A part of me is perpetually afraid that whatever was within me that allowed me to write will one day go and not come back. An aberration that will finally and coldly be corrected.
The theory of the big freeze posits that our universe will end when entropy increases to a point of maximum value. Our inexplicably vast universe will become so large, gasses will be too thinly spread out to allow for new stars to form and ignite. That’s what a block or dry spell feels like. The words are there, just too distant from each other to connect, gather mass, catch fire.
I’ve flinched when it comes to writing for a few weeks now. Stops and starts. Chilling reminders of times when years elapsed between efforts, all my energy sunken irretrievably into survival rather than creative expression. Everything feels forced. The healing and thrill I get from writing something worthwhile delayed.
Art has served as a decent tourniquet. I’m a novice, so I spend a lot of my time feeling out of my depth. More trial and error than anything. Fumbling blindly in unfamiliar territory. Everything I draw or paint, fraught with heavy handed symbolism. A sort of shorthand for the poetry and prose I have neglected.
The first few shaky lines in a new verse are so important, the opening of a door I’ve pried at until my fingers are bloodied.
I received my copies of Café Macabre II today and they’re gorgeous! This is an anthology of short horror stories and art by women, curated by author and editor Leah McNaughton Lederman. It includes my short story “The River” which is about the terror of death and the horror we face in life. Beautifully illustrated by Keyla Valerio.
If you’d like to purchase a copy, please visit the following links:
7:30pm and the sun had fully set. In that ocean of dark, and familiar landmarks of stars and planets, a satellite. I thought: This is machinery. This is in free fall above me. In the 80s when we would lay out and watch the night sky, my parents would point them out for me. Faint twirling embers. They were a rarity then. Scarce.
Within a few minutes, a brighter satellite emerged from the horizon, rising in defiance of gravity, in an unrepentant arc. I watched as it climbed and turned, blinking off and on as it spun out of the sun’s light and back into it, a ship signaling an SOS from far off shore. Unbelievably, yet another satellite, an order of magnitude dimmer, floated across my vision in the opposite direction. I traced its path, anticipating it continuing to the eastern horizon and below it, when it turned at a 90 degree angle toward the south. I had never seen one do that. I’m still not convinced they can.
Tree removal is a violent act, even when done by a skilled arborist. There’s something hardwired into me that knows we shouldn’t destroy something that provides for life on so many levels. When I was a child, I would cry and obsess over the sight. Imagining the tree in pain, and the animals being hewn down along with it.
I especially worried about the birds that’d made nests in the tree, imagining them cowering as the machines whirred, watching the blades get closer and closer. I couldn’t conceive of the fact that the noise and the movement and the vibrations triggered an innate avoidance of danger in them, and they flew away.
I listened to chainsaws every day and tried to survive them by being very quiet and sitting very still.
The stars are a fragile constant. Their permanence only an illusion. A trick performed by size and scale and time. Ghosts in the sky.
Our sun is in main sequence. Main sequence means our star is of average size and luminosity. A flickering candle, glimmering in a cathedral at midnight. It’ll take billions of years for it to decay to the point that, when swollen, it absorbs us.
Our minds aren’t made to contemplate time on that scale. Our lifespan, laughably short, stunts our comprehension of it. It becomes an abstract. Knowable but unknowable. Unreachable epochs looming in the deep. Shadows and cinder forever on the periphery.
Light takes one hundred thousand years to reach the surface of the sun from the core. The density inside of our “average” star slows the progress. From the surface it only takes eight minutes to reach us. Standing outside on a sunny day, you are the recipient of something ancient, your skin bathed in relics.
You are also created with them. Calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, iron, carbon, hydrogen, billions of years in the making. The ruins of a long dead star with breath and pulse and synapse and neuron. A cataclysm that laughs.
Neutron star - “a celestial object of very small radius (typically 18 miles/30 km) and very high density, composed predominantly of closely packed neutrons. Neutron stars are thought to form by the gravitational collapse of the remnant of a massive star after a supernova explosion, provided that the star is insufficiently massive to produce a black hole.”
Magnetar - “A magnetar is a type of neutron star believed to have an extremely powerful magnetic field. The magnetic-field decay powers the emission of high-energy electromagnetic radiation, particularly X-rays and gamma rays. The theory regarding these objects was proposed in 1992 by Robert Duncan and Christopher Thompson”
I read once that a magnetar’s magnetic field is so strong it could pull the iron out of your blood from a thousand miles away. It frightened and thrilled me to consider that sort of power. The Cosmos is an unimaginably vast sea full of silent and efficient machines churning and devouring.
I’ve seen people address the universe as if it is some benevolent being with their best interests in mind. “I asked the universe…” they say.
If asked, the universe would answer by atomizing, then ionizing the matter that comprises you.
Existence is the exception, not the rule.
Though the universe may not be vengeful, it is apathetic. That is somehow more frightening as we hurl blindly through space.
We cannot command the universe, bend it to our will, or expect it to be considerate of our desires. What we can do is acknowledge the source of that iron in our blood, the way it was formed.
Over billions of years, as a star burns through its gaseous fuel, it fuses it into heavier elements until finally it produces iron. Iron is the death knell. Iron causes a collapse. This collapse causes a supernova.
The star killing elements are then ejected into space, carried over light years, and deposited in places it can be used to produce complex matter like the blood in your veins.
It is not the universe’s will that you get the job you’ve been hoping for, the love you’ve given reciprocated or that you even exist. But you are part of a stellar life cycle. A sentient artifact of the universe itself. The bloom in the ruin.
So, I’m reading about the potential end to theoretical particle physics. One quote struck me about the discovery of the Higgs Boson:
“According to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, the Higgs Field should either have a value of zero which would not give particles mass, or it should have an extremely great value which is likely to give particles too much mass.
But this is where physicists are confused.
Instead of viewing a value of either extremely high or non-existent, experts have noticed that the Higgs field is just slightly on”, which is not as low or high as it should be.
Mr Cliff said: “It’s not zero, but it’s ten-thousand-trillion times weaker than it’s fully on value — a bit like a light switch that got stuck just before the ‘off’ position.”
The article went on to mention dark energy predictions and potentially proving the multiverse theory to account for such wide variations, other universes having either too much mass or none at all, never coalescing or collapsing under their own weight.
How many times Have you fucking felt Like a light switch that Got stuck just before the off position?
Just slightly on
Ten thousand trillion times weaker than your fully on value
Glass is a state of matter somewhere between solid and liquid. Its what’s called an amorphous solid. Glass flows, just achingly slowly. Over eons. While the atoms are more organized than a liquid, they are less organized than a solid. It is not molecularly rigid. It doesn’t crystalize. The molecules will, over vast amounts of time, shift to a more organized state.
But this is not why window panes of medieval cathedrals bulge at the bottom. It is not an allegory for withstanding time, or grace, or bending with the pull of gravity. It is not a study on slow surrender. The bulge has to do with how it was made, and it would take longer than the universe has existed to reorganize itself that way.
Glass breaks. It is still just as much a victim to the entropy trapped inside of it as we are. If there is any allegory to be had, its that we too can shatter when enough force is applied. Accepting the fact that we break is more powerful than pretending we don’t.
We are fragile beings who deserve careful handling. From ourselves and others.