yes, wednesday night is movie night

When you watch a film it’s full of so many intense moments and none of them are real because life is not really made of those moments. It’s full of different ones, many blanking moments between a handful of sparking others that brighten and never wane in your mind, only in your heart. And it’s not the moon. It is ever the sinking sun. On the rocks, the desert floor, the pink and orange and blue, like that trip so many years ago. A film is a distillation of all these things, it is a prickly intensity of which we are not so used to in our daily lives, at least not in later years. In youth life can be like a film, though we lack the perspective required to appreciate it. And I imagine the people who make the sorts of films I have been watching make them because they want to see their lives like a film when they are young, but with the perspective that allows them to see it for what it was.

Tonight I was excited to go walk in the warm night air, even though it is October and it should not be so warm. The crickets yet fiddle and when I touch the inside this night it does not feel so tender. And yet when I talk to someone about his plans to leave this place, even though he’s been around awhile, he’s still a decade behind my next curve in the road. So maybe you can grasp the urgency I feel snaking around me. And if you can grasp it perhaps you could do me the favor of wrenching it off me so I can breathe lighter and freer.

Everything is profound in the late hour. It bears down upon you with a ferocity daylight would never allow. You start thinking about the beginnings of endings and the ending of beginnings and the brutal flatness of middles. You think about contours on a map and start seeing your life through a cartographer’s squinted eye, with those squiggly lines circling around you and they’re all the places you’ve been, the walks you’ve chosen to take, the daily ribbons of flayed flesh stripped from your shrunken sides.

This is not to say…anything, really. When I start typing nothing is ever as it seems. Words touch other words like hot wires and who am I to pull them apart. This hovers before me like a psychiatric tinderbox into which to dump the fantastic and the absurd and what torn shreds are left of the real. The box is metal to minimize the explosive risk? Not that any match will strike and catch this fire.

There is never a conclusion to reach and that appears to be the point. Which is fine, I guess. But can a person reverse evolve? I think I’m becoming a mollusk. Or a bioluminescent dinoflagellate. Foxfire! That’s it. I want to be foxfire. I want to be the green glow you see hovering in your woodpile as you gaze out upon it one evening through the icy windowpane.

red light green light

Shifting synchronicity of traffic lights marks the vague change between these days. Whoa, that one is red this morning. I now recognize that yesterday has become today. Also, I think I’m wearing different pants. Speaking of today, it’s Office Olympics Day, an awkward afternoon-long opportunity to observe one’s colleagues caper with impunity in the insipid name of morale-building. Well, no amount of frisking about can rouse this drone’s morale. Even worse, OO is scheduled to start at the beginning of the usual lunch hour. Whose idea was that, I demand. Tell me, you fools. But it’s like shouting down a dry well of indifference.

This song triggers memories of driving back roads with my sister on the way to buy bootleg cassettes at the Sunday flea market. Poring over the endless rows of tapes by obscure bands, the excitement of finding strange new music coursing through me as the summer sun shines down. That’s really where it started, after all, this mystical journey down a jagged, thorny path leading from the dusty crossroads of early adolescence, a place where little acceptance was to be found. Of course it’s farcical to think anything was easier then. But as I gathered the tools of defense against a harsh world, enforcing my armor with sounds to yield lifelong comfort, the process prickled with the electricity of discovery. And these shocks, so intense in youth, temper as the years wrap gauze around us. I fear it’s the daily doing that does us in.

After the Olympics, which my team did not even medal in despite winning multiple events (team competitions are notoriously rigged at my place of employment), I leave early and walk out into a storm. Louder than bombs thunder strikes overhead. I duck under an awning hoping to wait it out before hopping on the bike to ride home. An Indian man stands next to me chain-smoking. More Indian men stream by, cigarettes in hand. Seems to be a gathering of sorts. Afternoon traffic builds like layers of crusted pus on an angry sore. People run from the rain. Building to parking garage. Building to parking garage. I grow impatient and take my chances. The rain falls on even as the sun violates the clouds. A sudden humidity clashes with cold rain on my hot skin. Drop, sizzle. Drop, sizzle. Red light, green light. Go.

subject to unmeasured confounders and biases*

Inside it’s freezing cold. Outside it’s blazing hot. I walk out there into the world and my arms remain cold to the touch for a time. After that passes, my hair follicles feel like they are burning in my scalp. My coworker is back visiting from Dhaka, where she reports it is hot, crowded, and smelly, so not much different from Baltimore in summer. I forgot my music today. I don’t even have headphones. This pains me. I also forgot my ID badge. I have no identity. I am no one. I am all of the things we don’t say. And that is a lot. If we even knew them, whatever would we do. A thing occurs and it causes effects and those effects affect you and you wish the thing never occurred even though you made it occur and you could have not made it occur. That was your choice. But you took a stand, for better or for worse. And now there’s just this sort of empty place. Anyway, I read a book and it was the Collected Stories of Carson McCullers and I wrote a long review of it over on Goodreads, but I want to mention it here because I loved it so. I read a lot of it in the cabin when I should probably have been talking to people but I wasn’t, because that is how I am and I know I won’t change and I don’t even want to change, so there. And this book included the novel The Member of the Wedding and it was sad and dark in the way many good books are and it placed me even more in awe of Carson McCullers than I had been before. Growing up is hard and life is not very kind to adolescents and then suddenly you are an adult and what the hell is that. I mean, it’s hard being an adult, too, but maybe not as hard as being a teenager because at least when you are an adult your youthful idealism has been wiped away instead of still in the process of being stomped on by the awakening realities of life and the human condition. I feel strange today, but not in the way I felt strange last week. Perhaps it is the heat, perhaps it is how today is my only day of work this week and it’s odd to me that tomorrow is Friday already. It seems like it should be Monday. And it just keeps getting hotter and hotter and I fear we all may explode like ants under a magnifying glass. But the tomatoes and jalapeños are ripening and new cucumbers are growing, so I guess a few more of them were fertilized after all. The heat is good for that, but not for my mental state. The radio tells me this heat may last well into August and if that is so, I very well may lose my mind. I will lock myself in my room like Kurtz and plot and read and scratch out words and maybe something good will come out of it. But first there is this and that of which I don’t feel like doing on account of my awfulness, and so I will sit here and brood over my jasmine tea for I am into brooding these days and perhaps the tea will warm me up.

Note:  In the American Heritage Dictionary, 3rd edition, the third definition of brood reads as follows:  a) To be deep in thought; meditate.  b) To focus the attention on a subject persistently and moodily; worry.  c) To be depressed.

I am thrilled that this definition of brood offers such a varied and expansive range of what I do so often. I can use this term broadly and no one will know if I am actually worrying, depressed, or just deeply in thought. Some words are so convenient.

*Title of post lifted from a random journal article I saw in a list of search results

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