Inheritable traits & metaphors


My sister and I, although adequately graceful in most areas of our lives, had the great misfortune of inheriting a particular trait from our father: our nose-blowing, individually but especially collectively, is a high decibel experience. On any given morning in our household, one can hear the demonstration of nasal power. And oh is it powerful. We always likened the noise to that of an elephant (whereas some people sneeze like mice – I do not trust these people). That is, until we were presented with an incredibly apt metaphor, much more accurate than our own:

“Cierra, you know what you sound like when you blow your nose? Like when you drag your suitcase across those metal things at the beginning and the end of escalators.”

Do you guys know what my 11-year-old cousin is talking about? Because she hit the nail right on the head. And instead of mourn my apparent lack of ladylikeness, I thought wow, METAPHORS! LANGUAGE! THIS STUFF IS AMAZING! An elementary schooler just brilliantly described a previously indescribable sound my nose has been making for my entire life.

And it’s just like that, whether it’s funny or gorgeous or melancholy as hell, words can not only envelop but become a feeling (or a noise, for that matter). I’ve found innumerable instances of this just in the past few days, in my second and much more successful attempt to read Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer, with whom I proudly share a birthday. I started reading this book in high school and I was wildly unprepared, low in energy and consequently low in the amount of effort I put forth – I didn’t understand a thing and I was disappointed. Four years later, I’m underlining something on every page because these words give me feelings. “He would fall asleep with his heart at the foot of his bed, like some domesticated animal that was no part of him at all.” Excuse me, Jonathan, that is my heart you are breaking.

Not that I’m required to have one, but what is my point? Surprise, there are three.

  1. I think words are really cool and you should think so too.
  2. People say “the right person at the wrong time is the wrong person,” and I think I believe that. But the same cannot be said for books. I’m willing to lump music in there too. The right book or song at the wrong time could still be the right book or song at the right time. And, in all likelihood, the right time will come. Books have chapters and so does life.
  3. I’m not embarrassed about the way I blow my nose. I’m not embarrassed about the way I blow my nose. I’m not embarrassed about the way I blow my nose.

Also, I got blood drawn today and it took my perfectly competent nurse three painful tries to lure anything out of my itty-bitty, impossible-to-find veins. Even my bloodways are stubborn and somewhat elusive. Cheers to perfect consistency.


Metaphorical Snowflakes

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Since high school, I’ve had this weird tendency to compare myself to glass objects. In an uncharacteristically existentialist/emo moment, I once described myself as a vase – empty, void of my own issues and emotions, consequently having ample room for other people to pour in their problems. I’m not going to explain what I thought I was achieving with this analogy, because a) that’s not what this post is about, and b) I think it’s funnier with no explanation. At any rate, the snowglobe is my metaphor of choice today. Maybe I’ll think about the significance of glass as a material and muse on that at a later date (jk, definitely not doing that).

Like life, a snowglobe has many phases. There’s a snowglobe before being shaken, a snowglobe while it’s being shaken, right after it’s been shaken, you get the idea. Eventually, all the specks of fake snow settle on the little benches and houses and it’s all still (until you shake it again). Well, I often feel like I’m in that stage of life that is parallel with the snowglobe right after it has been shaken. Everything is everywhere. There’s movement, and confusion, but also excitement. You don’t know where the flakes are going to land. I mean, having this stage is kind of the point of being a snowglobe, maybe also the point of being a person. I was not a fan at first. But now it’s different.

I just like the feeling of not being completely settled. I like being able to move around freely, to have more than one home, to change my mind about things. I like the simplicity of being able to live out of a backpack for a few days, if need be. I like taking buses to different cities and paying for them with quarters, and I like gazing out the window while I let some music sink into my bones. I like being young. I like the word “transience.” I like the romantic idea of being a vagabond or a wanderer. I like learning how to ask questions without expecting immediate answers. I like Bono, who describes the feeling more eloquently than I can:

And I have no compass / and I have no map / and I have no reason, no reason to get back / And I have no religion / and I don’t know what’s what / and I don’t know the limit, the limit of what we’ve got / Don’t worry, baby, it’ll be alright / you’ve got the right shoes to get you through the night / It’s cold outside, but brightly lit / Let’s skip the subway / let’s go to the overground / get your head out of the mud, baby / put flowers in the mud, baby / overground / No particular place names / no particular song / I’ve been hiding, what am I hiding from? / Don’t worry, baby, it’s gonna be alright / uncertainty can be a guiding light / I hear voices, ridiculous voices / I’m in the slipstream / let’s go, let’s go overground / get your head out of the mud, baby… etc.

Uncertainty can be a guiding light… still kind of want that as a tattoo. Anyway.

It’s not going to be like this forever. Sometimes it feels like if you just keep moving, you won’t get stuck. If you just keep swiping the paintbrush back and forth, those accidental drips of paint won’t dry and harden and be there forever. You feel like you can elude permanence. It’s not realistic, of course – it’s an appealing train of thought, especially to someone who isn’t keen on the idea of growing up, but it’s just not possible. Someday the metaphorical snowflakes are going to fall where they will, and I’ll learn to love that phase of life too. There’s beauty in chaos, and there’s beauty in stillness. I just happen to enjoy the former right now.

I’m not entirely sure where I thought I’d end up with this post, but I’m still writing it. Much the same, I’m not entirely sure what I’m doing with my life, but I’m still living it. Bam.

PS: don’t describe yourself as an empty vase, your friends will think you’re weird.