Posts Tagged ‘lightning bugs’


Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

I’ve mentioned my contempt for bugs (with the exception of the lightning bug). Yet for some reason I am compelled to write about insects again. I shouldn’t be writing at all – I am terribly exhausted.  But this memory has been haunting me, coercing me to purge it from my mind and into this text.

When I was younger, I had an affinity for love bugs. Growing up in New Orleans, they were as common as the cockroach, though far less foul. The average lifespan of a lovebug is one week to ten days. Once the females emerge, mating takes place almost immediately. The bugs spend the majority of their lives copulating. A male and a female will attach at their ends and stay that way at all times, even in flight. After mating, the male dies but the lovers remain connected. Everywhere she goes, the female carries the dead body of her companion until she is ready to lay her eggs.  How faithful to her suitor the female appears, or is she just tolerating him? Is it devotion, or the inability to let go?

In the warm summer days of my adolescence, I would willingly allow lovebugs to crawl on my skin. I took pleasure in the tickling sensation they provided when creeping along the flesh of my arm.

Sometimes, I would rip them apart from each other. I did this with no intention of cruelty, but because I was able and curious. (Yes, much like the slugs.) My innocence could not comprehend the intimacy which I was defacing.

But this is not the only carnage that I imposed upon the defenseless lovebug. I clearly recall trapping a great deal of them in a glass jar. This was done out of affection; they were to be my beloved pets. Tragically, when I awoke the following day there was nothing more than a jar of corpses. I sat in the backyard and cried, ashamed of my lovebug holocaust and embarrassed about my stupidity concerning life.

I threw the jar in the garbage can outside and tried to dismiss the ugly slaughter, but I could never quite forget.  It’s forever difficult to leave such piercing memories behind.

Magic; Ignorance

Saturday, September 5th, 2009

Years ago at the Wreck Room I encountered a street magician.

“Think of a friend’s name, any friend, and concentrate on that person,” he said.

I did as he instructed. However, I had two friends by this name, and both spelled it unconventionally. Images of them both occupied my mind. “Okay,” I told him as I awaited his next move.

He seemed confused. “Something’s wrong,” he said. “Something’s… unclear. Do you have two friends by this name?” he asked.

I was shocked, but not yet impressed. “Yes,” I admitted.

“Concentrate on one of them,” he advised me.

And so I did. Immediately I pictured only one of the friend’s faces in my mind, and I held it there. “You’re thinking of your friend Bryan,” the magician said.

He was right.  Now I was impressed. Not long after that I went on a date with him. Honestly, I wasn’t very attracted to him. It was the magic. I longed to know how he did it. He told me that I could do it too, and that I just had to start small and practice. I never went out with him again. Maybe I was partially frustrated that he wouldn’t tell me his secrets, and in some measure I didn’t really want to know how he did it. It would be like finding out that Santa Claus wasn’t real or that David Copperfield couldn’t fly. I am naive regarding strangers’ illusions and leery towards peoples’ intentions. The wall I am building unintentionally started before I can remember. It provides innocence for art and skepticism about motives. This may or may not hinder me in some way.

In any case, I decided to amputate some of the magic in my life, so I researched lightning bugs and the theremin. It turns out, neither are the products of enchantment. The bio-luminescence of lightning bugs is simply the effect of enzymes and oxygen.  They use it to attract mates.  The males fly around and flash in search of females.  The females do not fly, but instead they sit and glow in response to the males.  I wonder how many human lives would be made easy by this method of copulation.  Any question of interest would be answered by a tiny shimmer fueled by the unavoidable company of oxygen.

Then there is the theremin.  The instrument makes music without any contact from the player.  It’s as though the performer is playing the air.  His/her hands must accurately touch the nothingness between antennas in order to create song.  This is made possible by electric signals and a person skilled in pitch and precision, not spells and sorcery.  Still I want to play the theremin, and I want to tell everyone who is unaware of its inner workings that magic controls the device.

And like the magician told me, I will say that they can learn.  It just takes practice.  Maybe those who I tell will decide that sometimes, bewilderment is better; sometimes, ignorance really is bliss.

Omaha People, My Writing, & Rob Zombie (my hero)

Friday, September 4th, 2009

We were at the duck celebrating Braden’s one year anniversary of living in New York. It is so Brades to celebrate that. I know this about him, and I haven’t even known him the entire year. Additionally, I was thrilled to be the only non-Omahaian on the email chain discussing this celebratory event.

“You haven’t heard about Brades typing ‘tonight’ into Craigslist? Brades, explain to Ashleigh why you do this,” Mitchell said.

“If you type ‘tonight’ into Craigslist,” Brades began, “you can get tickets for all kinds of things, like Knicks games and stuff. Just type it in the general search on the main page and-”

Q interrupted. “Do NOT type it into personals. You’ll just get cocks. Big black cocks. Real big. Mid-thigh. I saw it. It was real.”

And then he walked in. We didn’t say hello. I’m sure we both saw each other. Of course I know why I didn’t say hello. Clearly there is no way for me to know why he didn’t acknowledge my presence. Does it matter? Depends on who you ask, I suppose. The non-greetings made me think of two people who are very close but never talk. Both will claim that the other never calls, but the phone lines go both ways, so who really isn’t calling who? I can go ahead and be upset that he didn’t say hello, but I didn’t address him either.

The real tragedy here is that I had glued myself back together, but the glue didn’t hold. I’m broken. Actually, it’s partly the glue and in some ways the reassembly. I’m pretty sure I dropped a few pieces of myself down the storm drain, and let’s be honest – who the fuck knows what to do when that happens? Call 3-1-1? Talk to the closest business owner? Ask a construction worker for help? I figure I’ll just let the rats have that bit of me. I’d rather be incomplete and creative than whole and dispassionate.

I spoke with Ian about it tonight.  “I’d say this whole thing has made you a much better writer, and shown people how well you can write,” he said. “Most people I know around your age and mine can hardly manage a complete and logical sentence most of the time, written or spoken.”

This seems a fine opportunity to make clear that this blog is not a diary.  At times I am altering my reality into what I hope is entertaining. It may seem more often dismal than blithe, but I am far from misery. (Those who know me best understand this to be true.) However lately, despondency has been dominating my life. I told Ian I was tired of feeling sad. “When these emotions come up, put them in writing, get them out of your head, and bury them on the page,” he said. “If people don’t like it, they don’t have to read it.”

Although I do hope you keep reading. I am confident that there is an audience for my bleak and ominous words. (My Grandma would be so proud. Morbidness runs in my family, I assure you.) Undoubtedly, there is always a public for macabre, sorrow, and all monstrosities of the human world. Hence why Mitchell and I finally got around to seeing Halloween 2 last night.

“I just don’t get why some people don’t like horror movies,” Mitchell was saying on the walk back to 14th Street. “Maybe the gore…”

“Obviously I agree. The horror movie genre is my absolute favorite,” I told him, as if he didn’t know that about me. “I guess I do understand how, like, when Michael Myers went into the strip club and bashed that stripper’s head into the mirror over and over again as she screamed until she finally died. Maybe that would disturb some people?”

“Maybe? I like that though, I think it’s entertaining,” he admitted.

I couldn’t agree more. “Me too,” I said, “me too.” Thank god I have Mitchell to go to movies with.

In conclusion, if anyone knows Rob Zombie, please let him know that I adore his films and would be honored to work for him, even if it entails mopping up fake blood on movie sets.  And I promise my next blog will be about something other than my stupid life, like the theremin.  I want to write about the theremin and lightning bugs, both of which I consider magical.