30 June 2012

come on baby, light my fire*

Pince found a beautiful garden full of different kinds of grasses and strange plants. Some had triangle shaped flowers that tinkled like tiny chimes when the wind blew or others that were shaped like trees made of glass revealing the process of photosynthesis. And there were small silvery, furry plants that budded close to the ground like a pile of paisley and a cilantro plant so large it drooped overhead like a weeping willow. Narrow paths wound around drawing her into the garden, doubling up on themselves, ending in the middle of fields of swaying wheat. One led her to the foot of a perfectly rectangular and smooth reflection pool. The water was dark and reflected the sky and mountains as perfectly as a photograph. She stared at the glassy surface, so deeply entranced, she didn't react when a ghostly white hand slowly reached out of the water, grabbed her ankle, and then swiftly pulled her in.

Her head hit the rocks along the edge of the pool as she was pulled in and she wondered if it was a serious injury. Are there serious injuries in heaven and can you die once you're already dead? It seemed as though she could hear the muted sounds of a Mexican Polka echoing through the water. Pince was being pulled quickly, foot first, towards the center of the reflection pool, only, it didn't seem like they could still be in the pool anymore, it hadn't been particularly large and she was still being dragged. Judging by the sight of the sun shining through the surface, they couldn't be much deeper than twenty feet. On they went and soon she felt the floor suddenly dropped away beneath her. The vast ocean was now yawning below.

It was hard to get a look at whomever or whatever was pulling her. Once she tried to sit up but only succeeded in giving herself whiplash. At least she wasn't having trouble breathing (did she breathe in heaven?) so Pince relaxed and watched the rays of sun flicker through the waves. Once, when she was alive, while riding in a truck with a boy, he'd told her of all the post-apocalyptic fiction he'd been reading. She asked him what he'd do during an apocalypse. 

"Hide in a fall-out shelter with a supply of food and water, of course."

"I'd want to walk around and watch it all happen, watch as everything reached its end." 

Though truthfully, being mortal she had known her overriding instinct would also be self-preservation. This was a benefit of being dead. She could relax and watch as the good, bad, and reality-shattering things happened, letting go of all self-saving worries.

After a time the vastness diminished, the water became more clear and cliff walls loomed high above on either side. Finally, they stopped and the ghostly being who belonged to the hand that had dragged her through many waters swam around to float next to her. They both looked up at the surface, neither of them said anything. Soon a small dark shape, what must be a very small boat, floated over them, red light flashing about it.

"A funeral pyre," whispered Pince.

"Vikings," said the ghostly being.

Pince looked at it, the underwater ghost, but not a ghost. Solid, translucent, hairless. Some kind of man. "So it really happened? They really sent them out to sea like this?"

"I'm not sure."

"Then what is this we're watching?"

"You ask so many questions."

"I have another, who are you?"

"When you ask so many questions, do the answers fill all the little holes inside?"

"Sometimes. Well, no. Never. Some may fill but more open up. Like a sieve letting all this water pass through me."

"I'm Abel."

"Hello, Abel."

*The Doors

25 June 2012

Pince Nez spends a strange afternoon in a new reading room

As Pince was walking the forest began to blur, or maybe it was melting, transmogrifying... The branches had long been getting more tangled together, the top of each tree running into the next, soon the branches were in all kinds of knots pressing against each other, next the trunks were side by side so tight they had become a masterful puzzle, the grooves in the barks of different trees fitting so closely you could hardly distinguish. And then she felt swallowed by the woods. 

As her eyes adjusted she saw she was really in a hall, the bark blending into wall paper, the roots becoming parquet flooring. During her mortality Pince would probably have turned back at this point.


Actually, that's not true at all but there's no real way of proving any which-way now that she was dead. And being dead, Pince most assuredly continued down this hallway. It turned sharply to the right and opened into a small room with a bank of windows flooding the room with sunlight. There was a wall with leather bound books and a velvety lime green chair that looked like the one her sister had told her their grandpa had always sat in. Her sister had imitated him one day, showing her how he'd sat and how he'd gesture as he'd talked which was as close as Pince would ever come to the real thing. Her sister had always been telling her about the chairs their grandparents had sat in. 

Pince chose a book and sat down but did not immediately start reading. She stared out the window wall for a long time, at the cherry tree outside. It made her think of baby blue cotton pijamas with an oriental collar and a Mickey Mouse toy castle.

When she finally opened the book she was surprised. 

TMA 298 
The Gleaners & I  
Marge Bjorke
was at the top of the first page. She thumbed through the book and saw that each page was that of a similar college writing assignment. She grabbed another leather volume and another and saw they contained all of her writing assignments from college. Many had underlines and comments from professors scribbled in the margins, some of the handwriting she could still recognize. Every once in a while she'd pause to read a paper and was generally horrified at the poor quality of her writing. Why did anyone ever let her pass? Her ideas weren't even that clever which wasn't entirely shocking as she had matured enough by the time she died to recognize that her thoughts weren't entirely revelatory. Though anyone would have to admit her argument that The Life of Pi and The Catcher in the Rye were telling the same story was rather intriguing. How had she never noticed before the titles rhymed? Perhaps she should start wiling away her hours by writing papers about books with titles that rhyme. It would certainly do to concentrate her efforts on bettering her literary talents. Hadn't she always heard how Thomas Jefferson would wake up early devoting hours a day to writing letters and important documents?

Maybe she should just devote hours a day to writing letters.

24 June 2012


sister: "Will you put the crust in the oven?"
me: "I will if I can play this song."
sister: "As long as it's Sunday appropriate."
me: "It's from Ecclesiastes!"
mom: "Oh no."

20 June 2012

part iv, or in other words, intravenous

because you'll wish you were sedated while reading more of my fiction/autobiography


Heaven was hard to pin down. Pince spent a lot of time kayaking by herself, sometimes right down the middle of rivers and lakes, but other times near the shoreline, finding interesting spots to dock and hike up the mountainside learning what plants and vistas could be found there. It was another way to enjoy her time in between meeting lots of people who were lovely but not anybody she could consider a close friend. Once she was able to spend an afternoon with her cousin. He asked her how she spent her free time, by reading? Yes, a lot of reading, she said. Her kayak was her traveling library, a different book every day in the front cubby.

She only spent the afternoon with her cousin because she hadn't quite figured out the way and spirit of heaven. It was a lot like earth but was nothing like it. She was still herself with all her strengths and weaknesses which seemed to limit her ability to function in heaven. This meant she was having trouble spending time with people she already knew and cared about. Pince would find a dear friend and would immediately start drifting away as if space was expanding between them pushing them apart.

So this evening she was kayaking on a lake up in the mountains when she saw something kind of funny. It was a grey fin sticking above the water. She knew there were trout and bull fish in the lake, she'd been living in a house boat eating fresh trout twice a week for three months. But this was a large fin, sticking straight up and heading towards her.

Keep in mind that this is a freshwater lake. It was formed by a sudden something or other happening which left an ice cold, clear lake with a petrified forest floor. So Pince could see as the fin got closer that it was attached to a shark the size of ten men. This seemed impossible. She tucked her oar in, rubbed her eyes, looked again and there, five feet and closing in was a shark. BAM! it rammed her feeble kayak. BAM! it rammed again. Pince didn't like the way this was going, she had to do something. Maybe the shark liked to read, she tossed her bookmark aside and read aloud, "GIVE ME TRUTHS, FOR I AM WEARY OF THE SURFACES!!!" BAM the shark rammed again. Maybe the shark didn't like Emerson but there were other poets in the book so she threw it at the shark. BAM!

She offered her dried cherries but that only seemed to upset the shark more. In desperation she picked up her bookmark which looked like this:

and with a quick jab gave the shark a paper cut. Wounded, he swam home but called over his shoulder, "I'LL BE BACK FOR YOU!"

Pince went home and watched Jaws.

14 June 2012

part iii of heaven/not heaven (i have a crush on science)

At the corner mart when the friendly cashier asked what her name was, she told him Pince Nez. Then she walked to the top of a grassy hill, watched the sun set, dusk fall, then cool velvety night. And then she stood up, reached at the air above her and grabbed hold. The air didn't necessarily feel like a ladder or anything solid but she could climb it. She climbed, leaving behind the cicadas and crickets, then the moths, then the sight of roads and trees. After several hours she finally reached them: the stars. Climbing through a constellation was perhaps the best thing that could ever happen to a person, surpassed only by sitting in air, watching the death of one star and the birth of another. Thousands of years she sat there and it didn't matter because this was Heaven.

11 June 2012

well...I just keep going.

She wondered what kind of spider it was. It had a brown furry body and long, thin brown legs. Or were they iridescent? After one of these brown or shimmery rainbow legs had pushed aside the shower curtain she'd had just enough time to register two things: it wasn't a black widow or a brown recluse and at least it was smaller than a pine tree unlike the nightmare she had had when she was four.

Now Marge reflected, if it wasn't one of those two spiders, it probably hadn't been poisonous. So it must have been its size and the corresponding strength of its pincers that killed her. She wondered if she'd been eaten or just pinced.

Then Marge thought about changing her name to Pince Nez.

She was extraordinarily curious about what kind of spider it was but wasn't sure what or who or how to ask. On earth she avoided googling anything about spiders because there were always horrible pictures that made her want to vomit.

No, no. She wouldn't ask. This may be Heaven but so far it didn't seem that safe of a place. Although the baker did give her a loaf of sourdough bread and directed her to the kitchen of a dairy farmer up the street who gave her some fresh churned butter and some milk.

She was wandering around now, looking into shops and offices, asking people about what they did, trying to figure out what she would try to learn how to do next. A man from an insurance office took her out to lunch but she never touched the food because she was concerned about some things.
"If this is Heaven, what do people need insurance for?" Marge asked him.
"In case something happens."
"Like what?"
"In case they get sick and can't work."
"Wait, people get sick here? Every folk song I have ever song has told me that this is the place where there is no sickness. Do people really get sick in heaven?"
"You liked to sing folk songs? Is that what you do?"
"Is there a fire department?"
"Is there a mortician's?"
"Don't be silly."
"Is there a wax museum?"
"I said don't be silly."
"Why can't I be silly? Is that not allowed in Heaven?"
"Is there public broadcasting?"
"Is there junk mail?"
"Are there dinosaurs?"
"Not in these parts. I don't know about anywhere else."
"But there could be?"
"I don't know."
"You have no idea?"
"I seem to keep finding the worst people to talk to."


"I'm sorry, that was terrible of me."


"Well, my master gardener class is about to start...uhh...thanks for lunch...sorry...really..."

10 June 2012

abs herd.

I have this idea for a film. 
It starts out with this girl who's been housesitting for week. She spends an evening skyping with a friend and when she gets off, she goes into the bathroom. As she's sitting on the toilet, the shower curtain is pushed aside by a giant spider who snatches her in his pinchers and snaps her in half. So she's dead. She wakes up in this white cloudy place, where everyone is dressed in white and super busy. Someone with a clipboard comes and finds her and says, "Welcome to Heaven, Marge. We're so glad you got here now, we really need you to make a documentary about this thing."
"This isn't Heaven," she says, "this is Hell!"
"Oh, haha, no no. This is Heaven. Now, see, we'd like it to be 20-30 minutes and could you see about getting it on these three different heavenly airwaves?...Where are you going?"
"Somewhere else," she's wandering away,"I'm not a filmmaker!"
She's gotten a few blocks and is looking through the window of a bakery she's found when Mr. Clipboard has caught up with her.
"Now, Marge. We have it down here that you studied documentary in college, it's in the book that's written by angels, are you going to tell us the angels got that wrong?"
"They didn't get anything wrong, I did study it in college. But I don't like it, I don't want to do it anymore. I gave it my last shot. You're not doing me a favor by giving me this opportunity. I tried it, many times, and every time, it just felt horrible."
"So what do you do?"
"I don't know. I'd like to try something new. What do you have I can try?"
"If you don't have a better idea shouldn't you stick to doing documentary? You just need some practice."
"No. How about I try eating some of Heaven's sourdough bread? You've got butter, right?"
"Now is not the time, Miss Bjork! Really!"
"I was right, this is not Heaven."
"This is most upsetting."

They stand around.

"Well," Marge breaks the silence,"I'm going in," indicating the bakery.
"But you've got no money!"
"This is not Heaven."
"You've got to earn it!"
"I QUIT! What have I just been doing? Sure I died at 25 but shouldn't that merit at least a slice of sourdough? What if I left off the butter?"
"You've got to work here to take part in the economic system––"
"Yeah, I'm just going in. That baker has got to be better company than you."

Movie ends with Marge stepping into the bakery with a smile on her face.

09 June 2012

this is not of sadness but more a bit of quiet

I thought I'd read a blog or two this evening while waiting for some footage to render. I need an emotional aerial view on the world tonight. To take time to remember the billions of lives happening right now each full of their own innumerable cares, concerns, plans––things that wake them up at night, or keep them up, or help make them happy, contented falling swiftly asleep.

I want to be an astronaut right now, just watching, observing it all––trying to grab a little piece of infinity. Stepping out of the regular mortal atmosphere and watching, just watching. Maybe I would like to have an evening of being an angel from Wim Wender's Wings of Desire (1987).

But I am extremely immanent, tied to the earth, my life and its happenings, my choosings.

It's funny that yesterday I was just listening to a discussion of Proust's madeleine, his philosophy of memory and how science now confirms his thoughts on memory. It is always a recreation, not a photographic instant stored away. 

I just learned an hour ago that I may have lost everything on the terabyte external hard drive I've been saving everything on for the last two years. My parents brought me the news and I've already cried on their shoulders––if there's a fellow film person out there, you know. You know that everything I've filmed since the beginning of July 2010 is on that hard drive. Paraguay is on that hard drive, community gardens, Common Threads, that stop motion for my friends' restaurant hopes, trips with friends, all my pictures. And even a lot from before July. That's where I stored that kindergarten documentary and its stop motion animations that I spent weeks on with Travis and Becca.

There's all my research and my typing up of my Grandma's journal and papers, etc.

I stored everything there up until the move to North Dakota. That's when something seems to have happened. I guess that was almost a year ago. It's not until this past week my dad has taken it to his expert friend to fix. It may be unfixable.

Which is so funny––so much funniness––because there have been a few times––I could probably count the number on one hand––when I've wished that I could go back and do everything over––I mean, change everything. Erase it and do something different. Maybe take the train instead of the bus that day in Paraguay. Maybe put off graduation a semester. Maybe, maybe, maybe. Which is very unlike me. I've never believed in regrets. Each time I wished it I was shocked and disgusted with myself. What sniveling behavior, honestly. And just think of the people––oh the people, there have been so many wonderful people I've met, spent more time with, developed friendships with.

And my nephew. He is the best of everything. He cannot go away.

Oh, what a confession this has been.

This is funny because the proustian and scientific idea is that memories are always changing, there's no hard data backed away and now the hard data I had backed away may be stripped of its identifiable properties and swimming around in the echo chamber of a terabyte piece of stuff.

I've had time to think about it. Had my father give me a blessing. Felt a bit more peaceful. We're still holding out for a last word. I've given a list of the extensions and formats everything should be in...they say there are services you can send these lost drives to. But, you know, I can let go if I need to.

I'll just have madeleines and tea. 

Well, maybe actually a macaroon and many glasses of milk. And some yogurt. H.B., can we have lots of delicious yogurt when I get there in a week?

Wait, less than a week. Oh what sweet blessed relief.

08 June 2012

and the skies have been lovely

Some things that I have learned with a week full of ridiculous amounts of commuting time:

1. The molecular structures of parmesan cheese and puke are almost exactly the same. Because of this, to most humans they smell exactly the same since the human brain evolved to cut back on our smelling ability in order to make room for our increased ability to see color. There have been studies showing that when blindfolded a lot of people confuse the two. Luckily the studies stop at smelling and they're never forced to discover their mistake by eating.

2. George Eliot's philosophy of life changed drastically––from positivism to believing in the unpredictability of man and in man's self-determination––after a heartbreak over a man who never returned her love because he thought she was ugly.

I don't think she was ugly.

03 June 2012

cat stevens diamonds

To be completely honest, I really mostly keep up on what the rest of the country is thinking by listening to NPR. This may not actually tell me what the rest of the country is thinking but I don't really know what to do about that. No––I do, I ask questions. Anyway, people on NPR a month or so ago were talking about some unrest over google and facebook collecting personal information and using this info to give you more targeted ads. This is not a concern of mine as I have never yet come across sidebar ads that have drawn me in or seemed particularly applicable to my life. In fact, I find it funny to see what they come up with.

Netflix does a similar thing, asking you to rate movies you've seen and suggesting ones you might like. Today they thought I might be interested in The names of love. Description: "Follow the crusade of Baya, a left-wing femme fatale who seeks to rescue right-wing men from their conservative values by taking them on as lovers."

I guess I did go on a date yesterday with someone who listened to an audiobook biography of George Washington they thought was probably written by Glen Beck.

It gets better, because I posted this on fbook and later had an ad for something about being a sexy lady.

They wasted ammo targeting a girl like me.

It's not exactly that I'm not interested in being sexy––femme fatale I could never be––it's just that I'm not Scarlett Johansson in black leather sexy. If you like me and I like you then...well. What more can you want? (RHETORICAL QUESTION) Just don't imagine I'll be in any Hollywood action movies unless there is suddenly a demand for a female Clark Kent that has no spandex-sporting alter-ego.  

I used to think there was only one way to be sexy. Thank heavens I got over that. 

You should listen to this solely to hear Cat Stevens say, "I was thinking about Alfred Hitchcock and his chin..."

02 June 2012