Katy Huff

this life is in beta

Category: action-adventure

Don’t make that sad song any sadder than it already is. Santiago, numero once.

This is not always a happy world, and in the subway I look at the tiles so that I don’t have to look at the dead boy on the art museum poster.
I suspect I should look, though, because we both deserve honesty, the boy and I.
Though I hesitate to warn you, be forewarned that this is not a happy entry.
We do not deserve warning labels regarding the pain of others, because we should not turn away.
…but I’m warning you now, because we both deserve honesty, you and I.

I saw a concrete sidewalk divider today.
It was rough, and dirty, and mean.
It was the only thing under an old woman and her dusty brown jacket. Her head was bobbing gently with the sitting-up sleep of young students and old professors and people without beds. Flecks of saliva on her jacket were the same shape as the flecks of nailpolish on her weakly folded hands.
Feet away, in a picture window, the people inside the restaurant drank wine from the too-big wine glasses preferred by connoisseurs of wine and connoisseurs of egoism. I thought about stopping, giving up on my trip, and returning home… inviting the old lady to walk home with me and sleep in my bed for a while. What do I need my bed for today? What do I ever need a bed for, really? How much harm could an old woman cause?
I didn’t do anything, of course. I hesitated, yes, but ultimately I kept walking.
Three blocks later I sat down on a concrete divider and cried.
It was not comfortable, the concrete I sat on.
It was rough, and dirty, and mean.
… and I suspected that maybe far too much of my life (and your life, and all life) is being spent this way; spent such that human suffering and tragedy and our own good intentions are pointlessly ignored, and later, all of the above, are regretted.

We live just once, and if we’re careful, we may never have to be honest about anything tragic whatsoever.
Not even the homelessness of old women.

The honesty, though, is not what I meant to warn you about, I don’t think.
Neither is inaction the really sad part.
It’s the combination of the two.

There is hope though, my loves, that next time, maybe the world and I will be a little better.
here’s hoping…


Santiago, numero diez (thought experiment, first love).

Two children drew a fan of fantastically gigantic scope, to blow the Mexican avocado smoke out of the Texas sky. In the nervousness of puppy love, their preposterous doodle failed. Was it my hand our yours that scribbled just three blades and a squiggle, unable to draw a fourth under the focus of our intent four eyes? I’m certain it must have been mine. I can hear my babbling even now, and you always held your composure anyway, never so flustered by me as I was by you. Was it your hand that traced the fan doodle later and put it in my locker, or your friend’s, joking with both of us?
Though you denied it, there was no joke, no mistaking that it was your itchy writing, the mathematician’s chickenscratch that would belong to so many men of my future.
… and it was my awkward young heart that fluttered so quickly, for its first time ever.
Perhaps yours too, though I doubt anyone could say for sure, so many years later.
Mine was too tenderly hopeful to stop fluttering, though, and flutters still.
… but who does my preposterous heart imagine it flutters for now?
It has long since forgotten you, such a wisp of a boy.

… perhaps it’s only the peculiar wind… from a colossal, imaginary fan blowing smoke out of Texas.

Santiago, numero nueve (he heard his own breath).

Tom Neale nakedly fished. He sang nonsense syllables to himself at the top of his lungs. He danced and picked his nose without flinching and never worried about his hair, except out of habit. He was afraid sometimes, but mostly only when he didn’t have much fish, and he was lonely sometimes, but mostly only when had too much fish. He only felt that he’d made the worst choice of his entire life when he had reason to forget that it was the best choice ever made by any human, ever. I’m sure of all this, because there is no other way one can feel when one has intentionally marooned oneself on an uninhabited island.
It’s odd that even in South America, I want to run away. I want to feel the wet grainy pavement clinging to the undersides of my bare toes, until the urbanity gives way to mud then grass and finally lush jungle peat or the salty, sandy ocean floor. With population density such as it is these days, though, I fear there are no more uninhabited nowheres to be in the middles of. Aside from harsh anti-habitats, like Antarctica or Siberia or the Sahara, where even the mangy and unstoppable European pilgrims dared not venture, there are only everywheres, no more wild nowheres.
It’s not that I want survival to be a challenge, so much as I feel like I’m cheating. I just occaisionally think I would rather tackle survival fair and square… and of course, more nakedly.

Santiago, numero ocho (not about santiago)

I’m out of RAM.
I’m sure of it now.
My hard drive is full of perhaps terabytes acoustic lovesongs and pertinent videoclips and the mildly accurate stenographic text of past conversations and contemplations. My random access is the limiting factor, and it is far behind the times. My eager processor, though occasionally capable of impressive operational power, is limited to the whims of my selective memory.

I want to process my life all at once. In one big swooping moment, I want to know everything I know. Is that so much to ask?

Instead, just the fundamental stuff stays at the forefront. Survival instinct keeps the essential facts around for quick reference so that I never endanger myself by forgetting the simple things; heartbreak is unfortunate; kindness is probably worthwhile; pee before you leave the house…
The system tray is always running some processes, too, and I’m pretty sure they cut down on my operating strength. Precious space is wasted on frivolous subconscious background processes like breathe.exe, blink.exe, watchyourstep.exe, pursuesex.exe, holdinyourtummy.exe… hundreds of them. This, I imagine, is how some of it never gets to float up out of the deep dark hard drive space. I want to shut all those processes down for a while, stop listening for danger, stop carrying tissues for emergencies, stop thinking about the clothes I’m wearing.. because I’m wearing them goddamnit, whether I think about it or not. I want to purge my RAM for a minute even if it means I have to take up extreme meditation. Though, I worry, because meditation, extreme or not, sounds suspiciously like just another process to add to the systray.
Anyway, even with concentration, the details never seem to make it. If I focus, I can see his pinky fingers moving his hair from his eyes, and I can even see the look on his face and the awkwardness of his wrists, but which hand did he keep his watch on… so many years ago?
I remember glow in the dark lipstick with Adriana on Halloween, but what was her littlest brother’s name, he was in the back of the truck with us… Braulio, Gaspar… and.. . who? How can I forget that? How is it even remotely possible? I mean, he was my favorite…
The answer to the last part, my loves, is bit rot.
I’m out of RAM, and I have bit rot.
Maybe someone should hold the task manager, back it up. I’m not sure it can survive the crash if the system latches up… after all, she’s just a girl.

Santiago numero siete (¡ocho cinquentas! ¡ rápidamente!)

The first time I went looking for it, I walked right past the building, even though it takes up most of the block. The graffiti on the outside, it’s crumbling concrete edges, and near total lack of identification cleverly disguise the university gym… as an abandoned factory…
Finally though, past the old woman who wrestled my backpack from me, the small children nakedly blow-drying their perfect black hair in the locker room, and many conversations about my lack of a swim-cap, I approached the dimly lit pool with the wild apprehension of a goggle-starved swim junkie.
The coach, clearly labeled with his windbreaker and whistle, directed me toward an empty lane. He asked me where I was from, the strange owner of the only pair of pasty white thighs in the room.
I slid into the uncomfortably luke warm water, and kicked off. My tinted goggles seemed extra dark in the foggy, low lit water while I worried about various waterborne bacteria, lamented the distance between myself and the Myers-McLoraine, and let my body readjust to its only favorite sport.
Moments later, despite my quazi blindness, I found that I was sharing my lane with six other people.
The coach started coaching those six other people. I heard him yell to them, ‘¡Ocho cinquentas! ¡rápidamente!’ The six men were part of the swim team. They were doing sets of fifty meter sprints.
We began to battle tooth and nail for our warm watery real estate. They were all strong and fast and male. Out of shape, but determined to be spry, I held my own for a while. Eventually though, their latino testosterone fueled their competition, the creepily warm water churned into a solid white torrent, the kicking got out of hand, and I conceded.

The pool is like the rest of South America.

It’s unhygienic and dingy and crowded, a cloud of pollution and machismo and unnecessary physical contact between strangers… and… I sorta kinda love it. My whole body now is beautifully crawling with the post-adrenaline rush of it all, the endorphins of competition, the pride of personal strength, and the edgy, fearful excitement of chaos…
…and at last, I now understand my love for Chile despite its dinginess… its machismo… its pollution…

Santiago, numero seis (Cookie).

I’ve allowed it to go on too long, and now it’s out of my control.
Like potential disaster from a runaway experiment, I fear the karmic consequences of the white lie that is now spiraling into a bold existence of its own.

After two days of entertaining myself by fictionalizing the pseudonym that they write on my cup in sharpie, I have allowed the staff of the Providencia neighborhood Starbucks in Santiago to befriend me, a fictional girl named ‘Cookie.’

Hot Man. (Santiago, numero cinco)

It is cold today in Santiago, and without a paragua, my chilly adventures were also soggy ones. I moved incognito about the town in search of a café with mugs of something, of anything warm. Instead, the scene was just as I had feared and through the foggy drippy windows I saw only the millions of tiny espresso shots that fuel Santiago. Glass thimbles of inky caffeine would prove useless for hand warming, so I abandoned my search and warmed myself instead in the radiation of the street colors and in the fiery presence of my tall dark and handsome man-friend.

streets worth of graffiti

pink and orange graffiti

streets worth of graffiti

they're way more political here...

all I know is that this guy did not die of old age... no indeed.