#433rds Day 8

(See a description of the #433rds project here.)

April 8

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The model plane has skinny-man wings. They wouldn’t lift. If it were a man, its shirt would be squalid, dumpy as Eve Harrington’s hat. No guns there, maybe a feeble cropdust. I miss fraternizing with women who sew with bone. There’s nothing like beading, honing your sparkle, threading the tidy slight.

#433rds Day 7

(See a description of the #433rds project here.)

April 7

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A new study suggests our brains conform to certain identical patterns of activity when we watch movies. It’s a cuff of a fact, starched independent of hand or sleeve.

Oscar Pistorius wept in court today and in photos you can see the veins of his straining neck as he tells Reeva’s parents how he feels. The theater of his vomit has garnered a lot of attention, but I’ve been doting on the truth value of his veins. (It’s ok! I’ve been invited to consider the pormenores of his body. He feels vulnerable without his legs. He has trouble sleeping.)

Pepita barfed today. Ashamed, she pulled her paws in.

No studies yet on brain patterns when we watch trials. A judicial, magnetic paisley, whorls of sameness they try to pin down into prints. Court fabricates consensus. It weaves bizarre propositions: premeditation is putting your legs on. Fear is legless.

The court adjourns so Oscar can sleep. Someone suggests  they amputate his arms. Justice weird as ozone, ambient, hole, toxic, turns blood into pounds, usurps free radicals: what discount if he liquefies into tears and vomit, turns his guilt into gruel?

The longest axon in the body runs from spine to toe. Our legs—when all our brains line up—are always last to know.

#433rds Day 6

(See a description of the #433rds project here.)

April 6

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focus stacking

Back in the cycle of slime. Flash! Oh love, I’ve been avoidant. I’ve watched flash videos, completed flash courses, read about bouncing light off walls. Marooned myself on a guilt fort with a flash moat. Think Castle Crystalskull. When you fret about a mote of dust in a dead wasp’s eye, you know you’ve got problems. Glass, glass, all you see is glass. Try to look through. Try to stabilize. Read medicinally: the lucid novelistic profiles of gold miners. They do not help. The words thread and you feel their gentle vegetable draw but can’t meet their motion. You’re in a grabby mood. You want to have grown and written them.

But yours is a slippy-slow digest, a fleshy tube of work.

You’re bored with long exposures. Instantaneity’s the thing. Light’s what we want. You want so much to be a ray you’ve nearly done it: if you mounted yourself on a slide right now and looked under a microscope, you’d barely exist. Attention slips, lurches to the side. Your right temple feels like two raw wires joined and fritzing. Chase the lights and flash the underneck shadows! Mount. Panic. Sink. Bail. Ladle the errors out.

#433rds Day 4

April 4

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A blood gradient is what it sounds like: a Punnett square fading out towards one edge where the traits jog and skip generations like pixels printed apart. I’m getting divorced, the woman says. Everything in her café is red, and so is her hair—a purple red she has to keep redyeing. (I can’t wash it often, she says over a 2:00 Irish coffee [it’s been one of those weeks, she says]). She only has one daughter, aged six, who cries when she can’t decide what shoes to wear. I don’t understand it, the woman says. Her older two kids are boys. They’re easier. They just read. I nod as if I know this and compliment her skin. I never meant to run this place, she says. I just did the accounts. I don’t know quite what she means. We’ve met just as I’m becoming a regular and she’s becoming an owner. Neither of us is good at it yet. Her orchid hair clip is made out of the same material as a wetsuit, she explains, and the fuchsia veins are painted in. Blood doesn’t bite paper as hard—it’s how we read zoo captions over the apes without seeing our alleles, unbathed.

Some South African Birds

I went to South Africa and took pictures of birds.

This is What It Looks Like When a Fly Poops

Every so often I visit the Canon EF 100 mm f/2.8L IS out-of-my-price-range lens and look at customer images. This one sort of a fly pooping in midair interested me, as I had never taken the trouble to imagine a fly doing such a thing:

Two Heaths

Last night there was a storm. A true storm. A strong storm, the kind where the lightning illuminates your kitchen along with the whipping sheets of rain.

We don’t get those much in California, and my Twitterfeed exploded with reactions. Several people said they heard applause coming from other apartments. Some got caught in the rain. Violent weather makes you grateful for the shelter that divides you from the  sublime. It also forces you to try—and fail—to imagine the direct encounter.

So you think of King Lear. And of other people—fugitives, say—who once overused their power, trusting their unearned immunity from reprisals.

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I’d forgotten that Lear’s famous storm scene happened on a heath. Prior to this recent trip to England, all I imagined when I heard the word Heath was Wuthering Heights and the moors from The Secret Garden. Heaths and cliffs were the wilds of nature where passion ran rampant.

Two weeks ago, I finally saw a heath—Hampstead Heath. I saw it on a golden afternoon, away from my own country’s ravages and bizarre storms, during a week when even England was mystified by its unprecedented sunny warmth.

It was the essence of pastoral, all gentle greens and gorgeous rolling hills.

The walk to the Heath started off symbolically. Our host had suggested we walk from her place in Hornsey along a railroad track that had been turned into a wooded path until we got back into town, and then suddenly, there the heath would be.

We didn’t completely understand the instructions, but we set off anyway. We found the railroad track, where even the trees performed the harmony between nature and industry:

When the woods ended, we arrived, as promised, at another part of London. Here, too, the walk was unaccountably accommodating. Here, the streets on the way to the Heath said, take a rest. Have a seat!

The streets and houses arrayed themselves in attractive rows:

And then things got green.

Two people sat under a tree.

Two trees sat next to a lake.

Afternoon melted into evening, and all the tiny people on the heath lined up on the horizon and became silhouettes. One was a dog. One flew a kite.

It’s as hard to imagine this as the site of Lear’s confrontation with the elements as it is to imagine being out on a night when you’re in. I was conscious, on this walk to a heath that violated all my notions of heath-hood, that my image of England—which had been grey when it wasn’t wild—was now pathologically skewed toward an impossible ideal. I didn’t live there. I hadn’t met the bad parts. All I saw was that the streets of London proffered velvet chairs. And the heath spread out in a bucolic fever dream of reflective waters and bridges and idyllic benches.

It’s the lunatic perfection of Hampstead Heath that convinces me, if only in the abstract, that Lear’s heath is there too. And there, like here, where the thunder shatters the windows in a fit of strange weather, the going—for those outside the magical brackets of windows and trips—shall be used with feet.