Which Phoenix?

On tuesday, the twins came over to NYC for dinner. We met in 7th grade and parted ways my sophomore year in highschool. For us international kids, loss is just a part of the game. I’m used to saying goodbye.

But with my living in NYC at all, the center of the universe as far as anyone is concerned, we managed to stage a small dinner in the city when they came to visit. We try to do this every year, since I arrived here for college. A tradition like the phoenix, rising out of the ashes.

But there is another phoenix I was thinking about today. The one from x-men (eh, nerd) to be clear. Jean Grey is known for being on the good side. I was thinking about that today, reminiscing about my total lack of teenage-and-young-adult antics. I’m getting tired of being good. Jean Grey got tired of being good too, one day–and so she killed 5 billion people.

How do we change who we are, from “good” to “bad,” from naive 7th graders to seniors in college? The twins noted in detail all the things about me that had remained the same (my swearing), and all that hadn’t (my wardrobe). Do we re-learn who we were, to move forward to who we can be? Do we ever really determine who we are? And if memories and experience do shape us, can someone who only acts good ever be bad? Or, step out of the bounds, at the very least? Can we write ourselves, into existence, like another comic-book character?

When your neighbor has more sex than you…

I’m staying in a dorm over the summer, for an internship  I have in the city. It is not too demanding, which is good, because I have to study for the LSAT and do research for my thesis during this time as well. And even though my vacation was meant to be “low key” so far it has been anything but.

With my family here for the past month, I haven’t gotten much “me time,” and to make things worse, my boyfriend is in another state. For the next six years.

…As if that wasn’t enough, my RA (who also happens to be my next door neighbor) seems to enjoy reminding me of what I do not have. Namely, sex. While she has been enjoying herself (rather loudly, I should mention,) I  have been trying to find new and innovative ways to repress memories and make myself at least temporarily deaf. Any suggestions?

Our Being, United

I mentioned in a previous post how important my music box was to me. But there are a myriad of objects that are important, and that make up our being. Things we turn to everyday, that bring us comfort, and that little by little, piece who we are. Here are a few of mine:

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1. My notebook and makeup case. I jot down my grocery list in the note area, and save important stubs in the accordion folder. I got the notebook at the Metropolitan Art Museum’s store.

2. Close up of my makeup case. I like muted, soft colors, but the shimmer keeps it fresh and young.

3. My agenda (pink) and diary (blue notebook). I managed to bargain with the store clerk to give me a discount on the agenda, since it was the one they had in display. I’ve had my diary for over four years. I do not write much in it. Instead, I glue important ticket stubs or remembrances.

4. My copy of Plato’s works (yes, all of them). Below that, “Sexuality, Gender and the Law” the 2009 casebook. Two of my heaviest (and biggest) books. They have also been two of the most interesting reads.

5. My teddy-bear, Jerry (he’s gay!) I also have a trans-species bear, Theodore, who is sometimes a bear, and sometimes a bunny.

What are some of your special objects?

Share with me.

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Sense Memorya

I was recently walking across campus, on a windy and humid day. The charged air made the smell of the freshly cut grass seep out (they invest on maintaining the lawns for graduation, but when it comes to the upkeep of dorms?…) The fresh smell and the cool breeze and the somewhat hazy, somewhat sunny day reminded me of Argentina in late summer. I only lived there as a very young child, but my memories of walking down the street from my grandmother’s apartment are my most distinctive.When the sun shines a certain way, the sky turns certain blue… I dont know where I am anymore. How far can memories take you, in miles, in years, in lives past?

While visions, so deceitful, fly past.

Sky from my window, when I was younger

My piece of Sky

Yesterday, as I was waiting for E. to go get a late night snack, I decided to venture outside my dorm. My room was stuffy and the breeze was incredibly tempting, so I sat in one of the stone seats that surround our campus. Then I did something I haven’t done for a long time: I looked to the sky.

Sky from my window at twilight

When I lived in Brazil–where you could see a surprising number of stars on a clear night, despite the pollution–I used to joke that I owned a particular “piece of sky,” the one right above my house. From my bedroom’s veranda, I could see a number of stars, my own little constant in an ever-changing plane. In New York, it is harder to see the stars. One is lucky to see 3 in a group, faint and dainty, as exhausted as first years way past their bed-times.

Yesterday the sky was cloudy, and the clouds looked a hazy violet on the black sky, an effect of the city lights, I imagine. They moved rather swiftly across my field of vision, since it was quite windy, so from time to time, when a space between clouds opened, I would get a grasp of a couple of dim stars. Where they the same I had seen in Brazil?

Then I heard E. running–he thought he was late–and I was brought back to earth. But I had seen my little piece of sky already. So we left, to get some snacks.

A Room with a View

Over the years, I’ve had my share of bedrooms. Since my family moved a lot, I would get a new bedroom on average every two years. I remember often going “house hunting” with my mother to new countries we had been assigned, my main concern was always which bedroom was to be mine. There is something to be said about the whole process of looking at stranger’s homes–often while their furniture and personal belongings are still there–and picturing your own life in that space.

Room with a View

My dorm room sophomore year

How do we create our own spaces? How do we create a home? Is it just stuff, or is there something else, something we have to build, out of the four walls?

The picture above is of my university dorm room, the only place I might venture to call a home today. It might not be very visible, but in the windowsill is one of my most important belongings: a pink music box. My grandmother gave it to me when I was eight. Soon after I turned nine, my family told me we were moving again. In a rush to pack up, they didn’t let me attend the last few days of classes, so that I could use those days to pack up instead. In my hurry to help reduce my room into boxes, I let my music box fall from the high shelf in the closet where my mom kept it.

A small piece from the corner where the music box hit the ground broke off. The inside wall, separating the music-mechanism and mirror which held dancing-magnetic ballerinas, broke off too. I was devastated. Another object mangled by the constant moving. Another piece of me, to be left behind.

I managed to fix the box with stick-glue, crudely, as best as my nine-year-old hands could. It still stands today, the glue has turned yellow, the inside wall piece has since gone missing. Only one of the two ballerinas remain. The music box stands where previous rooms have fallen, where other windowsills held it, where other light shone through. The space changes, but the heart doesn’t. And that to me, is home.

First…

My first moment of being was in the back of a car, when I was five, in Ecuador. We were driving to my friend’s house, Karen. She lived in an exclusive area of town, next to the country club. Her house was the stereotypical American dream, and I was jealous. While on our way, I kept thinking, “why couldn’t I be her?”

And then I wasn’t sure of who I was anymore. What makes me, me? What prevented me from being her? What exactly was driving my existence? The force of such questions on a five-year-old body should not be underestimated. I lurched forward, I wanted the car to stop, the world to stop.

The rush left me as abruptly as it had come, and I found myself once again staring out the window to the cloudy Ecuadorian skies and grey landscape. I arrived with a sick taste in my mouth. I couldn’t look at Karen in the eye for the rest of the day.