Sunday, November 28, 2010

The air is cold and wild

In the woods there are two stone lions, the kind that rich people keep by their doors.  One is missing a head.  Rain streaks their bodies, crooked lumps that squelch the earth like gravestones.  They say that if everyone died today, it would take 20,000 years for all traces of humanity to disappear.  

New York will be a jungle, not of concrete ,but of fat, slow growing trees.  Magnolias will bloom in the local Wal-mart. Across the street, a parking lot will sink under leaves, shit, and dead animals.  A fawn will be born where my bedroom used to be.

Someone dumped a TV by the side of the railroad tracks. 

 My parents just bought a new TV, one of those sleek, 2D screens that take up  a whole wall.  The first movie they watched on it was 2001: A Space Odyssey.  

They didn't watch much TV after that. 

 The Railroad Crossing sign reminds me of a crucifix. 

 I wonder what Jesus would think of TV. Except for saturday morning cartoons, I don't think he'd watch much.

The railway tracks are where I go when I want to escape, listen to Bob Dylan, or get run over.  I like the open spaces, the lines that go on forever like the perspectives I used to draw in art class.  The air is cold and wild.  There's no grocery store architecture, only ruins of a time before fences.  I'll be a ruin too, someday.  They'll dump my bones by the tracks next to the TV, all the while wondering why I never got rid of the crayons at the bottom of my purse.
I keep the crayons for two reasons.  The first is so I can draw sunsets for waitresses.  I'm too poor to leave a tip, so I leave sunsets on the napkins instead.  I hope the sunsets help them forget that they've been working for six hours, or that their shoes are too small, or that the woman at table 11 is a vegan bitch.

I also keep the crayons in case of emergency.  If a guy shoves a gun in my ear and says "draw me a sunset or I'll pull the trigger", I'll whip them out and draw him a sunset so beautiful, he'll die looking at it.  His gun will clank on the pavement where, 20,000 years in the future, a dandelion is bobbing in the wind.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

fashion is a fairy tale

"It's a story," I say.  I should be looking at the camera, but instead stare at the bone trees.

"Why is it a story?" asks Jing.

"Because--" I found this scarf under a marshmallow sky, walking with people I don't remember.  My cardigan scratches like the carpet in my dad's study.  My mittens came from a peddler.  They were twelve dollars, but he gave them to me for five.  He said he liked my smile.  My coat is black with gold buttons that remind me of winter in St. Petersburg, of ballerinas and officers who don't shave.  I've never been to Russia, though I'd like to go, someday.  "Because it has a beginning, a middle, and, like the books you read over and over, no end."

I don't know if my response is documentary material.  I should have referenced Twiggy, or Jimi Hendrix's band jacket, still lingering on the runways like a purple haze.

Jing interviews Nick about men's fashion.  He says it's evolving.  Prep schools now ply dumpsters for uniforms.  Tommy Hilfiger has five o' clock shadow: "These ain't yo daddy's khaki pants."

  After the interview, I read Slaughter House Five.  It's the only book I can reread without getting bored. Underlines and exclamation points jungle the pages.  I draw a sun next to my favorite quote:

There was a party where everyone smoked and spoke like Dr. Seuss.   While there, I painted the quote on a strip of canvas. 
The words remind me of stories in big, paisley books: the great fairy tale of fashion, a story where everything is beautiful, and nothing hurts.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

tuna fish: my first post

Indiana, PA is a small town where grocery shopping is a profoundly social experience. I used to watch the cart-boy roll steel caterpillars across the parking lot, secretly pledging my love as my mom listened to Mrs. Duntley talk about the new pastor, or the price of lottery tickets, or how nobody made their own pie crust anymore. The cart-boy drove a red truck and mowed our lawn every Thursday. His dad, Fred, painted our house. His mom's family owned Donitellos, the Italian restaurant that my parents said was good even though they didn't have peanut butter sandwiches.

The Historical Society said that Jimmy Stewart grew up in the house next to mine. I didn't believe them. Jimmy Stewart never lived in Indiana. He grew up in a world where "As Time Goes By" drifts out of Ingrid Bergman's window as Alfred Hitchcock reads the Evening Post in a phone booth, scanning headlines about cowboys, diamonds, and stone women who crumble when men dare to say "I love you." This is where Jimmy Stewart spent his childhood; not in some dopey gingerbread town, but in a city made of cigarette smoke.

Like Stewart, I grew up in somone else's short story. Because I went grocery shopping, I knew everybody. I lost my first tooth, graduated high school, and got drunk knowing everybody. When I woke up, the entire neighborhood said "good morning, you're looking thin."

I watched movies and dreamed of other worlds. Sometimes, I went to the coffee shop and read about people who took drugs. The Barrista's name was October Surprise. It used to be Cole, but he changed it because he's a sociologist and wants you to think about things like gender identity. I complained to him about the editor of the campus paper who cut my articles to make room for Dr. Hatcher's Hair Laser Removal ads.

"Print is dead." He shrugged. "The sooner newspapers face reality, the better."

I didn't agree with him. I liked newspapers because they were ephemeral. The idea of someone reading my article one minute and wrapping their tuna fish in it the next made me swell like a hot-air balloon.

Print will never die. I'm starting a blog because I can't reach people in China from the back of a coffee shop napkin. The Internet, like a good movie, connects me to other worlds. No English professors will teach this blog in their classrooms. It is my sincerest hope, however, that they use it to wrap their tuna fish.

I can't turn the pages of Google like the pages of an old book. Nor does my computer smell anything like my copies of Alice in Wonderland (cinnamon, grass, and dry paint) or On The Road (apple pie and the inside of a rental car).

Reading print is like looking out a train window: the view is always changing.