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Amber Paulen

A Kind of List

Writing is difficult when far from my writing hole. It is like trying to conjure harder things. Do I have to write when I’m here, Michigan? When I’m here I want to let old-new things wash over me, my old-new self; see if I see things differently, react differently: though under the facade of minute change, there’s the same, same me and million million memories carried by the hard brown soil out there, out the window of my childhood. There is the constant and there is the change. Brown brown brown, here the earth of this season is only brown and grey. Such a familiar brown and grey. Michigan keeps keen tribute to the seasons. The seasons are written through me and through the seasons of this place I have seen myself in a million million ways.

Instead of writing confusedly, I’ve decided to write a list.

1) On Immigration: I’m out of practice. Why should I get so much shit anyway for entering into the country of my passport? At Detroit I am always suspicious looking and they again, “randomly,” searched my bags. There was some new line of questioning and it took me a couple tries to slide my way through. And I thought I looked like an innocent girl! Should I practice a sweeter smile, or bitchy defiance? Why can’t I move freely from here to there? And it looks like it’s getting worse. New “interrogation” stands, interrogating each individual before getting on the USA bound plane. “Guilty before innocent,” is what these employees of Homeland Security say.

2) American Sensationalism: Mama mia! Just look at the news! I’m sure Italy has some of this, but I remain blissfully and obstinately unaware. Whatever the headline is for the week, the month, is taken to inexplicable proportions so that there is nothing left of what was originally interesting but a hallow-shell-like performance. Yet people feed from what is not there as if there is nothing else of value to feast from. Even Presidential speeches are a celebrity show. I don’t understand.

3) I fed my baby nephew! My brother is a dad. What I understand of birth has been mainly through cats. A child? A baby nephew, small, fragile, dependent life.

4) Life in Europe: Just look at the color of some of these people’s faces and compare them to the standard Mediterranean raised on olive oil and fresh tomatoes. There is something deteriorating in the interior of the people here, unless they have found simplicity, which is rare. Though the USA is so good for the open spaces so necessary for expansion: how many use it? Americans in America tend to strike me as more confused, more lack-luster, more circumscribed by their environment. They eat their poisoned food and watch their sensationalist TV and their world-view shrinks, instead of the necessary: growth. There are hopeful pockets in this large country, pockets they remain. Spread the word! Olive oil and fresh tomatoes!

5) One more week to go. One more week and I’ll happily burrow back into my writing hole. To be with Simon, he’s my home.

Howard City, Michigan
March 2009


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