Monday, November 21, 2005

A dark room with no walls

[Edited, Nov. 24, 2005; please note addition]

Now, though, I'm sitting in the computer lab. Next to me is a girl writing a paper and talking to her friends back home on AIM. I used to use AIM but haven't in three years. Sitting here is stressful; the connection is so slow. I swear to God you can feel stress in rooms. The tension in here builds up in my back muscles and my neck. My legs are shaking in axiousness so much that it makes me feel like I have to take a shit.

There is wireless, but I'm stubborn and haven't connected my laptop. I don't really want to have wireless. I want to stay away from here. I need fresh air, it's stuffy in here.

Ligh's fade to black. silence. It's cold. I can see my breath. The room is dark and I'm alone. I'm writing in the dark again.

I write: "Da solo? Da solo, ancora?"
A voice responds: "Si, ancora. Tu sei pazzo, si?"
I respond: "No, sono non pazzo."
I write in response: "Sei molto strano, pazzo moltissimo."
"Da solo? No, no voglio essere pazzo."
"Si devi essere pazzo -- sempre."

Molto triste. Camera pans from a close-up from under my chin and tracks back to a long shot of me sitting, lit by the blue hum of my laptop screen, alone in darkness.

"Aiuto! Aiuto! Aiuto!" I scream! Suddenly the darkness falls down: The dark room's walls fall down, clouds of dust rise, and I'm sitting in a misty Tuscan field with a few sheep. The dew-wet grass smells of grass; a light wind rolls over it, rippling it in green waves. I can see far in the distance more grass, more hills, more mist, more, more, more, more, more, ta-ta-ta-ta-ta...

My mind is like a road that keeps going on forever. My thoughts keep coming like the world that keeps turning. I'm having trouble catching up with my feet. No worries, I'll just walk along, right? Maybe I'll see someone I know along the way.

Sometimes I look out in the distance, far away into the distant land that I see from that countryside road. I see buildings, apartment complexes, forests, trees, mountains, hills, birds, fields, cities, and more distance. There is a lot of trash by the side of the road mixed in with overgrown weeds. I contemplate picking some of it up or inspecting it, but there is too much of it.

Sometimes when I walk by myself I say things like "life's not really worth living". I'll then say "and what if I wrote that in my blog?" I think in response, "I'd like that; sounds like a kinda' crazy thing to say ...but what would people think? They'll think I'm crazy?!" Oh well, as Italians say, "bo".

[But you know, "bo" is the wrong answer. In my Italian Cinema class we recently watched "Cento Passi" (100 Steps). Cento Passi is about Peppino Impastato, the young man of a small Mafia-run town in Sicily who becomes a leader of youth to speak out against the Mafia and the ways they have been destructive to the city's environment, social freedoms, and politics. Peppino was also born within a Mafia family. Cento Passi is a true story.

After Peppino's father is murdered, Peppino discovers that his father kept all of Peppino's belongings: his Communist articles, his papers, his notes. One of the notes says that he no-longer has the will to live and wants to give up life and politics. Peppino waves this note in his younger brother's face and says he had written it a couple years before... only a random note he rationalized, a non-important emotional outcry of the past. After Peppino is tragically tortured and murdered, after his friends cry in agony and pain, the police find that same piece of paper and use it as evidence to say that Peppino committed suicide, that Peppino--the young man who critically spoke out against the problems within his local community--had problems and decided to silence himself.

"Bo" is the wrong answer. "Bo" means in Italian a combination of "I don't know/whatever" and is to wave life under-the-bridge, to say I can scream and cry now and that the what happens in the future isn't important. Peppino didn't commit suicide, he was murdered. But his ego in the past was used against him at his death.

I have felt lonely abroad, I have been learning how to find comfort and happiness as a human being, and make mistakes. Sometimes when I walk down that countryside road I say things... but sometimes, when we walk down those roads, it is important to look at where we are, look at the big picture and see the other people walking down that same road. It can be important to stop walking and reflect. Important to recognize that life is worth living, that what we say or do one day has consequences for ourselves, our communities, and our world. And that "bo" simply doesn't cut-it.]

In Barcelona, on my last night there, I went and watched the Magic Fountain at the bottom of Montjuic. I love fountains, especially musical ones that dance and change lights using their original art-deco pipes and decorations. I was entirely alone but surrounded by many people. It was hillarious, all of a sudden I then realized that I've always been alone. And I love it, especially when surrounded by tons of people I don't know. I gave a light chuckle under my breath and smiled. I walked over to the Caixaforum museum and went to a free classical music concert. It was blissful to listen to the cacophony of all the instruments playing, tuning, warming up, at the same time. Ah, so many memories! I was a 'band nerd' from elementary school to my senior year in high school. I heard this every single day. And then the first clarinet tuned. Beautiful!

I haven't composed any music since the UCSC Long Range Development Plan project began and consumed a lot of my time and passion. Composing music is a major passion of mine, and I haven't composed any music in 2 years! The symphonic band was wonderful, and the conductor so proud! I was also attracted to the show by the fact there was video projected in the theater that changed based on the music. The summer after my freshman year of college I participated in an amazing music festival in Santa Cruz. My music piece had a gloomy and scary looking tree dance to my strange song. It was a great moment for me.

That night I found myself comfortable sleeping on my left side. I always felt uncomfortable sleeping that way before, like it scared me.

At the beginning of my trip to Spain, at the train station in Pisa, there was a group of American girls and a couple American guys. I was really shy and scared to introduce myself. They all seemed so smooth. They asked each other, "where you from..." Simple stuff. I choked on my spit and bit my lip. I told myself "I can't be so damn shy, this won't work!" I kept wondering how I looked to everyone. Kept peering out from the periphery of my vision like a spy.

By the end of my trip in Spain the emotion of "loneliness" had entirely transformed into the emotion of "comfort". I relish every moment alone, breath it in with desire and glamour. Dance with myself like a fool in love with his shadow. Travelling alone was one of the best things I have ever done. Unfortunately this description doesn't say anything about the process that led to the change in me. That's another story that's worth telling.

In the elevator going up to my hostal in Barcelona, there were two huge guys from Poland. They thought me being from California to be laughable, "so far away" they said. Yeah, I guess so. But for me Poland seems really far away, even when in Spain or Italy. Memory is situated in places and geographics. My head is starting to become rooted in Italy... and I've only three weeks left before going back to the 'states'!

This weekend I went to Roma. In Firenze, I feel like it has dropped at least ten degrees since when I left for Roma and then returned. Outside, for Natale, the city has strung up lights in the streets and piazzas like lace. It is really freezing outside. I see my breath when I breath; I blow hot breathe in the cold air like smoke-rings.

In Roma I walked by the Ferrari store. I almost walked right past it but caught myself and walked in. The display I saw outside had a cut portion of a Ferrari hood, heavily waxed, standing-in as the frontis-piece for a display of Ferrari logo-adorned products. Inside you could buy a Ferrari vest, a Ferrari hat, a Ferrari shirt, a Ferrari mug, Ferrari Puma shoes, photos of Ferrari Formula-1 race cars, a Ferrari digital camera, even a Ferrari laptop. None of the things in the store had anything to do with a Ferrari car. Playing in the background was really smooth, beat-ladden music. The type of thing you'd play in the car to feel like James Bond driving fast. I asked myself, "Why do people find cars sexy?" I've lost my appetite for the car's aesthetics. I used to get googly-eyed at cars. When a young boy I had a yellow Lamborghini model and my brother a red Ferrari model. You could open the doors and the engine hood. I can't seem to bring myself back into seeing cars the way young boys still see them: reminiscent of a barely naked woman in a red skin-tight bikini. "Damn!" It's a shame, I guess; but all I see now is a metal case bent into a shape to contain bodies and an engine that shits fumes and rainbow-tinted oil.

I took some photos in the store and felt like a spy again. The store attendants were dressed in Ferrari race-car jumpsuits and watched customers try on Ferrari shoes in the mirror. Upstairs there were pieces of Ferrari engines, chunks of the auto body and underbody sprayed with sponsoring logos like "Shell". The pieces were clean but looked "used". A lot like the armor and weapons, and even art, displayed in the Palazzo Ducale of Venice. The things that made Venice rich and powerful a long time ago. Things that allowed them to fund such great art, architecture, and culture.

It's really sad that I have to go back to California. "Molto Triste" I keep thinking. I'd rather not go, to be honest. I like it here. I'm really scared. Not sure when I'll return. Frightened that everybody and everything will be the same back home as when I was there last. Afraid that world will be a carbon copy of some of my memories of it. I'm not the same. I don't want to go back to the same world. Maybe nobody will notice me. Maybe nobody will know that I'm nolonger gone. That would probably be even sadder. I do miss people, too; hopefully those folks will remember me as much as I do them.

Ever been in that place where if you're honest you sound pointed and jaded, but if you don't say anything you know your being dishonest? That's where I'm sitting. Lights fade to black, sound fades to silence.

I think it's the mind that puts up walls. If I were a doctor I'd prescribe to everybody: "Let your spirit soar, be free! Get the heck outside and take a really long walk!" But then again, I'm not a doctor, just a student. Everything to me looks like a big question mark.

"Aiuto!"

1 comment:

bruce bratton said...

Max,
I host a weekly radio program at UCSC and this Thursday 3/1 KZSC Grapevine 4-5 pm. We're doing a special one hour program on Issues and Solutions for Student Living. I just found your amazing report for GPAC last March. It's an excellent piece of work.
Can you come on the program and talk with us about your findings? It would require no more work on your part, just reporting on the results. What did GPAC say in response? Any reactions from UCSC admin? Any new problems that aren't on the list? Etc. let me know asap if you are available. Sorry for the late notice but I just found your study. Thanks, Bruce Bratton...damn, I see you have left Santa Cruz for Moraga.Do you know anyone left on campus or who wouuld be available this Thursday? 3/1/07