Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Mind's Eye Drifting on Cumulus Ink

February 14th, 2013
Get your head out of the clouds is such a poignant and disappointing cliché.

It is so sad that many people find it impossible to let their mind wander and play with the shapes in the sky. I find it appalling that the majority of the people in my life are so aloof when dealing with their imagination.

Every time I look at the clouds I am drawn back to the front room on Bent-Vine Lane. Off the entryway, passed the green and gilded wallpaper, was a room with popcorn ceilings, tan shag carpet, and a piano. The back wall was graced by a china cabinet. Between the window and the piano was a large dining table. On more than one occasion while waiting for my mother to get off work I would sit in the big bay window watching the sky. My grandmother planted simple seeds by repeatedly asking one question, "What do you see in the clouds?"

I find that the mind is either concrete or plastic; those that see water vapor in the sky or those that see dragons turn into white fluffy bunnies getting gobbled be up by giant pirate ships. Looking to the sky, seeking out cloud formations, brings me to a place of both calm and inspiration.

I would hazard a guess that in almost any work of literature a cloud is mentioned. Whole novels have been sparked by skies swallowed up with thunderheads. Generally people write to be read. Yet the process of going from an exclusively internal thought to a set of external symbols can be a frustrating endeavor. In the world of writing grammar is the mortar and imagination is the brick. Without the imaginings grammar is all but pointless.

Imagination can be dry, it can be pure fancy, or anywhere in-between. However society seems to have stifled playful thought by the age of nine or ten. When adulthood arrives personal fantasy is buried, or so formulaic that a written form is needed to play a game. How strange it is that a nation like the United States, which prides itself on art and innovation mutes the imagination of its youth.

My grandmother opened the window to my imagination by pulling back the curtains of formal education and letting me be a child. The muse — that spark of an idea or an imagining — can be both a blessing and a curse. At times words can spew forth like the Yukon River with so much material to be sifted through seeking the little nuggets of gold. At other times words must be eked out of an almost dry pen.

The pain and pleasure of writing from the imagination can make a cloud seem so compassionate. A fluffy white cloud can bring back memories of warm spring picnics, while dark storm clouds bring back memories of childhood fears. The ecstasy of putting the fears to paper can calm the nerves, while writing of the joys can bring on melancholy of days passed.

Writing is much like the formation of a cloud. Memories and ideas condense in the mind, floating until so heavy as to fall from a pen like rain, to the fertile soil that is paper.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

my gratitude list for 2/14/13

I am grateful for the men that love me.
I am grateful for my son.
I am grateful for a solid and warm roof.
I am grateful for spell check.
I am grateful for the ability to imagine.
I am grateful for life.
I am grateful for professors that care.
I am grateful for my desire to learn.
I am greatful for my mistakes.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Fires that Built a Generation of Humanity

January 31, 2013

Every Saturday morning my siblings and I went exploring: seeking new wonders, tigers, and spending precious time with our workaholic father. One drive transformed from wonder into horror.

The adventuring began as it always did, four seatbelts clicking in a bright yellow company jeep. Hard oil pavement morphed into clay packed trails as the vehicle moved along hair-pin curves, rising and falling with hilly terrain. Trees well over a hundred feet tall closed in around the small automobile. A troop of Pigtail Macaques blocked the road, scurrying when Dad laid on the horn.

Miles away, dark clouds hung above and below the canopy looking like heavy rain. Dad, a quiet man by nature, became almost silent. He drove closer to the thick dark clouds. As we drove nearer the cold sterility of the air-conditioned jeep could not hide the smell of decomposing plant matter, smoldering wood, burning crude oil, and overturned clay. My nose burned and my eyes itched. Soot began to cake the windows.

Cresting a ridge my heart sank and tears filled my eyes. The forest I knew and loved was ablaze. I can't remember if it was slash and burn agriculture or if it was being cleared to put in a new well and pipeline. All I can remember was watching a valley, once filled with life, burning down to the clay below.

My father, an employee of a large oil company, exhibited great courage by taking his children outside of the walls of the compound to see the wonder and tragedy of life. I was in the first grade and my teacher was a full-on hippy. In the weeks prior to the burning my class spoke of global warming, earth-day and humanity's responsibility to curate and preserve the planet. It was an odd lesson to be learned in a private school funded by one of the world's largest oil companies. The audacity of any teacher, hired by an oil company, with the balls to teach children to think, let alone to teach their pupils about the scary wide world, who knew they would create a "monster" they never imagined.

On April 20, 2010, twenty-three days after my son's birth and on my husband's birthday, Deep Water Horizon exploded. Sitting in the Neonatal ICU in Houston, Texas, my memory played tricks on me. I could smell burning trees, burning crude, and hear birds crying for sanctuary. Like so many on the gulf coast, I was angry.

I could remember how sad and angry I was when the forest burned. My imagination ran wild as pictures of crude-encrusted corals filled my mind. Words from Soylent Green washed through my head as images of burning rain-forests danced in my vision. Mother Earth screamed in my head.

Humanity is but a single species in a vast universe. Each action while small had repercussions. My father's weekend excursions into the jungle gave me a view of serenity and destruction that I would never trade. My teacher gave me words to describe the world.

We are but humble gardeners working in concert with a sentient organism called Earth.

The stupidity of young boys in the bodies of men

The stupidity of young boys in the bodies of men.

Running way too fast in worlds beyond their grasp.

Geeze boys stuck in men's bodies can be a pain.

Walking with the perils.

Dancing to rhythms they can yet to comprehend.

The staccato pace they try to maintain,

and the waltz that the world plays.

Boys following their mental beats,

can never fall into the line of the way men move.

Grand their dreams,


holy holy they fall faster than flys in a frost.

Boys, boys can never be men,

Till they fall and stand.

Way, way back to the blue light that they bit off at birth.

Suckling at mammas tits until they are tall and grown,

Never knowing freedom from apron strings.

Hanging on to childhood with death grips.

Never wishing to stand in their own shadow.

Boys stuck in the bodies of men,

Dancing around with toy cars and pop guns,

Running from women and bills,

Choosing to extend their childhood,

Addicted to mothers milk and wallet.

The stupidity of young boys in the bodies of men.