This is How We Die
Severely and significantly
Inching with reluctance, leaving a hot trail of fuzzy friction
Sloppily at times, like a soggy mop, zigzagging
At times, gracefully sliding down silk curtains
We die hitchhiking, taking part in the journeys of others
Imposing on their generosity
Saying hello and goodbye
Saying thank you so very much
We, in the process of dying, do so blindly every day
No end in sight, only the hypothesis of where the road comes to a
Stop, abrupt or expected
We’re dying, escaping, elongating, pushing
"Wait a moment," we say, "Not yet."
We die living
The sunrises we wake up to
The nights that drift us back to our pillows
These dreams that brim till I overflow
If I die dreaming, will I be exempt from last gasp of air, the closing of my eyes?
Dig a Hole, Enjoy Some Coffee with Me
In college, there was a boy who understood my need and tendency to dig a hole with my thoughts, to question and drill and ponder and maul with no resolution in mind. He was willing to participate in this deed I indulged in, and in him I found a worthy accomplice.
We’d debate for hours, going back and forth in rhetoric. At times, I’d find myself sitting at the bottom of a gigantic pit, muddied and exhausted but unwilling to climb out. Then there he’d be, in the hole I dug, providing a shoulder to lean on as I rested my mind and nodded with relish. We’d sip a cup of coffee and grunt in approval from the day’s work.
It was a short duration of company that he provided, with a patience accredited to what I presume now as a mixture of curiosity, generosity, and expectation of my commitment in return.
But these things end with departure, and since I’ve left, sitting at the bottom of holes has not been as enjoyable. A one-sided debate is not a debate. My musings spin off into outer space, dissipating without the gravity of an opposing opinion. I’ve thrown my shovel to the side and taken up lighter activities with more stable returns, things such as, oh I don’t know, reading magazines and general chitchat and watching films.
Only once in a long while do I wonder about him — I wonder if he still yields such sturdy shoulders to lean on, and if someone’s enjoying that privilege after a long day’s work.
Remember to remember
Today I’m feeling so much nostalgia for everyone. This isn’t dwelling on the past — it’s a recognition of the sweet doses of life, the dollops of frosting.
I remember stargazing with you on top of the observatory. You showed me Orion’s belt, and then guided my finger down, sideways. “That’s Sirius,” you said. “Like in Harry Potter,” I said. “No, that’s why JK Rowling named him Sirius,” you said. I remember thinking, that albeit this being common sense, you just might be one of the smartest people I was to ever meet.
I remember standing next to you in line at the cafe. You ordered a burrito - no, you ordered a mountain of toppings disguised as a burrito. “How is that all going to fit?” I asked. You were taken by surprise, you in your plaid shirt and olive green parka. “Have to get my money’s worth,” you laughed. The guy tried wrapping your mountain to no avail, ripping the taut tortilla skin. A few days later, when you saw me at the library, you said hi.
I remember waddling along sidewalks with you all, zigzagging not with deliberation nor purpose but a persistence akin to bravery. That one night, it was snowing, and the evening was a contrast of blue, dark and light. All of our hands were gloveless and cold, but we didn’t feel so. Perhaps it was our inebriation, but I remember understanding that we were already sufficient as long as we were a unit, not for the evening but for many days to come.
I remember crouching with you in our dormitory kitchen, clad in pajamas, hair tied up in messy buns. “That’s real beef?” you had bellowed in bewilderment, blowing impatiently at our bowl of ramen, the steam fogging up your lenses.
I remember the first night we met, I had no interest in you until I felt your shoulders. They were shoulders to be leaned on, shoulders that could bear weight.
I remember lying with our bellies on the prickly carpet, blowing through episodes of Game of Thrones with the fan buzzing in the corner. When you-know-who was beheaded, we gasped in elaborate horror and locked eyes as we confirmed this fictional truth.
I remember waiting for you to turn around as you paced back and forth in front of the benches, smoking your umpteenth cigarette. Your slouchy khakis and your tousled hair, your eyes betraying where your mind was, which was somewhere else completely. I could only hold your attention for so long.
I remember lying in your room with the Christmas lights, taking in the bottles of your life: your lotion, your perfume, your contact solution. They haphazardly lined your blue shelf next to your cameras and that mint typewriter. Suddenly, you swiveled around on your chair and proceeded to share a new idea with enormous hand gestures.
I remember standing in that corner near midtown, mind blown, watching the sky light up together. We’d danced the night away and stopped in confusion at how the dark had fled without our consent, the silhouettes of that row of flags billowing against a much brighter blue than anticipated.
Remember to remember, lest one day, when you seek to pull that one photograph out of your archives, time has already bitten away all that’s left to see.
Come Get Lost
Immerse our nerves into sockets of satin sinking and sliding
I want to grimace with you at the stars and their deception, their twinkles of bygone moments we clutch at with invisible sighs
Visible only if the air is cold enough, in which case I’ll have no choice but to shuffle closer
The damp soil pushes at our backs, molding against the indentations of our shapes, soiling sides of our clothing, sides of our skin, nothing that cannot afford to be dirtied
And I cannot count the stars nor count on their facade, but your feet I can count on to always be quizzically and comfortingly larger, your toes, your soles, your lack of an arch
Let us feel miniscule, but let us do that together, as a plurality, so as to suffice as secret vengeance against our irrelevance and the terror it encompasses
If time flows like this, and the damp ground gives way to gravity, we’ll inch our way towards the center of this planet
And the stars will keep lying, but we’ll grow to have a better eye at determining black from white
And we can snicker in crude confidence
And I’d have shuffled so close our melded sides would negotiate new boundaries
And if, and only if, the earth then felt like satin, let us sink not our nerves but our wholes and our souls and our soles into this spectrum of soil and sky, low and high
One reality and a billion lies, and we’d know the difference
Time Doesn’t Heal - It Dilutes
It puts things into new perspective because the lens in which we view them is longer
It creates new relativity because things have been happening along the way
Like with a physical injury - time is allowing the body to repair itself
It is the medium in which the repairing takes place
Time provokes refocus
And there is where the merit lies
But stop saying time heals, for it doesn’t
It dilutes: a day’s incidents out of 21 years of life is now out of 22, etc.
The healing is a separate entity that can be a result of dilution
But time… time just washes things out, elongates the distance between you and that thing you so wish to be rid of but can’t help holding on to, until one day, it has become so fuzzy and bland you can’t even keep a firm grip on its shape, and naturally, you let go.
This music puts a beat in my arteries my blood flows free it jumps with the bass it drowns the flow of my thought processes and the wary tinge of doubt that keeps springing out of nowhere why can’t the caffeine work in a lesser way or some way that would make it more understanding as to why these dosages get larger I am listening to Justin bieber and he is singing about precious metals this is ridiculous but I comply I give up I surrender to the bieber and his womanly vocals because he is singing what I want to be hearing this thing they sing about this extreme want and love I don’t think I have experienced it is that weird at this stage of my life all I want is to wake up each day in a bed that ive had the liberty to roll around in to eat and crap and be merry which reminds Christmas is coming and time is winding down a spiral into uncertainty which is where all my plans live they squirm and huddle together in pools of ruin a village where if you could feel it the scratches would be uninviting but real as real as it would ever get all long and proving points tops of cones the tips of mountains of fingers tips touching tips that is an intersection oblique lines at least there is a meeting that is not half as lonely as parallelism wouldn’t it make sense if the parallel lines could coincide they would work so well together they have the same angle and same goals they are going places together but just separated by space however small I guess this is what they call privacy the excuse to stay guarded because exposure is what strips us down curls our fingers and our toes curls us into a small ball of rubber band strain it will only tire you don’t you know that things age they loosen this is no way for youth to display itself an exhibition of taut intensity like a red that burns explodes hurts and comforts because anything worth anything has two sides how to flip it if ive stepped too long these coals burn by soles they do
Your nascent skin
Drag along the cavities of this ragged dark if it offers you any
Scratch and tear, stretch your tolerance
Callouses are a strength you can
Call your own
To Kill a Thing and Bury It
Aware and struggling vs. confused and oblivious.
They seem like two states that lie far apart, but it is appalling how easily you can jump from one to another.
The scarier one: confused and struggling and oblivious.
This is all assuming that there is a certain subject of attention that is being dealt with, and from the looks of it, a bad one. Or just a strange one that is intimidating.
I think recently I have been really happy, but not very joyful. It’s like the happiness seeps into half of my heart and I get the tingly sensation that inclines me to smile but not to laugh.
I walk and enjoy the chill of late, late fall, but is it not strange that there is no snow?
That feeling. The one where the moment is enjoyable but you know you’re indulging and that something deeper is seriously wrong.
And I don’t want to deal with it.
I stuff it into the recesses of my chest and feel the muffled tension ringing. I could strangle it, drown it, but then I’d know I’ve crossed a certain line, one that is unforgiving.
People walk around with their headphones on. They think, I can disconnect myself from the responsibility to interact. My music creates a new interaction in which I am the privileged observer. You can talk to me but I won’t hear a thing.
When did I become this?
Is so weird.
There are definitely things that have happened in the past, in history, that are so disjunct from a specific person’s present that it would make sense the two do not rely on one another in any way.
And yet things are intertwined in ways that go several thousand layers deep, past normal expectations or understandings. This is probably a whole other dimension to understanding seeing as no one person can withhold all of this information that is so vital to begin to decipher the subliminal ways in which events dictate each other.
Even in one person’s life itself;
Memory is not everlasting, nor is it faithful. It has the potential to be corrugated and molded. It is the one thing we can trust, yet it is within our control in a diluted sense.
Memories can be chosen. It is not easy, but what we pull out of our consciousness may be selective. Of those pulled out, the essentials may persevere but minute details may be warped. In certain instances, even essentials may have been altered to our liking (or not).
It’s so strange. What are our motives for… in a sense, lying to ourselves like that? It’s one thing to tell an event different than what it was to someone else for whatever reason, but to lie to oneself? Is it for self-protection? For survival? Out of pride, or fear or intimidation?
I hope that my integrity to myself overcomes those emotions and can stay true to my last holds on a reality that has passed beyond the clutches of verification.
History teaches. It shows the beginnings and endings of things. It shows deliberation and outcome. The things I’ve done in the past - only I know what exactly happened, and if I can’t stay true to that then it’s gone. But I lose the benefits of learning from that. Who I am now is a direct result of all those moments. Please hold on to them. Some of them might make you cringe, but go through that and inspect the parts your mind has held on to. There’s merit in that.
Sometimes, though, I just wish the ones that pop up are more encouraging than bittersweet?
Little Life Reflection (Hullo New York!)
So it’s been a month since NYC, and a week since BK. Feelings at the mo? I feel very WTF.
What the fuck, I’m finally in New York?!
Why the fuck is everything so expensive when you’re no longer a tourist?
What in the world of fuck have I been doing all this time?
Where the fuck is my resume?
Why the fuck have I not applied to any jobs?
So that’s pretty much the process that invades my morning brain as soon as consciousness hits, before I slam my eyelids shut and block the WTFs out one by one. I keep them lids shut until I fall into fake, temporary snooziness so as to prolong the comfort that the black world of slumber provides. Sweet, sweet world of pretend-competence, you never fail to nullify my shortcomings (for a bit).
Thoughts on New York. Man, is it crowded. I grew up in big cities, but New York subway rush hour is a whole new level of intimate armpit-smelling and staring at butts on stairs.
Within the boundaries of that intimacy, though, I do get the publicly distributed right to ogle at hotties. And OMGWTF there are so many.
Let’s start with “The Hot Back.” Tall, broad-shouldered, properly shirted and panted and shoed, “Hot Backs” overly populate NYC, and it’s simply not fair. There is only so much vision two eyes can handle, and so much turning one neck can do. My reaction to “The Hot Back” progressed from shock and awe to wonder to friendly to familiar to disregard in the course of pretty much two days. Things are good in small portions. No one can stomach that much cake.
The reason hot backs got old was simply because there were too many hot fronts, and then some of them had hot sides, and who doesn’t like a side of cream with their cake?
I abuse this conceit. Point is, New York is so filled with good-looking people that I think I have come twistedly come to the conclusion that it doesn’t really matter anymore. Normally, this revelation is supposed to be a result of maturity; one is enlightened after a due course of time that the inside determines compatibility, that exteriors wither and are a horrible judge of character. Somehow, I feel I have arrived at a similar conclusion even though the mindpath I stumbled my way through was completely different and, on many levels, much simpler, shallower, and not at all deserving of any sort of “wow I’ve matured” credit. But with that I am not aggravated. I shall simply acknowledge the step I’ve taken and move along.
Awkward transition into how fast everyone moves along here. People walk so damn fast!
Awkward transition into how fast people run, too. There are so many joggers I’ve witnessed that the amount of competitive guilt thats amounted in my tummy, physically speaking, is alarming the waistlines of my pants and telling me I should get a gym membership… (a free one-month membership before I gym-hop onto my next trial).
How in the world is everyone so fit here?
I recognize that there is large population of unfit people, and that with the sheer fact that there are so many people here there’s bound to be more of both, but the exposure I’ve had to ab-bellied chicks whizzing by at 17348274km/hr combined with the occasional shirtless pec dances on tattooed hunks glistening Ed Cullen style in New York sweat… enough to get my usually hyper-unaware conscience roused. Damn I’m unfit. And lazy. Steph, please consider unpacking those running shoes?
So I knew New York was a pricey place to prosper in, but right now it’s only about prevailing and the iphone alerts on my Chase mobile app (damn you, technology!) have only brought nervous giggles. Managing your own money is serious biz. With no income, it’s not about balancing or moderation. It’s solely the “oops, shiee-“s every time you realize the not-so-reassuring number after the dollar sign is just going to get smaller, and smaller…
I swear if I don’t get a grip on myself and get hired I’m gonna be on the streets soon. Brandishing a leg and all (a fat, flabby leg, great for business).
Now, the big question: why have I not applied to shit? Nada? Really?
I don’t know. I think I’m scared. So much has happened in so little time, and there’s a lot banking on where the next step leads. As the past year has allowed me to be a little more acquainted with my inner issues, I’ve come to realize that the perfectionist in me is not the conducive kind that results in satisfying projects and self-motivation to strive. No. It’s the freaky, spazzy kind that procrastinates and puts everything off just to feel that little bit of control. That little bit of “I shan’t do this because I will myself not to.” Pompous liar, that perfectionist. Realizing that I refuse to do things merely because I am so, so afraid of falling short of my ridiculously high expectations has set up the new challenge of facing that fact that I’m a coward. Every single day, cowardly, perfectionist Steph must look at the mirror and wave at competent, chill Steph, and only then they can have a dialogue about how the day is going to go. I must negotiate with myself. One day, that perfectionist will be the reason something extraordinary happens, but until she comes to terms with reality, she will have to be contained.
My new place is the coolest place on the planet. It’s green. And I mean green all over. Carpet to walls to bathroom tiles to furniture. Verde, todasss baby. It’s seriously a zen den. My eyesight is going to get better just by living there, fake plants and all. But my residence has an expiration date, and homelessness looms closer by the hour. Gotta work on that leg, seriously…
Lorimer has been kind to me. The little streets with their adorably exotic names (Maujer? Devoe?) have brought me safely home many a time when my inebriation proved undeserving. The streets and my iphone compass (technology, I cannot live without you). Everything I need from the laundromat, to Key Foods (oh I DO live in the ghetto), to Thai takeout all within four blocks. Not bad. While this greatly reduces the possibility of me exercising, it is convenient, and might I add, very homey-feeling. Walking around, the sheer number of hipsterly-dressed young reminds me of Oberin, and the thick smell of someone’s joint reminds me of many conversations my art friends in college have dispelled from their lofted minds. I think I miss college a teeny bit, but Lorimer is effectively helping me transition. Manhattan would’ve been perhaps too big a leap.
Meeting so many people… The right kinds, the wrong kinds, and the seriously wrong kinds. It’s not about compatibility or whatnot. There are some people who are extremely wrong in the head, and now I know the rules, rules that may seem straightforward and “duh,” but I was an idiot and I’ll be the first to admit it. Ughh, thinking about them brings back weird memories, so I’m going to pass on carving them in virtual stone.
My subletters have so many good books! I am enthralled. They own my reading list, from Updike to Hardy to Karamazov to Ishiguro. It is a big, big insult to fate not to take advantage. Perhaps if I spent a little less time watching shows, some of those books would get read. The Bachelorette? Really? Really?
I think I’ve spent enough time rambletyping. That resume needs some twerk-werk done on it. I should make use of this coffee shop corner ambiance and romance the shit out of the pdf that determines my salary of the near future.