Thursday, April 28, 2016


On every planet there is an equal and opposing side of good and evil, one that creates and nurtures while the other destroys and burns. When aliens first came to our planet they told us this and we couldn't believe them; at first we thought that we were the good guys, to which the aliens simply snorted; then we realized, with horror, that we were the destroyers. But then who was the equally good force on our world?
"What other species has existed as long as you have and whose life span is a great deal longer than yours--who over populates the planet almost as much as you do while never harming anyone? On the contrary, they produce so much for us: air, fresh food in each season and shelter for humans and animals alike and, in their death, return all their rich nutrients to the soil? It's the trees, lass."

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Woman in the Blue Spacesuit Part 4

“Why are you still doing in my house?” asked Martha. “You have made yourself a positive nuisance today. I told you to leave my home and I would have expected you to have the decency to do so.” She couldn’t believe she was having this conversation.
            “I have nowhere to go to, Martha Walker,” she said. “I’m sure you understand what that is like.”
            Martha stared at her long and hard. “How do you know my name?”
            ‘It is a long story, one that I think you will not have the willingness to listen to or believe.”
            “If it has to do with me I want to know about it,” Martha replied. “I have the right to know if some weird scientific experiment has to do with me.”
            “Have to do with you?” the woman in the spacesuit rolled her eyes dramatically. “You people think that everything is about you all the time, as if you were something of any importance!”
            “You keep saying ‘you people’ as if we were something apart from you. What makes you better?”
            “Lots of things my dear, but—my, aren’t you quick one.”
            “Don’t change the subject.”
            The woman in the spacesuit began to pace up and down across the room, fingers pressed to her chin, deep in thought. Martha stood quivering in fear and awe, although she tried to look composed and serious. Outside the sky began to tinge red; it was five o’clock and the sun was starting to rise.
            Eventually the woman in the spacesuit stopped pace and crossed the room to Martha, standing very close to her and peering deeply into her eyes. “I must make you promise to listen to me, not just listen but believe. I do not lie. I have never lied in my life. I am telling you all of this because I desperately need your help; there is a man hungry for my life and my protection is broken, for now. This little apartment of yours seems to be the only protection I have. Please hear me out.”
            She took Martha by the elbow and led her to the window. They stood beneath the rising sun and talked quietly, the spacesuit lady leaning closely to Martha’s ear.
            “I am an alien from another planet. Don’t be alarmed; I’m harmless as can be. My species developed teleportation and space travel quite a long time ago—oh, about three-thousand years ago now,” she added with a little laugh, almost bitterly it seemed to Martha. She continued: “I set out to this planet a long time ago, and I am in hot pursuit for a crime I did not commit. He is dead set on punishing me for it too.”
            “And how on earth do you expect me to believe all of this?” asked Martha. “Who are you anyways?”
            “They call me Jun. As for proof, I could do three things to show you that I am telling you the truth. I could either do something else spectacular to show you that I am not of this world—but I wonder if you would actually want that, considering what a great shock the other two did you. And why should I do it again, considering that I have already given you evidence that I am something that you have never seen before? Then there is the second option, which is to use my telepathic abilities to enter your mind and show you that I am telling you the truth. Fair warning though, it’s a fairly uncomfortable experience, especially considering that we are not even of the same species. Other than discomfort, it would definitely help to prove a few things.”
            “What is the third option?”                      
            “I could always just force you to do what I want,” Jun said solemnly. “Of course this would only be as a last resort; I don’t find mind control to be very ethical, but you insist on being stubborn and putting my life in danger I will have to do what I deem necessary.”
            Martha stepped back and cleaned against the desk with a heavy sigh. These options did not seem to be in her favor, but at least they would help her figure out what was happening.
            How unfair it was that this had chanced to happen to her! She wanted nothing to do with this situation, so surreal that she could hardly believe it all wasn’t a dream. And now this stranger was demanding her help when Martha couldn’t ascertain whether she trusted her or not. Martha just wanted to be left alone entirely. Martha however could feel within herself that this would be all right. What other reason could this be here for than something spectacular? She could think of no rational explanation. And she could not turn away someone who was suffering. So slowly she turned to the lady in the spacesuit and answered,

            “So you invading my brain seems to be the only option.”

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Sunday Song #16: Dust in the Wind by Kansas

I close my eyes only for a moment, and the moment's gone.
All my dreams pass before my eyes, a curiosity.
Dust in the wind, all they are is dust in the wind.

Same old song, just a drop of water in an endless sea.
All we do crumbles to the ground, though we refuse to see.
Dust in the wind, all we are is dust in the wind.

Now, don't hang on, nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky!
It slips away, and all your money won't another minute buy.
Dust in the wind, all we are is dust in the wind.
Dust in the wind, all we are is dust in the wind.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Woman in the Blue Spacesuit, Part 3

And eventually, one by one with each a different excuse, they all left. They did not offend Martha because she was glad to see them gone. Sandra and Mike had work early in the morning and it was already ten o’clock, they said, and the baby sitter would want to go home. At eleven Kyle said he still an essay do in the morning that he needed to finish. Then Patricia said she’d be going but couldn’t seem to get away. She sat with them a long time and Martha did not even notice the hour go by, and she had found enough energy in herself to actually pay attention to the conversation, for as usual Patricia had interesting and important things to say. They talked a while about how difficult work had been.
            “I find it impossible to keep up with the expected number of clients,” she said. “I find no one can, and this new plan is a doomed failure.” Martha found the struggles of work uninteresting in comparison to a vanishing spacesuit lady in her house. She remembered her boss reprimanding her about a difficult customer, and how far away and unimportant that impossible struggle was. She shrugged her shoulders.
            “I find it all so pointless,” Patricia said with a yawn. She twisted her thin wrist around to look at the time—12:30, and they all had work early in the morning.
            Luke stayed seated as Martha led her friend to the door and then out towards her car. Patricia gave hinting glances back at the house, hoping that Martha would notice, but Martha kept her glance on the ground until they got to the car. Patricia could not go home without knowing.
            Her tone surprised Martha, and she blushed. “It’s not like that. We’re just talking.”
            “Well, don’t do anything rash.” She glanced at the living room window, where a light shone out onto the street and they could see Luke. He stood and stretched a long while, and then began pacing the room. Martha squeezed Patricia’s arm.
            “Don’t let me get my hopes up,” she said. “There’s really nothing behind it anymore.”
            Patricia understood what her friends said and meant: that the conversation was over. She looked over and said quietly, “Do you know that professor Schwinger is sick?”
            Martha nodded. “I’ve heard about it.”
“What have you heard? No one seems to know anything.”
“They say it’s a blood disease, not too different from Leukemia. They don’t know if they can fix it or not, but of course they’re doing the best they can,” Martha replied.
            Patricia looked at her friend with her sorrowful brown eyes, and her head tilted slightly on her slender neck in thought. “I don’t think that I talk to anyone that I used to, including you. I haven’t seen the professor in two long years.”
            “Same here,” Martha replied. She didn’t add how guilty she felt because of it, but she didn’t know. The wind blew through the branches above them and rustled Patricia’s strawberry blond hair against her ruddy cheek. She was flushed from the whine and excitement. Before she got in the car Martha squeezed her hand lightly and stood to wave as she drove away.
            She walked towards the house slowly, walking carefully in her the snow so as not to get snow in her flimsy shoes. As soon as she entered her apartment the wave of heat hit her and fogged up her glasses, and she felt scared. Luke had grown impatient during her talk with Patricia and as soon as she entered the door he was by her side, his dark eye glowing as he looked at her.
            Luke felt as many things as Martha did about the situation, but he said less because he knew that it was not the time. Now that he had Martha alone, he felt as scared as a child and wanted to be as near to her as she would let her. She felt shy and scared herself and pulled away from him often and he had grown unjustly angry.
“Do you know I had a terrible idea in the middle of all this? I imagined that perhaps that thing the girl had on her wrist didn’t send her away! Perhaps she is just invisible, walking around in the house somewhere! And you haven’t yet told me what all of this is about!”
            “I haven’t had a chance,” Martha answered. “She appeared out of thin air in my pantry and told me that she was a part of some operation. I asked her if it was a part of NASA and she said no, then I told her to leave—well, maybe that isn’t the right order. I don’t know. I thought of calling the police, but then you came in. That’s really all there is to it.”
            “All there is to it?” Luke said. “This is fantastic! That means the government’s discovered stuff like teleportation at least.”
            We sat silent for a while. Then he asked how she liked working as a secretary.
            Perhaps it seems a little weird that this was what he decided to talk about at this exact moment, but then he was never known for grace. And after all that had just happened to them Martha was glad that he still cared about her own wellbeing.
            “I like it,” she replied. “It pays well and the hours are regular; that is better than any kind of job I’ve had so far.”
            After that there was not much to say. Luke left shortly after and Martha locked the door after him.
            Now she was alone in her own house. She later despised Luke for ever mentioning his theory about the woman, that she had turned invisible instead of teleporting safely away. There was ever so slight a possibility that the woman was still here, in the house in some hidden place. Martha tried to remind herself that it was not very likely. After all, what had that woman to do with her?
            Martha went through her nightly routine for bed. She changed into an old t-shirt and yoga pants, she took her make-up off and put lotion on. She texted a few people to wrap up the conversation for the night—her mother, about some business with the cat, and with Patricia Fox. Then she opened her bedroom window, curled up in her bed and went to sleep.
            All night long she had odd dreams. She dreamed she was drifting off in space, and woke with a start, cold all over. Later on she dreamed she was in a house of mirrors where her face kept vanishing and reappearing in odd places. The last time she awoke it was a three o’clock, and she owned she would not go back to sleep.
            A cold shower would do her some good, she decided. She enjoyed it and dressed afterwards in a white button up and black skirt. She prided herself in dressing professionally and behaving so while she was at school and carried that attitude into her new job, which was something her boss appreciated about her. After she put on makeup and did her hair the sky outside was still dark; the streetlights glistened in her window. She sighed.
            Somehow her mind led her to a pad of paper and a pen. She had not written much after college, and the words came with difficulty. She was trying to sort out the queer events of yesterday but she could not make sense of it even on paper. She dribbled on about it for half a page, and then realized that it was not even the spacesuit lady that was really bothering her, that it was something more. She began talking about her secretary job and how much Mr. Stanchez required of her. That upset her more than she expect it would and eventually she threw the pen on the desk, defeated, and stared out of the window and the city streets.
            “I would advise you not to keep that paper,” said a voice from behind me.

            It was the woman in the spacesuit, her blond hair flowing clumsily on her thick suit shoulders and arms. She held her helmet under her arm and her watch device in her hand, and she did not look pleased.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Something Wicked this Way Comes by Ray Bradburry

Jim and Will are next door neighbors and have been inseparable since birth. They run everywhere together, go on midnight strolls and read in the library where Will's dad works. Their town is slow and uneventful until a traveling salesman tries to sell the boys some lightning rods and warns them that a storm is brewing. The storm never comes, but the next day the circus arrives.

Ray Bradburry's language and clarity bring life to this story; not a word is wasted to keep the reader engaged in this boyish tale. The eerie, ill-meaning circus has something odd about it, with each entertainer as mean as they are colorful. The boys fall upon so many misgivings  and finally uncover the truth of the dangerous circus, a truth that the circus people are willing to do anything to keep a secret.

Will's father is elderly and has had a hard time relating to his much younger son, but he is able to help them fight off the enemies. Their relationship plays a key roll to the story as Will learns what his father is like through their adventure and his father is the one to figure out how to defeat the circus. He also gives us a glimpse into the deeper meaning behind the story. He compares the dangerous circus members as autumn people, people whose lives are stuck in the dreary lifeless state, people who find joy in misfortune and unhappiness. He also showed the boys how to fight the evil, not by simply getting rid of it but by replacing it with goodness, joy and love.

The book also addressed the question of eternal life. One of the many odd, magical attractions to the circus is the merry-go-round that, by going either backwards or forwards, can change your physical age. Jim especially is drawn to it, and the Illusive Man, the leader of the circus, tempts him constantly with eternal life. Jim in the end must make a choice.

Ray Bradburry creates terrifying villains and realistic protagonists. Every word is placed carefully and perfectly and he gently encourages the reader to explore his ideas while still deeply engaged in the plot. This is, in essence a jolly spooky tale about two boys and a circus, but told with Bradburry's vibrant description and style that makes him, to me,  one of the greatest authors of all time.

Raise Up by G Yamazawa

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Sunday Song #15: Come Sail Away by Styx

I'm sailing away; set an open course for the virgin sea.
'Cause I've got to be free, free to face the life that's ahead of me.
On board, I'm the captain, so climb aboard;
We'll search for tomorrow on every shore,
And I'll try, oh Lord, I'll try to carry on.

I look to the sea; reflections in the waves spark my memory,
Some happy, some sad. I think of childhood friends and the dreams we had.
We lived happily forever so the story goes,
But somehow we missed out on the pot of gold;
But we'll try best that we can to carry on.

A gathering of Angels appeared above my head,
They sang to me this song of hope and this is what they said,
They said, "Come sail away, come sail away, come sail away with me.
Come sail away, come sail away, come sail away with me,
Come sail away, come sail away, come sail away with me
Come sail away, come sail away, come sail away with me."
I thought that they were Angels, but to my surprise,
We climbed aboard their starship, we headed for the skies!
Singing, come sail away, come sail away, come sail away with me,
Come sail away, come sail away, come sail away with me
Come sail away, come sail away, come sail away with me.

Saturday, April 16, 2016


We all end up here, forgotten, moss growing on our tombstone and weed sprouting above the dust that remains of us. Some of these graves have been here a hundred years, unvisited by their children and grandchildren who are also dead and gone, and all that they have accomplished in their tiny lives is forgotten under the weight of the immense stillness they will endure throughout the ages. I am surrounded by hundreds of people, dead, slaughtered by the ever-pressing time. Each of our lives ends in tragedy. In a hundred years after my death, I doubt very many people will remember my name unless I have accomplished something great. But what then? In two hundred, three hundred years I am but history. We have so little time to make any sort of impact on this planet, but it's just a footprint in the sand and in the end we return quickly to the dust that we struggled out of. We can never stop tragedy, or war, or devastation, or the weather or earth from crushing us. Every human being must suffer and cause tragedy. In the end whatever difference we make cannot change that. We are all so common, part of the six billion who teem on this earth and the billions uncounted who teemed on it before us. We are the greatest predators on this earth, the top of the food chain, with nothing to stop us but time and ourselves. We're a combination of ants and monkeys, unquestionably following the human structure but fools, barbarians, trying to make sense of what has no sense without us. Does all of this make sense? Must we package up the Universe so it can fit into our tiny little heads? It has been here billions of years before us and will be here billions of year after our earth has crashed into the sun. It extends unending, billions of years of our life time in every direction without end, and yet so many of us claim to understand it when we haven't even seen one percent of it all. Most of us haven't even seen one percent of our own planet. We are just ants on a rock.
Yet the sun is shining bright and hot for the first time in days. The light makes everything so vibrant. The sky is deep. unending blue and when you look at it you can see that it goes on and on forever. The clouds swirl around in it like smoke while our planes have etched long white paths through it. The ground beneath me is covered in moss, weeds, pebbles and wearing tombstones. On these old white marble stones the people who loved these men have tried to etch some meaning to their deaths. They wrote verse of a hope that maybe they are not dead after all, that they are out there somewhere with the one who made us all, still thinking and feeling and missing us, and that some day they will again breath and stand again. They have put markings to signify the days that these people walked on the earth; some of those are worn away into nothing in the stone.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

February 21st

I took a different route to work this morning, since I had a little more time on my hands. My usual route is beginning to bore me. It's right along the highway with all of the noise and traffic, only separated from me with a clumsy chain fence. When the highway gets too heavy with traffic, it spills over on to the access roads where you can almost go twice as fast as on the interstate. Fernandina has no sidewalk, just a ditch one side and wide brambles on the other, with a tiny brown path paved with wear. Ugly little businesses for machinery and computers have pitched up between the flimsy apartment complexes and the long billboards. With the rain flooded from last night, my walk will be riddled with ponds and mud.
So I took the opposite path. Beatty is very slow in the mornings and exceptionally slow on a Sunday. I wore a green cardigan and a light cap, but mostly for whatever chill might come tonight on my way home. This morning it's only the slightest bit cold, and refreshing with the mugginess and thickness of the air. Large drops grow then fall with a plump from the heavily dampened trees. The water glistens on the road; it follows me, shimmering, as I stroll down the hill and trickles together under my feet. As I cross the bridge and turn left, the stream below has transformed overnight into a gurgling, growling monster, tearing through the tree roots and churning mud and branches in its chaos.
I hadn't walked this road since Philippe and I parted ways at the crest of the hill. I've never walked it in the winter. The trees hang heavy with rain over the road, their skeletonal limbs shading my path with fat, cold droplets landing in my hair and along my path houses are nicer, fuller and more colorful than I remember.
As I walked I thought about what work would be like, after the scare of last night. I wondered what stories I would hear and thankful again I wasn't there. I began to think how safe it is I walk alone so much, and how dumb  and selfish people are to shoot guns off in a public place.
Two guys had a fist fight at the mall I work in. Apparently they got so mad about whatever they were fighting about that they pulled their guns out and shot into the air, not hurting anyone. So, the entire mall hears gunshots and responds accordingly. It evacuated itself, with a lot trampling and shoving, except the stores which immediately locked their gates and hid in the back.
Our manager is a little shy. He's a history major with a long Georgia drawl, and for the most part he hates being the manager for the store. I think authority fits oddly on his shoulders; he'd rather follow directions than give them, and he's a little ADHD at work. I have the same problem. He is not loud and authoritative and take-action by nature. But this time he immediately pulled the doors shut, locked them, and told everyone to move to the back when he saw people running. He knew exactly what to do and he did it immediately.
My co-worker Jay probably had the most dramatic story. My manager said jokingly to go ahead and take his lunch, to which Jay replied he'd never come back. As he was leaving he noticed people starting to rush, and as he was exiting the building he go pushed from behind. he heard people shouting about a shooting, and he ran through the woods to the movie theater, where he got a ride home from his boyfriend.
Everyone else stayed in the back, trying to keep idiotic customers under control. Maria took a lot of snap-chats. I texted the new girl telling her she had a great first day (even though she was hating it). She texted back, telling me she was hiding in the back-room. She really was having a terrible day. We had all had terrible days leading up to this, because Saturdays are chaos at our store.
I keep thinking about how many kids I gave Frappuccinos to that day, and how annoyed I was about them. For all of that I'm so glad none of them got hurt, that nobody got hurt. Otherwise all these stories that we're talking about over our morning coffee would be in hushed voices and sympathetic words.
I thought that coming to the store after what happened would make me feel scared, but I actually felt much safer than I had before. So many shootings happen all over the world at complete randomness I've already come to terms with the fact one might happen at my store or in my city. It really is quite likely, knowing the people who live here. I realized how foolish it is to pull your gun out threateningly in this state, however; the cops were there within 5 minutes of the shots fired, and in the end three districts of police were there frisking people who were leaving the building and setting up a perimeter. Three roads were shut down and traffic everywhere in the city was bad.
My bus is late and crowded, but everything feels the same. Traffic is normal; the rain had ended. When I walked up to the mall the parking lot was already half full, the looming evidence of the inevitably bad day I was going to have. I guess people still need to shop, but it seems so disrespectful. As I sit and drink my tea and listen to the voices around me: "were you here last night?" "Makes no sense!" "I just left work before it happened.""I saw people running." So we talk it over our coffee the next morning.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Woman in the Blue Space Suit, Part 2

            Luke Herrington and Martha Walker met their Freshman year in High School and had been friends ever since. She was his vice-president their Sophomore year and they had worked together in the student body council before Martha resigned. Outside of school they spent many parties tucked away in a corner discussing political idealism while everyone else danced. He and she had several bars around town they’d go to talk.
            Luke grew up in Deluth. His voice rolled with longs os and sharp, clear consonants; when he was not busy with the pursuits of school he was in the woods with his dog Molly. He loved hiking. He had the latest camping gear, the best hiking boots and the coolest water bottle available. He knew every kind of species there was of plants, animals, birds; he could predict the weather with great accuracy. When he was not out in the woods he was a bit of a social butterfly; he made friends with everyone, and was always the life of the party.
            Martha remained in a silent daze, but Luke smiled and acted as if nothing had ever happened. He was a simple man who lived very much in the present, so he excelled at tucking away bad memories and ignoring unpleasant event to come. His habit of living in the moment made him a great procrastinator.
            He sat comfortably throughout the meal. He had seconds and thirds, especially of Sandra’s homemade biscuits with ham, and he laughed loudly at anything funny that was said. When Luke laughed his head cocked back and he opened his mouth wide, revealing two rows of clean teeth, and he always laughed loudly, as if he wished everyone in the room to hear him. Martha despised his laugh, even though she loved him for everything else. She found his laugh despicable. He laughed a lot that night and most people liked him for it, and he chose music to listen to and engaged in the conversation of many. At the end of the night everyone loved him a little more, although they may have been a little tired of him as well.
            During the meal Martha sat next to Patricia Fox. Martha could not forget the woman in the spacesuit throughout the meal the way Luke could, and she looked dismally into her mashed potatoes as if she could divine some answer from them. She talked very little, even though she loved Patricia Fox in every way. Patricia had strawberry-blond hair now and she told Martha all about a new creative writing campaign that the Star Gazette was coming out with. Martha nodded to everything that she said, but Martha’s mind kept returning to the misgiving she had about the space-suit lady. What if she was going to cause havoc in the neighborhood? What if she had not gone far? Patricia Fox talked to her about office work and how she hoped to get an advance; Martha heard and understood that much. Well, that would be good, she thought; she would like Patricia as a manager, for she had a good head on her shoulders. She felt miserable again and played with her spaghetti thoughtfully.
The meal was winding down; a few had finished and pushed their plates a little away from themselves. Sandra and Luke were talking a little quieter about a book they had both read and how moving it was; everyone else grew quiet. A few poured fresh glasses of wine. Kyle looked cheerful and even Martha began to pay attention to the serenity of her surroundings. The spacesuit lady was gone, potentially from her life forever.
Somebody thanked Martha for the meal and she remembered they had agreed to watch one of Patricia’s favorites; she retreated to the bedroom to find it while the others found settled in the living room and found comfortable places on the cushions and couches. Kyle made fun of the choice of movie, since it was a romance, but Martha soon put it in everyone grew into a contented silence. Luke helped Martha carry the dishes to the sink to wash.
            The movie was about a girl who lived in France during the war. She fell in love with a German soldier while he was on leave and the movie expanded on the difficulties with loving a Nazi. The girls loved it but Martha could tell that towards the end the boys began to get a little bit restless. They began whispering among each other and cracking jokes about the corny lines in the movie, and of course this irritated the girls very much. Patricia Fox grew stonily silent, for she related the heroine very much.
            “This film is not just critically acclaimed! It has won more awards than anything you’ve ever done.” And she was probably right about that, but all the same they laughed at her. Martha saw that Patricia turned very angry at this, and she silently put the water on to boil for a cup of tea. She already felt that it would be a long awkward evening; she could feel the tension in the air between Luke and herself about what had already happened, and now she felt Patricia’s anger like a hot wave. She always felt things too strongly. She silently made her tea in the dark and made Patricia a cup of chamomile, to which her friend smiled brightly and thankfully and Martha knew that he small act had done some good.
            She leaned over the couch for a while, silently drinking her tea and watching the movie. She could understand why Patricia was so passionate about the heroine. This French girl seemed to be greater than everyone else in the movie, wiser and yet she had what everyone considered a great folly—that she loved a Nazi. She even despised herself of her flaw, and Martha couldn’t decide whether she passionately loved this French girl with all her heart. She despised the naivety and vanity, definitely, for these ideas are no longer respected in people; but she loved the pain mingled with love. She understood that deeply.

            Then after the movie they grew serious. Luke, Patricia and Martha sat together on the couch and talked about how broke they were and how bad student loans turned out to be. Martha was surprised to find that Luke claimed to be desperately in debt, for she had seen him so frivolous with his money in his past. Of course Martha had no one to blame but herself for her lack of knowledge in her friends’ lives; she hadn’t sat down with Patricia Fox and Kyle since she had left college last year. It felt odd. She silently felt a wall of time separated them from each other and she could not reach them through it.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Nectar in a Sieve by Kamala Markandaya

None of us who have grown up in the first world understand what it's like to lose a child to starvation, to watch their body dwindle away day after day as you struggle to find enough to feed five mouths. Nor do we understand the beauty of village life, the raw struggle on the land that you will never own though you work on it your whole life. By reading Nectar in the Sieve, we learn the story of Rukmani and her family and their fight to survive.

One year the monsoon falls heavy and destroys everything; the next year the rains wait until every crop is dry and shriveled. Their village slowly gets swallowed up by by the tannery and their sons are forced to work to feed their growing family. They are constantly threatened by starvation and by evacuation, yet their loyalty and strength for each other gives them the motivation to fight for their survival. Their oldest daughter Ira is willing to sacrifice any chance she had for marriage to feed the mouths of her starving siblings; the oldest sons work hard for one rupee a day to bring it home to the family and to work beside their father in the fields on their days off. Nathan, her husband, though starvation eats away at him year after year, still pushes through the fields and finds his strength to keep going.

Kenny is a close friend to the family; he's a foreign doctor that helped the family in many ways throughout the story. He questions Rukmani for her willingness to accept what comes and live through her suffering. Why do they not call out for help or fight against their suffering? She replies that the priests have taught them suffering refines them; besides, if they called, who would come? If you dislike your suffering you should work harder and pray that the gods will help you. She sees no escape for her family; they will always be confined to this life.

Markandaya accurately portrays the daily struggle for life that many families today strive for, with no chance of improving their situation. It reminded me of how much I take for granted, of how storms and droughts won't make me starve or ruin my livelihood, how food has always been available and I've never known true, raw want. Rukmani has tremendous courage in the face of her struggles, and through she has lost so much in poverty she still has the will to live and fight for those she loves.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Sunday Song #14: Time in a Bottle by Jim Croce

If I could save time in a bottle,
The first thing that I'd like to do
Is to save every day
'Til eternity passes away
Just to spend them with you.

If I could make days last forever,
If words could make wishes come true
I'd save every day like a treasure and then,
Again, I would spend them with you.

But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do,
Once you find them.
I've looked around enough to know
That you're the one I want to go
Through time with.

If I had a box just for wishes
And dreams that had never come true,
The box would be empty
Except for the memory
Of how they were answered by you.

But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do,
Once you find them.
I've looked around enough to know
That you're the one I want to go
Through time with.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Storm Fear by Robert Frost

When the wind works against us in the dark,
And pelts with snow
The lower chamber window on the east,
And whispers with a sort of stifled bark,
The beast,
'Come out! Come out!'--
It costs no inward struggle not to go
Ah, no!
I count our strength,
Two and a child,

Those of us not asleep subdued to mark
How the cold creeps as the fires dies at length,--
How drifts are piled,
Dooryard and road ungraded,
Till even the comforting barn grows far away
And my heart owns a doubt
Whether 'tis in us to arise with day
And save ourselves unaided.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Lady in a Blue Space Suit

“Please do not scream; I promise I mean no harm!”
            It was too late; Martha let out a high wale. Her hands shook so violently that her tray of deviled eggs slipped from her fingers and fell to the floor with a clatter. She felt her heart pounding in hear ears and tried to breathe deeply and think clearly, for right out of her closet, where there had been nothing but food moments before, a woman in a blue spacesuit materialized in a split second. It was so unexpected and sudden, so silent and unreal, that it took Martha a few moments before she fully realized what had happened. Then slowly fear creeped up her spine and she backed slowly towards the phone on the counter.
            The spacesuit woman looked from Martha’s hand to the phone.  “No, no, no, no, no, no—“ She pursed her lips and tightened her fists—“Ma’am, you must trust me. I’m part of an extremely important operation, and if you call the police you will reveal location. I will die.”
            Martha’s hand had grabbed the telephone. She was shaking so badly she couldn’t see the buttons clearly, so she looked up at the impostor childishly, curiously, her mind blinded by confusion. A woman in a spacesuit stood in her pantry, looking at her and pleading for her not to call the cops. She couldn’t believe this was really happening.
But of course this impostor was not a robber, for a robber would come dressed in all black. She would come at night, and not at four in the afternoon. This woman wore a blue spacesuit, and how did she appear out of thin air? Was Martha dreaming? It was a quarter till six; her dinner party was about to start, and how was she supposed to explain this? What is one to do in this sort of situation? And the woman in the blue spacesuit continued to shush Martha and glare at her with her wide eyebrows.
            Martha did not scream again, though her heart was throbbing in her chest and she tried to keep her hands still.
            “What’s going on?” Martha stammered. She twisted and turned the phone around in her hands, and pressed herself up against the counter, as far away from this anomaly as possible, the lady in the blue spacesuit only came closer.
            “Trust me, I am just as surprised as you are. But I am telling you the truth: I mean you no harm, I will be out of your hair in a moment, but if you call the police, or your mother or anyone—well you may as well shoot me here and now.
            “Who are you?!” Martha cried, her voice cracking shrilly.
            “You would believe me if I told you.”
            Martha held the phone tightly in her hands as if it was the only thing keeping her safe. As if to prove she was harmless, the lady in the spacesuit backed up a little towards the pantry and held her hands, palms out, near her face. The woman’s face looked honest; she had bright blue eyes and a cheerful face, and Martha was so unsure of what was going on she could easily accept any rational theory that was given to her. “Are you part of NASA or something?” she asked.
            The woman in the spacesuit snorted a little at that. “Well—something greater than that I suppose. I would say our technology is far more advanced. But there is no need to go into all of that; you have the right idea. I need you to trust me.”
            Martha still held the phone in her hand with her thumb on the 9 button, but she looked at the woman steadily. Her story was probably more likely than anything else. And then Martha realized she had a brisk British accent, and she wondered suddenly if she was not a part of NASA, where she had come from. “Are you a spy?” Martha demanded.
            “I’m an informer, not a spy,” the woman said sharply, “and I am insulted by the implication. I would do nothing to hurt you people, ridiculous as they are. I have deliberately told you the truth this entire time; I beg you to believe me and not let me die. Please do not call the police.”
            Martha put the phone down and looked at the clock. “I have guests arriving in five minutes. I suggest you get out of my house.”
            “I would if I could sweetheart. There’s just one problem. My protection device is broken and I can’t walk about Minneapolis in a spacesuit now can I?”
            “Well I can’t keep you here!”
            “If I could only get my Estute working properly!” The spacesuit lady took a watch-like object off of her wrist. It was full of white buttons and when she pressed a few of them smoke and sparks rose out of it.
            “Don’t be alarmed Martha Walker,” she said when Martha jumped. “This Estute is forty years old and these things don’t break easily. It’s probably due to some miscalculating during the transit, but no matter; its self-repair system will put it to right in a matter of minutes—“
            Martha had a hard time keeping up with the fast prattle of the spacesuit lady. She felt a little dazed, as if she was in a dream. And watching her, Martha slowly realized something that made her skin crawl.—“You knew my name,” She said quietly. The woman stood still, wide-eyed, for she realized she had blundered.
            “I swear I am not a spy, Martha! I know your name because—well, I suppose what you need to know is—“
            “What?” Martha demanded. There was a faint quiver in her voice.
“It has something to do with my operation,” she finished lamely. “That is all I am authorized to tell you.”
“And I am a part of your mission?” Martha demanded. “Is this a prank?” again she reached for the phone.
“Martha Walker, don’t!” she wailed, and Martha realized she was indeed terrified. Perhaps she had a right to be; the cops were scary to some people. At any rate this situation had gotten to fantastic for Martha to handle.
The door opened.
“What on earth is going on in here?” cried Luke Herrington from the door. The woman in the spacesuit looked wildly around at all of them, grabbed her watch device and pressed a few buttons. With a few sparks and puffs of smoke, she was gone. The vanishing startled Martha more than the appearing and she screamed, but in a moment Luke was by her side. They both stared at the black smudge on my linoleum floor.
This was the first time anything so fantastical had happened to Martha in her life. There was no subtly going into it. An hour ago her life made complete sense; now some woman in a spacesuit waltzed out of her closet and vanished on her kitchen floor. And the party was supposed to have started by now, yet Martha felt positively sick.
“Did you see that?” she demanded. “Luke, have I lost my mind? I am pretty sure that there was a woman in a spacesuit on my kitchen floor—tell me I’m not dreaming.”
            “I saw it too—what have you gotten yourself into?” Luke caught her by the arm. “Martha, you look as if you’re about to fall over. Is this a prank?”
            “No,” she muttered. She was thinking wildly of what to do. “Get me the mop from out of the closet,” she finally replied. “Let’s clean up the floor and I’ll finish setting the table.”
            “Tell me the truth, Martha,” Luke said. “What just happened?”
            Martha’s hands and lips quivered as she tried to scramble for some logical explanation for this, something that Luke wouldn’t make Luke think she was crazy, but she reverted to instinct and replied mournfully, “She said she was part of something similar to the CIA. Besides that I am as clueless as you are.”
            “I thought this was going to be a lovely, simple dinner,” Luke grumbled, and Martha felt much the same.
            “Let’s get to cleaning,” she finally said.
            Luke looked at her steadily. “So we’re just going to go on like nothing ever happened?”
            “What else are we supposed to do?”
            “Call the police, go to the hospital maybe?”
            “I don’t want our guest to know about this,” Martha said sharply. “People already think I’m going crazy. If we want to do something about it, I’ll explain everything to you after the party.”
            Luke got the mop out of the closet and cleaned the black smudge off the linoleum floor and swept up my deviled eggs. Martha finished putting out the food on the table and turned some music on; her skirt and blouse were neat and simple, and her house was meticulously clean. Everything was perfect. Luke and Martha met in the kitchen and looked at each other for a moment, both of them wearing confused, stunned expressions. Martha thought about talking a bit about what had just happened, but before she could form what she wanted to say the doorbell rang.
            “Party must go on,” she said with a sigh. In a moment Mark and Sandra entered with cries of hello and tight hugs; and for the next three hours Luke and Martha had to pretend like nothing interesting had happened.


My life is full of books
Stacked in shelves
Tucked away in boxes
In piles on the floor
With pressed flowers
And stories
With voices
Spoken in silence.
Of people who never eixisted
Or who did
Or who will
Of lives not too different from mine
Or just like mine
Or not at all.
Of characters who speak
And think and act.
That speak like me
And think like me
Or act like someone I know,
Born inside someone's head,
Whose thoughts are written for them
And whose mouth
Has never said a word
Whose actions
Affect nothing but more words,
And conflicts non-existent,
Words upon words,
To fill a page
To tell the unreal
To tell a story,
Upon words
Upon words
Crowded on a page,
Spilling over, over-flowing,
Ever pressed, bound,
Stacks upon stacks
Words upon words
And crowding around me till
I find myself
By books.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Sunday Song #13: "Young and Beautiful by Lana Del Ray

I've seen the world,
Done it all,
Had my cake now.
Diamonds, brilliant,
And Bel Air now.
Hot summer nights, mid July
When you and I were forever wild;
The crazy days, city lights,
The way you'd play with me like a child.

Will you still love me
When I'm no longer young and beautiful?
Will you still love me
When I got nothing but my aching soul?
I know you will, I know you will,
I know that you will.
Will you still love me when I'm no longer beautiful?

I've seen the world, lit it up,
As my stage now.
Channeling angels in the new age now.
Hot summer days, rock 'n' roll
The way you play for me at your show;
And all the ways I got to know
Your pretty face and electric soul.

Will you still love me
When I'm no longer young and beautiful?
Will you still love me
When I got nothing but my aching soul?
I know you will, I know you will
I know that you will
Will you still love me when I'm no longer beautiful?

Dear Lord, when I get to heaven
Please let me bring my man!
When he comes tell me that you'll let him in,
Father tell me if you can.
Oh that grace, oh that body
Oh that face makes me wanna party;
He's my sun, he makes me shine like diamonds.

Will you still love me
When I'm no longer young and beautiful?
Will you still love me
When I got nothing but my aching soul?
I know you will, I know you will
I know that you will
Will you still love me when I'm no longer beautiful?
Will you still love me when I'm no longer beautiful?
Will you still love me when I'm not young and beautiful?