Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I remember

A very long time ago, I sat on the floor of a little house in Brookwood trying to impress my boyfriend's buddy that I was somehow smarter, prettier, more grounded, less rough around the edges than I was.
The boyfriend helped by having me leave my eyeglasses in the car and enjoy the evening playing Monopoly by instinct. This was a man I instinctively knew was not right for me. No, that's not how I thought it.  What I thought, when he questioned me on my background as if I were filing a job application or used the word  irregardless, which is not really a word, was that had I known him in college, when I still had a backbone, I wouldn't have given him the time of day. It was instinct and I ignored it.

I have no idea if his friend was impressed. Nothing that might have changed did change. The relationship, such as it was, ended with the sigh of a vacuum pulling from some small space the last of our complications. What did remain was the friend's quizzing eyes. These young alert men with their quizzing eyes and tallying understand them would be to give them power. I would not. But I cannot forget the look. Such a long time later I painted these eyes though until the little picture was finished I did not recognize them.

Here is the picture. Here is the memory. You really can't know which detail will stick, can you? Or how it will manifest.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Dangerous Book - Episode 42

Monday May 31 - continued
Detective Robin wasn’t a large man, but he seemed to fill my living room. When invited, he took a seat on the couch, accepted the sweaty glass of tea and downed it in three healthy swallows. Fascinated, I watched his throat at work. When he finished he handed it to me and grinned.
            “I needed that.”
            “You sure did,” I said and tripped from the room to bring him a refill. When I returned he was busy playing with Juniper. I set the glass on a coaster and sat nervously at the end of the couch.
            “Juniper, come here,” I said, but my faithless mutt ignored me for the next half hour preferring, as usual, the company of a male.
            “Can you tell me if you heard anything unusual this morning?”
            “No. I mean, I can tell you I heard nothing unusual. In fact, it was pretty quiet. But it’s a holiday and I slept late.”
            “When did you wake up?”
            “Around 7, which is usual. On a work day, I’ll walk Juniper a bit, but this morning I just let her pee.”
            “Did you hear your neighbors?”
            “Professor Sergeant lives across the hall. I heard him leave around 8. Oh, and Noah, upstairs, went out around 7.”
            “When you were waking? Did he wake you up?”
            “I don’t think so, though he might have woken Juniper. She jumped on my bed at 7.”
            “I take it you looked at the clock?”
            “I did. Oh! That clock is set 10 minutes fast. So she woke me earlier. Then I went to the bathroom, then the kitchen to start my coffee and let Juniper out the back door. I heard Noah’s kitchen door open and his footsteps on the back stairs.”
            Robin rose and walked to the kitchen. I followed, showing him through the small screened porch. We listened to the sounds of police footsteps on the stairs.
            “It’s pretty audible,” I said.
            “Did you see your neighbor?”
            “No. I was busy with the coffee pot, but it sounded like him.”
            “Did you hear anything from Veronica’s apartment?”
            “No. But I usually don’t. She’s up earlier than me and leaves the front way when she goes out. But she wouldn’t be going to work today, either. It’s a holiday.”
            He nodded.
            “I’m not sure when I took Juniper out for a walk but when we got home Phoebe and Elizabeth were outside Veronica’s apartment, knocking and calling for her to open the door.
            “When I came in they leaned over and asked me if I’d seen her leave, which I hadn’t.”
            We walked back to the living room and I opened the door to my hall, showing Robin where I’d stood.
            “What did they say?”
            “They said they all had appointments at DCH (Druid City Hospital) and were supposed to go to the mall and where was she. Of course, I didn’t know but I looked under the radiator for her spare key, found it and went up and unlocked her front door.”

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

We are not fiction

Are we all living our own romance? Our own hero's journey?
On which hot afternoon, perhaps while stepping off a broken curb, does my fortune change and doom shift roles with fate or, dare I say it, destiny?

At night the helpful gnome enters stage left with the brilliant observation
I've been waiting for and I reply yes.
I say YES and proceed to make my fortune
with tools honed subconsciously all these years.

Rip van Winkle never lay beneath a tree
but worked instead in a grey felt cubicle
until the day he woke ready
for a new haircut and an eyeful
of change.

A shift in point of view is all the waking I require.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Words, like oil, spread across our ether seas. Are we hearing it yet?

Behold our dark, magnificent horror

Friday, June 4, 2010
There is, you have to admit, a sort of savage grace, a tragic and terrible beauty, to the BP oil spill.
Like any good apocalyptic vision of self-wrought hell, the greatest environmental disaster in U.S. history has its inherent poetry. You see that creeping ooze of black, that ungodly wall of unstoppable darkness as it slowly, inexorably invades the relatively healthy, pristine waters adjacent, and you can't help but appreciate the brutal majesty, the fantastic, reeking horror of this new manifestation of black death we have brought upon ourselves, as it spreads like a fast cancer into the liquid womb of Mother Nature herself.
Really, it's not just the incredible photographs of the spill that are, in turns, heartbreaking, stunning, otherworldly and downright Satanic in their abject revulsion. It's not just the statistics that tell us how many millions of gallons might ultimately be spilled, or the stunned scientists who can only hypothesize how this unprecedented catastrophe might affect the fragile food chain and distress the ocean's ecosystems at the very root level.
It's not even the endless, heartrending tales of livelihoods lost, industries destroyed, coastlines ravaged or wildlife killed. The fact is, any one of these aspects alone is enough to poison your soul for as long as you wish to wallow in that murky state of fatalism and doom. It is nothing but bleak.
I think the most disturbingly satisfying thrill of this entire event -- and it is, in a way, a perverse thrill -- comes from understanding, at a very core level, our shared responsibility, our co-creation of the foul demon currently unleashed.
What a thing we have created. What an extraordinary horror our rapacious need for cheap, endless energy hath unleashed; it's a monster of a scale and proportion we can barely even fathom.
Because if you're honest, no matter where you stand, no matter your politics, religion, income or mode of transport, you see this beast of creeping death and you understand: That is us. The spill may be many things, but more than anything else it is a giant, horrifying mirror.
Do you wish to try and deflect it? Lay responsibility elsewhere? Really? We can't quite blame an "act of God," as we would for some sort of hurricane or tsunami inflicted upon meager humankind by an angry deity, punishing us all for being too war-like, violent or perhaps naïve enough to want to enjoy the sunshine for five goddamn minutes before He decided He'd better kill some people lest we forget who's in charge.
We cannot blame evil terrorists, some cluster of swarthy foreigners who hate our shopping malls and secretly envy our Porsche Cayenne's. Nor can we blame the spill on some sort of nefarious conspiracy, a secret act wrought by devious agents in black helicopters designed to destabilize the U.N. and induce universal mind control -- unless, of course, you're getting a little desperate and don't get outside much, in which case, you absolutely can.
Finally (and a bit shockingly), I'm not hearing Pat Robertson or any of his cretinous cult of apocalypticans blame the gays, or voodoo, or anal sex, or reality TV for what's happening in the Gulf. Oil is, after all, completely non-denominational. It mocks all religions equally -- except, of course, the only one that really matters: capitalism.
This is how you know this is one of the more universally damning disasters of our time: No one really seems to know how to process it, much less react. The GOP is backpeddling like terrified hyenas from Sarah "Queen of Duh" Palin's "drill baby, drill" mantra/ass tattoo, as suddenly the incessant Republican wail for more oil exploration, more drilling, more tax cuts for oil conglomerates don't just reek of the usual inbred cronyism; they reek of death and destruction the likes of which the country has never seen.
On the other hand, hardcore lefties are going mad with desire that the disaster will lead to the immediate imprisonment of every BP employee worldwide, as if BP is somehow any different than any other oil titan raping the planet right now (hi, Alberta's oilsands). Hardcore lefties would also appreciate it if Obama would use the disaster as a surefire excuse to instantly change the entire course of energy history by immediately shutting down all 48,000 oil wells in the Gulf and hand every American a bicycle and a solar panel. See? All better.
Sure. As if oil wasn't woven like oxygen into every single aspect of American life, as if fully 30 percent of domestic transportation fuel didn't come from the gulf, as if shutting down a fraction of those wells wouldn't re-devastate the economy, as if petroleum and coal weren't powering the very energy plants that deliver the electricity that charges the iPhones that allows everyone to Tweet their angry complaints through all the various energy-sucking server farms the size of a small country.
Truly, BP is behaving no better or worse than any other corporate spawn of Satan would in a similar situation. What's more, if you don't think every oil company on earth is right now kneeling before Beelzebub in gratitude that it wasn't one of their own wells that exploded, you haven't been paying attention.
That said, after all is said and done, it's gloomily nice to think our darkest disaster in a generation could somehow ultimately improve our attitudes, change our behavior, lighten our violent treatment of the planet. As someone recently noted, the BP spill isn't Obama's Katrina, it's actually Big Oil's Chernobyl. Meaning: a disaster so appalling and devastating it might very well alter the industry and change the course of our energy policy forever.
Is it possible? Or, more accurately, are we even capable of such a shift? Is there any silver lining to be found in that black and greasy gloom? This is, perhaps, the most imperative question of all: If we can produce a demon of such extraordinary scale and devastation, can we not also somehow create its exact opposite? Let us pray.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Fighting Invaders

F. fights the weed, the invader that, fast as a virus, wrapped its tentacles through one well-propped fledgling forsythia. We don't know its name but it has insinuated itself, taken over the clever teepee and become entangled with its host. F. would not leave the plant to struggle, losing breath or ground. Instead, she bent and fingered loose the encroaching vine, tearing it, demolishing it, refusing it a single inch.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Art at the Beginning - The Beltline Begins

The Atlanta Beltline is about the coolest project since the '96 Olympics. Cooler because it reuses abandoned railroad tracks, linking neighborhoods around the city in a way the ever-hideous 285 could never do. Since its conception (Ga. Tech architectural student's thesis), I've looking forward to its coming, and like most people fretted that its completion would take so long, I'd be an old lady before I could enjoy it or the benefits we're all greedily sure it will bring our properties.

But last week, the beginnings of the first trails, rough as they are, were opened, marked with art installations. My walking buddy and I visited a section in Old Fourth Ward.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Incredible Edible Mile

So far this season, we have spotted a gorgeous fig tree on Krog, a hawthorn and mulberry on JW Dobbs and this week a half dozen squash plants growing strong behind the metal DOT fencing along Baker-Highland. It's this spot where said DOT has also planted a series of jasmine plants, which F and I are trying feebly to coax toward the chain link fence behind them. We seem to adopted our own patch in downtown.
I do hope no one swipes or destroys the squash until I can pick one!