Sometimes, I wish that time didn’t exist. I guess we could probably argue that time doesn’t actually exist. It isn’t tangible and it certainly doesn’t have any feelings. However, it seems to consume us and control us. I felt like it might be impossible to write about. So, I did was any good writer would do and I wikipediaed it. Wikipedia tells me that “Time is a dimension in which events can be ordered from the past through the present into the future, and also the measure of durations of events and the intervals between them.” It also says that even though its been a major subject of study throughout all fields, “defining it in a manner applicable to all fields without circularity has consistently eluded scholars.” Even though it was put eloquently, it still doesn’t really explain what time “is”.
In college, writing was easy because somebody (professor) and some outside unknown force (fear of failing) pushed me to sit down for hours at a time and crank out essay after essay. Because I was a “writer” or on my way to becoming one, this daily grind was easy. I could post up in a coffee shop for a few hours, write a ten page essay or personal short story on nearly any topic I was given. It was almost fun and funny in a way. Not the writing. No, that was always hard. But the mental game I played with myself. How long could I sit there and write? How many pages could I write for every cup of coffee? How long could I keep a mental stream of consciousness going without pausing to take a sip of coffee? This unorthodox strategy earned me A after A on college papers. In fact, in the four years of being an English major, I only ever received one B on an essay. A ten page research paper in my senior seminar class on the presence and usage of trees in three of Toni Morrision’s novels. And I wasn’t really committed. I was in the last semester of my senior year just waiting for my degree. Which I can say almost two years later means absolutely nothing. And the waiting just happened to take place in crowded bars with pool tables, loud music, and a whole lot of people blowing off a whole lot of steam. Nobody really wants to spend their time in a library when that appealing atmosphere was just right down the street.
This is my first story for Advanced Fiction. It was to be written from a fraudulent artifact or some sort of restrictive form. I couldn’t follow the rules, so I invented my own–a thought recorder. What would your script say if you recorded every thought and action on just a simple trip to the grocery store? This is my first attempt trying to emulate this:
Walk into the King Soopers on 28th St. Trip over the buckled rug and slip on the snow. Cauliflower. Return glass milk jug for rebate. Forgot it. List. Stick to your list. Acknowledge the lady at the cash register. Why do they have mangoes in February? Grin, but don’t speak when she talks to you. She’s fat. Wonder what she ate for dinner. Probably not a salad. Probably smokes. Not wearing a ring. Poor thing, working the night shift.
Grab a basket. Must be germs all over this thing. Doctor said to stay away from germs. Healthy immune system. Right, when you actually have an immune system. Germs are everywhere. Remember emergen-C. Does that stuff actually work? Drape basket handle over arm and carry it like a country girl going to the market. Stick to your list. No money to not. Open wallet where list is. Where’s my debit card? Must’ve left it in the car. Always leaving that thing somewhere. Terrible memory, least that’s what he always tells me. Grab a plastic bag. Look for perfect bananas. Realize it’s winter and the bananas are never perfect. Decide on six very green ones. I’ll probably never eat six. Break one off. Feel bad for leaving him all by himself to rot.
Why would you ever want purple cauliflower? Or orange? Wonder how they make that. Scratch your neck, switch the basket to the other arm, and watch sexy man with dark hair inspect bananas. Grin as if you understand his dilemma. Did I remember to put make-up on? No. Shit. I look like an orange marshmallow in this coat. Goodwill. Breathe in a raspy breath. Smells like Goodwill. Turn back to him. How can organic cauliflower can be purple?
Pivot to left and see that cartons of blueberries are 2 for $5.00. Get four because that’s a really good deal and blueberries are healthy or something. Hopefully I don’t turn into Violet Beauregard. Glance back at guy who is checking out the onions. Watch him grab six. What could you make with six onions? Some people probably eat them raw. His breath must be kickin all the time. Raise eyebrows in disgust. Walk over to organic section. Is he following me? Sure hope so. Seven bean soup. Gross. Fiber cereal. Cardboard cereal. That’s what they want me to eat?
Glance over shoulder, shift weight to left leg, stick right leg out, as if you can’t decide on Tabouleh and Vegetarian Chili. What the hell is Tabouleh? Why am I in the organic section? God, my neck hurts. Grab neck and massage a little so the sexy man can see you’re exhausted. Because picking out food is so exhausting. Working late, standing so long, all for money. Debt. Big, big bills. Why is medicine so expensive? Or slept wrong on it. Slept wrong from different mattresses. Sleep in your own bed why don’t you, what bed, no bed, anymore. He left me, they all left me. Pick up phone, check it again, even though it’s not on vibrate and it never rang. See the time. Who goes to the grocery store at 11:36 PM? Sexy man who eats a lot of onions. Ew, gross green onion breath. Kissing. Will that make me cry too? Like in Casper when the ghosts breathe green. Money breath, wads and handfuls of money coming right outta his mouth.
Finally, go for the can of organic black beans. Wonder when you’re ever going to eat organic black beans. What’s the difference between organic and inorganic? I thought inorganic was not alive. Does that mean an organic bean is alive? Will that cause cancer? Everyone is eventually going to get it from something. Antioxidants. Blueberries and free radicals and something about Aspartame and Diet Coke.
Switch basket to other arm because black beans are really heavy. Walk past cereal aisle and glance down at the sugar cereals. Turn your nose up because you only eat the fiber stuff because that’s what the doctor’s say. What doctors? Expensive Viper-driving-million-dollar-warm-home doctors. Sugar cereals probably cause cancer. See someone you sort of know, but don’t really know. Keep walking. He’s in my class. Which one? Big nose. Never realized. Run your fingers through your… it’s a scarf day. Flash him the I-know-you-grin. LIST. Man, I really need a stapler. Do grocery stores even have staplers? Pick up speed past the drugs, diapers, and dog food. Who buys books in grocery stores? Ooo, I really need candy. No, you don’t need candy. Yes, you could really use a succulent and sweet and smooth dose of chocolate, dose of deathly stuff that makes me puke. Glance at list.
Luna bars–glorified candy bars. 10 for $10.00. Lemon Zest, gross. In a bar. Ew. Take ten minutes to decide between Caramel Nut Brownie, Peppermint Stick, and Nutz Over Chocolate. Pick ten, and then put seven back, because ten is absurd. You’ll probably get lazy and eat all of them instead of cooking rice and ramen noodles. Do I have rice? I need to stop eating Ramen noodles. Because that’s so much better than Luna bars. Turn back around because you’re probably craving tortilla chips, salsa, and sour cream. If I buy tortilla chips with flax seed, then it’s okay. Must be better for me. Check the label. Three grams of fiber. Toss into basket. Go back to organic aisle and look for organic salsa. Check the label. All organic ingredients. Nice. Race to the regular chip aisle and snatch queso off the shelf. Forget to check the label.
Winter, spring, summer, or falllll, alll you have to do is calll and I’ll be there, oh, yes I will. Gilmore Girls. When was the last time I saw that? No cable. No T.V.
Look at list. Steak. Am I really going to get steak? Can’t believe I was a vegetarian for three years. Stuck on all that cardboard stuff. Yes, doctor’s, I was a vegetarian. I was healthy. Really, healthy. Let your eyes get bigger when you see the filets. SPECIAL. On filets? Come onnn. Marinate in a little bit of lemon juice, little bit of olive oil, some soy sauce, dash of cayenne. Lots of black pepper. Mouth waters. Verge of drool. Actual drool. Wipe mouth with back of hand. Look at the pool of spit on your hand. Sick.
See your Calculus teacher from high school. Remember when she lost twenty something pounds, and looked great. Tell her she does. She asks about your major. Stutter. Who cares about my major, it’s definitely not calculus. Mutter something about literature, tell her to have a nice day and move on. She stares at your head, but moves on as if she hasn’t really noticed anything. Can’t believe she gave me a B. Stare, stare, glare, wonder, weird, nervous.
Need another job… no jobs, no time. Walk past seafood counter. Sneaking into movies probably isn’t the best thing to do. Nobody ever says anything when they see my head, but I love movies. How did he learn to act and stammer so well. This shirt is too thin. Winter, spring, summer… all you gotta, callll oh yes, I’ll be there. Shiver, hug yourself, pull arms into chest. He just stammered so well. Learned from a real stammerer probably. Shiver again, ignore fish guy when he asks if he can help you. The marshmallow doesn’t even keep me warm. Fish sucks. Eyes drift to floor. Coupons, where are my coupons? Did I cut them out? Keep walking, shuffling, slowly. Tired. Baskets cutting into my arm. Skinny. Pull sleeve back and massage arm with other hand. Thin. So thin. Look down at the red shapes on your bone. Where’d the fat go? Even the muscle. Just bone.
Meat guy. Looks like a meathead–appropriate. Why is he staring? Eyes still penetrate. Smile still contagious. Ears still delicate. Eyebrows still dark and arched. Nose, petite, small, cute, still. Still pretty. I’m still… nothing. Can I help you with anything ma’am? Ma’am? Can I help you find something? Grin. No reply. Ma’am, I’m no ma’am. That’s my mom. Where is my mom? Somewhere beautiful. Somewhere nice, ashes sprinkled. I did that. What did she do for me? Left me here. Man, I’d love a beer. Champagne. Mimosas, but I don’t have orange juice. Clutch basket closer to side. Yeah, you could help me find a damn stapler. Documents spread everywhere across my floor. I just need some order. Just give me some kind of order, space, room to think clear. Maybe, the insurance, the companies, maybe just maybe they will help. If I just find the stapler and get my life together, they might. Quarter falls to the floor from open wallet. Watch it fall in slow motion, rolling, weaving in and out of the tiled floor, like a game, running away from you, hopping. Stops at the feet of a little boy dressed in clothes from Goodwill, just like you. Kneels down without letting his heels off the ground. Legs short because he doesn’t have a long way to go. He looks up to your head. Does he notice too? Doesn’t say anything to his mom, but she’s looking at me too. STOP staring.
Get up to cash register, open wallet. Oh my gosh! Where’s my debit card? Someone stole it. I’ve been pick-pocketed. Pick-walleted. Where did I have it last? Act panicked so sexy man can see you whose in the other line. My scarf. He sees it. Thinks I’m fragile. Breakable. I am, breakable. Pick me up like a toothpick, a wishbone, that’s all I have left is a little wishbone, and break me in half and make a wish, because I’m nothing. Withering away.
At cash register, panicked. Starving. Set basket down full of groceries, and no stapler, and no order or life, and the cornucopia of should have cauliflowers and luna bars and the things you used to eat. The should have, could have would have beens. My body, withering, attacking itself. No one to help or look. Glance down at magazines briefly. See the skinny models on the covers. They’re withering away too. We’re all going to die. Ashes, like the sprinkled ashes on the mountain. Where’s my mom now? No money, no help, no hair, no nothing. Disregard the rich skinnies, bonies, on magazine. Grab a Twix bar. Walk through automatic doors, trip on same rug. Slip on same snow. Damn rug. Enjoy dinner as and you walk home in the snow, without gloves to an apartment in the crappy neighborhood without heat or bed or table or refrigerator. Empty. Listen to the cashier yell from the automatic doors. His voice is muffled from the whipping, raging snow, wind. Realizing that you just stole a candy bar. A seventy-five cent hunk of nothing. Barrier of snow and warmth, outdoors and indoors, rich and poor separates us. Walk free, smugly grinning with chocolate and caramel stuck in stuck between teeth. Stomach growls. Ignore, ignore.
Undo scarf from head, reach arms wide, tilt head back and free scarf into the wind. Free, free, freeze, freezing.
Yesterday morning, the house stirred early in the morning with big people feet tip-toeing around. This year, I finally realized that now, every major holiday, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas, everyone sits around a talks about how they can’t believe how old we all are. How I’m 20 years old, close to 21, Cheyenne is 25, Grans and Gooze just celebrated their 55th anniversary a couple days ago, how another year has passed, and what did we do–how do we keep getting older, and all have serious things to do. We asks ourselves, “What happened to the good ol’ days?”
Time is the one thing that I can think to be constant. Sometimes we say that time flies when you’re having fun, or time slows down when you’re not. But really, it’s always going at the same steady pace, tick, tick, tick. It made me think of how important it is to slow down and remember where you are and what you’re doing. Because its so important to remember the progress–if not, we tend to forget what matters to us–why exactly do we come together every year, and only spend time with each other? Because that’s what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown. We turn our tv’s off, and tune into one another with open arms and open ears.
We do this to remember how important family can be. So no, we can’t slow down time, or for others, speed it up, but what we can do is stop ourselves from speeding up, go on a walk with our families in the snow and support each other the best we know how. Because in the end when we take away the presents, the gifts, the Christmas dinner, the stress of the holidays all we have is one another.
But exactly a year from today, I’ll probably be sitting in this same spot, writing on the same computer about another year that has passed. And once again, we’ll say to one another, “Can you believe Noah is three years old and Savannah is talking? It was just like yesterday that they were born. And I can’t believe that so and so is married and so and so has children.” It’s all happening right now, so go join the party.
I have been coaching little gymnasts for the past 3 months and, as always, love being in the gym. A little girl in my class tonight learned a round off backhandspring on floor in approximately 2 minutes. She is extremely talented and something about her technique tells me that one day, she’ll be incredible. I wonder if that’s how I was as a little kid. Its so funny that you can hardly remember anything about something you spent your whole life doing. And when I do remember things, they’re all injuries, crashes, landed on my head.
So, one of the other coaches talked me into getting back up on the bars a few weeks ago. While home for Thanksgiving break, I found a really old pair of grips under my bed and snuck them back to school. Last night, I showed up at the gym is shorts and a t-shirt (not quite typical gymnastics gear), awkwardly put my grips on a chalked up. The hardest thing for me to understand is HOW after three years does your body still remember how to flip two stories in the air, swing around a wooden bar, and time it all right so that you actually land upright instead of on your head?
Maybe because we did it everyday, 5 hours a day. Who knows? But what I do know it how good it felt. I’ve never been that calm. Yeah, maybe my strength isn’t really there anymore, but that’s expected, and maybe my tap and set are a little off, but it didn’t matter. I was having fun for once without a coach scrutinizing every move I make. It makes me wonder if the little 6 year-old-girl with the blonde hair and the crooked smile will be a famous gymnast one day, or will the “life” get to her?
I had someone take a little video of me doing my thing. Hope you like!
Sometimes the time carries me away and I can’t quite keep track of 300 things at once. Has it really been since July that I last posted? This semester, although its almost over, has definitely been the most stressful–18 credit hours, 5 english classes, and a random elective. My work has really been cut out for me.
Things have definitely changed, that’s for sure. Nine weeks ago, I had an ankle ligament repair surgery and I thought my ankle was in considerable shape, but nonetheless, the orthopedic doctor prescribed surgery, a cast, a boot, a brace, and 12 weeks of physical therapy. But today, I was jumping around the living room doing the cardio workout from p90x (which is great by the way, if you haven’t decided to put your body through the soreness of not working out for 10 weeks yet). See, I’m trying to get in shape for my snowboarding trip to Colorado.
Yes, Colorado. My feet seem to keep wanting to run towards the sunset, and I’m definitely not stopping them. Brad asked me what I wanted for my 21st birthday (I can’t believe it either) and I told him that I wanted to be out west, on a mountaintop with an hour of riding in front of me. So, I’ve gotta get my little “chicken leg” (nickname for my calf that shrank 27 inches after I had surgery, or something like that) back in shape.
S0 many things, so many things. Cheyenne is now a 5th grade teacher–can you believe it? I can. It really sounds like she has her work cut out for her, but the kids, of course, love her. I remember my 5th grade teacher–Mrs. Hansen. She was twice Chey’s age and really liked cats, I think. So yeah, I’d take Chey anymday. And Michael, Michael.. He’s now working for a social networking company in Chattanooga called LifeKraze and they have enormous potential. The platform is really about living an active and healthy lifestyle, receiving points from your friends and followers and cashing in on great rewards and prizes. I’m a proud little sister.
So what’s next for me? Well, I guess I’ll finish up college in two semesters and then head off to grad school, get into an MFA program and start writing my little heart out. Which is exactly why I’ve been slacking on the blog posts. Sorry Gooze. I’ll try to kick it up a notch.
Well, we’re on our 8th week of guests this week and it’s incredible to me that every week I find connections with the people around me. Sundays are always the hardest because we say goodbye to one group and hello to the next. Sue always tells us to remember that we touch people’s lives and that like us, to our guests; this is their home too. This week I had a little girl tell me that she wished I were her big sister, and even though I’ve never been one, it made me believe that was Sue says is true.
I’ve gotten to meet people from all over the country and also the world. And I wonder if it’s just a coincidence that I fall in love with the guests or if there is something about the West that draws certain types of people to the snow covered peaks of the Rockies. But coincidence or not, this is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. Each week, we’re greeted by a new group of 30 smile faces. Friends are made over hours instead of days or even weeks. On Saturday night, when the group has spent a whole week together, the dining room is loud and the families are mixed from table to table. In this one short week, they become seven or eight different families meshed into one giant one. It makes me think of home.
On another note, I was in Denver a couple weeks ago, and I walked past a building to be greeted by this poem by John Ruskin called “O True of Earth”:
“Mountains are the bones of the earth, their highest peaks are invariably those parts of its anatomy which in the plains lie buried under five and twenty thousand feet of solid thickness of superincumbent soil, and which spring up in the mountain ranges in vast pyramids or wedges, flinging their garment of earth away from them on each side. The masses of the lower hills are laid over and against their sides, like the masses of lateral masonry against the skeleton arch of an unfinished bridge, except that they slope up to and lean against the central ridge: and, finally upon the slopes of these lower hills are strewed the level beds of sprinkled gravel, sand and clay; which form the extent of the champaign. Here then is another grand principle of the truth of earth, that the mountains must come from under all, and be the support of all; and that everything else must be laid in their arms, heap above heap, the plains being the uppermost.”
It stopped me in my tracks, first because it was so long, and second because that’s why I’d choose the mountains over the beach any day. They are the support for us all as we lie in the arms of their masses. They are the raw form of the earth, bare and beautiful without the cover of trees, grass, and wildflowers. Their beauty, up close and far away in all the same for its purity.