April 23, 2012 § Leave a comment
I find it’s in the small moments that we die.
I’m standing at the pasta bar in my dining hall. It’s Monday and I’m more than exhausted. There’s tired, and there’s very tired. And then there’s exhausted. When your mind starts to slip back into uncharted territory, where things become a little less real. Blurry around the edges. I want to do more than just slump over the cold metal railing, eyes glazed over, staring blindly at the woman preparing my ready-made, store-brand noodles. I should smile maybe, or at least make my eyes look a bit more alive. But instead I slump. The girl next to me is slumping too. She’s wearing a sports shirt. At least I think it’s a sport shirt. I don’t ask what she plays. Slump goes another girl, and dead go her eyes. And we are all just existing there, for a moment, suspended in time. We do not speak; we appear not to think. We may not be there at all. The woman’s name tag says Marta. Tomato sauce or pesto? Red peppers. Yes, just the peppers. Please. She moves her spatula slowly, rolling over cold, just-out-of-the-refridgerator pasta of the day, jabbing at vegetables already burnt to the pan. Her eyes are on the pasta, pasta she has seen a million times today. Maybe not a million, but it feels like a million. She’ll see more tomorrow, and the next day too. And more students. Dead.
And it makes me crazy.
It makes me crazy that she’s wearing a shiny name tag that says Marta, even though no student here will ever call her by name. It makes me crazy how slowly she walks to the supply room to refreshen her rubbery mushroom supply, how carefully she dollops the tomato sauce. And that’s exactly what she does, she dollops, frickin’ dollops and she does it methodically, carefully. Almost with purpose, but really, it’s just part of the routine. Really it’s just pasta, vegetable, dollop of sauce. Pasta, vegetable, dollop of sauce. Pasta, vegetable, dollop of sauce. Pasta, pasta pasta, vegetable, vegetable, and A DOLLOP OF FRICKIN’ SAUCE.
I want to reach my hand over the glass and just start throwing pasta everywhere. I want to spill tomato sauce onto her shoes. I want to grab her face and shake her eyes, ask them to stay with me, help is on the way. I want to stuff the rubbery mushrooms into the face of the girl next to me and laugh about it. I’ll make music with the pots and pans and throw some at the snack bar, while I’m at it. And I’ll scream, scream MARTA MARTA MARTA MARTA. Then they’ll kick me out of school, and I’ll get a desk job, if I can, and I’ll waste everything I get and I’ll die alone.
I slump and stare.
April 19, 2012 § 1 Comment
13. You will miss a ton, but that’s OK. We’re so caught up in trying to do everything, experience all the essential things, not miss out on anything important … that we forget the simple fact that we cannot experience everything. That physical reality dictates we’ll miss most things. We can’t read all the good books, watch all the good films, go to all the best cities in the world, try all the best restaurants, meet all the great people. But the secret is: life is better when we don’t try to do everything. Learn to enjoy the slice of life you experience, and life turns out to be wonderful.
This is comforting to me-trying to experience it all is not only impossible, it takes away the essential beauty of the human experience. Writing reflects this “slice of life” we experience. While we are on this Earth, our duty as writers is to communicate what we have uniquely lived.
April 13, 2012 § Leave a comment
People are walking down on the street, behind my back, below my window. There are girls laughing and boys echoing them. I can’t see them but I know, know that the girl is tossing her head back, her hair falling on his shoulder and he’s moving in closer. Colleagues are drinking away the 9-5, 9-6, 9-7, 9-forever work day down at the bar at the corner. I can’t see them, but I know the women are wearing blazers and the men are wearing suits. The women are ordering the house Pinot and the men are motioning casually at the hard liquor gleaming in the hazy light while the bartender crunches ice and wipes his forehead. A boy smokes a cigarette on a lonely bench and stares at the dirty asphalt and wonders if he should live. Club-goers are sauntering past, the girls clutching at the boys with stupefied expressions, pulling at their too short dresses. The boys are winking at each other.
The boy wonders if he should live.
A homeless man on the corner asks for spare change but what he wants is a look, recognition of shared humanity. The call for change is less an earnest request now. It’s become a mode of living, the language of his life, as normal as breathing. Spare change. Spare change. Spare change for the homeless.
A girl playfully screams as a boy grabs at her ass.
The people at the bar cheer for the special boy on the special TV whose scored a special goal. Cheers. Another round. I’ve got this one. I should be getting home.
Where am I? asks a girl to herself. How did she get here? Where did Ben go? What happened to my phone? Where’s Ben?
Should I live?
A woman is hurrying down the street, eyes locked on her destination, taking no notice of the people. Got to get home. Got to get home. Want to be home.
A car screeches down the street and for a moment everyone turns. It’s broken the sound barrier, any distance between them shattered. All look at each other.
The car is gone.
Where am I?
Where you guys headed?
See you later.
A little girl, out far too late, grabbing at her mother’s hand. Her stuffed monkey drags on the pavement and her mother scolds her. No. No. That’s not what you’re supposed to do. Be good. Don’t be bad.
The boy lights another cigarette and his face is momentarily aglow. Look, look now, you’ll see him. Right now. But nobody is looking and the girl and boy are kissing across from him on the bench. He has amber eyes.
Should I live?
The boy stands. The couple kiss. The girl in the too-short dress stumbles to the ground. Another pinot, another whiskey. Mommy. Slap.
He walks to the corner and sees none of the people. They are doing things and he does not see. He sees the corner. Got to get home. Want to be home.
The traffic screeches.
Run and don’t think, don’t see and it will end, and the light at the end of the tunnel will be the flash of headlights.
Spare change? Spare change? Spare change for the homeless?
And I don’t see him but I know, know the boy turns, turns and sees. And he is seen.
And the cars move past, going, going, going. Somewhere.