Anori Outtake: Not Waking Up

Dee lay in the dark, watching Apollo chase a vole, giant and puffed, at the edge of the bed, batting it hard and then biting, the cracking squish of the skull like broken glass. She watched him sitting straight up in the corner, chewing his vole, breathing out the bottom part of his jaw. She tried to get off the bed and couldn’t and fought against the muffled paralysis. IMG_3488She was going backward. She couldn’t see properly. The lights were off. There was something turned the wrong way. She hated being stuck, unable to move, to even see, and grunted and spat and pulled herself out of the dream. “Jesus fuck.”

She moved her arm up and twisted onto her back, raising her other arm, both of them now straight above her. She wanted her kid-self back, exposed, naked against the rocks, in the long cold light, and so stripped and edged to the shore, putting her hand in as she planned her brief plunge off the slippery green ledge, reaching out with her foot to shove the smaller ice out and dive in. IMG_4593And so that was what she did, into the cold and dark, panicked and frozen, and stood there dripping, like the icebergs, ready to drop off shards, almost happy with herself for a moment. She was awake now. She was almost sure of that.

Ice Friday: Luis Bunuel’s “Last Sigh”

Luis Bunuel’s memoir My Last Sigh offers reflections on art, politics and idle dreams:

One day on New York, in the 1940’s, my good friend Juan Negrin, the son of a former Republican Prime Minister, and his wife, the actress Rosia Diaz, and I came up with the notion of opening a bar called the Cannonball. 20150708_113054It was to be the most expensive bar in the world, and would stock only the most expensive beverages imported from the four corners of the earth. We planned an intimate bar, ten tables maximum, very comfortable and decorated with impeccable taste. An antique cannon at the door, complete with powder and wick, would be fired, night or day, each time a client spent a thousand dollars. IMG_4490Of course, we never managed to realize this seductive and thoroughly undemocratic enterprise, but we thought it amusing to imagine your ordinary wage earner in the neighboring apartment building, awakened at four in the morning by the boom of the cannon, turning to his wife next to him in bed and saying: “Another bastard coughing up a thousand bucks!”

Ice Friday: Thordarson’s “The Stones Speak”

Thorbergur Thordarson’s vivid memoir The Stones Speak recalls his childhood days spent in a remote Icelandic hamlet:

Large boulders stood here and there on the slopes. They appeared to be lifeless rocks if you just gave them a momentary glance. IMG_4616But if you stared at them for a little while, it was if they gained life and a soul of their own and quite personal features that reminded you of people. Some of them had looked out over the communities below in these peaceful poses for decades, others for long centuries, and it seemed to me that they knew everything that had befallen the folks below. IMG_4590I had great respect for these children of the Creator and I never peed on them or pooped behind them. I didn’t dare to, anyway, because of the hidden people

Ice Friday: Alice Munro

Alfred in Visitors summarizes Alice Munro’s narrative style best: “It’s not a story. It’s something that happened.”IMG_4688Munro’s strength is in her characterization: “She was disgusted with her mother’s callousness, her self-absorption, her feebleness, her survival, her wretched little legs and arms on which the skin hung like wrinkled sleeves.” (Accident)

Munro is also a virtuoso at description:”The trees came down to the shore on both sides of the building. The leaves weren’t quite out here, even though it was May. You could see all the branches with just an impression of green, as if that was the color of the air.” (Hard-Luck Stories) 20150708_151226Moments drift in Munro’s prose, echoing a disillusionment with existence; there is a lack of a story arc, a climax, any kind of ending and comes across like the humming of a song, a tune, but nothing concrete.

The Sister Cities of Ilulissat and New York

On first glance, Ilulissat, Greenland and New York City seem worlds apart. IMG_5007Manhattan skyline (6)I have come to learn, upon further examination, that the assumption is inaccurate.

One commonality is that both places offer non-stop action. New York has 24 hours of lights and hype.Columbus 011Ilulissat has 24-hours light and calving ice. IMG_4980Taxis dominate each locale.20150722_072427Cab TwoAs do throngs of tourists. IMAG352720150712_163552One thing I will have to admit is that the graffiti in Ilulissat can be more direct. 20150715_211435

Ice Friday: Kenko

It is all very well while there are those who remember and mourn the dead, but soon they too pass away; the descendants only know of him by hearsay, so they are hardly likely to grieve over his death. 20150714_155446Finally, all ceremonies for him cease; no one any longer knows who he was or even his name, and only the grasses of each passing spring grow there to move the sensitive to pity; at length even the graveyard pine that sobbed in stormy winds is cut for firewood before its thousand years are up, the ancient mound is leveled by the plough, and the place becomes a field. The last trace of the grave itself has finally disappeared. 20150714_155441It is sad to think of.

(From Kenko’s A Cup of Sake Beneath the Cherry Tree)

My Friend, the Disko Bay Iceberg

I spent much of July writing in a room overlooking Disko Bay, in Ilulissat, Greenland. 20150711_193104There was an iceberg that looked a little like a church parked just fifty feet off my deck. It wasn’t like the other icebergs, breaking and rolling and drifting past, but a magical constant, no doubt beached out.

It sat as I wrote, reflecting back, through the morning and afternoon light and into the reddish glow of the night. And there again the next day, stoic. And then it wasn’t. 20150711_211422It had collapsed, been divided, exposing its underbelly, as it turned itself inside out and drifted away back to the depths, leaving me with an emptiness of blue.

Ancient Ice: my bad side excerpt

I was cold and afraid. It was too big or I was. I leaned forward to get my sense back and banged my cast against the gunwale. IMG_3389The sound echoed back, low, like the closing of a door, and the white wall went out of focus and I blinked to make it clear and it was broken, the spires gone, what looked so small and distant, and dissolved like a monster into the water, splintering in a massive rush, dissolved like snow. Part of the other side slipped off too and another shelf, each part vanishing into the water. IMG_3391It spat back up in a lurch of bright blue and ice, rushing out of the darkness right at us. My head was empty, my hands balled tight. Ray ran in a short heavy stride to the cabin.

“Take that, b’ys.” Charlie slid the oars to Fitz and Tommy, and they dug them through the water, hardly moving the boat. Another section of the iceberg rose up out of the water, dripping, and collapsed. cropped-IMG_3380.jpgThe vibration of it came up through the water into the boat’s floorboards, a humming, hollow and deep, a pure force, and then a rising in the water, a vast dark thing, coming toward the boat. Ray couldn’t get the boat to start, and as much as everyone was doing, scrambling and pushing and turning, banging, no one spoke. IMG_3127The silence was louder as the wave rolled up to the bow, Apollo and I there, and pulled us up, higher, steadily to the top and back down again. The second wave was bigger. We couldn’t see what was left of the iceberg now, everything gone, and I was almost panicked, thinking it was too high and we would go under. We rose up, the stern coming up past us, shards of ice at the bottom of the next wave. I stepped back with it, thinking it was easy now, and lost my balance as the third wave came, almost as big, and my foot was sliding out and I was fine with that, and would have hit my head against the bench if Fitz hadn’t caught my arm and put me back on the bench. cropped-IMG_3221.jpg“That’s 10,000 years old,” he said. “It was snowing 10,000 years back and then it got all packed and floated down here. 10,000 years of history that is, before the Vikings, before the Romans, before the Greeks, the Egyptians, the Incas, the Mayans, everybody. People had just got out of the caves and begun the farming then.”

Ilulissat, Greenland

Ilulissat, a town of 4500 people, is the hub for tourism in Greenland; it sits at 69 degrees north, 120 miles above the Arctic Circle.IMAG2847The tourists come to see the icebergs which surround Ilusissat in the summer months. IMG_3177IMG_3185English isn’t commonly understood, although the youth appear to know a word or two.  IMAG2799IMAG2841IMAG2800 There is a stark aspect to the town – water piping strapped to exposed bedrock, sled dogs tied up everywhere and a dusty sports field at the center. IMAG2794However it’s the surrounding ice and the light that draw all of the attention.IMG_3190