Rain, the Bluish Tinge of Aquariums, Dancing With Scarves, And Wonderful Feelings

It’s raining.

And there’s something thumping against the side of the house.

But I am inside, separate from the deluge of water, caught in what seems to be one of the common situations ever written about: being inside and watching the rain fall.

And yet, even though it is so common, I rather like it. I like the safety of my second floor bedroom as the rain comes streaming down. I like the sound of the rushing water on the roof. I like watching the rain run in rivers down the side of the street, nestled against the curb, towards the storm drain at the end of the block.

It doesn’t have the same ferocious beauty of a thunderstorm or the brilliant calm of snow, my two favorite types of inclement weather, but it’ll do with its dull, somewhat depressing gloom.

When I look out the window, I’m reminded of the color settings on my camera, and how when you go to change the picture to black and white, there’s also an option for blue, which casts the image in that same sort of tinge you see inside of an aquarium, where the passages between the giant tanks of sharks and tropical fish–though never in the same tank together– are mostly lit by the light shining into the tanks, so that the animals are brighter than you.

The red shirt I was wearing when I ran by the stingrays at the age of ten appeared almost purple, exactly like the way the car across the street looks right now, and my green sandals were even more deeply saturated than usual, not unlike the front lawn and the shrubs along the front walk.

If it weren’t so late and if it weren’t so chilly, I would run outside without an umbrella or coat, not caring that my shirt is mostly white and that my jeans will take forever to dry. I’d go barefoot, because dancing in the rain  should be done in wild abandon, without any sorts of constraints. I’d let pieces of grass stick to my feet and dirt cover my toes, and I’d spin in circles and run leaping through the yard.

It would be like the movement classes I took at school until I was twelve. The classes where we would be handed grey gauzy scarves and told to portray jealousy while the teacher played classical music on the harpsichord. Sometimes, she would pass out balloons and tell us to throw them in the air and very carefully watch how they fell, the way they seemed to be caught and cushioned by the air as they drifted down into our reaching hands.

And so I would watch the rain and how it fell. I would hold out my arms and pretend I had scarves and just move in some sort of fashion that meant everything to me and looked a little loony to everyone else.

And it would be perfect.

But I’m inside, and I won’t be leaving tonight. I’m lying on my bed, propped against pillows, reading about Nicholas Tesla, watching videos online of beautiful things, like the Game of Life, people’s travels and thoughts, landscapes, and portraits made out of corkscrews, and looking at pictures of rooms so impeccable, they seem utopian.

Click on the picture for more house yum.

I imagine Tesla’s lightening and his infatuation for pigeons, the way that all brilliance is sprinkled with something mad. I think about the power of words and pictures and all things impossibly lovely and how they cast such a wonderful feeling over me. The sort of blissful feeling that makes me want to cry a little bit and smile all at the same time and just stay still breathing for as long as I can. I like to think of it as my love for the universe. And when I have that feeling draped over me, I just enjoy it. Because in those moments, nothing hurts.

Finally, when I feel as though I’ve soaked it in as much as I can, I put fingers to keys and write. Because, sometimes, I think that writing and loving things, people, and animals is what I do best. Also, it’s what I love most to do.

And so I am here, watching the rain pour down and drench the black, asphalt of the road, the granite curbstones, and the slate sidewalk. It makes the merciless grey concrete of the front walk shiny and the potted plants overflow as water pours over their terra cotta rims. And the grass and the plant bed soak in the wet, like a sponge, until they can’t anymore, and the water pools in indents in the earth. It creates droplets on the cars, and if I weren’t so far away, I could race the raindrops as they zigzagged their way downwards.

But I’m inside.

So here it is, my cliché and for once I love it.

In the spirit of trying new, creative things, I have made a youtube video of me reading today’s post.

(Yes, I know I stumbled over saying Tesla the first time, no need to point it out.)

I’d like to know what you think: Should I do this again for some other posts or is having me read it annoying or uninteresting?

And as always, you can also find me on tumblr at http://emleng93.tumblr.com/, if you’re into that kind of thing.

An Imaginary Bike Ride

I’ve always wanted to ride my bike through the golf course near my beach house. The paths are so flat and smoothly paved, and they invite me with their jet black expanse. From the road you can watch them wind around the fairway, up to the green, and then into the not-quite-a-woods-but-too-full-of-trees-to-be-a-screen-of-foliage. I’d ride with my helmet clasped securely under my chin, clasped a little too tightly, so it won’t fall off if I crash.

Because I might crash, even if I haven’t ridden into anything since last summer when I tried biking home from the supermarket with four two-liter bottles of seltzer dangling in plastic bags from the handlebars and I couldn’t turn the corner because it was too heavy to steer and I hit the street sign in front of all those people waiting for the bus and I felt like an idiot and had to walk the home, wheeling the bike next to me. Or maybe the brakes won’t work and I’ll fly over the handlebars like that time I was eight and smashed my front wheel against the U.S. mailbox on the corner right by the park.

I’d rather not hurt my head. Being unconscious would be like dying a mini death, and as much as I sometimes like the idea of not being alive anymore and hearing all of the things people would say about me once I was gone (because I’m selfish and want them to like me), dying would make me miss out of writing and listening and observing and it would make people like Cecelia and Audrey and Tal and Sadie and Clara and Lily and George and all the other people I think might possibly care about me upset, and I hate upsetting them, though I really do seem to screw up and upset them all the time. I hate myself for that.

Back to the biking on the path. I’d go past the trees and the next few holes and come out on the other side onto the road. I’d bike along the side, breathing in, holding it, and exhaling all to the count of three because biking in the street scares me.

I’d head south and onto the busy road. I’d go past all of those houses and boutiques that sell a million little fancy things that I never want to buy now that I’m older and don’t collect figurines to put on my dresser. I’d go past the place where you can buy swimming pools and sheds. I’d go past the bumper boats and remember the times I steered one of those little boats around the pool and kept pressing the spray button so that the water would spit out at my father and hit him in between the eyes. I’d gloat again at how I managed to slunk down in my seat enough so that the stream of water would go sailing over my head and get someone else wet. I’d go past the go-carts that smell like gasoline and reckless driving and think about that time when some idiot father let his son lean over from the passenger seat and steer the cart while he pressed the accelerator
to the floor and they smashed into me really hard and my cart slammed into the safety rail and the seatbelt hurt my neck.

And I’d head all the way to the grocery store parking lot before turning around and heading home. I’d head south again towards the water and home so that I could say hi to the harbor with its many boats and bushes that look like honeysuckle but taste like arugula when you try to eat them for the nectar. I’d make up some story in my head about what I was seeing that was full of run-on sentences and odd and incorrect grammar because it sounds best that way to me. But I’d never write it down. Those stories are strictly ephemeral and used only to interpret the world around me.

I’d ride down my street past those old ladies that walk down to the landing everyday even though one of them is over a hundred and the other one is 98. I’d think about how much I value lucidity and how scared I am of losing it. I love wrinkles and grey hair, but I never want to lose my thoughts and my mental speed. Whenever I’ve been given medication that does that to me, I worry that I’ll never be smart again. But it comes back after a week or so of not taking it.

I’d hop off of my bike onto our front lawn and start wheeling it down the driveway and complain about how close it is to our house that I can hardly fit next to my bike. I’d take the bike down the steep wooden steps into the basement, but I’d keep my helmet on. I know that one day I’ll fall and hit my head descending those stairs, and if it’s going to happen, I’d rather do it with a protected head. And once it’s propped up on its kickstand, I’d unclasp the helmet, rub the sore spot under my chin, and walk back up the stairs holding tightly onto the bannister. Back out on the grass, I’d turn around and lower each black metal basement door one at a time. And after the final metal bang, I’d turn around and walk into the house, my adventure complete.

Synesthesia: Part One

There is color running all around me. I feel its wispy edges. I feel the secrets that it holds. I feel its impossible magic. I reach out for it. Fingers needy and wiggling. Knuckles clenching. Bones undulating. Hand ready. Beckoning. Pleading. Willing it to come closer. Pleas to hold it by its tail. Asking it to pull me along. Out of my chair. To trip up the stairs. Faster, please. Faster. Find paper, pen, computer. Keep the hues fast in my left hand. Grasp it tightly and go. Go until it runs out. Until it’s too small to be held. Until it disappears like a flame in the wind. But until I lose it, I grab it and write.

The Little Orange and Gold Book and the First Law of Idea-dynamics

Lately, I’ve developed the habit of writing down anything that I find interesting. There’s so much that I am desperate to remember, to work into other narratives, to repeat to others, or maybe to even stick up here on my blog. There are so many beautiful things being said by the people that surround me and in books that I don’t want to lose. The power of language and thought is astounding, and the nature and creation of ideas never fails to amaze me.

So I’ve been carrying around a little gold and orange notebook that I was given by a friend in eighth grade. The gold designs are raised a little bit from the cover, and I love running my fingers over them absentmindedly in class. It’s got a magnetic flap that keeps it closed, which makes a very satisfying clapping noise, and the paper has thin brown-ish grey-ish lines just the right space apart.

Because it’s rather old, it’s got some interesting artifacts inside. There are random sentences–often later used in short stories–from the summer I spent in France, notes on meetings and a few packing lists from over the years, and some protein counts and food logs from this summer, but I’ve used a paperclip to push all of that to the side. It’s got a new and very important job now.

I’ve furiously scribbled things down when I’m talking with people on the phone, written down things people sent in texts, or carefully copied things out of books, but mostly it’s just full of snippets of conversations.

Today, I was speaking to my father on the phone about my recent obsession with mortality (which has made me unable to sleep, but more on that later). The moment that he said, “Everyone has to come to peace with mortality in their own way. We all imagine it differently,” I scrambled to get a pen. I knew that whatever he said next would be worth recording.

Here’s a quote from the conversation:

“I am a collection of atoms that changes continually. The collection is called me and has a self-consciousness that is me. At some point, the atoms will reintegrate with the world. I imagine my atoms becoming grass. Part of the living force in the world is aligned in me right now.”

Last night, George quoted Camus in a text message and then sent me this Dorothy Sayers quote today when I asked permission to quote her:

“A facility for quotation covers the absence of original thought.”

But I am convinced that both George and Dorothy Sayers are wrong. Original thought comes from listening to others, whether it be by hearing or reading, writing those things down, and mulling over what they’ve said, until you come to new, independent, and perhaps ingenious conclusions. Energy can neither be created or destroyed: it can only be transformed from one state to another, and the same holds true for ideas.

And that, my friends, is why I’m writing things down.

Oscar Night

Tonight, in an attempt to run away from all that is awful and scary, I will be at Audrey’s house, watching the Oscars. I’m bringing sparkling cider and we’re going eat Chinese food, because we’re pretty classy people. (I am hopeful that the combination won’t be comparable to the time that I mixed falafel mix with pink lemonade.) I’ve got Oscar predictions sheets printed out and ready to go. I’m even wearing a dress (not a fancy one, though) and some silvery blue eyeshadow on to match the navy material to get into the glamour spirit. I can barely contain my excitement!

God, I Love Shutters

Today was one of my lie-in-bed-and-try-to-calm-down days. Aren’t days like this the bomb diggity? (That phrase is totally underrated.)

So after I had had my lovely morning cry, I started going through old pictures in my iPhoto. Besides discovering a bunch of pictures that I took of myself back in 2006 (oh God) when Macs first started having built-in web-cams, I found all of my pictures from the summer I spent in France when I was fourteen.

I went with a program to Angers to study French at a university and live with a host family that had eight kids. It was a wonderful experience, but it wasn’t my memories of Versailles or Saint Malo that kept replaying in my mind, instead it was my walk to the university and how gorgeous it was.

The front steps of the house:

The house:

The lamppost on the corner (Yes, I did try to re-enact Singing in the Rain here, and yes, people thought I was crazy):

God, I love shutters:

A Catholic Church:

A sign for the University:

University, itself: