...Not the kind of wheel you fall asleep at...

Paradox; or the Five and a Half Minute Hallway

I'm dicing up little spears of asparagus, chopping a tomato and trying to steer clear of my fingertips, and my brother is on the other line, presumably half-baked. This is the only time he gets really really talkative--talkative like a waterfall barrelling over a 100-foot drop. Talkative in a way that breaks my heart sometimes because his brain is just running through all the things that bother him, poking and sniffing and squeezing each problem like a housewife searching for the perfect avocado at the grocers. He is unhappy with his current job--I mutter at him in empathetic agreement as I feel the same way. He is unhappy with himself--he is too afraid of things, too unsure of himself, too down on himself for not being someone and somewhere else at his old age of twenty-three. I reassure and reassure and reassure but then realize my reassurances are basically just reaffirmations of what he's been saying in the first place--I reassure him with a shared understanding: "I feel the same way, C___;" "I'm five years older than you and find myself floundering and lacking in direction more often than not too, Bud;" "You're not alone." I end up rambling that if it's not your job that's bumming you out and making you question your purpose, if it's not your SELF doing this, then it's just the bigger nature of things--stumbling over the thick roots of some big oak tree draping leaves of "What is the point of all this?" "What is our PURPOSE here, in living, in existing, in being human and plodding through these individual lives?" I quickly reassure him that we ALL find ourselves bogged down by this time and time again--even the rich folk, even the succesful folk, even the famous folk, EVERYONE. Again--reassurance or just more reason to slit one's wrists? Trying to grab onto SOMETHING more uplifting, I remind him that you have to keep recentering yourself by surrounding yourself with good and beautiful things--friends, family, beauty, etc. I about cut the tip off of my thumb feeding him all this and eventually get off the phone to focus more of my energy towards dinner.

Later on, sitting around slightly bored, I pick up a book I just nabbed from the library, Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves--a book that had fallen into my hands a long time ago when my mom lent it to me just to check out its weirdness. And a book that has fallen back into my hands after a friend recently recommended it to me this time. It is a horror story of sorts in which a family moves into a house only to find that the inside of the house is getting bigger than the outside of the house--closets and hallways are appearing out of nowhere and leading beyond the capable expanses of the house's dimensions. THIS is true horror--not Dracula or a band of ghosts. I nervously devour page after page, edging ahead towards the sudden realization that the reason why this idea is so terrifying is that


it connects up to the whole fucked up nature of human existence in a way that most other ghost stories don't. I'm not even 70 pages in, and I am already terrified at the mirror it's holding up, with even just its most basic plot.

Things look normal when you step back and look in on stuff from outside it all. Life's just a normal house--2 bedroom, one bath, dimensions nailed down by some blueprint somewhere. But then you step inside it, you start looking out from the inside again (or you start looking around at the inside) and it's all fucked up and nonsensical. You keep getting bogged down in all the paradoxes--how can this closet be 50+ feet deep when the outside of the house tells me that it can be no deeper than 3 feet? Why is it that I can tick off all the reasons I should be happy with my job (it has good perks, it pays decent, it is low-stress) and yet I find myself horribly discontented with it, itching to be elsewhere? Why keep nailing together purpose after purpose and goal after goal into some wobbly shelf when you blink and realize that you're never really gonna know what the purpose actually IS to all this? Why is life so compact and easy to make sense of one minute until someone trips and spills over the can of worms we call DEATH and then it loses all sense of logic? Why do you find yourself reassuring someone that it'll all be ok by telling them that basically it's all NOT ok for everyone else and that's what you need to keep reminding yourself to make it through the day?

You find yourself wandering around something that is amazingly--and terrifyingly--impossible: human existence. And it just keeps growing. And you just keep wandering down pitch-black hallways, shining your feeble flashlight against walls and finding more doors, AND MORE DOORS, AND MORE HALLWAYS, and pretty soon you can't quite figure out where you got in at.

This is why it is hard to read this book alone, at night, with the dark seeping into the deep caves of closet upstairs and downstairs, licking its rough tongue at the halo of light I'm surrounding myself with.

This. This this this this this this this is REAL horror.



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