Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A bloody business, wot wot.

It only takes a little bit. Just the smallest, the faintest, the tiniest amount. Right now on the back of my hand, I can glimpse the blood. It’s barely any; it’s nothing, even. Yet there it is, oozing idly in an altogether orderly fashion that fits right along with the fact that these spontaneous bleeds come year after year, time after time. Sometimes, my hands bleed. It’s the air that does it.

And the cold, yeah. Yeah. If I tense the muscles that bind my knuckles together, I can see them move beneath the layers of skin. I can see my bones hiding, teasing my blood from beneath the surface of me. Everything moving, all these things -- anythings, plentythings, manythings -- working themselves around, waiting to be skinned out of layers of epidural that are not particularly deep. Not deep enough, anyhow. It’s strange, seeing how easily things can be set free. Sometimes, it only takes the air.

You see it all around.
In things that you care for, in things that you wish you could push down on, keeping that fair bit of pressure going, so that you might…so that you might…so that you might be able to keep them the same, keep them charged with delicate hues of warm color for just an instant more. Before they tense, before they slacken, before you feel their hands stop feeling like hands. You stop seeing movement beneath the layers. You stop seeing it anywhere. It happens all the time. It only takes a little. Or a lot. It’s hard to know, with things like this.

Holy shit, I’ve got a headache.
And that means not a thing. So!

It’s time to keep it moving, keep it fluctuating; as per the standard, we here are going to keep going with this little bit of business, so that by the time we get to the end of my standard allotment of two-pages-or-some-such-maybe-a-little-more-if-I-feel-particularly-perspicacious, we (you, of course, and I as well) will feel a fraction better about the days to come. It’s a tall order, especially for people who don’t exist, and for just one guy who rarely bothers with anything of consequence other than the mass of hours that he puts toward an output that isn’t particularly meaningful, that still manages to be satisfying on a functional level. It’s good work. I like it. But work like that, it doesn’t show blood.

If you were to peel back the layers of such things, you wouldn’t find any blood, and you wouldn’t find any tears of meaningful resolution; you wouldn’t find the liquids of thought that form pools inside mountain caverns, dark and silent and endlessly deep. No blood. Just sweat, dripping from the brows of me and mine.

So much sweat, staining everything I can see. Sometimes, it feels like it may be all that you need. But then, the air comes rushing over. With it, comes the cold. And then nothing more than looking at the back of my chalk-colored knuckles reminds me of the world out there, the things that I know, the people that I’ve felt, the people who have fallen, the people who have traveled with epic strides, the days that have felt like reality in the haze of similarity that surrounds the rest.

Sometimes, you’re reminded of things that bleed. You see the red cells for what they are, in front of your eyes coursing through the halls and filling everything with warmth and hope and dread. You see how people live. Way of the World. Right?

Earlier in this very week, something happened.
Not to me; I was off to the side, standing quiet and watching cautiously as I held a transparent plastic cup of delicious Goldfish crackers. Some people made a mistake, which turned into a series of mistakes, which turned into an acre of tasks, which turned into a kind of seething resentment that made a hissing sound as it moved through the office, filling all spaces as if it were sentient steam. There I was, off to the side. Hands still intact, eyes wide. Waiting to see what would come to be.

Things came to be. There were occurrences, yes indeedy-do. And in the aftermath of it all, that still managed to somehow be before it all began, someone sat directly next to me, ready to perform a task. There was work to be done, and we were going to do it, anger be damned, confusion be thrown to the pit of despair. It was the right thing to do, and I respected this person who had the will to do it. So then: we worked.

The countless machines around us hummed their oblivious hum, and the office as a whole went on coursing about, unaware that one of its veins had been laid bare. Blood changes color in the open air. There we were, there we sat. We didn’t say a word about the things that felt like they were happening around us, even if they were actually locked behind thin office doors. We just worked on, the person in question pulling a sweatshirt tight, while I doused my discomfort with fish-shaped cheddar goodness. It was there, in that moment, that something was said. I’m not quite sure why it was spoken, and I’m even less sure as to why it was spoken to me: The pair of us had never been particularly close. But I suppose that’s what it was; it was something to do with proximity, the way that a dying man might reach out to the person closest by, gripping onto the leg of their fatigues, pulling them down to the dirt that’s suddenly metamorphosed into crimson mud. It was a shot in the dark, looking for something, somewhere. From someone. Beat the drum slowly, play the fife lowly. The streets of Laredo grew cold as the clay. Solace, and fairness, and the things in between.

“I’m probably getting fired today. Over this.”

It was the kind of sentence that can steal the sound from a room. Uttered quietly, privately, almost as if it weren’t meant to be heard. Yet it was heard -- and in its wake, all sound went away. Not the air. The sound. Speeches, those steal the air. When someone begins shouting with propaganda force, drawing all of the breath in the room to them, so they might hold it to their breast, squeezing it tightly in order to spur themselves on, growing louder and prouder and more magnificent by the second; taking the room to a place beyond breath, where thought and beauty are the only things that are known, until all of the people suddenly feel the air that they provided rushing back towards them with the strength of a gale, turning around their bodies, pushing them up, up, up -- pushing them to the point where all they can do is stand and clap. When the air goes, the blood stays quiet. When the sound goes, all you can hear is the blood in your ears.

I practically choked on Goldfish smiles. Right now, just the thought of that seemingly bioluminescent orange turns my stomach. Because there was…there, there was a person. A person with cheeks flushed by pumping blood, trying to warm away the cold of the situation with a sweater and handful of words. Trying to talk to me, to reveal the situation. Setting it free, throwing it at the mercy of the world. If I had said anything at that moment, it would probably have sounded like, “I are NOT function OF words.” Whatever I might have said, it wouldn’t have been the thing to say.

Because the right thing to say belongs in a different world. I’ve spent the majority of this small gathering of pages talking about the blood in the hand, the blood in the pocket, the things that churn within our bodies, the things that set themselves free. When we see them out there, they let us remember something fundamental, something true. We see our fragility, we see our beauty, we see how we’re the same. The blood in our veins puts us at the mercy of the world. And there you have it: The world as a whole is an unfair place.

People go to work, people work hard. People get thrown under the bus. People get up in the morning, people brush their teeth. People get reprimanded for the faults they cannot change. And so it is, and so it always will be, and that’s not such a terrible thing. The world is unfair, such as chaos demands. Shikata ga nai.

But that’s the trick, you see. The world is an unfair place; that much will always be certain, and that much I will never even try to deny. But people…but people…but people have no right to throw fairness at the mercy of the cold. This is our planet, our world where we live; we have to do what we must. We should treat others not as we want to be treated, but as we should be treated. We have to live in the world.

So take a moment. Stand up, stretch, and go step outside. Close the door behind you, letting the sounds of your living facility be locked away from your ears, for just a fraction of a moment of your day. And while you stand there, close your eyes. Close your eyes and listen to the world around. There are people out there, with blood pulsing in their hearts, rushing through their veins. There are cars out there, churning and burning fuel, forcing themselves down roadways like energetic cells. There’s a world of lives, all of whom deserve a moment to bleed. All of whom will get it, whenever that time comes by. It’s the way of the world. There they shall be, eyes pointing at the stars, body losing color.
When the time comes, what are they going to curse?

The world?
Or its people?

What do they bleed for?

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

A Roman Goddess (Juno is).

It only took a few clicks forward into Juno’s initial succession of color-moderated shots before something…before something altogether striking happened. For me, at least.

Before everything began good and not quite proper, before the screenplay sets forth upon its trek of fingersnap dialogue and human conditions; while the majority of the audience members were still sitting back and taking care to properly situate themselves within the frames of deep blue seats, I saw something that really, truly, utterly endeared itself to me.
It got to me.

There sits a boy, there stands a girl. She approaches him, small creases forming on the sides of her mouth, marks of effort formed by hard-earned smiles. They come close. So close that all we can see are mouths surrounded by soft skin, mouths that don’t quite touch, mouths that are just taking a careful moment to breathe heavy and warm.

I see this, and I remember.
There sat a boy, and there stood a girl. The boy was me, the girl was she. Coming together in a series of moments that seem altogether separate while being all together, a myriad of feelings forever encapsulated into a series of steaming breaths. Moments in close-up. Bright eyes, close to mine; quick glances toward the door, in case her lesbian mother might burst in with the hope of catching an untrustworthy boy in the act; mouths on mouths, mouths not on mouths; fingers sliding over smooth spaces, common places that we still could not see from the proximity of our interaction; finally, a sweet voice uttering “Hi,” into the depths of my ear, a word dripping with sweat that tasted sweeter to my ear than that word ever has had the right to be. Yes. We were in love, she and I -- as simply and sweetly and completely as it gets. We were just another pair of ridiculous youngsters, but it was love.

First loves are in soft-focus.

And they are close. And there it was. There was my past, the way that it cannot help but be remembered. After that?
There were jokes.

That’s the beauty of it, you see. Because of all the elements that turn this screenplay by the indefatigable Diablo Cody (copywriter turned stripper turned blogger turned biographer turned screenwriter) into an act of wizardry, the part that makes it so goddamned watchable is that even if it didn’t bother with dredging up slivers of pastlife that make the pretentious blathering of Quarterlife seem as loaded and grating as they actually are, the words present in Juno would still get around to making me laugh like a H-I-L-A-R-I-O-U-S S-I-M-I-L-E when the receptionist at the Abortion Clinic leans in to discreetly reveal that boysenberry-flavored condoms make her boyfriend’s dick “smell like pie.”
Nothin’ says lovin’ / Like somethin’ from the oven.

Which brings us to the baby.
As I appear to not have previously mentioned, the titular character of this earnest little snark-bomb of a movie happens to be exceedingly pregnant for most of the running time. However, separating it from the recent swell of surprisingly high-quality comedies about women who are with child when they would rather not be (the charming Waitress, and the hilarious Knocked Up) Juno manages to differentiate itself: It’s not actually about the baby at all. It’s not quite about motherhood or fatherhood, not quite about buying diapers and cribs, not quite about the choices that we make. It’s about the things that we actually do, when presented with choices that we didn’t make ourselves. With jokes.
And with truth.

Earlier in this year that ends with a series of ferocious films (No Country for Old Men and There Will be Blood come immediately to mind), I had the pleasure of seeing a film that was so, so, so…genuine, in the way that it conveyed human speech-interaction-emotion, the way that it wove it with music and spoke its feelings in such a way that gave us a beautiful taste of something real. Once, that movie was called. It was something special. Juno is something else altogether, but something about the pairing of them…

While Once stood from the pack by being entirely genuine, Juno earns its praise in a similar, yet significantly different manner: by being unwaveringly honest.

There’s ferocity in that, as well. Because while finding traces of reality in the world might be somewhat difficult whilst being distracted by the gaggle of golden colored runners who are continually running through the frame, while girls in high school don’t generally have such silvered tongues that they employ in the midst of Diablo Cody’s charming vulgarity, while the tone of the movie stretches us past the breaking point of things that we might call reality…it never plays a false note. It’s always true, no matter what happens, no matter what words we hear from inside the sizable expanse of Juno’s brain. Yes, even while she’s calling people “douchepackers”. It’s fierce, truth such as this.

It feels right amidst the rest of things, and it breathes warmly into the room of the theatre, bringing with it such a sense of the world and the people in it that when we come to the final, unbroken shot of the movie -- when we came to that, I stared, transfixed, at one of the most romantic images that I’ve seen in a good, long, time. It was like it was reaching out to me, one final gesture, taking a moment to whisper into my ear.



At the request of my friend Jorge, I state this here for no particular reason: Skeet, skeet, skeet. Make it rain.

Take that how you will.

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