Saturday, July 28, 2007


I'm off to Cuba, on holiday, with my family, for the next two weeks. I'll be back on August 12th.

In the mean time, take a look around, read what you haven't read yet, leave me a comment...

Friday, July 27, 2007

Places of My Heart

What is a place? The people in it, some might answer. One’s family. Home. The unatainable, ultima Thule. The memories, the upbringing, one’s father(or mother)land. An aspiration born from certain circumstances. A location where life has put (or thrown) us for any reason.

I imagine many people don’t give much thought to this. They are where they are. Too many don’t have a choice to be somewhere else. Maybe they don’t even know that other places exist.

I have always wanted to travel and see these places, which, for various reasons, mean an incredible lot to me. I’ve been to some of them (very few, in fact); among these, there are four, which are extremely important to me.

One of them is in Italy – Rome. Ave Roma, regina mundi. Long live Rome, the queen of the world. And she was queen of her time, undisputed. To be there, to walk there, even on its modern streets, meant to me an unbelievable feat. But when I turned a corner and I suddenly had in front of me the Forum Romanum, I couldn’t reign my emotions anymore and had to cry. I was there, finally there. The grandeur of the dead Roman Empire, was still all there, in those beloved ruins, crushing me with the weight of all the centuries gone, and also uplifting me. I thought of all the lives lived among those stones, of all the history written in them, and felt small, and felt richly inspired by them. What will be left of us, I thought, in another two thousand years?

The other one is a remnant of a great Central American empire, Chichén Itzá, city of the Mayans, in the Yucatán Peninsula. I spent two weeks in Cancún, some years ago, and took the opportunity to visit the archaeological sites in the area. One is Tulúm, the other one Cobá, and the third Chichén Itzá.

Tulúm is interesting, but not spectacular, except for its location, with the turquoise waters of the Atlantic breaking on its rocky shore.

Cobá is unnerving, with its very old, very tall pyramid, its steps all worn out, and other smaller pyramids, half covered in the luxuriant jungle, which in the end swallows everything.

Chichén Itzá is perfect. A jewel, perfectly preserved. Recently, I was reading about an American consul to Mexico, Edward H. Thompson, who, in 1885, purchased for seventy-five dollars one hundred square miles of jungle, which included the ruins of Chichén Itzá. He made the ruins his home, and organised for the Peabody Museum of Harvard University dives to retrieve the sacred offerings from the well (el cenote). I'm in his admiration.

When climbing on the main pyramid, I was having these strange flashes, imagining blood from the human sacrifices, flowing down the huge steps of stone. Probably it was more my imagination, fuelled by the exaggerations of the Spanish chroniclers of the Conquista, than the reality.

The other two places are very modern, and their history is (relatively) very young. Manhattan and California. Fifth Avenue and Pacific Coast Highway. Don’t ask me why, I can’t pinpoint it, I can’t explain it, I just feel it. I belong there, on those streets at the bottom of the canyons of skyscrapers, which strangely don’t narrow the sky for me, under those orange trees, or among certain prints in cement, on a certain sidewalk… Given the chance, I would move to any one of them, at any time.

In these hurried times, tourists are too hurried. Wouldn’t you prefer to just sit, take it all in, photograph it only with the camera of your mind, go home without any pictures to show to your friends, but with your mind full of what you’ve seen?

Still, there is so much to see, so much to travel. Money, time, courage. I need a combination of these three.

This is my wish list, in no particular order:
Easter Island,
Egypt – the pyramids,
Peru - Macchu Picchu,
The Moon…

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Hey There Delilah

I love this song. So sad, so beautiful, so hopeful...


"Hey There Delilah"

Hey there Delilah
What's it like in New York City?
I'm a thousand miles away
But girl tonight you look so pretty
Yes you do
Times Square can't shine as bright as you
I swear it's true

Hey there Delilah
Don't you worry about the distance
I'm right there if you get lonely
Give this song another listen
Close your eyes
Listen to my voice it's my disguise
I'm by your side

Oh it's what you do to me
Oh it's what you do to me
Oh it's what you do to me
Oh it's what you do to me
What you do to me

Hey there Delilah
I know times are getting hard
But just believe me girl
Someday I'll pay the bills with this guitar
We'll have it good
We'll have the life we knew we would
My word is good

Hey there Delilah
I've got so much left to say
If every simple song I wrote to you
Would take your breath away
I'd write it all
Even more in love with me you'd fall
We'd have it all

Oh it's what you do to me
Oh it's what you do to me
Oh it's what you do to me
Oh it's what you do to me

A thousand miles seems pretty far
But they've got planes and trains and cars
I'd walk to you if I had no other way
Our friends would all make fun of us
and we'll just laugh along because we know
That none of them have felt this way
Delilah I can promise you
That by the time we get through
The world will never ever be the same
And you're to blame

Hey there Delilah
You be good and don't you miss me
Two more years and you'll be done with school
And I'll be making history like I do
You'll know it's all because of you
We can do whatever we want to
Hey there Delilah here's to you
This one's for you

Oh it's what you do to me
Oh it's what you do to me
Oh it's what you do to me
Oh it's what you do to me
What you do to me.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Untitled fragment

The airlock door won’t open again, no matter what we try.
Darren knows it too, as he watches me through his faceplate, his gaze bearing a fierce resignation. He can only fight his fear now, unlike us who, inside, keep trying to defeat the mechanical forces that prevent us from saving our friend and colleague. Behind him, Matt and Cara are slowly tumbling away, already beyond any reach, their white EVA suits fading beacons on the steady background of stars.
At least, Mark is safe. He’s inside. He’s struggling to help us get the door open, but from inside. The knowledge of this warms my soul, giving me a calmness I need and couldn’t summon otherwise.
My suit is crushingly heavy, but I dare not take it off – afraid to waste precious seconds - even if my gloved fingers are clumsy bear paws over the exposed wiring of the command panel. My breathing comes out in raspy draws, amplified to an eerie intensity by my imagination or by a mere defective comm interface.
The circuits won’t respond. Stealthily, beads of sweat start down on my forehead, betrayed by the tiny tickling, and, as I try to blink them away, I begin to realize that something is wrong even in this; the suit should regulate the temperature and the humidity.
Billy touches my shoulder, startling me badly. He seems to have the same problem; I almost can’t see his features behind the faceplate anymore. He’s going to take his suit off. Puzzled, I look behind me. Nate and Maya are coming out of theirs, looking flustered, with their cheeks red and shiny. I have to do the same before I faint. We’ll go inside for now, figure out from there what this malfunction means. Darren is still attached by the umbilical chord; he has oxygen for another half hour; time enough, just maybe, to get him inside.
“We’re coming in,” I transmit.
“NO!” Mark’s voice comes over the comm, its imperativeness perplexing, alarming. “Stay suited, Sam! STAY SUITED!”
I don’t understand what he wants, why he is so agitated. We only want to get inside. I range my suit on the rack, perfunctorily following entry protocol. Then I hear Billy scream, and before I even have time to turn my head and look at him, something hits me hard in the ribs, just below my left breast. I drop to my knees, next to Maya, bewildered, numbed by a searing pain that I can’t explain. It felt like an electrical discharge, powerful enough to cause a burn. I touch the spot with my fingers, pulling my tank top away from my skin to see. Blood flowers red on the white cotton fabric. Two droplets. To my left, Nate swears coarsely.
“SAM!” I can see Mark’s face, through the porthole. His gaze bears such pain, such hopelessness, it makes me weak with fear, with anger. I don’t understand. “Baby,” I whisper, not caring if everybody else can hear me, “what’s happening?”
“Put your suit back on,” he says, “quickly!”
Why? After all, we’re going inside.
At that moment, I see the small metallic sphere, full of thorns, gliding smoothly through the air and entering a hole in the wall. Disappearing in there. I shrug, in pain. Whatever it is, it’ll have to wait until later. We don’t have time now. Forcefully, I hit the button.
The door to the inside is blocked also. I snort, incredulous, and look at Mark, just as a dark foreboding is getting hold of my heart. In the eternal split second in which we make eye contact, his eyes tell me things I can’t even begin to fathom. His love for me washes over me, warms me, melts me to tears. The longing to be in the safety of his arms sweeps my soul away.
I hit the button again. Nothing. What’s happening to us? I look at Mark.
“Put - your – suit - on,” he mouths slowly, his whisper barely audible over the comm.
Billy starts pounding on the panel, with furious obstinacy, as if taking his own pointless revenge on the machine whose malfunction holds us captives. He’s going to break it, I simply record, curiously unable to feel anything more than annoyance at the deafening stridency of the noise.
Yet, somehow, in the absurd slow motion of my take on the surroundings, Mark’s words seem to finally trigger an effect within me. A cold panic swells up in my throat. How much time left? I move to the suits rack, take mine down, manage to put my legs inside. Its weight feels suddenly leaden; I fumble with the inner skin, pull it up to my shoulders, fasten the zipper with shaking hands. Behind me, Maya starts a high-pitched wail. I only throw her a brief glance, feeling the skin on my arms and back of my neck prickle with goose bumps. An odd feeling of déjà vu makes me dizzy to the point of nausea. I would give anything if only she’d stop. She’s on her knees and hands, over her EVA suit, as if trying to put it on in that awkward, impossible position. I bend to help her, but she’s too crazed to let me handle her and I almost tumble over.
“Nate, Billy,” I holler, “Give me a hand over here!”
It’s to no avail. As I turn to look around for them, a low grumble, almost unintelligible, comes out of the comm. I can barely recognize my own name in it. It comes from Mark. For a few seconds I watch him as he puts the palm of his right hand on the porthole’s window, and only looks at me, his eyes liquid gleaming wells, his expression darkly severe; I am too distraught to respond in any way but agitate myself further. Absorbed by my struggle, it’s only at the last moment that I realize that I won’t reach him anymore, that he’s lost to me. That he somehow knows, understands what is happening. That there will be no salvation.
A blaring alarm erupts from everywhere just as the thought that he’s saying good-bye knocks my heart out with overwhelming ferocity. The airlock door is slowly opening to space. Ultimate panic strikes me, chokingly, devastatingly. We will all die.I will die.
In the instant before the massive force of decompression blows me into the void, I recall all the minute glitches that taunted us to desperation in these last moments of our lives, and, curiously, think of punishment. By whom?
It all feels harsh, undue, devastating. Darkness comes quickly.

© Copyright Vesper L. All rights reserved.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

My Bird ( a real one!...)

This is my bird, a much beloved cockatiel. She’s about twelve and a half years old now. (I know for certain it’s a girl because she has laid an impressive number of eggs for the first nine years of her life.)

I remember when we bought her at the pet store, she was the only cockatiel in an aquarium of lovebirds and the lady who sold her to us kissed her on the back before putting her in the little cardboard box for transportation. She is very kissable indeed, to this very day. Her back, especially, is very soft and fluffy, her head also…

She’s never been in a cage her whole life, except at night, and never had her wings clipped. She’s free to fly wherever she wants in our house. You can go about your business for hours, with her stuck to your shoulder.

She is a very good bird, very tame, very spoiled, fairly quiet. She’s a bit grumpy now, in her old age. She likes to be scratched but might bite a clumsy finger, which didn’t do the job quite as she likes it. She likes chocolate, pasta, chicken, pistachios, porridge, chocolate!

She’s like another child in our family, the adopted child of a bird, a real person in our house. She’s a huge part of our heart.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Three Things About Me

1. I would sit forever on an empty beach, watching the hypnotic dance of waves, as they weave their lace of lather on the sand, listening to their monotonous rustling, pierced occasionally by the caw of seagulls. The air is pure salt. The light is harsh, almost painful. The waters sparkle, reflecting maybe the hidden cities in the depths. Cities of octopuses, of course, or of Atlanteans.
The sea is a repository of all mysteries. I recall one of Robert Silverberg’s brilliant novellas, “Homefaring”, where the hero is sent forward in time by a million years, among intelligent lobsters, and wise octopuses, who by then have inherited the Earth.
Time stands still on this beach of mine; the world is just beginning or has just ended – I will not move for I know that, if I did, just a little further up the beach I will have to fall on my knees in front of the Statue of Liberty…
Even better, I’m outside of Time, untouched by it, its cruel arrow aimless, myself a contemplator of the absolute…

2. I’m afraid of bees, and wasps, and all their relatives. I suppose it has something to do with their buzzing. When I hear it, I feel it burrowing into my brain, and all I can do is crouch and hide my head, foolishly hoping I’ve become insignificant enough so that they won’t notice me anymore. It worked so far – I never got stung by one. And, I like honey.

3. I think that all life is beautiful, invaluable, miraculous. We are all very much the same, built by Nature, or by chance, or by somebody else, to the same patterns. No creature is repugnant to me, be it a worm, a rat, a snake. I love bats. I couldn’t kill a fly. If I find a spider in my house, I catch it with a cup and take it outside. I have a hard time pruning my plants. My hypocrisy is great, though: I’m an omnivore. I eat, and my heart sheds silent tears…

Friday, July 13, 2007


So this is my badge...

I am very proud of my third place!
To all the members of the Writing Circle who have chosen my poem: a big THANK YOU!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Poem in a ...Title

Cute Nothing (or not?)

Tender is the night,
Don Fernando.
Owls don't blink,
killing time -
the end of eternity.

At the Earth's core,
diamonds are forever.

Thursday, July 05, 2007


Two days ago, by chance, I found out that a co-worker of mine has published a novel. And not just now, but in 2004. In the mean time, he’s finished the first draft of another one, but he’s saying that he can’t work much on it because of lack of time. The guy is 26 years old.

I must admit the news came as a freezing shock to me.

It’s not in my nature to be envious. So, I don’t think it was envy that I felt. But, definitely, it was a complete, mind boggling amazement, and also a horribly sinking feeling of loss, and lost time, and narrowing possibilities – a parade of “goodies” that come to you when you’re over thirty-something…

Once past the above - that is the next day - after wallowing the whole evening in the blackest thoughts possible, and after working till one in the morning at one of the stories I’m writing, I only felt a grand admiration for him, and that’s what stays with me now.

The book is in French, 150 pages, pocket format. The story has elements of fantastic in it and its target readers are adolescents/young adults.

It appears that the book was taken out of bookstores because it hasn’t sold much. It’s a small publishing house with very limited resources. The publisher has, basically, forced him to buy three hundred copies, and he’s selling them by himself. The guy has them in his drawer. I bought one, of course – out of curiosity, and camaraderie, and as a reminder to myself that it can be done and that I have to do it.

And the book is good, really good. It flows well; it keeps your curiosity alive; it makes you turn the pages eagerly. I love it.

I would’ve never imagined this guy to be the literary type. It’s true though that I see him reading at lunchtime – mostly Fantasy and Science Fiction. But when I talked to him about his writing, he said that – given a choice - he’d do just that rather than engineering, but that he has to earn a living. Don’t we all? He also said that, through writing, he escapes to a world of his own, much more interesting than the “real” one. For an instant, I felt as if I were looking at myself in a mirror – what a weird sensation!

And all seemed so easy for him, so light-hearted. I asked him how he did it, and he told me that he’d sent initially fragments and then the whole thing to somebody who was offering advice and critique over the Internet. This someone is a writer and the owner of a publishing house, and he helped him to essentially rewrite the whole thing. In the end, he gave him a letter of recommendation for another publisher. Sounds like a fairy tale?

I think this has somehow put things into perspective for me. All the fuss, and the stress, and the lamentation, and the introspection, all that soul-consuming anti-productive sickening crap, seem to me now like swimming pointlessly in circles. Of course, I will go on with it, for what is the blog for and what else am I doing right now? But I’ll have to do more of the rest, the “real” thing, the “true” writing.

I feel at the bottom of a well, with the sky just a teeny-tiny patch of blue high up, at an astronomical distance. Oh, where to get the ropes and the pitons from? I could also use my hands…

The picture in this post comes from the superb Ian Parker's Gallery.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Message in a ...Title


This is my own version of "sorted books", of which I've learned from Bonnie's blog. Seems quite interesting. Another way of saying something...