Rope

He unlocked the door and threw his briefcase on the couch. His apartment was small. It was slightly damp, ripe with a summer sting. He had one table and one chair. One couch, one twin bed. A refrigerator, a stove, a microwave.
He woke up at the same time every morning. He ate the same flavor oatmeal each breakfast. He took the same bus to work every weekday. He saw the same people, filed the same papers, and took the same bus home. He ate the same grilled chicken for dinner. He brushed his teeth. He slept in the same pajamas. He carried the same rope behind him every day, it dangled in his shadow searching for the girl he had lost. It grew from his abdomen the first time he told her he loved her, and was attached to hers until the day she left.

He sat at his desk and watched the second hand on the clock jump forward and then abruptly stop. It was a first-time-skydiver, he thought. Charging to the edge of a cliff before halting in fear.
He looked over paperwork, checked six small boxes, signed his name, and filed documents in alphabetical order. His boss stopped by twice a day for idle chit-chat. Hello, how are you, nice work, keep it up. It was always the same. There was nothing he could not count on in the office, and he liked that. He knew the receptionist would squeeze her tits together when she leaned over his desk every day at noon. She would ask without fail what he had planned for the evening. Oh, the usual, he always replied. She was a whore. He knew she slept with all the male employees. He was done with whores. He justified her behavior by telling himself she must have a rope, too, and she must be trying to soothe what was too tightly wound in her groin. But he could only see his own.
His rope was sore today. He readjusted it in his lap.
His rope appeared after he fucked his girlfr- ex girlfriend, for the first time. He told her he loved her, too. Only then it had been vibrant and blue. Now it looked dead, gray. Connected to her, it was a link between the two of them, a bond from his groin to hers. He thought it was love.
The day she left his rope fell from her inguen, and he was left with a decaying umbilical cord between the apex of his hips. It was fraying at the end, and he occasionally stepped on it which made his abdomen sore.
That bitch, he thought. She wanted money. He didn’t have it. She wanted love. He thought he gave it to her. Now this dead weight trailed behind him every day.
She had been wonderful, for a time. She taught him things, good and bad. But she took things away, too. Now he lived alone. He ate alone. He slept alone.

He got on the 5:17 p.m. bus headed downtown.
He saw the same homeless man in the same seat, with the same toothy, lopsided grin. He put his headphones in, but he did not have a phone. He did not have an MP3 player. He had not listened to music in months. She took that away, too. He knew wearing the headphones, even if they were not connected to anything, would deter others from talking to him.
He got off the bus two blocks from his apartment.
It had rained that day. As he walked home from the bus stop he took long strides to avoid puddles. He looked down as he stretched his leg over a particularly wide muddy brown pool.

He felt his rope become tangled before he saw her. His groin grew taut and he felt himself falling backward.
When he hit the puddle, he heard his splash, then another. Fuck! She screamed. He turned around to see wild red hair, a mess of long pale limbs and daunting black clothing. He looked at her and she froze.
She met his stare as his eyes flitted across her glowing cheeks. He tried to stand up, but he was pulled back down by his rope. He could see its pale gray pallor wrapped around her spiky leather heel. He watched her as she lifted her foot and detangled him from her limb. He cocked his head to the side and his eyes got wide, jaw lowered closer to the muddy mess beneath them. She was touching his rope; He thought no one else could see it. He saw her laugh, and hand it to him. It immediately relaxed.
He reached out his hand to help her up. She smirked and leapt to her feet, brushing his hand away. He introduced himself. He asked her how she could see his rope. She reached to her hair and pulled loose a rope of her own. It was more purple than his, but unmistakably the same. He immediately felt embarrassed. He wondered why her rope was coming from her head. His trailed out from the waistband of his pants. He wanted to know how she could see his rope. He worried that everyone could see it. He self-consciously moved his hands to cover his crotch. She laughed. Still holding her rope from inside her draping hair, she outstretched her other hand and pushed his arms away from where they were covering his pants. He stiffened. She told him not to be embarrassed. She told him everyone had a rope. She told him you couldn’t see them because you weren’t supposed to. She said they were personal. He asked why he could see hers, and she his. She did not know.
They walked to a café where he bought her coffee and dried her coat with brown paper napkins. She was an artist. He couldn’t stop staring at her. Her eyes were brown, but he saw purple in their depths. It was the same color as her rope.
He gave her his email and walked home.

He woke up sticky, his sheets clinging to his back. He washed the sweat from his face and went back to bed. He could not sleep and he stared at the wall. He waited for his alarm to go off. He made oatmeal. He went to work.
He sat at his desk and waited for his boss. His desktop announced itself with a ping and a small box appeared in the upper right corner. He had a message. He opened it, expecting to see the receptionist’s name precede her pathetic attempt to get in his pants. He gasped as he read the subject. Your rope, it read. It was from her. He quickly became lost in the contents of her message. He formulated a reply and waited. She responded. She wanted to meet him again. She was outside his building, at the coffee shop across the street. He told her to wait. He grabbed his jacket. He ran past the receptionist. She followed him with a dirty gaze.
He spotted her as soon as he burst through the doors of his building. She was at a table facing the window. Looking at a phone. She did not look up as he crossed the street. He tried to meet her gaze as he entered the cafe. She looked up when he sat down. She smiled. He smiled.
She gave him her phone number, but he didn’t have a phone. She pulled one from her bag and handed it to him. You won’t have my number, she said, but I have yours. She called him old because he did not have one. He told her he used to, but got rid of it when she someone left him. She told him someone left her, too. He could have guessed. He saw her rope.

The sheets were stuck to him again when he woke up. He got up to wash his face, but halted when a glow and vibration erupted from the side of his end-table. He flipped the phone over to see she had sent him a message.
She wanted to know why he was awake. He asked how she knew. She told him she felt it. He told her he thought about her while he slept. She told him she knew that, too. He fell asleep with the phone in his hand. She told him goodnight.

The sun was bright when he woke up. It was late. He was late. He rushed to make oatmeal. He ran to work. He almost did not see her leaning on the gray stone of his building. She smiled and he turned to look at her. She told him to come. He looked up to his office, then back at her. She waved him on. He followed her.
They went to a park down the street. There were benches along a path that lead to a pond. She sat down facing the pond. He sat down next to her. She looked at the pond and told him she wanted to be a fish. She wanted to swim for miles without stopping, to see the world from a different view. Her red hair swam in windy circles behind her. She was fish. A goldfish goddess. She wanted everything to be tinted blue. She told him to close his eyes. She pulled sunglasses out of her bag. She put them over his eyes. He opened them and saw the world was now a cyan hue. See, she asked him. Isn’t it beautiful?
They walked home after the sun disappeared behind skyscrapers. She reached out to grab his hand. It scared him. The rope in his groin felt weird, almost loose, almost gone. They stopped in front of her house. She had peonies in her garden. She looked up at him and bit her lip. One of his eyebrows jumped up and got tangled in his hair. She pulled his face down to hers.
He felt differently after they fucked. It was different from when he had fucked his girlfriend. He didn’t want to think about her, though. His rope grew taught when he did. He wanted to lie next to the fish woman with peonies and wild red hair. He thought about love, about making love. Maybe this is what she had been talking about. What he couldn’t give her, what she couldn’t find with him.

He woke up warm. Not sweaty, warm. He saw her red hair sprawled across the pillow beside him. Tiny twirls of glowing fishtail. She turned to face him and smiled. I know why I can see your rope, she said. He looked down at her, puzzled. She got up from the bed and walked to a dresser across the room. He could see her whole figure in the dim light of the early morning. She was soft. She was luminescent. He didn’t hold his usual disdain – being up at this hour. He appreciated the way the golden dewy light caressed her skin.
She walked back to the bed with scissors, a needle and thread. Do you trust me? She asked. He told her he did. She reached down towards his crotch and his heart started kicking. She did something he didn’t expect. She took his rope gently in one hand, and began to push it against his stomach. He flinched and she put her free hand on his chest. With both of her hands manipulating him, she pushed his rope back into his torso. He felt it growing, radiating. It filled him with warmth. She cupped one palm around his chest and began to pull. His breathing was quick and frantic. He let out a small moan. He felt his entire body being connected by this cord she was moving through him. It was exquisite. He lost himself to pleasure.

He regained his composure and opened his eyes. He saw she had pulled her rope around from her head. It now radiated from her chest. There was a damask colored cable extending from the left side of his chest. He didn’t recognize it. It was coming from his heart. He could feel her pulling it out from him. He gasped for her to stop. She just put a finger to his lips. She threaded a needle and began stitching his new rope to her heart. With each stitch his breath came more easily. Blood pooled in her lap from the stitches. He looked at her with worry. Her eyes calmed him. He sat patiently.
When she had finished with him she took her own rope and put it to his chest. She threaded a new needle and began to sew. As she attached herself to him, he could feel himself entering her. He entered her mind, her thoughts. He felt her emotions. He was engulfed by her experience. She tied off the last stitch and their two ropes became one.
As a blinding light radiated from the link between them she put a hand to his cheek and whispered, this is why I can see it.
In that moment, he felt like the second-hand sky diver. The difference between them – he wasn’t going to stop. He was going to jump.

Brief: Students walk out in defense of DACA

Originally published by the Daily Lobo
By Celia Raney

“The University of New Mexico supports DACA students, supports everyone who is on this campus,” said Chaouki Abdallah, University interim president at a Defend DACA walkout on UNM campus Tuesday.

Several hundred students joined together Tuesday morning to show their support for immigrants, specifically those benefitting from the Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals program.

Many students did not attend class, walked out early or were released by instructors who also wanted to show their support.

DACA was implemented in 2012 by the Obama administration and allows certain undocumented immigrants who entered the country as minors with their parents to stay in the U.S. on a two-year renewable period of deferred action from deportation and allows them to be eligible for a work permit.

Tuesday’s walkout began at 11 a.m. when students gathered outside Scholes Hall and in Smith Plaza, and after a winding walk through campus concluded with speeches in the grass under the Lobo statue at the corner of Central Ave. and University Blvd. NE.

Before the group took off on their march across campus, Abdallah spoke about President Trump’s recent announcement to rescind DACA with a six-month delay.

“We are here to support you to tell you that we are working with our allies in Congress and the state and in the city to try to get it through congress, to fix it through Congress,” Abdallah said.

Prior to Trump’s announcement this morning, 600 other universities wrote to the president in an effort to change his mind on DACA, according to Abdallah.

“As it was announced today, we are still trying to figure out exactly how it’s going to affect us individually,” he said. “What we are trying to tell you today, is that we are working with all the national organizations (and) with other universities.”

Photo Story: Zozobra illuminates Santa Fe in decades-old tradition

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Originally published by the Daily Lobo
By Celia Raney

Stuffed with worries and fears, the burning of Old Man Gloom lets participants in the annual event watch their worries go up in smoke. Santa Fe celebrated the 93rd annual burning of Zozobra on Sept 1.

Last year, more than 55,000 people attended the event, and this year’s crowd seemed to rival that record-breaking number.

The first burning of Zozobra took place in 1924 when creator Will Shuster designed and burned the first 6-foot tall puppet. The burning of “the Beast” is supposed to release all the gloom of the past year.

Zozobra sported a brown sweater this year, inspired by the 50s-themed TV show “Father Knows Best.” Old Man Gloom also sported Fonzie thumbs. His wardrobe and stance were done in celebration of the Decades Project, the celebration of each decade until the 100th burning of Zozobra.

Text and images by Celia Raney

UNMPD officer under investigation for alleged assault

Originally published by the Daily Lobo
By Celia Raney

“Everyone was horrified, and none of us knew what to do,” said Lisa Chavez, associate professor at the University of New Mexico, after witnessing a UNM Police officer punch a woman while taking her into custody.

A video originally posted to Snapchat using the UNM geotag seems to show a woman being punched and thrown to the ground by a UNMPD officer.

The incident occurred around 12:40 p.m. near the bus circle on the north side of the Duck Pond on Aug. 25.

UNMPD issued a statement Friday describing the progression of events.

Two officers were dispatched to a Welcome Back Days tent near the Duck Pond after receiving multiple calls describing a woman acting aggressively toward workers at a voter registration area, according to the statement. The woman behaved aggressively toward officers once they arrived and refused to leave the area, at which point the officers “took her to the ground and cuffed her.”

The woman also spit in the face of one of the officers on two separate occasions — during the arrest and when she was walking with the officers to the squad car.

Chavez was walking to her 1 p.m. class as the events unfolded, watching as the officers escorted her to the car.

“I saw two police officers walking a woman out who had her hands behind her back, so she was clearly handcuffed,” Chavez said. “I didn’t really recognize what was happening. I just saw that she was down, that she was falling to the ground.”

In the video, the woman is being escorted away from the Duck Pond by two officers, when she turns to one and an altercation takes place.

It is unclear exactly what happened, but a man can be heard in the video saying, “Do that again and see what happens.” It is unclear if the voice belongs to the officer.

UNMPD has launched an internal investigation that will determine exactly what occurred and why. The names of the woman and the officers are currently being kept private, so there is no “retaliation” against the officers, said Trace Peck, public information officer for UNMPD.

The officer who appears to have used physical force with the woman in the video has been “taken off the streets,” Peck said. The officer has been assigned to administrative duties at the department.

“We take these incidents very seriously, and an internal investigation has been started,” he said.

Interviews are currently being arranged with witnesses, including Chavez, and UNMPD will examine the videos and Snapchats they gathered.

“We’re just gathering all that kind of evidence, and then it will be investigated,” Peck said.

From what she witnessed at the scene, Chavez believes the officer used “excessive force.”

“What I saw was her head lifted up in the air and then her face slammed down on the pavement,” she said. “I saw her head going down, because the thing that was really distinct was her hair was all up in the air and then down on the ground, and then they picked her up and put her in the car.”

UNM Interim President Chaouki Abdallah was not available for an interview but released this statement regarding the incident:

“The UNM Police Department has opened an internal affairs investigation into the officer’s behavior. Numerous witnesses who were at the scene, both prior and during the arrest, will be interviewed to determine what happened. I believe it is important to allow the process to proceed and reach a conclusion without comment or interference. I am confident UNMPD and UNM will take the appropriate action following the review.”

Chavez, who has taught at the University for 15 years, now questions UNMPD’s role on campus.

“(I) have never seen anything like this; I am utterly disgusted at this,” she said. “It did not make me feel safe.”

While the officers placed the woman in custody, Chavez talked with other witnesses, and the consensus was that a report should be filed.

After emailing a letter detailing the event and her concerns to UNMPD, the University president and the provost, Chavez has made arrangements to be interviewed as part of the investigation.

UNM student in stable condition after Clovis shooting

Originally published by the Daily Lobo
By Celia Raney

Two people are dead and four others are injured after 16-year-old Nathaniel Jouett opened fire Monday afternoon at a public library in Clovis, New Mexico.

The incident occurred at Clovis-Carver Public library just after 4 p.m. According to local law enforcement, two women were found dead inside the library — two men and two women were injured.

Three of the victims were airlifted to to University Medical Center in Lubbock, Texas. One of the injured females has been identified as Alexis Molina, a University of New Mexico senior in the College of Arts and Sciences.

After arriving on scene shortly after the active shooter call came in, Clovis police confronted and arrested Jouett inside the library. He did not fire any shots after police arrived.

“He gave up. He didn’t resist,” said Douglas Ford, Clovis Police Chief, at a news conference.

Wanda Walters, 61, and Kristina Carter, 48, died due to their injuries. Molina, 20, is wounded but in stable condition; Noah Molina, 10, and Howard Jones, 53, are wounded but in stable condition. The fourth victim, a woman, is also stable and asked not to be identified.

If you are a close friend or family member of Alexis Molina and would like to provide a statement to the Daily Lobo, please contact news@dailylobo.com.

Photo Story: ABQ Botanic Garden celebrates Japanese festival

Originally published by the Daily Lobo
By Celia Raney and Diana Cervantes

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The Albuquerque BioPark and Botanic Garden hosted the Annual Obon Festival on Aug. 10, as a part of the Garden’s Summer Night concert series. Otherwise known as the Festival of Souls, Obon is a Japanese celebration held to honor one’s ancestors. Early in the evening, event attendees were taught how to design and build traditional Japanese lanterns, which were sent floating along the Rio Grande River throughout the evening. When celebrated in Japan, each region holds different dances and variations of the celebration to honor the spirits of passed loved ones.

Text by Celia Raney