I’ve got two left feet, stumbling toward the house in my one (right) shoe, the watch on this wrist reading 4:03. Oh so scandalous, that is. So collegiate in mentality and audacity.
On the corner of Rye and Rod, the corner where my house looms, this red-bricked fortress muffled in ripe-green vines and the fallen leaves of autumn, I stand, fumbling with my keys, my toes, the words (unintelligibly) falling from my mouth. A haphazard job my parking; the two, rear wheels slightly hanging in the street, waving at passerby; saying, look at me, I’m expensive. Though I’m unsure if the delivery would be that friendly as my Audi is a mean one–no doubt. Perhaps, if I had my bearings (even a smidge) I’d get in and move it up a bit; Avoid the ever-present nagging known of my wife. But I have none. No bearings, no wits, not a piece of sense telling me that leaving it there is astoundingly idiotic. Telling me I’m a fool.
And a clod I am, doing the walk of shame up my own stone path, through my own grass, and hardly even noticing it. Hardly even noticing Bob (the next door neighbor) who has caught me in his task of discarding yesterday’s trash, in his task of early-morning patrolling (in which he feels obligated to do being a retired sheriff and all). In the mornings he’ll stand, leaning against the railing of his porch, sipping on the edge of his mug, seeking the non-existent dangers of Pebble Heights. On the odd day his wife’ll make an appearance, yowling at him (through a cracked screen door) to come back in, “You’ll catch pneumonia, Robert!” Though he hardly listens. “I won’t Evelyn. Go back to bed.”
Today, he looms near the edge of his driveway with his hands on his hips, legs shivering in their nakedness. On his person he wears a pair of dingy boxers, a crisp, white tee and what I assume to be his wife’s slippers. And I laugh–ha, ha–because they’re pink and he dwarfs them and because his face–typically quite amiable–is, at once, severe and concerned, watching me teeter.
He says, “Morning, Neighbor!” And there’s consternation in his greeting–heavy–but he chances a smile. It causes a sort of aching in my chest, a sort of guilt plainly brought on by this misconduct of mine.
“Late night?” He asks this while approaching steadily, finally halting near the line of bushes dividing our yards. I follow only to satisfy proper etiquette. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you up this early.”
“Oh, yeah.” So eloquent. “The office had a party that ran a little longer than I thought it might. Ended up crashing at the hotel.” And I laugh. “You know how it is.”
Patting his belly (this impressive beer gut) he says, “I do…I really do but it’s been a while.”
A bout of hysterics.
Through the laughter, Bob points at my house (in which is still darkened by night, by the looming argument I know my absence made inevitable). “Well, I’d get in if I were you. You might make a clean break.”
I sincerely doubt it though I smile anyway, backing up. “Yeah, I’m gonna do that. Catch ya later,” And know that I never, voluntarily use phrases like, “Catch ya later.” I am not a douche. I am simply a man suffering the pleasurable (yet harsh) effects of pixilation. The consequences of my midnight tumble. Please pardon the blunder.
“Maybe you can come over for a drink sometime?” Bob’s still talking.
“Maybe!” I’m still walking.
And it’s clear he detects my intoxication no matter the effort I put into hiding it. A farewell, he yells “Advil!” when I’m midway up the front lawn, “It’ll help with the hangover!” But because I don’t trust myself enough to turn and say anything back, I wave over my shoulder instead. And perhaps inebriation awards it’s victims a dose of clairvoyance because–I swear to you–I feel his frown return.
At the front door I locate the spare key (who knows where mine has disappeared to) under the Welcome mat and use it to let myself in. The foyer is dark and brisk–An open space thick with pre-dawn chilliness and near silence. The only sound comes from an old wall clock, asking, “Do you have any idea what time it is?” with every tick of its arms. Bizarrely, I nod in response, kicking off my lone shoe and slumping against the wall.
“I do,” I mumble dejectedly, “I know exactly what time it is.”
I have half a mind to climb these stairs (sweeping, spiraling) and sink into the warmth of my bed. But I fear doing so will result in my wife waking and clawing these eyes out, yelling, accusing, “Where have you been?”
It’s why I settle with crashing on the couch, belly down, fully clothed. If she asks in the morning, I’ll tell her I’ve always been here…She just wasn’t looking hard enough.
She never does.
never have i felt weaker
than when for the first time someone told me i couldn’t because i was a girl
never have i felt stronger
than when nevertheless i persisted
never have i felt more ashamed to be american
than when it became our goal to build a wall
never have i felt more patriotic
than when i protested for my rights
never have i felt so repressed
than when the vote for our president was out of my control
never have i felt so liberated
than when i flipped off the white house
never have i hated being a women more
than when an old white man tried to make decisions about my body
never have i been so proud to be female
than when i stood among a crowd of thousands of feminists
i march so that no one has the power to make me feel repressed or ashamed or weak
so that i can stand tall and everyone will listen as i speak
a new day is on the horizon
united we are rising
I have yet to admit to myself that my insides are disgusting.
I found a book of poems by Audre Lorde on my mother’s bookshelf, long after she became a figure branded in my brain. There was a bookmark inside, that said “Bloodroot”, a vegetarian restaurant/bookstore.
I want to go there.
I wonder what it would smell like.
I just looked it up. I guess its in Bridgeport, Connecticut. I don’t know when my mother went there. I wonder how old she was; I wonder if she spent hours in that store. I found a picture on the website. It looks nice. It has photographs of women everywhere. There is a corner with a chair that I bet my mother sat in. She loves corners. Everything there looks like it’s covered in glass, but it doesn’t seem to the place you have to tiptoe in. Like if glass was not fragile. That’s what it feels like.
I am so aware of my short sentences, and my long hair, and that my eyes hurt today.
I think I will go to Connecticut to buy a book soon if I can.
I fought against the Kindle for years. My parents, fully aware of my deep-seated love of books, asked me again and again if I wanted a Kindle for my birthday or Christmas. I refused, arguing that nothing was better than a physical book and that reading on a Kindle would be inherently different than reading print. They scoffed and argued that there wasn’t much difference between the act of reading on the two mediums and that the Kindle would be much more convenient. Eventually I gave in and accepted their offer.
It was the benefits of the Kindle that won me over. Using my Kindle, I can easily carry around a large collection of books without all the accompanying weight, and buying those books from Amazon is much cheaper than buying them at a book store. Even better, I can also read easily in a whole host of places and at any time of day, something that can’t always be said of printed books.
Of course, there are some costs that come with reading on the Kindle. For one, after extended periods of time spent staring at the screen, I occasionally get eye-strain, which didn’t happen when I was reading print. I also miss the feel of a book and the sense of accomplishment that comes with watching the pages move steadily from the back cover to the front. These are fairly minor points, but there is something actually disconcerting that I have noticed as well.
When reading a book on the Kindle, I have often felt as though I don’t get as much from it as I do with printed works. I wasn’t sure how that was possible; surely I wasn’t reading any differently just because I switched the medium I was using, right?
I’ve been reading a book called The Shallows by Nicholas Carr for AP Comp. In it, Carr explains how the internet is changing the human mind, which has affected the way people read. Reading print has historically fostered deep reading and critical thinking, two things the internet, with its seemingly endless number of distractions, discourages in favor of wide but shallow considerations.
The brain does not process printed words and electronically generated words in the same way, so when I read on my Kindle, I really am reading differently than I would a printed book. Even if the changes are subtle, they are still there. It is not yet clear what the overall effect of the internet and electronic reading devices will be in terms of the human mind, but as technology continues to develop, it appears that the benefits of the printed book will not be completely overshadowed by those of digital books.
The first Conjuring movie came out in 2013, when I had just turned twelve. I was only vaguely aware of the trailer snippets that flashed across the TV screen during commercial breaks. I paid minimal attention to the media buzz about the “horrifying true story” until I literally tripped over the DVD while walking into the kitchen and stubbed my toe on a chair, prompting my mother’s cheerful announcement that the movie viewing would be a family event.
Anxiety swelled inside my chest. The only scary movie I had ever watched was the comedy Hocus Pocus, which scarred me so deeply at the age of six that I cowered at the sight of our vacuum cleaner, which resembled the vacuum that one of the witches comedically used instead of a broom. (I’m still afraid of vacuum cleaners, but now it’s because I hate cleaning my room). The Conjuring, I knew, was bound to be ten times scarier than a kids’ Halloween classic, and the fearful anticipation of family movie night only intensified as Saturday encroached upon me. When the night finally came, I surrounded myself with three monstrous pillows (I was “cold”) with which to hide my shaking, which endured throughout the entirety of the movie. It turned out to be slightly less terrifying than I expected, but regardless, relief cascaded through my veins while the credits rolled. I felt overwhelmingly proud of myself but ultimately decided that would be the last horror movie for me- until the Blob showed up on the kitchen floor a month later.
Despite all my mother’s promises about the hilariously ridiculous special effects and pitiful plot, the Blob succeeded in terrifying me and my brother. The 1958 classic, however, turned out to be just the incentive I needed to confront my fear of horror movies. I resolved to watch as many horror movies as necessary until I no longer flinched at a single jump scare. I wanted to listen to music without considering that doing so could prevent me from hearing a serial killer break into my house. I wanted to dangle my foot over the end of the bed without fearing something would rip off my toes. It was time to start living.
The flurry of movies I watched over the next few months did just what I wanted. I was quickly rendered immune to all types of jump scares, gruesome demons, and heart-wrenching backstories. Long after I had accomplished my goal, however, I still returned home every Friday with a library bag bursting with horror movies.
Horror movies are all quite similar in that they focus on inducing one emotion in the viewer: fear. Most, even the best ones, are all short, sweet, and fairly simple. Some of them are so stupid and predictable that they are hilariously funny, while a rare few prove themselves to be terrifying masterpieces of cinematography. Mostly, however, I enjoy analyzing them and trying to figure out what makes a horror movie truly scary. To me, horror movies are like candy.