Fin in a Waste of Waters

"These moments of escape are not to be despised. They come too seldom....Leaning over this parapet I see far out a waste of water. A fin turns....I note under 'F.,' therefore, 'Fin in a waste of waters.' I, who am perpetually making notes in the margin of my mind for some final statement, make this mark, waiting for some winter's evening." (from Woolf's THE WAVES)

19 June 2007

In pursuit of coffee perfection

You will think that I am a crazy woman.

But today, I absolutely. cannot. work. until...I have the perfect cup of coffee at my side. And so, I attempt to make said perfect cup of coffee: I brew it at home, Columbian organic with a dash of cinnamon in the grounds; let it steep, then add a splash of M&S soya milk (made with sunflower oil, so it doesn't curdle in your hot drinks) followed by just barely a half of raw sugar. But whoops - I used my organic Alpro soya unthinkingly, and it curdled. Whatever, I make a new cup, and use the right milk. It curdles. Is it the coffee? I'm at the end of the bag - could be. I open a new bag of coffee, begin the process again. Again: curdles. In a big way. And you know how it is when you have those certain things for certain days that really get you in the mood for certain types of work - I usually switch it up: Tan Dun & Yo-Yo Ma with green or white tea & fruit, or Benny Goodman & Miles Davis with coffee & cinnamon rolls (days when I know I won't be doing yoga lest I need to be rolled home). Today - today is a Benny Goodman day. And Benny's working for me, but my coffee...

So, an emergency trip to Starbucks has been planned. I guess every now & then you need to splurge.

An aside about coffee cliches: you know that saying, something along the lines of: "Some things are better rich: chocolate, coffee, men"? I always think to myself: I, too, like my men like I like my coffee...strong but sweet. And most days, I'm lucky to get it how I like it. Excepting today, but better the coffee than the man.

18 June 2007


Working on Woolf; from her essay, "George Eliot":

" we recollect all that she dared and achieved, how with every obstacle against her - sex and health and convention - she sought more knowledge and more freedom till the body, weighted with its double burden, sank worn out, we must lay upon her grave whatever we have it in our power to bestow of laurel and rose."

She is buried in Highgate, having died at the age of 61 of kidney problems & throat infection as Mary Ann Cross, in the section for religious dissenters. Before I leave this country, I will go to pay my respects.

More knowledge and more freedom.

12 June 2007

Achieving peace, one fight at a time

Last week, I broke up my first street fight - it was surreal, really...

So I was walking home from a catering gig at the Holiday Inn; it was about 2 a.m., and Saturday night was in full swing; bars bumpin' & bouncers ubiquitous (in my part of Brighton, we have bouncers guarding even the doors of convenience shops). What was surreal: my arms were full of flowers. We had just done a "beach party" event, & I was coming home from a looong evening of cleaning up after some very wild revelers (also surreal: the drag-queen they had for entertainment kissed me. In. front. of. everyone.) - but instead of throwing away the flowered leis we had given each of the guests, I took them all home, planning to hang them on my flatmates' & neighbors' doors, plus give one to our elderly night porter, Joe, whom I adore.

But, nearly home, I came across two young men in the street who had gathered a small crowd. They stood chest-to-chest, and were shouting into each others' faces; one man's face was bloodied, and I could see where it had dripped down the chest of his white shirt. The crowd was apparently made up of their friends, who were shouting at the men to "come on" and "let's go" and "stop it" - but they would not move any closer to the pair.

And so, slightly irrationally (combination of a late night; drag queen; and armful of flowers), I stepped beside the men, who at first ignored me, until I put a hand on first one, then the other's arm. "Gentlemen," I said. I said it quietly; I said it once. And this was all I needed to say. They stopped shouting; the first looked at me and sort of smiled; the second (bloody), paused to catch his breath and looked at me in confusion. I put a lei over the head of the first, who began laughing; then a lei over the head of the second, who looked increasingly confused. The first laughed even more, and said to the second: "There now, doesn't that make you feel better?" Then, one of their friends ran up to me, begging a lei off me ("I will give you SO much money if you give me just one of those!" "I'll give it you for free!" I put it around his neck); then, seeing I had given another away, a woman ran up to me: "May I have one too?" I put one over her head. At this, they all flocked around me. I began throwing lei after lei into the air, where they were caught by the seafront breeze and blown down the sidewalk, chased after by the small group.

And to think those leis would have been wasted, thrown away...

08 June 2007

More terror dreams

Even when I sleep do my dreams deny me rest now. For weeks, I've been having nightmares. Sometimes every night, sometimes only every few nights. Sometimes, I'm so worn out as to hardly remember my dreams at all (which is unusual for me). I wake up still-tired (sometimes more tired than when I went to bed), my face hurting from frowning...

Of the dreams I had last night, I remember two. The second (which I'll write about first, and probably remember more about as I write), I can't remember much about. It woke me up. I was running in it; running for my life; running from someone, but also running with someone, neither of whom I can remember. All I can remember is the feel of the air full in my lungs, so full that my chest was tight. AH! I remember another detail - it started out at a dance, the sort of event I've been catering, sort of like prom, but for adults; I had gone there in a group that included Rannier & Jessica, and I danced with Rannier - to the event, I wore my old prom dress, but when we started dancing, I wore "the dress" which Jess lent me. I was running with Rannier, then...but from whom? Someone who had been at the event? Again, what I remember most clearly is the feeling in my chest as I ran, lungs so full as I, I remember the feeling in my arms, too - I pumped them harder and harder, practically pushing myself forward by their momentum, ignoring the ache that reached from shoulders to fists. I ran with deadly seriousness; I ran with power - not because I actually had that sort of strength, really, but because I had no choice but to run with that sort of determination. When you run for your life, I think this must be how you run.

And the first dream...the first dream, I write about to purge myself of it. It was terrible; it was frightening, it was saddening; it is as if it still pollutes my body (I'll not skip yoga today; I've been skipping for work, but my seizures & my dreams are catching up to me - I owe it to myelf; I need to cleanse myself of this stress & most particularly this dream). In this dream, I witnessed what for some reason was classified a terrorist act. And weirdly, there was a movie made about it later, which somehow I already knew about in the present-time of the dream, and even then, or perhaps especially then, I wondered how they (they? movie producers, I guess?) could make a commercial film out of an event so terrifying, so sad - just for entertainment value. Perhaps it was that the film had just come out, and it made me remember my own part in the actual events, a memory which was still clear in the dream, if less so now that I am awake. In it, the terrorist - a man from Turkey - killed another man, a man who worked in a garage - I didn't know why this man was so important; I didn't know who he was; I didn't know why the government labeled it a "terrorist act." The beginning of the dream, I saw it as if I were in two positions - I saw it as a newsreel, from the air, the film grainy, drained of nearly all color, a thin dark man, all tendons and muscle, leaping from a car and tearing down the street (a dirty street, gray, lined with dingy shops) - in the newsreel, it looked as if he carried a large gun; but I saw it, too, from the street, felt the air move as he ran by me, and I saw that what he carried was not a gun, but rather, a small pair of white plastic tubes fused together. I followed him to the garage - but when I got there, the act had already been completed. I saw the garage-owner crumpled at the bottom of a flight of stairs (and I knew instinctually that he lived above the garage, and I knew, too, exactly which room I would find at the end of those stairs - the kitchen, linoleum-tiled, white and yellow, small, every fissure lined with grime from the garage), and at the top of those stairs, his wife, unmoving, her hands clinging one to the other at her chest, uncrying, even...and then, I cared nothing for the murderer or even where he was, if he was still in the garage, if I was in any danger - I cared only for this couple. But when I moved to go to her, I was forcibly stopped; I was collected by the police - I was a witness.

They took me to a small room, gray as well, and brown. In it were a few chairs, a couch, a refrigerator, a TV (not on), and it smelled of cigarette smoke, stale coffee, and bodies. It was full of people. Most sat on the floor. All were "witnesses" or "suspects." Witnesses sat on one side of the room nearest the door; suspects, on the other. There were so many of us that I could not see the floor, but I knew somehow that it was thinly carpeted in brown, rubbed bare in patches, and dirty, the dirt ground in. Then I saw Mur. sitting so low on the floor on the side of the suspects, his sad dark eyes the one point of stillness - a vacuum, nearly; a black hole - amongst the flux of bodies. He saw me. And for a moment we only looked - we could not speak. I didn't understand why we were on two separate sides. I looked at the other on that side of the room. Some were strangers, but many I knew, mostly from work. I knew no one on "my" side. The room was airless; I didn't know why I'd been brought there. I wondered where the man's wife was. I waited, I don't know how long.

Then, the police brought in 3 men dressed in black combat uniforms, carrying a case of guns, all exclaiming excitedly that they'd found the guns used in the supposed "terrorist plot." I looked at the case, remembered the white tubes the murderer had carried, remembered the garage owner's body at the foot of the stairs, his wife at the top. I knew that these were not the murder weapons. "No, that's not what he used!" I tried to tell the police. No one heard my voice; as I thought how the garage owner would not get justice, I shouted: "Listen! Those guns are just a cover-up! Those aren't the guns!" No one heard my voice. "Listen to me!" No one heard me over the volume of their own voices; my voice was so small; I could not be heard, as so often happens to me now. I could not will the people to hear me. I looked back at Mur., still not understanding how he was there, how we could not speak, how we were on opposite sides, and suddenly, I saw the same in his sad brown eyes - he, too, knew the truth, but nor would they listen to him. And so we waited, unspeaking, for how long, I don't know, in that room, in forced opposition, when all either of us wanted was to speak to each other...

I woke up at 5:30 from this dream, and fell back asleep into the other.

But today, yoga, and then, at David's advice (David, bless him, who reminds me that it is my health that counts, regardless of the work ethic I was forced into...I literally don't know how to relax; I had chest pains in Paris, trying to relax...), fewer hours catering next week so that I can focus on my research.

I am so...everything - but my complaints mean nothing. On with it.

05 June 2007


On the experience of having a seizure just now:

A seizure just now, whilst I was reading - and as it tightened its hold on me, the words for this entry formed in my mind, but now that I'm free of its hot grasp, I wonder if they will still flow...the image, however, remains, if adulterated, paradoxically, by what should in all practicality be greater coherence (though sometimes with these attacks comes strange clarity). The image:

So often when these spells hold me immobile on my bed, face turned to the wall, do I suddenly see by no self-conscious volition my body as no longer my own, but rather as that of some great 4-legged animal - most often a gazelle or a horse, but always strong, swift, long-limbed & supple, muscular - felled alone, unknown in a vast tract of yellow desert, spread on the sand, legs still, but ribs rising and falling, gleaming with heat - sweat & sun & salt. My eyes, the round dark globes of this desert animal, lodged in my immobile head (now also sleek & equine, stretched at the end of a long-muscled neck, thrown onto the sand where I fell), are all that can move now, and take in with the disquiet but expectant expression of the game prey my fallen body, acutely aware of both its potential power and utter lack of it, and I wait...and then -

it's as if one of the muscles in my legs flits; my skin twitches where a fly bites my thigh, my tail gives an involuntary switch - my body becomes my own slowly; I return; I heave my limbs from the sand & the bed at once; I am for a moment both, occupying both this world and that (and "this" & "that" themselves fluctuate as I straddle them); and then I am one - the seizure has passed. Today, the vision remained (if not the words which lined themselves up before I had fallen too far).

I cannot help feeling lucky when these images stay with me - it is not unlike remembering your dreams. How, how lucky I am when I am allowed to keep these rare moments when I remember the visions of the worlds I dip into during these moments that are paradoxically both utter confusion & even unconsciousness but yet queer clarity. I once, two years ago, told my mother that perhaps the tumor was a gift - in so many ways. These moments; these dreams; these other worlds I am allowed for only moments to occupy - this is just once of those ways.