Eye of the Story

The Evergreen State College

Author: Jackie Pleus

Journal 17. Sea of You. Jackie.

What is your favorite type of puzzle? I ask myself in the middle of class, where someone is presenting on Art and Fear. Is it one of those animal picture puzzles, or a deconstruction of a famous painting, or is it a distant landscape disassembled?

 

My favorite puzzle is personal, as I view every person as a puzzle. This type of puzzle is only solved when you understand. When you understand the ticks and quirks of a person and when you begin to expect what you know so well before they even do it. For me to discover a person worth exploring is both a place where I find meaning in my life and where I find the uttermost devastation of self.

 

A relationship is a perfect example of this unfolding and configuring of a personal puzzle. Providing an environment ridden with potential and rotten with expectation.

 

Seeing someone for the first time is like the first glimpse of the puzzle box, the initial image, the initial interest is sparked from this 2-D judgment. There is no need for touch at this moment, no need for understanding.

 

No attraction? – Move on.

Attraction? – Open the box. Say “Hello.”

 

–Fast Forward to End—

 

I’ll start here.

 

Currently, I am returning to a singular reality after an off and on two and a half year relationship. I am now taking apart the pieces, now looking at each of them intimately, sadly, desperately, tracing their edges one last time before returning them to the box.

 

Many of those pieces once brought me security and purpose as I placed them in unison with the larger picture. But now as I separate them, breaking the surface tension, anxiety, confusion, and sadness wash over me. A tidal wave of emotions I wasn’t expecting, rushing me into the walls, filling the space that I left for my breath.

 

Sinking. I drown. Slowly.

 

In the perspective that time is relative, and that when looked at from a distance human existence is nothing but a blip, a hiccup, – a mistake that is already being erased, – I grow gills.

 

I take my first breath in this underwater, upside down, inside out world of self. Although I have just begun to unravel this puzzle, I find that I am already in the Mariana Trench, the deepest, darkest, and most unknown place on earth. The weight of the entire ocean presses down on me as I sit in silence with skeletons equally innumerable to the stars.

 

In this eternal inky blackness I feel utterly alone. I strike out again and again desperate to connect my fists to flesh, to know that another body, another person, is down there with me.

 

But of course I am not alone, that puzzle is a person too, and their pieces press in around me, arresting my body, like the ocean I am paralyzed. My only thought is to escape, my only action is to breathe.

 

My breath comes slowly, and at times it is almost too much to lift the weight with my chest. I rest and begin my own decomposition.

 

Over time I find that the skeletons are not foreign to me. The bones are memories and little bits of myself that I have forgotten, tossed into the abyss and perceived insignificant.

 

I disintegrate into them and remember. My body shifts sifting as the tide changes, turning in.

 

Pieces of me settle into shape as I become again, part of the landscape.

Journal 16 .Lost. Jackie

I have an account on a dating website. I am only slightly ashamed. In the two years I have had it I have met two people from the site. One turned into a month long relationship with a girl named Reality and one turned right back around and walked away. Just kidding. It didn’t work out.

 

Most of the time I have my settings so only women identifying people can see and be seen by me, although I have dabbled in the realm of online men a few times, I am always quickly disheartened and hastily retreat from the hypersexualized verbal garbage that is tossed my way.

 

Recently, when I was scrolling through the profiles and found this woman who piqued my interest. I was too nervous to send her a message so I hit the ‘like’ button. Later that week I went back on and I had a notification saying that she ‘liked’ me back!!!! I was excited, but still I didn’t message her. Then two days ago I walked into Oly Coffee Roasters and there she was, behind the bar wiping down the counters. She glanced up when I walked in. Our eyes met. To me there seemed to be a recognition of our connection.

 

Heart fluttering I ordered and sat down, for fear that my legs would leave me laying at her feet. Once the caffeine hit my system I began to write.

 

 

Dear H—– (Her OkCupid name)

 

I have seen you before..

I know.

On the interwebs

Where you don’t need your mouth to speak

And confidence is more abundant with every

Click.

 

I saw you.

I don’t remember what you wrote, or..

I’m sorry.

 

I can’t think.

You are twenty feet away

With a rosebud pink dress that could

Revive wilted boughs with their natural beauty.

 

As if to camouflage myself within you

My cheeks flush

As eyes spark against yours

With a brief glance and a quick smile.

 

I melt

The chocolate in my mouth

With a worry fretted tongue

In anxiety at the thought of forming

Words.

 

To actually speak

To connect

To see if that ‘like’ that ‘star’ that ‘match’..

Can be made into a real connection?

 

~Jackie~ (###-###-####)

 

P.S. This is a silly crush, I was inspired to write a

poem in honor of the moment. My hear wont break,

but whatever the case, I’d love to be friends.

 

 

I finished. Beginning to sweat, and shake, knowing that today was the day, the day that I would have the vagina to toss my guts out on the street for the gulls to eat. I packed up, waiting for her to finish talking with a customer and then made my move.

 

She was making a drink as I ‘sidled’ around the bar towards her. I planted my feet across from her, making that quick and glancing eye contact we had been sharing throughout the hours I had labored. I leaned in slightly and held out the note, she smiled, like she had known the note was for her the entire time. She finished pouring and set the mug down wiping her hands on a towel and walked over.

 

“Thank you!” she said.

 

I nodded and fled, leaving my breath with the note and blushing a few shades darker than her dress.

 

Its been two days.

No word.

 

Holy Water. Reading. Jackie Pleus.

The White Album, Joan Didion.

                                                                                                                                     Jackie Pleus

 

 

 

            In her opening paragraph she describes effortlessly the intricacies of where the water she will drink that night or the next day are and what they might be doing at that time, whether it be climbing a mountain or aerating down the Owens steps. She makes clear the focus of her fascination with the movement and control of this entire process, “An obsessive interest not in the politics of water but in the waterworks themselves, in the movement of water through aqueducts and siphons and pumps and forebays and afterbays and weirs and drains, in plumbing on the grand scale.” Pg 59. Didion outwardly connects water to power and the need for control. She yearns to be in charge of pressing the buttons and sending the messages to release an order of water, by playing this certain hand of god, she seems to find purpose in her life. I think this fascination also speaks to her emotional state of confusion and overwhelming fear. In the world of dreams water generally represents the subconscious and current emotional states. Instead of waterways that are naturally occurring such as oceans and lakes she dreams about man made conduits assigning specific roles and meaning to the water.

 

            “I recall being deliriously happy.” Pg. 60. Didion’s chapter of Holy Water is one of her most personal essays in The White Album. It gives us a peak between the lines of the story she tells herself and shares with us throughout the book. The intense satisfaction that she finds in thinking about the awesome power of California’s waterways seems to give her life meaning through the conduits of control and movement. Her essays describe a myriad of scenes, diving into each of them in search of some sort of universal meaning, or logical reasoning for the actions of the characters. Didion explores their values and processes of thought with her investigative journalism, identifying meanings that pertain only to certain lifestyles and situations. These when taken out of context often lose relevance and significance, as seen in her chapter, Notes Toward a Dreampolitik. Didion’s self-proclaimed obsession on the waterways of California seems as deep and vast as the ocean itself.

 

            She uses water to talk about many of the major themes throughout the book including her notes on the intricacies of the class system. “The symbolic content of swimming pools has always been interesting: a pool is misapprehended as a trapping of affluence, real or pretended, and of a kind of hedonistic attention to the body. Actually a pool is, for many of us in the West, a symbol not of affluence but of order, of control over the uncontrollable.” Pg 64. As with many other ideas she discusses Didion first introduces what isn’t, by painting a picture that is perceived true by certain people, allowing the reader a plausible alternative to a more overarching truth which she brings up next. Her conclusion of swimming pools pertaining to control resonates with me, by furthering the idea of containment of a force, which by all means should never stilled. This also shows her need for control in an alternative way, “Water is important to people who do not have it, and the same is true of control.” Pg. 65. Most people are soothed by the idea of control that is emulated by their swimming pools, but Didion doesn’t dream about stagnant concrete puddles, she dreams about controlling the entire water system of California. She dreams of movement. Holy Water speaks abstractly about her physiological condition of looking for a narrative and her need to find meaning in life. The fact that she is so taken by the idea of having power over millions of people’s water supply shows us just how chaotic and helpless she actually feels inside.

 

            “The apparent ease of California life is an illusion, and those who believe the illusion real live here in only the most temporary way.” Pg. 64. Didion’s interest in the entirety of California’s waterways over a swimming pool also speaks to being a true Californian. Knowing the true harshness of this incorrectly blanketed state of complacent paradise seems to console her. It gives her meaning in a world of such blatant unconsciousness.

 

Seminar Quesitons:

What does water represent to Didion in the chapter Holy Water?

How does the emotional tone of this character compare to the rest of the book?

What meanings does Didion find in the control used by the California water systems?

How does Didion differ from the basic second generation Californian?

Mob Mentality. Jackie Pleus. Journal 5.

It was the weekend in Bellingham at Western, a cold Friday or Saturday in mid October. The winds that often blow through town had a message on them that night. All week people had been talking about the block party. A party that encompasses an entire apartment complex and parking lot. The party of the year, one that was accessible to everyone, even freshman. I got ready in the dorms and headed out to a friends house to further prepare for the night. We were planning on departing around 10:30pm, the party was planned to start at 9pm. As we ‘prepared’ we sat on the front porch watching the belligerent students sloshing by.

            We got some updates from passerbys that by 10pm the party had already gotten out of control and the cops had showed up to break things apart. People were getting angry. The majority of the 15,000 students at Western had heard wind of this party and they were on the trail. Because the block had been shut down the mob moved into the street. Swaying their ground the blocked off one of the roads, impeding traffic and a main bus line.

            Another group was waddling up the street towards campus, it was 10:30pm one last update before we make our move. The group informed us that the party was stationed on the corner of Lorell park. Lorell park was pretty close to my friends house so we started walking towards the fray. Crossing the grass we could see a crowd had gathered on three sides of one intersection blocking all three streets. On the ‘unoccupied’ street cop cars began filing into line for about half a mile down the road.

            Tensions were rising fast, the students began to chant, I cant remember what they were chanting at first.. slightly inaudible, but then the second chant came around and it was clearly identifiable. “Sea Hawks! Sea Hawks! Sea Hawks!” I cringed inwardly, the mob gained momentum with this seemingly classic hit. The energy of the mob swelled with their voices, they found strength in the verbal reassurance of their entity. Someone threw a bottle. It found its landing strip and shattered accordingly spewing glass across the pavement towards the first cop car. Again, this action turned to sound ignited and fueled the mob, more bottles were launched, vagabonds ran into near by houses and grabbed anything that would satiate this audible need for chaos. Plates and glasses and mugs were swiped and thrown up into the air. Someone started yanking the stop sign loose on the corner, others seemed to agree and went to assist. A few minutes later the stop sign was free from its gravestone grounding and air born, chucked by a stray piece of the mob. Why did they rip out the stop sign you may ask? Why are they mad you may ask? What happened next you may ask??

Glass Palace. Journal 4. Jackie.

Face pressed against the glass, you look in.

Hands shielding the sun from your reflection.

 

From within I walk towards you. As if to make myself the subject of your pondering.

 

Glancing off the glass you walk towards the door, and enter.

 

I sit where you were standing, perhaps your reflection still stays there watching me.

 

I pretend.

 

The glass between us never really fades,

Our eyes glance off each other as you sit and I eat.

 

Never truly meeting.

 

Both sets of eyes bend slightly around book ends.

 

Blue, Brown, Blush,

Blush, Blue, Brown,

 

Plate empty. I prepare.

The pilgrimage begins with slow steps

Pausing. Holding the moment in my hands

The transparent plate holds one last crumb.

 

I glance up.

 

I walk through the impermeable separation.

Our eyes finally meet.

 

Brown, Blush, Blue,

Blue, Brown, Blush,

 

You watch me entering swiftly into the void.

 

Face flushing I bend my head and lick the crumb from my plate.

As if to kiss you goodbye.

 

Returning the plate I turn to leave.

Now I watch you, legs folded, head thickly forested, black, bent, down.

 

I think I know you.

From that linear reality encased between glass, a web in which we all meet.

 

I want to return to introduce myself with my mouth. To say hello. To speak ongoing with my eyes, hands, and feet.

 

Shuffling, fumbling, blushing, faltering

 

To make a connection.

 

Yet I find another glass wall, within my mind.

 

My tongue lays useless, my body encased in the duality of fear.

Freeze and flight.

 

I descend walking away, every step a question, a contradiction, an excuse.

 

These walls so safe, enclose me.

I settle to continue to look from within.

Bus stop. Jackie Pleus. Journal 3.

Meeting her eyes briefly, he said hello. Hands shoved into pockets, feet shuffling, how they wished to meet hers.

She looked up at the moon, pleading release from this gravitational pull.

She took a step back. Why was she taking a step back?

The bus was coming.

In her mind it was already here, she was sitting, facing the front, watching him go. She felt the weight of the kiss on her lips as her heart sank, and with the tide retreated.

He watched with the moon her meanderings, reading them carefully in the purse of her lips, and the condensation of her sigh.

He stepped closer.

Her eyes opened to the sound of feet. Was he closer?

The streetlight sent down stark shadows opening wide the crevices of his face, the fingers of secrets rested languidly on his lips.

Each brush of a butterfly’s wing reminded her that time hadn’t stopped, yet the world was frozen around them.

 

The bus was never coming. The moon their only witness.

Icicles of tension caged them in their minds.

 

He could see them, in the corners of her eyes, a myriad of emotions written in the wrinkles.

The butterflies began to crash about in a frenzy, their wings shredded by worry and self doubt.

Why was he looking at her in that way? Could he see the blood of the butterflies that rushed beneath her cheeks?

 

From a distance came the soft tired sound of the bus stretching and sighing, easing its way down the street, closer.

 

He held his breath. His mind racing, the bus was coming, closer, closer. Should he bridge the gap? He tiptoed to the edge and looked down.

Down.. down.. down..

She watched, and looked with him.

It was a big gap.

 

Forgotten in the moment the bus had arrived. Its soft light and impatient grumbles released them.

 

They moved, hugging quickly, so as not to lose balance over the gap.

 

He watched her go and felt the weight of the kiss on his lips as his heart sank, and with the tide retreated.

 

 

My current life. Jackie Pleus. Journal 2.

Last Friday and Saturday I attended a workshop on business readiness planning in order to be eligible to continue on in a ten week class on business training hosted and taught by Enterprise for Equity, a local nonprofit that aims to give local entrepreneurs the skills to run their own successful small business. The business that I want to create is called The Tité Project. The Tité Project is a social enterprise that works with fair trade artisans from around the globe and connects them with local brick and mortar retailers (such as Traditions in downtown Olympia). This provides communities like ours with a simple and affordable opportunity to support safe working conditions, family living wages, and sustainable community development projects with every purchase. –Those last two sentences are what is called a mission statement- A mission statement is a short concise introduction to your business, clearly describing the who, what, when, and where for consumers. I have been struggling to come up with such a description for a few weeks now, but Enterprise for Equity gave me the tools I needed!

            I am very excited for this class (Eye of the Story) because for my main project where I am going to begin my work with one local artisan! Through the ten weeks I plan to create a documentary looking into the inspiration behind the artist’s style and follow them through the trials and tribulations of one of their current pieces. I would also like to use this project as an opportunity to learn how to work with an artist and gain the skills to share someone else’s stories truthfully and in the most empowering way.

Do The Right Thing, Jackie Pleus.

Spike Lee’s overwhelming theme of heat got to me. While trying to pick a scene to analyze I was getting hot, agitated, stressed out, overwhelmed. Fingers burning on the keyboard as “Fight the Power,” plays through my head, “Fight the power! Fight the power!” should I focus on the introduction scene where Mina is dancing her heart out through her pores in the red glowing light, -“Fight the power!”- or the scene that introduces Sal and his sons Pino and Vino, when Lee strongly foreshadows the culmination of the film, -“Fight the power!”-or the trio of scenes of interracial conflict starting when Mookie pulls Pino aside to ask him who his favorite celebrities are. Maybe I should just focus on the culminating scene itself, the one that brought the most emotions, the most unanswered questions, the most heat, to the surface.

            Radio’s body has just been carted away in the back of the cop car, there is unrest in the streets, the weight of what has just happened is settling like dust, people gather their thoughts, a formidable mob is forming. Coconut Head concludes a string of statements spouted from the mouths of the front line of the mob, “Its as plain as day, they didn’t have to kill the boy.” The camera shifts to Mookie, blinking slowly he turns and looks to his left at Sal, the camera switches to Sal who blinks and slowly looks back at Mookie. Then the camera cuts to a medium low angle shot of Mookie, Sal, Pino, and Vino standing on the pizzeria stoop, with Mookie looking back and forth between Sal and the mob. This shot gives a last air of strength to the Italian family before Mookie slowly walks away hands on his hips. At this point as a viewer I thought Mookie was ducking his head, simply running away, avoiding the problem, which is probably what Sal and his boys thought and wanted to do in that moment too. Sal watches Mookie go, the camera is still at a medium low angle shot, Mookie walks through the crowd, they don’t seem to pay him any attention, but it is evident that they don’t blame him for the murder. Sal’s hand gestures helplessly, like a father watching his son betray him there is such sadness and hurt in his eyes. He looks defeated when he says, “You gotta do what you gotta do.” The lighting has cooled now, there are hardly any bright reds, or fervent music beating your heart, making you feel the heat. Perhaps this is to help the audience focus on the palpable lines of tension running through the crowd as they move in. Da Mayor takes a stand in front of Sal and his boys, spreading his arms in wings of protection, trying to bring reason back in the fray, “We gone stop, and stop this now, or we gone do something we gone regret for the rest of our lives.”

            I find it interesting that he says “We,” because Da Mayor has no intention of attacking Sal or the pizzeria, yet to connect to the crowd he must depict himself as one of them, but his advice isn’t accepted and he is quickly thrown out. The camera angle is high to low with a wide frame taking in the crescent moon crowd surrounding the shop. This view helps give the audience an idea of the bigger picture, the chaos of voices becomes overwhelming, then it turns to a panning shot from left to right a close up of the vocal frustration venting and fuming from the lips and bodies of the men and women in the crowd. The camera passes between the pan of the crowd and a close shot of Sal and his boys. Showing both sides with equal frustration in their eyes. Mookie stands nearer the back staring, moving slowly and with silence, as he has throughout the scene he brings his hands down over his face in distress, thinking hard, he rests his hands over his nose watching, then dropping his hands he turns. This is the moment he decides to get the trashcan; this is the moment he decides to “Do the right thing.” As he walks back there is a fleeting shot of the Korean man grabbing his wife from the crowd by her arms pulling her to safety, does the man know what is going to happen next? Mookie takes out the bag and tosses the top onto the curb, kicking it as he walks back towards the shop. The lighting is still cool, the shot is wide taking in the shadows of the night as they creep down the street. As he crosses the street he is walking, walking towards the camera, with the people he passes turning their heads to watch him. It seems as though people are confused, which takes the attention away from Sal and the boys. But then as Mookie gets to the other side of the street he starts running, he runs past the camera, his motives suddenly becoming clear to the bystanders. He tosses the can and we see it crash through the window, the glass breaking easily, and then we see it crash through the window again, this time from the inside of the shop. The crowd erupts and Mookie raises his fists, in triumph or surrender it is hard to make clear. If you look at it from the point of view that this act was intentional and well thought through, it makes sense that is fists are raised in triumph because he knew that this was the only way to save Sal’s life, to divert the heat from him and let the mob release it on the shop. What Mookie does isn’t necessarily right or wrong, positive or negative, heroic or evil, because he is still destroying a man’s life’s work. In this way the scene shows the depth of Mookie’s understanding of the heat, and plays a key role in supporting the polyphonic style of the movie.

Faced with Facelessness, Journal 1.

I was in Olympia at my parent’s house, I hadn’t been on the rental property, which we call Villa Villekulla, for a long time, so I decided to explore. I walked down to the doublewide and crossed over into the field walking the path towards the barn. Instead of grass someone had planted a bunch of lettuce plants that had become overgrown and gone to seed, looking more like prehistoric shrubbery than small leafy bundles. I continued walking as I got to the other side following the path down to the decrepit barn, as I walked the family that was renting the property appeared and began walking in my direction. I held my breath and knelt down trying not to be seen. They didn’t see me at first but when they got closer they sensed me, turning their heads in unison, they looked at me like I was stupid. I fumbled in the grass trying to pretend that I had dropped something, masking my red cheeks in the dirt. They continued on seemingly with disinterest so I got up and went on my meanderings. I walked up along the fence away from the barn towards a picnic table by the brambles. On the ground next to the table there were two masks, one laying on top of the other. The top one was the face of a girl, with black hair, cut in a bob, wearing a high school marching band headdress. The inside of the mask was lined with hard clear plastic, revealing the realistic looking skin like material stretched over the front. There were a few notes written on the plastic, with one reading, “When cows fly.” I flipped it over, my stomach dropped, it was the face of a girl, with black hair, cut in a bob, wearing a high school marching band headdress. It was real. The second mask was made in a similar style. With the hair on my neck standing stiff I dropped them, turned, and with increasing speed began to walk back to my house. The family watched me, still with only their heads following my movement and then they began to follow. One of the sons, a boy about my age, caught up to me first grabbing my arm and told me I couldn’t leave. He said they needed my foot. Spitting “No!” I pushed past him with the freezing heat of fear in my chest. The family had slowed, they knew where I lived, if they needed me they knew where to look.

 

Jackie

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The Evergreen State College
Olympia, Washington

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