Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Interruptions

Interruptions:  a phone call and three text messages.  Lately, I've been questioning the accuracy of my memories, not my memory itself as a whole.  I have burned too many holes in my bring to expect my memory to function at its fullest human potential.  I have conceded portions of my past to the sporadic black holes that polka dot my brain's...look up "memory" in the Thesaurus and Google "the science of memory"...interruptions:  three text messages and a cat in my lap...hippocampus, or something like that.  Interruptions:  one text message, dog food delivery, and four more text messages.  This might be the first time I've ever actually tried to distinguish between the different possible meanings for the word "memory," but the definition to which I'm attempting to refer doesn't seem to exist.  Interruption:  two text messages.  Memory is a noun that, by definition, can refer to either our general ability to remember or a specific event or smell or person or story or sensory intake we remember.  Neither of those definitions covers the larger, overarching concept of that which holds all that is remembered and makes the act of remembering possible--the sum of all our memories.

I tried to invent a formula--M = mn, if “m” represents the second definition of memory--but it doesn't account for the first definition:  the ability to remember.  When I think of the ability, I imagine some sort of creature living inside my brain like a big blog with T-Rex arms and a giggly hole for a mouth--basically, a fat, Flubber-like membrane that consumes all of that which my brain, body, and mind experience, or lowercase "m" in my formula.  However, unlike Flubber, the membrane is clear so when the memories are swallowed, they become on display within the transparent creature.

Or the membrane is flat and porous, and it grows and evolves and consumes memory after memory, but I'm clogging up my digestive system with toxins and my memories are like premature newborns with fetal-alcohol syndrome--deformed and weak.  They're all faded and slightly confusing.  In the way my nails and skin are developing a yellow tint from all the cigarettes I smoke, my memory membrane is getting cloudy from all the poison, and I"m not going to be able to see my memories at all eventually if the membrane continues to become...look up antonyms for "transparent"...opaque.

I guess hippocampus might just be the scientific name for what I am failing to describe with metaphor...if I want to make this about science.  I wish I could.  It would give me a lot more confidence in my crazy theories.

But my hippocampus has little cigarette burns all over it that have turned into black holes.  However, the remainder of the membrane woven around and between the black, still intact and sufficiently clear, forms a...look up synonym for membrane and search "the texture of skin" on Reverse Dictionary...thick, flesh-like web of patterns, or clues of my age, sort of like rings on a tree trunk.  That part of the membrane is beautiful because it holds all the memories still preserved, or remember-able, and that part of the membrane is becoming an endangered species on my planet.

Interruptions (ignored until now):  seven Twitter notifications and four text messages.

Like a nebula and my little "m" memories are whatever forms the rain inside the cloud?

I went so far off track I almost forgot what I was talking about more than twice.  Interruptions don't help.  I think I've circled around to most of my points except my initial one, though.  You know when you can't quite make out what something is in the distance so your brain sort of fills in the blanks until you get close enough for your vision to give your brain enough pieces to build a comprehensible picture?  What if you never got closer, and you eventually just leanred to accept the blanks your imagination filled in as your truth, if not The Truth, if there is even a distinguishable difference?  I am terrified I have fictionalized and embellished and altered so many pieces of my memory simply for lack of a clear enough view of whatever the capital T Truth may be, if there is one, that my entire past is a figment of my imagination as far as I'm concerned.

I tell stories around people who were also there to see if they confer or if whatever I'm saying happened only happened in my head.

The oddest thing about not trusting your memory is this--if we are made up of our past experiences, and I feel mine are all nothing but a figment of my imagination, then I also am nothing but a figment of my imagination.  "I think; therefore I am" never made sense to me because lots of things are but do not think, in the traditional sense.  But we arguably don't even think in the "traditional" sense, whatever that even means.

How does one stop lying to oneself?

Friday, June 27, 2014

"With friends like these, well, who needs politicians?"

Some days (read:  most days) all I can think about is my tiny little world and all my stupid little problems, but my narcissistic and solipsistic proclivities are often just what I need to drive me straight into the heart of social issues like LGBTQ equality and reproductive health/rights.  Pity parties get boring quickly, and today is one of those days where some updates about the fight for social justice and equality are just what I needed to pick me up and pull me out of my own egoism.  Charlie used to talk about "ego death" often, and I think if I could give him anything with the life he made possible, it would be the gift of my own ego death...which is probably a gift I'll spend my whole life learning how to give.  Anyway, digressions...my point is, I just wanted to share some of the interesting news stories I've read this morning with whomever actually still reads this blog anymore, if anyone, or maybe I'm still just talking to myself...whatever.

First, the Supreme Court deemed it unconstitutional to stop abortion protesters from harassing women in what could arguably be one of the most emotionally vulnerable moments of their lives.  The Massachusetts law created a "buffer zone" around abortion clinics in which women and other people entering the clinic would be able to escape from the accusatory cries of anti-choice fanatics.  I understand SCOTUS was trying to protect free speech, but I was under the impression "hate speech" was not protected under "free speech."  Based on the history of violence at abortion clinics, especially in Massachusetts, I do not understand how SCOTUS honestly believed these protesters--excuse me, "petitioners"--simply "sought to have quiet conversations . . . about alternatives."

I find it ironic (read:  insulting and disgusting) how SCOTUS can wax on about the unconstitutionality of "blanket bans" while simultaneously blanket banning a law that was made with the sole intent to protect women and doctors as they enter abortion clinics.  Okay, maybe I can't get away with claiming some sort of solely pure intent for any type of legislation, but still, my point remains that SCOTUS proudly and unanimously struck down a law that protects women, reproductive health, and the freedom of choice.  I am not so blind as to not see the point the majority opinion makes about the importance of protecting free speech, but without free choice, I do not see how free speech can truly exist.  I lament the fact that the Constitution does not explicitly protect our right to be left alone or establish a right for freedom from harassment, but I suppose our entire government would be unconstitutional if that were the case.

I lived in Boston for five years, and I know I will not stand alone in saying Boston fanatics can be fucking psycho.  Look at what happens when the Red Sox win--riots everywhere...people injured...property destroyed...and that's a celebration!  Can we all take a second and consider how violent these same people have the capability of becoming when they are actually angry about something?  It's all good and well to protect Constitutional rights.  Of course that's important.  Possibly the only pride I have as an American rests in upholding the Constitution, but I also do not think we can read the Constitution out of the context of reality.  The Constitution does not exist in some sort of bubble, free from actual, human experience.  (Interestingly enough, I have made the same argument about the Bible many times, but that's for another day.)  I don't think I'm jumping to conclusions when I assume the Constitution was written to apply to American citizens in the real world, so instead of sitting around debating semantics, maybe it's time our judicial system stepped into reality and decided a law's constitutionality or lack thereof based on how it actually, as opposed to theoretically, affects people.

Okay, and I really thought my rant was finished until I just went to the bathroom and had another thought:  I have been watching "The Newsroom" a lot lately, and in a recent episode I saw, someone accused the lead anchor of only calling himself a Republican in order to gain enough credibility to criticize the Republican party without sounding like just another bitter liberal.  I thought that seemed like an incredibly frustrating possibility--someone parading around claiming to be of your political ideologies all the while criticizing everything about your political ideologies.  And I guess, without making any clear accusations because how could I ever actually know, I'd like to point out the frustration I've experienced in the media's emphasis on the fact that even the "liberal" Supreme Court justices joined in this majority opinion.  As much as we have seem to forgotten this, political labels do not exist independent of actions.  I can call myself a conservative until I'm blue in the face, but if I'm fighting for same-sex marriage and reproductive freedom while calling myself a conservative, that word means nothing.  Or, to quote Shakespeare, "that which we call a rose/By any other name would smell as [bigoted]."

Eek, I started this blog post with the intent to briefly comment on a bunch of different articles.  Instead I ranted about one for far too long, so here are some links to other articles of current interest for your reading pleasure:

GOP Sen. Susan Collins supports same-sex marriage

One year later, Kaplan reflects on victory against DOMA

Four same-sex couples join Puerto Rico marriage lawsuit

Susan Rice reaffirms U.S. commitment to LGBT rights abroad (although a splinter v. plank in the eye metaphor comes to mind)

And in case you're still there, here's a song that has come to mind:

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

NaPoWriMo Day 3

Here's my charm poem from the NaPoWriMo Day 3 prompt:

A Charm against Love

Pluck the chin hairs from your heart,
collect the ash of modern art,
extract the pigment from her lips,
and grind it all to little bits.
Then steep the mixture, make a tea,
drink the poison, die with me.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Misunderstanding Mythology

I'm not doing very well at keeping up with my own late attempt to do NaPoWriMo...so two weeks later, I've finally finished Day 2's prompt, which was to write a poem about a myth that is neither Greek or Roman--

I learned about God and Santa Claus around the same time, and I would not be fooled.  I had it figured out—the North Pole just sounded like a really cold version of Heaven, and Santa Claus just sounded like God’s jolly ol’ best friend.  After all, if only God could be omniscient, how else would Santa know which children were good and which were bad?  No, I would not be fooled into believing in a second, omniscient man who lived up North and had magical powers.  The Bible made that clear—idolatry was a sin.  Our God is a jealous God, and I was not about to make Him compete with a fat, bearded man in red pajamas.  So on His right hand sat Jesus, the Son of Man, and on His left, sat Santa, the Ho Ho Holy Trinity’s sidekick.

I misunderstood childhood.

It took me far too long to figure out just how much I misunderstood, and once I saw the error in my thinking, I realized I knew absolutely nothing.  I successfully created blackout curtains for reality, and by the time I finally caught a glimpse of the light hiding behind the thick fabric, I could barely see past all the stories I had painted on the inside of the fort I built around whatever the truth might have been.  In college, I read a poem about all the things one man misunderstood, and I think I might have accidentally made that poem my mantra.  I misunderstood mythology, I misunderstood fairy tales, I misunderstood religion, I misunderstood love, and most of all, I misunderstood every word you’ve ever spoken to me. 

What is wrong with me from head to toe/That I misinterpret everything I hear?

I misunderstood sex, and I still repeatedly misunderstand my own sexuality.  I misunderstand “like” and “love,” sex and commitment, your smile and my butterflies, your eye contact and my delusions, your future and my past, friendship and loneliness.

What you are feeling for me I misunderstand totally; I think I misunderstand the very possibilities of feeling…

I wonder often if I still believe in Santa Claus deep down.  Childhood has proven much more difficult to let go of than I ever anticipated.  No matter how many times I tell myself I will never be a princess, I still cannot seem to stop looking for my knight in shining armor, and I don’t even want a knight.

I probably misunderstand misunderstanding itself.


My misunderstandings become more and more perilous the older I get—commitment, consequences, responsibility, danger, death—and with every horrific jolt of reality, fear creeps further out of the graveyard of my soul to wrap its bony fingers around every effort I make to pull back the curtains and grow the fuck up.  But I used to “Fear Nothing!” and despite all my confusion, it is clear to me how much I miss being brave.  The most confusing part of all is how many times people insist on the existence of the bravery I know I lack, and nothing scares me quite as much as when people quote my own advice back to me and the words sound so unfamiliar I cannot remember who I could have possibly when I said them, not to mention how far I have strayed from her.  So I think what I fear most is how much I have always misunderstood myself.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

NaPoWriMo Belated Day 1: "If"

So I was rather busy with law school during NaPoWriMo this year, but since I have some down time this summer, I decided I'd do it now because better late than never or something like that.  Anyway, I started today, and the prompt for day 1 involved going to Rob Livingston's Bibliomancy Oracle and writing a poem inspired by the quotation the oracle provided.  Here's the quotation I received:

Today, no matter if it rains,
It's time to follow the path into the forest.
"By the Same Author" - James Logenbach

I have tentatively titled the "poem" (or prose poem...whatever) that ensued, "If":

If I am a watering can, the gardener has taken the day off, and the earth does not thirst for my salty poison anyway.  If I am an ocean seeking revenge on an earth that devoured my faithful albatross, the earth is Coleridge's mariner crying his ancient rhyme.  If I am a Biblical wife running from a hedonistic life, the sky is a vengeful God withholding the water I need to melt my pillared soul and quell the hypnotic flames that engulf my past.

But "if" is the biggest two-letter word in the English language, and what if I no longer want to be an overused metaphor indulging in solipsistic pity?

If I am abundance personified, my life is the pain that makes my existence possible, and I would rather swim in blind gratitude for every unprecedented experience than drown in arbitrarily dichotomous qualifications of good and evil, right and wrong, beautiful and ugly, alive and dead.  If I am the road not taken but just as fair, the world is a high school English class forever destined to misinterpret the frost that glistens in the winter of my snow globe memories.  If I am a mirage of a lake in the desert, the earth is a thirsty traveler, and I promise not to disappoint.  I promise to be more than a mere hallucination.  I promise to fill the dunes of sleeping souls with so much water the world can finally wipe the corners of its eyes clean and gaze upon the rainforests that grew atop my cheeks when I was too busy flipping hourglasses to notice.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Feature Blog Post: Bloodless Murders, Homo Sacer, Agamben, and Violence Against Women

A friend shared her most recent blog post with me yesterday, and it completely blew me away.  I need each and every one of you to read this ASAP.  She is so brilliant, and I have no words to describe the beauty of her mind.  It's a post about her thoughts on Giorgio Agamben's "Homo Sacer:  Sovereign Power and Bare Life."  The post is called "Bloodless Murders."  Here's a little teaser:

"Bare life, in this way is the exception that never was. The laws of the sovereign are before, beyond and behind you, even when they weren’t. Even when your city was a pile of scree on the Palatine hill. The law is fortified, it is sustained by what preceded the city and by what now stalks the woods, the encroaching woods beyond the gates..."

Ok go read it.  Now.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Fall, or Where is My Wonderland?: An endlessly futile search for rock bottom.

I meditate with my palms facedown because the rest of my day I hold my hands out, palms face-up, waiting for the inevitable pile-up of all the burdens no one else seems to want to carry.  But after a while, my hands get full and my arms get tired, and when I sit in silence and listen to the vibrations of the strings around my body, I have to place my palms on my thighs and will the world’s burdens through my legs and into the earth beneath me.  A woman gave me some grounding stones once, and when I held those between my hands and my thighs, I could feel the roots that had been swirling around inside my stomach all these years shoot into the earth and steady my feet for the first time ever.  Now, when I hold those burdens between my palms and my thighs, I can feel each one travel into my skin and latch onto those roots and slide into the earth like a fireman sliding down the pole to rescue someone from a burning building.

But who saves the fireman when the station burns down?  Because I’m starting to feel my legs shake again, and I’m worried I might crumble beneath all the weight of the people I love so much.  I want to be a rock, but even rocks need the ground beneath them to stop them from falling into the molten core at the center of the earth.  And I don’t mind holding everyone else’s burdens, but I seem to have lost sight of the ground, and I’m afraid if I keep falling, I’ll end up in hell, or maybe on the opposite side of the earth, hanging upside down from my feet, like Alice tumbling through the rabbit hole.  But no matter how much I search, I can’t find my wonderland, and I’m starting to question its existence.

He used to be my ground, and he always used to say, “I just keep waiting for the ground to slip out from under us because all of this feels too good to be true.”

I always told him to stop waiting because if it’s supposed to slip out, it will, and there’s nothing we can do about it either way so why spend your time waiting and worrying about something we can’t control.  I think in my head I didn’t want to believe it would happen, but it did, and all of his worrying did us no good.  It didn’t even prepare him for what was to come because after the proverbial ground shook and collapsed, he was gone, and I was left to pick up what was left of myself and carry it away in search of new ground. 

I haven’t found it yet.

But I’m hoping if I keep meditating everyone’s burdens into my legs and down my roots, I’ll eventually find the most fertile soil the world has to offer.  Then I’ll sink my feet so deep into the earth my toes will touch China and my head will touch heaven and I’ll finally be able to stand on my own and my arms will stretch to the sky like branches and the only things my palms will hold will be rain and dew and caterpillars molting into butterflies. 

Maybe then I’ll get a break, but hippies lean on trees under the guise of hugs, and when my ex used to hug me, she’d hold me so tight and throw so much of her body on my two feet I’d have to take a few steps back to steady myself beneath the weight of us.  I always wondered what would happen if I didn’t take those few steps back, if I just let her fall, but the truth is, if I didn’t hold her up, I’d be beneath her, breaking her fall, hitting the ground before her, softening her blow by absorbing the impact with this doomed cage of flesh and bones and blood and everything else, wearing the bruises like a sign for the world to see that no matter who falls, I’ll be the one who gets hurt.

You know when you're falling in a dream and you always wake up before you hit the ground?  Maybe the ground is just an illusion, and our subconscious knows this so the only way to stop falling is to wake back into the illusion of reality because if we didn't, we'd fall so deep into our minds we might not like what we see.  And maybe that's why I can't stop falling--I can't stop trying to explore the depths of my mind and the collective conscious of humanity, and I'll never get deep enough if I wake myself to stop the fall.  I guess what I'm saying is, if life isn't about reaching the destination but enjoying the journey, maybe my life isn't about hitting the bottom but exploring the fall.