Tag Archives: memory

On Those Stupid Red Cups

12 Nov

It’s that time of year again. The time of year when Starbucks, like so many other corporate entities, deck their halls with all things red and white and green and glistening. That time of year when I write about aesthetic and memory.

When I write about Krystina.

I’m not going to write about Christianity or outrage or anger (though I have many thoughts on the first, Katherine writes a pretty goddamn good post on the second, and last year’s post on this topic certainly had a decent dose of the third).

But I am going to write, very briefly, about those red cups.

I hear some people are unhappy with their plainness this year. Maybe it was nearly every corner of the internet posting about it that prepared me, this year, for Starbucks’ holiday makeover. I knew it was coming, this time. I knew Starbucks was going to look like the inside of a candy cane’s daydream. I knew there were going to be the snowflakes, the garlands, the puffy snowmen statues hiding between muffins in the pastry display.

I knew Starbucks was going to look like it did the last time I saw Krystina alive.

She was a creature of past and possibility. Of hurt and healing peeled back and replaced too many times. Of anger and outrage. Of all things red and glistening.

I think she would have appreciated the plainness of Starbucks’ holiday cups this year. Definitely would’ve laughed at the “controversy” they caused. She likely would’ve doodled on the cups. Or maybe just etched the word “fuck” all over them with the blunt end of a dying pen. Equally probable.

appreciate the blankness, this year. Not because of some grand ideological viewpoint, but because I just do. For me, the unadorned red cups feel like a blank slate. Like catching my breath. Like possibility.

I’ve spent the past year shedding the skins of old lives and donning the trappings of new ones. (Blue hair may be up next, folks. I may also be moving to Scotland. Fair warning.) I’ve spent months running from ghosts and exorcising demons. Washing memories off the walls of my existence. Moving on.

I sat in Starbucks today, clutching my blessedly blank red cup and staring at the decorations and listening to the hum in the air of the other lives moving around me.

It didn’t hurt, this time around.

Live long and prosper.

27 Feb

As the vast bells of the internet are tolling, Leonard Nimoy, the once and forever Spock, is dead. Gifs of numerous episodes are spreading through Imgur and Reddit, clips from Simpsons episodes and Big Bang Theory appearances are retweeting their way across twitter, and celebrity after celebrity after news site after commentary blog after cooking blog after Facebook wall are sharing their remembrances and goodbyes. Everyone’s got their memory to claim – even the LA zoo, something as far in my mind from Star Trek as can get.

And honestly, my first response to all these shares and reposts and drudging up of decades-old publicity photos was to be rather angry.

How dare all these people take a figure’s death as a means to their fifteen seconds of limelight! How dare they try to re-associate themselves with a man that many of them hadn’t spoken of in years? How dare they all take Spock’s death and tie it to their own paltry claim to momentary fame?

And then I realized how goddamn idiotic I was being and got over it. Because all these sudden up-croppings of old memories around Nimoy and Spock – well, they’re all amazing.

A man is dead and people across time and space are talking about his life. Here is a man, this trending hashtag says, who did something. Look at all these instances people remember. Here, as Spock. Here, as a guest. Here, as an ordinary man. Here, as a hero who happened to be spotted having a good time at the goddamn L.A. zoo.

And imagine that – leaving this world as someone solidly appreciated. Imagine if the world’s response to your death was to well and truly miss you, so much that they cling to remnants of your existence by talking about your clever lines and generous nature, by posting pictures of your proudest moments and your happenstance smiles.

I think this is one best kinds of mourning.

But to be fair, it is one of the best of men to mourn.

Loneliness Hits

30 Sep

Loneliness is a rough sort of rolled-up burning-down summary of life to take a hit of. It’s the kind of hit that leaves you not just coughing so badly you wind up in tears, but somehow proves a bruise-leaver too, on more than just your throat. Loneliness hits that way.

Loneliness is the worst of drags that I cannot seem to ever figure out how to choke down and tolerate. I guess my ears get a little weird, when I’ve sucked down loneliness. I go deaf for a bit, so I can’t even hear the noises of the ones around me. All I can hear is the inside of my brain, and that’s only filled with the noises of people who aren’t any longer here.

It’s a bad trip, loneliness.

The psychiatrists and psychologists, they say it will pass. That we’ll find me an antidote, and I will stop choking on the very air around me as this unending ember of a stick of loneliness dangles from my fingers, unable to be removed. This next set of pills, they say. This next glass of water. This next deep breath.

I’ve taken many a deep breath in my life; loneliness is an insidious pollution, and the smog count grows ever higher. That’s the rub – you breathe in to breathe out what you breathed in, but if there’s no change in air quality, your red blood cells only learn all the more to consent to carry what your heady environment has stuck upon life’s circulation.

Even tears can’t flush it out.

Maybe one day a little white circle will clear all this away.

Maybe one day a fire will burn hot enough to immolate this slow-killing haze.

Maybe one day I will have exchanged all my oxygen for this grey composition, and then I will no longer notice any discrepancy in hue, and I will not remember what it was like before, and I will no longer fight to hold off this desperate coloration, because at least now, in this grey prison, I have something with which to be one.

Or maybe these are all just ramblings, too long a drag off the loneliness stick. I’m starting not to remember much. Oh look, bruises…

Missing

29 Sep
Missing

There was a time

when you and me

were a single word,

and all I heard

in the beating, fluttering earth

was the breath

of you next to me,

when my curves fit yours

because that was home.

My body’s lonely now,

now that you and me

are two different words

and I can’t hear you anywhere

in this silence,

because I don’t remember what it felt like

to hold your hand anymore,

because you decided that anymore,

you didn’t want to hold me.

Headaches

5 Aug

It’s too late a morning for what I’d planned,

hours of dream-thrashing that left me sweaty

what I wake up to, instead of the cool and metal sheen of dawn.

The shrunk-down woken-up figures of odd dreams and bad memories

wrestle round my neuron junctions, pulling at threads

and threatening connections that would sooner be left alone.

I re-heat the coffee and guzzle it down like magic,

hoping to thrust my mind through enough caffeination

to rid me of this rough-delivered headache

and release me, forgetting and free.

Poem: Penning

13 Jul

Penning

I don’t know how they do it,
those strangers who find my soul.
They do not know me.
They do not even write to me,
but there, somewhere in the echoes
of the story they were telling
or the thoughts they were thinking
or the love they were feeling slip from their bodies,
I find myself.
In the dust you only see in the streak of sun
from the skylight,
little ephemera dancing there in the silence
near your upper rafters,
little cosmic ballerinas you would not have noticed
if you hadn’t been bored and staring at nothing.
They find the rafters in me,
and strike an organ that resonates and shakes me a bit,
all that memory.
The words were not written for me.
But what’s written is me,
in a way.
I wonder how they do it,
the strangers that trace me with their pen
and yet do not even know that they’ve found my shadow.
I wish they perhaps knew what they’ve caught on their line,
though I am grateful –
I feel a might less invisible, otherwise.

You are a ghost, you see.

31 May

 

You Are A Ghost, You See

You are a ghost, you see.

You haunt me not so much

in the traces of your life littered

among the foundation of mine,

the trinkets and bestowals of a love

I once thought was true.

No; your memory is nothing so easy

as those leftover tangibles I can hide in a box.

It is the phantom of you, that I cannot abide;

the ephemera of your mannerisms

that now color mine;

the cadence of your voice that carries on in my conversation,

because the pattern of my words had learned to follow along.

It is the beating and the rhythm,

the hand gestures,

the faces,

the little movements of my existence that had come to keep pace

with yours.

You haunt me in my very viscera,

the way that my tendons line together

and the circles my joints make when they move.

People, we come to mirror the thing that’s most before our eyes.

And even though you are now gone

I cannot rid myself of your reflection.

You are a ghost, you see,

and I am your phantom.

Slumber

17 May

A poem from the memory of grade school birthday parties,

and a current sleep pattern that’s never quite matched up with the other twentysomethings’.

 

Slumber

I am always the one in silence.
I am the first one asleep,
and the first one awake.
I sit in empty rooms with sleeping bodies
while the morning breathes quietly.
Hugging my knees,
perhaps reading a book,
and waiting for the life around me
to remember that it exists.
That I exist, too.
Slumber parties
were always a particular kind
of torture chamber.

My Depression’s Become a Splintered Beam

9 Jan

Depression is no longer an atmosphere now for me. It is not a fog, not the ether through which every day plods, not the pervasive perpetual drowning that it was for months of my life. No, now depression is an interruption. An undercut. A startling collapse of the stage I thought I had so solidly built for myself to stand on. I’ll be walking through my day, seeing clear and breathing free the sparkling clarity of the air around me, when suddenly, I will sit down and some beam, some ballast will splinter and snap within me.

It happens without warning. It happens when I am unawares. And most often, it happens when I am alone.

Lots of the time, I think, at least, it happens just when I have decided to work. I have sat down at the keyboard, or opened a textbook at my desk, picked up a pencil and notepad to work on, and suddenly, my inner fortitude will implode.

Perhaps it is because it is at these times that I am most silent, most still, waiting and vulnerable. The mists of uncertainty can rise up from my soul and condense within me, until they form a painful, solid lump of memory that whacks at the legs I have balanced my new platform upon.

It’s in the solitary quiet that I am most a victim of myself.

That time when depression was the daily weather forecast, unchanged from when some meteoric prediction was made ages ago and left frozen on the screen, I think I set myself up for this. Unwittingly and without choice, sure.

I would come home from school, where I’d spent eight hours that day battling just to stay at the surface of my brain, but more often descending into the suck of its derisive, murderous quicksand. But on the outside, at least, even as I sunk deeper and deeper into the much within, I managed an appearance at least of neutrality.

Oh look, there’s our future valedictorian. Isn’t she pretty. So attentive to the teacher, so ponderous in her work.

People think our eyes are windows but they are merely cracks in a wall, and you cannot see through skin.

So, I would arrive home, flee up the stairs and behind my bedroom door, leaving it locked behind me, of course. And there, where I shed the weight of my backpack and nothing else from my shoulders, I let those walls shatter around me.

And I would cry.

I would cry for hours. Sometimes, I’d try to stuff the pressure of undrowned sorrows back, get to work right away, but that always proved a futile move. It was short and decisive, the tap it took for my mind to break the glass of my eyes, the non-windows.

But I was to be the future valedictorian, attentive to the teacher, ponderous in her work. The idea of returning to school with anything unfinished was anathema. And so the struggle would begin, the tug of war between my tear ducts and my pencil lead, two halves of my mind jeering as they pushed and shoved for control. The brain is a tyrant, and I was under its most merciless control.

School work, whether it was a chemistry set or page of physics problems or couple of chapters of biology reading, became a sharply painful task to face. Because there, with my mind fresh and sweating from its mental acrobatics, I was most prone to cramps from its internal infection.

The voice that says you should die is not a kind one, and it doesn’t give much of a shit about whether you need it to be quiet so you can focus on your calculus homework.

I learned to anticipate a lot of frustration whenever I’d attempt to work, that year.

And while I have slain so much of that monster that grew within me and called its name myself, there are still corners of rebellion in the recesses of my body that never quite gave over harboring that dark hulk of gnawing, piercing tooth and fatally sharp eye. And sometimes, the progeny or memory or still-unrejected parts of that monster rear up in me.

It’s usually when I’m alone. It’s usually when I’m not expecting. It’s usually when I’m trying to do work.

And so I do that thing that so many refer to as “dicking around on the computer.” I flit from sight to sight, trying to find some input that will reset my emotions and allow me to awake once more, refreshed and able to get down to business without the ghosts of old nightmares swimming before my brain and crowding, clouding my vision. I shove down the tearful thunder storms that seemed to appear out of nowhere, knowing that I have stared at my skies for hours on end, hashed and rehashed all of my weather systems, done my duty and attended to the cloud formations that have swept across my soul.

I distract myself. Usually with the internet. Browsing may be a solo activity, but the pages and posts, they whisper of other existences and remind me that there are other humans, others out there. And then I don’t feel so alone.

Some call it procrastination. I call it survival.

Falling Awake

28 Oct

A poem for this late Sunday night.

 

awake at night

 

 

Falling Awake

You never go to bed alone,

with the whispers of your memories

sounding in your head,

keeping you awake

with the uneasy doubt

that there is something you forgot.

One flash in your brain, like lightning,

silent.

 

You never go to bed alone,

with all those ghosts behind your eyes.