Creatures of the Mind

Far off in the meadow,

Resides the fairy queen.

She’s always dressed in yellow,

Her face always serene.

**

High up in the cloudy sky,

Santa Clause snores away.

His wife bakes him apple pie,

For warmth on chilly days.

**

Deep down in the earth,

The devil plays at cards.

He welcomes to his turf,

All sinners, cheats and bards.

**

In every theater around,

Dionysus spends some time.

He helps sew up the gowns,

And always shares his wine.

**

The graveyards hold Death,

In all his austere glory.

He’ll take away your breath,

When it’s time – don’t be sorry.

**

In recesses of our minds,

Inside the hearts of all,

Live things we can’t define,

Unreal creatures, great and small.

 

 

Gertrude’s Conscience

“Gertrude?” the clerk at the DMV smirked involuntarily when he read the name. He stifled his sneer as best he could, but she’d already seen and noticed it, as she always did.

“Yes, um, so can I please renew my license?” she asked quickly. She wanted to get the whole thing over with. The clerk asked her to wait a moment and went to a back room to do whatever it is they did at the DMV that took so damn long.

Gertrude sat, unmoving, on the uncomfortable plastic chair and fumed quietly. She cursed her parents for the umpteenth time for giving her such an old-fashioned name. She’d learned to like it in her teens because she felt it gave her an air of fragile antiquity and maybe some sort of old-fashioned elegance. But now, in her mid-twenties, she was learning to hate it again. Her boyfriend always told her he loved it, but they’d been together for so long that she never took his compliments seriously anymore.

She looked up at the large clock and sighed. She’d been waiting in line for what felt like forever, and now the sneering clerk with his comb-over and his ugly, crooked teeth was chatting, quite audibly, with one of his coworkers while he waited for something to come out of the printer. Gertrude stared at him sullenly, but looked away quickly when she realized that he might look back and see her watching him.

Instead, she put her head down and examined her nails. They were too long again, and she was much too lazy to paint them. It just didn’t seem important anymore, this having nice nails business. She just wanted them short enough so as not to be in her way and damn appearances. But even as she thought that, Gertrude scoffed inwardly at herself. She still cared about her looks, much more than she ought to. She felt the nape of her neck tingle right now, in fact, and was sure that one of the fussy, mean old ladies who were in line was watching her and frowning at the tattoo that was clearly visible on that area.

Gertrude felt that everyone disapproved of her, no matter where she went. Whether she was buying books that were technically considered teen-novels or walking into a designer-clothing store, she felt as if people stared and watched her, thinking that she was strange and odd and altogether not quite right.

Being not quite right didn’t bother her when she was alone. In fact, within her circle of family and friends she enjoyed being the odd one out. She liked having unique tastes and being considered a bit of a strange bird. In fact, she took offense when she was told that she was too normal. She felt that being normal was boring, wrong even. Especially as she wanted to be a teacher. Teachers needed to be odd, special, or plain nuts in order to have an effect on their pupils. Gertrude was convinced of this because the only teachers she’d ever had who had any impact on her were the weird ones that people laughed at but listened to.

It was only when she was out and about on her own that Gertrude felt uncomfortable. She kept her head down as often as possible so as to hide the large birth-mark that covered half her cheek with a purple tinge. In those moments of honesty to herself, she knew that she was hiding herself more than the birth-mark and that it only gave her an excuse to do so.

“Excuse me, Miss?” the clerk was back and had apparently decided that he couldn’t say her name without laughing. His formal address to her was almost more insulting than her name said with a snicker.

“Yes?” she answered, raising her eyes and looking at him politely. Like most clerks, he didn’t meet her eyes. She always tried to meet everyone’s eyes when she spoke to them, almost defiantly, as if to prove something.

“I’m sorry but you didn’t fill out the proper forms online, so we can’t renew your license yet,” the clerk said without sympathy. He was already looking behind her, his hand hovering over the button that would make the screen flash and the next number called.

“I did fill them out,” Gertrude said quickly, before he could dismiss her. “Can you check again, please? If you don’t have them then I’ll fill them out right now,” she offered eagerly.

The clerk emitted a little noise of distaste and impatience and without a word got up and went back to the computers that for some inexplicable reason weren’t set on the clerks’ desks.

Gertrude hated him for a few moments before reminding herself not to be a mean, selfish and judgmental idiot. She looked down again and tried her best to imagine the clerk as a good person who had a family and friends and belonged to another life that didn’t consist of the DMV. It was hard to imagine, but she nevertheless tried, in order to stop feeling bad about herself for hating someone so fiercely that it hurt.

 

Objects’ Spirit

I often wonder whether or not inanimate objects have spirits of their own. Oh, I know it sounds absolutely crazy, but stay with me for a moment.

Haven’t you ever felt close to something that was just… well, a thing? A favorite mug, perhaps, or a painting that moved you. Maybe a childhood toy or stuffed-animal or a piece of jewelry or even the first car that you called your own. Of course, stuff is just stuff. We all know this. There’s no argument that if we had to choose between saving our friends and family from a fire or saving our things, we would choose the people in our lives over the mere objects that we’ve accumulated.

And yet, I always feel that the mere act of possessing something and appreciating it instills a kind of life in it. I find myself talking to my computer at times – sometimes aloud, sometimes only in my head. I know that I could never get rid of Beary-Bear or Twinkle, my favorite teddy-bears. I know that the bowl in which I pour my Quaker Squares in the morning seems to greet me cheerfully in the mornings when I dip my spoon into it.

What if objects actually did have some sort of life or spirit to them? What if they whispered amongst themselves when we went to sleep, chatting about how we used them during the day; complaining when we were unkind or rough or when they were ignored. What if they appreciated our attention or loathed it? What if our refrigerators were in love with our stoves?

Well, maybe they do have a life of their own. Maybe they do communicate. It would sure explain how when one appliance breaks, everything else seems to follow it in breaking. It would explain why some objects charm us and make us love them while some make us put them way back in the shelf or never buy them in the first place. It would explain that bizarre feeling when we get up to use the toilet at four in the morning and feel as if someone’s just stopped talking when we woke up.

Ah, the things one thinks about at midnight…

Interesting Boredom

I always take a book with me, no matter where I’m going or for how short a time. I simply hate leaving the house without a book. I think the reason for this is mostly a fear that I’ve developed over the years – a fear of boredom. I bring a book with me wherever I go so that if, by some chance, I need to wait at a bus station or for a friend or for something unexpected – well, I’ll have something to immerse myself in. Some people can find a hundred ways to occupy themselves with their cellphones. Some people can file their nails for an hour or count how many red cars go by. I can do those things too, but I simply would prefer to have a book.

Still, there have been times when my fear of boredom has been alleviated by the fact that I can, surprisingly, entertain myself with my own thoughts fairly well. Last week, for instance, I was taking a long bus ride and I began to grow nauseous while reading. I put my book on my lap and stared out the window, trying to calm my roiling stomach and concentrate on my breathing. Soon I found myself engaged in memories and imagined conversations and in musings about this or that, while also enjoying the view and trying to invent details or stories to add to what I saw.

Boredom, I’ve discovered, can be quite pleasant at times.

It All Comes Down To…

Nothing.

Sometimes, it all comes down to absolute nothingness. There is no reason to actions, no reason for behavior, no reason for thoughts. Sometimes, it all comes down to nothing, at all, whatsoever.

Despair sets in as the weeks go by. Despair coupled with longing and yearning for something else, something different, something old and familiar rather than new.

Not all the time. No, some moments are full of their own fierce emotion, their own wonderful, eventful, meaningful something. Those are the moments for which all is worthy, all is important, all is enduring and good. Those are the moments when things make sense, passions burning brightly, thoughts whirling in an endless stream of new ideas, new names and faces, new imagined scenery.

But sometimes, when the limbs are suffused with a weariness beyond measure, when the thoughts are sluggish and illogical, when the very tips of the fingers don’t wish to respond to a thing in the world… then, it all comes down to nothing, and the vast void that fills the future is frightening.

A Thought On Writing

Although I’m writing about essay-writing in this particular instance, I’m pretty sure that this happens in creative writing as well.

There is a point, while writing something, when your brain simply goes numb. You catch yourself staring at the computer screen or at the notebook in front of you, and for a moment you’re almost sure that no thoughts have gone through your head for the past two minutes. Of course, if you think about it, you realize that you’ve been thinking the whole time, but not about anything profound or interesting – definitely not about what you’ve been writing. Rather, you’ve been thinking about your next meal, or the dress your friend just bought, or the trees with their pretty autumn leaves outside.

It’s a strange sensation – almost like your mind is betraying you, for once it gets to this point, it’s often really hard to get your mind to function properly once more. You may need, at this point, to get up and stretch and do something completely different. If you try to stare at the page for much longer, you’ll fall into despair and won’t manage, under any circumstances, to write something you’re pleased with. It’s a tricky situation, and one which I’ve been reaching over and over again in the past couple weeks.

The real problem is when you don’t let yourself take that break from whatever you’re writing. It’s a problem I repeat too much. I need to learn to listen to my brain, and when it tells me to stop and get up and do something else, I should do it, instead of sit and force myself to write for another half hour or hour or two or three. Having said that, I am, of course, going back to my extremely poorly written essay, even though my brain is going fuzzy. Alas, I must ignore my own conclusions for tonight.

Mind-Space

Oftentimes it feels as if that space between one’s ears, that space that isn’t very large and shouldn’t be able to hold so much information – that space sometimes feels overfull. Thoughts crowd it, vying for position as the foremost amongst them. Feelings, which ultimately are all just caused by strange surges of electricity or chemicals, feelings also seem to crowd their own chambers; they don’t often make sense, and they tend to mix with the thoughts more often than not, causing a terrible tangle.

If only one could card out one’s thoughts and emotions like so much dirt out of wool. If only there were a way to silence the hundreds of half-formed ideas and concepts that jump around, just for a moment, just for a temporary relief. The silence and the privacy of that place in the mind seems somehow to be overwhelming and crowded, and one can’t help but wonder how, and if, anyone else deals with this.

Who knows? Perhaps you’re the only one with a crowded, tangled, snarled and unorganized mind. Perhaps everyone else’s minds work differently, perhaps they’re organized in tidy drawers and the thoughts can be pulled out neatly, one by one, and examined at the thinker’s leisure. Then again, maybe not. Maybe humanity, that sole race that seems to have such an extent of consciousness, is made up of billions of confused and messy-minded individuals, and each wonders if their mind is unique or if it is like this for everyone.

Lucy’s Diary, May 16th

For those who don’t know, Alex and I are slowly playing a little game with these entries. His most recent entry, which this entry follows quite immediately, is here: http://crystalgeek.wordpress.com/2009/02/03/journal-part-ii/

May 16th, 2008, Morning, “Larry’s Diner”

Dear Diary,

I cannot believe that I haven’t had time to write in you until now. As a confidante, you haven’t been much use yet, but don’t fret, dear, you will get to know more than enough now.

Life at P&S is… let us say, fast paced. My mind has been taxed in every area possible, and I believe that instead of getting fuller, it is rather emptying out a bit of its intelligence as the days go by and I learn to conform myself to the strict policy of “no opinions allowed,” the general policy of the teachers here. There are a couple who seem willing to hear us speak with a tone of voice other than a flat, learned-by-heart drone, but those two – the literature teacher and, surprisingly, the biology teacher – are the only ones. Every other subject seems to be taught by rote and meant to be learned in no other way.

This, of course, is frustrating enough. What is even worse than my studies is, unsurprisingly, the general company that I am forced to keep. Peggy, Sophie and Maria – the infamous roommates from HELL – are all so concerned about sneaking razors into the bathrooms to shave their legs that they never realize that they have more than three brain cells at their disposal if they’d want them. I’m sure that with time my brain will melt as well and I will only worry about how to sneak cheap lip-gloss from the pharmacy past the teachers and into the school on our afternoons off – but for now, forgive me, Diary, if I still try to find some use for my poor brain.

The library here is fantastic, which is my only comfort. Oh, that is not to say that I don’t play along with the other girls – I do, because there is no choice – but whenever I’m doing my homework I tend to dawdle for a while after the others have given up, so as to sit in one of the comfy armchairs and read a bit.

You are now wondering, dearest and only friend, what I am doing in a diner on a morning such as this? Well, the truth is that I really shouldn’t be here. But you already guessed that, didn’t you? It’s not as bad as you think though, dearest. We’re allowed out Sunday mornings into the small, dreary town. Sophie and Maria were off to the arcade to look for James Dean types and Peggy and her friend Sue went to the pharmacy to score some more makeup. I decided to give them all the slip, and I came here to treat myself to some pancakes and maple syrup. I must say that the diner is a cozy place, and I’m enjoying the silence immensely. It is hard to be surrounded by incessant chatter all day long without a moment’s reprieve.

Diary, I have just noticed something rather odd. How very strange! There is a young man, very thin, with dark hair and dark clothing, who is sitting at another table – I believe he was on the flight with me! What a strange coincidence, to see him here. Who could want to come to a miserable little place like this? Diary, he is eating pancakes as well, and he looks tired to the bone, as if he were up half the night. He keeps forgetting to take bites though, because he’s on his cell phone, trying to understand someone’s directions to a place called “Gaitec’s Reach.” Silly man, he seems quite distraught – in a good looking sort of way.

Ah, well, I suppose I should order the bill and head back to the girls now… I’ll ask them what Gaitec’s Reach is, though, because it is such a rare, romantic sort of name that I’m quite curious!

I hope to be more diligent about our sessions from now on. I cannot promise a thing though, because I’m still trying to catch up on my studies.

Much love to you, Diary!

As ever,

Lucy

P.S. I talked to my wicked cousin, She-Who-Sent-Me-Here, and I conclude that she’s enjoying the silence of her big, empty house just fine. She says she’s glad of getting me away from all the “bad influences that those little friends of yours were” and that she’s “pleased at your progress in your studies – your teachers send me weekly reports, you see.” Thank goodness I managed to hide my belly-button ring from her, or I’d have lost the only thing I like about my appearance now!

Exhaustion… Taken Over… Brain…

There are those wonderful times when you’re truly too tired to think. Your brain is full of this low, not unpleasant, fuzzy sound. For some reason, as I think of this sound now – it’s creeping up on me even as I write – I imagine that it is the snores of the little mouse that runs all day on it’s little wheel to keep our brains going. Or perhaps it is a hamster. No, mice are cuter than hamsters.

The feeling of being this exhausted, both mentally and physically, is wonderful in my opinion. This feeling holds memories for me, all of them precious: the long drive home from Disneyland that year when there was so much traffic on the way home that I fell asleep and slept through the three hour ride and was carried into my grandparents’ house awake, but pretending to still be asleep because it was so much more comfortable; the memory of every horrid migraine I’ve had and the way I’ve fallen into an exhausted, relieved sleep at the end of the long period of sleeplessness due to the pain; the memories of falling into an exhausted sleep after a particularly enjoyable, but quite long, school trip.

As I’ve confessed, my brain is approaching levels of chronic fuzzyness at the moment, and so I shall have to postpone the writing exercises that I was planning on beginning tonight. Procrastination – it is indeed a devilish instinct, is it not?

Everpresent

Sometimes I find it amazing that humans have managed to exist as a conscious race at all. Think about it for a moment – we’re each stuck with our own mind and our own emotions all the time. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, there isn’t any escape. When we live with other people, we have to “endure” them all the time as well, but we’re only dealing with the outward projection of this person’s thoughts and emotions. Even living with children, who speak out about what they need and want rather more than adults, isn’t the same as how we live with ourselves.

If I sound rather gloomy or negative here, I apologize, for that is not my intention at all. Of course we all have painful moments where we have a difficult time with ourselves and we feel the need to escape from something that we can never escape from. But that’s not what I’m alluding to in this post – I’m mostly thinking about the mundane, everyday thoughts that we deal with. Our minds are always buzzing with thought and emotion, always trying to figure things out, always thinking things we’d rather not think about. We have control over ourselves, but only to a point. How many times have we tried to get rid of a tune or song that’s stuck in our head? We only succeed when we’re truly distracted by something else, outside of us.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is that it’s incredible so many of us are still sane, stuck with ourselves as are.