Sunday, January 6, 2013
I've noticed that people here are a little more eccentric than usual.
Don't get me wrong, the extent of Rustbelt Eccentricity is wide and disturbing and frequent.
So I guess that part doesn't really change. But just like learning any kind of different culture, one grows up accustomed to a certain kind of crazy and being exposed to a subtle shift in the whole mentality of a geographical place, a location that is already different in water and soil and air and trees and industry and traffic patterns, well it's difficult to adjust without being dismissive.
I like it, it's engaging, and you're playing at it all the time.
I've gone to bed so early this week. I wake up at 6 for work, and unless there's an actual reason for me to go out, plans, then I'm in bed by 11. Which is as ridiculous of a number as 6 for me.
When I went to bed last night, it was cold cold. It was close to freezing. That was at like 12. I woke up at 5, mere hours later, and it was balmy and warm outside. Here are two strange things: 1) Being this close to the ocean the weather is SO much more active and changeable. Like, people talk about the randomness of Cleveland weather, but Ocean weather is more so. I guess that makes sense - Erie is a big lake, but it's not a vast continent of water. So that's sort of exciting. The second thing is that nobody has any sense of direction here. They get turned around in town. Multiple times, I've been the one who knows where we're going, and I've only been here, what? 6 months? I keep calling it three months because I got in the habit of it, when having to over and over explain my new existence in the place, like, why are you here? How long have you been here? Where are you from? There's so many new people here all the time, it's this odd little portal where these strange characters just wash up, stay for a few years, and float away like so much jetsam. Then there's the ones who get stuck on something, and live in the crevices, like a particularly active piece of coral, or an angler fish.
I think it's funny that before I moved here I assumed the biggest cultural adjustment would be the whole Southern thing, but no, it turns out it's the Ocean thing. It's living in an ocean port, in a place that's very sub tropical at times, but has that light grey Northern paper flutteriness of sky every once in a while. It crinkles like notebook paper I mean, and rips like it, and makes the sounds. I think this summer I want to focus on that aspect - on historical museums and shipwrecks etc. Then next year I can try and absorb the whole active military thing. That's a logical progression. Maybe I can learn to make biscuits the year after that, we'll see.
Did you know Mexico has a Grand Warlock? I think it's crazy that the less and less I buy into magic, the more people around me seem to approach me with it for sale. But when I'm most vulnerable to the idea of it, they avoid my earnestness like a bad scent. Maybe when I'm willing to listen is when I'm also asking the most questions, as opposed to me not caring and therefore silently being courteous and nodding my head and trying to freeze out the conversation. The older I get, the harder it's going to be to mask my feelings, I can see that. Also I was looking at the photo I posted of my mom with the calf, in the last post, and I can totally feel myself becoming her, like, knowing that is what I'm going to look like. Which is fine, my mom is a pretty woman, and actually I look more like my dad, so it won't be quite the same. But close enough. That calf is almost full grown now, he's being sent out for processing soon. That feels simultaneously like the most foreign and the most Ohioan thing I could say.
My mom has always had a very weird relationship with the use and death of animals. She doesn't believe in keeping around animals that cause discomfort in your life. Part of me is upset with this, especially since it's led to some particularly cold disposal of elderly pets, but part of me respects it a lot. Because annoying animals are fucking annoying and I am a superior predator so I should be allowed to not have to deal with them. Both Lou, who is Lebanese, and Jeremiah, who is Egyptian, have very dismissive superior feelings to household pets. This led me for a bit to consider that pets was just not quite so much a Middle Eastern thing. But it seems like Turkey would have a lot of dogs, right? It just strikes me as a place where people breed grand and striking animals, probably because in my head I'm mixing it up with CS Lewis's Calormen. There were cats in that book, but mostly horses and lions.
Last night this guy at work tried to explain some model map of reality, all I really absorbed were the four quadrants - The Interior Individual, the Interior Collective, the Exterior Individual, the Exterior Collective. I said I didn't believe in the Interior Collective. I don't think we actually share any experiences actually with other people. I think we believe we do, but nobody is every experiencing the same thing as anybody else. Nobody sees the color blue the same as you, for example. It isn't even remotely the same color for anybody twice. Your mind is so particular to you. So yeah, no Interior Collective. I know we'd all like to think it exists, its the basis of religion after all, and patriotism. But sorry.
The Interior Collective is just like how I feel about astrology. I like talking about, it's useful as a description, it's fun as a game, but it's all a fairy tale. There's a collection of stories I really love called the Oxford Book of Modern Fairy Tales. I think Allison got it for me as a present one year, and it's one of the short story collections you find yourself referring to all the time - like the big orange scifi collection I won in 8th grade, or The Norton Collection of Short Stories which I refer to like a thousand times of day in my head. Short stories affect me more, maybe that means I'm incapable of nuance, or I have ADHD, all things are possible. But also maybe I just absorb information in short quick punctuation points. I mean it's not like novels don't affect me too, but those affects are harder to apply to real life situations sometimes, because a fiction novel is so much it's own entire reality. Shorts are more like those transparent light filters they use in theater lights, filters that you can hold over your own episode to see it a different way.
Anyway in this collection of fairy tales, there's a reinterpretation of a fairy tale I used to read all the time in my Yellow Fairy Book by Andrew Lang. I can't stress enough the influence of those colored fairy tale books in my life. I love them more than almost anything else from my childhood, more than Sarah my Bear even. The story is the Glass Mountain, and in the new version a man is scaling a glass sky scraper while the crowd gawks below. In the old version, when I read it as a little girl, I could hear the sound of the sharp hooks on the glass, the screech and cut. When I think of an eagle attacking a man, I picture the eagle in the story, and the Prince who lets himself get kidnapped. I like it that's a fairly common idea, the man tricking the eagle into taking him to the top of the mountain. Eagle's nest are very much magical places, high in the mountains, in the realms where men will die a lot, where trolls and witches and ghasts live. Cliff ghasts is a type of monster I'm electing for permanent cultural recognition. They are the golden sleek killers turned rotting mangled scavenging evil.
I talked about that last night, how the problem with people who have pets that aren't cats or dogs, is I don't trust them. I don't understand not having a superior predator as a companion. I mean, not superior to us, but cats and dogs are at least highly successful, intelligent, adaptable creatures that also reproduce the same way as us, and therefore are capable of having any kind of emotional bond with us. Birds and lizards, they don't even have the neural connections capable of creating empathy. Because they lay eggs. Their bodies don't produce the right chemicals for bonding, there's no reason for it. So there is no affection, no sense of closeness. Birds have a flock mentality, that's a different alien kind of bonding I guess. Lizards don't even have that. Lizards just want to eat. Both of them remind me of the trash left over from dinosaurs, the shrinking slipping away genetic refuse of past rulers. I want to kick them usually. I mean, I wouldn't really do it, I don't like creating pain, but if it was necessary, I wouldn't feel guilty about it later.
Posted by Bridget Callahan at 8:29 AM