Eavesdropping

The owl sat on its regular midnight perch, on the beam that hung between the garage door and the overhanging roof. It was quite roomy there, and she liked having its nest so close by, in the very corner, where there was space right inside the corner of the roof.

She was just about to hoot softly and then fly out to catch little rodents by the tail when she was interrupted mid-hoot by a pair of loud voices that erupted in the middle of the driveway in front of her.

“You did NOT just say that!”

“What? You think you’re the only one allowed to be mean? I know how to be mean too, you know.”

“I’m not mean, you jerk-wad! How can you even say that to me?”

“‘Cause it’s true! You’re stuck up and mean, and you know what? I can stand it when you do it to me, but not when you start ragging on my best friends, too. They don’t get to see you like I do, so they don’t get that it’s just how you are.”

“Oh, what, so because they don’t get to see me naked then they don’t know the real me? Are you suggesting they all come over and we have a big party together?”

“WHAT? When did I ever say that? Where the hell is your head, Angela?”

“And what’s all this about you being okay with me being mean to you, anyway? I’m not mean to you!”

The owl in the eaves of the house cocked her head. The voices changed tones. The whiny, female-smelling one sounded muffled, and the deep-voiced male-smelling one made cooing noises that reminded the owl of the noises she made over her eggs.

“I love you, but don’t you see that you’re going to isolate me from everyone else if you keep behaving like a stuck up bitch with them? I’m not saying you ARE one. I’m just saying you act like it, honey.”

“B-b-but your friends make me nervous, and ever since we moved to this stupid city it’s been all about your friends, and don’t you think I miss mine to bits? It’s not like you were super nice to them or anything…”

“I made an effort and you know it. It was hard when they kept sizing me up with their eyes, checking if I was hot enough for they angelic Angela.”

“Well, they were protective of me. What can I do? All your friends want to do is talk to you. It’s like I’m just a painting on the wall in the room. They stare at me sometimes and then go right back to talking to you about the Diamondbacks or the Razorbacks or whatever that team is called.”

“If you stopped acting like an ice princess, and if you stopped being so cold, maybe they’ll be nicer to you, hmm? They don’t always talk about sports, you know.”

The owl, getting bored with the human jabber and the ensuing wet noises as they did that strange thing humans do with their mouths, decided to get going. She spread her wings and leaped from the eaves, wings spreading out to her sides. She dove and then flew upwards, scanning the neighborhood for some delicious little critters to snap in her beak.

“Wow, did you see that?”

“An owl! I’ve never seen one before! Oh my gosh, that’s amazing!”

“What a beauty, hmm?”

“Yeah, so beautiful…”

Busy Busy Busy Bee

The last week has been crazy. I feel completely lost amongst the errands, orders, confirmations and packing that has to be done.

The next few days are going to be even worse. Tomorrow and Monday are going to be full-on packing days – going to college entails lots and lots [and lots] of packing. Tuesday early morning we fly to New York, arriving the same day in the afternoon. I’ve ordered my new mini laptop, I’ve ordered my new computer for the dorms, and more shopping will be done in New York. Saturday, August 29th is move-in day.

The next week or two are going to be crazy – chalk-full of outings, shopping, and once orientation week starts, lectures and registration processes. I’ll try to write as much as I can, but I can’t promise prompt or daily entries. This is too bad, because my stats are pretty pathetic as is, and I’ve been here a year. Still, hopefully once I get settles into a routine at Sarah Lawrence, I’ll be able to write properly, maybe even using my school-work and essays as entries or as ideas for what to write about.

For those who are interested, I already have my first course at SLC – this course is under the title of “First Year Studies” and the professor teaching me will be my Don, which is a kind of adviser. This class is for both semesters, and the one I got is this: Text and Theater. It’s a literature course that studies the texts of plays. The professor seems amazing so far [I received a very sweet email from him that he wrote everyone who will be in this class] and I’m excited.

I hope to be here as often as possible. I’ve been here almost a year, and I love my little blog.

Across Five States: Into Virginia

It seemed that the moment we crossed into Virginia, we hit real life. For real. We were stuck in a monstrous traffic jam of people leaving Washington D.C. for the day. So many people commute there, not to mention the fact that tourist season had begun, and so we felt that we were slammed back into reality, along with all the inconveniences it brings. As we sat on the sixty-six highway, we inched forward and began to cruise the local radio stations. We found some good easy listening, and settled in to wait.

The highway was bordered by high walls, and the directions were separated by hedges. We rounded a bend, and suddenly there it was. The Washington Monument. We could see its peak all the way from the highway, jutting into the sky like a beacon, heralding that we’d reached our destination. It was an exciting moment for all of us.

Soon enough we were taking the badly marked exit – Virginia seems to have a dark sense of humor and enjoys luring newcomers into a false sense of security by marking the exit well before it comes and then putting a tiny sign at the actual exit so you undoubtedly miss it – and driving into Arlington County, which was to be my brother’s new home. After some more muddling around with befuddling directions, we reached his apartment and discovered yet another thing about Virginia – the lack of parking, and the importance of tow trucks, which will tow any car that’s not marked by the right stickers placed in the right ways in the right corners of the right window.

This forced our hand. My brother and I unloaded the U-Haul at superhero speed, while my mother guarded it, just to make sure no policeman or tow truck would catch us unawares. Loading the truck had taken the better part of five hours. Unloading it took an hour, and we were drenched with sweat by the time we were done. By this time, night had fallen and we were all ravenous. We piled back in the U-Haul and found a dingy place to eat at, and afterwards found the only U-Haul drop-off spot in the area. It was a relief, seeing that truck for the last time, but we all felt a bit of a pang. It had safely conveyed us across five whole states, and as ungainly as it was, we had become proud of it – especially as we had the coolest U-Haul in the lost because ours had a picture of snakes on it instead of a U-Haul advertisement.

We took a taxi back to my brother’s apartment and, just like that, our move was done. We still had unpacking to do, we still had furniture to buy, we still had a whole county to get to know, but we were done. We’d moved my brother from Chicago to Virginia in two days. We accomplished what we’d set out to do. It was marvelous.

Across Five States: Into Maryland

We entered Maryland in the early afternoon. We drove on a main highway, and the biggest change I noticed was the lack of trucks and the return of cars. Regular cars, small, light, compact and sane – unlike the monsters we’d been driving with for the past day. Suddenly, we were the biggest on the road, including the SUVs, and there was a feeling of fear as we wove through the growing traffic that we would crush one of these tiny aluminum vehicles. It felt also like a return to civilization – we were suddenly around pleasure cruisers, commuters and road-trippers, instead of being around people who were doing a job as they drove.

All this, of course, was only because we were again on a smaller freeway, but commingled with the knowledge that we were so very near our destination, it caused a bit of a shock. It felt like we were almost done with this magical trip, so short but yet so full of experiences. When we stopped in Maryland at a Waffle House for coffee and sustenance, we came very close to deciding to stop at a motel again for the night and drive into Virginia the next day. None of us admitted it, but I felt that none of us really wanted this road magic to end – the feeling of being severed from any one time and any one place, belonging instead to constant movement.

In the end, though, we decided to push on despite everything. We still had unpacking to “look forward to” and we wanted to get it over with as soon as we could. We payed for our coffees, climbed back into the truck, and after some frustration over the rats’ water bottle leaking we set off again, knowing we’d be seeing another state in just a few more minutes.

Moving Out

A week and a half ago [and it’s incredible to realize that yes, it was only a week and a half ago] my brother, my mother and I sat in my brother’s apartment in Chicago and sighed. It was a situation which merited sighing. We were surrounded by boxes, heavy boxes marked “BOOKS AND CLOTHING” or “KITCHEN STUFF – LOUD, UNBREAKABLE” or “BREAKABLE.” Besides the visible boxes there were also bookcases, mattresses and chairs to be moved plus a  dirty old futon couch that was destined for the big garbage bins outside.

Slowly, piece by piece, box by box, we lugged everything down the wide wooden outside stairway. The mattresses and big furniture were a challenge – we had to carry them together and balance the big things along the turns in the stairway. We were tempted to simply throw down some items, but resisted – a near thing, once we realized how awkward the bed frame and the futon would be.

It took us about five hours, but at around three in the afternoon all the furniture and boxes were secured in the U-Haul we’d rented. Bad tempered, bruised and hungry, we began our road trip across five states to move my brother from Illinois to Virginia.

Back, With a List

In the whirlwind of movement between family members, boxes and different US states, I never managed to write like I’d planned. Despite that, I would like to remember some of the interesting, hilarious, eye-opening and strange things I encountered on this trip. I shall now compile a list of the memorable things, more or less in order, and I hope to elaborate on some of them in the coming days. Ah, it feels good being back in my own home with my fingers on my own keyboard and my tired eyes looking at my own computer screen. And so I present The List of Things I Thought About and Did on My Trip [also known from here on out simply as The List]:

1. Chicago. Chicago is amazing. Simply being in that city was incredible.

2. Tiny dogs are ridiculous, and I hated them with a passion until meeting the three belonging to my cousin. I still think small dogs are ridiculous and more like wind-up toys than animals, but I no longer hate their sweet little hearts for it.

3. Second City e.t.c, the Chicago-based comedy group, are incredible. Their current show, titled Brother, Can You Spare Some Change? had me giggling for days. In fact, my mother and I constantly refer to puppies raining from the sky and how Obama will somehow make smoking good for you and burst into fresh waves of titters.

4. Helping one’s brother move all his things from one apartment to another via U-Haul is an interesting experience that results in soar arms, immense self-pride, and, in our case, travelling across five states in the space of twelve hours, thus making me that much closer to understanding just how large the USA is.

5. You know those haunted houses that are always set up at fairs or in amusement parks? The good ones make you feel like you’re never getting out of them, and even though you know the whole thing is kind of silly you still have a sense of fear and impending doom tugging at your rational thinking. Ikea is just like that.

6. I learned never to buy flat-pack furniture when it’s on sale. Doing so results in frustration and an understanding that you have been duped into buying something that is never going to be put together right because it was built faulty from the beginning – thus allowing such a sale of the damaged products to ensue.

7. Southern Hospitality isn’t just a myth. It’s real. It’s also sure as hell a lot more sincere than the friendliness of the West Coast. Seriously, people in Virginia are SO NICE.

8. Despite the people being nice in Virginia, it seems the tow-trucks are evil beasts with wills of their own. The biggest hazard in a certain county there is that your car will be towed for certain unless you have all the right stickers, badges and other nick-knacks hung in the correct places around the car.

9. The Vietnam Memorial and The Lincoln Memrial in Washington D.C. both moved me much more than I ever expected they would.

10. I saved item ten for the realization that has struck me once again now that I’m back home. No matter how well suited I thought I was to write in my current state of extreme grogginess and jet-lag, I have been proved wrong.

On that note, I hope I will be forgiven for the oddness and inconsistency of my haphazard list that doesn’t seem to much of a list at all. I bid you all a good night, and I will promptly fall into my own bed and attempt to read, even though I know quite well I will be asleep with the book on my face within minutes.

Move [Part VIII]

Marianne was afraid for the first time in days. That is to say, she was consciously afraid – her muscles, whether she knew it or not, had been clenched in a sort of animal fear ever since she had first woken up in that cold steel room. But this was different. Marianne had gotten used to the routine of this place, these facilities in which she acted as lab-rat. Her mind was constantly ticking away and her plan was slowly forming during those short spans of time when she knew she wasn’t monitored as closely.

She was unprepared, therefore, for what was currently taking place. She had come to think of Miss Flanders as a scientist; pure, precise and utterly ruthless when it came to her experiments, one of which was Marianne, Adept [for she had been promoted from Novice apparently] #824. Marianne wasn’t ready for Miss Flanders to come into her room, sit down, and try to chat with her.

When Miss Flanders had entered, Marianne froze in what she had been doing. A panic that she had been discovered rose in her, for she had just been making her usual rounds of the room, jogging, trying to see if she could detect any more cameras in there. She jogged so as to have excuse in case she was asked what she was doing, taking rounds and rounds of the room as she did – exercise, she would reply. She promptly forgot this excuse, however, as the fear of Miss Flanders’ entrance erupted in her mind.

Miss Flanders didn’t ask a thing about what Marianne was doing. She didn’t speak for several minutes, but just sat down on the vacant bed in the room and stared politely at Marianne. Marianne couldn’t help noticing that Miss Flanders’ pupils were very wide, so her eyes looked blacker than ever. She also detected a strange smell about the woman, though she couldn’t explain what it was.

When Miss Flanders opened her mouth and asked Marianne the question, in a false, bubbly voice, Marianne knew that things were only going to get worse from now on, and she had to sit down on her bed to stop her legs from buckling completely.

“So, Marianne, what’s your mom like?” Miss Flanders asked.

“Wh-why? Why are you asking that?” Marianne was thinking furiously, trying to figure out what was happening here. She guessed by now how the Set worked, and she was chilled to her very bone at the thought of what they might do to her mother.

“Oh, I just want to know what you think of her. I mean, dear, all our other volunteer subjects talk about their families all the time,” Miss Flanders’ cheery voice was somehow much scarier than her normal, deep, musical and threatening voice. “You, however, seem rather quiet on the subject. You haven’t, for instance, asked to go home since those first few days.”

“Your OTHER volunteer subject? Meaning you think I’ve volunteered for this?” Marianne tried to take the subject away from her mother, but wasn’t sure whether or not Miss Flanders would see through this.

“Yes, you did. You applied, you got accepted, you signed the papers. Now, what about your mother?”

Marianne gulped. She knew that what was coming wouldn’t be a pleasant interview. She’d lie as well as she could, tell Miss Flanders that she absolutely loathed her mother, tell her whatever it took to try and convince her of that. She knew the truth though. She knew that they were planning something to do with her mother. As she lied fluidly to Miss Flanders, Marianne was speed-thinking, trying to figure out her plan and how she could carry it out quicker than she had intended. She resolved, as Miss Flanders raised her eyebrows in disbelief at Marianne’s lies, to begin practicing.

I’ll practice every night if I have to, she thought to herself. We’ll see how they like a taste of defiance soon enough.

Move [Part VII]

Miss Flanders was standing at the window into the room where Marianne was currently strapped into the chair. She looked thoughtfully at the girl, and saw that Marianne had succeeded in this next part of training as well – there were two wooden blocks floating now, one on each side of her.

Miss Flanders returned to the monitors and sat down in front of them, tracking the little lines with her calculating eyes and trying to decipher what the girl was thinking of that was giving her such extraordinary power so as that she managed to move two things simultaneously as she was doing now.

A door opened, and Miss Flanders spoke without turning around to see who it was.

“I think she’s thinking about her family again.” She pondered aloud. The man who had entered made an indistinct noise in his throat and put down the tray he was carrying beside the monitors. He handed one of the mugs on the tray to Miss Flanders and sat down beside her, staring intently at the monitors with her.

“There’s something new there, though. Look, right there, see it? Just once in a while. What could that be?” He said quietly as Miss Flanders took a sip of the drink he had given her. She made a face at it.

“God, that tastes nasty,” She said. “Anyway, yes, I see it. We’ll need to start analyzing that tonight. You want to do it, George? I want to spend some time with her tonight, see what I can get.”

“Sure,” He said, smiling as he saw Miss Flanders pupils widening slightly and taking a sip of his own mug. “It does taste nasty, you’re right.”

Move [Part VI]


Marianne was in a chair that resembled the kind found in dentists’ offices, except that there were no trays full of sticks for fiddling in mouths beside her. Instead, she was loosely strapped into this chair at her wrists and ankles, and she was alone. Opposite her she could see a wall that was one long mirror. She knew that this wall must be a one way mirror and that the people who gave her instructions were, in fact, on the other side and watching her every move. As if it’s not bad enough that they get to see my thoughts, she thought bitterly.It had been three days now since Marianne had been taken from her cold, steel room. Miss Flanders, the woman who had collected her from there, had taken her to a spacious room, steel like the first, but warm and full of comforts. She had a comfortable bed with a thick mattress, a desk with some writing paper and pens on it, and, best of all, a bookcase crammed full of books. There was also a spare bed in the room, but Marianne was quite alone and there didn’t seem to be any other occupant at any time.

Marianne felt that she was now pampered, as if to placate her after the bad treatment she had received. Miss Flanders and the others greatly wanted her cooperation, and she was ashamed that she had given it to them, mostly because she was too weary and too scared to defy them.

But not for much longer… No, mustn’t think about that, or they’ll know. She quickly began to think about her mother again and about her sadness and aching heart and the way she missed her home. But in the back of her mind, which she had learned to hide away, a plan was forming…

Move [Part V]

Something was different. Marianne knew it the moment she woke up, because she woke up naturally, for once. There was no rattle of the dumbwaiter; there was no muffled crackle of the speaker. She sat up on her mattress, crossed her legs, and rubbed her eyes. She looked around the room, and immediately saw a difference. A difference so staggering that she felt her stomach clench – whether with fear or excitement, she didn’t know.There was someone in the room with her. Someone was sitting on a simple, steel chair that was right against the opposite wall. Marianne gaped. She took the person sitting there in, inch by inch, while they scrutinized her right back.

The person sitting in the chair was a woman. She had very high cheekbones that were prominently displayed over the black doctor’s mask that was hiding the rest of her lower face. A pair of eyes, the iris’s so darkly brown they appeared black from afar, were above the cheekbones, perfectly framing a slightly long, very straight nose. The woman’s hair was rather surprising – she was a redhead. Though her hair was swept back in a tight bun, it seemed like it wanted to break out and spring back into its normal state of bouncy curliness.

The woman crossed her legs and placed her white hands upon her knee. She then spoke, and Marianne knew instantly that it was this woman’s voice that pierced her through every day, the voice that emerged from the crackly speaker. It was deep, for a woman, and slightly rough, but there was a musical tone to it as well, as if this woman could sing jazz easily.

“Well,” she said. “It’s nice to finally be able to greet you in person, Marianne.”

Marianne didn’t know what to say, so she continued to stare at the woman. She wondered if the woman expected her to be pleased to see a human face, perhaps even be grateful for it. She got her answer in a moment though, when the woman spoke again.

“I’m sure you hate me, Marianne. That’s alright, I don’t really care one way or another,” the woman’s eyes crinkled as she spoke, as if she were smiling beneath the mask. “I am glad, however, of how obedient you’ve been since those first few days when things were… shall we say, difficult. You’ve become a model subject. Your progress is impressive, I must say. It is time, therefore, to get you out of this room and into the next stage of our facilities. I think you will find them more comfortable than these rooms.”

The woman stood up, and moved the chair to one side. The panel of steel wall behind her instantly slid open. She beckoned to Marianne, and gestured toward the open doorway, which seemed to lead into a hallway made of some more steel.

“Well…?” she said. “I hope you’re not going to make this difficult.” A threatening note was evident in her voice as she continued with “You know what happens then, don’t you, Marianne?”

Marianne got to her feet. She strode through the door, shivering slightly at the thought of what would happen if she struggled now. She really, truly didn’t want to know.