n. infantile pattern of suckle-swallow movement in which the tongue is placed between incisor teeth or between alveolar ridges during initial stage of swallowing (if persistent can lead to various dental abnormalities) v. [content removed due to Bush campaign to clean up the internet] n. act of nyah-nyah v. pursuing with relentless abandon the need to masticate and thrust the world into every bodily incarnation in order to transform it, via the act of salivation, into nutritive agency

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

I'll be back, I swear

Image Hosted at ImageHosting.us-CircleWaterHere's a start on where I am:

(I wrote this)

Thursday, August 18, 2005

dear dear

Students who cluster together under the awning of an evening cafeteria post-class huddle, who speak Spanish and then translate for me (I frequently understand, and when I don´t, it doesn´t matter. I love listening, love listening, love hearing your other voices, so different and full of dickens, pillinos chinverguesonos). Saucy spicybrain students who take me out dancing, liquor me up and dance on the tables with me. Eraser thieves who teach the teacher their dance and the naughty over-shoulder moves men use when the girl they are dancing with isn´t getting close enough. Students who will publish, students with important ideas for the world. Students who become People. People who sing karaoke with me, particularly loud at lyrics about saying hell to love gone, and to lyrics about not studying or working anymore. (Congrats to the freshy-faced graduates). To my Peoples who ask me if I will remember this moment, these open mouths, this beautiful Ecuador I could fall in love with...

You are amazing. Never. Never will forget. My thanks.

A Blessing: may the Words never empty...

Saturday, August 13, 2005

the many we live

Tears squeezed back from eyes in a mall. People with dark smiles and plastic baghopes walking by. The national pastime of Ecuador: shopping. Outside the mall, the fust has drawn its lid and a dry heat seeps out behind whitegrey clouds. Nevertheless, it has the aspect of fall or winter. The hot hot cremation of dormancy, or sleep maybe. I sense underneath the raspy brown sunburn of my skin that leaves are swirling, brownred and brittle. Bidding adieu.

Everything is bidding adieu. Everything is a goodbye.

We leave an import shop. A shop packed with everything Americana you could wish for. Corn flakes, lollipops, hot chocolate, M&M’s, a nice fat bottle of Baileys cream. The colors are stunning, blinding. Colors of memories unavailable at a certain latitude. Right there for your purchase, should you choose. I think of all the mornings I wanted to be alone, pouring my own coffee, making pancakes or a muffin with cheese on it. Am I just another one not seeing the present?

As we leave the store, T is talking about something. Receipts. About how every store in Ecuador, every crossing, every purchase, every bus ride, every Every comes equipped with receipt. The paper trail of this country. They don’t produce novels, but they produce novels of receipts. T decides to start handing back receipts to the stores: I Was In Your Space. I tell him he should strap a little machine to some suspenders and punch in the value of his presence at each locale. Print a little paper memory. And then I burst into tears.

Those who need to be needed. Who rise like fire under wet logs, light only on a dark night. Dripping wax along the soggy-bottomed morning of sadness. When I seem strong, they only get colder, more distant, but the second I cry is the millisecond they come running.

T hasn’t exactly been nice to me as of late. I’ve been upset. With him, with the world. He just seemed like a reminder of things I wanted to forget by coming down here. Last weekend, he told me I couldn’t dance. A longer conversation than I wanted to have. Beach semi-drunkenness, I had won a couple games of pool, not by reality (lost eight balls) but by remembrance of where the holes might be. There is music and a couple of Ecuadorian sharks who speak some spanglish with, some englespañol. I have sand on my feet, and T tells me I must have lying friends to say I know how to dance.

It’s the tone of the voice. Something about. Something Mean. That tone that wants, knows, wants to take down the world. That can’t stand people smiling to themselves. A tone that wants a little less innocence and a little more defense. It reminds me of so many words uttered in bathrooms, hallways, playgrounds, bars, apartments. A tone that appears nowhere else in the world but in the voices of us. In my head. I watched that tone come across the face of a three-year old pinching his sister. His mother told me he didn’t know what he was doing, but I saw the tone on his face. Pure knowledge of pain.

Power. This is what I see on T’s face when he steals some of me away.

We pretend later that it didn’t happen, maybe because I didn’t react right. I argued but I didn’t belt him across the face. Fight. That’s what I need to learn more of. Pounce and pound. A little p & p. An unspoken message: you can’t have me.

Because later he tells me I’m self-absorbed, and maybe I am, but why mention? Why say half of the truth. I’m so tired of halves dealt out sparingly. I never want another adjective applied to my skin. Not a belt or a bandaid. Nothing adhesive. Self-absorbed, perhaps, but I spend most of my days emptying my soul into my work and feeling as tired as the day after Christmas. I spend days pushing people away because I don’t want to use them to fill me up, don’t want to risk my thievery or lies. I won’t hurt anyone the way I was hurt. For me, self-absorption is not something that heals, but something that rides my back whipping and flogging. Self-absorption uses the adjectives that broke me. You, you, you.

But when I cry in the mall for no reason at all, T puts his arm around me, squeezes, panics. He takes me out for a drink and cheerfully reminds me that my future will be brighter. That time heals all. That those things that don’t kill you, make you stronger. He meets me in the half-light of cliché, the waitresses’ hats and charms fat and demonesque under stained glass refraction. The moment is met, and by the end, we are talking about actors and films, my hold filling for the moment with trivia and the care T brings when he is needed. The incredible Good he has to offer when he has the power to console.

At night, I wander around my room, scared. Scared of alone. Scared of goodbye. Scared of all these new beginnings, over and over again, from the time I was seven and said goodbye to the countryside I breathed in. Schools that fall away and rise up. Friends that turn to acquaintances that turn to dreams. Dreams where I can actually touch them. Where I matter. How many moments can I count that seemed so real, so full, like there I was riding on the outside of me, wide open and whole to the sun and earth? Little pieces of me scattered to the birds like rice to eat and choke overfattened on.

I said goodbye to Her. I said goodbye to so frequently finding out how little I matter in the way I needed to matter. As a whole soarer, a writer and thinker, a user of words and love. A soulmate in incredible need of her poetry. An equal. A many-type person. A person so naked and bare, a gift given and exchanged in the holiday crush. I said goodbye to Her, and it was also like saying goodbye to a part of me that I wanted to be, an ideal me in a less-than-ideal world.

How to rise from the trashpile of those you love? How to leave behind mistakes made, moments lost, chances not seen because maybe they weren’t chances?

Questions, questions. I already feel the cultureshock of leaving this time, and of leaving Ecuador. But this place has been a place for me. A landscape to ride on. A wave to crash with. All those faces and faces, people met and people left. People touched and never seen again.

I skate in and out of a high fever. Finally the doctor is called and he recommends some antibiotics to test. If they don’t work, the possibility of something stronger… dengue or malaria… looms on the future. I walk around with sweat sliding down my back to my feet. Chills and exhaustion. Students asking for help at the last moment when they realize they are going to fail. I am working hard to care. The future week is a type of a carrot. I want my momma. I want my friends, all of them, lying beside me on my bed, holding me. I imagine their fingers brushing my arm that has not been touched for so long. In this fever, I would let them. Near me.

After a few drinks, which I shouldn’t have because I’m on antibiotics, I am not crying anymore. So, T and I go down to the artisans market and Bajia. The artisans market is a square of shops and stalls. The crush of junk and trinkets and multi-woven scarves. Acrylic reprints of artists I don’t know, but see over and over again. Hats and wall-hangings. I am getting better at bargaining, walking away, giving only what I want to. I am hot and sweaty and okay, a little rum, a little antibiotic. T and I meet, and then part, and then meet again. Bajia is thousands of kiosks and people, burned and stolen cd’s, quarter-priced shoes, fuzzy dvds for a buck. Coconuts floating in crushed ice. Bags collect and collect around me.

At night, I wear my new shoes to bed, thinking that they should cheer me. A reminder of a busy day. A friend who is not perfect visiting places with this me who is not perfect. Even with my shoes on, my thoughts are not as happy as they should be.

I know I will soon have so much fullthroat to see Bville. Late summer. Harvests and yellow plums sinking on a full tree. New framing. My sister and Peter, both of whom I love like a shock of white heat flowers. The smell of my land. Morning dew and pebbled sand. Salt slapping against a white sail. Ehban, Selah, Liona, Camille if she will have me, others. My cousin and grandparents. Bonfires. Silly silly Rumors and dancing. Hottub and landscaping with my mum and Chuck.

Like the previous weekend. When I pushed myself. When my sinuses filled again and again with saltwater and I blew out and sank sank sank down down to a life and self I’ve never been before. Landscapes fresh. A portrait of Happiness: dolphins, whales, a blue-peeling skiff with heat erupting, rays, turtles, flutefish, blowfish, porcupinefish, wrasse, stone scorpionfish, triggerfish, moray, snake eel, lizardfish, octopi…. And in it all, me learning to float three inches up and over reefs without brushing and injuring coral beds and sneaking little aggressors against my goggles. I expected, in a way, the same type of freedom that one feels when swimming, but scuba diving is not this way. It is confined and tight, not easy, not a skim and powerthrust in any which way you want to go. Slowswimming, a state of neutrality and hover. Uncomfortably more like meditation than motion. I felt so much a part and yet so separate, and it is something hard to speak about, like I am just not ready to think the words it was.

But what also hit me bright last weekend was Vroni, a girl, a ninita from Germany, so young. A form of innocent reality. Who kissed me smack on the lips and massaged my head in a sweet cuddle. Ran beside me on the beach and flirted with everyone everyone. It made us all feel so good. We all flirted back and ran, and patted the fluorescence on the beach. She tucked her arm through mine and told me that her only friend in childhood was a donkey, and it was nice to meet a girl to be a friend with here. She told me not to be offended or anything, or take it the wrong way or anything, or be weirded out or anything, but she thought I was beautiful.

Beautiful. Me. Such different Words. So easy to say, it seemed for her.

Such types in this world. Those who need a black-moment to rise and offer an arm. Those who run at the mere thought of a black-moment. Those who create black-moments, so they can rise and offer an arm. Those who fan black-moments, so they can condemn you when you fall. Those who run to you in their black-moments, and neglect you in the fullshine. Those who tell you you’re not to be trusted in their black-moments, who push you further away. Those who only want you when you’re strong and can give them anything. Or those who just want you strong for you. Who speak to you about beauty. Laugh with you. Speak other adjectives.

Those who have been helping me into the skin of the “I” I would like to be. The half-skin that burns bright and never wants. Who doesn’t just know she should shine, that she is privileged, that she is loved, that she is capable of stability under goodbyes and changes and deaths and fever and great, great beauty, but who feels it and does it. The organic one-me, not bisected and self-angry. The organic one-me, who does not shimmy and sliverfast from one type of helper or healer or candle-wax, to one type of breaker or cruel-powered bitter to another. The one-me that I pray I will find before too long.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

fiction V

wow... it's been since June 20th that I worked on this piece. Far far too long... oh, how July has run by like a crack-addict pursued by the police.

anyhow, it's back to the Swallow story, taking off from where I left off--at a Mexican Father's Day celebration party. On to the meandering...


Next to Cardito was the bearded woman, his wife, Marina, who had tucked her beard into her dress for the occasion. She was feeling gregarious and sexy, and was wrapping crisped pigskin around a tender cut, while laughing at her beer-blustering husband. And everyone else at the table—Mario, Max, Mariola, Maria Fernanda, Marita, Maritza, Monica, Mauricio, Maria Elena, Marlo, Melanie and Silvia—was either hijo or sobrino or tia or tio, except Monsieur who seemed to fit in, despite being relatively incapable of speaking Spanish, white as the underbelly of a dolphin, and at the moment, extremely sick to his holster.

Monsieur watched blurrily as Marina reached across the table and slapped the hand of Maritza, her young niece who was at the time picking her nose. Carlito took the opportunity to refill his whiskey on ice, jostling and elbowing his nephew Mauricio as he sloshed the quick jab of homebrew into his glass. After the slapping, Marina deposited barbequed pig on Mario, Marlo and Max’s plates, laughed at Marlo’s drunken joke, and sat back down, tucking her beard back into her shirt as she settled. Carlito, pleased at the chance he had well-earned to sneak a little more alcohol into his system, wrapped his arm around Marina and spoke loudly to the table.

To Monsieur, it sounded like: “This fatty woman takes care to shshshsha us, no?”

The word gordita, or fatty as he understood it, was a term that completely confused Monsieur. He was always wondering if it was extremely rude or extremely sweet to be called a little fat person? So gently, too. Whenever gordita was used, it seemed to Monsieur to be an act of affection with a potential little spike behind it. The spike was what confused Monsieur. In his book, either something was completely generous or completely a snub, and the in-between zone presented a huge range of potential hurt feelings that could bewilder any outsider, but particular bewildered Monsieur, who had always been known in his family and school for being a Big Jerk who took every opportunity to put his foot so solidly in his mouth that he had to constantly run to the doctor for de-jamming. Monsieur needed to be completely sure about the potential for face-slap before he even bothered to enter something into his vocabulary, and this gordita endearment kept eluding his sensors.

As he sat contemplating the hard g and soft almost-rolled r of this evasive meaning, Monsieur wavered around slowly on his chair like kelp in a changing tide. His eyes moved in and out of needing high-voltage lenses to help him find focus, but he was desperately trying to pull it together because he waited to see, physically see, if Marina was going to slap his boss. If it happened, Monsieur truly wanted to have a part in the public voyeurism and humiliation of the moment, as Carlito had already embarrassed the young wretched Monsieur a few times.

But apparently Gordita was not going to get angry at the affectionate verbiage, or even the new whiskey in her husband’s cup (which she was very aware of). Instead, as a joke, she took the beard out of her shirt and wrapped it around Carlito's neck, playfully, as if she might strangle him with the facial tentacles she had been gifted with.

This was quite a bit for our young Monsieur to swallow at the time. For a few months now, he had been wondering what it was like growing up with a female beard. Had Marina ever thought to shave it off? Because for him, a beard on a woman was beyond grotesque. He didn’t want to say it—and he knew that if he ever did, not only would he never again have a spot in the show, he would also probably receive some well-administered pain—but it was true; a bearded woman was horrifying. In his drunken state, Monsieur stared with the fascination of any horrified man. As Carlito pretended to choke with the beard wrapped tighter and tighter, Monsieur traced the way the whiskers sprouted from pores on Marina’s chin. He wanted to follow them down to the source, pounce on Marina with a magnifying glass and trace the heritage of cells down to the surface of her skin. This skin he would study. He would scour it over for an understanding. He wanted to compare it to the skin of the Mermaid, the Strongman, the Twins, the Caterpillar, the Queer, the Firefly, the Catman, and all of the others. The appeal of all these other show freaks made sense to Monsieur, but not the bearded woman, who, for him, was just a cross-gendered product of immense tragedy. A tragedy that everyone around him seemed blind to.

He could no longer watch, and his crop was desperate to be relieved of the jalapenos, which were actually resting against the side of the interior bag and it might be said, wanted to burn a hole right through the organ. Monsieur stumbled up, mumbled an apology to Monica, who was sitting next to him, and began to wind his way to the outhouse set up on the perimeter of their new grounds.

Once there, Monsieur peeped up the jalapenos, which surely no young birdlets were going to try to steal from his gaping maw, and then slid down the side of the outhouse. Outside the large tent of the fiesta, the world seemed quite a bit larger and easier to breathe in. At the moment, a day set right smack dab in the center of an unexpectedly brittle dry spring, the Show of Wonders was set up on the outskirts of a southern Texas pueblito. The tents had been pitched in the middle of a dehydrated field in which the usual tall papercut grasses had given up their hopes for the spring rains and fallen over yellow and crusty. Touching them was almost as good as touching a cactus, so furious were they at having been neglected by the clouds. Everything in the field exuded bristle, and simply brushing against any of the foliage was enough to ensure the lodging of several brown scratch-burrs within the interior of clothing. Places like this field rode around on the inside of trousers everywhere.

Sitting right in the middle of the field, Monsieur worked hard on settling his head down enough to re-enter the game. Already, it felt as if he were halfway there, but he knew that things, life, had a strange way of getting out of hand really rapidly whenever other people entered the human radar range. A field, an outhouse, the red dirt running through his hand leaving a pale ghost of presence along his cuticles—this was all manageable, and so he drifted in it. The soil was quite as still as a red scoured clay-pot with traces of dust on the surface from having sat too long on a solitary shelf. To Monsieur, it felt like if he were to speak, the soil might lift up and swirl for a few feet in surprise before gently touching back down. Monsieur admired the dirt, so red it was. Before venturing south, he had never seen anything like it. Where he was from, dirt was brown like it was supposed to be. Rich and loamy, full of earthworms and microbes. The soil in Texas looked like the pictures of Mars. In fact, when they first arrived, Monsieur spent a few idle minutes wondering if he had left the planet and touched down in a comic book.

Up overhead, the sky was clear and light, a few pigments of blue dipped via brush into a puddle of dry water. Shadow birds wheeled around down towards the south, a pinwheel of death perhaps, a rotation of quandary. Monsieur felt as if maybe he just hadn’t had enough time to notice his surrounding for a long time, so fast had things been moving since he had joined the show. It had been an exceptional six months, exactly what he was searching for in his life: something all unexpected, full of time nobody could have told him was coming. All his life, Monsieur had been in a panic that things might average out, find equilibrium, and he would be struggling for the rest of his life to fill his head while everything flowed slowly outward. Here, in this dry hot second with seventy Mexicans celebrating Fatherhood, life flowed into Monsieur and puffed him up like a vacuum cleaner full to overflowing. He wanted to empty the contents and search around in the dusty pile for all the incredible objects that were slowly disappearing through sheer accretion.

If he were to select the shiniest gift from the past year of his life, Monsieur thought it would be the Twins, who had first become very close friends, and then had become his bunkmates. The day they invited him in from where he slept under the lowest trailer was a day of Extreme. A day of rain and sun slanting through each other crosswise, with all the arches and wraparound therein.

He didn’t want to admit it, never would have, no matter what. Not to himself, not to anyone. But something had bust a little in Monsieur when his father, Henry Barthel, had asked him to leave. True, he had been getting in fights with the tight patriarchal fatman of the family, particularly over Monsieur’s increasing desire to practice and show his gift to the world rather than join in the family business of Running An Important Store. But still it was too huge and denying to be asked to simply leave, to not speak or be Himself within the confines of a group that wanted him, not somebody else, but him. As a unique and irreplaceable soul in a world so lost and lonely in potential borders and barriers. A severing of connection, heritage, bridges, the past from the future. The move, the ejection, the leaving behind to go live in a barn, while potentially exciting and full of adventure, still managed to insert a workable sliver of glass-like doubt into Monsieur’s perception of the world. Perhaps we could call it Doubt in his worth. Doubt of whether he would be invited inside again.

And he hadn’t asked the Twins, never said anything about this desire for someone to enter his field again, the dry and dust silt of float-away, and hydrate it with the simple need to have him around, but they somehow knew. They saw in bravado and full-throat show off and the huge cocky-walk of Monsieur, the sliver and helped him work it out. They needed him.

The first time he met the Twins, Monsieur had been leaning against a wheel of a trailer, his shirt damp with the sweat of putting up tents and the slanting wind-rain. The twins came together and sat down next to him, while Monsieur tried to figure something out. What he was trying to figure out was something from his learnings in biology class, the possibilities, and whether what he was seeing was even possible. The Twins were Siamese, which when you think about it, is amazing and incredibly unexpected in daily life. We don’t walk around and see people joined together—in this case, at the upper thigh and a singular elbow. If we were to walk around and see such a group of two, we might stop and stare, imagine what we would do if our life was so completely inextricable from someone else’s. We might have a morbid moment and wonder what would happen if one died, and the other lived. Would a dry and dusty corpse be dragged around the world through sheer unavoidability? To prevent gangrene of the living, would the dead life need amputation, or would a simple mummification work? After the morbid questions leave, or are at least put away, we might go back to simply wondering what it is like to shower, potty, eat, sleep, run, and go to the movies (where the armrests of seats can’t be lifted) together.

But this wasn’t what Monsieur was thinking about. Actually, he was thinking about genetics and birthing and canals. He didn’t want to ask, but finally couldn’t help himself.

“I thought you couldn’t have male-female Siamese twins. How is that possible?”

The head of the Male drifted away towards the flapping wind through the cock-rooster wind measure, the spin, while the Female’s lids dropped a little lazy and glanced at Monsieur with a slight amount of attention. A Tad.

“Well,” she said finally, “we’re not identical if that’s what you’re asking. That’s not possible.” She paused for a few seconds, her hand reaching up and scratching a tick off her shared elbow, and then she chucked, “Identical twin brother and sister. Haha.”

This, of course, answered approximately one-half (or if you were to weight the curiosity in terms of importance, closer to one-fourth) of Monsieur’s question. The second half, he went ahead and asked, having already opened the potentially bug-ridden box.

“Well,” he said, “if you’re not identical, then how did you come to be joined?”

This question came from thinking hard. Siamese twins, as he understood them, came from a single egg starting to divide, but then forgetting to finish the act, thus leaving the result of Almost-Two People. Perhaps there were various states of Almost-Two. One heart, four lungs. Two hearts, two arms. Four lungs, three breasts. Whatever the result; something, a body part that is remarkably not owned by an individual, but rather by two. Which is something that really just doesn’t happen too often, as most animals don’t make a habit of passing body parts to each other, whether while passing in the hallways, or via packaging and the US mail system. And so, if Siamese twins were a creation of a single cell, which is the definition of identical, then how did these two come to be not identical, and yet Almost-Two? Monsieur thought hard, whereas the twins seemed more interested in being extremely lazy and lollygagging.

Finally, Female decided to answer. “We joined later, but we’re not going to tell you about that yet.”

“Would you like something to drink with us,” asked Male, suddenly seeming to snap out of his reverie. When he was paying attention and looking, Monsieur noticed just how very sharp Male’s eyes were. He glanced over at Female to avoid them, but noticed that hers were quite the same. So, instead of looking at the eyes, Monsieur gave them a good lower-lidded gaze, a new sixteen-year old’s once-over. The Almost-Two were wearing what initially seemed to be two shirts. Actually they were two shirts, but they were cut away at the upper arm and shoulder so that they could be fit over the upper arm of each Almost-Two’s arm. Female wore a light blue blouse with a few lacy, or at least semi-delicate ruffles, along the neck, whereas Male wore a plaid shirt and had a pencil protector in his pocket. From this point, Monsieur glanced at Male’s hand to see if he was a writer and was pleased to see ink staining several of Male’s fingers. The Almost-Two’s lower torso was clothed in what looked to be a much simpler construction than the cut-away shirts. They were wearing two pairs of trousers that simply had been sewn together on one of the legs. Monsieur wondered of the Almost-Two had become such through a similar process. He wondered if the Twins would ever tell him. After examining the four pairs of shoes, Monsieur nodded his head quickly and simply capitulated to the moment.

“Yes,” he said, and before too long, Tonio (Male), Sharivel (Female), and Monsieur (Cropped Male) had made their introductions and were sipping beers together shyly, and then less shyly, and then not shyly at all. The clincher of their assured friendship was when Sharivel stabbed Monsieur gently in the hand with a pocketknife for having Obviously Cheated at a game of Go Fish.

Monday, August 01, 2005


to escape, I jumped into a deep late dark, nighttime, cold and with stalks of algae around me. I went to the bottom and rested with my face against the hard sandy floor. I wondered if I could breathe, and so did, inhaled and exhaled in the heady double-hydrogened oxygen. It was easy, natural. To myself, I kept explaining the ease as something that came from a "few extra" rebreathing-breaths in my lungs, air that would run out eventually as I stayed there. But as I kept trying it, it kept working. Breath. I fell to the bottom like a bag that gives up the last of its need to see sky.

"An Estha-shaped hole in the universe."

Or perhaps, as I learned this weekend, the same material will sink or swim depending on the volume of water it displaces in this world. A raft-shaped me will float. A nail-shaped me will sink. I just have to stretch myself out over the surface of water and people could climb up on me and float away. Or I could curl, a fern swirling back into itself, and displace less water-volume than my mass. So much less than I am. The tighter I pull, the harder I fall.

The further I fall, the more extreme the pressure. Within ten meters, the pressure has doubled. Twenty meters, it has trebled. The tighter I pull, the harder I fall, the more my skin is squeezed. My ears will burst inward and my sinuses will shrink closed. My eyes will start moving outwards, bugging. Blood vessels will rupture around my sight. A gruesome.

All I have to do is pinch my nose, like something has reached a critical state of fetid, and blow out. Release a little air through my nose and these eyes won't bug, blood won't spill into my skin. Slow the rate of my descent. A raft-shaped me in the world. And I can control how hard I fall. How much water I displace. How much room there is for me in this world.

Sitting on the bottom, breathing breathing at the bottom, is so much easier than one can imagine. I found that when I came to the surface, I didn't quite know what to do. Was I supposed to breathe up there too?

On the bottom, we lean on the tips of our fins and release and add air, breathe in and out, to achieve neutral, or equalibrium. Meditation via second and first stages of air release. Pressurized survival. Less volume becomes more volume becomes volume in me that lifts and then leaves. Five minutes pass, and the only thing I notice is the up down, the bottom approaching, the bottom disappearing.

Little visibility in the pool where I am learning to turn aquatic. Too many children peeing in the chlorine, perhaps?

It makes it all the more surprising when the blue bottom comes. All the more surprising when it leaves.

My instructor tells me that I "am a natural." That I consume very little air, am extremely relaxed, achieved a more neutral neutral than even he was able to achieve (hovering is a new specialty?), and went through all my excercises without problems.

I remove one of the masks, watch the world blur through. Little bubbles racing past my face. I breath from mouth, to nose, from mouth, through nose... just because I can. It is startling. I put the mask back on, and blast the water out with elephantine capacity. I have my oxygen cut off, and it doesn't really startle me. I can escape with an ahhhhhhh. I get cold and shivery. I breath slow slow and want to swim around. I swim around. I am very quiet. I feel everything very quiet. A few echoes of hoses breathing in. I lose the capacity to respond to what the instructor tells me on the surface. Speak?

I think it is the instructor's job to tell every student that they are a natural, maybe just to relax them. But I do feel like a natural. I feel like my body has been sinking for awhile and was just waiting to find out what to do with this ability to breathe water.

Under water, in between emptyhead comfort, I think of the little song A was singing when she was here. She says it's Peter's underwater breathing song. I can't think out it goes; all I can think of is how she walked around the whole time in Ecuador making this sound. The blbblbblbblbblbblb sound, and I think she makes it to get her calm and remind her of someone she misses.

I make this sound, not exactly, because I can't remember the tune, but approximately, with a relaxing calm sound of those I miss. Even the misses I will always hide from, wrap myself up in stalks of algae and low visibility sediment, to breathe. A nail-shaped me in the world. Bblbblbblbblbblbblb, it makes me laugh. little child's tune under pressure. It reminds me of A and P, it reminds me that I'm going to buscear soon, ride turtles and pet sharks.

Next weekend, I will be lost under the ocean. Until I come up, letting inner volume escape as I change shape.