Friday, December 2, 2011

Ha. Ha. Ha.

Ha. Ha.
Hahahahahahahahaha. Ha.
Sometimes, laughter is the best medicine.
Other times, laughter is the involuntary sound your brain makes as it misfires and misconnects while trying not to explode.
Problems come when these don't overlap.
Ha. Ha.
You end up delicately balancing between insanity and vegetability.
Ha. Ha.
I can't wait for finals to come.
I can't wait for finals to go.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Deep Roots

Oft-seen peaks loom, their unfamiliar silhouettes framed by a low-hanging sky. They seem to shrink, diminishing in scope but not magnitude until their time-jagged ridges fall into focus: puzzle pieces fit to alcoves of my heart that my mind never bothered to explore.

In my childhood, I often felt somewhat left out; I never loved these mountains. I couldn't ever be a true Campbellfull-fledged and five-foot-one and flowered cheeks and flying dark eyes and hair—if these mountains were not mine. I would fly with my cousins in the space where the sky and the snow try to kiss, but I rarely felt the sparkle of that long-awaited touch reflected in my own eyes.

I began to grow. Five-one; five-two; five-three; five-four. My hair is orange and strawberry and grapefruit and pomegranate, and my eyes hold the cold love of the Atlantic. I accepted that I was the "East Coast Branch", distinct and different and distant.

But maybe I'm not that far after all. These mountains are wondrous; their sky as captivatingly dangerous as my sea. Ridges and silhouettes remain alien, yet sometimes the shadows in their pockets spell out the notes of our old family stories.

Can landscapes be passed down through our blood?

I am a true Campbell—you only have to look at the shape of my eyes, or watch the furrow grow in my brow as I concentrate, or listen to the peculiar banter and story telling that's bound to happen when we all get together. However, I am a Campbell most of all when I see the almost identical faces of my uncles fill with an identical mischievous love when they turn at the top of our history and smile: "Take this run with me, Ali."

Next summer I want my Clan to all come out to Maine. I want to share with them all the laughter I've found in the reflection of icy spray in the sun and in freckled faces in antique mirrors. Maybe, the refracted light will fall into focus: puzzle pieces fitting into alcoves of their hearts they have yet to explore.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Traje de luces

We fall so in love
with life that we feel as if we
must dance just shy of
death's dove.

We turn, mocking our beacon
of life; veiling scars and aches
behind stockings and sequins.

Two heartbeats are our rhythm.

As we strut we misplace
this knowledge that we are vanity
holding death in her handshardly hidden,
like our humanity,
behind red capes.

Our movement wed with mistrust.

Can a life be abated?
Held, tense and taut and tight and terse,
only waiting to be tainted?

Dust and skin and sweat and spit
dark eyes, helping us forget
the blood caked across our hips.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


The Atlantic in the rain is like an evening gown, beveled luxury folded and distorted, its smooth-rough velvet layered over raw silk, a two-faced love: uncertainty. Pearled drops spatter, winking over navy-olive secrets. The sky is void—lacking depth, color, and reflection, its only life shown in its responses to the kisses of unseen waves framing the horizon. Closer to shore, tanned shoulders dull and blend into the colorless sky, negating their affair, their lover. Turning with anticipation, she dives—the sun-stroked and sky-kissed spine of a bloodied seal becoming one with the secrets of the sea: head to heels.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Dorm life - 3118 style

Today we decided to rearrange our room.

So I pushed the beds together.

And now we have a lot more floorspace.

But not very much room to brush our teeth.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Meet my pet, Peeve.

Sometimes people you know want to say something that's sort of clever or make a point or something like that but then they you know don't really say anything that's even sort of clever because they basically don't really have a real point or something or they can't really like find words or something to say anything at all maybe? And then if they finally find any words that basically make some sort of kind of sense you can't even find whatever sort of point they were like trying to make because they have you know made a maze thing or something and you just end up you know getting like lost or something? And then you're like oh man because it like starts to give you a headache or something because they don't use this thing called punctuation and it sort of sounds like all of their sentences are questions and they never really say anything new so their like repeating themselves basically over and over and over again and the words their like trying to use to sound sort of just a little bit smart don't actually mean what they think that they mean so basically their just making fools of themselves so your head hurts? And then they go do something stupid or something like use grammer or spelling or something wrong so you just want to like punch them or something? Like when they you know put their instead of like they're or something or spell grammar wrong you know? Like if your talking about grammar or something you should maybe like kind of know at least how to you know use it or spell it right right? And then when they finally use the punctuation thing they still don't really understand it or something so they don't put it in the right place so basically they're saying things that don't quite work or something?
Meet my pet, Peeve.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

There are small ships and large ships, but the best kind of ship is a friend.

A fort?
A cake?
A patchwork quilt?


Sewn together?
Pasted over?
Bundled and tied?

What makes up friendship?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

History of Science: An In-Depth Exploration of Useless and Out-Of-Date Technologies

as-stro-labe /'astre,lab/

1. An instrument formerly used to make astronomical measurements, before the development of the sextant.
2. A couple pieces of complex paper glued to a honey-bunches-of-oats box and held together with a screw, modernly used to drive unfortunate college students to insanity.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


"My job as a roommate is to allow you to keep living your happy little life."

Why, thank you.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


"We thought we were running away from the grownups, and now we are the grownups." - Margaret Atwood

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


The Spanish dirt tasted of sunshine that history had made stale, gathering under short fingernails and lingering between sticky knuckles. For years afterwards, every American orange would fall shortthere wasn’t any citrus pride to coat the tongue. Paul was ten, I was just fourteen, and a dozen oranges were gone in a giggle. We were the foreigners, the “hermanos Americanos," 3,500 miles from “home” in every meaning of the word except the one hidden in the word “family”.

For those first months, Spain was alien. The land itself held a history just beneath the surface, as if you only had to dig a meter through rust-grey dictatorship to stumble upon the concealed and garish blood-spattered memories of the Civil War, and only a couple meters more to find the idyllic shadows of Don Quixote’s enemy windmills pressed against the rocks. The landscapes were outlandish, and the people were just as captivating: striking, delicate and severe.

~ - ~ - ~ - ~

They rolled the skirts of their school uniforms over to display an extra five centimeters of skin, and pulled dark hunter green socks as high over bare knees as possible. Nails were painted blacks, oranges, and pinks. Pale yellow polo shirts stretched tight, the school logo standing out as a stark reminder of the leaking umbrella of authority. Bright blue eyeshadow covered the parts of eyelids not swept up in dramatic black cat-eyes. Students chose their seats ingeniously, taking into account factors such as the teacher’s gender, attractiveness, and dedication to school policy concerning nose-, lip- and eyebrow-rings. Everyone knew that tongue studs were easier.

Cristina always got away with more in Physics than anybody else, probably because she would go and smoke with Mr. Sheen during recess and lunch. Rebeca snickered and patted her cheeks, laughing to us about the new thing her pretty face had gotten her out of. Bea spent hours with me going over our chemistry concepts, but would then write them high on her thigh under her skirt so that Mr. Tudor couldn’t catch her cheating.

The day that report cards were given out, parents would get off work early to come pick up their child. The question was always the same: “How many have you failed?”

~ - ~ - ~ - ~

The cities of Spain are almost human, picking up pride from the millions of lives they have trailed from between their cobblestones and contained within their walls over thousands of years. There are no secrets, and this is not intimidating, but welcoming. Inclusive.

Roads are never straight and always one way, and they often narrow as they go until you have to back out to a refrain of honks and good-natured swearing. Maps are rarely accurate, but you can always find a good ice cream stand. We would go around the rotaries twice, which never helped us get our heads wound on any straighter.

Walking, we would stumble upon cathedrals to explore. Vaulted ceilings constricted air that had been chilled by centuries of ornate Catholicism. Polished steps bore imprinted records of the loyal steps of countless Spaniards, names now misplaced in the charred histories of time. Ancient relics had lost some significance, but none of their tradition, and the femur of Saint Such-and-Such and the goblet of Queen What’s-Her-Name were still fascinating. Carvings framed time-dulled stained glass windows and paintings that aloofly watched as century old traditions continued: safe, stationary, soothing, muffling.

~ - ~ - ~ - ~

We were squatters in the lobby of the Sierra Real Hotel of Alpedrete with the three-foot-square elevator that we could never get enough of. They had off-balance floral couches, hot milk with sugar, and they let us use their Internet connection to email friends across the Atlantic. As far as we were concerned, they had found the key to any and all international relation problems.

I’m fairly certain that no dictionary could capture the concept of “pride” quite as well as their dainty black shoes, pink knee-high socks, and baby-blue gold-sequined high-waisted leggings didor maybe it was the strut. In any case, these three men had enough elegance woven through their arrogance to pull it off.

Shooting out one last email, we pause, slack-jawed as the three bullfighters amateurs, but matadors nonethelessmade their entrance, stood waiting, and sauntered off to their rooms.

~ - ~ - ~ - ~

They had invited our family to their small apartment to watch the Eurocup final soccer game, but more importantly to experience first-hand the Spanish football match phenomenon. Years, languages, and histories separated the two dads as they crouched, taut and primed on the short couch, waiting.

Spain won, of course.

Everyone was electrified, hugging, whistling, shouting, and kissing. Raw passion sparkled over clenched fists and along the tarnished notes of songs. Champions! We had trouble getting home, the ten minute drive unfolding to almost an hour as red shadows in the streets knocked on our windows to sing to us and horns played by pride celebrated into the night.

~ - ~ - ~ - ~

Running into school in the morning, we would pass scary eighteen year-old boys in leather jackets kissing their mothers’ cheeks to say goodbye, hurrying to find our friends thrilled to see us, with everybody kissing cheeks to say hello after only a couple of hours. Heady laughter echoed, bubbling on friendly limbs and bright yellow lockers.

During recess, we passed around sandwichesbaguettes stuffed with jamon serrano and cheese or chorizo and fresh tomatoes or chocolate nocilla. Carol would always bring cookies, and if you got to her first and begged enough you might get a couple of crumbs. Every once in a while someone would bring a lollipop or two and they would be juggled from mouth to mouth, sharing syrupy approval.

We would sit cross-legged, letting the spangled sun soak the insides of our knees. We slapped legs and feet, twirled rings, bumped shoulders, linked elbows, and ran fingers through wild hair. Kisses were handed out between friends like raisins. There I learned that friendship smells of over-sweet perfumes and colognes and feels like tanned and contented palms on your knees. By the end of our patio time, we would all have a record of our friendships stamped onto any bare skin by highlighters and ballpoint pens.

~ - ~ - ~ - ~

Isa was my best friendone of the few who spoke my language well enough to follow my distinctly American trains of thought, riddled with obscure colloquialisms and abbreviations.

I was teaching a dance to the girls at church one evening, and she came along to learn it. The bishop caught us leaving, red-faced, sweating, and laughing in the peculiar deep-throated laugh of the Spanish women that even I had picked up on. He asked her if she was American, and her answer was striking, severe, and indignant:

"Me? An American? No, never, no. I am a Spaniard!"