Friday, June 30, 2017

Connect the Dots LA LA-LA LA

Got a ticket to Connecticut to see a ye olde housemate from Rome who moved back to the States.

When I hear the word "Connecticut," I invariably think of this, even though I am well aware it's not pronounced "Connect-i-cut":

Sketchy Character

Some days the shadows creep in early, when body and soul feel tender and exposed, human interactions become a chore to slog through, and self-doubt wraps its dark arms softly round and watches every move with coalfire eyes. It's not a feeling of self-being-worthless, but of not being-not-additive: leave, and no one notices that you've slipped away.

Chatting with a friend, she said "I'm the sort of person people mentally put aside."After a pause, without demur, her friend added: "...and you don't even try to shove back in."

She admired the minds and words and hearts of those around her - to the degree that it seemed as if "one jot or one tittle" more would be superfluous and ruin the wonderful symmetry of their language, interrupt the ceaseless flow of humor, unbalance the wisdom that sprang forth from their towering souls. If she stretched out a hand and found no tentative answering fingers, hers would drop, and she would step away to watch and smile and yearn to join from a distance. She did not trust herself to match heights.


It was a hot evening. The smell of chlorine from a pool somewhere drifted enticingly on the almost-still breeze. The phone, thrown with abandon onto the bed, buzzed and hummed in its soft nest. She ignored it and walked to the window - watching the sunset reflected in the glass panes of a window with a view, turning on no lights, hearing the sounds of the world revolve around her. She resolved to go to Mass the next morning. Mass might shake this feeling. She turned on the tv and watched marionette figures creating fantastical dishes as she opened a can of sardines, squeezed lemon over it, and ate straight from the can.

At Mass, she watched the priest with the too-plump mottled face as he gave a homily. The pulpit stood directly beneath a scowling statue of Jesus that seemed incensed at every word the priest uttered, every prayer of the faithful, every thing within its line of vision. The priest's voice belied his appearance - it was like a lilting bird that lifted and dipped, sweet and clear. But his words were out of focus.

" becomes the criterion for the definitive decision about a human life's worth or lack thereof,"* the priest quoted.

"Lord, I am not worthy," she prayed. "Say the word," she begged the implacable face.

"...those who draw near to God do not withdraw from men."*

"Please, say it."

After Mass, she genuflected and walked away.

* Deus Caritas Est

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Another bit of fiction-writing

She walked along, a silent fury amid the street lights and stop signs. Passing a playground full of children-laughing, hearing shrieking, she saw a nondescript tan car parked, its butt bestrewed with bumper stickers. "Practice random acts of kindness" one winked smugly at her. She drew her keys from her purse and scowled at the vehicle before crouching down and methodically scoring the sticker several times with her jagged metal extensions.

Pedestrians looked at her one lone time. Only the owner of the car could practice such limited destruction, they assumed. The more attuned felt the rocking billowy emanations of wrath, wondering uneasily for a brief slo-mo blink what her deal was, allowing a wide berth on the sidewalk and then disappearing into their lives.

These mealy-mouthed moieties resonated with people who lazily spoke nasally: mouth-breathers without dirt. Pristine and secure, platitudes fell from them like vomit from a third-story apartment. The producers did not have to deal with the stench or the clean-up and were left with the purgative feeling of a tum tum emptied of alcoholic turbulence. That is, until the next swell swallowed them.

She wouldn't have minded if people were honest but conveyed with cliché. The inverse was intolerable.

Standing up, she noted with irritation that crossing the strip of vegetation from the sidewalk to the car had left plant vegetation clinging to her trousers. Seed faces looked up in hope. Destiny held for them a watery death topped up by hot blasts of dryer air. They would never touch soil.


I have no idea as to how to gauge the worth my own fictive writing and have had no training. If it's crap, HAH! Time off purgatory 4 u if you read it! If it's got some actual potential, that's fine by me. If it doesn't, that's fine by me. People in real life (as opposed to the people I know only online) tell me I should try to write, and my nature is to be obliging, so THERE YOU GO.

And this bit on fiction books is worth watching:

Monday, June 26, 2017

On Camping

Camping is one of those things that I like a lot in *theory*. Sitting around the campfire telling spoooky stories, toasting marshmallows for s'mores, singing songs. Idyllic laughter and warm crackling sparks that shoot up into the air, creating a double-starred sky of orange and white pinpricks!

The reality is usually more like: being eaten alive by mosquitoes, frolicking through poison oak, and
finding out in the morning that the raccoons decided to be helpful and make off with the dishes you cleaned the night before because they still *smell* like food. Hunting through the woods for that sierra cup - classic morning camping game.

I keep remembering the first part and forgetting the second part.

When I was a teen, I helped the Missionaries of Charity run a free summer camp for inner-city kids whose parents had to work but could not afford to arrange for childcare. My family first became acquainted with the Missionaries when my Mum, driving a 15-seater van, spotted two of them walking down University Avenue in Berkeley. She yanked the wheel and screeched up next to them before rolling down the passenger-side window and shouting out "HEY, SISTAHS! YOU WANNA RIDE?"

They were a bit dubious until she directed one of the kids to pop open the side-door which revealed a sea of grubby kid faces in the back, in various states of dress. They decided at that moment that we were both (a) Catholic and (b) must be very poor because LOOK AT OUR CLOTHES AND FACES AND THAT CRANKY DIRTY BABY! They wheedled out our address and, to our surprise, started showing up at our house once a month with a huge box full of baby formula and miscellaneous other food.

My mother finally convinced them that we Really Weren't That Poor, and sent some of us kids to volunteer at the soup kitchen they had in SF (perhaps to drive home the point).  When the call for volunteers for their summer program went out, my brother and I signed up. It was eye-opening. Young children were both cognizant and casual about the darker side of things but the Missionaries of Charity gave them a respite: they planned a number of ridiculously corny/cheesy games, made the sacraments and prayer part of the daily activities, and arranged a field trip out to see the redwoods nearby.

Some of these kids' parents didn't have a car, and certainly might have trouble affording to spend both time and money bringing their children out and about. Probably the schools they went to arranged field trips but I, being homeschooled, have no idea as to whether there are trips to redwoods/if these trips cost the parents money.

I clearly remember one kid, in particular, taking off his shoes and jumping into a cool stream and shouting with laughter because of how clear and clean and beautiful everything was. He'd never been to the redwoods before. The two-hour hot/cramped van ride was forgotten in an instant and the ugliness of the city and some of the realities they dealt with on a daily basis were, for a brief moment, remote.

Hope those kids are doing ok. God bless the Missionaries of Charity and the good work they do.

Pics from camping in the redwoods - reminded me of the field trip with the MoCs.

Majestic is as majestic does.

Little stick looks like it's trynna help a fallen log bro keep up.

Fallen tree.

Owl. Or is it!?

What is that bear off to hunt? Humans?