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Maxilla

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February 28th, 2008

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Memento mori.

February 17th, 2008

Greetings from Gainesville.

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January 12th, 2008

My grandfather gave me an old jacket of his on Christmas. Doesn't fit perfect, but I can't give it away. Not now.

The next day he had a stroke, his second. He fell down, and my grandmother took him to Shands. The stroke was in the cerebellum, and it swelled enough to block the spinal column. And, well, there's just so much that happened. Brain surgery to cut out the dead parts to keep cerebro-spinal fluid pressure from building, awareness, unconsciousness, it's 1953, its 2007. Who's president? Talk about, questions about, will he speak? Will he think? Can he move? What would he want?

Last week, Friday, I had lunch with Derek at Emiliano's, and really enjoyed myself in his company. He paid for the meal for me, and later that night had a going away party. He cooked for all of us; pasta with three different types of dairy. He was moving away, wouldn't say where.

He killed himself Sunday morning. Even that sentence doesn't look serious, though I know it is. I met his parents and his little sister the next day. I'm writing a euology for tomorrow afternoon. I miss him, I love him, I'm so furious for leaving his family and friends knee-deep in shit.

Tuesday was my first day of school for the semester. The quiet moments are the worst, the ones where I'd accidentily retrace the steps we'd take together on campus. I watched my face red and twisted in the bathroom mirror, ugly in anguish. I'd answer strangers and teachers with pale smiles and chirping words. I'm screaming. This is terrible.

Wednesday night after I got off of work and rushed back to the hospital they took my grandfather off of life support: a little mask and tube that breathed for him. Now he's dead and my grandmother is finally alone.

It's early Saturday morning.

Derek tended to frustrate me a lot with his arguments. He was so so disappointed with the rest of humanity and its failure to live up to its potential, on a worldwide scale, and within the people closest to him. He had such high standards. For a while, he said, he tried to keep on living despite his disappointments, existing in a world in which he had to compromise his morals. He disgusted himself. He lamented that no one would ever really understand him. He and I had this conversation before. I'd tell him, No one ever really understands anyone else. This is part of being human, being what we are. Language fails again.

Everyone will die one day; you and me and my family and lovers and friends and enemies.  Derek just picked when and how. I won't ever understand Derek. But no one will ever understand me. Why am I alive? Picking when to die is not a luxury I will receive.

I don't think Derek looked hard enough.

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Maybe I'm wrong. I'll never know.

January 7th, 2008

Winter Break

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Hannah says that my livejournal has become too depressing. I rarely write in it, and really only when important things happen. So, here's a break.

Across the street from Hannah's house is Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist church, an ancient black church built of red brick and lichen and white paint. There is a broken panel in the stained glass window in the front, but the paint is new. On Sunday mornings I can here them singing in there and a terrible drummer playing. Not that the drummer ruins anything; they may want to look into getting another percussionist. Sometimes they'll even have sermons late Saturday nights. It's kind of odd, that something so alien to me as religion is right next door, a window away.

I've been working feverishly on art and I can't seem to get anything finished. Granted, I overwhelmed myself before Christmas and just became inundated with several long-term projects: I've got one lino cut finished, and another close to finished, a huge 48"x60" oil for Hannah, and about a dozen acrylic paintings started. I couldn't be happier about it. I've been using alot of Xerox transfers, mainly with the acrylic paintings using a new method I learned several weeks ago.

It's been nice not being in school for the break. I've read Love in the Time of Cholera, started Middlesex and reading Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson out loud to Hannah. Saw films left and right. Started reading Married to the Sea again lately and discovered that they've been using  new images from books I've been using as stock for my Xerox transfers.

Work at CFOP hasn't slacked off too much during the break and will only pick up again this week for school.

Really, I'm happy.

December 12th, 2007

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We sold our minds and bodies long before we ever sold our souls.

October 3rd, 2007

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My heart swelled with hope when I found in the back of a cabinet a tape of my mom. The label read simply "The Jonnie Curry Show." I struggled with my father's VCR for five minutes before I ventured upstairs to try again on the television up there. It was not what I expected; an artist in Minneapolis, I think, recorded his show in 1989 for my mother. Why? As he shakily wandered up the stairs of the museum and fumbled to focus the cumbersome camera, a very large piece came into view. I adjusted on the bed and looked over at Hannah.

It looked like a clumsly collage of black and white photographs from a distance, but as he rounded the partition, the shape changed. The piece, about twelve feet wide and at least four feet tall, was suspended off the ground by invisible (to the camera) wires. As the man awkwardly narrated and I struggled to ignore him, I saw that the piece was a three-dimensional cubist photo-collage of my mother working in her studio. I recognized most of the images; Erin has a couple on her wall.  As the shape of the surface changed,  so too did the relationship of the  images to each other. He must have taken thousands of photographs.

Hm.

September 7th, 2007

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I don't remember ever meeting Catlin for the first time, because it was far before I could even speak full sentences. Our mothers introduced us and each one helped raise both. Our sisters became best friends since the first day of kindergarten.

Catlin and I discovered the world together. Since we were two years old until we were twelve we played together and spent the night at the other's house, inventing games and exploring the cow pastures orbiting our houses. I vaguely recall taking baths together as small children,  and talking in the dark about the sprites you see before you fall asleep. I remember the plastic and metal swing set outside their house. Catlin was the one who taught me how to ride a bike.

Catlin had spent a lot of time watching his grandfather's John Wayne tapes, and both of us would play with his toy rifles, shooting around the corners of his house or fort toward invisible invaders. We'd speak to each other with determination of our lengthy elementary school crushes: Tiffany Pettis and Erin Traylor for him and myself, respectively.

Yet always we would return to war games. Sometimes we would play Cowboys and Indians, or we would perch on his roof and fire from slingshots the pecans from his massive pecan tree at passing cars. He would pretend to toss a grenade from our bunker into the knots of enemy troops bunched behind the swing set. Catlin taught me to shoot his beebee gun, and a dozen years later, after graduation, took me out hunting ne'er-do-well beasts in the dead of night with his .22, drunk and uncertain.

But Catlin and I moved to different places by middle school, far away and as different as we would get and still remain in the states. The time apart forced our differences into my awareness, and before long I discovered I had more in common with his sister, Alicia, than I ever did with him.

Displeased as I was to hear it, I wasn't the least bit surprised when Catlin had signed up for the army two years ago. I suppose his previous brief stint training with the fire department had left him dissatisfied. I would have never been able to empathize with his decision, but fully understood that he always wanted this for himself.

The same week I started working at Uppercrust, Catlin shipped out to Iraq. His family was terrified and furious. I felt cold; I thought, "Catlin is too good to come back unscathed." But that is no prophecy.

Unfortunately, Catlin was hurt. In east Baghdad Tuesday, his humvee was hit by an IED. The type of IED is called an Explosively Formed Penetrator, a device shaped like a small barrel with a concave top like a wok. When it detonates, it explodes in just one direction, concentrating the blast to blow the top, changing its shape into a heavy narrow slug of metal that pierces through most any armor we use. Four other soldiers were in the vehicle with him; three died then, and the other is currently in critical condition. Catlin was the least injured. His lower legs were so damaged that they were soon amputated from the knees. His left humerus is shattered and will require more than a year of therapy to recover.

Yesterday the army flew Catlin from the hospital in Germany to Texas, and his sister and parents left to meet him.

September 3rd, 2007

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This is the color of your heart at room temperature. It lacks a glow and fades with age, but maybe one day will burn verdant again.

Maybe, but winter approaches and you take no steps to insulate your breast.

Just slow words and careful breath.

August 23rd, 2007

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Inside that house we store our things, in boxes, in piles in corruptible closets. We wear the house like a giant blue dress; tar shingles, wood siding and venetian blinds hide our naked bodies which grow in places we did not expect. We will change again. This house is haunted only by us. We are now the wandering ghosts.

Across the avenue a vacant church lurches against the wind. Ivy winds through the stacks of craggy brick, and at dusk the dusty slats spit bats out to swallow up the insects. From the porch we hear them hunt. Inside the house the air is cooler, but thicker -- with furniture birds, and storm clouds of deadly box jellies, and my promises.

In our absence our footsteps and sighs are replaced with tones that vibrate the floors. The ants are frightened from their corners. Music dissolves the ghosts, and even the severed tentacles are stingless.

I am not allowed to stay. I have to go home.
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