdrop. It is full. Full of something. Rain clouds share. It is not raining. It is sprinkling. The sound all around is splashing and gently falling droplets. And laughter. Yes, these two continue to laugh. Oh vacation. Where do these women meet these men? Does it matter that this probably will not last? Will she compare all American men she meets from now on to this French man that only needed to smile at her and squeeze her hand to make her feel secure and right? It is strange but in her dreams of love there was always sunshine and rays of heat. But even on this cloudy day in Paris she feels that. Or no she feels that this is almost better. Better than she could have imagined it before.