Eye of the Story

The Evergreen State College

Author: KateMac

 

here is an embarrassingly low quality upload. cant figure out to upload hd to youtube and i’m not about to pay for a vimeo account. i’ll try again tomorrow. but if you don’t enter full screen and sit a few feet back from your screen it looks okay 

kate macmillan wk9

warm night in a sandy maze of crumbling metropolis alley and the sky is orange.

from balcony i take a view and auditory equivalent of view of rubble highrose alley which is alien to me other than universal streetlight glowing orange onto everything. a group of 10 or more boys or young men walk away from the sea down middle of alley street in a clump beating drums and answering my question of what is that sound which drew me to look at alley from balcony 10 or more minutes ago, or maybe it was a cigarette that drew me. i throw my butt over the balcony and it lands on the balcony one floor below, and on the street a motorcycle flows through and past the group of boys and the boys keep walking into the distance and disappear behind a building. piles of sand and brick glow red from the brakelight of a car waiting for someone. a covered woman crosses the street and walks in same direction as the boys, away from the sea. laying on my back the yellowed clouds cover the sky entirely except for patches of sky in the shape of clouds and i pretend they are switched. It is the first time i’ve seen clouds in weeks. at this hour there is not much traffic, the constant horns have stopped. my friend comes out onto the balcony and we kiss and touch. Soon the sky will grow green with early light. laying on the balcony alone now looking up i wonder why anyone wants to live in america, it doesn’t make sense to me anymore. only this does. a year later it feels like a dream.

kate macmillan journal wk8

a windy transcription 

um
we lived on a big hill. most of the city was at sea level, built over marshlands that connected to the bay. but to the east there was this big wall of hills that seemed to come out of nowhere, it was flat and then it was hills. we lived up there, there was nothing up there, no there there. we drove down the hills every day. my ears started to feel funny. a pressure behind them, always. to relieve it i would open my mouth and push my jaw forward a tiny bit. that momentarily unplugged them but they sealed up again right after. so i was always doing this tiny tick, unhinging my jaw to pop my ears, my mom said why do you keep doing that, you look like a fish. i think we were at the petstore in china town, lucky goldfish, when she asked me but i could just have stitched those two things together. i never complained much about it. i think it started when i was 11 or 12. i remember the topic came up amongst the girls i ate lunch with. one was eating a bagel and complained about her jaw clicking and i thought oh that happens to me too. i remember asking my parents about it, my dad said his did sometimes. those are my first memories of it. not physical memories, i remember knowing my jaw clicked. and one day when i was 16 it just started feeling very different. like i couldnt open my mouth all the way unless i shifted my jaw to right and then the left and then down. as the months passed i had to get increasingly more elaborate with my jaw opening maneuver. ontop of the left right wiggle i also had to jut it forward, unhinge it all the way. like the motion i did to pop my ears but now tied to more.it was scary. it felt like my jaw was being pulled to the right. started only sleeping on my left side, hoping that gravity would pull it back down. i didn’t tell anybody i was having problems. my friend had a jaw surgery for her underbite the previous summer. the kind where they entirely break your jaw just to set it back half an inch and then you had your mouth wired shut for 7 weeks and just layed in bed and drank milkshakes and craved meat. i was convinced that if i told anyone about my jaw i would have to get that surgery, and that if i had my jaw sealed for 7 weeks the whelp who i thought i couldnt live without who was kind of my boyfriend but wouldnt admit it would break up with me. so i didn’t tell anybody for two years. it got so much worse.

kate macmillan wk7 journal

(my dreams become so vivid at the start of spring)
((i thought this posted yesterday but did not go through to the right place))

 

She gives birth to quadruplets with perfect painted skin and

they glow and coo with her stepmother upstairs while she

carries on with life. Downstairs, bottom of stairs there is the

spindle table, today with a silver platter instead of bouquet.

Four praying mantises arrange themselves on the platter

reaching up with their arms worshipping, their faces following her

movement across the room. Confused by their human countenance

she lifts the platter and they wilt curl crumple fall to floor

dead husks now sorry. She puts down the platter and it echoes through

the  hallways and there is nobody to witness but she fears reprimand

and leaves through the front door. Outside the sun has set and dry

land stretches and rolls into deepening sky. A gathering on the horizon,

she sets out towards it and is joined by others with the same destination.

They come out of nowhere and fall into pace with her and she starts to cry.

The procession mourns together walks together towards the mountain. Near

the base, hired nymphs emerge from tall grass.  They will lead them through

the mountain, they skip ahead and be merry and naked and pure just as

practiced. She wonders what the point of that is. These are not nymphs they

are young girls and the night is too cold for them to shed clothes and she would

rather not see the bruises on the backs of their legs as they limp, scamper ahead

through the tunnel through the mountain through the sewer. More tears.

kate macmillan, journal wk 6

descent of isa (a vivid dream)

I was watching Isa but somehow, against my will
and better judgement, we ended up at stranger’s party.
Isa got drunk and began to physically digress in age.
Her four years of life were sucked away in front of my eyes
and I couldn’t bare to watch. When I tried to swaddle her up
she peed in my hands and screamed in my face.
I left her on her own, squirming on stranger’s floor.
The night train was coming right by stranger’s door
and I jumped onto the caboose. I grew tired and closed my eyes
When I opened them  Isa standing was with me, four again, and I told her
that all of this has to be a secret and for once she didn’t ask why.
We leaned over the railing and watched the tracks shoot out from under us
and disappear into the distance. 
I opened my eyes and Isa was where I left her before,
of course I had to go back. When the train stopped I got off
but I knew it wouldn’t start until morning
so I set out on foot, tracing the tracks back.
It felt like I was walking nowhere,
but in no time I found Isa in a crib
in an empty blue room
in stranger’s house.
Looking around,
I knew that I had once lived there.
But all comfort pissed out of me
when I bent over the crib and saw
that Isa was now a small rabbit.  
Her pelt was too fragile and
peeled away in patches
and I tried to stick it back on.
The crib was infested with black beetles
that bit Isa but she bit them back and swallowed
but they reemerged from a small hole on her haunches.
I was repulsed but I stayed in the blue room.
I loved this little girl.
I knew this would never get better,
I knew I had to take care of her,
I knew there would be no end.
I sat by her side every day,
trying to keep her skin on
and the beetles off.
I awoke every morning to her screaming.

kate macmillan: close reading wk6

Kate MacMillan
Close Reading: Week Six
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

The three novels we have read thus far are striking in their styles of narration; Woolf with her goddess-like omniscience flexing the boundaries of space time and perception, Sebalt capturing the rich and rambling memories of an old man, and now Diaz who in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao births a metanarrative in which the voice of contemporary masculinity is as essential to the plot as flour is to cake. This essay will explore the narrative devices used in Oscar Wao chapters one through four, emphasizing a character analysis of the main narrator and points in which their character traits dictate the telling of the story. In the introductory section of Oscar Wao we are immediately familiarized with the temperament of the main narrator, and although we do not meet them until chapter four it is obvious they are a character in the realm of this story. To us as readers, this dichotomy immediately complicates our relation to the story – we are severed from our ties to Diaz as the author and put in the hands of the narrator who is a character who we must accept as the writer while not forgetting their perspective as a character. When we look at a painting of a landscape we know it was created by an artist, but typically spend more time gazing at the painting as its own entity than ruminating on its creator [art history students excluded].  But of course a painter might paint a picture of himself painting a picture of himself painting a picture of a landscape, which is more or less what Diaz does for Oscar Wao. What I found most fascinating about this technique was that as the narration itself progressively develops into a character – Yunior – the character’s traits become increasingly more essential to the telling of the story, and become recognizable even when Yunior switches to writing from different perspectives. It is beyond polyphony.

Perhaps the most poignant example of this is the presence masculine of perspective. Yunior’s descriptions of Dominican Republic masculinity, dating, treatment and role of women are prominent throughout the narrative. And although good humored, the voice at times seems vapid or brute, an embodiment of the machoism Oscar is constantly contrasted to. Immediately in chapter one, Yunior introduces us to Oscar as “not a playboy with a million hots on his jock” (11). He continues to paint a vivid picture of Oscar as a fat nerdy outcast who’s obsession with girls was matched only by his ability to repel them. These descriptions sum up Oscar’s existence, which at the end of chapter one leaves us pitying Oscar’s girl problems, or at the very least drawing parallels between described standards of masculinity and Yunior’s tone. We do not yet know Yunior, but as the plot unfolds, Yunoir begins to include the voices and perceptions of different female characters, Oscar’s sister and mother. In doing this Yunior acknowledges the strength of women in Oscar’s life, family history, family trauma, immense difficulties faced by diasporadical youth, life in pre-revolutionary DR, which all become important factors in the story he is telling because, as a character, they are important issues to him. Magical parallels align between the cursed characters, creating a sense of oneness that is the Dominican people and Yunior and Diaz.

While the introduction and first chapter establish a loud and gripping narrative voice, it is in the chapters about women that we are most reminded of the intricacies of the metanarrative in play. When Yunior is writing for himself it is easy to think of him as a character, narrator, because the writing is straightforward and spunky, monologic, a matured Catcher in the Rye. In other words it is easy to accept the particular reality being presented within the realm of the story. Diaz reminds us of Yunior’s fictionality and plants seeds to question Yunior’s narrative authenticity when he begins to write for women. Yunior portrays himself as a player, cocky but is sensitive, very aware of gender roles and norms, very concerned with appearance, always thinking about relationships. Diaz does not mask these traits for Yunior in the chapters about women, there is a lingering masculinity to their narratives, a smell of socks.

Although it was my first impression that Yunior was absolutely the narrator of the entire story, after learning of his relationship to Lola I question whether that is her true perspective, perhaps told orally to Yunior, but I should wait until I finish the book to decide. Instead I will examine a passage from Yunior’s tell of Beli’s story, which is brilliantly ripe with conflicting perspectives, between feminine memory and competitive masculinity (which usually is boiled down to insecurity). Yunior lets something slip in the section The Gangster We’re All Looking For by saying that “How much Beli knew about the Gangster we will never know” (119), which indicates how the fictional novel we are reading has tumors of fiction itself and reminds us yet again of the flawed and opinionated character developing as Yunior. In the passage Amor!, which starts on page 99, Yunior describes Beli’s first experience of love, although there is no way in the realm of the story Beli would have told Yunior all those details, of growing breasts, being hopelessly in love, losing her virginity to a little player, especially the scene of them getting caught and then her eventual demise. These parts feel very fictionalized, fabricated, and although it is vastly revealing and important to the plot, reads a bit like a sympathetic fantasy of a best friend’s hot mom.

It is interesting that in the sections about women, Yunior emphasizes the pain they experience of being played by “dominicanos”. Yet in the chapter where Yunior formally introduces himself, he makes sure to establish that he has all the distinguishing characteristics of a dominicano, the ones that Oscar is entirely void of, the ones that damage practically every woman in the story. At the point in time of that Yunior is writing the narrative, he admits a mysterious connection to this family, inexplicable and inescapable. I imagine more light will be shed on this bond in the chapters to come, as I am eager to see. I hope this paper hasn’t come off as assumptuous, for I have only read up to the required half-way mark, and I would probably write an entirely different paper after seeing out the development of our narrator, Yunior. I think the book is brilliant and do not mean to critique the character of Yunior, rather to catalyze thought on how a fictional character’s psychology is dictating this fictional work.

 

kate macmillan wk 5 journal

the basement of your mother’s farm is vast but
to me this morning is tiny and tight, as if
my little futon was moved into a cardboard refrigerator
box while I was sleeping and I didn’t notice until now.
But rapidly my eyes adjust and I can sense the depth
of the room. Pool table and card table, couches and chairs,
tv and fireplace,giant tuba hanging, endless boxes,
the expanse is stuffed but well organized.
Margaret farts in her sleep cutely and occasionally
snores which was also charming. There is plenty of light outside but only
a sliver makes it through the slit windows and it is too
dark to read. I lay on my back looking at what holds the house up.
Columns and frames and board slats, and I think if i was committed
or OCD i could pass the time counting the rows of boards and
i try and get to 40 and lose interest. But now your aunt and grandma
are awake, puttering about in the kitchen right above me. I can
hear everything they say but can’t quite understand. Your grandma
apparently is 94 and you have to listen very hard to tell what she is
saying even when she’s in the same room. Your aunt is more audible
and she is frustrated with your grandma’s elderliness and confusion
and your grandma is eaquily frustrated but probably cannot say as
much for herself. They carry on for awhile. I think I hear your voice in
the kitchen so I walk up flights of stairs to find you but only your aunt
was there, back turned, washing dishes so I slunk back downstairs unnoticed.
I try waking Margaret up by sending texts to myself so my phone will
beep but it doesn’t work. I read by the light of my phone for awhile.
I go upstairs to the studio bathroom and try to put all the yoga balls back in
the shower but they keep tumbling right back out. I wonder how they were
put in before. I only bumped the shower curtain a bit last night and they all came
tumbling down on me. I remember more of last night while trying to go back to sleep
and my half dreams confuse me of what actually happened.
lately i just don’t want to see anyone i know, or would have to talk to,
unless i feel thoroughly prepared. i like to keep my headphones on
or my nose in my book and it is such a relief when i think some
acquaintance is about to sit next to me on the bus but choses elsewhere,
or when some acquaintance crosses my path and we terminate our
acknowledgments of each other at “hello”
not sure why this always happens to me in winter. i like people
very much. my stamina for interactions simply deflates in
the winter time. i like to focus all my energy on one particular
person, who feels good to be with, who gives me mutely

warm energy.

Kate MacMillan journal wk2

**here is a sample from the script  i have been drafting, which i think will be mostly if not entirely voiced-over monologue snippets, that align with the character’s moments of introspection. it will highlight her observations and thoughts, accentuating the fluctuation of the camera’s perspective – when the camera is her eyes and when the camera is watching her**
****edit: PS i am still open to collaboration with a lofty author to help me out with this aspect of the film. you would get to play around with memory and observation

—————————————-

light

bright light and rain

light rain

(what was my dream?)

*i feel another pimple forming where i help my cheek last night*

i still like to wake up and go to sleep staring at rain. when i was smaller where it almost never rained i would treat it like a ritual.
i sat at the window and could stare outside for hours watching the patterns made by light and water in the streets, in a trance.
[but i was often entranced as a child. like after school i would just sit in the back seat of our car parked in the driveway,
feeling the sun seep in through the windows until it was too hot to stay.] i loved the darkened sky. when the sun began to emerge
again i would feel a pit in my stomach. blue skies can be as monotonous as the gray here. i still like the rain, even though it is normal to me know.

 

what was my dream, another tooth loser?
sometimes i wake up right after but sometimes i ruminate in the dream on why my teeth are falling out,
and the worst part is the dread of having to admit to my parents that i’m not taking care of myself.
and going to the dentist. i don’t remember the last time i did that.

physical therapy today though
i should leave in two hours

i need to do my stretches.

 

kate macmillan wk1 journal

a brief memory

i wanted to be sure to reach you
to reach you i wanted to be sure
to be sure i wanted to reach you

outside it feels like a street of ghosts. i expect to see you waiting for me, so fully that even though you are not here you are still as vivid as the people walking by, who do not seem that real to me anyway. footsteps are isolate shards, sharper and wetter than the bodies making them. it is hard to imagine these walkers have life and purpose apart from this moment. they appear for me to see and dissolve after turning the corner. the wet cement shimmers with light from store signs and street lamps. rain drops spark orange in puddles. i know you are coming to get me but i don’t know when.

inside the girl who pours my drink tells me she doesn’t like sad things. she is steady bright and warm and asks me what i think about the cold weather. i try to swallow all of my drink before it too becomes cold. i sit by a window so i can see you. i do what i often do while waiting to do something else, write a to-do list. call storage unit, olympia job, quit seattle jobs, wash clothes, church of bones, straighten thoughts, paint more, stretch more, do jaw exercises, buy cheese and bread, daytime moon, honey mask, new insoles.

you are here sooner than expected. i thought i would see you standing across the street, but you pass in your car and park on the corner.

© 2022 Eye of the Story
The Evergreen State College
Olympia, Washington

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