Tuesday, February 16, 2010

It's the Little Things 2

Chocolate milk
In a yellow-walled kitchen
And through the window
Small white dots
Flying madly by

Monday, February 15, 2010

It's the Little Things...

The tall stained glass windows lend character to the morning prayers: the white pages of my siddur are highlighted in deep yellow, and the girl in front of me has pink streaks of light in her black hair. On the other side of the partition in the long room, men rush to take off their tefillin so that mussaf can begin. Through the quiet, a sudden symphony: the click, pop, snap of black boxes echoing across the sanctuary. I listen, note the sounds and the rhythm: music of impatient, solemn joy.

Sunday, February 07, 2010


What are the chances that I can sit down with a blank document, the two of us, cozy in my room which is a mess—papers fluttering round my desk, clothing draped over chairs and bed, dust giggling conspiratorially in the corners, and everywhere stuff, stuff, stuff—and, knowing that I’ve been unable to produce anything of value, knowing that I feel singularly uninspired (is that a cliché?), knowing that I’m slogging through the day and the next day and every minute draws me closer to worse; knowing all this, does the remotest possibility exist, is it even an option, could the page fill with words that, upon retrospective contemplation (or compulsive consistent editing), won’t make me gag with their ineptitude and my own sense of futility?

Or perhaps, if I write, if I write and the words sicken me and the writing is lousy and I’ve little to say and I know it, perhaps today I can make allowances. For one day only and get it while you can. And what’s more, I may succumb to the seductive consciousness of an audience, to the knowledge that I will put these lines somewhere to be seen, to be scrutinized, to be censured and mocked but at least to occupy a space of their own. After all, I know they would appreciate that.

Am I endowing the words with a separate existence, separate from me, separate from the sentiments they’re expressing, even? I am. It makes no sense. Making sense is not one of the goals I’ve set for myself today. The goals are—well, to be honest, I’ve neglected to set them, but filling pages with words is bound to make me feel better—isn’t it? I must believe it to be so, or my fingers wouldn’t keep typing, taking dictation from my brain, or is it my soul, perhaps? Clichés again. Maybe my goal for the day is to avoid clichés. No, too lofty. Then, just to be aware of the clichés I inevitably employ, in hopes that tomorrow I will use fewer? That seems reasonable. (Time for a generalization? Yes, I think so.) Clichés and melodrama—both are inexcusable, without exception, but can occasionally be done gracefully if doused with a liberal helping of disclosure and self-awareness. Ah, melodrama. [The weight of the world on my shoulders, the wisdom of years in my eyes, and here I sigh.] Easily ridiculed in others, laughingly justified in oneself. Oneself? There’s a pretentious word. I won’t get away with it. Let’s change the subject.

The Superbowl. Well. I think that’s all I have to say about that.

Am I reflective today, or just desperate? The latter, I presume. If I were reflective, I certainly wouldn’t be putting myself in literary costume and assuming an identity in order to presume to candor in print. I’ve been reading plays. It’s bound to do messy things to one’s sense of self. My sense of self has been floundering in any case, so a little further stirring can’t do much harm, can it? Transforming myself into a somewhat dispassionate narrative voice may be a nice change of pace.

Though if I’m pretending to honesty, I may as well admit: I’ve already been narrating lately. Out loud, sometimes. Monologuing too. When no one’s around, of course. I suppose this word explosion is just the natural next step—the desire to expose myself for what I am: a hopeless dramatic narcissist. Or perhaps, a girl who is confused and desperately wants to escape from her head, just every once in a while. Is that okay? It may be self-indulgent, but I haven’t used this forum for anything else lately, and you (whoever you may be) don’t have to read this. No really, you don’t. In fact, better not. You may leave now. I’ll keep on talking—I’ll feel more comfortable knowing you’ve exited the theater. Thank you.

Where was I? Oh yes. Rambling. A rambling path through overgrown woods: a cliché, but nevertheless a nice image. If only this piece of writing were something like a rambling path through the woods. It seems more like a slow trudge through a knee-deep puddle, each step squelching into mud that sucks downward—not enough to halt progress entirely, but sufficient to remind you that gravity is a terribly inconvenient force. But then again, you know, that may be an important thing to remember. How sad it would be to forget the tragedy of gravity; the tragedy of limits that keep us from floating, flying, traversing the heavens. It’s a painful awareness, but better than oblivion, no? And maybe that’s what I’m seeking. Awareness: painful, yes, and no doubt painful to read. (Why are you still reading? I told you to go!) But at least I’m fighting to keep my eyes open, though gravity pulls my lids down toward slumber. I won’t go. I can’t go. But I’m so tired…and then I jolt back into consciousness and feel gravity again and know, and know, and wonder whether I’ve said too much or too little and why.

(Did you know that words fail? The entire point of this piece—I don’t know if you’ve noticed—is to demonstrate that words fail. Haven’t I done an excellent job of flaunting their ability to fail abysmally?)