I’m the biggest fool with a foot shaped mouth I’ve ever met. I have decided that I’m untrustworthy and hasty and fickle and immature and that I should be avoided at all costs.
Above all, my writing should be torn apart by readers bored enough to read it, because a critical insult does more to enrich the fool than a compliment. Compliments indulge the pseudointelligent, giving them this long lasting mental carbohydrate that keeps them energized for months, writing blogs and jogging and that kind of thing.
I’ve decided that nothing I write is real.
I’ve decided that writing gives me energy that might be eternal and when I think eternal I think God and I still question if He’s real.
I’ve decided that everything I write is real.
I’ve decided that I’m trustworthy, talented, a blessing really. I ran 6 miles the other day without stopping. I haven’t done that since my high school Honors English class told me I was wise beyond my years.
The United States is a huge sugar coated piece of coal for me. Sugar and coal. Short-lived, hazardous energy, dear reader. There’s nothing more delicious, more insidious, more deeply underneath than anything in America’s Underneath at this moment, in my hazardous and humble 23 year old opinion. I’ve never longed for the United States more than I do this June. It’s been chilly at night in Minas Gerais, no coal powered heat. I haven’t seen a single firefly. I stopped eating sugar for a week to kill a pesky fungal infection that I may or may not have had.
Sometimes I make something unreal very real. Like when you make a dead thing alive when it isn’t.
In the absence of sugar and coal and things that light up from the inside, I read a book through. French Lessons. It’s a memoir, a memoir about a woman who learns French because there is a death hideously and painfully splintered up inside her. English is her first language and therefore the language this pain and confusion speaks to identify itself, to manifest.
It’s funny. At times my Spanish is broken and, at times, my Portuguese breaks. . .but English? Everything that breaks me is in English. The daughter I wasn’t, the granddaughter I wasn’t, the niece I wasn’t, the friend I wasn’t, the sister I wasn’t, the girlfriend I wasn’t. The person I’m not.
Sometimes you just need a fucking out. An escape. Other linguistic tunnels. Sometimes I internalize pain and confusion and guilt so hard that my skin tingles. I strip pain of language and I liquify it so that it runs through the tunnels in my body—as if you could silence pain, a neurological, psychological deafening shriek—as if to suggest that the body stays quiet when one refuses to speak.
The author, Alice Kaplan, says “Maybe this book will put a stop to it,” (208).
I like her, making a thing to kill a thing that’s killing her. Maybe I could kill a thing in English or Spanish or Portuguese.
Fulbright tells me that now is the period of the grant that people begin to really struggle being so far from home.
I’ll tell you, dear reader, that I think too much and have been rightly identified as the over-thinking, overly anxious cog in the clock within the same group of friends I have had for a long time.
My Underneath has an Underneath, na mean?
Have you ever considered the communal, efficient, practiced deliberation of six or seven ants carrying a dead moth to the colony, to sustain the colony? The ants, from above, seem to teeter left and right in hectic desperation to balance the dead weight. Maybe, you think, the moth—the setting sun’s rays glinting off and through the translucent-here-furry-there-red-and-blue-wings—might be too heavy for the ants. But, really, they shift the sustenance expertly in a neurological, biological feat of ant genius all the way to the top of the mound and below it. They return to the colony. They feed the colony for days. Millions of ants feed for days. The colony goes on. Something dead is highly nutritious.
I would make an excellent ant. Imagine that all the ants of my colony have my face and my morning hair and my Spike Lee big black framed bug eyed glasses. I would carry dead moths to the colony. I would wake each morning after my ant sleep, still in the haze of my ant dreams—I was the Queen. I had cunning daughters beloved and in love with me. There was no man in existence around which to question myself or my crown. My ass was big and worshipped and I found myself telling my subjects each night that the dead moths were dead feelings and like the dying sun, gave us life for millions of years and many more moons, and I led worship of the dead moths. Members of the colony sacrificed in crass and memorable ways to the moth gods “so that the colony may never” colonize but spend all of its time burrowing deeper and deeper into the Underneath—the tunnels so cool and so dark and so fit for me, that as Queen I felt that I was the colony and the colony was me and that I was the Underneath, and that the dead moth was an alive me—suddenly realizing my only wish is to search far and wide for a creature whose wings will never flutter before a flame again.
The glorious finality of this!
I don’t fight for the moth; I don’t compromise with it. It does not injure me; I don’t interact with it. Like a cloth I wear I choose it. It’s not a force majeure feeling that rocks me. It’s dead. I eat it.
I go after dead things. I get on off them.
Cheeseburgers, old feelings for old flames, the contents of bauru, famous memoirs of writers written and gone. These things are so dead that I imagine they’re alive, like that day I imagined that moth fluttered away from that pack of ants, its wings suddenly taut and taught with energy and color as if it had suddenly learned to ignite, and flame had lit up within its fuzzed and partly hollow center.
In Brazil, I focus on feelings I had in the past that I can’t feel now, because the conditions aren’t right anymore—inappropriate. Things that lit me up inside, you know? Things that sink into the Underneath.
I think of this feeling I had standing before a sculpture in a park it would hurt to return to: two creatures almost kissing (the area between their creature lips forever fractional)—the kiss never a kiss, just and only the moment before a kiss. The moment before I ruined our mirroring of the sculpture creatures with completion: the feeling before I knew that the moments before are more beautiful than the moment itself.
I light up on these dead moments. A dead moment, a dead moth. They both spark the same flame in a part of me that feels fuzzy and hollow at once.
Sometimes I pretend to understand things I don’t. Often I have no idea what some people are saying in Portuguese and I nod my head like I do.
Sometimes I pretend I know what’s best.
But tonight, I made a group of women burst into a laughter when I recounted a story in Portuguese hilarious not for my accent or some unnatural grammatical construction, but hilarious for the content, the intonation, the simplicity of the sentence.
The guy at the counter of this snack place on campus asked me if I was from Ireland.
“You must be from Ireland, yes?”
“What makes you think so?”
“You’re a redhead.”
“Mas moço, meu cabelo é pintado.”
Laughter long and lit. Alive and nutritious.
Sometimes I light up inside. It’s nothing that I ate, psychologically or literally. And I wonder if that makes me dead or alive after all this time I’ve spent trying to convince myself and you, dear reader, that it’s dead things that give me the most energy, lies that offer the most truth, fools that make the most sense.