Saturday, March 30, 2013

Berlin, 2012
Berlin, 2012

The asymmetrical face

Q: What would I look like to myself, if I saw myself for the first time ever, just walking down the street? Or, what would it look like if I had a twin who grew up someplace totally different?

1. Take a Photobooth photo of yourself looking straight ahead, in a neutrally lit environment.
2. Paste this photo 4 times to your desktop
3. Using preview, flip 2 of the 4 horizontally, to get a mirror image
4. Crop two of the photos to be just the left half of the face, and two of the photos to be just the right half of the face (you have to cleave them straight down the nose)
5. Combine the two left-halves (but one will be mirror-imaged) into one face, and do the same with the two right-halves
You now have two almost-versions of you. One is made of just the left half of your face, doubled. The other is made of just the right half of your face.
Like this.

This is a disgusting thing to do and it will make you hate yourself, but I've done it three times.

I also just learned that sometimes old zits leave gray craters in your cheeks. Does living on a farm in the woods with the only available mirror the size and lucidity of a cookie sheet make you think about your body more positively? WHY WOULD IT?

It does make you feel more positive about your smells, though. Thank god for smells. It's so nice to come into your wretched little cabin and have it smell like your bedroom at home. It's nice to be struggling through crotch-deep snow in the icy and minding-its-own-business wilderness, and breathe into your scarf.

Berlin, 2012

Jewish Quarter, Marrakech, 2012

Marrakech, 2012

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Breakfast for a grandparent, 2012

The most perfect song ever written

"The Beer" by Kimya Dawson.

It's really more of an incantation and it is brutal. I remember a friend's quasi-abusive ex boyfriend posting it online, and watching this video with the lyrics, getting more and more enchanted until I started crying. I mean, what is it!?

After that song, I felt as devastated as the pine in our yard that got hit by a lucky lightning bolt and ended up naked, standing in a ring of its own singed bark. We had to cut that tree down!

Here are a couple of the lines that recently most lightning-strike my aesthetic core:

"The Christians gave me comic books as if I would be scared/of burning in hell, well I was already there."

"We had to sit down on skateboards just to make it down the hill."

As well as the most perfect song ever written, it might be among the most perfect short stories. I've wasted so much time trying to recapture in my own stories what this song makes me feel.

When I first heard the song this is the line that just killed me: "First I cried for him, and then I cried for me/haunted by the ghost of the girl I used to be."

Just for making this post I watched this video of Kimya Dawson performing it and its power slayed me all over again!

This video was recorded at Chaz's in Durham when I still lived there. Where was I??

For more things that I think are the best thing ever:

Bergen, 2012

Lygra, 2012

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Near the Pulgas Water Temple, 2012

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Dames Chicken and Waffles, Durham, NC 2012

Thursday, March 21, 2013

East Bay Vivarium, Berkeley, California, 2011

Dudley Co-op/Center for High Energy Metaphysics, 2012

Monday, March 18, 2013

A blow-by-blow of Game of Thrones Episode 1, until I became too frustrated to watch any more

Since my e-reader broke I've been watching a lot of this Norwegian family's movies. The pickings are strange but not slim. Each evening, I start a fire in my little cabin, turn off the light, and settle down into my burning-hot comforter (I don't know what kinds of feathers are in it--it feels like lava after five minutes), always prepared for a much happier time than it turns out to be. Alas, my back starts to hurt and the movies are boring.

I endured the dreadful "The Neverending Story" (I wish I could unsee it), and "Intolerable Cruelty," which I was dismayed to discover afterwards was a Coen brothers thing, because it was so unwatchable. On the more positive side, I basically liked "Lars and the Real Girl," most of all for the female actors (Patricia Clarkson's lines were always surprising), though Lars's social anxiety felt itchily familiar, and the facile third-person transposing of his own past onto the doll was irritating. At the end, I cried.

Tonight I was excited to start Game of Thrones, because I'm kind of curious about that blond dragon-girl (is she a natural blond?), and I've heard it has loads of sex. Also, the main thing I know about HBO is Girls, so maybe this show will be like Girls? And then there's my extreme fascination with the set and prop design of these kinds of vaguely historical fantasies.

So, hum de dum, look we passed a wall and it's winter. It kind of looks like Norway except the forest is less varied. Chopped corpses...rubber or CGI? They look nicely rubbery/solid. That guy's thinning, gelled/combed hair looks anachronistic to me. Oh no, the chopped corpses have disappeared from the clearing, now we're going to have some suspenseful thing.

Here I turned off the volume and turned on the subtitles. I'm not afraid of the dark or anything (actually, I'm totally afraid of the dark), but being by myself in a creaky cabin in the middle of the Norwegian forest which is full of moose and their predators, plus the sky which is a real star fandango and slaps me every time I go outside to pee with the fact of my own mortality (nothing is as deathly as a pristine starry sky), I cannot really handle any scary movies right now. It's not shivery/thrilling. It's a leaden tragic feeling, like "you are going to die unloved."

So: sound off. Look at that blue-eyed thing (kind of like those droid traders in Star Wars Episode 4?) kill Mr. Anachronistic Hair! And another one kills Mr. Other Guy! His severed head on the snow--is it rubber or CGI? If it's rubber, I hope the actor got a photo of himself holding it!

Sound back on. And now we move from vaguely Norwegian land to a woodeny village that looks a lot like old photos of buildings in Cogne, Italy--a bit smokey and decrepit and cold.

Oh, good--for ONCE, a child archer who isn't some kind of bullseye-hitting prodigy. I recall learning archery at Camp Riverlea. Actually, I could hit the target a little better than that boy. But it's nice to see an honest depiction of learning to shoot an arrow. I'm into it. I feel like I could get along with this show.

Up to the room where the little girl is working on embroidery. Her piece of cloth looks way too limp in its hoop. It seems like she's making it very hard on herself. Now we get a tour of her hairstyle.

And....shit. An arrow hits the bullseye. Whence?  "What" "a" "surprise." That little girl is a child archer prodigy.

So that's how it's going to be. Okay. This is where my little fling with Game of Thrones reaches its conclusion. Disc ejected.

Harvard, May 2012

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Friday, March 15, 2013

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Another true story from Norway

John (not his real name) is from Cyprus. He's 36. He's known the farmer/shaman B___ (I'm at another farm in Norway) for 12 years and so when he offered to take me for a ride to see the forests and lakes and his sled dogs, I said yes, of course. He has a honking way of talking and I understand about 30% of what he says.

Previously, when we were feeding the chickens/ducks/turkeys, he'd said, "Do you like perfume?" He smelled a lot like cologne, especially when he stood near me to show me a hundred grainy cell phone photos of his Cypriot family. "My mom," he said. "My grandma." What did he want me to say? "Sure, I like perfume," I said.

Later in the car he offered me perfume and a heart-shaped pillow as gifts. "No," I said, "I couldn't." They weren't gifts for me, I don't think--they might have been just some feminine junk he'd had around--or I guess it could be that he bought them for the young female wwoofer he knew would be coming to the farm in March. In which case: Great, now my heart is broken.

We went to a thrift store and he insisted on buying me something. I resisted until I saw this watercolor. My (future) life flashed before my eyes. I had to have it.

Outside the thrift store, llamas socialized in a snowy corral. John took me to his children's house, which was very far away. Getting there we briefly crossed the border to Sweden.

The house was so messy I thought, could it be his children live here by themselves? But his wife of 17 years lives there too. She and John have separated. John said that, before they married, she told him she had problems and begged him to find another woman. B___ the shaman said that Louis's wife is bad because she distrusts his magic. B___ the shaman also said that the wife's uncle murdered his small children but he lived so far out in the woods that no one even knew about it to arrest him.

John put the venison on the clothing rack while he did something in the kitchen. A fat rabbit hopped over the snow while the wolflike dogs rattled their chains.

He showed me the children's rooms. His boy had a full-size and knife-sharp metal sword (in ornamental sheath) from China. It leaned in the corner. "You let him have a real sword?" I said. "Isn't that dangerous?" John grinned stupidly.

We went to his current house (two rooms in a larger, uninhabited house) for dinner. I so, so wanted to go back to the shaman's farm but I couldn't figure out how to express it politely other than saying "I'm not hungry," and John didn't understand that. He made pasta (earlier he'd asked my favorite food) and I tried like Persephone to deny it. More than anything else I worried that eating his food would put me in his debt. But he served me ("I'm not hungry," I repeated several more times) so I ate it, mediocre pork and tomato sauce, and flavored water.

The evening devolved into farce when he said, "Let me show you my gun! Upstairs!" I hung back on the stairs. I really didn't want to die. The gun was a heavy and rusty old thing that Louis claimed was 400 years old. He also showed me his Samuari sword. Then he drove me home. "Next week I'll take you shopping in Sweden!" he said.

Dear reader, if you have read this far, please drop me a line about how I should respond to that invitation.


Tonight John showed up at the farm, creeping up behind me as I asked B___ the shaman about the position of the milky way. John poked me in the ribs, shouting "Boo!"

I spun around. "Don't ever, ever do that again," I said. He giggled and B___ the shaman giggled. "I'm serious," I said sullenly.

"Is your heart going boom-boom, boom-boom?" John said.

"Not really," I said.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Friday, March 8, 2013

Podere Campriano, 2013

Thursday, March 7, 2013

near San Galgano, 2013

Wednesday, March 6, 2013