Tuesday, 8 November 2011

The Day of Mars

  I'm inclined to view Tuesday as a sort of fragile, ill tempered kind of day. Monday gets all the flack, and having a reputation to uphold, has made outstanding efforts toward congeniality. Monday is usually kind, productive, and can carry on a friendly conversation. I picture Tuesday in the corner with a double shot whiskey, writing emo haiku.
  Tuesdays catch you off guard because you've just passed through Monday with mild surprise at her good manners and are left with a general sense of well being. This is exactly what Tuesday wants. Tuesday starts you off well and begins to gnaw quietly away at your happiness until you've not only forgotten what you came into this room to do, but it suddenly feels as if something terrible is about to happen. You wonder at this for a moment and go back to check your email because maybe that was what you were going to do but then you hear the neighbors dog barking and your mind is suddenly flooded with images of home intruders with machine guns and you hear a fighter jet fly by and listen intently, just in case this one was a bad guy and the bombs are now dropping. Then you make a plan for what you're going to do when this actually does happen. First, you carry a bread knife around, then you make a mental note of what you're going to text your husband or friend and where you plan to meet them. You write the text out, to save precious time. Then you think about how you and your son are going to get out of the house/city with only a motorcycle when all hell breaks loose. Would he be better on the front, or in the backpack being carried? You think the backpack would have too much wind. The phone rings and you jump and are pulled out of the Tuesday-mare.
  After checking everything off your to-do list and then adding more things and checking them off, you check the clock. 3pm. Tuesday has more minutes to the hour apparently. You decide to take your kid for a walk because Tuesday is also bad parent day and you're trying to appease your guilt at wishing he wanted to watch more TV or knew what cookies were so you could bribe him to watch more TV with them. The house is also seeming stuffy and you wonder if that's what happens when you have a carbon monoxide leak.
  You summon the most adventurous spirit you can muster from your disquieted soul and walk around your oatmeal and sometimes olive colored suburbia, hoping against hope to find something worth seeing. There are little bridges over a little ponds and cement tortoise lawn ornaments. There's the electric hum of a Toyota Prius driving around the streets behind you that all bear mildly regrettable names, in every case succeeded by the word "glen." Brickella-Glen, Salvia-Glen, Goldfish-Glen, etc. As if there is always a nameable valley you're about to come upon suddenly. Neighborhood watch signs are posted liberally vowing protection for you and your kin from everything save boredom and occasional gossip.
  You're walking to pass time and somehow the passing of seconds is easier to palate when paired with the passing of steps, but your mind is wandering again. You find yourself wondering what the difference is between Pipit-Glen Pl, Pipit-Glen Way, and Pipit-Glen Ct. and consequently, do the residents often mistake them? You wonder how many species of palm trees there are, and if there is a difference between a yellow fire hydrant and a red one? And can you park in front of a yellow one if you do so cautiously?
  Then you start making up stories about the people you see. The slightly hunched woman with the hook nose and chunky-heeled shoes, dressed entirely in black from the neck down. She's probably a Russian spy, or a librarian that hoards the best books and that's why you never got Harry Potter even though you had it on hold for 15 months. It's at this point, when the sun is setting and your reliable 72 degree weather is chilling slightly, that you catch a whiff of the smoke from some over enthusiastic holiday lover's fire and are instantaneously transported back to you parents house in wintertime. You're once again sitting in that dark room with the snow falling silently just outside the walls coating the world in a crisp blanket and making everything still. You and your siblings are scattered about the living room with stomachs full of casserole and hot chocolate and it never crosses your mind to worry about things like if it would be safer to go down the stairs or jump out the bedroom window if there was a sudden, violent earthquake destroying your house because you're just kids and you have parents to think about those things for you. You just sit there together and quiet and everyone watches the dance in the fire and everything is fine. Everything is overflowing with peacefulness. Everything is ok.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

STC - Ulysses

To quote Krisann "This is an acorn story. You're an acorn that sees everything inside itself to be a huge oak tree, but you can't will yourself to grow. You're still a little acorn and it's a wonderful thing." With that said - my vocabulary is no where close to broad enough to capture the movement and emotion I FEEL in this story, but as she is right, and I'm still just the seed of a writer beginning to grow, I'm happy with it. Oh, and even though I know you're not supposed to have to set up a story, for your sake let me say: This is my take on the Odyssey.

 It had been twenty years. Twenty years since he had pulled the life of Ithaca’s air into his lungs or filled his blood with the warmth of wine and kin. Twenty years of war and wandering. Twenty years since that fool Palamedes had called him out of his feigned stupor and gave flesh to the prophesy he had been trying with every fibre in his being to outwit, outrun. In a day it was all gone. The velvety green hills scattered with rock and beast, the musk of a morning’s hunt with his son, training the boy’s eyes and arms, and always, always upon return, the beauty of Penelope’s face... oh, her face. His eyes habitually closed at that thought to find her, but he was losing her more every day. His mind, filled with blood and metal and endless sea, was pushing her image away despite his daily struggle to keep it close. She used to call him home. He used to see her standing on the edge of the sea and singing a wordless song that ripped his heart in two and filled him with longing and hope. Now the effort to recall his wife only produced a vague shadow, blurry around the edges. Of all the horrors he had faced in the last twenty years, all the challenges, nothing had put fear in his heart... nothing except that fading image; the loss of what was keeping him sane and bringing him strength, and calling him home.
 Closing his record book, Ulysses stretched his substantial limbs to their fullest, pushing back the walls and thoughts that were closing in on him. Heavy hearted, he climbed out of his cabin and onto the deck. He always took the night-watch. The sailors thought he had assigned himself to this post because of the multiple times they had run aground or been attacked by various monster or beast under cover of darkness, but it was not. Ulysses walked the ship at night because, in the darkness, his footsteps echoing on the deck seemed to fill the air instead of drowning in it, the sound of water on wood was easier to imagine as wind in the trees behind his home. In the darkness you could pretend there was no ocean, and the stars... the stars reminded him of her. They shone with a high beauty. They twinkled, and he could almost see her eyes. They gave him hope and called him home. They were the only bit of her he had left; and he clung to that because his life depended on it.
  The night descended on his spirit like a fog. His mind, always searching for employment found nothing to occupy itself on and settled into numb recollection. Scenes of the last two decades scrolled across his consciousness and his feet paced across the boards. First was Calypso - fierce and strong. His barren heart had found a landscape of beauty when he first saw her. A stunning face and fiery eyes... Just like Penelope. He wished she had been her. He tried to make her into his wife and to renew the fading hope of love, but the longer she kept him, the more the nymph faded just as Penelope had. The ache for his love could not be soothed by another. He could not stay. The shipwrecks flashed and faded in a wave of ragged memory, and he paced still. Whirlpools, monsters, fantastic dangers and adventures all came and went and nothing stirred with their memory. It was excitement he couldn’t even have dreamed of with his young, islander imagination that longed for purpose and identity so many years ago. None of it had given any life or glory. Nothing gave satisfaction; but left only emptiness. Then came the Sirens. Here he lingered in thought for a moment. He was a wise man, and had not thought himself above their deception, but with caution and restraint he heard their song. With the first note Penelope’s face rose out of the mist. It was her song rising from beyond the railing! The wordless one that had called him home so many years ago, but since faded. He had fought against his cords and screamed for her. It had to have been her! But through the fog and melody there was no wife and sank again his hope with this reality. Just remembering it he could see her face again in the fog. That was the closest image he had to recall the one his heart could never forget. The memory of his dead Mother, with news of Ithaca’s treachery and his family’s faithfulness, did nothing but aggravate his sense of helplessness and he let it fly by quickly. Then Circe and the cannibals and the cyclops and Poseidon's storm all swirled around the steady image of his island on the horizon - the only glimpse of home in all these twenty years, stolen by greed... and greed for gold no less! What had the crew expected? That the tiny bag could hold enough to repay them all for their faithfulness? That in my joy upon return I would forget to reward them with honor and riches for their service? But no! They condemned us all to this ship, and that is their reward. Life and death at sea. Isn’t that all that’s left to us? The promise that took me away has been driving me away ever since. I’m fighting and I’m losing, but what else can I do? I have nothing left but to set my sail for home, always home. I’ve been stripped to my core and I’ve been defeated and yet I sail. I cannot cease. There is nothing left for me but to sail, sail, forever sail away from that rising sun that fades the stars as time fades her face. I hope she holds fast, for I have no strength left.
 Twenty years of trial. Twenty years alone. Twenty years of sunrises that held no promise of an end. Today was no different. Today the sun rose on a man clinging to the last hope in an empty soul. Today the sun rose and relieved him of his watch. Today the sun rose and he thanked the gods for the hours of sleep that would take him away from this, even just for a moment, and as Ulysses lowered his head into the dark cabin, the sun rose on a yet unseen speck of gold on the western horizon. 

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Oxford, Round 2

Today, November 2nd 2011, my husband is sitting the elusive Oxford Thinking Skills Assesment test. With mixed feelings of confidence in his maturing brain and worry for his exhausted emotions I wished him luck as he rode off on the beast today. He is applying for another course in January, but in a lot of ways, this is it. This is what we failed at last time, and this is what says if he's done with school this year or has 3 more years of academia. If he does get in, we have to go..... who turns down Oxford, right? Especially if you're the first in your family to get even an Associates degree from a community college. Who could say no to just three more years that will have such a huge impact on not only our future, but on the future of our children... our children who may only know their father in spurts of school breaks for the first years of thier lives..... Lord, oh Lord give us wisdom.