The Iron Core
"Rabid Bits of Time" by Chad VanGaalen
You've been dead for years,
but you never knew.
And the rabid bits of time,
have been eating you.
No one knows where we go.
No one knows where we go
when we're dead or when we're dreaming.
April 1, 2018 Sunday 5:40 PM
When I look out my window I see the bottom of an alley, covered in great granite bricks with moss and dirt and dead leaves in between. And then there is a concrete wall, directly across from me, on top of which is a wrought-iron fence and, from this angle, the blue sky—red brick health services building—limestone mausoleum—trees with stiff fingers. Sometimes, when I go up to the fifth floor, I stick my head out the window in the kitchen and look down at the spiky ends of the fence and I think of that scene from the Virgin Suicides where the 13-year-old impales herself, or what about that scene from American Horror Story: Coven, or what if that just happens because these things are dark and sharp and dangerous???? But anyway, from down here, they look harmless.
Every five-or-so feet, there is a slightly thicker post of iron and all the iron stakes in between float above the ground. One of those floating stakes has a bent foot, and I am bewildered, wondering how it got that way. I think maybe it must've been an effect of winter. Lots of the ravage invoked upon semi-permanent, solid things—like pavement—is done by winter on the East Coast. But pavement is softer than iron. A tree's roots grow under and through and above cement, but they have to grow around iron. I am thinking maybe some dense snow-turned-icechunk pushed it aside. Or maybe there was a mild... very localized... car accident? Maybe a rock was kicked up by tires and shot at the iron? Maybe the stake was made like that, bent while it was still hot and soft wherever it was made, and they just kind of installed it like that anyway because who—besides a girl who looks out the window—really cares? I wonder who I can ask to find out. I wonder who will be as interested as I am.
There used to be this podcast called the Mystery Show, and I loved it because these were the kinds of mysteries the host—Starlee Kine—solved. Very tiny things, like "where did this belt come from?" Very small, specified questions that you cannot answer through google. And these are usually the kinds of questions I get stuck on, so I wish I could call this one in—ask her—hey, why is this fence bent? And she might tell me there's no way to tell. She might look at security footage, might ask the University where the fence came from, might interview the great-grandchildren of those who installed it, only to learn nothing—and I'd be okay with that because at least I asked and at least someone helped me out in trying to figure this out. But her show doesn't exist anymore and I worry that anyone I ask will shrug it off and change the subject. I know it's boring, but I want to know.
Or maybe I don't care as much as I think and I am just trying to fill up a space, a silence between myself and I.
I am pretty pleased this day. I was somewhat unhappy yesterday and the day before. Friday: I had a moment, a loooong moment, in a car on the way to Alexis's apartment, where I stared out the window and felt very sad and very isolated. And I looked at the moon, it was all ghost and hiding behind clouds and then coming back out very bright and full, white.
When I was at the mall with Alexis, Soom, Liv, and Dave (Alexis's roommate), we stopped by this very kitschy store that sold beaded things and quilts with prints of wolves, that kind of thing. Alexis and I both bought necklaces. Hers is of the moon ("wise") and mine is of a maze ("pathfinder"). I liked the one I got because it's not really a maze. It's like one of those "labyrinths" that you see at religious places (or at least I associate them with religion). I saw one in the woods at a Unitarian retreat, and there was one at my grandma's Presbyterian church. It's not really a maze or anything, since there's only one path you can take. I have good memories of these things, of walking slowly slowly slowly one foot in front of the other along the winding path to the middle space—sometimes heading towards the perimeter and still knowing you are closer to the center than you were before. I have this blurred memory, like camera film used twice over, of my grandma telling me her life story and I can't remember if she was standing outside the circle—lined with candles—and narrating it, or if she was in front of me or behind me walking and talking quietly. She explained her childhood, and then a test that told her she was gifted, and then a period of depression she experienced as a senior in high school, and then college and so on. Something she'd call a "journey," maybe, but I can't remember if she still talks like this. I think sometimes grandma talks in a kind of caricature of the way she used to speak—a caricature because it is less organized, less packed with substance. She knows she is less in control than she was before and that is why she cries with her mouth and eyes open.
I like this necklace. It reminds me of grandma, and it reminds me of life, and I am not spiritual but I guess nostalgia is the closest thing I have to a kind of god. The only problem with this necklace is—there's no end or beginning, no entrance to the maze. There are a couple dead ends but that's it. Dunno how I feel about that. (labyrinth = chartres maze)
At Alexis's on Friday, we drank and smoked. We were gonna go out but no one could find a party. Adrian I guess saw a picture of me on Soom's story and he started asking about me. In the morning, half-awake, I heard her and Liv discussing Adrian and I. Soom said it frustrated her that he still doesn't know what he did wrong; and she sometimes wishes we were all still friends. I felt really bad when I heard that, really guilty. Liv said something about how I used to dislike her, and I tried to make out her point but their voices got lower and I am left to my imagination, which imagines that Liv is insecure in our friendship. Which she should be.
Liv and I don't have a lot in common. I still love her, but sometimes I find it hard to talk to her, or confide in her. There is this book I'm reading, Lucy by Jamaica Kincaid, and it kind of summed it up:
"I had never imagined my parents dying. When I told Mariah this, she said that no one ever thinks their parents will die, ever, and I had to suppress the annoyance I felt at her for once again telling me about everybody when I told her something about myself."
Liv I think tries to comfort me, but she doesn't know how. I don't think she understands that when I tell her things, I don't want to know that everybody in the whole world has felt the same way at some point, because I know that—I just want it to be acknowledged, you know? And I also find it difficult to talk to Liv sometimes because I feel as if I know her better than she knows herself sometimes. Maybe that is presumptuous—but sometimes she says things don't bother her and she is saying it to protect herself from the truth that it does bother her, that it threatens her current self-image. Or sometimes she gets annoyed or irritable or depressed and does not know why, but I think I know why. I try not to force my pseudo-knowledge on her, though, because I hate when she does that to me.
Alexis is better at understanding me. All she says when I talk is that she is very sorry.
Sometimes I think no one will ever be enough for me. When I'm away from Alexis, I worry she talks about me and says the things about myself that I only say in my head and pray no one else will notice. I'm, like, afraid she doesn't defend me to people, at least in the case of the Adrian thing. I'm afraid she sees me like Liv sees me, you know? As someone ungrateful. I don't want to be seen that way. I'm moody, I know, but I'm grateful. I promise.
I love my mom. I love my dad. I love my sister. I love my grandma. Momma is always talking about tragedies, and always thinking of me. Momma seems happier than the last time I saw her, and it made me feel better. She seemed less tired and she laughed more and she and dad did not fight very much. Dad talks a lot, but he talks a lot about nothing. He does love me, though, and I love him too because he says and does funny things and helps me understand things and maybe he is not the most emotionally perceptive parent, but he is a good stable parent nonetheless. I did not see Caroline much, but I see her in my head all the time with her big lopsided bun; she is very pretty and smart and peculiar and sometimes I do not trust her because she doesn't tell me what she is thinking or what she knows about me—she plans in her head silently, like with the Stephanie situation, and like when I used to cut myself and she stole the razor from my bedroom... She wants the best for me. I trust her enough to tell her whatever, but I am kind of worried one of these days I'll come home and she'll have that look on her face, that awkward nervous shiny-eyed smile where she Knows something and she must now Tell Me what she has Known about me all along. I worry about that, even though it has happened before and it all turned out okay. I don't like being known without me knowing.
I love my grandma. She only half-exists for me, and she might as well be dead for most of the year because that is how little I am exposed to her presence. But I do love her, and I love her even more since she has become very sad because she is not so scary anymore now that she barely speaks above a whisper and is rapidly losing weight and sits all day or sleeps all day and either way She knows where she is going. I think that is very sad, and I never want to be in that place, where I am dying but I've got just enough mind left to know it, to know my body is falling apart and I am no longer capable of the things that used to define who I was.
I was moody all the way back to Brown on Saturday. I was moody and alone during the night after everyone left, too. Nadiya and Marie were back, so I hung out with them for a bit, but then I went to my room and watched the lava lamp Alexis got me for christmas. Today was better. I got enough sleep and I felt okay when I went to brunch with Nadiya and Marie. Moby asked if I was going to Isle of Dogs with them tonight, and I said I was; he wants to know how my break was. I am suspicious and sad at this. I think he just wants to know because he misses me as a friend. I miss him too, in a lot of ways.
I got in a slight argument via text with that new boy, Charlie, while I was high on Friday night. We were talking about self-esteem and I was kind of joking (in the self-deprecating way that I do) that my self-esteem is very fragile. From there, it went
You're silly. You can't control how other people see your actions. All you can do is deal with yourself. Like I've been hurt and I've hurt people before, but more than half the time I didn't intend to hurt them.
I used to be like you. Avoided confrontation because I didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings. But idk I'm changing into someone who doesn't put up with other people and doesn't really care how others perceive me. But not in a jerkish kind of way.
okay please don’t condescend me. If I could control my fears through rationality, I would. But I can’t.
I don’t avoid confrontation, I’m used to hurting. Doesn’t make it hurt much less.
I can't control my fears through rationality either, it just helps them be less. And I didn't mean to be condescending. And talking about what makes you hurt dulls the pain a little.
Sorry. it’s just. People like to condescend me. I think because they find me cute. It was just the “silly” part that made me think of condescension. And the “I used to be like you,” thing.
I try to talk about it best I can, and yeah it helps
I find it nostalgic, would be the right word.
I just can see part of my younger self.
Okay but do you see how that can come off as... well patronization more than concentration, but still
Ugh I meant condescension :( rip my typing skills
(Instead of concentration I mean)
I'm trying to be better at the whole condescension thing. It's a lot easier talking [in person] and not being like that.
Okay. I’m sorry for getting all frustrated 😕
You're fine lol, I liked that.
You're not an alien after all 😂
i don’t understand, what makes me Not An Alien?
I guess it makes you more of an alien
Your intellect shone through. And you have wit about you. Which many Homo sapiens lack. Therefore it makes you more likely to be 👽
I know this is such a small thing, but I really don't trust Charlie now. I mean, I didn't trust him before—I could sense his ego in there. He is smart, and so he thinks is smarter than everyone. His texts make him sound like more of an asshole than he sounds in person, but I don't know, I just don't... like this. I don't want to be treated as someone's "younger self," complete with their past obliviousness of their situations. I try to be as aware as I can of myself. So I take offense to this. Besides, seeing someone as a "younger self" is almost always an indication that you see your own self as an enhanced, wiser version of the person upon whom you are projecting. Again—Do Not Like. I'm my own person. Leave me alone.
Okay. I should continue writing my essay now. I am pleased today :) I hope everything in your life is going okay! I hope the weather is how you like it, and if it isn't, I hope you still like the way the air smells.