Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Visit to the Bodies Exhibit

Walking through the cold, dimly lit rooms full of preserved human muscles, bones, and organs, it was hard not to think about these same things hiding under my own skin.

An eerie feeling washed over me as I stared into the dead eyes of one of the preserved bodies. He was clutching a football, posed in an unnatural way. I remembered the unnatural and uncomfortable position the mortician had arranged my father for the funeral. The pale makeup on his face coating his normally bright red skin. The suit his body was squeezed into, a suit my dad only wore for special occasions.

Death is a natural part of the process of life. It all must end sometime. But the way we, the living, deal with this thing seems entirely unnatural.

We put our loved ones in uncomfortable clothes and try to make them look like they did before their heart stopped beating. We put unclaimed bodies in chemicals and display their insides for the public to see.

We don't like to look at death the way it really is. It reminds us how quickly our own life could be coming to a close nd that is something we would just rather not think about.

It has been nearly three years since my dad's heart stopped beating. I don't know what his bones and muscles and organs look like now. They weren't preserved the way those bodies on display were. But it doesn't matter right now because I am going to eat this cookie sitting in front of me because I am alive and I can.

Caught in a Moment

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Flying By Night

Above us, stars. Beneath us, constellations.
Five billion miles away, a galaxy dies
like a snowflake falling on water. Below us,
some farmer, feeling the chill of that distant death,
snaps on his yard light, drawing his sheds and barn
back into the little system of his care.
All night, the cities, like shimmering novas,
tug with bright streets at lonely lights like his.
-Ted Kooser

I miss the stars of wild Nebraska summer nights.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A History of New York

I'm taking a class called Writing New York this semester (primarily for fun because it's in the English Department) and so far its been a very interesting mix of literature and history regarding New York City. Learning about the perceptions of New York that people had in the 18th and 19th centuries has given me a whole new perspective on the city and the streets that I walk down everyday.

It got me to thinking about Nebraskan literature a bit too. Nebraska literature was a required part of my high school's English curriculum and we read a book called Black Elk Speaks by John Neihardt. While Neihardt was a Nebraska native, Black Elk, a Sioux medicine man whose stories the book depicts, was not. It was a wonderful book, but as that was the only required reading for Nebraska literature, I don't feel like I learned much about the relationship between Nebraska and literature.

I read Willa Cather's My Antonia (another Nebraska native) last year and felt that her descriptions of Nebraska were extremely fascinating. Of course, she had to move to New York City before she could write about her home state.

Maybe there just isn't much of a relationship between Nebraska and literature, at least nothing like the relationship between New York and literature. Check out the blog that my teachers have for the class.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Two years

I was looking back over some of my older posts when I realized that I have been keeping up with this blog for just over two years now.It was a strange realization to come to because I hadn't really thought about how long I've been doing this.

It was sort of surreal to go back to some of the first posts, which I posted right as I was leaving for four months in Paris. How different things were then!

It's fun looking back on posts from Paris and the evolution I encountered in myself while I was there. And then there are all of the changes I have been through since Paris with the last two years of college. It almost doesn't seem like I am the same person who started this blog at the beginning of 2008.

And now, I'm coming up on another big change in my life with college graduation only a few months away. I hope that two years from now, I will still have this blog going, and I will be able to look back on myself and my writing and relish in the changes that I have been through just as I am today.

I hope I feel as good about the changes in two years as I feel about them today.


A call in the midst of the crowd,
My own voice, orotund sweeping and final.

Come my children,
Come my boys and girls, my women, household and intimates,
Now the performer launches his nerve, he has pass'd his prelude on
the reeds within.

Easily written loose-finger'd chords--I feel the thrum of your
climax and close.

My head slues round on my neck,
Music rolls, but not from the organ,
Folks are around me, but they are no household of mine.

Ever the hard unsunk ground,
Ever the eaters and drinkers, ever the upward and downward sun, ever
the air and the ceaseless tides,
Ever myself and my neighbors, refreshing, wicked, real,
Ever the old inexplicable query, ever that thorn'd thumb, that
breath of itches and thirsts,
Ever the vexer's hoot! hoot! till we find where the sly one hides
and bring him forth,
Ever love, ever the sobbing liquid of life,
Ever the bandage under the chin, ever the trestles of death.

Here and there with dimes on the eyes walking,
To feed the greed of the belly the brains liberally spooning,
Tickets buying, taking, selling, but in to the feast never once going,
Many sweating, ploughing, thrashing, and then the chaff for payment
A few idly owning, and they the wheat continually claiming.

This is the city and I am one of the citizens,
Whatever interests the rest interests me, politics, wars, markets,
newspapers, schools,
The mayor and councils, banks, tariffs, steamships, factories,
stocks, stores, real estate and personal estate.

The little plentiful manikins skipping around in collars and tail'd coats
I am aware who they are, (they are positively not worms or fleas,)
I acknowledge the duplicates of myself, the weakest and shallowest
is deathless with me,
What I do and say the same waits for them,
Every thought that flounders in me the same flounders in them.

I know perfectly well my own egotism,
Know my omnivorous lines and must not write any less,
And would fetch you whoever you are flush with myself.

Not words of routine this song of mine,
But abruptly to question, to leap beyond yet nearer bring;
This printed and bound book--but the printer and the
printing-office boy?
The well-taken photographs--but your wife or friend close and solid
in your arms?
The black ship mail'd with iron, her mighty guns in her turrets--but
the pluck of the captain and engineers?
In the houses the dishes and fare and furniture--but the host and
hostess, and the look out of their eyes?
The sky up there--yet here or next door, or across the way?
The saints and sages in history--but you yourself?
Sermons, creeds, theology--but the fathomless human brain,
And what is reason? and what is love? and what is life?

-Walt Whitman, Song Of Myself

I used to claim that I hated Walt Whitman and his poetry. Now that I'm reading it for class, I wonder...Did I ever read any of his poetry? I must not have, because I am really enjoying his style, the rawness of his subjects, and the earthy, natural way he approaches them. Thank God I was forced to read this for class. Otherwise, I might have gone on thinking I didn't like Whitman for who knows how long.