From the Journal: Exhales of Air

by Sara Aranda

Having slightly fallen off the personal blog band-wagon, I wanted to create more of an intimate space with the content I’ve scribbled over the years. From the Journal will be a new series of excerpts from my journal writings. The following entry is a 2018 spring round-up of fragments as they appear in my journal, with a seemingly lonesome and self-deprecating theme—very telling of my inner nature.

March 14, 2018 – Las Vegas, NV

During her yoga class, Sarah Wells brought attention to areas of the body in a way I’d never heard before. Such as, while laying down, imagining the breath sweep beneath you, up and over your head to the front of the body. To think about physiology during meditation is an interesting thing. The manipulation of sensory input by way of words, or other patterns of influence, is fascinating.

Sarah and I later talked about memory and epistemology.  Performance psychology versus growth psychology. How memory often requires triggers—it is only through a familiar web of neurons (trigger) that you can find your way back to other webs of neurons (deeper memory). But these webs are malleable. People can manipulate memory in others through the power of suggestion. Even the self reconstructs its own memories to cater to new emotional and mental influences.


Tinker Creek phrases I liked during my latest read: “humped rocks,” “quavering curves,” “reel.”


I like the sensation of stretching my lungs. Easy to do when simply taking a deep breath, but when I run or hike and the heart starts to pulse against them heavily, my breath does to the lungs what we do to a tight calf or quadricep when stretched, in a way that brings about warm release—it’s addicting.


Hot breath through the throat. “Squeeze the mind,” Sarah said.

I’ve burned the roof of my mouth, run the tongue like a wet hand, feel nothing sharp but sense the sharpness nonetheless.


On the verge of sleep, the breath through the throat is thin.


I read the “Sight” chapter for Tinker Creek (a fascinating chapter). Distilled down, first sight is apparently something of two-dimensional, color-blotches. I want to take what Annie Dillard wrote further, to that of hearing for the first time. That it is similar (that all our senses are?). Monotonous sound blotches? Blotches that are yet to be darkened and rounded, cut and formed by shadows—the dark marks of silence.

March 15, 2018

Red Rock recap. I came to the campground alone yesterday. Rested, napped, read. Did nothing really. Reading Tinker Creek—Annie is brilliant. She opens up my perspective quite a bit, but also makes me sad. My self-critic hates that I am not brilliant. It makes me want to hate my writing. The task of the memoir. That my writing is shallow and comfortable. That I need to chip and chip away. Make it layer because it can’t do and be anything else. Give it a depth that both catches and tosses the reader, into a pit, then into the sky. Bowls everything. Holds them there, but only long enough to spill them, too.

March 16, 2018

Phrases from Sarah:

“Feeding of egos,” “learning that the pain-body seeks itself,” “It’s hard to remember that consciousness is not who you are.”

Who are you, then, if you are not consciousness?

Read: “The Soul of an Octopus” by Sy Montgomery

March 18, 2018

3:00 A.M. The wind: like an avalanche, roaring rush of rage, from my left like a ghost pummeling in a fierce game of dominoes, of tents, the fabrics slapping into the wave. I finally looked out, and on the northeastern horizon, where a mesa rose from the earth, there were enormous plumes of trees rising. Smokey. Gray. That the trees decided to grow, sprout and mature, overnight. Six or seven of them. Or were they clouds? Wind-spun long from the mesa, skyward.


But the trees were not trees. The clouds were not clouds. I woke to one tree, and the real branches were reaching just outside my tent. Real, cloudless horizon.


Today is a day. Today is a life. Today can be a lonely day. Today can be a lonely life. So much wind, maybe too much wind. I’m tired like the wind—tossed or tilting or leafing forth, listless at times. I breathe dry-tongue breaths. I want to fall apart like the wind, end somewhere strange or knobbed, like the rim of a twig or a tooth. Down somewhere, to the alveoli of the lungs when someone laughs me in. It won’t matter that I’m lonely, then. Not there. Not as wind.

I had a dream last night. I was singing to a deformed child not my own—

there is a land over there
where the rain pours through my hands
there is a land right here
where the rain pours through my hair
let’s go, let’s go and here we are
land of land I pour as rain
oh when I pour it rains

April 10, 2018 – Colorado

Our parents are not Gods.


Ripple, sculpted effects of water and canyons.

April 29, 2018 – Idyllwild, CA

I just ate a head of raw broccoli, slightly bitter, the little green leaf bulbs dense and tasting of plant. They’re all over my teeth now. I already ate an orange bell pepper, a cube of tofu and a slice of smoked gouda. It’s laziness more than anything righteous. I’m sitting alone in the back of my Jeep, the seats down and my legs sprawled. The curtains are partially drawn; I am parked on a dirt road that, apparently, is the Spitler to Idyllwild alternate trail from the PCT. Hikers pass by every half-hour or so, and I hold still like a deer inside a tree. It makes no sense, but I’d rather them think no one is home.

Funny how I impose my loneliness and social anxiety onto them, in that I refuse in having them acknowledge me by refusing to acknowledge them. It really is a matter of self in these moments. That I am alone and missing Patrick. And this being alone is a matter of inevitable waiting as opposed to seeking joy in solitude. I take it all the same. I just spent a week with the grandparents, and so this is contrasting lonely time.

I finished reading a book. A fiction book. “Sarah,” by Orson Scott Card. It was a good time-spender. It was also something I only read because my mom had given it to me years ago, a decade, in high school. The story was based on Sarai and Abram (Sarah and Abraham). Only would I read a religious book in this motherly context. And by religious do I specifically mean Christianity. For I would read stories of other religions as a matter of exposure and curiosity (as I’d done in college for numerous courses). Sorry to say that these Christian ones have been far too redundant in my life (and in time immemorial). But such is anything we are raised and saturated with (I think people will hate that I distill and equate religion to stories, but is that not how they began? Stories can still be metaphysical things…).


The clouds are moving rather fast. They have become a fog, straining through the manzanitas and small granite stones. Like an island sailing away from an earthly tether, I am watching the clouds rinse past with our launched speed. Great speed. I might become sea-sick, come down with vertigo (as if those things ever happen to me in real life). (Maybe whatever happens in this island metaphor doesn’t have to be terrible).


I’m meeting with Alain tomorrow to climb up Tahquitz. I want to make it a habit to leave offerings for these places I and others hold sacred, for the experiences I hope to, and inevitably will, take from them—a notion shared with me by Len.

May 9, 2018 – Yosemite, CA

I think the river is comforting because it is constantly changing, and it’s okay for it. We see it change before our eyes and ears and against the skin of our toes—the light is changed and warped, and still it is deemed pure.

Maybe it echoes the water in us. The blood and rolling muscle. The sound is soft because we are soft. The water is only partially clear because the mind is only partially clear.

May 18, 2018 – Wyoming

Bear’s Lodge/Devil’s Tower. Emma: aesthetic discrimination. And the why of finding these places to be so beautiful. Sublime inherence? Striking visualness? Mirroring of your own emotions? Like fear, and how seductive and curious it is/we become.

“Furiously happy” – Tracy. I liked her use of furious.


Cottonwood meadow. It’s raining now. Like pebbles on the tent, tossed in groups and sometimes sparingly, the alternation of sound and placement—I feel the variety hitting different places in the eardrum. Popping. Popcorn, rising from the nylon.

The clouds have completely cloaked the tower. Misting rain. Shapeshifting tower. It elongates and it shrinks and is pulled skyward, towards an invisible socket of sky. Turkey vultures sail about. Wet grass and cottonwoods. I’ve forgotten how much I miss the rain, the chatter and the birds and grass and rock and even my own vaporous breath. The tent we’re sharing is enormous, with a large window that faces the cloaked tower. Everything is gray. Darkened by the wet green leaves in the trees.

Tomorrow we climb. For now, I revel, I suppose. I am lying in the tent with Emma and we are both journaling. I hear the chatter of her palm against the page, and too, my own. If only our palms could really speak.


We walked around the base, found a dead deer just off the paved trail in an opening of the ponderosa pines. Fairy rings of fur. Black hooves, long white bones. Fur cut and barbered violently. Powdered feces. No blood, dry duff—it’s been long enough. Maggots, beetles, worms scattered the pieces of dry carcass. The caretakers of death. The spinal chord was as stoney as the lichen.


Sleepy greens. Sluggish grays. My eyelids are to blame, or the eyes themselves, for being so exhaustingly round.


Conscious self versus the rambling self.

If you were underwater and a cloud of dirt or sand was stirred and wafted your way—that was the coming of fog earlier; it is the rain that is over the tower now, over us.


Sometimes I feel like a ghost. A spirit listening in on the conversations of my friends. I float. A lightheaded sense of self dissipates quickly into the mist and I wonder the sublime power of this place. That maybe I’ve momentarily disappeared because I am obviously meant to, eventually (a time fold?). That I am subconsciously feeling what it will be like when I’m gone. People will walk the base of this tower and have conversations about human aesthetics. I will be wind and the exhale of air.


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