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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Opinión

Hay un hombre, seguro que le has visto, que anda por allí con una camisa naranja algo desataviada. Vive como despeinado, al borde de una apoplejía, tanto que se le ha vuelto verdosa la tez. Lo que no puedes saber es cómo llegó a estar allí parado bajo una nube revuelta, deshilachada, como anudada, que le quita hasta las ideas.
El pobre iba por la calle un buen día, tan tranquilo, sin molestar a nadie, cuando de repente fue alcanzado por un grupo de mujeres, taichiístas luego se dijo que eran, que hablaban todas a la vez, en tono jocoso, pero insistente. Al pasar esa nube de energía universal por su lado, una de ellas se despegó dando grandes saltos y gritando <<¡Un moment! ¡Un moment! ¡Un moment!>> para plantarse delante del hombre que, en aquel preciso instante, daba el aspecto del hombre más normal del mundo mundial.
Con una mano en la cadera y otra apartándose un mechón del pelo, Aida –que así se llamaba esta taichiísta - le preguntó: <<¿Y usted qué opina?>>
Cambiando el peso universal de una pierna a la otra, Aida insistió con sus dos manos: <<¿A ver? Porque tendrá alguna opinión, digo yo, ¿o no? Vamos, diga algo. Porque su opinión es que no tiene opinión, porque si fuera capaz de opinar, ya hubiera opinado, pero veo que no, que no puede ni opinar. Vaya ejemplar que hemos encontrado, chicas. Pero señor, no se enfade, que le queremos. Vámonos, que este hombre no tiene, por no tener, ni opinión, pero lo que digo yo...>>
Y calle abajo se fue el enjambre de taichiístas, siguiendo con su discusión hasta perderse en el bullicio de la concurrida acera y dejando parado bajo su enmarañada nube negra a ese hombre que ves. http://llapis.blogspot.com/2008/11/opinion.html ←Ese de allí.

Ese.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Pretend (NaNoWriMo novel excerpt)

Despite stepping optimistically into the shower, Karen was immediately disappointed. She’d been focussed on the decorating aspect of the missing shower curtain, and had entirely forgotten that it also served to keep water inside the shower area and, more importantly, off the bathroom floor. There would be no head-soaking, water-massaging shower such as she had anticipated. Relegated to hostel-style, one-handed bathing while holding the shower head and maneovering it with her other hand, Karen was in the midst of resigning herself into conformity when it occurred to her that the whole thing felt weird. She felt weird, the shower felt weird. The house felt strange, as did the light, the time of day, and even her body seemed just different enough to make it feel as though she may have become someone else. Karen sprayed water on her face and thought about this. What if all that she was doing, all the plans she had made and was continuing to make, the careful selection of house wares and wares for the soul, what if it was all not suitable for her? What if what she was doing was pretending to be someone else, taking someone’s name, hair color, accent, and then filling in the rest with what she thought this other person would want? If she pretended to be someone named, say, Bernadette, how would that be different from what she was trying to do now? Karen turned off the water and energetically shampooed her hair, scrubbing as if she were trying to shake her ideas to the surface.
Wasn’t a person just the way she was and that was it? Maybe what changed was nothing more than her circumstances. A person only seemed to change because of the way she reflected back her new circumstances. Maybe all the changes a person claimed as her own were merely adjustments made to fit those changed circumstances? Joe used to say that people didn’t change, they just became more intently themselves. If that was true, and Karen was trying to be less intently herself and more like someone she didn’t even know yet, wasn’t that just an elegant form of dress-up, a game of let’s pretend, like Hannah had played with her little friends in Karen’s old room, raiding her closet the way Karen and her friends had done with her own mother’s things?
Karen rinsed off the hair that, yes, she had dyed far enough off her natural color as to make her not quite herself. Was that too only another attempt to hide, just another pretence? That couldn’t be! she railed. I am not pretending! She was so incensed she said it out loud, under cover of running water: “I’m not pretending!” That felt good, so she took a breath, ran the water over her face and said it just a little bit louder: “I am not pretending!” And of course that horrid voice that always piped in when she overstepped her childhood boundaries of propriety and good breeding began its litany. ‘methinks the lady doth protest overmuch’ and –in an appalling change in register- ‘she who smelt it dealt it’ –which, since it sounded so completely inappropriate, she covered over with the classic “if the shoe fits, wear it”, only to end up, as she always did, with Joe intoning (although other times it was Joe laughing) “We don’t change. We just become more annoying versions of ourselves”.
Karen turned the water off again to soap up the body that was undeniably still hers, only more so. She chuckled to think that she hardly remembered what she used to look like when she was young and lithe. Good ole Tommy, her high school boyfriend, probably remembered what her breasts used to look like better than she did. Her body and whether or not it lived up to expectations was never a matter for much concern, other than while she was reciting the oh-so-repetitive prayer of adolescence ‘god I hope they grow, god I hope they grow’ and during the stultifying onset of her period. Otherwise, Karen was hard-pressed to understand cosmetic surgery –forget about scalpels- but maybe that just meant she was as normal looking as they come.
Karen ran the water one last time and all thought halted as she concentrated on rinsing her body off without flooding the bathroom in the process. Not by nature a multi-tasker, she leaned more toward the ‘walk first, then chew gum’ school of thought. She marvelled at people like Adele who seemed to effortlessly juggle all the pieces of her life, pulling off each endeavour with flair and no small amount of pleasure. It might be nice to be able to do all that, thought Karen, although it seemed to entail an insurmountably greater amount of energy than she was prepared to exert in order to do so. She much preferred being the appreciative beneficiary of the fruits of Adele’s ineradicable energy.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Wise

Wise is choosing to bite your tongue rather than speak your mind
when no one is listening anyway.

Es de sabios elegir morderte la lengua antes que decir lo que piensas
cuando de todas formas nadie te está escuchando.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Vacant

Vacant is the place the tip of my tongue constantly seeks out, the ragged hole that is so much deeper than seems necessary or possible to exist at the end of the row of molars on the right side of my mouth, up near where my tongue scratches when I’m about to get a cold, where it can almost feel sometimes like I’ll gag or puke if I keep at it, but I keep at it.
My wisdom tooth was there. It was the last one to come in, the one I’d waited 40 years for, and when it did come in, it was mortally flawed. There was already a hole I could stick my tongue into, even before it fully broke the surface of the gum back there, the gum that thought it was done making room. Maybe because of its flaw I became thoroughly attached to it, like the runt of the litter that you can’t help loving to death, until you love it to death, poor thing. I would poke at it and poke at it, as if to remind it where it was and sometimes in my absentminded poking I would scratch my tongue, even cut it a bit and think, wow, was that stupid, or what? Then I would find my wounded tongue easing back into that hole in the last, the newest, the most recent tooth of wisdom.
I’d been warned all my life that these wisdom teeth were worthless, traitorous, that I would be much better off without them, yet I withstood. I wanted my wisdom teeth with me. I swore they’d come in straight and good, and they did. Except the last one had a flaw. But it came in straight and good, expecting nothing less than the same attention my tongue had given each of the others, which it received, believe me, it received.
But of course the day came. It came sooner than expected, as those kinds of days always do. It was quick, no time for decision making, no time for last minute changes of heart. Two small shots of novocaine, a bit of chit chat to make the time pass. A click or two of the pliers.
“All you need is a really good grip,” said Dr. Salas as she tilted my head back with one hand and wielded the cold silver pliers with the other. An adjustment or two, a tentative pull and then she wrenched the tooth, which of course began to shatter. Another quick adjustment and she was back gripping that poor flawed broken tooth.
“That’s it, that’s it,” she cooed at the pliers and took a deep breath (I swear I heard the sharp intake of her breath over mine) and pulled like she was pulling the bells of Notre Dame and thwump, out the bloody tooth came.
She shoved in a wad of gauze, reminded me to bite down hard for a good half hour, whisked my bib away, twirled the dentist’s chair out for me to disembark and waved me out the door. Numbly I wandered out into the autumn street, carefully biting down on the gauze that replaced the tooth that was now just a hollow, bloody hole. I thought about that, thought about how my tongue already wanted to wander over to that raw, empty spot which, abandoned by its rightful inhabitant, would now and forevermore remain vacant.
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