A Thing About Which I Do Not Wish To Write

And yet, here I am. This is partly against my will and partly because I do not have a will.

What do you call someone who simultaneously depletes you of emotional wherewithal, fortitude, resolve, and intellect, whilst also raising your ire and passion? Surely, this person must be called your torturer.

The device of said torture is your heart; It is a device from which there is no escape. All they must do is squeeze a little and you are singing like a canary. No secret is safe–you reveal all.

It seems unfair that someone should have that much control over something so intimate to you. It beats within your chest, but answers their call.

“Traitor,” you say to your heart, as you hope it continues beating all the same.

I do not wish to write about this, but–dammit–what else is a girl to do?

Our Past Is Our Future

We learn history–it has been said–so we do not repeat our past mistakes. Given our current circumstances, I wonder if this is true. Are we not a species that repeats mistakes frequently? Do we not experience consequences of a particular action, and then take that same course of action again?

I think about all of the times in my life I’ve done the same stupid thing more than once. For example, the other day I again purchased something from Instagram, even though I told myself that I would never buy another piece of crap from Instagram again. I knew better. Even my bank knew better because–and this is embarrassingly true–my bank denied the first transaction. I had to go into my bank account to approve the use of my card and then go back to the scam website to checkout again.

My past mistake was ordering a laptop tray on Instagram. When I received a blanket email about the shipping delays from the manufacturer that included everyone who had ordered the same product, I knew something was wrong. When I received a defective product that I could neither return nor receive refund for, I thought to myself, “Now you know never to buy anything on Instagram. They don’t properly vet their advertisers.”

I learned with the first mistake to read the comments, which reveal quite a bit about the nature of the business associated with the ad. Yet when presented with more ads (this time for clothing), I skipped reading the comments, ignored my bank’s warnings, and purchased more junk. When I went back to read the comments on the ad post, I could have kicked myself a thousand times over. Again–AGAIN? After everything? I do this to myself again?

This human trait goes beyond gullible and enters the realm of ignorance–at its root, meaning to refuse to consider or to ignore. I ignored my past experience–I did not forget it–and ended up repeating my past mistake. Perhaps this time the lesson will stick and I will not heap infinite shame upon my head with another such transgression, but maybe my future self will expect a different result. It’s possible that my future self is already in the process of disappointing me again. Nevertheless, this whole experience coupled with the books I’ve been reading got me to thinking about what’s going on in our nation today.

In terms of recent national mistakes, we’re not really covering new ground as a society. We’re still mired in the self-same muck of our forebears and repeating their same argue-but-do-nothing strategies that never worked before. In fact, if you could draw a line, from our current issues to our past issues, you’d find that line to be unerringly straight. Any person with any degree of motility would be able to connect the dots quite easily.

Take, as recent examples, the Black Lives Matter movement, the issue of police brutality and corruption, and the response to these issues along an incredibly divisive political line. Everything that’s being done now, from the protests to the reactions of the pundits, from the rantings of your neighbor next door to the rantings of the President, have all been done before. It’s almost like we’re following the directions off the back of a Shampoo bottle ad infinitum: Rinse. Repeat. Rinse. Repeat. Rinse. Repeat. Rinse. Repeat.

As King Solomon wrote, “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.”

Ecclesiastes 1:9

Are we doing this because we didn’t learn our history? This seems to be a weak argument for our current plight. We certainly know our past or we have learned something of it. Either way, we can’t claim complete lack of knowledge of it. If I were more superstitious, I might believe we were cursed to always repeat our past mistakes for failing to make right the incredible wrong committed at the beginning–in like a Sci-Fi Horror version of Groundhog Day.

But I’m not. Instead, I think we refuse to consider a better way because we are comforted by the familiar pattern of our mediocrity of do nothing, wait and see. Or worst, our actions and reactions are inextricable from our blood: We are forever tied to the mistakes of our past through our DNA, which indefinitely passes on the gene of wrongdoing, from one generation to the next–maybe a curse after all. I don’t really know.

What I do know is that I don’t foresee any difference in our future from that of our past.

A Sorta Book Review: The Water Dancer

I have spent these last two days completely enveloped in Ta-Nehisi Coates’ The Water Dancer. I started reading it yesterday morning and finished it tonight. It’s left me with such a feeling–a feeling I’ve only had three other times after finishing a book–that I wanted to put it down in words before the feeling left me again.

To say I read the book would be misleading. Instead, it would be more accurate to say that the Book transported me. It took me out of my body and put me in Virginia. When I finished the last sentence and looked up, I realized that I was not in Virginia but in California, and I tell you it is quite a bit maddening to not be where you just were.

I have been a Conductor; I have been touched by the lives and stories of people who lived long ago or who were merely the images inside the mind of a man from my time. Whether the former or the latter, I cannot tell. They felt as real to me as my own family and friends. To call them characters would be to diminish their place in my heart.

Among all the emotions stirred up in me, the most overwhelming was nostalgia–the kind of nostalgia you can only feel after you have achieved some great age or experiences and memories of times long past and people long gone. This story felt like a memory I was having of my own time spent on a Virginia plantation. I have grown up in Virginia and I could taste the weather and see the moon as Mr. Coates described it. I remember that Virginia moon (I see it in my dreams).

When a story has done this to you, you are no longer the same. You have lived another life and been another person. You have gone beyond empathy and now remember what it is like to be a man named Hiram. You recall vividly your experiences of having everything ripped away from you and of the mark it left on your young soul. You weep for your torn heart. You weep again because the story has ended and you have been pulled back into your body.

The saddest part for me is not knowing when I will chance upon another book with this magnitude of power over storytelling. I ache to be Conducted again, but understand that it may be many years before the next Book finds me. It’s been eight whole years since the last one.

Mr. Coates is a masterful writer and this story is worthy of multiple readings. My only regret is not having took longer to read it; It ended far too soon.

Whatever shall I read next? Sigh.


“Child,” her voice follows me, “Do as you’re told.”

“Yes, mama.” I reply. I put down my book and go outside. I stare at the sky, blank in its blue expanse–no birds, no clouds, no sun, no stars. There’s only atmosphere for as far as the eye can see. There’s nothing between the ground and the blackness of space.

I feel my heart tick against my sternum, a staccato, as my breath quickens. Everything feels far away and too close. My feet tilt over my head and back down again, though I haven’t moved.

I close my eyes and place my hand against the sturdy brick of our home. I try to keep my feet steady, but everything is spinning around me. A piercing tone fills my ears until all other noises are drowned out. Vaguely, I sense a tear drop off the bottom of my chin.

When I open my eyes, I’m lying on the floor inside our door. Mama’s face is peering above mine and her mouth is forming words.

It’s okay. It’s okay. It’s okay.