Bridging.

Watercolor and pen on paper by Julie Corredato

My debut nightmare remains vivid in my mind, and not because I possess a stellar capacity for memorable dissolution, but that it has occurred in a thousand different forms since the pilot episode in 1982, when I was 8 years old.

I was walking across the wooden bridge near my childhood home, and the railings began disintegrating with every step I took.  I was definitely wearing my high-top faux-leather sneakers from Kmart, making the trek from the rural cornfields to town (town being a sleepy village of 4,200 in central Illinois) to purchase a roll of SweetTarts from the IGA for thirty-five cents.  My feet felt like the concrete anvils in Looney Tunes, symbolic of the sleepy heaviness that causes all nightmares to transpire.

As I reached the apex of the bridge, I glanced below, noticing the train tracks, a thousand miles away, gleaming in the torrid Midwestern humidity, and that’s when the reality of life struck: I could easily fall from the bridge, because there were no barriers to stop my demise.  My untamed imagination, spurred by scenes I frequently read about, caused my overactive brain to envision my tragic death as I attempted to cross the bridge, unscathed. I eventually woke myself from the dream paralysis and found myself hovering over my mother’s side of the bed, attempting to alert her to my assured ruination.

“I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can’t see from the center.”

-Kurt Vonnegut

In nightmares, we always assign the largest distance from my destination.  The unknown quantity is the scariest, because you cannot brace the landing.

In reality, the gap from the bridge to the train tracks was probably less than 100 feet.

I would’ve landed and survived.

My mother eventually woke up to shoo me back to bed, but she never said a word, which compounded the silence.

It’s not the reality that scares us, but rather what we imagine DISTANCE to be….

The bridge nightmares continued, and there are plenty of realistic happenings that my subconscious drew upon.  When I was 12, my siblings and cousins were exploring the woods behind my grandparent’s house, very near the steep bluffs that carved a surreal landscape upon the Mississippi River.  We had stumbled across a fallen tree that traversed a ravine, and we all dared each other to walk across the log. When I recall this absolutely stupendous and realistic event, the log was 400 feet long, and the ravine was 1,000 feet deep. Being a daredevil and wanting to prove my worth to my kin, I slid my butt across the log, dangling my legs over the crevasse that reeked of danger. I imagined my cousins, who I so desperately wanted to impress, running back to the humble homestead on Yoder Drive: Julie fell in! She done fell in! We must save her!

That doesn’t dismiss the imminent fear that I feel when bridging all of the gaps.  That ravine in rural Iowa has materialized in several of my adult nightmares, and in those nightmares, I fell all the way to end, yet never perished.

My current nightmare is a refined version of the original wooden bridge episode, with 36 years of experience added to the subconscious images that define my sleepy trances:

I am driving on the highway, usually across a river, and always in rush hour traffic, to heighten the anxiety. While rounding a curve, the bridge just ceases to exist. There is no disintegration; just absolute disappearance. The river is part of a sprawling metropolis, such as Seattle or San Francisco or Boston.

 In real life, I’ve traveled extensively across the United States, and profound moments have transpired from behind the wheel of whatever car I was operating at the time.  The bridges in my nightmares are rooted in an endless quest to achieve an unspoken agreement with myself: get there, and embrace fear….

While experiencing the daunting factor that my car (and my metaphorical soul) is going to traverse into space before gravity pulls it toward the raging water, the facades of the surrounding urban buildings also begin to crumble. I am spinning through dour chasms, facing the terror of falling, bracing myself to experience the unknown.

Did you enjoy this article? Consider subscribing to TERSE. for as little as $1 a month: https://www.patreon.com/TERSE.

Advertisements

On Sleep, Kites, and Trying.

Watercolor on Paper by Julie Corredato

“Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.”

― Anaïs Nin

On our fourth date, after returning to town after an exhilarating spring hike to the Pinnacle in Berks County, we grabbed a bite to eat at Hometown Heroes, a local eatery that features homemade mutz (mozzarella) on salads and sandwiches. As we washed down our meals with rounds of fresh IPA, a naïve sense of trust rose in my crooked little heart, which led to a rushed confession to my new suitor: I wished to be a paid writer instead of a support staff professional at a private university.

“You could be a writer if you really wanted to. You’re just not trying hard enough.”

His deadpan response caught me off guard, and tears welled up in my eyes as I choked down a forkful of crunchy romaine. I specifically remember the sound of my munching because it was the only realistic part of what could’ve been a scene from a shitty sitcom;  it seemed asinine that I was being called out like this in real life.

Thoughts raced in my head before I formulated a response; my first reaction was to flip my unfinished salad over on the checkerboard tablecloth and tell him to kindly F off.

Chomp, chomp, swallow.

No one had the right to call me a failure, and especially not this dude, whom I was already quite smitten with on many levels.  As indignation suffocated my pragmatism, I ended up spouting off an impetuous diatribe about the struggle to be a decent mom while remaining focused on a challenging job, not to mention the additional stress of taking accelerated college courses to finish a degree so that I could obtain a sense of financial stability. I was putting food on the table and maintaining a 3.93 GPA while earning a salary that straddled the line of federal poverty definitions; please forgive me if I’m not trying hard enough, buddy.

My response, which was a genuine plea to gain some empathy, or at least a smidgen of understanding, was met with disdain, and this person ended up dropping me off on my front stoop, with nothing more than a slam of his car door and a bit of hairy eyeball-rolling at my outburst.  I had handed him a few ounces of my heart, and he pulverized it into a lump of grey, discarded meat.  I imagined it sitting in a cold Styrofoam tray, resplendent with a discount sticker, slowly rotting under the fluorescent lights at Sim’s Quality Market.

In hindsight, there was a sliver of decent intent behind his flippant remark. During the first few months of getting to know each other, we exchanged novel-length emails that were ripe with creativity, and he complimented me on my prose and verse, stating that my style was “verbose and effortless at the same time with an inventiveness that reminds me of Anthony Burgess and Lewis Carroll.” Maybe he genuinely believed that my failure at being a professional writer was due to a lack of trying; it was all just a misunderstanding, you see.  Maybe he was attempting to inspire me, Yoda-style (Do or do not, there is no try….)  

The Hometown Heroes scene took place three years ago; I eventually forgave my stalwart muse for his unsolicited criticisms about my life choices. We ended up in a dysfunctional yet meaningful friendship/relationship, and I continue to appreciate his presence as a reliable sounding board and a constant confidante.

_____________

Reconciliation. In the business world, the term refers to an accounting process that compares separate records to ensure accurate figures at the end of a given time period. In my personal life, reconciliation implies the constant attempt to harmonize my dreams with reality. I’d love to stay up all night and pore over drafts of Ruth & Ravel, editing the riffraff and revising clunky passages into a manageable plot.

That was my dream: to produce alluring folklore that captures the essence of my beloved fictional characters, and to eventual publish said musings into a full-length young adult novel that would be critically acclaimed, and more importantly, serve as a inspiring tale that allowed outsiders to believe in themselves.

Reality has other plans, which include a healthy night of sleep.

______________

The alarm will sound tomorrow at exactly 5:12 am, which is when I begin my morning routine that allows me to arrive to my stable job by 6:58 am. That degree I finally earned last October has placed me in a demanding role at a bustling manufacturer company, and I am grateful for the opportunity to thrive in an inventive and dynamic environment. The cognitive load of learning the ins and outs of a new industry has taxed my working memory, as it should, according to modern psychology.  Sleep is crucial to my survival and success. I’m just now understanding how detrimental my insomnia has been during the last 20 years of my life.

“Sleep is defined as a natural and reversible state of reduced responsiveness to external stimuli and relative inactivity, accompanied by a loss of consciousness. Sleep occurs in regular intervals and is homeostatically regulated, i.e., a loss or delay of sleep results in subsequently prolonged sleep. Sleep deprivation and sleep disruptions cause severe cognitive and emotional problems.”

Check out this source if you want to read more. Stay awake and keep reading, please.

“Sleep, those little slices of death — how I loathe them.”

― Edgar Allan Poe

 To an insomniac, sleep is both euphoric and paralyzing. I want those extra hours of consciousness and responsiveness to pursue my cultivated ambitions.

When I finally convince myself to turn off the thoughts and dive headfirst into the reversible state of reduced responsiveness, my mind panics and retaliates. Hell no, Julie, you can’t shut this train down! We’re barreling toward breaking past the mundane, into the profound!

Dreams versus Reality: It’s a reconciliation nightmare. It’s two animals trapped in this cage called Julie. The dreams snarl from every corner of my brain, ready to rip reality a new one. Reality puts up a good fight by reminding the dreams to tame themselves.

 

Reconciliation, indeed. Little slices of death, in true Poe fashion. Is there a way for our dreams to finally jive with our reality? Can we call a truce and find a balance between must-do and trying-to-do? Can I enjoy the break from reality by enjoying the requisite sleep requirement that allows my brain to function at full capacity?

Let us creatives remember this: the mere existence of a new idea is the root of trying.

Throw those dreams into space like a kite…

 

 

 

Did you enjoy this article? Consider subscribing to TERSE. for as little as $1 a month: https://www.patreon.com/TERSE

 

Here We Have a Random String.

This month’s edition of Celebrating Marbles will hopefully provide the reader with a dose of levity to ward off the doldrums of winter. I present you with a fresh serving of absurdity, culled from my technological memoir.

_______

March 6, 2014: Treatment for Circumstantial Anxiety

Sing numbing hymns. Crumble, ignite, deplore. Fasten your hopes upon disintegration. Realize your plan has been suspended in the hollow forests of inertia. Stare into the mirror of uncertainty, and gather empty vessels of enchantment. Listen to the heavens gnawing on your soul. Soar upon gritting and despairing reality. Wrestle loneliness with gratitude, and meet conflict with peaceful laughter.

_______

May 14, 2014: A Message from our Rampike Sponsor

Good evening Ms. Corredato,

Be it known that it was your elegant writing and your ability to convey the deepest of thoughts that sold me on your charms.

Thunderstorm Sushi.

You should help name racehorses and indie bands. Professionally.

_______

August 18, 2014: The Portions of Threshold Consciousness that Disrupts Sleep

I was wading, literally, in a pile of scrap paper, confetti, almost; each piece scrawled with the name of an animal, color, or name of a song.  My ankles tickled with the sensation of buzzing and whistling, as the papers swirled in a cacophony of meaning and wonder.  I like that word, cacophony.

The first time I heard Ruth’s jangling voice, I recalled the memories of ethereal angels, waking me and urging me to listen, to really tune in to the detriment, the sediments of despair and delight. The similarity between the auditory hallucinations and Ruth’s gregarious timbre was uncanny, and during the first few months of our friendship, I begged Ruth to recite her poetry, from memory, inspired by the murky wetlands, so haunting and cerebral, slamming me to the earth, and then lifting me gracefully, in one fell swoop. Her voice is a blanket of warmth and truth, roaring forth, stronger than gravity, lighter than air.

_______

September 9, 2014: Anonymous Fears of Height Perplex the Normals

There were extreme climbers that would make the lengthy trek across precarious ridges and treacherously narrow passes to reach the summit which was marked by a pointy spire of stone that seemed to float above the endless drop to the abyss. The only way one could truly reach the summit was by lassoing the spire. Once the ropes were secure, the climbers would swing out from the cliffs below scrambling to grab the smooth rock for the ultimate view. There was nowhere to plant your feet, so the adventure seekers would simply dangle by their fingertips over the terrifying drop.

You and I began the ascent from the base camp in only sandals and summer wear, but the temperatures quickly dropped and the terrain grew rugged. I suggested that we return to camp for better footwear and suitable attire. I recall putting on several turtlenecks.

_______

January 1, 2015: When the Enthusiasm Wears Off and Nihilistic Thoughts Emerge

Can you kill a tree that’s already dead?

_______

March 1, 2015: The Archivists Decide to Live

Perhaps harnessing the Rampike Express to motivate our creative endeavors might not be a bad idea. Fabrications of Traversed Rhythms could be a good title for the anthology. Or for an art show. Or a prog-rock album. You are a fine crafter of words.

Keep dishing this shit out and I’ll continue to steal all your good titles. Life slaw indeed.

 

 

 img_4010-glitched-1-15-2017-12-18-05-pm

Did you enjoy this article? Consider subscribing to TERSE. for as little as $1 a month: https://www.patreon.com/TERSE

Celebrating Marbles: Raison D’etre

You’re probably familiar with the vintage idiom, “losing one’s marbles,” and may have used it on occasion in a playful manner, either to mock oneself, or to chide your friends, family, and colleagues during moments of  forgetfulness, anxiety, or despair. My grandmother, Banny, taught us how to play marbles back in the 1970s, and I craved the weight of the felt bag, holding what I envisioned were little glass eyeballs, before the lucky sibling or cousin was allowed to carefully release the marbles into the circle to begin the competition. The solid clank of glass spheres was a satisfying sound to my sensitive ears, and lining up the perfect shot to knock an opponent’s marble out of boundaries fulfilled my brain’s attraction to both geometry and chaos.

There are scads of theories on the origin of this phrase, and the most compelling I came across involved The Elgin Marbles, a collection of sculptures that were scrupulously removed from Greek ruins and relocated to London. While I’d like to examine the pilfering of ancient artifacts as related to cultural property, I’ll let the audience peruse the debate over the collection of alluring metopes on their own time. There’s little evidence that the idiom in question relates to The Elgin (Parthenon) Marbles. “It’s more likely that marbles was coined as a slang term meaning wits/common sense, as a reference to the marbles that youngsters play with” (Martin, n.d.)  Indeed, my trusted Webster’s dictionary, circa 1983, has a sub-listing for marble as:

marbles. [pl.] brains; good sense; as to lose one’s marbles [slang].

I’ve had a collection of those once trendy word magnets shuffling around my kitchen for several years, and during bouts of writer’s block, I randomly grab a handful of the small rectangles and throw them on the table, hoping that a brilliant idea will arise from the pile. I now realize that I must have been channeling Tristan Tzara’s “To Make a Dadaist Poem” from 1920:

Take a newspaper.
Take some scissors.
Choose from this paper an article the length you want to make your poem.
Cut out the article.
Next carefully cut out each of the words that make up this article and put them all in a bag.
Shake gently.
Next take out each cutting one after the other.
Copy conscientiously in the order in which they left the bag.
The poem will resemble you.
And there you are—an infinitely original author of charming sensibility, even though unappreciated by the vulgar herd.

My children often join in the scrambling, and one morning, my eldest child, who is now a teenager with an aptitude for linguistics, waltzed in the room and said, “Mom, you should always celebrate marbles.” He understood, at the ripe age of seven, that words, in their wildly awkward glory, could be rearranged and synchronized into newfangled nonsense.

Indeed, our lives are often collages formed by absurdity and disarray.  I have ongoing discussion with a friend about the idea of a technological memoir- what if our brains were to produce a digital report of every word we’ve ever muttered? Of every thought that’s traversed our minds, the parade of recurring images that haunt us, or the colors that frequent our dreams? Would there be white space galore, or would it be colorful, chaotic glitch art? Horizontal bands of memories stretched across the screen of our programmed existence?  What if we could edit the cache of our recollections, splicing the frustrating and debilitating episodes of lost marbles with the energizing discoveries of finding ourselves intact after a breakdown?

To lose one’s marbles is a kindhearted euphemism for darker connotations; the history of language centered on mental illness is a wide and misconstrued maze. There’s a tangled thread of nuance associated with being deficient of good sense; we could pick a random strand of words synonymous with crazy, analyzing their etymological roots until our glassy eyes start rolling around on the linoleum floor, escaping the circumference of conventional wisdom.

That’s what celebrating marbles is about. It’s about capturing the moments when our wits are slipping through the crevices. It’s about revising our chronic need to appear strong, and allowing ourselves to move forward even when we aren’t entirely whole. It’s about lauding the imperfections of our brains. It’s about commending our friends, family, and colleagues for embracing vulnerability.

When we’re the most open to being criticized, we have the chance to look at ourselves through the lens of another human.  Perhaps it’s a social microscope, or an emotional intelligence barometer that allows a certain transhumanist telepathy to develop.

You’re very emotional = I am capable of expressing myself in terms I am comfortable with.

You’re so sensitive = I value my empathy as it contributes to a creative consciousness.

You’re too aggressive = I have the right to know what I want and what I don’t want.

That spell of insomnia you had last night- were you ruminating over an unpleasant or hurtful incident that transpired two years ago? I was. I often lose my marbles precisely between 2:47 am and 3:54 am,  while the clicking of the water heater sounds like a phantom typing out morse code. As I piece together the information that was delivered through a lucid dream, distracted by kaleidoscope migraines, I contemplate if I am morphing into a breathing analog, processing bits of reality with snippets of the fleeting transcendence that is most prevalent after my brain has settled down. Once morning arrives, I sit in silence and count my marbles. I rearrange them until I am breathing in, breathing out. I remember that losing one’s marbles is just fine, because when we are able to gather them up, we will remember to be more conscious of their weight on this world.

“Half my life is an act of revision.”

~John Irving

 

img_3449-glitched-11-15-2016-5-47-02-pm

 

Did you like this post? Thanks! Consider subscribing to our Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/TERSE. Every bit helps pay our writers.