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obliteration through repetition
I used to have this game I would play where I would repeat a word over and over again until it lost its meaning. I remember waiting in the car for my mom to do her grocery shopping at the supermarket supermarket supermarket supermarket supermarket supermarket supermarket supermarket supermarket supermarket supermarket supermarket supermarket supermarket... soon the word sounded all wiggy, like sooooo-pear-muhr-kyit.

Once, at my grandmother's apartment, I climbed onto the bathroom counter and folded out the mirror so that I could see myself reflected ad infinitum. I was about four years old. Just for fun, I repeated: "who am I?" over and over again until my face lost all context. I could no longer reconcile the reflection in the mirror to myself, the person asking the question. It freaked me right out in a profoundly existential way, and nearly blew the tiny fuses in my 4-year-old brain.

So I hopped off the counter, ran into the den where my grandma, as always, lay with her feet up, watching a game show. She saw my distress, opened her arms, and pulled me into her lap. "What's the matter, poopsie?"(we were all called poopsie).

When I explained this scenario to a friend recently who is studying cultural/literary theory, she called it a derrida-ian something-or-other. But I didn't have such a tidy tagline for the feeling. So I made something up. "I am afraid of the nuclear bomb". Which was true. And close enough to the truth, when you consider it also carries the terrifying idea of obliteration.

My grandma rocked me in her lap and smoothed my bowl cut. "I've been through two world wars and a depression," she declared with authority. "We are going to be just fine."

I have told this story a few times over the past year. It is one of my favourite stories. I worry that the more I tell it, the more it will lose meaning. Or take on new meaning. I dunno. It is just a story i like.

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5.19.2004
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post #786
bio: adina
perma-link
5/19/2004
10:59

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