A last frontier?

The United States was a country that was partially shaped by its idea of ‘frontier’ and ever-outward expansion.  To a certain extent, the modern American still has a sense of himself as ruggedly individualistic and ready to pit himself against the world.  That external world, however, has greatly changed.  The frontier, even in remote areas of Alaska, doesn’t truly exist the way it once did.  Now it seems that one of the last frontiers will become more easily reachable – the oceans.

Scientists around the world are currently cataloguing and delving deep into the oceans.  Their aim is to gather enough data to complete a sort of ocean ‘census’ by 2010.  The data already collected is already providing interesting results: new depths at which ocean predators like jellyfish are sucessful, new habits and migrations of sharks, massive congregations of aquatic life in unusual places.  Researchers will meet Tuesday to begin compilation of various data points.  They will be working in association with the website PLoS ONE to get the content out, which is fabulous.  Who doesn’t like direct access?

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Write, write, write…

Here’s the next portions:

“I’m going to marry Thompson.”  Jasmine finishes drying the last plate, puts it on the shelf, and shuts the cabinet door softly.  I know that you don’t like him, that you don’t think he’s the right one for me, but it’s my decision.  I hope you can be happy for me.”

Her eyes plead, but her mouth does not waver.  “I have absolutely nothing against Thompson.  I wouldn’t marry him, but it’s your life, after all.”

“Yes, but you just think he isn’t good enough for me.”

“Look, you’re the one who said you thought he was boring when you first met him.  You are the one who always complains that he’s just not adventuresome enough. I like the guy.  I’d trust him to watch my cat, or even ‘watch my back in a fight’ if you want to get martial about it.  He’s steady.  I just thought you didn’t want steady.”

“Who knows what I want?”

A thousand questions pop into my head.  Was she just nervous of change and starting school again and being in a new place?  Was she tired of waiting for the ‘perfect’ right one and settling?  Had she finally come to the end of her wandering days and realized it?  Was he going to move with her?  Or were they going to complicate matters further with some long-distance ‘thing?  Or was she putting off school?

“If you’re happy with him, then I’m happy for you.”

“Thanks.”  She put a hand over her eyes.  “You know, you’re the first friend who’s responded in a positive way.  Everyone else pretty much attacked.”

“It’s a big step.  they’re just worried for you and trying to help you make the right one.”  I steadily quashed my urge to question her.  “You did announce it like you were expecting confrontation.”

She just looked at me.

“‘I’m going to marry Thompson even if it kills me’ is not really an expression of joy.”

“I didn’t say it was going to kill me.  I was excited, first.  I guess everyone else has worn me down.”

I smile, take her hand, hug her, and give her a quick peck on the cheek.  “Don’t let them.”

Sometimes I dream vividly without meaning.  I can see myself in Tom’s office as he enters in the morning.  He turns on his computer, hangs his coat, puts down a series of bags, and goes about getting ready for the day.  I see him opening his email, his entire posture changing as he reads – a sagging in the spine, a resettlement of the shoulders, a heaviness to the jowls.  It saddens me, but in the dream this sadness lightens my limbs somehow to the point where I can fly.  So I do, up through the ceiling and out into sunlight and the larger world.

Or, instead, I can see myself at some great height with a glass in my hand.  I slip, or stumble, or begin to fall myself, and the glass drops.  I can see it spinning out, falling and falling and shifting slightly in the wind or tug of some other invisible force.  I don’t know how far it tumbles, but it must be quite far, because I have time to think ‘It’s going to shatter, isn’t it?  It’s going to break all over.”  How long does it take for the eye to process, for the mind to speak, for the brain to send out the message for muscles to clench in fear?  How many seconds?  How many meters to fall?

Or I dream of choices I would never make in real life – an ideal over a friendship; a movement towards, rather than away from, complications.  I dream of the daughter I will have some day – how we will talk about simple things like ‘what life means’ and ‘who we are, really’, and how we will circle around each other and balance each other’s lives.  I dream of the two of us making a bed together and laughing.  I can see her dark brown hair – almost black, and darker and straighter than mine – and the pale oliveness of her skin.  I can hear her laughter-more musical than mine-and see tiny teeth behind her smile.  I know I will never have children.