June 9th – my morning coffee

Image

So this morning I was up promptly at 5:30am, despite the fact that I had only gone to bed (false: after a few minutes of attempting to sleep in this heat I was up with my camera again) at 1:30..
It’s now closing in on three o’clock and I’m still up working! I’m guessing that means the instant coffee I made this morning may have actually had some effect on me.  It was actually really good, despite having been made in an old microwave.

 

 

coffee jar close

My morning coffee while in Italy is always a bit.. unique. For the past six weeks I’ve been using an emptied jam jar for pretty much everything.  It took me a while, but I found instant coffee that is 100% Arabica beans- I hadn’t known it before coming here, but Italians don’t just use coffee beans in their coffee. They have caffe orzo- a mix of coffee beans and a grain. I forget which one orzo is (pretty sure it’s wheat), but it contains gluten so I always remember to steer clear.  I’m at the very end of a bottle of mixed coconut and rice milk, that I water down and heat up in my jam jar.
I’m actually really impressed by this instant coffee- it makes a pretty satisfactory cup o’ joe.

Since I was already up and had my camera out from shooting at ridiculous hours, I decided to take a photo of this particular morning’s concoction, and ended up extremely happy that I did so.  I even pulled out my tripod while my roommates went down to breakfast and took a few photographs of myself too.

Being the person behind the camera, I don’t generally end up with nice photos of myself.. so sometimes I indulge in a private and inherently embarrassing venture of “self-portraits” (I use quotes because technically, that’s what they are, but I really don’t see them that way).

Forgive me, yet again, as I haven’t the time to really write much- especially since I need to convert any images I plan to use to a smaller file type since I perpetually shoot in RAW.
But I leave Italy in three days! So while I may be crying, I guess the positive side is that I’ll have the time (to find a big girl job..) and the internet to resume writing and working with images, and therefore providing some form of entertainment for what sparse few come across Dusk Dawning.

Wish me luck as I power through my last ever undergraduate finals!

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Blue

Kerlir was my home; a hanging valley nestled between two large landforms of the Spinlocke Mountains.
Set on the edge of a ridge, our valley home had an incredible view. It widened into a plain of sorts, spilling over the edge of a cliff that dropped too far to scale or measure.

Thick, dark forests formed a curtain at the valley’s back.  To our sides, like blinders on carriage-bearing horses, rose our rocky guardians.  The two mountains had become something like gods to the people in my village; protecting us from the harsh northern winds of winter, the relentless burning of the summer sun.  Strong and tall, they watched over us, year after year.

I had thought of them more as demons, as I grew into a more- spirited– young woman.  They stood there, cold and distant, refusing to let me see the world outside of our valley, apart from the birds-eye view we gain at the cliff-edge.  Their sides were a slick, dark rock- Steep and impenetrable.

Our elders always warned against wandering into the forests.  The blackness emanating from their depths kept most out with no need for warning.  Only the men, armed with their axes and tools, would freely enter- and return.

A mighty river split the valley, flowing through the village, over the cliff-edge at its front.  During the winter it ceased flowing- it’s source cut-off; frozen, from a highland beyond the forest.
For this reason, winter’s end was always a time of incredible tension.  Our water supply would be reaching it’s end, and the water’s source would begin melting. While knowing this would allow our river to again flow into the valley, all were wary of… how.   The water’s return was unpredictable, sometimes trickling slowly after an especially cold year, while others, steadily gaining volume and back to the norm within a month.  Neither of these scenarios were our fears, though.
What we feared was the great flood; the onslaught of water after a large break in some far-off ice formation.  It had happened last when I was a small child, no higher than my father’s hip.  The water’s roar, the harsh snapping of thick tree trunks, the sudden surge of icy water.
That was what we feared.
That was why we remunerated.

The vernal equinox marked the coming of the waters.
Each year we had a festival, lasting for three days leading up until the equinox.
The first day was in honor of the Northern Mountain, guard against the winter winds.
The second, the Southern Mountain, guard against the summer heat.
The final day was of highest importance, honoring the river itself.  Attempting to sway its actions in our favor.

Every seventy-two years the festival was considered “most sacred”.   During the festivals of these years, attendance was strictly enforced, our garments the deepest blues, our adornments the finest jewels.  Children were harshly warned about insubordinate behavior and the consequences evoked, should they choose that way of being.
A temple would be raised at the height of the valley- where the dried riverbed meets the precipice, and the ending ceremony would be held at dusk on the third day.
A select group of elders ran the ceremony, leading the villagers in prayer to the river, citing poems of it’s greatness, and performing other slow, ritualistic motions in honor of the deity believed to be within.
These elders chanted and moved until the sun had dipped completely out of view from our valley’s tall perch- at which time they would begin the final, sacred, ending ceremony.

It was my twenty-second year upon this earth, when I encountered the most sacred of festivals.
I had been with my friends, eating freshly made street foods and watching the ceremonial dances that night, at the end of the third day.  It was such fun- my elderly neighbors had told me to commit every bit of this festival to memory, as most lived only to see one within their lifetime.
The sun was just beginning it’s descent in the sky as I separated from my friends to fetch some water for one of the elders- Making my way through the orchards, when the edges of my vision blackened, and everything went out of focus.  The blackness began to expand, and bright spots exploded behind my eyelids.

There was a sharp pain in my side, which spread like fire.  My eyes snapped open and my lungs expanded in what should have been an audible gasp.
But my mouth was covered and my eyes saw only darkness.
I willed my hands to uncover my face, only to find them bound.  The movement made me wince in pain, not that it was visible.
My eyes stung with tears, and my inhibited breathing was hard and ragged.  Someone was holding be tightly, a hand firmly grasping around my waist.
I focused on slowing my breathing, to tune into the sounds around me.
Chanting.
Louder than I had ever heard an elder chant.
Closer.

Suddenly the chant grew fierce, a harsh sentence in a language I did not understand.
And then suddenly a hood was lifted over my head, and I could see.
It was pitch dark with the exception of the torches, but I could tell where I was.

I was in the temple.
At the edge of the cliff.
I was in front of the villagers, standing together in blue robes; their dark faces staring out from under hoods of their own.
Although sure these were my people, they were unrecognizable to me.
Their glares were menacing.
They were shrouded figures.
In this moment, they were forms I did not know.

I strained my neck towards my captor, a large man in an especially ornate robe.  All I could see of his face was his mouth, set in a hard line.  The muscles of his jaw were flexed, as if he were clenching his teeth.
Now another man stepped forward from beside him, his hood hovering far, shrouding his entire face in darkness.  He carried with him a sapphire encrusted scythe.
He came to stand about three feet in front of me, slightly ajar so as to allow the audience to see me still.  He began to murmor, words I cared not to listen to.  My mind was already reeling, trying to comprehend the situation.
But then I heard the word “sacrifice”.
And my back broke out in a cold sweat.
He raised the scythe, poised to swing, when I caught a flash of movement out of the corner of my eye.
One of the robed figures disbanded from the line that stood beneath the temple, rushing in my direction.
The man with the scythe swung around, catching the figure with the edge of his blade.
The figure had barely dodged in time, allowing for only his hood to be caught in the weapon’s path.  It ripped and fell aside, revealing a dark-haired man in a mask.  He acted quickly, weaving around the armed man before he could prepare a second strike, and hurdling straight into me, forcing us both over the cliff.

In the impact his mask was shifted to the side, revealing a sliver of his handsome face.
A sense of relief flowed over me, as I watched the corner of his mouth slip up into a smile, and his dark eyes caught a bit of light from the moon as we fell.
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canis lupus

So last night I had another of my (incredibly numerous) odd/ridiculously detailed dreams.
Have you ever tried to write out your dreams? It’s actually really difficult to put them properly into words (or at least, it is for me!).

Something is happening.
I am running.
I don’t know what led up to this.

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cement city

I was in Boston, but not Boston as we know it.  I was in an apartment that my boyfriend Adam was living in.  He had moved into it after starting his new job; it was his “work buddy”’s apartment.  I had come to the building to see it for the first time.  It was dark, and there were random odds and ends everywhere- undoubtedly his room-mate’s.  And then I met her.  A pretty, skinny blonde.   She introduced herself but I forgot the name- I was mortified.  I had been trying to get Adam to get an apartment with me for years, and now he’s living with some other girl? What the hell? I was so mad.  He was oblivious like an idiot, and didn’t even seem to understand the scowl on my face when we were alone in one of the apartment’s dim rooms.

“What?” he asked, which just made me all the more mad.

“You’re living with another girl?” My gosh. Furious.

“What? She has a boyfriend.” This is just too much.

“I don’t care if she has a boyfriend! You’re living with another woman! What the hell Adam? “ I took a deep breath to try and calm myself.  It didn’t work, “I’ve been trying to get you to move into an apartment with me for years.  You won’t live with me but you’ll live with her?!”

“What? It’s a big space- her boyfriend stays over all the time, depending on what hospital he’ll be working out of”.   Apparently her boyfriend was a doctor, moving between Tufts and Mass General.  He had his own place but stayed over frequently.  He stayed in his girlfriend’s room though, leaving one free of an occupant.

“What if I live here?  She has a spare room, and I can pay rent” I offered… Somewhat defiantly.  Arms crossed.

Speak of the devil, “Mmm. no” she said, passing through the room, a “sweet” little smile on her annoyingly pretty mug, “I like having an extra room for my stuff”.  That’s loosely translated to squirm, bitch, squirm.

Her boyfriend came out of the spare room and introduced himself to me. Mark, he said was his name.  He was a pleasant, tall man with grey eyes and light blonde hair that moved as he shook his head.  So for right now he’s the only person in this place that I’m not angry with.  He politely finished his chat with me and headed to the bathroom to shower before rounds.

“I’m taking a walk” I stated, walking stiffly to the door, closing it a little harder than necessary once I was in the hall.  All around me was concrete.  The hall was cramped and cold, clammy even.  There were spiral stairwells made only of metal rods winding to the other floors.  I followed a man that looked around my age down the small stairwell at the end of the hall (only about 10 feet from the door I just came out of.  I wasn’t kidding about it being cramped).  I followed the spiral down seven floors to the building’s exit.  The last of the steps opening up into a wide tunnel, also cement, but circular- as if I had just walked into a giant drainage pipe.  Which I probably had.  The city had come to “recycle” these sorts of things during construction.  The result was pretty dingy in my opinion.  It made me feel like a street rat, all this living in cement blocks and walking through pipes and tunnels.

The tunnel stretched out to either side of me.  Left or right, I had forgotten from which way I had come.  I decided on left, and passed a small convenience store built into the wall on my left.  It didn’t look like a very welcoming place, so I kept walking.  On my right stood two older men, one African-American with a graying beard, and a white man with a navy beanie on his head.  They leaned against the far wall.  The bearded man had a cigar between his teeth, and they both eyed me wearily for a couple of seconds before returning to their slow conversation.  Their presence didn’t exactly comfort me either, so I continued a bit more hurriedly down the tunnel.

Ahead on my left was an old basketball court, cut out of the left of the tunnel.  It was still completely closed off to the outside world, as if a cement box had been fused to the side of the tunnel, and the portion of wall between the two had been cut out.  A group of young men paused their game to watch as I walked by.  The boy with the ball had his hoodie pulled up over his head, keeping the ball bouncing slowly as the group’s attention focused elsewhere.

I fought the urge to speed up, looking straight ahead and trying my hardest not to look like I was nervous walking past.  Just ahead was a pair of deep green doors, the only windows being small, barred, and higher than I could reach.  I passed through them, after a decent amount of effort to get them open.  They weren’t just large, they were thick too.  But just after entering I recognized it for what it was: a high school building.  So I slowly turned around and forced open those big old doors again.  This time, on my way back, I did hurry.  I didn’t care so much about what those men all thought as I passed them.  I was passing them again anyways, so they’d know I’d gotten myself lost taking a wrong turn somewhere.

When I got back to the stairwell I headed back up.  I was still angry and now embarrassed and a bit frightened, so I decided it best for me to just go somewhere I know…Not to mention that it had been planned (before I knew of this girl situation)  for me to stay the night.

When I got back I walked straight to the spare room without saying a word to anyone.  My backpack was leaning up against the yellow couch, and I curled up and pulled the flannel blanket over me.  And stared, straight ahead.  I didn’t want to talk.  I didn’t want to look at anyone in this place.  I wanted to be alone, and I wanted to calm down.

And that girl was seriously annoying.  The only real things in this room was the couch and a television..  Which she had out in the living room as well.  Why not add these to her room?  Or move them out somewhere?  Other than that the only things in the room were junk and clothes, scattered about, but not so many that they warranted their own space.

Mark came and sat on the edge of the couch, resting his hand on my blanketed leg.  Seriously, why is this guy being so friendly with me?  Does he not notice that I hate his girlfriend?  But whatever.  If Adam can live with another woman, I can be close on the couch with another man.  “ I’m sorry about this,” he said.  That surprised me a bit, “Hanna can be pretty cruel sometimes, but your boyfriend won’t cheat on you”.

I was still mad.  “There’s still no reason for him to be living here.  Especially when he would never get an apartment with me.  Saying that he wants to save money,” I said, still facing the television, not that I was watching it.  Mark was rubbing my leg now, trying to comfort me.  Is this what it’s like to have an older brother?  I mean, usually, you’d think this picture would have some kind of sexual tension- beautiful blonde man comforting the small-statured eternally “cute” girl on the couch in a dim apartment.  But it didn’t- so perhaps it was more familial?

He leaned towards me, hovering, as if to make sure that I pay attention to his following words, “Sometimes we just aren’t aware of the reasons” he said, holding my gaze.  I didn’t want to hear it.  What reasons could he possibly have? And why wouldn’t he have given them to me when I asked?  Instead of saying that it was a big space.  What the heck.

pipe dreams

I would love to be an actress.  It’s one of the most fun careers I can think of.
I mean, I love books.  I love getting to know characters, places, and stories that are not my own.  Reading and writing fiction transports you into another time, place, situation, life, story. Imagine getting to live it out, portraying these characters and bringing their stories to life.  That must just be amazing.
I’ve always had a thing for languages and culture, and how it gives you a feel for how someone else’s life is (so different from your own).  I’ve always wanted to travel, experiencing other cultures and ways of life.  If you are an actor or actress, you get the opportunity to experience different lives.
You also get the opportunity to turn beloved books into movies, and if you’re lucky, it will be one that you are find of.

I dreamt of fire and I woke up burned.

No, literally.

The pain rooted at the base of my skull decided to migrate down my neck and into my shoulders yesterday.  After four hours pounding and shaping clay, I can’t say I didn’t expect it.

When I went to sleep I took out a heating pad that I didn’t even know was stored in the closet.  Earlier in the evening I had called my mother (nurse mom)  and asked what to do for my achey shoulders, and she had told me to put the pad on medium and sleep with it.
It seemed to work pretty well.
Then I woke up, and instantly noted the pain on my left shoulder blade.  I got up and went into the bathroom, pulled the neck of my shirt down and turned around so my back was to the mirror.  And there it was- a golf ball-sized burn, nice and swollen.

I recalled that in one of the dreams I had last night, I was wrapped in a blanket of fire.  It hadn’t hurt, just felt warm, and I figured it was just because I had something physically heating me as I slept.

Odd?