Frozen into coats,
white girls of the North
I was talking to a friend about a week ago, and I casually mentioned that I can't do anything mechanical without listening to music. Like, walking somewhere, or doing something that doesn't quite require my working brain. It is sheer torture for me to do so without music, but with it, it's a pleasant activity. Anyways, I mentioned I'm always listening to music when I get on the bus after work to head out to school (it's a long ride; my college is in a neighboring city so it takes me an hour, hour and a half to get there) and he said I shouldn't do that anymore, because it's dangerous. Even if I don't broadcast my mp3thingie openly, headphones are a clear indication that there is something else there, something worth stealing or cutting a neck for (it happens often on public transportation down here). So, FUCK, it is true, and now I can't listen to music anymore during an hour! And a half sometimes! I hate it. But it gives me some room for, you know, dangerous overthinking and looking at my surroundings, and noticing all these funny and scary things I kind of want to tell someone about right away, but can't, and end up forgetting. Idiosyncracies of my city which I find so common and others would find so bizarre.
Things are easy at work. I am on the internet all the time, so it's quite easy to delve into it without really noticing what I'm doing. It's reading reading reading blog comment talk troll pun reference out-smart, trying harder and harder to be clever, or cleverer than thou, or trolling those who aren't, or reading Wikipedia articles and modifying them so that a bunch of geeks (who are cleverer than thou!) will laugh and laugh. It's a contest, always looking for more ways to gain knowledge, or ways to put word after word. Intellectual stimulation. Wonderful and giant circle jerk-offs. Freud must've said something about this once.
Don't get me wrong, I love it. It's just that, when I jump on that bus every day after leaving the safe internet world, I can't reconcile this world with that other.
If you want to see true Paraguayan folklore, get on a bus. I know people are used to it, but it's hilarious. You jump into a brightly painted bus and inside there is a man with a guitar singing for money, or dirty, barefoot children selling gum. Wooden floors. The bus rocks back and forth so much on the road that it's impossible to read anything, and travelling while standing up is a whole ordeal. Men congregate at the back of the bus and wolf-whistle or cat-call whatever they find appealing. People talk loudly. The front of the bus is full of weird and colorful motifs, like knitted blue and red garlands, posters of scantily clad women, and stickers that read "If Wine Conflicts With Work, Leave Your Work", or maybe "I Drive, But Jesus Guides Me".
There is no wit in here. Knowledge of history or internet pop culture is so foreign and unnecessary that it seems impossible for it to occupy the same brainspace which you are using to remain alert, to avoid falling over when the bus takes a sharp turn, to keep an eye out on dangerous-looking people and the way you're holding your purse.
Old men climbing in with desperate looks on their faces, maybe because of the heat, I can't tell. All I can do is maybe give one my seat. Barefoot children jump in to ask for money and they are hungry. They are hungry and all they know is how to beg. They are so young and they are so hurt already. So what did they do today? They survived. What did I do today? Oh, ha ha, I watched weird videos and then referenced some obscure 80's show and made people laugh with it, and then I made MS Paint comics, isn't it great.
Not from where I stand.
I can't merge these two worlds. I can't make them make sense between each other, or complement one another. When I'm outside, and everything is so visceral, simple, violent, devastated, loud, I can't find it in me to keep things so logical and different and graceful inside. Maybe this is why I can't keep up, or why my words are so crude and awkward, or why I just can't be as smart. (I try so hard sometimes!) Outside is broken Spanish, broken Guaraní. I borrow your language. I'm sorry, I borrow your English, and often I mess it up, and it's not even my mother tongue, and what the hell am I even doing. I'm sorry for borrowing something that isn't mine and trying to use it.
I can't find home if I'm dividing myself between two worlds and I think the contradiction is going to give me an aneurysm.
Maybe I'll just start listening to music again.
filed past one, five and one
(Words in italics are lyrics for Phantom Limb, by The Shins)
they are the fabled lambs
the Sunday ham
the ancient snow