Excerpt from recent work
The thing, that one thing that’s crucial to understanding a society, about Atalsia is diagnosis. The Ancients began phasing through medical practice with intensity—dissecting every available organism on cold slabs in moist, dank cells underground, toxins hanging in the air as hell’s continuously seeping sea breeze. The tomes discussing all documented malpractices outlasted philosophy, poetry, and religion. Spreading and effecting every inch of civilization, the people filtered knowledge through checklists, traditional tests and texts tried through the ages. Atalsia fostered study, bulging in prosperity and patrons for scientific advancements, beckoning brilliant minds across the lands to its crisp, clean streets and hygienic metal buildings: the crux of progress.
The Board ruled in favor of immortality; each successor preserved all instances of impartial analysis like specimens doused and consumed by formalin, contained in hidden vaults masterfully constructed to protect their treasure chest of secrets and data.
• 11 months ago
If it wasn’t for writing, I think I’d be a professional worrier. My matriarchal role models taught me well. Which means watching a show about children with psychotic disorders starts to get personal. What would I do if my kid was schizophrenic? What if I develop schizophrenia? What if one day my kid runs in front of a car while I’m not watching? Would I be able to live with myself, knowing I could have prevented them from getting hurt?
But that’s just the beginning, because I’m so concerned for these children even by association, I start worrying about a person I have no connection to beyond this prerecorded television screening.
Usually I can let things go with a little self-awareness, but then there are the times I want to be worrying—about humanity, my family, and situations in which I’d need every moment to count. Here’s when I can’t understand other people completely unconcerned. I don’t get scared by bugs; I’m scared of losing anything that remotely matters.
I started this out to make fun of myself for being so ridiculously affected by a television program, by my inability to cut away from the edited representations of life and deal more realistically with what’s actually around me. I couldn’t find the humor in this, though.
Sometimes I wonder if Jon Stewart or any satirical comedian just really sits around in their normal life, frustrated and humorless at the endless accumulation of wrongs within human society.
Then, I’m sure, somebody falls down and slapstick saves the day with a laugh.
•worrying about worrying•
•worrying about worrying about worrying•
• 1 year ago
Sometimes I want to write out the silly noises, words, phrases, and sing-song lilts my mom and I tend to make in the kitchen. That’s where you’ll find it the most. Otherwise, these strange utterances follow us through chores around the house. In my case, the particular arrival of this chirping, tittering, mockingbird-like behavior occurs when I drag my laundry basket to the washer.
Fuck laundry. I try to cheer it up a bit with a song or two, talk to my cat or dogs over my shoulder, just really do anything to take away from the fact that I’m processing my own filth to be sludged about in a thudding machine, which, by the way, I’ll have to remember to check within the hour.
I don’t. One thing is certain: if this girl isn’t wearing her ADHD patch, the laundry might just take weeks instead of whatever is reasonable—I have no sense of comparison because, no matter what, I tend to get so absorbed in life outside of a washer and dryer that I neglect the simplest duty to make sure that the washer no longer makes seriously loud noises throughout the apartment. How I manage to ignore this no one exactly knows.
So, in the case of mother, she does little melodies and dances in the kitchen. One day I’ll film her, and I’ll get the sense of satisfaction that I have from a picture I took once of my dad staring off into space: satisfied to have a real representation of this unique character. My walls have pictures of family members caught in odd poses—dancing, laughing, and, on occasion, eating. My sister and I watch television on the top level of my bookshelf. We feed pigeons next to my weekly dry-erase board. Mom hugs me after I graduated high school over the closet light switch.
If my room were alive to tell these stories, it wouldn’t include laundry. Fuck laundry.
•strong sentiments about a chore•
•really I'd rather wash all the dishes all the time•
• 1 year ago
In Defense of the Hour Five
Five a.m. clings thoughts to the mind as water droplets drip from a leaky faucet. All at once, the world becomes both quiet and awake.
I’m most partial to five a.m.
I’ve given up by then, and allowed tomorrow to become today. I let whatever dreams that have built up beyond their faulty levees break loose to a decisive and cut-throat emergence of the day. Five a.m. is not for wimps.
It’s when the hard-workers start their cars in the frost, and heavy drinkers sleep fitfully in dark depths of un-memories. College students wake up from an hour nap, if they had one at all, to mold scraps into passes and words into grades, red-eyed and slobbery. At five a.m., it may be reasonable to text a friend for help or get back into the library for “last call” before the stapled and printed mud-pie of sentences arrives at his or her desk. Five a.m. is ruthless.
I could have gone to sleep at four, and then it could be considered reasonable. Four a.m. still has possibility, like trying to scrape the last little bit of peanut butter from a mostly empty jar. At four, you can leave your work with dignity, or save part of yourself or some of your money all for yourself. An hour later, it’s too late.
Five has no options. Five makes your decisions for you. At five, there’s no returning. You’re stuck with this new day, forced to reexamine it all to restart anew.
At five a.m., you are rebooting for updates.
So, understandably, most people despise this hour. To them, it’s no good. The newly turned hourglass frightens them with anticipation. “This is not morning! This is a travesty against my personal livelihood!”
But, all things considered, I don’t mind five a.m. so much… because at five, my cat—drowsy eyed, exhausted from chasing shadows around the edges of the bathtub, and lazily purring from a day well-used—decides she really quite likes having me around by laying herself across my chest, pressing her head against my cheek a few times, and, after putting her cold little nose against mine in a gentle thrum of an engine running, licks the straight bridge of my nose in affectionate afterthought.
Even though it’s dark, without even the slightest hint of day, I sit bemused thinking about how I’ve beat the sunrise by a couple of hours in early spring…
because in this delirious state of mind, I’m too exhausted to see the flaws of such logic.
• 1 year ago
My grandmother wasn’t even considered a woman in my mind. She was something more, otherworldly like Santa Claus: a role model and the most giving person I could ever imagine. She had a full laugh, and occasionally, she reminded me of a sweet version of Medusa with curlers in her hair, much like the Wicked Witch of the West had her counterpart the Good Witch of the East, laughing behind bright red lips in a cackle that either hit an endearing note or annoyed the hell out of you depending on your mood.
She was set in her ways. Curlers, red lipstick, long red nails for most of my childhood, and the idea that family was the most important thing you could ever hold onto. She described herself, saying she “never did meet a stranger,” and you resented that as she took hours just to walk through Wal-Mart when it should be a thirty minute trip.
I don’t know what Mary Rachel Kirk in her young years would’ve been like, but I can imagine she was a force to be reckoned with, as she remained youthful and joyful throughout her life. Dear God help us if there was a baby in her sight, she’d immediately coo. She invited people into her house with welcome arms and a smack of a kiss on their cheek.
Stubborn, loud, ridiculously small minded, but always ready for a conversation, even if she only really wanted to hear herself talk some more. She’d talk to a rock if she thought it would listen.
Sometimes, the pain is still fresh, and I freeze up when I think of her and the more spectacular moments of being in her presence.
She bragged about her children and grandchildren to her death bed. She loved in ways that seemed impossible—scolding you but with a quick forgiveness that melted away your worries like the candy she let me have melted in my greedy hands. What I would do for another hug, a kiss, to smell peppermints and talcum powder or that waft of strong, floral perfume…
Watches didn’t work on her; she was that magnetic.
I slurred into a Southern drawl in her house, easy with snark and quick comments about how silly she was in spending all of her time in fretful worry about everyone she cared about, working pieces of napkins twisted into white bow ties of nerves.
In my favorite picture of her, she stands bright with her mouth wide open in joy, arm in arm with my university’s mascot in Wal-Mart. She was so proud of me, that I worked my way into her favorite college, continuing the tradition and legacy, but most of all that I was close to her. So, while I spent all of those hours before college frustrated with staying so close by at a place that I considered underwhelming, she wrapped me up in pride.
Maybe she knew. Maybe she was sicker than she told us. Maybe she was so happy to know that I’d be close by when she left.
•gift in progress for my dad and family•
• 1 year ago
She sat in the wind, looking over the edge within a trailer that stood on the side of a hill next to grazing goats. It tickled her, cold and shifting in the fierce haze of late morning over the pasture. Purple set over pale green stalks of hay and weeds, grass and mire.
Their yelling woke her. So, picking up her puffy coat with wool patches all over the front, she stepped out the back door while her dad was in the bathroom and after she heard her mom leave for the gas station or something. A quick walk down the gravel and dirt driveway, she crossed the old paved road their house stood creaking beside. Past two old broken down trucks, then to the gate that Pepper waited behind, the horse nosed her hand as she unchained the metal from its fence, pulling open with a tug and slamming it back before any unruly kid could cross.
She made way for their old fort, hidden behind trees, mattress springs and pieces of cars she couldn’t even name. Rae wanted a sympathetic atmosphere to soak herself in, and the tin palisade could do well for her spirit. The fort was something they added onto over the years, just as her Pop added old cars to rust in this piece of the woods. At first, only a hand towel hung from a branch marked the land of their country as a flag, but then they gathered hubcaps, old televisions, a couple of broken chairs, and, most of all, building supplies to create a half-structure residing—ruined before it had been abandoned, wasted before resourced, half-imaginary and half-standing.
But, she veered away from that certain home. Without a friend or sibling by her side, it felt like a patch of bones in a haunted forest.
The loft could harbor her feelings, but she last knocked her head into a beam when they played tunnels, weaving about the edges of haystacks where the angled ceiling met floor. Luckily, she missed the long, exposed roofing nail nearby.
Her dad would only return out to the barn to work on some cars. That wasn’t a choice. The apple tree was too small for her to climb easily now. The choices were narrowing down. She sat on a clear section of the rolling pasture, having never truly entered the forest beyond, thinking.
The sky didn’t have shape-seeing clouds, only a heavy mist that accompanies the morning. She wished they could have saved it for later. She wished they’d just get divorced like they’re always promising each other. She pulled clumps of grass out of the ground. A cow eyed her nearby, chewing and turning it’s head to the side to let one large and wild pupil set on her. Rae barely noticed, pouting into the ground and digging up more clumps in anger.
Maybe she could run away. She bet they wouldn’t miss her. She could go see Pop, or just live off of the land like one of the books she read for school mentioned. She figured she would only need a few things.
Dirt soaked into the knees of her corduroy overalls, sticky and sharp green grass goo and clay. She picked her nails with a grass stalk, pondering an escape. Perhaps one of the cars here actually worked…
That thought was interrupted with a rumble, and she peered into the mist. In an instant, she began to run over the field, gleeful, as fat drops attacked her bare head. She twirled, arms open, singing, wet with surprise and dripping with the sheer enthusiasm of bounding over a hill, farm animals at her heels.
Rae sought shelter in a trailer perched nearby, empty except for junk and aging objects of little worth. The doorless door, a gaping and wide arch, opened a few feet off of the ground, and she pulled herself onto it’s floor, gasping for breath and shivering in the chill. She sat in the wind, waiting for someone to find her, waiting for someone to notice that she ran away to a trailer nearby, across an old road, on their pasture on top of a hill, and seated in a pile of junk.
• 1 year ago
“pao de queijo”
The Amazon. A mix of two rivers that clash together—dark black and muddy brown, rushing up against buildings and huts, stilted one room constructs and walls that hid a city nearby. One thing you don’t hear about is the variety of color that hits you from the land, that the people there paint everything to be seen and viewed so as to give a passing boat more chance to glance over at whatever Portuguese phrase is shouted across the water: bright reds, blues, and yellows that strive to come out of green banks and cloudy sky.
It’s overpowering, scary, and a little too much to take in at once. Everyone’s lives surround the ability of a mass of water to propel them further downstream or, more importantly, allow others the passage to come to market. The water tempts you to dip your toes in because the sun’s making fun of you and beating down your neck, but you know that whatever lies beneath it’s surface wouldn’t be quite as friendly as the Gulf Coast.
People chat across floating barge stores, yelling to ask about each others relatives and the weather. You’ve drifted into a floating city, moist and airy within the tremulous wake of a temperamental river.
Then, you approach a dock hidden by tree roots and a variety of bright green flora, and a trail leads you into the legendary rainforest. Yellow barked trees, ants as large as your thumb, large and frighteningly scaled snakes draped on branches. It grows steadily darker as you proceed, a thick atmosphere you didn’t think existed on Earth. It seems like your lungs are breathing the purest mix of oxygen and water vapor, deepening into your blood and sticking onto your neck and legs. Vibrant greens and browns meet every turn, but when you notice a spot of color, it seems like the brightest hue you can imagine. Rich and over-saturated, the hike follows an unbelievable aspect of life and an experience which returns only with a quick, calm shut of the eyes.
The hotel smelled like my Grandmother’s house. Mildew, a scent that recalled summers in Georgia and country music, sweet tea and biscuits, David Letterman and line-dried pillows and sheets, because her house had the insulation all wrong but they only found out during renovation. We were at home. There was a picture of a naked man in a drawer, with only boots and a hat on standing next to a pile of hay. It was ripped out of a porn magazine. My mom, the epitome of inappropriate, showed it to me—fourteen at the time—laughing. I blushed.
The rooms were lavish, lush, a bit outdated but still enormous and expensive. Dark and exotic wood floors resounded as we set down our luggage on oriental carpets and sat on the king size beds. For once, my sister and I got our own room, which was exciting for a middle class family used to piling up in a room of two doubles at a Super 8 or whatever cheap hotel gave my dad a AAA or military discount. The room had a television, which felt out of place in the middle of the Amazon and having seen daily the horrifyingly disadvantaged and impoverished people of Brazil. The economy made travel cheap for Americans, having such a large gap between the wealthy and poor. Those in power lived in penthouses while most of the country lived on the tops of hills so as to let their waste carry itself down with gravity because there wasn’t plumbing. Seven years later, I’d be curious to see the changes, but it sounds like an increasingly familiar distribution of power.
Outside, on the right of the hotel, before you got to its gardens and other various improvements, exotic animals peered out at you from metal cages. Jaguars perched lazily on branches, and monkeys made friends, spurred by their innate curiosity. Tourists made lazy strolls around the bars, snapping photos before they were off for the day. There was a strange balance of voyeurism and care, interest budding off of concern for the strange species, but it garnered from their captivity rather than a pursuit for equality. Human dominion wins over pieces of this lush sample of biodiversity, surrounding it and categorizing the remains. We walked on.
I think I swam in a safe part of the Amazon. The details are fuzzy, but it was a small slice of paradise affixed with thatched roofed gazebos and bamboo matted reclining chairs. My mom’s smile was wide under her straw hat. My sister Jessica looked out into the distance, surveying the calm waters. Dad talked with our guide, watching birds fly up and over, calling out whenever one splashed down into water nearby. I closed my eyes, letting the voices blur into the wildlife cacophony of frog croaks, bird songs, and the river’s sweet streaming music of coursing water.
• 1 year ago