DeepBluSea is an American Girl, tired of shushing her inner writer and ready to take it out on the blogosphere in general.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Cornsnake



I hold the sort of job little kids should dream of. My job allows me to be a grown up and effect change on a large group of people, but it also lets me learn how to handle animals and pick up the latest info on black-light insect hunting. I work at a Science Museum and boy, is it cool.

Among the animals I have learned to handle is the corn snake. Corn snakes are unequivically the coolest snake there is. They like to hang out in pine forests and ag fields, sit in the sun, make baby snakes and eat mice, rats, and any other small rodents they can find. They are non-venomous, but can put a hurtin' on a mouse. I've seen them do it--it's poetry in motion, I tell you. Plus, look at that color scheme! The one pictured here is darker, but they come in all variations of brown, red, orange, amber, etc. Every time I wear all black, I think a corn snake would make an excellent accessory, if I were into that sort of jewelry.

Corn snakes are also cool because of how they handle. I first learned to handle a corn snake several months ago. It was freaky, at first. I wasn't afraid of the snake, but I wasn't sure how I could make it feel comfortable and secure. If a snake feels like it's going to fall, snake phobia #1, apparently, it will freak out. It won't bite, necessarily, but it will slither around until it finds purchase and support. As it slithers, it's very easy to drop it, and no one, even where I work, wants a snake loose. Just look at Samuel Jackson--he made a whole movie about the hazards of loose snakes. It's bad for people, but it's even worse for the snake, in most instances.

Once I got the handling part down, something interesting happened. The snake was wrapped around my two arms and I held it about 4 inches down from its head with the thumb and first finger of my right hand. The snake totally chilled out. I realized it was perfectly still, not even flicking its tounge. The snake and I were calm and enjoying each other. The snake, for her part, was probably very glad to be wrapped around a 98 degree body. I was enchanted by her coolness and strength. This snake felt like pure, coiled power. It wasn't menacing, but impressive, this 3.5 foot body of muscle and bone. We sat together for about ten minutes. She didn't move once--just sat there, coiled, thinking whatever snake thoughts can fit into her snake brain. Probably about mice, but who am I to judge the thoughts of a noble serpent? Noble is the right word for this snake. She's lived her whole life in captivity, being the offspring of two others who have since gone onto the Great Snake Beyond, and is used to being handled, so maybe it was just my perspective, but she seemed totally in control of the situation. Of course she wasn't, but how can you not admire a creature for acting in control?

Whenever I need a moment away from my desk, I go hold a snake. Every time, I'm immediately plunged into a sense of calmness and introspection. The snakes make me think of life, at its most raw. I respect these snakes and what they stand for. Like most animals, they don't ask for much and find ways to thrive without complaining. I have to wonder if that's the price we pay for so-called higher intelligence-it allows us to complain about things. If a snake feels it isn't getting enough mice, it slithers somewhere else. If the mice were starting to disappear or get more risky to find, the snakes would deal with it by having less babies and looking for something different to eat. We could learn a lot about snakes--rather than bend our world to suit us, we could just slither somewhere else and find something different to do. And if nothing else, snakes don't have to worry about global warming.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Blogging, revisited


I'm a sucker, I know. No posts, no pictures, not even any inane one-liners about my being busy, abducted by aliens, blah, blah, blah. I will never get a full story out if I can't even blog, so here I am.

I was not abducted by aliens. I moved in with my boyfriend. He's well chronicled here, mostly because I love the joker and he's a big part of my life. My friend SmallTownDiva asked me if things were rough, these last few weeks, and the honest and truthful answer is no. It's as though we've been living together for months. I still make dinner most nights, he still does the dishes, we both clean and organize at will. We did paint a room and upgrade our cable package, but neither of those things are what I would classify as particularly stressful.

I spent so much of my life pre-boyfriend wondering what this sort of thing would be like. I clung to bits of information that I gleaned from others, from the movies, from books. Love was always some holy mist that enshrouded those in it. Their lives developed different meanings, their capacities for compromise improved, etc, etc ad naseum. You'll know it when you feel it--I put such faith in that. A high school chum loved to say I always wore rose-colored glasses. I hated it when she said that, but she was right to a certain point. I embraced my naivetee about love because it seems it was all I could do.

Thankfully, 99% of what I was told or took to be hard fact was a lot of crap. The knowing it when I saw it was unquestionably true. I remember the exact moment when i knew I was falling in love. It was a moment of pure calm and peace, which was wonderful as the decision to tell him I loved him was maddening and full of doubt. It's the best thing I've ever done, though. There is supreme bueaty all over this world, but I've yet to see anything that compares to truly loving another person. It's possible that the beauty of love is made even greater by the incredible gratefulness I feel to be able to experience such an emotion, because, Lord knows, I never thought I could be so lucky.

So we've moved in, continuing our trek across that Transvaal that a relationship is. The Transvaal was a district in old colonial South Africa that was filled with life and danger and Zulus and everything else one in South Africa in the 19th century could imagine. Zulu warriors and lions may lie in wait, but this Trek has exposed me to so much beauty and life that I don't mind. And the Hi-Def cable upgrade is pretty awesome, too.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Private Lives

I have a good friend who started a blog after casually reading some of my favorite blogs. We worked together in the same office and had some days with more down time than others, so she would often ask me for some interesting web pages to check out. She is very computer savvy and has always beena wordsmith, so I thought she would enjoy the well-written musings of Petite Anglaise or EasyJetSetter, my two primary blog destinations. I was absolutely right, to the point where we began incorporating things from those two blogs in our daily conversations. She decided to start her own blog to become part of the general mass communication of private lives on the web. She conducts her blog anonymously, in order to give herself an outlet where she can say anything she likes. She lives in a small town where she has quite a bit of notariety. She is involved in more things than you can shake a stick at and has mentioned political aspirations as well. I have no doubt she would succeed, given how much the movers and shakers of said town rely on her expertise and opinion. The downside to this position of authority, however, is a lack of safe space in which to speak. She always has to temper how she says things, to prevent misquotes or hurt feelings. As lame as she and I both think that it, it's how the system works. It's to the point where I would lobby for renaming the sidewalks in said town 'eggshells', as that's what everyone has to walk on when they venture into public spaces.

She fits into her role very nicely, but the bottom line is that no one can live like that. Her blog is an outlet for feelings about her family, her compatriots, and other things in her life which are running through her mind at any given time. Our relationship has always been such that she can say what she likes around me without fear of repercussion, but now that we don't work in the same office anymore, the daily bitch sessions just don't happen. She, like me, doesn't do too well on the phone. I'm glad for her that she can run her blog anonymously, becuase I think the outlet is important. Her blog is a perfect example of what personal blogging should be. She's not desperate to demonstrate her political views or win over the hearts of millions of readers. She just writes for release. If you happen to know her, you can take the things she writes aboiut more seriously, but most of her readers don't, so they just see her entries for their face value.

Her life is a lot more complicated than one would imagine, either from her blog or from personal knowledge. Her life, since she was born, has been characterized by heartache and abandonment. Trying to map out her family tree is an all day affair with branches growing in every direction, including downward into the ground. When I think of the specifics of her history and her current life, I marvel at how she puts up with it. Thinking about trying to handle the amount of complications she puts up with on a daily basis is enough to send me to the hills, screaming, into the night. I have heard her vent about the frustration of it all and have seen her cry when things have really become too much. She's blogged about some of the issues, but, for the most part, she just rolls with it. Her private life is the stuff of Sue Monk Kidd novels. I am fortunate enough to have an insiders view of it--fortunate, because I can understand what she means when she says something about her life and not judge her for it. We're both really grateful for our friendship with the other, and continue to stay friends despite the lack of daily contact.

When we choose to blog, we agree to bare ourselves for anyone who wants to see it but with severe limitations. It's not always the case that strangers know what we speak of, but they still can read about details of our lives. Often these are out of context and can lead to snap judgements about who we, the bloggers, really are. I choose to share things about my life, but there is no way anyone could put together a complete picture of me from this blog. My readers will never understand me the way my boyfriend or family does. This makes it safe for me to spill certain intimate details without fear of repercussion. My friend, who inspired this post, has shared a lot of her personal life, but only on the condition that it's anonymous. She came close to being busted not too long ago and the thought put the fear of God into her. She doesn't mind having an outlet for private information as long as it can stay private. She and I both need this to inspire some order or conversation with our own minds. I want to work on my fear of having others read my writings and she just likes to be anonymous but still say what she wants.

The argument of it being put out there so we should deal what comes from it is inane. The blogosphere is the one place where people can truly be anonymous if they want to but still say what they want. Call it chicken, but we are all so monitored these days, with so little room for privacy that I think it's perfectly healthy to want to say whatever the hell you want and publish it but still hide behind a pen name. Private lives are crucial to all of us, for a sense of personal space and individuality. My friend's blog won't change the world and neither will mine, but it gives us both a sense of satisfaction crafting these entries and leaving them somewhere anyone can read them. Call it hypocritical, but that's how it works. For us, anyway.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Other Side of the Fence

When Sergio woke up, it took him a while to realize the severity of his situation. He woke up as he always did, slowly, stretching out the atrophy of a deep night's sleep and taking a deep breath. Waking up was the one time of day he really thought about the preciousness of his own life. Sleep to him was like death. He didn't understand it, but knew it was something he had to do. When he was asleep, he forgot about everything else, or maybe he just stopped caring. All day long he was alert for all of the dangers which may come his way. Even though he worried about danger, he never really thought about it in terms of his own death. If he had taken the time to really think about the consequences of some danger befalling him, he would probbaly have never gone outside. It was that lack of thought process which got him into his current predicament.

Sergio was lost. He had recently moved into a new neighborhood and was going for a walk when he saw a large fence. He decided to climb it and see what was on the other side. When you have an inquisitive mind that's accustomed to being on high alert, a fence presents a battle. On one hand, staying on the side of the fence you know is comforting. It's probably either keeping you in or keeping something bad for you out. On the other hand, the other side of the fence could hold a wonderful new world with all sorts of opportunities. Sergio had never seen anything like his new neighborhood or this fence and, in this case, the inquistivness won out. He climbed and jumped and got himself over the fence.

Touching down on the other side of the fence was so exciting! The first thing he noticied were the smells. He could still smell his old neighborhood, but it was intertwined with new scents--things like honeysuckle and pine, things that never stood out for him when he was on the other side. It also smelled like food. He always had plenty to eat in his old home, but this food smelled different somehow--better, riper, sweeter. It was all too much for him and he couldn't help it--he wandered from the fence. Before he even realized what was going on he was miles from his old neighborhood, in a dense forest.

As his conciousness came back to him upon waking up, he remembered climbing into the tree to see if he could see his home or his friends. He wasn't entriely comfortable in the tree, but it did make him feel taller and more aware of his surroundings. He had been out of his home before, but always when others could see him. Usually, they chased him around for a bit, but eventually he would tire of the chase and just go back where he was supposed to. Upon climbing the tree last night, he was ready to go back, but he didn't know how to do that. It was upsetting. The longer he stayed in the tree, as it got darker and darker, the more he began to connect the idea of danger with his current situation. He became acutely aware of the sounds of the forst he was in. Every sigh of wind became a predator sneaking up on him. He saw an enormous bird fly by with a huge rabbit in its talons and wondered if there was a bird that could carry him away. Everything that had seemed strange and exciting after he jumped the fence was now strange and scary. He only fell asleep after a long time listening to his heart jump at the slightest change in light or sound.

When you live your entire life in captivity, like Sergio, your natural instincts go dull, like a blade that rusts from not being used. Under the rust, you can still see the shape and understand the purpose, but it's hard to put it to use. Sergio had been watched like a hawk from his birth. His mother was part of a study that required her to conduct her entire life in captivity. Naturally, when he was born, he became part of the program as well. Everything that he ate, everything that he did, even everything that he thought was carefully measured and recorded. He had never been to school and had no learning besides what his mother taught him. Even the new neighborhood he moved to was part of his captivity, although in the new place he had more room to move around. It's a testament to the natural urges we all have that, despite not being used his whole life, Sergio's curiosity sprang to action as soon as he saw the fence. Unfortunately, his sense of confinement was so great that it never dawned on him that jumping that fence would put him in a place that wasn't confined. Imagine knowing your whole life that everywhere you turn is moderated and monitored. If it's all you know, you have no reason to think that places where that doesn't happen exist. Sergio found himself in a brave new world and was powerless to deal with it.

Sergio never really got a chance to think about the greater philosophical issues at stake with his escape. That's what the people who keep him confined called it--an escape. To Sergio, he was exploring, but to his captors it was escape. Sergio would have argued that it wasn't an escape, that it couldn't be an escape, because he doesn't even know what it means to escape. More than that, he never really realized he was a captive. It was just his life, his existence. To the people he escaped from, it was amazing that he managed to survive. Upon realizing he was gone, the worst was thought. He may have frozen to death, he may have been hit by a car, he may have been shot at by some nervous homeowner. Sergio knew he was in trouble, but he didn't exactly know why. He was scared but he didn't know why. He simply experienced these emotions without connecting greater meaning.

Sergio was found by his captors. They brought his friends who asked him why he had left. He couldn't think of a good reason and so returned to his new home. He resumed his natural existence and never thought about it again. He still sees the fence when he goes for his walks and is reminded of something because of it, but he would be hard pressed to tell you what it is he remembers. Living on his side of the fence is good enough for him.

Monday, May 08, 2006

The Idea Well

Starting to write without knowing what you want to write about is like coming up to a sheer cliff face after a 10-mile walk in the desert heat and knowing that the only water is at the top. I feel that way sometimes when I know I want to add to this meager offering of words, but am not quite sure why. Sometimes blog entries rain down on me in a continual stream of conciousness. Other times, I'm brought up short by the cliff face. I've wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember, but getting into the habit has been harder than I thought. I am a champion journaller and letter writer. I have relationships with people based entirely on letters, even in this modern world. Even the love notes I leave for my one true love are carefully crafted to contain the exact right emotion I am feeling at the time, which varies from playful to romantic to that special type of concern only we girlfriends are capable of. So then, enter the blog.

As I've said before, the blog isn't about my day to day life. I've tinkered with the idea of doing a daily photo blog, in the spirit of my favorite daily photo blogger Eric, but anonymity is more my thing. Besides, my daily life doesn't involve the treks through grand metropolises that his does and I think daily photos of the local interstates I traverse just wouldn't generate much interest. Some good friends read my blog and seem to enjoy it, but what is DeepBluSea to them but a distraction and procrastination effort? I think the appearance of the cliff is more about the sense that what I have to offer lacks meaning. Writing to me has always been about creating a connection, whether through thoughtful description of a place or time or through dialogue between wonderful characters and your own brain. Good writing to me doesn't have to be earth shattering, rather it has to envelope my brain and make me feel something. I want my writings to do the same.

I don't have a gold standard of what that is, which may be part of my problem. I thrive on process and order. It makes me very good at my job, but it's not what makes a good writer. I think it was Stephen King who said that good authors have to train their brains to misbehave or some such thing. I feel like somewhere, deep in the middle of my brain, is a well. I imagine that well to be filled with deep, blue water, cool and refreshing. That well has a source to the great unknown world of ideas. I tend to agree with the thought that all stories exist and it's just a matter of people uncovering them. I think of it as a flow of liquid, where things gets tumbled about and jostled, like blood cells in an artery. In my brain well are a few select ideas that would make lovely stories. I know it's there, deep in my brain, but I just haven't been able to find it. Perhaps if I was able to let my mind run free, I would plunge into the well face first, gasping at the pureness and depth of it and drinking deeply.

Until that happens, though, I've got the damn cliff in my way. It does me no good to curse it, I know, but it's still something that's there. Maybe if I look at the cliff closely, though, I'll be able to find a few handholds to pull myself up. In the meantime, however, you all are going to have to be patient. I never said I was doing it for you, but it is nice knowing that someone out there takes the time to read what I have to say, even if I am only a procrastination.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Nerd Alert



Yes, I figured out how to upload pictures. That doesn't mean you'll see many images, but I thought it would be cool to experiment. This is a black bear, Ursus americanus. She is a native of where I live, although this one in particular came from another state. They're magnificent creatures and not nearly as scary as some people think. May 13th-19th is Bear Awareness Week in the U.S., so celebrate by thinking how lucky you are to live in a place where such cool creatures exist and stay the Hell away from them.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Milestones

This Saturday, my beloved is graduating from college. When he came to America, about 5 and a half years ago, he thought he was on a holiday to visit his stepbrother and wife, taking a break from the day-to-day life of a white teenager in South Africa. He didn't realize that that trip would be a turning point for him in so many major ways. He fell in love with America and decided that he wanted to stay, so he applied for and received a student visa. Considering that he is an out-of-state student in the most serious of ways, tuition was very costly, but his parents agreed to support him and he did what he could to help, working on campus in various menial jobs that generated some income. Barring a year's sabbatical where he went home to deal with some visa issues, he has had his nose to the grindstone, working to acheive a degree in Grapic Design/Visual Arts Communication. When he walks this Saturday, it will be as Magna Cum Laude.

Degree aside, his move to America provided another turning point he never thought of. Almost two and a half years ago, just as he was moving back to the States to finish his degree, the wife of the couple he lives with started nattering on about her new co-worker, who she thought could be a great friend of his. Although extremely handsome and possesing a sharp mind and wit, he's never been the lady's man sort, so he just sort of went along with her. That coworker was me and now, a year and a half after our first date, we're talking marriage and kids. One of the things he is sure of (besides how lucky he is to have me for a girlfriend) is that he wants to live and raise his family in America. He loves South Africa and is tied there in many ways, but believes that the way that things are there make it a place inhospitable for raising good kids, his own family aside. That quick holiday all those years ago have resulted in many life decisions that have brought him to a strange land filled with strange people.

I will be meeting his parents for the first time this weekend, as they come from parts far flung to see their youngest son graduate. I grew up in a family where my parent's parents went to the same church and are friends, so it's been odd for me on one level to never have met his parents. His mom and I have exchanged emails on occasion and she sent me a gift thorugh him the last time he went home. They're all aware that I exist and that he is very serious about me, but we have never even had a conversation. I'm not nervous quite yet, but knowing that these people are to become part of my family is having a strange effect. They live thousands of miles away. The frequency of us seeing them depends very much on how much money we stand to make and how the political relationships of our respective countries are at any given time, which could be disrupted for a number of reasons. This gathering this weekend could very well be the only time I see them until our wedding or even after, so my window to make an impression is brief.

All of this aside, I am so incredibly proud of my love. His heart and his spirit are deep and strong, like the Deep Blue Sea he crossed to get here to his destiny and he has worked through a lot to get to this day. All of the noise and blather aside, this weekend will be a milestone for him and us. The glory and recognition are all his, but the promise of the future are ours.