Thursday, September 29, 2011

Did you know Jimmy Buffet wrote books?

tUnE-yArDs - Gangsta

I was at my friend's house at the end of the night, sitting in a group with three other people drinking wine in a low lit kitchen. I made some comment about my usual Wednesday drinking habits having illustrated that in a group like this, the majority of people around me will have smart phones. So we polled our group, and we were split 50/50, the other two having flip phones.
"Oh well, so this is the exception" I shrugged off. I give up theories easily, like loose change.
"No, but I think A. doesn't have a smart phone, so she swings it in their favor" he said, referring to the girl who had just gone to sleep.
So we went back through everyone that had stopped by. "C. and J. both had smart phones" I pointed out.
"And C. and L. didn't," he countered.
And one by one, we counted them, he having been there before me, since I predictably show up an hour after I said I would be somewhere always. In the end, the final tally, all guests and visitors included, the score was still 50/50.
"So isn't it cool how even after the group is gone, the ratio remains the same in the smallest leftover sample? Like, it just shrunk but retained it's balance." I said, and suddenly I was very aware of the position of my ankles.
"This whole thing is lesson in fractals," A. pointed out.
"You should draw the whole equation on that wall," I said to him, maybe in reference to something else later, I don't remember. "The next people to move in here would love it. It would be great. Or really creepy."

Later I drove home, still singing to Weakerthans, because that happens every couple months I remember how much I love them and become 22 again , and I stopped to get coffee for tomorrow morning. Driving home down the small neighborhood streets, quiet and dark after midnight, I saw cops passing through far away intersections. They were silent deadly gliding sharks in the shadows.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Several Tweets I Had More I Wanted To Say About This Week

"So for Leonard Cohen's birthday, he asked R.E.M to break up?"

Jesus, R.E.M. broke up. I don't normally care about shit like that, but I guess I'm old enough that instead of my parent's youth disintegrating, it's starting to become mine. So yes, I may have spent two days listening to the same three songs on repeat. I think two days is an appropriate amount of grieving. It was their time. I can't believe that companies think three days funeral time is enough if your family member dies, when I mourn a band for two days? Man, someday Vampire Weekend is going to break up and I'm just going to freak.
"I just teared up thinking about the day Michael Stipe dies. & Thom Yorke. What if it was them on a plane together flying it into a mountain?"

"I have to wonder where everyone that is always at Deagans went before there was Deagans."

Deagans is this bar in Lakewood. I like it well enough. The servers are always on happy pills and no matter how crowded it is, they always find me a hightop twotop. The food is pretty reliably good. They have a vegan night. So yeah, Deagans is good. But every time I go I get thrown off by the crowd. I didn't think any place in Lakewood got crowded like that. But then I sat and thought through that statement and decided that was false, lots of places get crowded by that exact same crowd. I just don't know ANY of them. My whole experience in Lakewood has been at high school friends' houses and the Cllifton Ave Mile of Apartments with goth kids and record store co workers. This, coupled with the R.E.M. thing, really threw me off that day.

"Its as if everyone in the country under 50 just realized that the death penalty exists."
"I want people to be educated, I want them to get upset, but then I want them to REMEMBER it three days later."

This was about the Troy Davis execution. Just now, instead of execution, I accidentally typed education, which would be appropriate. I learned a lot from this particular thing. I mean, not about the death penalty, I don't believe in that. I won't argue it with anyone though, because logically if I go too far down the rabbit hole of my personal morals in regards to the Empire and How To Run a Populace, I get disturbingly conflicted about it. But the fact that I get that disturbed, and that I know in my heart it's wrong as sure as I know it's wrong to be anti-choice and anti-queer, I think that's enough. It's just one of those things.
I also learned that it comes to human rights issues, I care more about the ones that affect massive amounts of people instead of a relatively few number, like healthcare and education. I realize that you should not forgive or ignore even the smallest cruelty, but in this world of constant dramatic inundation, of one atrocity after another after another (the way the world always worked but now just so more visible as a whole global dark cloud, a poisonous black fog covering our countries) a person has to actually choose which terrible thing is going to break their heart that day week month. Or, if you're going to acknowledge all of it all at once, you have to shut down a part of your soul and get colder. I guess I hop back and forth across that line. I think it's driving us all crazy but I'm not saying I'm sure that shouldn't happen.
The last thing I realized was that I like twitter just fine for funny little bon mots and making plans, but when it comes to getting your news? It is the scariest fucking thing I have ever seen. It is tapping in the the terrifying power of a collective "OMGWTF" reaction, a feeling that the human race has apparently been storing up for centuries, waiting to be unleashed on the Electric Brain, so much so that it spills into their trips to the morning coffeeshops and opinions about office supplies. The Human Race is so stressed out, we have the same reaction to terrible service in a restaurant or a football player as we do to a man being executed without justice, one of panicked outrage. And worse, this panic is so manic, we jump from topic to topic, "news addict" now also maybe meaning "looking for that outrage high". Otherwise, why not stop every once in a while? I fear our heads will someday explode all at once, or our hearts, but probably those particular organs will be withered and black with gerbil-like worry by then. Listen, I can agree that people should worry, have reason to worry greatly, while also acknowledging the mental and physical small deaths that worry causes.

"HEY #Twitter! The fact that you banned #TroyDavis from trending, but #OnlyFatPeople is okay? IS OFFENSIVE AND HORRIBLE YOU ASSHOLES."
"Look, I realize this is not a #twitter democracy, but when you pick and choose trending topics, and leave offensive ones in while..."
"...taking out important relevant ones, then what is the fucking point? It isn't an actual picture of what's trending at all."

So an aspect of Twitter is that there is a sidebar which shows you topics that are trending in your city, what people are talking the most about. A nasty little thing that happened during the Troy Davis shitstorm is that Twitter "removed" the topic #TroyDavis from that list. You could still see it if you actually manually searched for the tag, but it was not shown to anyone else who might see it and just wonder what it was about. Twitter does that, they edit. Apparently #JustinBieber was also removed, I imagine because it had been trending for what seemed like a fucking year.
Now I'm not claiming a Twitter conspiracy and I'm not even calling Twitter racist. I think they probably removed it for reasons they didn't think through enough. But you know what? If you are going to edit topics that are trending, could we please also maybe take out the Constant misogyny and racism that occurs on a daily basis? Like, you want to keep things civil and PC? Fine, you're a free private service, do whatever you like, but if you want to try, put more effort into actually being PC then and don't take out the stuff that is actual relevant news.

To top it off, if your "trending topics" aren't actually the most popular topics, than what is the point of that feature? It takes all the coolness out of it.

And of course my personal issue is with that Fat People tag. It is NOT okay to make fun of fat people guys, anymore than you would make fun of ugly people or single moms. It is ignorant and mean. If your version of humor is based on exerting your own superiority, you aren't funny. I don't need to win anyone over to fat acceptance, I don't particularly like it and yes it's unhealthy and it's my own private business what I do about it. Humor about fat people reminds me of gay bashing, its heavily focused on being disgusted about sex. And you know what, if you're not physically attracted to me, fine. Guess what, I don't want to sleep with you either. I probably didn't before you even opened your mouth. But if you are going to write me off as a person because you don't want to sleep with me? You are a terrible shallow awful human being. And you are probably pretty stupid. There are other nicer complex smart wonderful people who I would much rather fuck, and frankly, I get quite enough action without your approval. Also, if you yourself are fat, it doesn't give you license to make fun of anyone but yourself. I had this boyfriend who was also fat, and he loved to watch Biggest Loser and make fun of the fatties, and I argued a lot with him about it because you know, if you're black, it doesn't mean you get to go around calling every black person n----. It's a point of decency and correct behavior. I don't care what you think about it, keep it to yourself. Show me some respect.

Of course after I write this, I am chastised by a moment where I think about stealing the pics of the visitors to my okcupid profile and using them on a post about serial killers. But the point is, I won't do it. Cause that would be mean.

"Please let me be hit by molten satellite debris."
Exciting science stuff happened this week, like a satellite falling to earth, and a new dinosaur was discovered, and something about translating brain waves into visual images which I can't even bring myself to read yet. I'm saving it for a day when I need reassurance that wonderful things still exist in the world.

"Let's all pledge to try and find a way to reanimate and elect Jim Henson as president by his 85th birthday."
Cause I'll be honest, I think that may be our only hope some days.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

How to Believe in Love Ever After: Or is there a link between Dejavu and Dehydration?

My friend recently went to Prague. He told me he had a dream the night before he left, a nightmare, in which he had been a witness to the creation of the golem. Later, wandering around the Jewish quarter after Octoberfest, he and his friends found themselves by accident at the very synagogue of Rabbi Loew, who purportedly created the infamous Golem of Prague, molded to protect the ghetto from the Holy Roman Emperor in the 16th century. When the golem became violently out of control, the rabbi scratched out the first letter of the word for truth written on its forehead, changing the word from "truth" to "death", and the clay robot switched off.

So maybe that's what our third eyes are actually, off switches.

Sometimes it's very hard to remember these are coincidences. Our minds so badly want to make every experience into a meaningful narrative, we naturally turn our lives into stories, write in the guiding structures and themes where none exist. Listen, sometimes it's harder being an atheist than you think. I could say that I fight to keep someone from scratching out the first letter on my forehead, but a religious person could argue that it has already been, truth is what we want it be always and so this is terrible metaphor.

I have coincidences happen to me all the time that I hold precious and also hate, like little drops of water in a great big lake of things just existing cause, betraying the existence of a coming irrational storm. This is a side effect of trying to be imaginative, you become a terrible romantic against your will. Even worse, something in the programming of my poor little brain is naturally and viciously inclined to moments of dejavu. Which I believe is a genetic chemical reaction, mean little neurons firing away, but when you are trying to suck every story possible out of your life, that's like a fucking affliction. Its crack for the creative, a false momentary sense of meaning and hope and predestination. Then I shake it off and remind myself not to get carried away. Oh but geez do I love being carried away.

I spent a lot of the week drinking, it was just one of those weeks. I'm going dry for the next two weeks, just to clear myself a little and work on some projects I keep thinking about, but am doing nothing towards. I needed it though, Fall was speeding too fast towards me, time was just slipping away, and the thing to do when you feel that way is have a lot of really good times, do some weird thing and rash unwise things, so that every day has it's own adventure and the week feels that it's going on forever. This summer lasted fresh a whole year almost, and I'm not ready to let that go.

The point is, drunk in so many different situations, I had a lot of conversations. With Tara, with Carrie and Sarah, bartenders, acquaintances that became friends. That conversation with Nate walking across the bridge last Sunday set the tone for the week, I hungrily sought out tipsiness and intimate talk. I'm not rude when I'm drunk, or loud, or mean. But I am willing to talk about anything with anyone. That doesn't sound like it would be a bad thing, but the social convention of how to interact with strangers exists for a reason, so people don't realize what a fucking weirdo you are. At a party, I was talking to a guy I had only met that night, and it was very civilized, careers and places lives and stuff, but then suddenly I found myself telling him this story of what happened to me Tuesday, which I find to be a crazy but funny and maybe a little poignant story, but if you're just listening to some drunk girl tell it on a patio as she smokes over the railing with dance music blaring, then it comes off extremely degenerate and slutty and maybe trashy? I've heard such good stories from strangers, stories of redemption and moments of humility when they found their calling or received thanks from the universe and stories about falling in love or escaping religious fallacies or getting out of small towns or small marriages. These people don't realize how momentous their stories are when they are telling them, usually you have to wring this stuff from people because they have no sense of the importance of their own lives. They think they are uninteresting. Then there are people like me and Buddy who think everything that happens to us is interesting, and everyone else is interesting too, and we are the kind of people who tell inappropriate stories to strangers when we are drunk expecting the same in return. It's something I love about Buddy, he understands my inclination to talk to everyone the same way, that it doesn't matter if he's known you ten years or ten minutes, we're going to be honest in the conversation and say exactly what we are thinking about. Let the conversation live in the way its going, don't force it to stay in the confines of polite society. Be yourself. Live under the assumption that everyone is coming to this conversation on the same level.

I personally think that's the best justification for being a talky drunk I can come up with.

Anyway, Buddy and I were driving home from that party, and I told him about how I think I had freaked that guy out. He responded "why would you tell him that story? You can't just tell everyone that story."
"But it's a good story! It's a great story. Also it's what happened." I protested.
"Yeah, I know, but you can't tell that story to guys you might want to sleep with."
" But I wasn't trying to do that. And anyway, that's a great story, and I don't want to sleep with anyone who doesn't get why it's so great."

So possibly I will use this story, which I'm sorry, I'm not telling you here, to vet new people I meet. Do they hear the ringing behind it, the thin line of sad beauty I see in it, or do they just think I'm a drunk slut? Which is sort of the same as me writing about dereliction in Cleveland, and either you see why it's beautiful, or you think I have Stockholm syndrome. Or maybe I will never tell that story again.

I also danced a lot this week. It's nice that Fall is for dancing and talking. Lots and lots of shows. I almost forget that every October. Lots of "oh yay sweater weather!" and "pumpkins!", but the best part of the weather getting cold is the city collectively tries to suck every tiny taste of life out of the day, like bears getting fat for hibernation.

I know I've been terrible about writing posts this past month. But it is important for me to work on writing things that aren't just blog posts you know. You can't have everything for free. Eventually you're going to have to pay for it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

I will change my last name to Jameson and inherit millions!

Friday night I got off work and painted myself up in unicorn spit, fake diamonds, and the scales from a Mongolian Ice Lizard. I had to make myself look as little like a virgin as possible, because that night was the Annual Sacrifice to The Gods of the Coal Elevators and Cargo Ships, and at midnight they always throw a virgin hipster off the bridge, so the trick is to stay in the shadows and be old. I filled up two flasks and sparkled my way into the crowds. All the citizens were there, and I think I said hi to all of them, all ten million dark faces coming into focus, one after another. I needed to be drunk to smile that long, to say hi for five hours straight, to walk back and forth over the bridge, over and over again, hitching along to different wandering groups like a small fish trying to ride the wake behind a shark so big it can only be seen in focus from a distance. The entire social scene of one midsized midwest city gathered in one long parade. By hour three, I was trying to explain to people how exhausting it was to not be able to walk 200 feet without having to stop and talk to someone else, to do that shallow quick come up with conversation quick remember their name quick say hi to everyone they are with. It wasn't bragging, it was me trying to drunkenly express how overwhelming it can be to try and hang out with everyone all at once, how I wanted to sit and have real conversations with 58 of you but not all at once, the pressure to know how much small talk has been required and when to let flow of traffic take over again, how to not ignore anyone, how to not be rude or clingy or aloof. It was a lot of fun to glisten, but when it stopped being fun I happily left with my friend from Chicago to go outside to the rest of Cleveland.

We stumbled a few blocks to the bar, and thankfully ordered coffee and a hookah, watching a middle eastern quinceanera, 17 yr old girls in tight club dresses, their mothers looking on in tight club dresses, their boyfriends all in bright colored polo shirts their hair dripping with grease. The dj playing all top 40 until every once in a while he played something foreign and Eastern, and all the boys would dance wildly in a circle with themselves, stomping and throwing hands and feet everywhere, being the first children of immigrants and knowing how to do the folk dances from weddings and birthdays. We drank our coffee gratefully and watched the dancers in half mocking half admiring awe. Then I followed the group of stand up comedians I had thrown my lot in with, because of the one I knew from out of town, and we went to the Hot Dog bar for close, and later to another guys house to hang out. I don't know if you've ever hung out with 9 stand up comedians at once? It's fucked up. They know it's fucked up too, the way they are constantly trying to riff on something and throw out one liners and sacrifice each other one by one to the quick laugh. Someone told me once stand up comedians are the most broken kind of people, because they have to take all their issues and throw them out to the public for consumption, are basically in the process of being eaten alive all the time. Striving to be a funny Prometheus. They are odd nice people to be around at 4am. It is like being wasted around 9 little brothers who are also perverts and also actually teddy bears.

Saturday night I was pretty broken, physically and emotionally from things not related to here, so I stayed home and drank more whiskey and watched a lot of tv scifi. I do that sometimes. My cats appreciate it. Saturday pretty much did not exist.

Sunday I woke up with absolutely nothing to do, nothing at all. That means I could have been cleaning, there is always cleaning, there is always writing and filling out applications and a bunch of responsible things, but that kind of stuff doesn't count on the first day you wake up and don't have to work. I met my sister on the east side for brunch, and headed back to the bridge to watch some free music. I called no one. I made plans with no one. I wore something shadowy. I wanted to see no one I knew and just walk around and sit and be there. Nate was there, also doing the same thing, so we sat together and watched the bands. I never go to local bands, because my tolerance for mediocrity is old like me, and finally I saw a local band I love and would go see again, and that was nice. That was hopeful and inclusive, like this winter would be good too, which I was worried about, that my lovely awesome amazing summer would fade out to Cleveland bitterness again. It was lovely to be able to walk along the length of the bridge now cleared of people, and have a total and complete and ongoing conversation with a friend. We left when they kicked us out, and went back to his house, and finished the whiskey. His girlfriend showed us photos she had taken for her sister's Save the Date, a hip pretty couple I didn't know at all in fields and on fences and with flowers in their hair, and then we all talked about bands, and it was reassuringly normal and nice and not fake or hustled at all. So I left there and drove around the highways and some old neighborhoods I like to see every once in a while, and the sun was setting beautiful and gold, as if the whole weekend had been one long sparkling night and now it was the morning when you hadn't slept at all and it was rising as you headed home.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Quick Catch Up Call

So let's see. Yesterday I saw a lecture at the Natural History Museum that was part of the Archeology series. It was by a Greek professor, about the excavation of a city called Sikyon. It was technical, the guy went into the geology of the area just like a guy talking to a room full of people he assumes know what he's talking about - conglomerate rocks and Pliocene layers, the shape of the coastal terraces. It wasn't that hard to follow though, there were lots of maps, and what really stuck with me was one satellite map he showed with an image of the old city grid. Old meaning oh my god old, not just sort of old. Streets six meters across, 20 feet, in big square blocks across the whole of the plateau stretching before the acropolis, and all oriented north south. What was interesting about this was that the streets were not laid out following the natural walls of the landscape, which would have not been the cardinal points but would have been easier certainly and made more sense space wise. They had pulled meteorological data for the area, consulted with experts who study ancient weather (I KNOW what the hell are we doing with our lives?), and it didn't look like it was done for any weather related reasons. So this professor is talking about their theories about the city grid, rectangular blocks versus square ones, and how there was no zoning because houses were right on top of the industrial quarter, and in my head like silly putty there poured in a sudden awareness of the real and true and tangible existence of ancient urban planning theory. Ancient so close to prehistoric it practically hurts men daydreaming up perfect civic centers, how to best shelter a populace, how to arrange the parade routes so they don't go straight through the kilns. Then the engineers! They dug up all this bedrock and threw it up against the natural slope to make amphitheater seating and stadium walls. It gave me a whole new appreciation for those of you I know who have careers in this stuff, a long hallowed classical legacy and what not, like doctors and farmers. Working in insurance does not have that same tradition, obviously. I mean, someday it will probably will. How depressing is that thought?

Afterwards it rained, and I met my sister up at a bar where I had a bourbon and she had a burger and we talked about shit. Then a friend who went to school for urban planning showed up, and the conversation turned pretty much how that last paragraph went. So that was Wednesday.

Tomorrow (Today) is Ingenuity. You're an idiot if you don't go to that. Seriously, I'm not being glib. If you live in this area and you do not go underneath the Detroit Superior bridge either tomorrow night (tonight) or Saturday night when it's all lit up and the most gorgeous place in the whole city to be, then I don't even know why you know me. A friend of mine from Chicago is coming into town to do the standup showcase Friday, and then Pechakucha is before that. Saturday and Sunday there are some bands I want to see. It's a highlight guys, a genuine highlight.

But Sunday I hope will be warm enough to go to the beach. I feel the beach slipping away from us. Today for instance I had to put on my fake Ugg slippers for the day because my feet were freezing. Oh Fall, when a young woman's thoughts turn from how long she can afford to keep the air conditioner on to how long she can afford to keep the space heater running. I came out of Labor Day weekend kinda tan, and I'm just getting attached to this new color of skin and now Ohio is gonna go mess all that up.

I finally watched Downton Abbey for the first time tonight. It was pretty much just another British serial, I don't understand why everyone is so gung ho about it, but I like those things, so I enjoyed it. Afterwards, there was a show about the history of India, and it was the episode about the reign of the Moguls, the legacy of Akbar the Great who believed in the Unified Theory of One God Many Religions, the beginning and quick end of an attempted Hindu-Muslim civilization of enlightenment and tolerance and reason. I turned it off before the British invaded, because I couldn't take much more English Imperialism at the moment.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Displaced Persons

I met a friend in Chagrin Falls the other day. It's funny how if you live here in Cleveland, Chagrin Falls brings to mind this very cutesy town square, with adorable clapboard houses, white picket fences and rose bushes, pretty bridges. But the name is actually very sinister. I didn't realize that till just now when I wrote it out. Chagrin - Regret, Shame, Guilt. What you would name a town in a murder mystery. Something very much like what my friend said as we wondered along the river park with her little girl, with our artisan 2 dollars a half scoop poached pear and cardamon ice cream, past gaggles of moms who are now my age and have somehow morphed from girls with tattoos to girls with strollers that cost more than my car is worth, and all of them in khaki floods and plain v neck tshirts that also cost more than my entire outfit that day. That this is where bad things might happen.

When I was in high school, and was the social outcast among my classmates' parents for living in the City with the Poor People and the Dangers, Chagrin Falls was still money. But it was much more small town back then, and gave off a vibe of professorial money, teaching money or design money, creative money. It felt like wholesome educated money. Now it looks like Legacy Village or Crocker Park, a cookie cutter fake facades mall vibe, the really expensive kind. Where people go to blow hundreds of dollars on purses and shoes, positively greasy with money. It rubbed off on you and stained the sheets in my happy off day frame of mind. It was an amusement park. Where once we were the misfit hippie kids wandering the town square smoking opium, spending a lot of time contemplating the waterfalls, loitering in bookstores and bars where our favorite bands used to play before they got big, now it was women on the higher side of thirty their bodies tanned and slimmed and coiffed in that way that screams "I married a lawyer", staring straight ahead with practiced intent as they sashayed across the crosswalks. Older men with expensively cut gray manes and more expensive suits leaving their business lunches to smoke cigars in the park and ogle the young mothers.

It felt dirty in a way that I never felt on W. 25th and Lorain, waiting for my bus. Even that particular hallowed corner of sincerity is going away, succumbing to a Friday bar scene with valet parking and girls in ridiculous stilettos. Money is taking places away from me, places I knew like the back of my hand, with their rusty edges and dirty wet sidewalks and windy miserable bus stops. I know the money is supposed to be good, money is better than no money I guess. And I know that I should have grown up and left these haunts behind a long time ago, replaced them with better places. I've waited too long to leave, and now my memories are all being torn down to put up cheap plastic card houses. It's my fault, I spend too much time in these places, trying to connect with people my own age who really have nothing in common with me, because I am poor and unplanned, and they are on career paths with investment portfolios. But I want people to hang out with and the people from where I grew up are not the adults with expendable income now. Frankly, I don't want to hang out with them on porches in backyards with their kids. I want to go out and spend money. I want to drink beautiful drinks with men who wear suits. This thing in me, it rebels and growls and snarls, chokes at the chain of it. I feel the absurdity and meaninglessness of the situation. I push it back and try to have a good time. I try hard to not give in to my bitter class war ways. I try really hard to not fall the other way too, into a pit of prettily attired expectations. It's exhausting, either way I lean. I feel displaced.

Then, that's when you go up on the roofs, and look at the city from where the people can't get to it, where it still smells like gray wet rain and steel exhaust. There is a still a flame sometimes from the mill and Cleveland is still a weak and gasping place that needs love, concrete steel rebar love. Love in the form of commitment to the people that actually live there, not the people you want to live there. I'm not the person, I think, to give that love, I'm not the person to give any kind of love really (being essentially a very ineffective person all together), but it helps to wipe the glitter out of your eyes frequently. It blinds you if you leave it in too long, makes you blink and suddenly you're seeing things through a funnel of wealth. The glitter and constant affirmation convinces you it's somehow normal to spend hundreds of dollars on a purse, or to wear heels in the snow. To have a new car every few years. To spend money at the bar 4 days a week, on happy hours and sushi and pork belly. How ridiculous to be made to feel inadequately rich in a place like Cleveland, in the places where we all grew up poor but felt lucky sometimes to not be That Poor, where my family looked rich because we had Lands End backpacks and didn't have to eat school lunches. Another friend mentioned, as we drove over 90W through the construction zones, how happy everyone was at her local union that all the boys had work now on the new bridge, and there that's a thing that actually matters. Workers getting jobs and paying bills and buying groceries. Maybe I am ineffective, a dilettante not an activist, but I guess in between martinis I can remember they exist and make their form and function and weight permanent in my memory. I just don't want to get lost. I desperately don't want to get lost. That's probably a sign I already am.

Friday, September 9, 2011


Things Bones do: shatter splinter crack break bruise grow cancer hollow out with calcium deficiency mold themselves over foreign objects glow in the dark laugh like a mindless maniac in cartoons turn into rock curve like bonsai pit and chip like sandstone get tired dissolve in acid crumble quiver shake shiver

a. The dense, semirigid, porous, calcified connective tissue forming the major portion of the skeleton of most vertebrates. It consists of a dense organic matrix and an inorganic, mineral component. When buried underneath a house, especially in the case of murder, will rattle and shake and sometimes whisper strange things.
b. Any of numerous anatomically distinct structures making up the skeleton of a vertebrate animal. There are more than 200 different bones in the human body. There are no bones in a squid.
c. A piece of bone. Will choke you someday, and you'll lay there gasping and dying in the middle of the restaurant while everyone around you freaks out and watching their inept panicked faces, you will realize in a hard moment that you care nothing for any of them, not even as humans, the only thing you care about is yourself and not dying right now and none of these fuckers are qualified to help you at all.
2. bones
a. The skeleton. Dead.
b. The body. Dead.
c. Mortal remains. Dead.
3. An animal structure or material, such as ivory, resembling bone. Poached and cut and sawed off.
4. Something made of bone or of material resembling bone, especially:
a. A piece of whalebone or similar material used as a corset stay.
b. bones Informal Dice. Roll those bones, shake those stays, snake eyes.
5. bones The fundamental plan or design, as of the plot of a book, or the broken remains of a building, or the arches of a mine.
a. bones Flat clappers made of bone or wood originally used by the end man in a minstrel show.
b. Bones (used with a sing. verb) The end man in a minstrel show. Because that was a thing once that everyone knew.
tr.v. boned, bon·ing, bones
1. To remove the bones from. As fast as you, tearing the animal carcass apart in smooth practiced butchery.
2. To stiffen (a piece of clothing) with stays, as of whalebone. He peeled the bones from her torso like the skin of a peach, each panel tearing off in slow careful rags.
Phrasal Verb:
bone up
Informal To study intensely, usually at the last minute: boned up for the final exam. To drink so much coffee you have more fear that your heart will explode than of whatever it is you are studying for.
bone of contention
The subject of a dispute.
bone to pick
Grounds for a complaint or dispute.

To Bone: to fuck

When they came to eat you, it was not because they were hungry and you looked the tastiest. It was because they were mindless vicious murderous beasts intent on tasting the blood of every living thing that skittled and scuttled across their path.

Have you ever actually touched or held a reptile egg? They are the most fucked up alien things ever. Rubbery and artificial looking and soft. They make no sense in this world when compared to the nice hard sensible bird egg. The point at which a reptile looks most prehistoric is in the egg, it is a snapshot of what the end of world domination really looks like. The actual fall of a life form, millenia, not just piddly centuries, something that actual might matter in the universe even in footnote fashion.

What is, I think, most intriguing to little kids about dinosaurs is the complexity of them. For instance, they have huge scary wonderful unpronounceable names. They are the size of buildings. They have brains in other parts of their bodies. There are two types of monsters - animal based and human based. Dinosaurs are the ultimate animal based monsters, which makes them inherently more sympathetic. Anything large and dumb, even the villainous, T rex, is instantly fantastic for it's pet potential. It's funny how we try to turn these crazy dangerous monsters into happy fuzzy things for children, because it's supposed to encourage them to get into science, which is of course the best thing for any child to be into. But I was always way more interested in the really scary dinosaurs. I think everyone naturally is. So I don't understand why there aren't more children's shows about dinosaur death matches. Children respond to bloodshed and natural order. And then of course, there's Shark Week.

Bones though. I don't have the same emotional reaction to human bones that I do dinosaur bones. Dinosaur bones fill me with a sense of really huge history and time and place and looking at their giant joints makes me feel the tendons in my elbows and knees so clearly, the movement of my neck too, staring at the size and shape of their elongated vertebrae. Human bones, even the earliest ones, give me nothing. I feel no connection to them. They are like toys. The frozen ash shadow people of Pompeii are statues to me, there is no proper communication of pain, no empathy. That tragic experience of human frailty that people exclaim over? Nope, I am a cold blooded girl. I understand the hunger and instinct in the shape of the dinosaurs better.

The relics of human development that affect me are the creations of it, the cave paintings and the rough tools. The closest I ever got to the same feeling from humans was when I went to the Bodies exhibit, the one where that guy filled cadavers with plastic resin? And you could see all the strings of the muscles and the impossibly delicate filigree of veins and arteries. After all, that was sort of the perfect combination of human remains and human creation. We are such morbid fucking things.

Its hard to not look at things like this as an example of Nature trying and failing, as if we are a superior species, an improvement. It's the Mammal's Bias. Maybe we are. Or maybe we are just another form of life, rising up and falling as they do all the time. In five hundred thousand years our entire world order will be different - the plants, the skies, the continents and ocean. Notice how science fiction sort of tops out at a certain length of time into the future? You don't have a lot of scifi that takes place millions of years from now, because jesus, who can even start to think of that? That's the sort of shit that will drive you crazy for sure. That's like looking into a black hole. We won't even be around. What the fuck will genes have done by then? It reminds me of that awful song they used to play on the oldies station, before the oldies became the eighties, that "In the year 2525" song. I hate that song, it makes me so uncomfortable.

The future is what dinosaurs do to me. They make it exist. They make me have to keep my eyes open to the void.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Territory of the Giants

They entered the Territories by water, on small light canoes. The canal was the easiest way to get close to the creatures, the vibrations of trucks or jeeps would wake them in their deepest chambers. As they approached the first coastal nests, she felt how vulnerable and small the canoes were. Minuscule. Dots on the horizon compared to the fully grown adult males snoring in the waves. How tiny they must look to anyone watching, like fruit flies. It was quiet in a way that suggested everything here was waiting, the tapping splash of the waves and the scrapes of the boats were the only noise.

They aren't really asleep all the way, he told them. They are never actually asleep, there is always one eye opened, like a cat. But they are starting to grow roots at this age, and we are betting that we are too small for them to bother getting up for. This was hardly comforting.

As they reached further inland, floating silently, bobbing along with the current, the population grew denser. Here, towards the center of the nests, were the teenagers. Grown up, but not yet seeking out their own patches of land along the river, they crowded around each other, still not independent of the touch of family. They were surprisingly sleek. It is getting dangerous, he warned them, but she couldn't resist letting her canoe get just a little closer to the shore, to marvel at the curve of their great muscles and bones and necks.

The whole party had gotten a little bolder by then, feeling the high of the conqueror, the adrenalin starting to flush up their cheeks. The guide tried to hush them, but when the first comment said out loud in a regular voice elicited no reaction from the giants, the whole class was soon talking full speed among themselves. I heard they can live for centuries, said one elderly gentleman from Minnesota who was touring with his towheaded adult son, that means some of these animals were here before the Territories were even settled the first time! The group shook its head in uncomprehending awe.

The First Settlers, she thought, must have been brave as all shit to come up the rivers and see these things and think, sure why not stay? She knew that the laughter of the others was coming from fear, because she could feel it settling in her chest like a lead heavy tumor. What dreams they must have had, sleeping in tents in the shadows of the Giants! Dreams of planets crashing into each other, mountains falling down, great landslides and caves. She wondered how many had run out in the middle of the night to hand himself over to a Giant, succumbed to their ever present hypnotic pulse of Come Here Come Inside Come Here Come Inside. She could feel the itch in her fingers to reach out and touch one.

No matter how pretty they looked now, sleeping in the fading September sun, she could see the oncoming storm clouds creeping on the edge behind them dark, and she could not forget what had happened to those First Settlers. It was a preserve now, but once it had been a place they had failed to take over.

Few other creatures lived among the Giants. They spotted and kept far away from the River Snakes, and he even pointed out a rare camouflaged Terminal living on the edges of the nest, spreading it's thick tentacles out around it, the air purring with it's pleasure at being alone and untouched. What else could a happy Terminal ask for, but to be left alone to grow bigger and wilder? A Terminal would take over an entire continent if given the chance.

As the group started the river loop to the outer edges, the stragglers and banished leaders became visible. Unwelcome in the nest either from power struggle or injury, these were the truly dangerous ones, and each canoe stayed as close to the center of the canal as they could. A gutted Giant growled at them from right at the waters edge, bricks spewing from its lungs in unsatisfied dormant rage. The man from Minnesota was quiet, and his son turned a whiter shade of pale, which she didn't think was possible in the people from the Snow Lands. The group paddled just a bit faster.

The skies were terrible now, shades of gray blue and purple all boiling and rolling in. The temperature dropped ten degrees, so that now she regretted not wearing her parka. We are lost, she whispered, he has taken us around this loop already. They are going to notice. We are going to die here. I'm going to freeze to death trapped on this river by ravenous monsters.

It was, a bit, dramatic of her.

But when finally, after what seemed like an hour in the freezing bursts of rain and wind, they finally reached the mouth of the river and emptied into the lake, she found she couldn't bear to leave the sight of them, standing tall and powerful and unrelenting, guarding their coastline and their own little patches of kingdom, each parcel fought for with tooth and nail. So powerful and huge, and yet so pedestrian, bourgeois, middle class in their concerns. Do they think of anything else besides territory and food and family? Do they look at us coming and going, and wonder where we are disappearing to?

They reminded her of ex boyfriends. And land wars.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


When I first started to try and write something to go along with these photos, I wrote this very long diatribe against the idea of blind peppy regionalism. It felt really good to erase that. But there were two parts I liked, and saved.

1)"I fear the instinct that creates well meaning self promoting civic pep squads is the same one that leads desperate and lonely people to gods - defensiveness of their inherent right to special, first, beloved above others no matter what. Delusional. Greatness is not something one achieves by telling everyone how great you are. You don't need to fake orgasms all the time to make people think you enjoy your life. You just have to calm the fuck down and actually be happy."

2) "There's a softer kind of love for things that doesn't ask for validation, praise, or flashy easily digestible meaning. Take inventory of each thing you see with wide open eyes, and give it existence, name it. Let it flow into you and be stored in that aquifer of bodily fluids, leaving the nets free to catch more. Then maybe someday, through practice, you'll learn to be curious again."

I've been thinking of what my own religion would be a lot lately. I've been playing around a lot with the idea of the god that didn't exist until all of us got on the internet and it was born from all our words and remains trapped there. No God until Suddenly there was A God. If ever there was a creation myth I would be willing to believe, it's probably that one. Score one for enchanted techno babble.

Or maybe really mine would be some sort of Zen Observer of Physical Existence thing. Like, these things are here! Now! How amazing is that? Why bother with why? Look at them move!

None of which has anything to do with the Fairgrounds at night. But it is a magical planet. Magic that comes from seeing how all these people make a living, and what people in the country care about, and watching creatures working and walking all around you with completely foreign purposes, closing up shop and pulling levers and putting chickens away.

Maybe what I should mention here is what a city girl I am. And what that means exactly is this: I am afraid of going over 50mph on roads that aren't interstate highways. I am afraid of living in a house where no one would hear me scream if someone walked across the fields and came in. I am nervous of the mouths of animals. I can't see well in the dark. I imagine horrible things watching me if it's too quiet. I am overly aware of the judgement of others, and yet disdainful of that opinion in a way that one gets when you are used to people you don't know being around you all the time at the bus stop. I don't like to walk barefoot in grass, because I am more afraid of thistles and bees than broken glass.

I don't understand people who never go out anywhere because they have kids and regular jobs. I don't understand churches, and why people put up with that kind of social prison. I would say rude things without understanding why they were rude. I care very little for the consequences that come from exposing yourself to others. None of this makes me a better person. I am just different.

But I do appreciate the possibility of solitude, and the husbandry of species you can only communicate with through touch. I understand the beauty of clean air, and wide open green spaces and the possession of self that brings with it. I like that almost no one at the fair had a life like mine, and I had no life like theirs, and we orbited around each other in uncaring accepting hedonistic purpose. I wish I could have read all their thoughts as they looked at our group of hip pretty little kids, and I would let them have access to mine if they wanted, because mostly I looked at each couple walking by and wanted to just latch onto them and follow them home and see what that was like.

Mostly I just wanted to curl up with the all the different crazy impossible machines and glow with them. And I want to go drink at the reservoir with the girls in jean shorts and the boys in cut off plaid shirts, and see what they know that I don't. Because everything is interesting the first time.