Friday, February 26, 2016

Pink Valentines

This morning I got a terrible headache so I put down the work I was supposed to do and opened Facebook. I have seven hundred friends. The way their lives' updates flashed by as I slid two fingers across the track pad gave me vertigo but I ignored it. The mechanics of discomfort aside, doing something I wasn't supposed to do soothed my nerves. The morning flew by quickly this way.

For lunch I had tuna fish and rice, parts of it got so dry I started to choke so I made myself a little juice, mixing a splash of brandy with some water and ice. My wheel chair didn't feel so hot after that or I'd gotten used to it by then. The wheels squeaked when I rolled around too much so I tried to relax after lunch by going back to facebook, lying down on the sofa holding my i-pad high above my face and scrolling around with the soft part of my fingers. I must have dozed off for a second this way. When I woke up I forgot where I was and that my legs didn't move anymore so I took a lot of deep breath when I finally remembered and took my time getting back up.

In the afternoon I went out to the market around the corner because the house got stuffy with heat and the neighbor's loud TV got really annoying. They had these cute valentines candy boxes shaped like those to-go cartons they used at the Panda Kitchen, except they were painted with glitters, red and pink hearts, with a red ribbon strung across the top. I bought ten.

When I got home I pulled out that large bag of candy left over from Halloween and put some in each box, topped with a small card shaped like a heart. I cut those out of left over card stock I saved from the last time I made Christmas cards myself, which was years ago--before I had the accident. Back then my friends liked to invite me to things like card making parties. There were so many I feigned disinterest unless it was hosted by my very bestest friends or the most popular girls.

I knocked my neighbor's doors and introduced myself to each of them and gave them my box of valentines. They were glad to see me and several even invited me to come inside. I told them maybe later. For now I had some work to do then I said goodbye. It was getting dark and I hadn't gotten used to wheeling around in the narrow neighborhood roads yet.

The house was dark and cold when I got back. I had taken all that was pink and red and sweet and sent them out, forgetting to save some for myself. I laid down on the sofa again, hoping to fall asleep soon, knowing I wouldn't.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Settings in Jane Eyre

It is one thing to write about a place you visit for the sake of writing it, it is another to use it inside your novel and turn it into a practical character that has its own mood, personality, and perhaps even challenges and defeats, let alone physical appearances. In Jane Eyre, we find such a setting. It speaks to us, certainly, as it does the heroine. In fact, reading certain passages we get the feeling she is more impressed by Thornfield than some of the characters as she first encounter the lot.

Again I looked out: we were passing a church: I saw its low broad tower against the sky, and its bell was tolling a quarter; I saw a narrow galaxy of lights too, on a hill-side, marking a village or hamlet. About ten minutes after, the driver got down and opened a pair of gates: we passed through, and they clashed to behind us. We now slowly ascended a drive, and came upon the long front of a house: candle-light gleamed from one curtained bow-window; all the rest were dark.

This cinematic description opens our view to the palatial residence without overstating it. We sense the grander (through her descriptions of the church, the sky, a galaxy of lights, and the slow ascending drive, the long front, the candle-light gleam) without being told of it, which is all the more powerful. The writer leaves ample room for our imaginations to fly, yet she has offered enough room to pin down the corner of this new world. Thus a partnership is formed, she the conductor and we the musician who follows her rise of a hand, the tip of an eyebrow and her twitching of one corner of her mouth before we dive full heart into rendering the music she has composed and presented to us. There is no question of authority, though another type of authorship is not only possible but potentially equally effective, but here with this narrator and this story this gentle style of conducting catches our breath all the more, and we lean forward from the edges of our seats in anticipation.

We come to the introduction of Mrs. Fairfax thus. Jane has had some reservations but in this scene her apprehension dissolves with another cinematic unfolding (small scale, yet equally eye-catching):

A snug, small room; a round table by a cheerful fire; an arm-chair high-backed and old-fashioned, wherein sat the neatest imaginable little elderly lady, in window's cap, black silk gown and snowy muslin apron: exactly like what I had fancied Mrs Fairfax, only less stately and milder looking. She was occupied in knitting; a large cat sat demurely at her feet; nothing in short was wanting to complete the beau-ideal of domestic comfort. A more reassuring introduction for a new governess could scarcely be conceived: there was no grandeur to overwhelm, no stateliness to embarrass; and then, as I entered, the old lady got up, and promptly and kindly came forward to meet me. 

Like Jane, we have some reservations prior to our encounters with Mrs Fairfax and it darkens our view and perhaps readiness to take in Thornfield at its full splendor (or ghastly horror as the case might be). If the author had forced our hands on this and pushed through with fuller descriptions of the setting, we might have gotten impatient with anxiety and suspense and flip the pages ahead to get a sense of how the human characters might deal with each other. We might also force ourselves to read through the settings only to find disappointments in its lack of response to our anxieties. Again, the writer did not push the issue but gently dealt with it with such a melodic prose that each of her sentence leads us to anticipate the next, wanting to read on and draw closer to her characters and step closer into that world of old stairs, gay blue chintz and flickering candles.

Her evening arrival aids in this respect, we catch a quick glimpse of the impressive castle, then we meet the small, neat, comforting and kind old lady to whom we take an immediate liking. I'm hooked. The next day Jane wake to see the full glamour and scope of the place, we along with her, having met her pupil, another lovely if plain character, we are ready, as she is, to embark on a tour around the house, and learn more of its eccentric, intriguing and somewhat ghost like atmosphere.

Throughout this chapter, I hear a languid and self assured tone sounding like an older Jane Eyre who has returned in her memory to this place and time, and is recounting the story to me slowly as she sits by the fire, occupied in some knitting, and is unhurried by anything other than those offered a strong sense of domestic comfort to her and her visitor. I hear the English accent in her tone as she tell me the story, not only the sounds, but the way she composed her sentences, complex yet friendly to the reader (listener)'s ear so that one will not need of a master's degree from Oxford or the upbringing equipped with a private mansion's governess to understand it. Yet she sounds sophisticated in a way that makes your heart swell, making you aware of the greatness of her mind, despite of (or perhaps in symphony of) the friend activities in which she is engaged.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Super Moon Eclipse

It's a small fire
shut inside a glass sphere
hung up towards the eastern sky
making faces
at the tides
of gatherings below
shadows glow
against the bluest canvas of warmth

It's a small family
shut inside a brick square
maps of the world lining faces
hands and feet
meat sizzles
fat dripping from mouths and chins
one seat empty
save for the weight of silence
filling up his chair

It's a small world
of gatherings and departures
fire shut inside glasses
bitten laughter
forgotten moon
pale fire in all your faces
cast in shadows
pouring light
against the night


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