Thought Trafficking

Time to begin the long division
September 13, 2009, 12:18 am
Filed under: at fault, being selfish, living

Alberta takes me on physically. The water changes my hair; the air changes my skin; the space changes the way I want to move. These things I like. Living in different places we are full of possibilities, shedding snakes or moulting birds. We are free to rediscover old habits, if we choose. It isn’t a reinvention – the same beast is still underneath. Just re-decorating.

I have a problem with words. The cadence of English isn’t natural to me. As evidence: I mispronounce a great deal of words, words from biopic to archipelago (I say bi-AH-pic and arch-i-pel-AH-go), out loud, and even more in my head. Taxonomy, for instance, I think of as “taxi-NO-me”. Until I was in late elementary school, I thought that the word “item” was pronounced “in-team”. Don’t ask me where I got that from. It’s like there’s a rhythm there, but my heart is out of step. I feel like I’m skipping rope or playing to a metronome and I never quite make the entrance on time. Theories have been offered up – French immersion schooling at a young age or reading the word over and over again without saying it, but I don’t think that these are really adequate excuses. Plenty of others have cleared these same hurdles with enviable grace and style.

I am unable to pay attention to products, things produced, finished things, these days. My focus turns to the sound, the feeling of the instrument that produces. The weight of the piano keys, the Bb that won’t sound properly, the swish of the spinning wheel, scraping a wooden spoon on a bowl, listening to something over and over without being able to write about it. These things probably seem unconnected. Maybe this is paralysis; maybe not. I spent much of last year frustrated with the unending unraveling of a finished product, like an unhealthy obsession with one’s own digestive system. Now I’m trying to watch and listen, and it’s a terrible thing. The details are enough to crush you under their combined weight. Crush you lovingly, crush you with the sound of a clarinet against a voice or some fibre pulling away from your palm. Crush you under a word, the combination of two or three words, before you can turn them inside out to find out what they mean. Not that it isn’t valuable to be able to hold something up to a light, to learn to explain it. But to impose rhythm on what is raw, to pronounce awkward syllables with fluidity, to stitch it all up, it is also to be beholden to an expectation of sense, common or otherwise. Maybe I say all this to explain that I like the cookie dough better than the cookies.

Some days, I don’t want to know why it is I love what I love.

Some days, I don’t even want to finish my thought.


1 Comment so far
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you make paralysis sound decent. Alberta must be treating you well.

Comment by Annick

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