Sometimes I want and sometimes I need and sometimes all I can do is smolder. I once wrote a poem (and it later became the first I’d ever perform) called “Waiting for Exposition“:
It’s like watching fireworks being / launched into the sky / on the Fourth of July. / I know well enough to expect / explosions // … // I know I’m no firework / no explosive / no lightshow / yet I still feel the fuse / burning down my crown like kundalini / I can feel the altitudes fall around me / as I soar higher from this drug that / sane people call oxygen and / psychiatrists call life.
I have a fascination with fire. The way the flames lisp through the air, tumble and turn and throw themselves to and fro. I read poetry at an open mic back in March or April, and I started with the same words–some echoes of my lines include “This is where it burns / all the flames / fighting their holy wars / let me smolder among them” and “Samson is burning at the broken pillars / limestone capsules and locks of hair / arms shriveled, torso chiseled / too far from marble, turned to dust.” But fire is fire, and words can’t tame any flame.
Certain songs make me think of fire, too. Jewel’s “Kiss the Flame” immediately comes to mind, as does Florence + the Machine “Rabbit Heart,” which I don’t think mentions fire at all. So does Sixpence None the Richer’s “Kosovo.” The flames burn through the melodies.
So it’s only natural I should want to meet the world in fire.
I fell headfirst from the pages of my linear algebra textbook into another classroom. It reminded me of calculus, but was of no building I’ve ever stepped foot in: the walls were white and discolored at the edges, darker greys and burnt yellows that made the corners stretch into oblivion. Low white tables sat in clusters of four or five around the room, but I was the only student held between its four walls. And hanging at its front, two large projector screens hung, covered in a PowerPoint slide as simple as text and a link.
But I said I dreamed of fantasy, and here the portal lay.
Last week I spoke about feeling out of place in my own home while we wait in limbo for our new house to be built–a house I won’t even live for another year, and then possibly only intermittently after that. It’s disappointing and discouraging, and in general, I’m still trying not to think of it all too much.
I have more important things to tend to–like recategorizing every post I’ve written for the past three and a half years, a task I’m plowing through against everything else. It’s been enlightening to see so much of my personal history, and it’s ironic how many trends I’ve noticed in living life holding down the rewind button.
Today began my ASB Team’s retreat and we spent the day learning about Fair Trade and then doing some activities to broaden our perspectives and allow us to gain greater insight into our personalities and the makeup of our group. I’ll get to all of those points next week–for now, I need to discuss why Belize is important to me.
Believe it or not, it means more than even I had thought it would.
When the world didn’t end on Friday, I thought I’d post a revelatory message on Saturday. Instead, I got carried away applying for a scholarship and lost track of time. So, I figured, let’s just read the next lesson of the Pirkei Avot and post it promptly on Sunday. Well, as I decided to finish said application this evening and took something of a nap earlier in the afternoon, time has once more gotten away with me. Regardless, learning is learning no matter what time it happens at (although, arguably, midnight learning is best left for Shavuot).
I wrote this the other day and figured it was too mentally askew to be worth posting. I was in a bad place–stressed by finals, consumed by philosophy–and strange things happen in dark corners on bright days, you know? So I’ve been thinking about it anyways, and since I’ve had some more time to consider it, to reflect on it, I’ve found there’s actually some merit in it after all.
So with no further ado, I present to you “Dancing Fire”:
When our second day began, we took a short walk from our motel to the Museum of the Cherokee Indian across the street. After pausing for pictures outside, we ventured into the unassuming building and gathered in a small room where we saw a creation story animated before us. From there, the world opened up.
I’d like to think it’s not the only thing opening up today.
Long week. I know time cannot be properly perceived from a three-dimensional perspective, but I didn’t think it could feel so long. Or be so exhausting. However, I was treated to a delightful morning today, able to attend services bright and early, bathed in the brisk winds of a coast-crossing hurricane. It really was lovely weather save for the humid heat. And the melodies, the Torah reading, the discussions during kiddush. It really was a good way to start the day.
This past summer when I attended the Alexander Muss High School in Israel program, I did a lot more than just tour the country and have fun. Part of the program was a class about Jewish and Israeli history, and as part of the class I was required to write many essays. Before the trip began, however, merely the mention of the word “essay” made me queasy. I hated the idea of writing anything other than fiction, and I despised the thought of having to write essays over the summer. However, when it came time to write the essays, I found many of them to be rather simple to do, and over the course of the trip, not only did I lose my nervousness about writing essays, I also came to appreciate the usefulness of outlines when properly employed.
This was the first essay we were required to write, and I post it here only for the sake of showing how horribly I wrote essays before I went on AMHSI. The topic was simple and straightforward, and the assignment was equally as so: “Read the Mesopotamian and Jewish creation stories (known as the Enuma Elish and the first few chapters of the book of Genesis, or Breishit in Hebrew, respectively) and answer the following questions: Compare and contrast the two stories. From reading these stories, what would you think about the cultures they came from? Which story would you rather study? Which story would you rather tell your children?”
As you’ll soon see, although topic was simple enough, my essay-writing abilities weren’t nearly refined enough to do it much justice.