[perennial blog post to let everyone know I am Alive and Well and Overcaffeinated Per Usual!!]
I am about to commit treason to my literary kind: numbers fascinate me. The fact that math is an entire art based on the assumption of rules to be true is endlessly compelling. That you can use symbols that someone assigned meaning in some sort of code to quantify and calculate divisions of your life? Ridiculous. Crazy. Absolute certitude of how many days I have been alive (at the time of writing this, 8599), inches of rain fallen today (in Scotland right now, 3.4 with the conversion from centimeters), number of index cards sitting on my desk (94). And then people take these certitudes and combine them to establish larger averages of certitudes in an insane amount of ways!
How many hairs on my head: 90,000 (brunettes, 140,000; blondes, 110,000)! How many miles I’ll walk in my lifetime: 110,000! How many questions it takes to fall in love: 36! (or so they say, whoever the elusive “they” is.)
But how do we arrive at certitude? By arriving at the same certitude as someone else and deciding we must both be correct. Thus I contend, to any number-lover who tells me that they like math because it is black and white and not the shades of gray that words are, there is no difference. Numbers are like stories; established, tried, tested against time. These rules and theorems that create your number laws come from the same place that words do: the repetition of stories over millennia.
fifty-two books I read in 2016.
“Unhappy am I that I cannot heave
my heart into my throat.”
—Cordelia, King Lear, I.i.91-92
I wake, again, to rain. The gray fingers of sky peer through the fading maroon curtains our landlord left from the previous tenant. I push one aside. The power lines droop lazily between poles like cat’s cradles, the city sheathed in silver. Two men in lungis stand on the slick edge of a rooftop to survey the damage of the floors below. Watching them makes me nervous, so I drop the shade. I tug aside my blanket, flip off the mosquito repellant switch, and pad across the cool marble, trying to psych myself up into going outside. I pull on one of the few remaining clean shirts from my drawer and trace the sweat that has gathered at the nape of my neck; I heard the AC click off at 4am with another power outage, and judging from the status of my phone battery, it never came back on. I sling my purse over my shoulder, slide on chappals, and head downstairs.
((Back to school now, but the holidays were good to me. I made sort of a grand harrumphing trip across the subcontinent: first to Delhi, then to Lucknow, then Jaipur, and then all the way to Sri Lanka in about ten days, sari mostly intact. I had some real enchiladas, failed horribly at getting on an elephant, got sunburned again, and overall had an amazing time with incredible people who make my sides hurt from laughing so hard. Pictures will follow at the end of this blog.))
(Broken into three parts. Sorry, it’s long. Sorry, it’s been a month. Sorry, it might not be as interesting as the last post. Sorry, people asked for more pictures of me in saris on here. Sorry, I didn’t properly cite either of the links I used in this post, because I currently can’t remember MLA.)
It is the first day of school, and I’m half an hour early. In Indian Standard Time, this means I am actually an hour early. A doormat sprawls across the floor in front of me, and I kick off my shoes, knowing that I will have to remove them before I enter the room. I sit outside Principal Ma’am’s office like I’m waiting for punishment. My sari rustles against the floor. I scissor my feet beneath it, unsticking the edge of my petticoat from my legs. The power was out for an hour this morning, for longer than the usual fifteen-minute rolling blackouts that occasionally grace our flat, which means my hair is half-curled in a sad attempt to retain my Texas roots, and also that every inch of silk is stuck to my body with sweat.
Oh, where to start.
It’s still unreal to me that I’m even here. I grew up in a town of 18,000 people, surrounded by fields and fields of sunflowers (like the picture you see here.) This, to me, was a “small town.” My friends and I would grab a sweet tea from the drive-thru at Chicken Express, walk around the Wal Mart for fun, and if we were feeling particularly lucky, would try to beat all of the red lights down Main Street without getting stopped by the train. Chennai, my Indian friends told me, was a “small town.” Chennai has about five million people, about the size of (if not bigger than) Los Angeles.