Thursday, June 26, 2008
It’s called helicopter skiing. And I was in. But skiing the glaciers of Alaska was quickly becoming a dangerous prospect as our helicopter scouted out potential summits upon which to land.
“There, over there,” someone shouted from behind me to the guide and pointing his finger to some pimple of a peak.
The helicopter circled the summit twice; the percussion of the whirling blades set off no noticeable avalanches, so it was deemed good to go.
The mountain’s summit was no more than 20 square-feet, so the helicopter only had room enough to slam its skids into the side of the mountain, with its tail end hanging 4,000 feet above the ground. The 6-person skiing party jumped out of its cramped, but strangely comfortable, interior. After the packs, skies, and skiers were all safely huddled on the white-capped pimple, I took a moment to look around.
Steep, rocky cliff banks marked most of the faces to this mountain. “Instant death . . . ” I thought as a blast of cold Chugach air blew in from Port Valdez, ". . . should I chance to fall down the wrong side." At that moment, I looked down the face that we’d be skiing. I remember thinking to myself how I was never more afraid in my life--and probably--never more alive. We dove in, one-by-one, triggering no avalanches, over snow-filled couloirs, among green-glass glaciers and soaring bald eagles, through three-feet of undisturbed Alaskan powder, to rejoin the group again, now, more as proven skiing buddies than 60-minute-old strangers.
Dear Queen and King Boobernackle (aka my parents),
Sitting here in my high tower, found near the Pit of Death and in the center of the breeding ground for our pet dragons, I have had some time to think about where I would like my life to go. Once again, the electricity is out up here—probably another mishap with a baby dragon that hasn’t yet learned to control its hot breath of fire around our electrical lines---and once again, I am left to stare at my unusable Playstation 3 (I was just about to beat Lego Indiana Jones, too), Mac, television, cordless phone (since you STILL won’t let me have my own cell…as if I would call that brainless Prince Ken Charming!), and treadmill. Because staring at these now useless items was only depressing me, I thought I may distract myself with the view out of my window. Yes, it is a bit dreary here near the Pit of Death, where you send the evil-doers of our kingdom, but across the horizon I can see trees, fields, and even some rolling hills (with the help of my binoculars, of course). And it was after taking in these majestic views, that I realized how I need to get out of this horrendous tower.
Now, I understand that you are worried about me being in the real world because of the way I look. I assure you that I will do some research before I walk into the world wearing my usual ball-gown and jeweled tiara. I realize that the common-folk probably don’t wear tiaras, so I can always exchange that for some pearl barrettes—no one will suspect a thing. I have also already had my seamstress sew an extremely gorgeous evening gown for when I am to be released into the real world. Upon doing some preliminary research from books I have had read to me by our maid, Mary, I think that the quant town of North Dakota may suit me very nicely. Mary insists I would really enjoy it there, and even though I find Mary a bit on the ugly side, this bit of advice was really nice on her part. She said that the excitement of this
Anyways, I just want you to know that I deserve my independence, and I am willing to do this extra research in order to accomplish this. Please let me know via email (although I have to send this by bird because of aforementioned electrical outage); I am already beginning to pack my trunks!
Your lovely daughter,
The fairest in this land (and probably several others as well),
Princess Barbie Boobernackle
to be taken
under the tongue
and rolled around.
There is a richness to me,
a flavor like fecund soil.
Let me slide past your lips
as ice cream leaves the spoon
cool and slow.
I’ll melt in the middle
and saturate the sides
of your speech.
Maybe take a small bite;
move it to the back row to chew.
Feel the afterburn
like green chile,
the arousal of your mouth.
—by Anne Colwell, CSUWP 2008
Monday, June 23, 2008
PRESS, PRESS, PRESS...I haven't written fiction since elementary school :)
Although I always expected Becca’s tardiness whenever we met, I begin to scan the restaurant for her uniquely bright long blonde hair. The place is busy; almost every table is full of chatting couples and families on this cloudy Saturday afternoon. While the sky hasn’t yet started with the cool summer droplets we depend on to clear out the
Breaking my gaze out the window to my left, I scan back through the restaurant and am surprised to see the waiter standing quite close to my right side with an inquiring look on his face. Slightly dipping my head, I give him a somewhat confused (while also slightly annoyed) side glance from the top of my eyes.
“Yes?” I ask as I wonder how long he has been standing there.
“Would you like more tea?” he responds, fluctuating his voice in a manner that indicates he may have already asked this question once.
“Yes….yeah, please,” I reply softly, slightly embarrassed at my rudeness. He nods and begins to pour the tea. I add, “I’ll order once my friend arrives” indicating towards the empty chair as if I need to explain why I am currently alone. The waiter smiles, and I am pleased to see that his left cheek slightly dimples when he does so. I can’t help but reciprocate the smile, imagining my goofy face smiling back like that of a love-drunk teenager. I am suddenly horribly self-aware of my heavy limbs and awkward position. My posture is slouchy, and I sit up. I can’t quite tell if the waiter is cute, and as my body heat rises, I wonder why with age I haven’t become more calm and confident when it comes to flirting. I am almost thirty and still flirt like an awkward high schooler. My mom had promised that this nervousness would diminish the same time my acne cleared up, my braces came off, and my 80’s bangs grew out. Clearly she had higher hopes for me.
“Uggg. Hey, Kari…Sorry I’m late, but I’m finally here, I really don’t have an excuse, and you know me, I’m always late, did I say ‘sorry’ yet?” Becca rambles her usual obligatory monologue in a whirlwind of clothing and brightness as the restaurant lights reflect off her always perfectly combed blonde hair. Removing her jacket, she turns to the waiter, “And I’ll have a dry Beefeater martini, please. Vigorously shaken and with two olives.” She says the word vigorously in a manner that shows she is extremely serious about this part of her order, while she neatly adjusts her jacket over her chair and fumbles through her large bag of a purse.
I smirk as I watch the waiter glance at his watch and then in my direction. “That’s my cue to switch to wine…How about a glass of your Sauvignon Blanc?” I respond with a devious smirk. The dimple returns as I watch him nod and leave, writing down our drink order as he does so. I catch myself watching him walk away, taking careful detail of the way his other cheeks (the ones without the dimple) delicately move with the slight sway of his hips. His pant legs seem to me to be the perfect length and his walk seems to say that he is both confident and adventurous. Sighing aloud, I watch him stop at another table to remove some dirty plates and again the dimple returns. “That dimple alone must double his tips,” I think, catching myself once again smiling like that uncomfortable teenager of my past.
“Am I interrupting something?” Becca smirks, slightly looking in the direction of the waiter as a smile grows across her lips. I laugh, although I am conscious it may have been closer to a giggle, but Becca doesn’t seem to notice.
Immediately, Becca begins filling our table with amusing stories from her office. Her delicious tales are half the reason we meet every other weekend for lunch; her hilarious accounts fill my hunger for laughter every time.
Although I truly have no idea what Becca is actually paid to do at work, she has a real skill for not only story-telling but giving people nicknames. In college we practically stalked QdobaBoy (Qdoba being the local burrito place across from our dorms and Boy meaning their late-night delivery guy), and then in our spinning class there was Visor who was this intense, but also super-sexy, instructor who always wore a visor despite the fact that we were in a windowless, dim, indoor cycling studio.
The same goes for Becca’s skills in naming her office colleagues. There is Grandma the super-sweet phone receptionist who even occasionally bakes cookies for everyone on special occasions. Then there is Slinky, a guy from another department, who Becca constantly catches in their section of the building, peering over cubicle walls as he slowly saunters by. Becca insists that he may secretly have been hired to spy on employees and report back on which are working and which only check email or stream videos all day. Whether it’s true or not, Becca admits her productivity escalates when she spots him in their area. And, of course, there’s Verde. Verde is Becca’s work crush. A guy with whom she flirts, and who apparently has some of the deepest colored green eyes Becca has ever seen. I have, of course, never met any of these characters, but I have an inclination that I could identify every one of them if I ever showed up at her work.
This week was an especially flirtatious one since for the first time in the two years Becca has worked at her job, her boss, Hairy-Back-Mary, (who is not hairy, but in fact a major beast when necessary), was out of the office on some business meeting in London. Apparently Becca tortured Verde with mischievous sticky notes and inappropriate emails over the entire week. “They were quite creative,” she added with a sly smile and light laugh, and evidently they were, because Verde responded to each and every one with even more creative answers.
Becca said her week went quite smoothly without Hairy-Back’s constant micro-managing. And with her extra time, Becca had tailed Slinky to find out exactly which department he worked in, yet unfortunately his pace was too slow for her to naturally follow and keep an eye on him. This, of course, only solidified her theory of him being a spy. Overall, though, she was productive and had some fun for the first time at work. “Needless to say, I am already dreading this upcoming week. I’m sure Hairy-Back will make up for her time gone by coming into my cubicle to go over everything I did wrong with last week’s paperwork,” Becca adds, rolling her eyes.
I suddenly notice that the waiter has returned. “Can I get you anything else?” he kindly asks.
As with all of my lunches with Becca, I hardly realize where the time goes. We had ordered and drunk two rounds of drinks, eaten all of the bread and our meals. We were now idly chatting at the table that our waiter was probably hoping to quickly turnover.
“Nope, we’re good,” Becca responds with a wink in my direction. Luckily the waiter missed it as he puts the black bill holder down, staring directly at me as he does so. Becca grabs for the bill, “My turn,” she pipes, and I slowly pull my gaze away from the waiter.
“Are you sure?” I ask, trying to think which of us had paid last time.
Suddenly Becca stops. “Hey, Kari…What does this mean? Is this even our bill?” She scans it another second longer, nods and then hands me the bill as she begins digging through her purse. “I’m sure it’s some cryptic message he meant to put on someone else’s bill. But that’s our bill. I always look for my martinis if I ever have a question…” she continues on, but I hardly hear her.
Scribbled in blue at the top of our crisp white bill are the words: “When did you last speak to your husband?” The words jump into my stomach with a twinge before my brain is even able to register it completely. Becca is right, though; this is our bill. To Becca this message seems to mean nothing to either of us, but the question resonates with me until my brain finally comes up with an answer: I hadn’t spoken to nor seen my husband in almost five years.
Friday, June 20, 2008
Jeneanne, you bounce you roll you hop
You paint with the brightest colors the boldest strokes
You were a tree with a smile
The overgrown pixie.
Jeneanne, everyone knew your joy
A college kid to the fullest.
A kid in college
to teach us something.
I wish I knew where you are today
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
It is amazing to me how you can fall into friendship with someone in a matter of minutes whereas you can strive for years to become close with others to no avail. Canadian Carla came into my life with the force of a Tasmanian devil and left as quiet as the surf of the Pacific Ocean on a calm day. She left, however, an indelible mark on my life and my journey that I will never forget.
I was studying abroad in Australia and had recently been abandoned by my pot smoking basketball partner in favor of a more leafy substance. I knew that Carla had mentioned in passing that she would be interested in playing basketball some day. I battled with myself with whether or not I should ask her to play. I didn’t want her to say no, because I disliked having my overtures at friendship being rejected. However, I told myself, I was studying abroad, halfway around the world, and I was not going to be the same girl who waited for things to happen to her. With that determination, I walked up to her door and knocked. Please be home… or not… All of the sudden, she answered the door. I timidly asked if she would be interested in playing basketball. Please say yes… Please say yes… I willed as I waited for her response. “Sure! “ She said with a smile. Off we went, and the rest, as they say, was history. Before I knew it, we were playing basketball almost every day, challenging the Australians to a game of soccer… sorry… ‘football,’ and learning to play rugby.
Even the most mundane activities began to take on an aura of mystery. We decided to go to a soccer game and it turned into an unforgettable adventure of cheering for the wrong team on the wrong side of the stands, followed by a harrowing walk through the creepiest neighborhoods that Canberra, Australia had to offer. We then ran all the way to the movies and slid into the theater just in time for the show. We were alone in our adventure because no one else thought we could accomplish all of our goals in such a short time, but with Carla, you could accomplish pretty much anything you set your mind to.
Carla was the kind of girl who liked to sit in the front of the theater so she feels like she is part of the action. She was the kind of girl that you take to a bar and within minutes you are leading an entire drunken rugby team in song. She was the kind of girl that could convince us that taking a cab the 4 miles between the Sydney Opera House and our hostel wasn’t necessary. Instead, we danced our way back home, stopping in every club and dancing for 30 minutes and then heading to the next club. It took four hours, but was the best walk home I have ever had. If the party started at 9, we were at her house at 8, taking turns performing concerts with hairbrushes as our microphones.
She lived everyday to the fullest, and when you were with her, you did too. Once we got back from Australia we tried to keep in touch, but our friendship eventually fell away. She was a whirlwind, her own type of Tasmanian devil and truly, a once in a lifetime kind of friend.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
I finished reading Stargirl last week.
Todays morning pages made me think of this...
I am different
I think different
I act different
You want me to be
What you want me to
What's the difference?
I am who I am
Does it matter what I look like?
I am different
I will always be different
Some get it
but it does not matter
You want me to be, to do, what you want me to be.
(That's reeeeaallly late)
I started talking in complete sentences!
Not mama, or dada.
I did not talk much when I was little.
I don't talk now, unless I have to.
I form complete thoughts.
Sometimes, it is not important.
And when it is,
I say what I need to.
It's not always in the moment...
It's not always in the day...
Maybe, it's not even in the month.
Or 18 months...
Friday, June 13, 2008
She is a seashell. Hard, beautiful, something to decorate the house,
perhaps the bathroom, make that room a theme, something that doesn’t exist,
but we will all pretend it does.
She is a seashell, smooth on the inside, hollowed out, nothing
there, expect the beauty of stark white, like a beautiful plate
without any nourishment.
She is a seashell with perfect imperfections, the ones no one seems to notice.
They run their fingers
over her, feeling each ridge under their prints, and
some use a fingernail to scratch down, hear and feel the sound
they make together: it’s not unpleasant,
but a sound you’d ask to be repeated in the name of knowing
what exactly it is, build a simile to name it.
She is seashell left on the beach.
A seashell someone would pause over, maybe
enough to crouch down on their haunches and look at.
Not beautiful enough to pick-up and wash off and
take home, but one that will hold a short memory,
shorter than a poem, one you won’t remember
in the car while you drive home, but will
remember the sand between your toes,
the rushing water, a few nameless left behind.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
He didn’t speak to me… for two hours. He didn’t say a word. The pleasantries and big overjoyous smile was replaced by disgust and a look that I can only imagine many have given as a reaction to racist rants on Oprah. But this was no racial issue. This was political.
I still don’t get it. How can we as a nation stand so “United” yet so far apart on so many issues? I’m all for the melting pot, the checks and balances, debates and dialogue if we can still call it civil discourse, but the pundits I’m tired of. I’m exhausted by the singular viewpoint and censorship of FOX News. I’m tired of CNN often giving the exact opposite side of the story. The selling of story and image has become much more important than truth. The picture of Tony Blair speaking to his people with the odd image of a halo behind his head crowned by a flag that just happens to be in the perfect place. The anti-Barack pundits accidentally calling him “Osama” and the consistent mentioning of his full name allowing us all to constantly associate him with the former leader of Iraq, a man that we, as a country hate, at least we are constantly reminded to. The anti-Cheney press constantly focusing on his Darth Vader alter ego and the forever remembered shotgun incident. Let’s discuss whether or not Hilary was under sniper fire. How could Barack ever have gone to the church? Did John McCain really once say that? Who cares? Do we actually even pay attention to issues anymore?
And then there is my favorite… after any presidential debate the pundits, all of them, speak to the public and react from a place known as Spin Alley. They actually tell us in their headlines that they are trying to deceive us. Spin Alley. Why not Deception Street or Liars Avenue? So now we stand on either side of the aisle not allowed to cross to consider the other side because the image and story matter more than the reality.
So there was my uncle choosing not to speak to me at my cousin’s wedding for two hours, because I voted for a different presidential candidate.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Jenny St. Romain
Floating lives, floating houses—broken
Dark and menacing—the heavy clouds are still here
I know: far, far away is hope, a little sun on the horizon
But it’s not coming soon, coming at a snail’s pace
Heavy you are—hushed we are—struggling to pick up the broken pieces of our windows,
our plates and bowls, our grandmother’s tea cup
Trying to pick up a shattered me
We came back—we are here—we stay together—remain
And we remember: far, far away the sun is on the horizon