I must explain something to you. I cannot see faces. What I can see is form, line, space, color, texture, and shape: the elements of art. Masterful portraits in colored pencil and charcoals and paint are before me. As the head is rotated, the light’s prominence heightens or slackens with the addition or subtraction of highlight or shadow. But I am flesh; I am the sole existence. But when I perceive myself in the mirror—I, a living rendering.
My mind has the tendency to fixate on the specific. It must have been the way I was raised combined with my familial predispositions. My mother home schooled me in the early childhood while she struggled with an addiction to food. Addiction runs in my family: we are simply a bunch of fixated people. However, I wouldn’t say I’m addicted to thought. Only, my experience with the tangible is far more pleasurable than reliance on the substantial, and, compared to the material, my elusive mind takes me on journeys through its grey, mattery recesses that are quite awesome, like the God I serve.
As I travel through different stages in my thought life, I pray that my one, constant passion remains my love of God, and that He will continue to inspire me. He keeps my thoughts from overpowering me. However, there was a point toward the end of high school where I was completely absorbed in my own doubting, contemplative mind. I overanalyzed every area of my life, including God. Depression became conclusion. I was finally forced to surrender al of my thoughts to God, and in that moment came freedom. The answer to my open-ended questions lies in Him.
Perhaps I could be diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), but I suspect most people could be. Humans are easily distracted creatures when we want to be, and often we do. Otherwise we would not subject ourselves to television, regulating our focuses to seven-minute intervals, anticipating commercial breaks simply to mute them and converse with someone in a text message or online. Rarely in person; rarely does someone sit next to us on the couch. The implications for future prodigies is frightening, but I suppose there will always be Jewish and Asian parents (perhaps even together now that intermarriage is trendy) who’ll force their children to be insanely talented at something. And besides, anything could become an overpowering fascination.
I believe, reflect, imagine, and feel through the soul’s self-expression.
Therefore, you do.
the momentary breathlessness
to function that I
across day to day.
They are indications that I am doing something right in my observations.
I savor being derailed, impelled by a force outside of myself, and completely immobilized. Deliciously frozen. Powerless, and at the mercy of experience, I feel. I feel. While defrosting over several seconds, I shiver. With vibrating shoulders, ponder. You have to hold the flavors of everything in your mouth (in your mind), in your fists for as long as possible. My friends (people) dismiss my actions as “that’s just Arielle for you” as they would when I am the last to finish a homemade, blackberry and banana smoothie or when I am the last to leave the theatre after an outstanding performance.
Life is savory.
If I were to capture life on paper, it would not be a memoir;
it would be a novel.
Life is not a string of collective, successive, extensive glass beads of memory. Life is actively hand sewing and mending and adding scraps of cloth to an increasingly flimsy, silk blouse with a dull, oversized needle and no protective thimble. I wish there were a stronger verb than “to be; is” to use for life. There is not.
During my senior year of high school, my life became novelistic. After two years of intense literary study, I saw my life as a piece of literature: every moment, a new paragraph with hours passing by like chapters. (Some slower than others, but all about the same length.) I saw parallel structure, themes and motifs every second. I became entranced by my novel life.
It started off innocently. I would use the color yellow to represent myself because of its visible predominance in my life. My mother’s favorite color is yellow for its cheeriness, (a quality she does not naturally possess without Lexapro, an anti-depressant she’s used for over 25 years). I think that that is one reason she named me Arielle Joy. To compensate, you know?
as a jaundice newborn on the sun porch of my family’s little yellow house among the suburban white, off-white, and beige houses scattered around Amherst Place, in a pleasantly shady, tree-and-oxygen-filled Livingston, NJ. 14 Amherst was the only residence I ever knew before moving to New York City’s grey, stone monstrosities and significant lack of foliage. At least blurred strokes of taxis create visual appeal throughout the city.
My father’s business car, Chevrolet Super Sport Roadster (SSR), which he uses for his home improvement establishment, is bright yellow. My obese walkie-talkie cell phone is a black and yellow eyesore among my classmates’ dainty, little silver flip phone all of my classmates carry. My junior prom dress was my personal, princess-style masterpiece, constructed of caution tape, and cemented with yellow duct tape.
My favorite flower is
It is said to make a nutritious salad, although I have yet to salvage the lawn for such a meal.
The intense color it wears on its face is ironic. Why should it get all off the attention when the three-leaf clover or onion grass is always green? Actually, forget color. I am much more attracted to the dandelion as a white, ethereal sphere—whole and decidedly delicate—than as a common-looking weed. I would choose a dying dandelion over a rose nine times out of ten. That ten percent of the time when the rose wins is unavoidable, solely because of beauty—the common meaning will sometimes permeate my brain cells’ membranes. I am helpless without a plant cell cell wall. Dandelions are most attractive to me when they are half-dead, pure-looking, and ready to give away every part of themselves that is worth a second glance. After a full release of seed, the unsightly stem is leftover and sometimes I split that into four, long strands with my fingernail, the quarters curling up on their own and becoming quite lovely. I find the dandelion an illustration of self-sacrifice and rebirth through divinely endowed humility.
Details are infinite. They are gifts for appreciating life, although it can be maddening when analyzed. The concept of infinity is inconceivable to the human mind, much like the Trinity or unconditional love. Take a moment for yourself after reading these next few sentences, and think about measurement or outer space. Chances are that it will make you feel a bit uneasy. If you were to procure a ruler from your desk drawer and see how long a piece of string from your pocket is, you would not get an accurate measurement. Inches or centimeters make no difference. One is only slightly more accurate. Measurement is an approximation. The amount of calories given the nutrition facts on any given food does not actually end in a five or a zero. Now and then a dehydrated Japanese noodle package will cross the line of comfort, boldly announcing that it contains 131, 132, or 133 calories per serving. The number is rounded up to keep your mind from imploding. You know, billions of air molecules encompass you at any given moment, and the pressure keeping all of your physical parts together. Force and quantity is balanced, keeping life living.
That very idea makes me feel uncomfortably contained. I am sentenced to a line segment when the line from which I am derived is itself, unlimited. I much prefer Algebra to Geometry. X = X, but any triangle, any triangle in the history of the planet, could have the same angles and be 1,000 times larger. Open fields, being in unfamiliar places, awkward conversations, buying a non-returnable item, they all have the same effect. Recent, logical additions to my fear of confinement are the elevator, the tunnel, and the uncomfortably full subway car.
Numbers are also symbolic. In my head I started assigning numbers to the people in my life. It was sometime before I started reading worthwhile books, at the beginning of my teen years. In seventh grade, my first year of public school, several meaningful occasions occurred on the 22nd day of spring months: my “wedding” to a middle-school friend, Steve, and my Mother’s birthday were the 22nd of April, and my Bat Mitzvah was June 22nd, (June 22nd was also Steve’s Bar Mitzvah, so even though we invited one another, neither one of us could attend the other’s service or party). By the end of the school year, I decided 22 was my favorite number. I had never before had a favorite number.
Two years later, during the winter of my freshman year in high school, I had my first kiss from a boy I would continue to date indefinitely. It happened on the last day of midterms, a Friday, January 23rd, 2004, which seems like a strange date to remember, but I was fourteen, and 01-23-04 fascinated me. It was that increasing sequence that pulled me into a numerical dimension. The series of events that took place that night led me to adjoin negative connotations with the number 23, and so I wasn’t surprised with myself when I broke up (for the first time of several to come) with that boy, who I would later assign to the number 28, on February 23rd.
The number two represents life. Every representative number has the number two in it; it is a common link. Three is evil, but when combined with a zero, which is mystery, it becomes God, 30, which contains no two.
There was a girl in my high school English classes who
would overanalyze every bit of symbolism in a work. A
lot of our fellow students were annoyed by her. I think
if she were to read this essay, she would say that God has
a three because he is the creator of twos, and the physical
representation of two seems as if it is derived from three.
our teacher would tell her that she had little substantiation.
Four is judgment, because four is God’s number for judgment, starting from the Biblical story of Noah’s ark where the world is one giant puddle for 40 days and 40 nights, Israel’s 40 years of wandering in the wilderness as punishment for disbelief, and finally, the four horsemen of Revelation. Five is the perfect mate, simply because I like the number five; it is easy to divide multiples of five. It’s easy to round caloric intake to the number five. Eight is magic, like a magic eight ball, or like its illusive quality when rotated 90 degrees in either direction to make infinity, and nine is awkwardness. Just look at it: it is a contra postal pose without the suggestion of weight, much like the slackened, sloping shoulders and gangly arms of Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus.
By any means, these one-digit numbers change when “given life” by becoming a number in the twenties, changes slightly. 22 is me; it is the number I use for myself. 23 is still evil, 24 is my parents, 25 is my future spouse, 28 is a boy who held a decent chunk of my heart, and 29 is a boy who does not. 30 is the only number not in the twenties because it represents God, and therefore it is on a separate elevation. Following me?
The system further expands when I combine my own number with that of others, so, for example 224 is my correlation with my parents, 225 is my marriage, and 230 is my relationship with God. I didn’t intentionally pick any of the numbers for anyone. They assumed their own positions over time, much like the actual people to whom they correspond. I am 222. 222 is not life, but lively. It’s uniformity is puzzling and denoted selfishness for a while, but now it is just intricate and lovely and slowly, but steadily solidifying into a woman. I chose my own number, and the rest is nonfiction.
I whole-heartedly enjoy the phases through which my mind goes. Some dissolve into a million little thought molecules in my brain’s homogenous chemistry, but the significant points remain. The old thoughts reside in their primitive form, awaiting transformation, much like an unstable atom of carbon or hydrogen. I am fearfully and wonderfully made with countless building blocks of thought. I am mentally vacuumed into God’s everlasting kindness whenever I stop to think about it.
There is no screech of the train’s brakes when I am in the subway. However, I do discern melodies in a register I could never reach with my own voice box: the human instrument. I experience the entrance, elevation, and reverberating exit of each exceptional ensemble. The light and music fade simultaneously, but that beautifully false falsetto resides within me during the remainder of the ride. I hear no unpleasantness, except when chords are dissonant, and even then there remains a peace in music itself. There is rhythm in the wheels, there’s a pattern with the gates, there’s a method all around. It is quite wonderful, this subway symphony. Even the jealous escalator adds her deep alto to the group to prove she is more than just a glorified staircase. The engineer who pieced her together must have accidentally exhaled his whistling solo into her, and now she cannot stop herself. It’s contagious and wonderful.
I cannot un-hear it. Now that I’ve deciphered the scrawly handwriting of music, I sense it continuously. It plays for me, although I do suspect quite a few other passengers, of the 8 million here hear it serenade them, too.
The other day I was taking the escalator from the eighth floor of FIT’s B-Building to the ground floor. I search, although passively and unhurriedly, for surrounding audience members, and not too apprehensively, not totally consciously, or they will never be found. Moreover, if I were to notice one, but am to actively searching, chances are my enlightened companion would vanish into the thick, stuff air. So when I receded into my own thoughts while descending, I was pleasantly caught off guard by a fellow escalatee, going up, in the opposite direction and humming with the machine. I grinned, humming to myself, going up a third, a fifth, an octave, two octaves. If only higher were an option. At my best I can reach the Eb above high C, and then, only for a moment before I have to come down to some more attainable note. Perhaps Julie Andrews or Renée Fleming could synchronize with machinery. Resounding operatic climaxes that dole out chills like organic clockwork. In music there are endless notes. I can hit only a handful.
That makes me claustrophobic.