Dust. Wind. Dude.

May 5th, 2009

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Let me just say up front that right now I am supposed to be doing one of several things:

    1. Switching closets from winter to summer, seeing as I failed to do so before Passover;
    2. Work for client X, due tomorrow; DONE
    3. Work for client Y, due tomorrow;
    4. Several technical and networking tasks involved in getting this site more spider-worthy, way overdue.

And yet. (This beloved two-word sentence is a Nicole Krauss-ism, which I have been widely borrowing, even in my everyday speech.) There is a familiar pit in my stomach that tells me I must put something down on paper. So to speak.

It’s a pit that reminds me of other pits, that makes me 16 again, and 26, all the years joined by a common physiological sense of being carried by an idea or a feeling, literally hungry for something to write. Medical science will tell you that the pit is the work of the vagus (yes, pronounced like the city in Nevada) nerve in my abdomen, which has translated the meandering chemicals of emotion from my brain into an ache of sorts.

This is all well and good but I think it’s more about the weather.

Today in Israel is what Winnie the Pooh would call a very, very blustery day. It is hot as an oven (not like a sauna) and cloudy in an overwhelming way, as if there’s a huge fire a few miles back, blowing in, or maybe a tornado. The weather is upon us. The electricity went out for a few minutes about an hour ago, and my neighbors called me from vacation to go remove whatever was blowing against their alarm sensors, which kept becoming alarmed. (I brought the pruning shears just in case I needed to fend off an actual intruder, but ended up trimming their errant roses.)

This, in short, is a desert storm (aka sandstorm), or Khamsin (Arabic); in Hebrew it’s called a Sharav, which is my favorite term for it. It is not at all uncommon to have one of these at the beginning of May, as spring turns to summer – - and I’m guessing there’s a meteorological explanation for that.

But what I know is that later on the skies will be yellowish-orange (or bright, eerie, end-of-days white) as the sun sets, as if the world was finally imploding from the economic crisis and the swine flu (Happy Windsday, Piglet!) and the Iranian menace; as if the pit in my stomach was finally expanding to envelop all of you.

I also know that I had better keep all of the windows closed if I don’t want a fine layer of orange dust all over the beds and sinks and floors.

I know that I feel longing and upheaval although it is not clear for what. And that what happens in vagus stays in vagus.

Check out a poem I wrote back in my roaring 20′s. (Suburbia still hasn’t managed to kill it for us):

Sharav (Desert Storm)

Can you show me beauty?
Nights so thick
the air suspends
the future in its teeth
ripping fleshy suburbs
from the bones of lazy poets
lovers kissing extra,
with their noses – -
slow hands;
an urgency in it
the stars are hazy fuzzy
drunken dots of fate so far away
they bear no witness
to the rhythmic frenzy
on neighborhood streets
Just tonight:
the stodgy oaks are palm trees
and boxy sidewalks turn to sand.

- SKE, March 1998

PS -By the time my host came back up in time to load this post, written yesterday, the skies have partially cleared, the wind has calmed, and the air is cool. Such is the nature of storms, I guess.

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  1. 2 Responses to “Dust. Wind. Dude.”

  2. Here is a piece of trivia: the vagus nerve allows an alternate path of pleasure for women with spinal cord injuries.

    By A professional on May 5, 2009

  3. I slept with all the windows open the night it happened and couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t breathe or what that thing crashing and blowing on the roof was (cats?!) woke up to a very dirty apt. cleaned it yesterday and feel so much better. this describes very very well how I feel about the weather the other day!

    By Daina on May 6, 2009

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