member of:Observers of the Interdependence of Domestic Objects and Their Influence on Everyday Life


This group has been active for a long time and has already made some remarkable assertions which render life simpler from the practical point of view. For example, I move a pot of green color five centimeters to the right, I push in the thumbtack beside the comb and if Mr. A (another adherent like me) at this moment puts his volume about bee-keeping beside a pattern for cutting out vests, I am sure to meet on the sidewalk of the avenida Madero a woman who intrigues me and whose origin and address I never could have known...
--Remedios Varo


(Artwork by Remedios Varo)
By believing passionately in something that still does not exist, we create it. The nonexistent is whatever we have not sufficiently desired.
--Franz Kafka

Friday, January 29, 2010

This One's for the Ladies...


“Melancholic Aristocracy”

“Born in a land that is ironically the cradle of civilization and presently the ultimate embodiment of human degradation, Iraq, I have of necessity inherited a host of issues that find expression in my work. Female oppression, honor killings and war continue to claim my attention. Filled with desire, I paint for redemption and salvation, hoping one day humanity will witness a profound change.
...
Through an inherent childlike innocence in movement and form, in contrast with the harsh reality of war, these highly figurative yet two-dimensional personas represent the dichotomy of agony and gaiety, the duality of dreams and reality, peace and war. These surreal documentations of truth are the essence of my creative representation.
Sweeping the audience into the eyes of my characters while simultaneously inversing the scene into a celebration of the various cultures in our world, I endeavor to refocus the felt pain into an investment in the human capability to overcome and prevail.”
--Hayv Kahraman


“Toilette” From the Domesticated Marionette Series

The series of paintings that really attracted my attention to her work, however, is one called “The Domesticated Marionette.” In keeping with her themes of cultural oppression and its dehumanizing influence, but less bloody and with a clear trend towards recovery, this series depicts women limited to the domestic sphere.


Untitled, From the Domesticated Marionette Series


“Ironing” From the Domesticated Marionette Series


“Cleaning Floors” From the Domesticated Marionette Series

To begin with, they are made of chunks of wood with rough, obvious joints; in images like “Ironing,” they are controlled from many places, their movements completely limited by a plethora of strings. By “Sewing,” she has not only lost many of those strings, she has also managed to negotiate one of her own, one under her control--and as in “Hanging Sheets” and “Pulling String,” she now has soft, alabaster flesh with graceful curving joints. It is interesting to note, however, that the last thing to go is the string holding up the mask--though she may have more freedom of motion, and though her sphere may now extend beyond the domestic, her personality and self-expression remain heavily guarded behind the image of what “should be.”





“Sewing” From the Domesticated Marionette Series


“Hanging Sheets” From the Domesticated Marionette Series


“Pulling String”

(*Note: I’ve nothing but my sweet little heart to tell me that this is the order she means for them to go in.)


On her blog, which unfortunately has not been updated in years, Hayv describes the thoughts that went into another interesting painting of hers, “Justitia.” This painting appears heavily influenced by the ancient Chinese scroll paintings, from its top-to-bottom story-telling to the pose of its central character, to the shape of the clouds:


Justitia (please press for larger image with details)

“Depictions of Lady Justice dates back to antiquity. She is a symbol of the moral and equal force of the legal system. Without corruption, prejudice or favor she is depicted with her eyes covered so that she cannot be influenced by the identity, power or weakness of the individual being judged. In her left hand she holds scales that weigh the evidence against the applicable laws representing fairness and balance. In her right hand she holds a sword symbolizing the power
that is held by those making the decision and enforcing Justice. In the painting lady Justitia is not blind folded. She is holding uneven scales and instead of a sword she holds a limited number of gas masks all implying the corruption of today’s society. Justitia with her cunning eyes is helping the unjust. The black winged angles represent the leaders of the world’s nations.”
-- Hayv


But again, there is in her art, juxtaposed with the negative influences of politicians and oppressive traditions, the graceful and the mystical, and its miraculous ability to overcome all evil.
I leave you with a painting of gorgeous emotion, “Mevlevi Sema.” It depicts three graceful, birdlike women practicing the traditionally male Sufi Whirling. This continuous whirling is a hypnotic meditation and prayer using the full body through which a Sufi Dervish loses his ego, letting it drop away entirely, and focuses only on God. In her version, the three women, now completely free of the social restrictions that once kept them dressed a certain way (for example, every inch covered), and confined to the home, are spinning, spinning in a dance of freedom by which they are overcoming one final restriction, that of the body over the spirit. Hayv paired the painting with the following poem by Mevlana Jalalu'ddin Rumi:


“I am a bird of the heavenly garden
I belong not to the earthly sphere
They have made for two or three days
a cage of my body."


"Mevlevi Sema"
(Please click on the photo to take a closer look. Hint: notice their feet...)



Born 1981 in Baghdad Iraq, Hayv now lives and works in Phoenix, AZ. Her website is fantastic.
(Discovered via Phantasmaphile....)

What the East Wind Told Me

“I have never been anywhere except Richmond, Virginian, and New York, because I have always been told that only grown-up people were allowed to travel. But the good East Wind and the kindly Moon have taken me on rapturous journeys high above the world to get an enchanted view of things. In this book I have put some of my discoveries, but if you are looking here for real likeness of the things that any one could see if he were grown up, you had better close the covers now. You cannot expect me to draw an exact picture of the North Pole or of a Chinese lady's feet or of a sea-cucumber. But if you are interested in what the East Wind or the Father Stork or the Moon told me, then look with my eyes and you will not mind very much if the courtiers in the ogre's court, or the dock leaves in the Garden of Paradise, are not just as a grown-up person thinks they should be. After all is said and done, what the young ones say about it is the all-important matter.”
--from Walker’s forward to Fairy Tales from Hans Christian Andersen (1914)




For each of his illustrations for Anderson’s fairy tales, Walker provided a short story of his own beneath the image, tales I find as creative and enjoyable as the drawings themselves:



“Fairy children are never bad until their second teeth come; and no one knows they are bad then except their mother. She thinks it very pretty, but of course she pretends she doesn't. if she had a corner she would stand them in it, but as she hasn't, she takes her naughty child's chin in her hand, very gently, and she says: "Child, you have lost your nose. Go look for it at once. And if you don't stick you finger in the hole where your nose used to be, before you find it, you will find a pot of gold at the same time." Now fairies, you know, never think; for if they did they would see they could not use a pot of gold if they found one. So before they stop to think, off sails each naughty fairy up into the air to look for its nose with its hands for oars, so that it can't stick its fingers into the hole where its nose used to be. And fanning its wings, it sails straight up into the air, and on still wings drifts down again — and up and down again it sails, looking all over the sky for its nose, which is another proof that it doesn't think, for what, pray, should its nose be doing there? Until by and by it forgets all about the pot of gold and forgets it is using its hands for oars. And then! Well, of course, you know what it does at once. Just what you did with your tongue when you lost your tooth.” (Source)



I

”Fairies say: "to play that you are doing something is as nice as doing it. They have a play called L'Envoi, that is quite the nices of all plays, that is, if you are a fairy. One has a flower whose blooms hand from the stalk like little bells, the others follow in a line that flutters from onse side to the other. The leader holds her flower high and calls, "L'Envoi! L'Envoi! L'Envoi!" And whichever side she dips the little bells in, the fairies march in that direction. After they have marched several inches, they lie down and quickly jump up again. Then the leader goes to the end of the line, and the next one becomes leader, then the third, then the fourth, and so on until each fairy has been the leader once. It sounds very stupid, but if you are a fairy, it is the most delightful play int he whole world. If only human beings weren't so dignified, there are many delightful things they could learn from the fairies. L'Envoi. L'Envoi!”






And here is the video, by Andrea on YouTube, of Walker’s illustrations in the book “Dream Boats,” which introduced me to this artist.




Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sophie, Part II (From Views of a Crime)

Previously...
(The images in this post are all gargoyles--protective monsters--on the cathedral of St. Vitus in the Czech Republic. St. Vitus is the Saint one calls on for protection from disorders of oversleeping...)
Fiction by Zoe Jordan.


Mordac


eucharisto:
by eucharisto


Then I wake up in the hospital. My head is nodding, an act which seems purposeful but doesn’t have anything to do with me. Everything is bleary and super-white at the same time, and I can’t really tell what’s going on, but there’s a definite hospital-vibe, and some major part of my psyche seems to just accept that.

“There’s absolutely no reason to get so upset, dear,” comes out of my mouth. I rub the gunk from my right eye and cough, suddenly, and violently. Solid hands lift me and pound my back, and I get a fleeting moment of déjà vu.

“Thanks,” I rattle. I clear my throat.

A man in a white lab coat appears in front of me with a glass of water.

“Better?” he asks, as I tip the glass up.

I take a few careful sips and set the glass down gently in his hand before I nod and thank him. I try to pretend he isn’t gazing at me intently. He doesn’t seem to get the hint.

“Yes?” he prods.

“Um,” I manage. My throat clears a little more.

He smiles, his eyes crinkling up. “Good morning.”

I close my eyes.

“No, let’s stick with this for a moment, please.” I feel him standing over me and open my eyes to see him waving a mini-flashlight around in little circles. He clicks it on and guides it towards my eyes. “Follow the light. Good...I’m Dr. Vukovic. Can you tell me your name?”

“Sophie Oaks.”

“Very good, Ms. Oaks, do you remember what happened?”

“I think...I fell?”

He straightens up, slips his flashlight into his pocket, and smiles again. “Fell asleep, it sounds like. Your friend couldn’t wake you up.”

I try to sit up too quickly, and the entire back of my head complains. “Oooh,” I moan.

“Yep, you’ve got a really good knot there,” he says, a little more cheerfully than I would have. “Apparently, you weren’t seated properly when you fell asleep. Have you ever been treated for a sleeping disorder?”

I hold my head still. “No.”

“Anyone in your family have diabetes?”

I pause. “Is Liv...here?”

He waves towards the space behind him. “She just went to check on her brother. She’ll be back by at some point.”

“Her brother’s asleep,” I say quickly, before he can continue.

He pauses, his expression changing slightly. Somewhere, way back in my animal brain, I am already praying. Not the words, but the rhythm. I can feel it, waves lapping at the shore. If I can just get out of here and get home, I will figure out a way to fix this.

“Family diabetes?” he tries again.

“Not that I know of,” I tell him. “Is he going to be Ok, her brother?”

He writes something down on his clipboard. He has dark hair, with just a few streaks of grey, and it’s just long enough that it slides down slightly when he dips his head to write.

“We certainly hope so,” he answers, after a moment. “How old are you?

“I’m 18. Are you his doctor?”

“I am,” he says brightly, looking up again. “I’m going to need a phone number--mother’s, father’s?”

“Why?” I scrunch up my nose, trying to look simply annoyed. “I’m an adult.”

“And very responsible, I’m sure,” he responds, still smiling. “But I need a medical history, and it looks like I might have a hard time getting it from you.”

“What for? I’m Ok, I just need to go home and get some rest. I’ve been studying too hard. Scary exams,” I brush it all off with one arm, carefully keeping my head still.

People who are new to prayer have to concentrate on it in a way that makes them unable to do anything else at the same time. Or they feel it’s disrespectful to do something else while you’re talking to God. But for me, it’s like breathing. The worst thing about waking up in these strange places, not understanding how I got there, is those first few, extra-long minutes when I really don’t know who I am, and there’s this yawning silence. Nothing belongs, the ground isn’t solid. When you first come into the world, and your heart isn’t beating, and you’re enveloped in this over-bright sensory overload, that’s what I’m experiencing in those moments. I don’t walk right if I’m not praying. It’s a groove, a path I fit into. Right now, I can feel that rhythm, starting somewhere inside me, but for some reason, it’s still not connecting with the outside world. This man in front of me, he nods his head, and it’s completely out of sync.

“Waking up hugging a filthy toilet doesn’t scare you?” he asks pointedly.

Traitor. “I’ll lock my door and hide the key,” I smile at him winningly. A wave of nausea threatens.

He sits down on the edge of my bed. “What is the problem, exactly, with the subject of diabetes?”

I start to shake my head but think better of it.

“Sophie?”

“I don’t know,” I tell him. “I don’t know my parents. So I can’t tell you any family history. I’m sorry.” I try words, starting with Our Father. Maybe if I do focus on the words, they will take me back where I belong. This strange rhythm, it’s making me ill, I’m afraid I’m going to be sick everywhere.

“I see.” He pauses. “An orphan?”

“Yes,” I answer quietly, my eyes closed. “St. Vincent’s, from the age of six. There’s no record of my parents, so.” I shrug mentally, but keep my body very still.

He’s silent for a moment. “I’m going to get you something for your nausea,” he says finally. “Is there someone at St. Vincent’s you would like me to call?”

“No--” my eyes snap open and I reach forward to grab his arm, missing and heaving at the same time. Luckily, nothing comes out.

“Ok, Sophie? It’s Ok. Is there a problem at the orphanage? Are you still living there?”

“No,” I almost pant, my eyes closed again. “You have medicine for this?”

“Yes, it’s--” his voice turns in the other direction as a nurse enters the room. He says something to her and turns back to me. “Sophie, Liv says you’re not a drinker. Is that correct?”

“Yes.”

“No drugs?”

“No drugs.”

“Regular stuff, like aspirin, birth control, vitamins?”

“No, no, nothing.” I heave again, and again nothing comes out. I realize I am still gripping his arm, but I can’t seem to let go.

“It’s Ok, the Phenergen’s coming. Just hold on. Can you tell me, have you lost weight recently?”

“No.” The world swings completely to the right. “Did you give me something?”

“We gave you some Flumazenil, a while ago, to help you wake up. Do you have any drug allergies?”

“I don’t know, I haven’t taken anything.” There’s some activity in the room, which I hope is the nurse with the drugs, but I keep my eyes squeezed shut.

“Any unexplained headaches?”

“No,” I whisper.

“Ok, Sophie, we’ve got something in your IV, you’re going to be feeling some relief any minute now. How many times would you say you’ve woken up somewhere other than you expected?”

I try to concentrate, but the queasiness has somehow worsened the head-pain, and vice-versa, and I can barely hear him. I try just listing the images as they come to my head, let him count.

“I don’t know, toilet...door...cupcakes...library...bench...” I take a few deep breaths. “Car--”

“Were you driving?” he interrupts.

“No, no. I don’t have a car.” The world seems to choose an angle and agree to stay there. The pounding in my head starts to slow.

“No car,” I repeat. I take another breath.

“When was the first incident?”

And there it is. The one question I’ve been avoiding, with every level of my being. This, all of this, is what the prayers promised to protect me from. Somewhere, I did something wrong. Something fell out of sync. I forgot a Hail Mary, I forgot to put something away, I ate the wrong beans on Wednesday, I didn’t keep the order. What did I do wrong? Where was it? How do I go back to fix it?


by nite tripper on flickr.



richard seaman
(All images copyrighted to their respective owners, fiction to me...)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Avionics

Avionics Crew Interface Development


So, my brother opened up a new lab at NASA tentatively titled Avionics Crew Interface Development, where they are focusing on making an information system that an astronaut can carry with him/her everywhere, on his/her person. I was really excited for him, so I drew up a little logo, trying to keep the idea in mind of a self-propelled, self-sufficient person who had all sorts of information input constantly available--thus the multitude of connected eyeballs, the special information-translating goggles, the ear trumpet, the belly-satellite, and the laptop screen that rolls up and folds into a pocket. Also, I wanted to use the art-style of the “machine-age,” a kind of deco flavor, so I used the aviator helmet and goggles, and the scarf...They’re not going to be able to use it officially, as it doesn’t represent the seriousness of their work enough, but it made him happy, so I’m happy :)
Hope you enjoy it!


Sorry these posts have been few and far between--I've been traveling a lot, but hope to get back to a more regular rhythm soon...

Monday, January 18, 2010

Arrival of the Birds

“What is to give light must endure burning.” --Viktor Frankl
Arrival of the Birds, by Zoe Blue



In the medieval bestiaries, the salamander (from the Greek salambeander, or chimney-sweep) is defined as a creature impervious to fire. Often, the salamander is depicted not only in the midst of flames, but also by an apple tree, with an old man looking rather ill and holding a bitten apple collapsing next to it, showing the salamander’s dark reputation for poisoning fruit. According to The Medieval Bestiary, one bestiary shows “the salamander as a snake spiraling up an apple tree; the snake has an apple in its mouth, making the scene very similar to some manuscript illustrations of the temptation of Eve.A man holding an apple stands near the tree, a hand to his head and looking sick.” I’ve chosen to pursue a different aspect of the poison stories, however: I would rather suggest that this whole idea of the apple that causes so many problems in The Garden (which some say was actually a pomegranate--and I’ll come back to that) is really fear of the new. Everything is set in Eden: the rules are in place, the Father runs things. Then the children reach the age where they become their own people. It becomes time for the old order to undergo an upheaval, for changes to be made, for the young to implement their own ideas. This part of the process of life shows up in all mythologies. For example, in the ancient Greek myths, Cronus, the youngest of the Titans, overthrew his father and became the new ruler, and then tried to have all his own children killed so that the same could not be done to him. But one of his sons, Zeus, escaped, and he grew up to overthrow his father and become the new leader. In those stories (as in the story of Oedipus), the idea of the “Old Guard” trying to hold onto its power past its time is shown in a particularly ugly light--as killing one’s own children. But in the story of Adam and Eve, it is the “upstarts” that become the sinners. The idea of assuming they might one day know as much as or more than their father is unforgivable, and the day they choose not to follow his rules is the day we all become exposed to the idea of an eternity of burning in hellfire. The depiction of the salamander poisoning the apple tree shows another possibility for this story, however.
As St. Augustine says, not all that burns perishes in the fire; some fire is cleansing, in fact. And the salamander, here, is an animal that can walk through fire, bringing you to the other side. So though Eve eats the apple that this salamander/snake has offered, and apple depicted (in a sense) as having been poisoned by the one offering it, she is not necessarily then condemned to burn eternally in hell-she could, instead, ride out of the fire on the back of the salamander--that is, she could follow her new ideas through the difficult process of “revolution” and into a new, fresh world.
So, the woman riding the salamander here could be Eve, though when I was drawing her, I was thinking of St. Sophia, who was born two months premature, at the end of the frost but in the midst of a village fire. She was brought into a world in flames and as soon as she was born, her family evacuated the village along with everyone else. She became the saint responsible for the end of winter, and was called upon to protect the harvest from late frosts. So she is a good representative for the end of the old ways, of something "frozen" in place, and the process--the fire of passion--that leads one to the new. The flames thaw that ice, and allow for new growth.
And here, it’s interesting to note that the tradition of stringing up lights during the winter holidays dates back to festivals surrounding the winter solstice--the longest night of the year--when fires were lit in an effort to coax light back to the world. The end of the old year, the beginning of the new.
And as for that apple that might really be a pomegranate--that brings us to another Greek myth, the myth of Persephone (or the Roman Proserpina), who was abducted by Hades and brought to the Underworld to be his wife. Her mother turned the world dark and wintry as she searched for her missing daughter. When Persephone was found, it was discovered that she had eaten of the pomegranate that she’d been offered while in the Underworld, and the rules stated that whoever ate while in the Underworld stayed in the Underworld. However, because no one wanted the world to be dark and wintry forever, the gods got together and forced a compromise on Hades which allowed Persephone to rejoin her mother for part of the year, during which Spring would come and the world would flower again. So, though she ate of a forbidden fruit, which condemned her to eternity in the underworld, Persephone was able to survive it--and to bring new life to earth.

In his book “A New Earth,” Ekhart Tolle adds another detail to the life of the salamander (an amphibious lizard) as he describes the slow and difficult process some water creatures underwent, facing down the difficulties of gravity and air in order to learn to live on dry land. First, they only lived in water, then, slowly, they became able to drag themselves out for small amounts of time, until finally they could travel farther and farther away from the water and still survive. In the book, he posits that it is unlikely those creatures would have gone through such a struggle if it had not been necessary, by some danger, or some new lack of nutrients, to do so. Because of their need to shed the old way of life, they became entirely new. And then:
“Most crawling reptilians, the most earthbound of all creatures, have remained unchanged for millions of years. Some, however, grew feathers and wings and turned into birds, thus defying the force of gravity that had held them for so long. They didn’t become better at crawling or walking, but transcended crawling and walking entirely.”
Thus, even the laws of genetics were overcome--no rule, it seems, is all that hard or fast when necessity strikes. If we want to enough, we can pass through the fires of hell and keep walking. If we so desire, we can quit walking entirely, and fly.

So that is the story here: She rides on the back of the salamander through the flames, which become wings for the salamander. Notice its offspring, leaping with new found wings from the tree. Notice the long body of the next-generation bird, and then the smaller, rounder form of the highest one. Sophia/Eve/Persephone’s snowy dress falls away, and the new material blooms Fire Lilies (not the orange lilies, but the ones which depend on fire in order to flower*), one of which she breaks off to offer her ride. A pomegranate tree blooms from the flames, new leaves and blooms and fruit forming on its trunk, distinct from the snow-covered hedge and frozen fountain further behind.

This drawing is my addition to the post “may my heart always be open to little,” on continuum, with the e.e.cummings poem of that title:

may my heart always be open to little
birds who are the secrets of living
whatever they sing is better than to know
and if men should not hear them men are old

may my mind stroll about hungry
and fearless and thirsty and supple
and even if it's sunday may i be wrong
for whenever men are right they are not young

and may myself do nothing usefully
and love yourself so more than truly
there's never been quite such a fool who could fail
pulling all the sky over him with one smile

- ee cummings



*I used the ones in the Taschen Book of Botanical Prints as my models. The hedge and gate were borrowed from the beautiful lawn of Clive Hicks Jenkins.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Views of a Crime IV: Sophie

Part 1,Part 2, and Part 3, in which we meet Chloe and Nick and are introduced to the realm of dreams, are found by following the above links. Here is Part 4, in which we meet Sophie.


All photos in this post are by Brzydki Pijak.



The sound of the crickets is deafening, as if I’ve accidentally stepped on a nest of them, if there is such a thing, and they’re all shrieking their mourning and warning to far-flung relations through a secret underground arrangement of hollow, ringing tubes. Something like the bank teller’s tube in the drive-thru lane, 70 screams shoved inside, racing from here to China, the speed only exacerbating the sound. I actually pause to think of the bank as I stand there, one leg floating stupidly in the air while I try to choose the least harmful place to set my foot down, without the benefit of light. Because the forest is as dark as it is loud.

And endless. I feel like I’ve been in the forest forever now, pitch-black, filled with angry sawing, and--

“Hey, hey, lady?” The voice murmurs something in the other direction, something quickly swallowed up by all the emergency-cricket-workers. A hand grips the front of my shoulder, and I freeze. How have I gotten so close to someone without feeling anything?

“Hey, girl, are you alright?” A finger pries at my right eyelid and my hands swing outwards, pushing. My leg continues to wave around, though in smaller circles. Why can I not find the ground with it?

The voice’s fingers move away from my eyes, and I feel the possessing body eject itself from my presence. Judging from the movement of that unintelligible murmuring, he’s shot back horizontally.

Aliens? Ghosts?

But the voice comes back, and the rest of the world comes swooping in with it; just like that, the pieces of my mind reconnect, and I know what’s happening. My foot drops to the ground and I smack my palms over my eyes and rub vigorously. The rough grit of the sidewalk begins to irritate my back, and as my eyes adjust to the dim light of the night around me, I push myself up onto an elbow and then try to stand.

“Wait, I don’t know if you should--”. He stops himself, and reaches out an arm to help me balance, but only manages to push me in the other direction. He overcompensates again, lunging away from me with his hands in the air. A pair of female arms fly into my field of vision, just barely managing to prevent his own backwards sprawl.

“Do you want me to call you a cab?”

I focus on orienting myself towards the sound of her voice. I re-establish up and down, taking in her facial expression as I do so. She mutters something and turns her attention to the cell-phone in her hand, shaking her head.

“I’m not drunk,” I protest weakly, beginning to understand her role, here.

Someone laughs. “Me neither!” he shouts. I try to take in my surroundings. Grass, trees, sidewalks, the three figures surrounding me. The designated baby-sitter has now reached someone and is arranging for my ride.

“Do I have..?” I feel for pockets, realize I’m wearing my pajamas, and shake my head at her. She rolls her eyes.

“Where do you live?” she sighs, one hand over the mouthpiece.

I shake my head again. The more normal this type of activity becomes in my life, the more anxious I become about each aspect of it. It isn’t true that one can grow accustomed to anything. The frog in the slowly heating water doesn’t not notice the obscene temperatures. He simply shuts down. He panics. He realizes there might be no end to this thing that’s happening. I stop my head from shaking.

She shoves the phone back in her purse. “Come on, you can sleep on the couch in the lounge,” she decides. In a practiced motion that completes itself before I understand it’s happening, she pushes herself up under my right arm and begins dragging me along with them.

“Wait,” I mumble. There’s still a part of me that’s trying to remember the dream. I can’t ever remember the dreams, but it seems that if they’re going to drive my life this way, they would have to be important. But I’ll have to clear the sleep fog if I’m going to interact with this force of semi-patient logic that’s hauling me into her wake.

“Wait,” I repeat, with even less energy.

For weeks now, I’ve been coming to in supermarket aisles, stairwells, in a public bathroom my waking self wouldn’t have crossed the threshold of. I don’t make sense anymore, my thoughts don’t cohere, I’m exhausted all the time. I catch myself several times staring at our two male companions as they bark their hysterical gibberish, feeling almost comfortable with its illogic and my total lack of context. Nodding.

Headlights pass through us at rhythmic intervals. There were trees there, I think. I remember trees. Or maybe that’s just because I woke up around some trees. Loud voices. No, no, that’s where I am.

I realize I’ve fallen asleep again when I wake up on a porch swing in front of a very large house. My stomach knots as I try to place myself and can’t. The front door slams and a mildly familiar female face approaches. She peers at me.

“We’re almost there,” she assures me.

I’m not sure what to do with that, so I just nod.


*****




The next time I wake up, it’s to a violent banging on the door. I hear tumbling and yelling and swearing, all mostly eaten up by the thunderous pounding of a particularly blocky, oversized, angry fist on wood. My blocky, oversized, angry fist. The door slams open just as I’m pulling my clenched fingers up towards my nose for a better view. I made all that noise? I look up to see my own confusion slowly turning into someone else’s rage.

Damnit!” she swears. She pushes her head out into the hallway, then faces me again. I look away, which only allows me a view of the grand number of spectators to this event. I drop my eyes to the floor.

“What?” she screeches at me. I stare at the edges of the sheet she’s wrapped around herself, which drag on the floor. My feet are glued beneath me. I am inside a home. I do not recognize this place. I am not making friends.

“My responsibility,” a calm voice finally takes over my fate.

“Great,” bed-sheet girl snarls, her head lunging back out to take in the speaker. “Nice work.” The door slams behind her.

My head turns towards the sound, even though I’d rather stare the floor into non-existence. The face belonging to the voice is only slightly familiar. I’m sure I’ve seen it before, but I can’t imagine it being responsible for me. Her arms are crossed in front of her chest, but she tilts her head, beckoning, so I follow her.

We descend the stairs quietly, our bare feet against old, but well-kept, polished wood floors. She leads us into the corner of the kind of kitchen that requires a crew of chefs, and loads up a coffee-maker. Then she sits, sweeping her arm out to release me from my awkward, waiting post. I barely pull a chair out and sit on its outer edge.

“You look terrified,” she notes amiably. “It’s not quite that bad.”

“I’m wearing my pajamas,” I explain, after a long moment of forethought that apparently got me nowhere.

She grins, slightly. “Me, too,” she points out. “But it isn’t that late, for a Sunday.”

I try to smile. “I think I’m supposed to know you,” I confess. It comes out like a question.

She regards me carefully. “You don’t smell like booze,” she finally answers.

I feel my brow wrinkle. I must be dreaming. I don’t think any of this is making sense. It would make sense if I were dreaming, though, right? I feel relief flood over me.

“I’m sorry, I’m dreaming,” I tell her, the smile taking over my face. I’m glowing from relief.

“Not this time, sweetie,” she disagrees. She studies me for a few awkward moments during which that relief begins to slowly drip away. I know this is a dream, because I don’t remember how I got here. And I’m in my pajamas in a public place. These are all really good signs. But I also remember Tuesday, being shaken awake on the floor of the cupcakes section of the grocery store by a bitterly amused goth couple. I wasn’t in my pajamas there, but that’s only because I’d fallen asleep at the kitchen table, studying. The smell of coffee draws my nose back upwards, and she smiles gently and gets back up.

“I’m Liv,” she tells me with her back to me. She pulls down two mugs and fills them with coffee. “You have a name?” she asks, turning back to set them on the table.

“Sophie,” I mumble.

“You Ok, Sophie?” she asks, her tone exceptionally mild.

I realize I’m crying. “Sorry,” I mutter, wiping at my face with the back of my sleeve.

She reaches back behind her chair and pulls a box of kleenex out of a drawer. “No need to mess up your splendid attire, there. This is the kitchen. We’re equipped for this sort of event.”

I look at her, confused.

“Is this a sorority house?” I finally ask.

She nods. “You were passed out in front of the library,” she explains. “We assumed too much drink, but I’m guessing we were wrong.”

I shake my head.

She gives me a chance to interject my own version of events, but when I don’t, she continues: “You didn’t have money for a cab, and couldn’t seem to place your home. You mean you don’t remember the incomplete barber shop quartet?”

It makes sense that they keep kleenex in here. As odd as it seems, for a room of such an imposing size, and one filled with black iron objects that should make you think of torture--at least the 50's house-wife kind--there’s something about the air that inspires confidence. Or maybe it’s the table, and the time of day. The sunlight is hitting our corner just so, with a warmth. There’s the coffee, the sense that there’s no one else for miles of hallway, and the already pretty much exposed raw nerve. But there’s also the fact that I have an unkind history with cheerleaders, and my mind feels no large jump between that group and sororities.

“It’s Ok, you know,” she says, after waiting another long while. “Whatever it is, it’ll work out.”

A brittle laugh escapes.

“Who knows where I’ll wake up next.”

She watches me wipe my face some more without saying anything. “You were sleepwalking,” she finally says.

I nod. “You know the toilets at the zoo?”

She waits. The zoo is just what they call the public restroom area at the University pool, which is, well, poorly-located. Go ahead and imagine why.

“I woke up there, last week. Huddled behind a toilet.”

Her face stays carefully impassive, for which I’m thankful. I took the longest shower ever recorded after that event. It was not life-affirming.

“Has this...always been a problem?” she asks.

I shake my head. “I’m sorry. I know where I live. If I could just, If you wouldn’t mind giving me a ride--” I rub at my face some more, and edge a little further off the chair.

She makes no move to leave. “Yeah, Ok. I can give you a ride,” she says, distractedly. After a few minutes of silence, she shakes herself a bit and remembers I’m there. “More coffee?” she offers.

I hesitate. She fills the cup, already halfway back to where she came from.

“I’m not your...responsibility,” I try to tell her. “I mean, thanks for picking me up last night, I’m not sure I would have made it home. But you don’t have to--”

“My brother’s sleeping,” she interrupts.

I shut my mouth. It’s still possible that I’m dreaming. You always think you aren’t, or I always thought I wasn’t, back when I dreamt. Back when I dreamt at night, with my eyes closed, in my bed. I am dreaming, it’s just that everyone else in my dream is awake.

“He fell asleep 7 months ago,” she says.

There’s a panic I hadn’t managed to develop yet. What if I hadn’t woken up, huddled behind that toilet? Would any of the people who don’t mind entering such a place have bothered to pick me up and move me out of there? Or call someone who might? What if I were really still there, dreaming this? A mild dizziness begins to rock my head slightly back and forth, and I scoot a little further into the chair, to keep from falling. My eyes fall to the mug in my hands, which has some kind of writing on it, but it blurs, and I can’t make it out. I find my lips moving in a familiar pattern, and I hear the 3rd bead of the rosary drop with a soft click somewhere in my head.

Suddenly, I realize I’ve been scooting the wrong way, but it’s too late, because my limbs don’t work anymore, but the floor, when I hit it, isn’t really all that hard.



Fiction by Zoe Jordan, photos by Brzydki Pijak. The photographer's portfolio can be found here.