Monday, June 9, 2014

Around the Corner

Far east of the stomping grounds of the cliques and the cubers, past the pilgrimage site of the brain dead (Starbucks), just out of sight from the seemingly sole fourth floor window, there is a hideaway thrift store behind a chipping green scaffolding. If you are ever lucky enough to make the trek a block beyond the subway station and you find yourself enthralled by the slightly musky odor, the meaningless bobbles and sequins weighing down even the simplest tank tops, the yellowing pages of the monologue books by the shoe rack, don't be afraid. This is the normal reaction. Well, normal for J2 and I, anyway.

Someone asked me today, over Milky Way Midnights and a deck of cards, just where she fits into my life. What cracks does she caulk? they wanted to know. Immediately, I told them, "The secrets, when the insides of our eyelids are too infuriating to look at for us to fall asleep. The sadness, when a piano chord or an old jacket can make us start crying again." Looking at J2 today, perusing the flounces and frills and faded neon as I giggled, spinning around in the gray lace number, I realized I forgot something. "The everyday, when my hand feels a little cold and I need someone to hold it."

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Welcome Back

When I was four years old, I rummaged through drawers of mismatched, too-sparkly fabric and accessories until I found the perfect red scrap and a clashing wand. Whisking them around my body like a cocoon, I declared myself Mary Poppins and went parading around the halls. When I was seven, I wrote and filmed a low-budget ($0) movie with my grandmother about a rabbit and a chicken gallivanting through the woods. You could barely hear the dialogue over the crumple of dead California leaves beneath our church shoes, but the giggles shot through the noise. Then, when I was nine, I found myself searching for the breath squeezed below my excruciatingly tight yellow dress to send high notes soaring to the back of the church basement in my first real show. There were purple flowers in my hair, and the lipstick tasted like strawberries, and the momentum of the raucous clapping made me unstoppable by any human force.

I never could have guessed, after all those years of putting on someone else's skin, that I would feel so explosive in my own. To everyone who stood up for me last night, even though their chairs clacked loudly against their backings and their knees groaned like a car settling into the ground after the engine turns off: Thank you. I can't thank you enough.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The End

I am nothing more than a mirror pressed against the pulse of my universe. I write what the hours whisper to me and what I have copied out of a silent face. I plagiarize the hunkered down eyebrows of my neighbor and the whistle of the train. Everything I produce is recycled from the dumpster filled with all the moments worthless to our minds but buried in our souls. I don't deserve credit for what has happened here.

For the past 8 months, I have come here once a day (usually) to explore the endangered emotions we hide in the forest of our eyes. Every night, I cut back the foliage and bare the echoes of the day. People sing my praises and decorate my self-esteem with emoticons and abbreviations, but they can't always grasp the demons roaring inside me. They try to cut them loose or stab them tight, but the only kryptonite my worst moments can find is a few seconds spent typing on a blank template and a few more spent copying the link to everyone I know.

This blog has seen my heartbreak, my triumph, my anguish, my solitude, my boredom, my regret, and primarily the suppression of all of the above. I can cower behind an imposing vocabulary to sound like I know what I mean, but I gaze at you the next morning to find my antithesis. My metaphors float around like plastic bags over a magnetic ocean, dragging into themselves and towering at the edge of delirium. My thoughts seem alien when articulated, as if defined by an elderly scholar and not the magazine.

Today, I say goodbye to pretending that I can put two fingers to my neck and feel vibrations that spell out through my foggy spirit. I bid the hopes of a beaten-down, facade-ridden writer farewell with the sun. I cross myself out to reject myself from the solution set, because I no longer fit into the original equation: I have morphed into an extraneous root. Hopefully, those roots can grow upward until they break into a green melody until the light from above. Hopefully, this stalk will sprout blooms and they will ripen with heat. Hopefully, those drying petals will fall away cleanly, and die without ripping in half.

I will miss this blog like a part of my body, and I will lose my way without my literary compass of the night. And, through my tears, I say to you, with all my heart: Good night.

Thursday, October 17, 2013


So I didn't go hiking. The depths of the universe seemed just a smidgeon too immense today, and I was absolutely fine with forgoing the saturated smears of a landscape seen from far away in favor of the pastel blue of the sky and freshly painted yellow leaves fallen on the path. Me, K2, and M wandered around the edge of the lake in search of old beginnings and a few profile pictures. We stopped at every new angle, trying to force the beauty of a face into a tiny metal box with the tap of a screen. The glamour spilled out into more than a hundred photographs, at least fifty of which were photobombed and one of which was taken by a befuddled English teacher on top of a small hill.

About a third of the way around, they spied a log extending into the mirrored water that had shed its blue for the bright hills and clouds it could imitate instead. "Come on!" urged M, scrambling down a sandy slope. "Oh, come on, Chloe, I can do it with a medical boot!" boasted K2. Her descent was more of a clambering one. Perching at the edge of apprehension, I observed the entire ordeal via my lens. It seemed much more distant and much less immediately tempting that way. Fortunately for me, I had a legitimate excuse when an unpopular global teacher cornered us seconds later with a report of dangerous activity at the shore.

When we reached the playground at the other end of the walk, after trekking full circle through the thin forest, we leaped across monkey bars and hanging rings and landed on a wooden ledge, comparing shots, surrounded by a cluster of Snicker-bar-types; that is, we were surrounded by those of my friends who I don't get to see enough but can't help immersing myself in once I do. That would be C2, S, E, I, the whole lot. I gave me a wraparound vacuum hug as I narrowed the choices down to a final three. It was well-needed (thanks I!), because though I had spent the day full to the brim with friendship, I had tripped in a few spots over the easygoing proposition of true friendship as I lost the meaning of inside jokes, or dropped out of the conversations about this year's homeroom. Oh well. I guess hunting down a profile picture would make anyone a little anxious.

Love you all.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

In Spirit

Once a year, the restless that have scratched at the barren walls of the fourth floor for months without stopping to breathe rush upstate and bask in the splendor of nature under a usually somewhat sunny sky. Picnic blankets litter the ground and suffocate the grass, but meanwhile kids are skipping around the lake, slapping a rubber ball with their foot as hard as possible, and climbing to the top of the mountain for a spectacular view. This is our Spirit Day. We bring lunch, we bring a camera, we bring a dollar for the ice cream, and not much else. We leave the weight of the physics exam behind between the concrete monsters of the city.

This year I'll be hiking that road with R and K3, intent upon reaching that blissful everything at the top. Colors will swirl beneath me like the work of a drug, toxic and mellifluous, beckoning me into their wake. If I can see the whole world, I can make sense of it and catalog it, stick it deep in a drawer and forget until reorganization. I can focus on the brightness in front of me. I can focus on the orb of promise held between the teeth of the god of the sun.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

No Trump Queen

Tonight I lost at the card game I learned when I was only a few years above swaddling level and still tended to suck on bottle tops too long and color outside of the lines. They taught me out of our local Starbucks over a Venti Macchiato and a copy of the Times, and we used the same old deck with the missing corners from a million and one shuffles too many. Stuck on a cycle of learning, losing, and forgetting, it often fled to the outer regions of my mind in those Kindergarten years, along with long division and the state capitals. Now, once again, I'm on my downward streak. It's round 8 and my score is 29 out of a possible 126. Great Grandma Janet would be ashamed.

After a misunderstanding about a key and a long drive north, we ransacked her old apartment, scavenging for good value with our appraisal sheet and eye for color. We were supposed to mark everything we wanted off a long list printed in black and white, covered in dollar signs and numerals. Janet had been reduced to investments and dividends in a matter of months. As the others toured each familiar room like a haunted gallery, I opened every cabinet and peered inside, hoping to find a glimpse of the old woman who had left her breath on everything there. I found: a beautiful watch with a missing silver panel, ticking away with purpose, and two trophies. One was from Great Grandpa George, a certificate of his entry in an encyclopedia. The second was a small plastic sculpture of a hand holding a royal flush. "No Trump Queen - Janet." I asked if I could keep them, because they weren't on the sheet. So I took them home in a box and left them in the box and put the box under my bed until my furniture was delivered in a few days. I put her magic mastermind under the bed, and I put her skill with a deck under the bed, and as of Round 8 tonight, I lost everything there is to lose between a two of clubs and the coveted spade ace.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Tap On The Head

My paternal grandmother has a long history of shakily snatching bits of food across the table and hoarding them on the edge of her plate like jewels, and then forgetting to put the cloth napkin on the table before she wheels away. But we love her, and she's just so sweet, and she always pays, so we end up dining together several times a month. Another habit: She finds the most delectable things to be the ones that have experienced the least exposure to sunshine and happiness, internal organs piled high in Italian pottery. We've seen it all come out from behind the black and white kitchen curtain, from oozing tripe dotted with dainty mushrooms to steaming elk smothered in a heavy sauce the color of the bottoms of my feet. Not tonight. Not tonight. It was not going to happen tonight without a fight.

The date itself posed some significant challenges to our shtick: It was a Monday, a holiday, and fifteen minutes before departure, so almost every reservation had been shuttered away and tending to the fire for days. We scrolled through dozens of Yelp entries, flipped past hundreds of Zagat blurbs, and skimmed the sleek website of the local slice pizzeria my grandma had suggested. (It had taken me long enough to get my mascara to work that I shot my mom a simmering warning shake of my head.) Eventually, we unearthed a local pasta treasure a couple seconds away, so we stuffed our heads inside our car, and held our noses in combat with the paint odor until we reached the door.

Unfortunately, my grandmother got stuck on the end of the conversation with nothing but her tap water and a dirty bowl of marinara sauce for company. I blissfully reconnected with my cousin, discussing everything from crazy science teachers to puppy photography to her recent life-threatening accident that removed her sense of smell, until I felt a small tap on my shoulder, near the base of my aching neck. I turned to Grandma, who had donned all black with a glowing garnet pendant as an accent piece and still looked colorful. She clutched my elbow intently and through her blinking eyes in the dim light, she smiled at me. It was then that I remembered just why we live so close to her, visit her all the time, never miss a birthday or holiday without dropping an oddly timed line. "Hi, Grandma," I smiled past the spaghetti. And I missed Great Grandma with what space was left in my stomach, and with all of my soul.