Tag Archives: eye

Unprovoked

A black bird, which looked like a crow, was gliding alone through the sky. Gliding? This caught my eye. I blocked the sun with my hand and watched it. It then suddenly tucked its wings in and rolled onto its back, its pointed beak leading the way as it began to dive down. Suddenly it unraveled its wings and effortlessly rolled back upright, catching its fall, and continuing to glide repeating this maneuver several time as it cascaded across the sky, flipping itself around with nothing but what can only be described of as joy. I’ve never seen a crow have fun before, or any animal for that matter entertain itself while so isolated and unprovoked.

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“Art is not about how good you can draw; it’s about interpretation.”

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Donald Was in Kindergarten

As a child in kindergarten, Donald would pluck the legs off of the insects he found, specifically daddy long legs spiders, and occasionally eat them. He would study how the legs would keep moving after he removed them, and would sort them into piles of wigglers, non-wigglers, and pop the legless bodies in his mouth. 15 years later he would learn that daddy long legs spiders carry venom approximately 600 times more potent than a black widow spider, but they are incapable of biting humans, rendering them harmless; but he still wondered why he didn’t die after eating the entire spider along with all its venom. Donald would learn 20 years later that he was misinformed, and that daddy long legs spiders are harmless because they in fact don’t have any venom at all.

Upon moving to first grade, to a different school in a different neighborhood with different people, Donald noticed that no one ate insects anymore; they just watched them. On the first day of school Donald saw two insects fighting and decided to break up the fight by squishing them. This was the first time a complete stranger had gone out of her way to tell him a question.

“How would you like it if you were squished by a giant foot?” Donald had not learned what puns were yet, so he couldn’t say ‘I would feel depressed,’ but he still had some manner of wits about him, and replied,

“I squished them with my shoe, not my foot.”

“Doesn’t matter.”

“Yes it does. I wouldn’t be out here without shoes on. If I didn’t have shoes, then they would still be fighting!”

The girl held her stern gaze on Donald and let out a shrill, high-pitched burst of sound. “Ms. Schneider!”

Ms. Schneider was a heavy, non-Germanic woman with the classic wart on her nose, who’s official title was ‘Recess Duty,’ and who’s unfortunate unofficial title was ‘Playground Witch’)

“Ms. Schneider! He’s making fun of me!”

This confused Donald on two accounts: the first because he had no idea why the girl, unprovoked, would shriek; and secondly because he was a very literal child and was in fact not having any fun on this girl’s behalf, nor was she transforming into any derivative of the greater concept of fun. Donald felt that either this girl’s choice of words, or her line of thinking were poorly misguided, and he rebutted on the matter:

“Nuh-uh!”

Donald was simply trying to prevent an insect war, but apparently this little girl had nothing to do but complain during recess.

“What’s your name?” Ms. Schneider lumbered over with an invisible cane.

“Donald.”

“Donald, can you come with me?”

Donald was glad this peculiar woman with the loyalty of an abused dog had pulled him away from the girl, but he was completely unaware that every time someone followed the Duty, that she lead them to the principal’s office. Donald was, again, confused as to the situation that presented him. In this wonderful country of checks and balances and democracy and freedom where those who are persecuted are innocent until proven guilty, Donald was now subjected to stay after school for ‘making fun’ of that girl. He didn’t even know her, and it was in that moment he learned never to underestimate the power of a little girl.

Donald was inexplicably afraid to hold eye contact with anyone, for reasons unknown to him in his present age, which didn’t help his case as he tried to explain to this grown man with a patch of hair on his chin that he didn’t actually make any fun; and even if he did, he wondered why he would be forced to stay inside for making fun? “Isn’t the point of recess to have fun?”

The principal’s stomach growled and he wanted to finish his sandwich before he had to go class to class introducing himself in a fun and friendly manner, and so he settled on telling Donald,

“I think you might have a different idea of fun than the rest of the kids.”

Which was true, but also not a bad thing. After all, Donald was the only one pacifying insect wars on the playground. Donald was sent back to the classroom and realized that during all the explaining that was just done to him by the principal, nothing was explained. He wondered if he could be a principal some day and sit in a room and not explain things to confused kids as they were delivered to his door. He thought he could do that now, but he didn’t have enough hair on his chin. He wondered if he shouted for the Duty their roles would have been reversed and if he could have enjoyed the rest of his recess, but first Donald had to get back for arts and crafts time…

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“It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be convincing.”

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High Up

Snoqualmie Pass had installed a terrain park at the foot of Bonanza face – a black diamond. As the popularity of the park grew, so did the jumps and wipeouts.

“Woah.” said my brother, a ninth grader, old enough to know when something was broken. He didn’t need to point or tell me to look over the side as our chair lift sailed over the terrain park. A snowboarder received attention from two ski patrolmen at the foot of a 30 foot tabletop jump with crossed skis on it. He was laid in a sled-type backboard, and stiff. His face matched the red ski patrol jackets, puffed and swollen against the confines of the neck brace, pressing to break free. It reminded me of when a friend from the accelerated program in elementary school put a yellow ducky peep in the microwave. It popped – but not all at once. The first time I ever saw EMTs is when I was waiting for the principal because I dragged a kid away from a fight. He was calling the peep-popper’s mom to let her know her son had landed on his eye out on the playground. I thought about how that was possible, but the blood and the words “I can’t see! I can’t see!” distracted me. I hadn’t done anything wrong, and now I was the lone audience to The Bleeding-Eye Show. Apparently the EMTs thought in front of the waiting room chairs was the best place to perform. I wasn’t allowed to leave my seat. I can’t remember what the principal told me—probably something about being careful.

I didn’t talk much to the bloody-eye friend after third grade because he stopped talking. Our teacher explained to keep our distance from him because his mom passed away of cancer. Someone had to ask what “passed away” meant. I think my motherless friend would have preferred a car crash so he could have someone or something to blame, but instead he had to slowly watch her disappear with his childhood. Nothing provokes life more than death. Now he fights for what he still believes in and cooks his own meals after working hard. I eat out every day and believe in anything because I haven’t learned otherwise. All my experiences have been secondhand, listening to stories of success, failure, and a plethora of examples on ‘how to be good.’ Without having ever done it, I could show someone how to put on chains and drive uphill on two inches of ice, or give a job interview without ever having received one. From what I’ve gathered I could do death, too, but I wouldn’t be confident in my ability to properly show someone else.

For me something is possible even if I’ve only heard about it; it doesn’t need to have actually happened. I’ve never seen anybody die. I’ve heard it from people close to me, about people close to me, but I’ve been protected from it my whole life. When I’d watch the news they’d report that someone died in a shooting, a car crash, or a freak accident. I listened to see if it was anyone I know – it never was. I feel like everyone watches the news hoping they’ll see someone they know.

My senior year in high school two girls in my class made the news. One died and one didn’t. The one who survived said she couldn’t remember anything, probably because of trauma and partly because of choice. I didn’t know them well enough. I can’t imagine being the camera man for channel 5, knocking on the door to the house where all of her friends were grieving, crying; trying to remember and forget. “I’m sorry for your loss, but could you step into the light so we can see your face?” One of my classmates was interviewed and smiled at one point. I knew he was excited to be on the news.

That same week five other high schoolers died within a hundred mile radius of my school. Two years prior, three high schoolers died in a crash three miles from my house. One went to my school, but I didn’t know him either. I attended the funeral of my dad’s best friend, who died of a heart attack running on a trail in the woods. He was very healthy, and if someone would’ve been nearby at the time, he would have survived. I only knew him through my father, but I knew more about him than how he actually was as a person. He built his own house from scratch. His second wife took all the inheritance and split for Florida. My middle school orchestra teacher was killed in a freak boating accident. She was on a sailboat in the middle of a lake with some friends when a speed boat plowed straight through her at full throttle. The bow of the boat was raised due to its high speed so the driver assumed nothing was there. Cancer killed my physics teacher’s wife and one of the preachers at church’s husband. When I started college I got a call from a friend crying about how her boyfriend, a friend of mine since grade school, had cheated on her. I happened to be in a fraternity with him at the time and knew this probably wasn’t true. Regardless, she grabbed as many pills as she could that night, but woke up in a mental institution so I didn’t have to deal with her death. She had moved to the east coast for school, but the distance had gotten the better of her. Another close friend of mine moved to Philadelphia to be a professional cello player and stopped eating for a while, drank too much, then blacked out to the point where he couldn’t remember when it all started. We were only sixteen, and I laughed along with him as he told me he almost died. Someone fell to their death at a fraternity party – someone too drunk to know what “don’t” means. They want you to say “fraternity” instead of “frat” to respect the brotherhood and its traditions. Someone falls or jumps off of something every year. A man burned himself alive. I walked by the grounds crew worker who drew the short straw that day and had to separate the scorched flesh and blood from the rough concrete with a brush and a mask. A girl hanged herself in the back stairwell of the fraternity I attended, but I had left a year prior. They found her limp during the recruiting BBQ. People littered her facebook page with remorse. One post read, “Hey, let’s catch up! Haven’t heard from you in ages [smiley face].” Winters get cold and dozens of hobos die in the streets. I think we’re still at war with someone.

I looked directly down on the puffy red snowboarder, waiting for something to happen; something exciting. Our chair passed the scene, following the example of the hundreds that had passed before us. I looked back over my shoulder, realizing the puffy man had no friends watching on. I wondered if his family was close to him, friends, or coworkers nearby, or possibly a girlfriend. “Ladies first.” He winks at the top of the run, “I’ll be right behind you.” Those could have been his last words as he wasn’t allowed to speak in the neck brace, and his face swelled shut soon after. I figured he’ll have a crazy story to tell at some cocktail party months down the road, so I faced forward at the end of the ride and slid off with ease. The next day the paper said the puffy man had broken his neck, been paralyzed, and died that night while I was sleeping.

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