About Me

I find it hard to describe myself using more than a few words, a few drops of ink spilled on the page that waste little and leave enough blank space for more important endeavors.  I guess this tells you I’m poetic, because we’re only one paragraph in and I’ve already personified myself.

I call myself ink, yet I’m more like paper: faceless, malleable, and ruined by mistakes.  My creases will never smooth, and tape will only close the millions of tiny rips scattered along my edges.  The fibers of my skin will never reconnect entirely.

Thank goodness you have the power to paint me, to bury those flaws under any color you please.  I prefer blue and purple, myself, but I cannot let you know that.  What if your favorite color is green?  I guess this means I’m insecure, as well.  I’m so sorry.

I also enjoy painting and drawing.  I look for excuses to stick my brushes in ink.  I sometimes paint upon myself, but only when you can’t see.  I wouldn’t want you to think I’m improper or indecent.  I know how indecent I can be, which I why I only paint myself behind closed doors.  I don’t want to show myself as anything less than your favorite color.

I stick to my word.  I never break a promise, and I hardly ever lie.  I stick to my word because you write it, along with my promises.  It would be a lie to say I don’t have trouble remaining smooth and white after you have taken your pen to me.  Sometimes, you press down too hard and it hurts.

I should stop personifying, now.  I can tell you find this senseless creativity obnoxious, and would rather I get to the point:

I live to please others.  I used to do things to please myself, and I became a monster.  Now, I am honest, punctual, and as perfect as I can be.  I believe that the best way to correct oneself is through punishment, meted by a set of strict guidelines.

I follow my guidelines to a T.

I think I like bizarre things.  I am somehow drawn to the macabre and the surreal, the things that keep most children awake at night.  The creatures in my head come out in my drawings, and in the way I dance.  Feel free to question these interests, for they could be my narcissism begging for attention.

I think I’m politically liberal, because my thoughts run more closely to that platform when I am left to think alone.  Maybe propaganda has taken over my brain.

I think I have a sense of wit that some would find humorous, but when I try to tell a joke, blank stares and quizzical expressions meet me.  I cannot laugh at the jokes of others – insulting others and mimicking bodily functions is not funny, at least not to me.

Excess Calories disturb me, in both diet and in word.  I don’t think I enjoy sugar-coated tales.  If anything, I don’t like stories that make people feel better about themselves for no reason.  I apply the same philosophy to myself, for I, too, am human:

  • Those people are not teasing me out of jealousy. They truly hate me.
  • My own incapacity caused me not to get the job.  The employer saw right through my façade.
  • Yes, others do care if my thighs touch, if I have stretch marks, and if my breasts are too large. It’s evolution.  It’s science.  I am disgusting.
  • It’s no secret people watch me when I eat. I know they think I shouldn’t eat so much: it will ruin me.

I wish I could say more, but I don’t know what else to write.  I am too preoccupied with all I have wasted: Your time, your space, your ink.

 

 

 

Numb

The cello hums a warm melody through the laptop speakers.  I am no stranger to this sound.  My lungs move with the instrument’s faint swell-drop, characteristic of its hollow, wooden body.

The ocean undulates ferociously.  Waves crashing against the rock-hard barriers that keep water away from the shore.

Meanwhile, on land, all is dry.  The villagers have no embellished tales of fish, extravagant beasts washed to shore in the night’s storm.  They know the legends of mermaids and sharks as large as ocean liners, fictitious feathers of hope that something interesting might happen, if they pray hard enough.  They gaze at the black clouds above them: perhaps tonight is the night.

The floods come hard and fast, spilling jellyfish and bottles and unanchored ships onto the sand.  They bury themselves beneath the dust, sculpting homes of the wet, grainy clay.  The salty ocean swallows them before dawn.

***

            Bluish laser lights cannot penetrate the thick, graphite brick that rests somewhere inside my skull.  They can blind me all they want, but they will never disrupt the safe, neutral mass of minerals I have allowed to accumulate between my ears.

…or so I think.

The artificial sun is hot enough to form crevices where there was once a flat expanse of gray.  Heated rays spread lonely particles across the wasteland to where they, too, will transform this uniform object into something unsightly.

All the earth’s work, falling to waste.  This brick took years to form, fitting the mold just so.  At this rate it will never form a house; it will see the sad day where it is mechanically separated into slender cylinders and divided equally among the wood.

***

            The percussion of pots and pans affects me more than the steepest high note, the loudest shout to leave my lungs.  My vessel-lined alveoli shrivel into their pink mothers, asking why this chaotic noise has to happen to them.

Iron lungs are no longer iron, for iron rusts too fast.  They are bricks laid around a wooden frame, massive twelve-by-twelve squares too heavy to be mobile.  The patient must lie inside, wrapped in the safety of the oxygenated cocoon.

“What a sad way to live,” the villagers say. “What a lonely way to go.”

There comes a time when the patient must choose how or if he or she wishes to communicate, to know the humans outside without choking on their pollution.  To leave the lung would spell danger.

Honesty

The empty box glares back at me.

“How do you feel you can contribute to this program?”

This question is more difficult than any I have faced.  It is worse than the complex formulas of organic chemistry and the tedious matrices of pre-calculus, combined.  It has no right answer.  No amount of studying could have prepared me for this.

I feel that I could contribute my fresh perspective and knack for finding uncommon solutions to ordinary problems, I type.  I love working in teams and readily take on leadership roles in order to get the job done, I spill a million half-truths in virtual ink.  I hope the person reading this believes me.

 ***

            The empty box glares back at me.

“Tell of an experience where you have been given a large amount of responsibility.  What did you learn from it?”

I don’t know why, but this one is easier.

One summer, when I was fourteen, I had to fulfill the role of mother for myself and my sister.  I learned to cook pretty well, and I also learned how to wash and fold laundry.  I learned that I had to need myself as much as I needed others, but what if this experience isn’t enough?  To quote my mother, there are plenty of others who have had it worse.

I leave out the tear-filled nights, the yelling about how my chores did nothing to make up for my lack of competence, the fury about my having folded the underwear wrong.  No one would believe that.  No one ever has.

We Will Deliver

A bus wanders down the lonely highway, its dirty sides reflecting with the late afternoon sun.  Behind its black-tinted windows are tomorrow’s engineers and doctors, social workers and educators; but one would not think this if they saw them now.  The eyes of these brilliant souls are glassy, their arms stiff and sore.  They are clad in thick coats and wooly socks, mother’s scarves and grandma’s hats.  At this hour, they are children seeking home.

The bus turns from the main road to a path that is far too old to withstand its modern girth.  Still, it squeezes itself onto the gravelly funnel and rolls forth with unbending confidence.  No one else has dared to venture out, today: the ground is covered in a thick blanket of snow, and all else is tucked beneath a sheet of ice.  Nothing moves while the hulking product of will and industry makes its mighty journey.  Its movement in this time-capsule corner of the country evokes from its inhabitants a passive sense of trust.

Even the trains are frozen still, taking shelter beneath sturdy pines and tall maple skeletons.  Their skins are scarred with stripes of precipitation, and their iron hearts are colder than the air itself.  As the bus charges past their mummified faces, they make a silent promise.

We Will Deliver, they say.

Will they?

The Magic of Monsieur Maurais

Imagine the claustrophobic confines of a church basement.  Fluorescent lights beam their yellowish rays onto every shining surface.  Squeaky, beaten tables are unfolded upon the tan, linoleum-tiled floor, bordered by chilly chairs that welcome all who qualify to communion. Long coats, older than the church itself, hang limp from a line of unfinished wooden hooks on icy brick walls.  The dusty, faded-pink face of the Virgin gazes into the sea of people who are herding into her domain.

I was one of those people, age twelve, wrapped in velvety red and crisp gold.  My black shoes glimmered into my black eyes, and my black hair was burnt into black curls.  I tapped along the tan, linoleum-tiled floors, following the motions of all the pious before me.  I did not know that, in that church basement, I would be ironically introduced to what the holy call “sin.”

Ghyslain Maurais is a world-renowned chocolatier, having found his love for food while working to fund his education in architecture.  He has earned delegations in both New York and London, and is a household name in both the Midwest and his native Québec.  His boutiques are frequent stomping grounds for holiday shoppers and curious tourists, as well as for children who desire something more than the typical Hershey’s fare.  If one were to look at a picture of Ghyslain Maurais, one would see a middle-aged man with an unmarked, smiling face.  He almost always wears a white suit, which has been starched and steamed to perfection.

Hardly anyone would believe he would deign to spend his evening encased in a cold, white, tiled basement, glowing beyond the hardened gazes of the godly gathering and my twelve-year-old self.

Nonetheless, there he was: jovially out-of-place and surrounded by his vibrant holiday collection.  Mousse-filled hills of sky-blue snow rose toward Heaven. Flamboyant berries brushed in crimson, veined leaves touched with piney green, and golden Christmas bells swung and sang on the branches of delicious, flour-covered logs.  Maple-speckled deer peered beyond their wooden barrier, timid toward the crowd whose sole mission was to consume. Ghyslain Maurier had done more than make chocolate.  He had created a world within which stories could be written.  He had created a work of art.

One by one, the critical audience made their circle around the basement banquet, which was more than dessert.  White bread and bland crackers swore their innocence, cracking their leathery skins to reveal the purity within.   Yellow-marbled cubes of cheese putridly proclaimed the sins of their fruity companions, whose ripened pink flesh was too much like the face of the Virgin.  Eyeless fishes glared jealously at the salamis, which were lounging languidly in the unspoken protection of Lent.  Foam plates provided percussion for the silent procession, crinkling and cracking under the pressure of nervous thumbs and fickle plastic ware.  My own dish creaked under the weight of a bronzy chocolate bell and, in accordance with my mother’s orders, several small shrimp.

I gobbled my fishy feast in greedy anticipation.  The chocolate bell tinkled as I dug my teeth into the cold, soft flesh of my meal.  Thin bones were torn away from icy meat, clattering on my plate while I slid each headless corpse into my acid-ocean stomach.  The ringing persisted in crescendo as bony tails were ripped from bodies, bringing me closer to the rich tones of finale.

The silence around me was as deafening as a symphony.  One glance bounced off of another, creating clashing notes of small talk and judgment.  Toddlers gummed their white, buttered bread and looked to their mothers for attention they would not receive.  Elderly couples sat stolidly with their cheeses, commenting on how those school girls should have left their wine-purple dresses at home.  I sat at the table my family had reserved months in advance, absorbing the scene beneath blinding fluorescent lights.  Ghyslain Maurais’ bell tolled thunderous temptation into my ear.

I silenced the earsplitting peals with a bite.  Immediately, my mouth was overcome with the complex melody of dark chocolate.  Caramel, subtle and rich, comprised the humming harmony. My taste buds rang in ecstasy.  I was tasting the design of Ghyslain   Maurais.  This was the work as well as the canvas: smooth, velvety, and temporary.  I savored it. It was the first time I had seen, let alone tasted, something so small that was so carefully crafted, yet so demonstrative of its creator’s heart and soul.

I have made many a return to the boutique of Ghyslain Maurais, however I will never forget that quiet night in the cold basement where, below a church void of music, the flavors of chocolate provided the organ’s final rumbling chord.

+++

I highly suggest you visit Mr. Maurais’ Website, and buy a bell of your own.

 

 

 

 

The Death of Thanksgiving

November 25th, 20– was the death of Thanksgiving.  That meal has remained as leftovers, though; its salted gravies and withered green beans mold and congeal in the refrigerator of my memory.  Luckily, it does not smell, so I leave it where it is.  I will scrape it from its Tupperware™ containers, one of these days.

My father was never much of a cook; and by that, I mean he never cooked.  There was a period during which he tried, serving half-done hamburger buried in powdery milk, however he abandoned his efforts when my sister and I failed to praise his creations.  We ate them, yes, however they were not conducive to awe or amazement.  They were of swallowing quality, and that was all.

His attempts to get us to the table were equally abortive.  His mouth was quick to spew hate, thus our meals were typically taken in silence.  Tension would vibrate between our foreheads like a deep-bellied cello.

No one was surprised when he decided to order take-out on Thanksgiving.

It came in plastic boxes, each which protective seals.

     Rip.  Eight drying slices of turkey.

            Rip.  A greasy garden of bacon-boiled beans.

            Rip.  Four sticky spoonfuls of stuffing (or dressing).

            Rip.  Four igloos of mashed potatoes.

            Rip.  Eight hunks of nondescript bread.

A cello bowed, and we were asked (ordered) to get our plates and sit down.  We complied, stalking into our rock-hard chairs like anxious boards.  I sat on the edge of my seat, a silent choir member, while my sister craned her neck over the wooden ledge of the table.  She was short, then.

Knives and forks made unappetizing, screeching clinks upon my father’s plates.  This was one of the only times we had been allowed to use anything but paper.  He didn’t want us dirtying things that could be used “for guests;” but the only other life we ever saw were the half-dead dust-bugs that crawled upon their once-glossy concave surfaces.  I wondered if he ever did have anyone over, to use the mugs that held well in my hands and the silverware that hadn’t been swiped from the convenience counter of restaurants.

I spooned some cranberry sauce on my plate, and no one said anything.  The cello was rather quiet, however still humming behind my ear.  I sighed.

Eventually, everyone left the table.

On Art, Food, and the Downside of Higher Education

I am aware I have been rather absentee, other than the occasional dose of Molly.  The main problem, I assure you, is my being a humanities major.

You see, we do a lot of writing in the humanities.  As the essay season approaches, my brain is more or less sucked dry, and my ability to write quality fiction is almost totally depleted.

Luckily, I am able to turn to drawing (and cooking) as another form of escapism.

So, for the month of November, you will likely see more personal things, or rather drawings and recipes.  The upcoming holidays will hopefully give me some time to “reboot,” and get things going like normal once again.

— Sami