Friday, December 28, 2012

From the long overdue (re)readings (XV)

On the terrace of the Café des Deux Palais, Gabriel, knocking back his fifth grenadine, was holding forth to an assembly whose attention seemed all the greater in that its francophony was more diffuse.
    'Why,' he was saying, 'why should one not tolerate this life, since so little suffices to deprive one of it? So little brings it into being, so little brightens it, so little blights it, so little bears it away. Otherwise, who would tolerate the blows of fate and the humiliations of a successful career, the swindling of grocers, the prices of butchers, the water of milkmen, the irritation of parents, the fury of teachers, the bawling of sergeant-majors, the turpitude of the beats, the lamentations of the dead-beats, the silence of infinite space, the smell of cauliflower or the passivity of the wooden horses on a merry-go-round, were it not for his knowledge that the bad and proliferative behaviour of certain minute cells (gesture) or the trajectory of a bullet traced by an involuntary, irresponsible, anonymous individual might unexpectedly come and cause all these cares to evaporate into the blue of the heavens. I, who now address you, have many times orientated my thoughts toward these problems while, dressed in a tutu, I expose to cretins like you my naturally fairly hirsute it must be admitted but professionally epilated thighs. I should add that if you so desire you can be present at this spectacle this very evening.'
   'Hurrah!' cried the travellers confidently.
   'Well Ida know Unkoo, trade's getting better and better.'

Raymond Queneau, Zazie in the Metro (1959), trans. Barbara Wright (1960). Penguin, 2001. p. 95.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Family Portrait by Skyler Clark

It may surprise you to know that six out of the seven people in this photograph are immediate family.  Only two people are blood relatives, three are adopted, one is a half-blood relative, and another isn’t related at all. Nevertheless, five out seven are, in fact, my relatives.   Because of our obvious age differences, you might guess that the older ones are my uncles and aunts but it is true that most of them are really my brothers and sister. The only one not in the immediate family is my brother Ryan’s former girlfriend, Debbie. She is the third from the left.  Ryan has his arm around her.  If you haven’t guessed already, yes, the little kid in the photo is me. This may come as a shock to you, but my family isn’t the simplest family there ever was. We, as a family, are like a very complicated mineral that can be separated into the many different elements that form it. Upon separation there isn’t much to link us together: most of look very different, the age gaps are incredibly apparent, and as you can see by looking at our hair or our clothes, we each have a different style. However, when we are combined we each become a part of an incredibly unusual rock, otherwise known as our family. 

Adam was and always has been a free spirit. He never really conformed to society’s rules and for the most part did what he wanted when he wanted. You can tell a lot about his personality from the photograph itself. All the way up to adulthood he always had that long wavy hair and wore the loose fitting clothes. He looked a lot like what one would might consider to be a hippy and his personality wasn’t too far from that either. He is the oldest in the family by far and was looked up to by Ryan the most. Ryan and Adam look the most like actual blood-related brothers even though they had no blood-relation whatsoever. They both had very long hair and similar personalities. Ryan was never as outgoing as Adam, but not many people that I know of, at least, are. Adam has always been a risk taker, looking constantly at the positive outcomes first and the negative ones last, if at all. Joel, the one in the middle holding me, is the opposite. He was, and still is, a lot more hesitant about making decisions. As you can see in the photo he kind of stands a little apart from everyone else, which matches up well with his personality. He is a very different person than Ryan and Adam. Although he isn’t the most outgoing person in the world, he is never afraid to voice his opinion, an attribute that Ryan never had. Those three: Ryan, Adam and Joel make up the brothers from my dad’s side, which leads me to my mom’s side of the family.   

Nolan, the one at the far left, has always played a key role in my life. He was a very rambunctious kid, to say the least, and took pleasure in giving me constant beatings. If you look at the photograph you can tell by the way he is holding his arm that he is very anxious to get on with things. Our sister, Bevin has probably had the most difficulties fitting into the family. In The photograph, itself, you can tell that she doesn’t appear to be too comfortable and stands with her arms crossed to the side of my brother Adam. This is, in part, due to the fact that she is the only girl, making her physically different but also mentally and emotionally separate as well.  You might think that because we are all so different we didn’t treat each other like brothers and sister but that was never the case. I have never once seen my brothers and sister as separate from my immediate family. To me there was no “mom’s side” or “dad’s side” we were all just one big family. We may have all been fundamentally different people, but we still cared for each other the same way anyone would love their brothers and sisters.

That was a terrific night. I was all bundled up in my warm Mickey Mouse pajamas with the matching red socks to go along with it. I still have the faint memory of my brother Adam, who is the tall one with the long hair to the right, swinging me around the room, holding me by my legs. I can’t exactly remember which holiday it was, but we were celebrating something that night. The photograph goes back at least a good fifteen years or so, and family portraits have and always will be a rare occasion in my family so we must have gathered together to celebrate something important. As a little kid, I always figured that my family would remain as close as it was then. I had always known but was never directly told that one day everyone would move out, leaving me alone with my parents. It is funny how time changes things. Adam, Nolan, and Joel all have kids of their own now. Ryan is happily married with his two pugs and Bevin is engaged to her boyfriend of ten years.  The closest one is Joel who lives in Torrington. Ryan lives in East Granby, Bevin in Chicago, Nolan in Vermont, and Adam in New Orleans. The fact that everyone lives so far away now, makes this picture even more special to me. As I said before it isn’t every day that my family takes a portrait, especially with both sides of the family included.  I do not know how long it will be before my family takes another family photo like this one. I cherish this photo and faint memories the come with it. Hopefully one day my family will have another opportunity to take a photo where we all are together like this one.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Essay by Lindsay Theobald

The Fisherman and His Babies

I was unaware of the amount of photographs that my parents took when I was younger. Looking through the old book of pictures I realized that they enjoyed capturing pictures of their children even though I looked very strange up until I was about three months old. I had huge blue eyes that did not fit my face and a tuft of hair on the top of my head that stuck up no matter what because of my double cowlick. Maisie, my sister, was the cuter child. While looking through I came upon a picture that was taken on one of my first days home after I was born. The lighting seems like it was taken just after dinner. My father had evidently just come back from fishing and is holding the catch of the night in his left hand and me in his right. The fish is hanging with my father’s finger poking through the poor fish’s gills and through its mouth. I was swaddled in a Pepto Bismol pink onesy and a white blanket with multicolored hands and feet prints all over it. I still have that red new-born tint to my skin and the pink outfit only accentuates the unnatural color. My father is wearing a green, red, and white plaid shirt, which I was later informed that he still owns. He is wearing khaki shorts, and he has his distinctive argyle socks on. He has worn them his entire life, because his mother made sure that he always wore argyle socks and his brother wore white tube socks, so they were never confused when sorting the laundry. My father refuses ever to wear socks other than the brightly colored, flashy socks that he has always worn. He is also wearing bean boot moccasins. He is convinced that his friend “borrowed” them at some point and has not seen them since. Through the open collar of his shirt you can see a necklace. It is made of pink and purple plastic beads that I am guessing my sister made for him. He is wearing his hair parted to the side like when he had more hair, and the wire frame glasses he wore throughout my childhood. When posing for pictures my father doesn’t fully smile and he has his half smile camera face on in this picture. It is quite hard to get my father ever to laugh heartily.
     In the background is part of our yard in New Hampshire. It has changed drastically since this photo was taken. My father planted as many hemlock saplings as he could find in the woods around our property near the road so we would have more privacy. An area for a garden was sectioned off right behind him in the picture where we have not planted anything cultured in years, and we let the wild flowers grow inside its borders. The foxgloves are still part of our yard. They come back every year, and they accentuate the stone wall behind. The picnic table that the fly-fishing rod is resting on was moved to the other side yard and has slowly started to decay over the years. The giant birch in the background was cut down a couple years ago when our neighbors decided to remodel and pretty much rebuild their entire house.
     When you look at the photograph you just see a man holding a small child and a fish, surrounded by tall trees; but the story behind it makes it special. My father wanted to show how small I was in comparison to the small trout. He wanted to hold me upside down and then cradle the fish, but his common sense kicked in and decided that would not be the best idea. This picture encapsulates my childhood in one moment. I remember spending summers in New Hampshire playing in that yard and running wild through the trees. We ate trout that my father had caught as often as we could. It was my favorite food for a long time. For a while it was the only food that I would eat. My father wanted and still wants for me to learn how to fly fish. He took me out one night when he went to catch some trout in the lake. The night was perfect for fishing. We caught about twenty fish altogether, but we only brought home two. The two unlucky ones flopped around in the boat until they finally suffocated in the air. I refused to touch them even when we returned home. They grossed me out. They were dead, slimy, sticky, weird looking, and had glazed over eyes. I felt guilty for taking their life which seemed as happy as a fish’s life could be, until we came along. A couple years later my father convinced me that fishing again would be fun. We went out onto the lake. The conditions were not as good as the first conditions, and we did not catch as many fish. We finally caught one and I, being naïve about fishing, did not realize that the “most humane” way of killing a fish is to bash its scull in. After experiencing how our food comes to us first hand, I learned to cherish the animals we eat more.

     Looking through the photos I saw pictures of times before I was born and pictures of times that I cannot remember, but I still know most of the surroundings and people in each of the photographs. It seems like a lifetime ago that they were taken. My mother and my father both look so young, and my sister was in the phase where she refused to smile at cameras and had a doe-like expression on her face. When looking at the picture of my father and myself, I feel safe and content as I imagine I did at the time the photo was taken.


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Poem by Falon Moran


You’re like a little teepee, with a shelf.
So pointed at the top, at least
The snow or rain will never take over.

A mountain, gone haywire.
Like someone picked you up
From the bottom and stood you
Sideways, how cruel.

A comfy hanging chair,
With lots of pillows,
One I could just sink into.

I just think of that face,
The one everyone makes
Online, the big happy grin
Or the sad pout.

Elephant, E for elephant,
Sitting on your behind.
Two sets of legs, and a trunk.

Reminding me of,
Well me, yes F
Is for Falon

Like a snake curled up,
You curve and split,
Like a snake hunting.

Like a stall,
Where a Horse
Might come poking through.

A hot summer day,
All you need is
A Popsicle, just like I.

A coat should hang
Up upon you, the
Way you curve slightly
It’s like you should be on a wall.

A tree, with a ladder
Standing up into
A tall oak,
Waiting to be climbed.

Like a shelf,
Filled with junk
Holding a life in itself.

A Valley submerged
Between two mountains
A small creek running
Between the peaks.

A poor Z,
That has been tipped
Never to be upright again.

An open mouth,
Or an Owl as it
Hoots through the night.

You look as though
You might topple over,
For your head is rather
One sided and large.

A blank face,
Make pretend there
Are eyes, yet a long beard
Comes from the chin.

A hidden tree house
In a big tall pine,
Looking down over
A large field down below.

Slithering like a snake,
You curve around
Looking like a deep river
Flowing in its path.

A tall pole
With a nest built
On top to save
Something from the ground.

A deep pocket
Dug into the earth,
A perfect spot to
Grow a garden.

The bottom of
An ice cream cone,
Memories of summer
And warm weather.

A double set
Of ice cream cones,
Perhaps a first date
Or maybe just for one.

A no trespassing
Sign in the dark
Do not pass go
Do not come back again.

A glass of some sort
Filled to the brim
With liquid,
Ready to drink.

Z, you puzzle me.
You’re curvy, but with
Sharp corners,
Ready to poke out an eye.