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I know someone who, while on LSD, met God. God, he says, was a kindly gentleman who dressed as a physician and lectured from behind a physician's desk. With pull-down charts illustrating the brain, and a pointer, God explained the effects of LSD and advised against its use. Today, I met another person who said he too had met God under similar circumstances. "What's it all about?" he asked. God led him into a cubical room, which began to shrink. The room with them both inside shrank to the size of an atom, then God revealed His favorite color: blue.
Flies, gnats, bald-faced hornets and the like (with the exception of the deer-fly, who attacks always from just behind the range of one's peripheral vision), must have an interesting take on people to pester them with so little concern for their own life and wing. What sort of so-called "survival instinct" impels bugs to attack an animal so likely to swat them flat? Do they mistake us for upright plants, our eyes the nectar-rich petals? Or do they assume we are creatures so far evolved that Gandhi-ian non-violence must be our nature? We share our summer nights with divine fools.
Ah, Thursday. Like the repetitive rhythm of a hammering carpenter or the ceaseless pounding of surf on rock, Thursdays crash upon Thursdays as the workweeks follow one after the other. By end of shift on Friday, one's head is full of clanging echoes, memories of recent events. During the weekend the echoes fade as the memories are lost and by Monday a new bright and shiny nail waits to be hammered. It is clear by Thursday how the day got its name. Thor, the greatest hammer-slinger of all time really hits his merciless stride by that time of the week.
This obesity epidemic stretches far and wide, according to the papers and the TV, and personal observation. It has been misrepresented, though. Oh sure, it is a big story, really big as it were, with lots of rich juicy details, but its not really an epidemic like the bird flu or the plague. It's more a case of misplaced identities. Entranced during a hypnotically vulnerable and suggestible stage of life into believing that only the young or the fabulously remote (celebrities) deserve the gift of leanness, we robotically accept the equation that "grown-up" equals fat, and thus perpetuate the fashion.
Do I make a hard right or a hard left turn? Do I use the back door or the front? Keep on the sunny side or seek the shady? George Jones said "I've had choices, since the day that I was born, there've been voices, to teach me right from wrong." The question is whether or not to take advantage of the Internet's potential for a writer to remain anonymous. Do I become, under a pseudonym, a porno Zorro pissing my X-rated Z's into the snowy digital landscape or canter only in the safe fenced meadows of my socialized self?
The activities I depend on to recharge the soul batteries are lately starting to feel just as harried frantic and rushed as the activities I'm supposed to be relaxing from. It seems the mind is always moving ahead of the present, solving the crossword puzzle of the next moment before it is finished with the task at hand. Transplanting seedlings, sharpening and fitting a plane blade, chopping dovetails, writing, these are the doorways to reality that formerly brought on the peace of focused attention; these days, the mind takes that peace hostage and auctions it to the future's highest bidder.
Too tired too often. Tired of dealing with bills, the sickening circular motion of money. You chase it, it chases you, and others chase you as you close in on it. Money may not make the world go round, but the world goes around making money. The effort is tiring, coffee is tiring, TV is tiring, money is tiring, staying up late is tiring, but going to bed and dreaming about waking up is tiring too. Eyes feeling as heavy as bags of old gold, pulling me down into the least restful of sleeps, tired at dusk, tired at dawn.
World Peace? Piece of cake. Slip out of the skins of our tribal identities and place our hands on our unaffiliated, un-sold out, un-owned hearts and pledge allegiance to life. Since Babel, people have run around with all manner of special uniforms and costumes, convincing themselves and others that the individual is the race, the country, the religion, the posse. Clothing, hairstyle, speech, are just attempts to "create an identity of our own", to deny the sweet truth that we are all simply vegetables simmering in the same stew. We need to deprogram ourselves out of the "Our Gang" cult.
The cold rains of this year's late spring have turned the garden soil the color of semi-sweet chocolate. Against this shadowy tone, the young mustards and arugalas and lettuces seem to be lit from within and glow a vivid green. These leafy vegetables have been sucking up water all month and have become plump, cells full with a thick chlorophyll juice so rich it tastes green, if you can imagine that. There is life in the rains and this life expresses itself in the fancy feathered edges of the mustard leaf and in the sinus-clearing pungency of the mustard's flavor.
A yoga teacher used to ask his students meditate on the circumstances of their ultimate deaths to realize the truth of life's impermanence. Each guided imagery session envisioned different ways to die, sometimes violently, as in car wrecks or plane crashes, sometimes peacefully, with loved ones at home, tenderly gripping and releasing for the last time a dear and familiar hand. More effective than such exercises in making life's fleeting nature real was when a coffee shop barrista recently asked me (still young at heart) if I wanted to apply the Senior discount to the cost of my cappuccino! Yikes!
Milled around an art opening for a couple hours this evening after work. T had five pieces on display, and as one of the artists had to stick around for the whole 2 hour opening, so we did some endurance milling. Didn't have to talk "art speak" too much, since this was a "found object" show; no body (but the artists) was taking anything too seriously. The pieces were all about textures and colors, not politics. Refreshing. Also noted that craftsmanship and technique seem to be coming back into fashion and resuming their rightful places alongside whimsy and spontaneous originality.
Staring out the window of an airplane is most interesting when within a thousand feet or so of the ground. Maybe there's a greater fear factor, or maybe its being able to make out small details or seeing the normally hidden upper sides of things. Today, on the approach to BOI, when we were low enough to gauge our tremendous speed by the unrolling landscape, I experienced an intense mix of dread and amazement to see passing below our wings, on a vast dark patch of bare ground, the disassembled and strewn parts and pieces of a large passenger jet.
While walking the path that follows the Boise River, I realized I have already fallen into a restrictive mind set about these hundred word exercises. I have been waiting until late in the day to write, on the assumption that the 100 words would then be the distilled, concentrated essence of the experience of my day. Maybe they would, but more likely I'd find myself falling asleep before writing or else writing about wanting to sleep. The new plan is no plan. Dip the ladle in the soup before dinnertime. Write whenever. Write in whatever space/time niche finds me ready.
So, what is the male fashion equivalent of décolletage? Women's top wear has uplifted and emphasized cleavage in many ages and cultures, and these days, the limits of cleavage spelunk beyond the limits of the shadowy chasm to reveal the tumblehome of hitherto hidden convexities. Does any male fashion tease, taunt, flaunt, proffer pleasure, suggest vulnerability and reveal contours of the body in public as explicitly? None come readily to mind; ties are suggestive, not literal. Men are mammals by association rather than by anatomy, and perhaps, at the end of the day, it is all about mom and food.
This airport is not cold. In fact, the areas lit by the sun coming through the windows are uncomfortably bright and warm. Outside, the sun is high over the desert in a clear sky. Down the hall comes a woman with a blue parka and a red scarf. What's up with that? Shorty in the airport, she's being cool and staying warm, ya know she like it like that, you know she gonna wear that coat where ever she go, gonna toss that scarf, gonna flip her hair, you know she like it like that, being warm and staying cool.
National Public Radio today repeatedly reported that the interim finding of the 911 commission shows there is no reason to believe that Saddam conspired with al Qaeda on the WTC attacks. With the Golden EIB Microphone, Rush reports that the same commission confirms 1994 meetings between Saddam and Osama Bin Laden. Take your choice of "spins." Eminem and his band D12 report that they hold long-time grudges and are generally pretty pissed-off with most things in most places. Me, I report that today evil spirits sprinkled weird phone call dust on America and many strange people called me at work.
The point of me continuing these 100 word pieces is no puzzle; for me it is the moment of physical stillness, insulation and isolation that enfolds the writing time. Beyond that, though, what mean these written ejecta to anyone else? They are billboards on Mars, even more unlikely to result in a contact with someone than a message in a bottle. Billboards advertising this year's model of ME! now sexier and more (fill in your fantasy adverb here) than ever! All previous models obsolete! You must have the new one! We shall see if Martians are savvier consumers than Earthlings.
Dilemma today. Two-horned question. No burning issue, but one that needs an answer, and the way the question is answered, or maybe more pointedly the fact that the question is even asked, provides doors into part of what shapes a world view. With today's cappuccino came a plastic bag containing two chocolate chip cookies, one plain and the other fudge. The issue, of course, is which to eat first, or more importantly, which to eat second. Be like the fabled Cana groom and start out with the rich fudge, to be followed almost unnoticed by the sweet but unspectacular plain?
Listened to no news at all today, watched no TV, heard no stories of beheadings, heard no recordings of voices screaming from the foam-flecked lips of America haters or America firsters. Heard no Islamic Muezzin calling believers to either prayer or Jihad, heard no appeals for my vote or my money, saw neither blue suits with American flags in their lapels nor heads wrapped in turbans. Enjoyed a day of freedom in the garden with trowel and watering can. The new feathery carrots in parallel rows look nothing like ranks of soldiers, rows of tombstones or lines of holy scripture.
If it takes 45 seconds to heat a cup of coffee in a microwave, will it take 22.5 seconds to heat a half-cup? What about a quarter cup? Is the time needed proportional to the volume of liquid in the cup? See, this is the kind of thinking that begins if you fall into the digital way of thinking. Is it really better, this splitting of electronic hairs, than simply waiting, watching the little brown bubbles texture the surface of coffee warming in a sauce pan on the stove, and judging done by sight, sound, smell instead of fractionated seconds?
In doth come Summer! Sing Hey Yah! I am in a rotten, no, too strong, more like cranky, frame of mind tonight, which instead of turning on myself for some mature, healing introspection I choose to use as an excuse to be pissed off with various things and people, starting with self-indulgent whiners! Then hunters, fishermen, speeding and drunk drivers, pro hockey, most contemporary art and impeached presidents capitalizing on their scandalous past with a smarmy, no self-respect, "tell-all" book to make Leno and the rest forget the war and the beheadings and get back to jokes about stained dresses.
Saw lightning behind thick yellow-gray clouds tonight, low over the shadowy mountains. With each flash, nearly half the sky went incandescent, leaving black after-image spots burned into my eyes. It is astounding and saddening that people in a world filled with lightning storms, volcanoes, lions, sharks, unstoppable killer viruses and an infinite array of awesome natural forces can possibly imagine that they have the power to delay or derail the Cosmic Nature Train. It is a case of the fleas thinking they are controlling the dog, and we'd all be happier if we just owned up to our flea nature.
The argument over the reintroduction of wolves into the Idaho mountains goes on. An organization of hunters, ranchers and guides has hired a high-powered Boise firm to demand that all wolves be re-eradicated. They vow to go all the way to the Supreme Court to be rid of wolves. They claim that wolves are destroying the currently large herds of "game" animals like elk, moose and deer. Well, here's an alternative solution: outlaw hunting. And ranching too, while we're at it. Let the predator/prey wheel bring itself back into balance while we survive on our daily bread (rice, spinach, cashews.)
Despite my aching back, graying beard and dimming eyes, despite the news that the 120 year lifespan promoter, Dr. Roy Walford, (my guru of life extension) recently died of Lou Gehrig's disease in his 70's and in complete defiance of the implication of closing in on the end of my sixth decade, I still feel like I have the majority of my life in front of me, still feel there is time to learn to read music, to study art, to open a practice as a psychologist, to publish a couple of novels and to really get in buff shape.
It's been gnawing at me ever since I learned that Dr. Walford died long before making it to his 80th birthday. This was the guy whose research said that laying off chocolate chip cookies and burgers would buy 40 additional healthy (read sexually active!) mid-life years. Great trade-off! Plus, all that talk about second careers and fortunes generated by long-term compounding interest. I am not ready to accept that it was all a pipe dream cooked up to sell books. Walford's death does not invalidate his low calorie diet research any more than Jim Fixx's death proves that jogging kills.
A fattish half-moon now glows in a darkening sky, bone-white over the tree silhouettes. A few ragged tatters of purple clouds remain from the afternoon thunderstorm. The rainy day kept traffic away; I think I only heard one motorcycle whining along the county road that follows the creek downstream. The morning was clear before the clouds rolled in, sunny, and warm long enough for T and me to eat a breakfast of garden strawberries, cinnamon toast and hot black coffee on the deck while watching the cat hunt bugs in the humid warmth of the tall weeds of the field.
He stepped into the apartment, shaking a bowling ball bag at me. "Let's go bowling!" "OK." I killed the TV and grabbed my bowling jacket. "You drive." 60 days remained on his current DUI. "OK." Halfway there he said, "Take a left. Two blocks then left again. I gotta see somebody." "OK" Mid-way down the block a BMW sedan sat under a yellow street lamp. "Stop." He stepped out, opened the bag, uncovered a cinderblock, raised it, then pitched it through the Beamer's windshield. "Let's go," he said, sliding back into the car. "You're crazy!" I shouted. "OK," he said.
At first she thought the letters were cute and interesting. Though their sender was anonymous (no return address on the square blue envelopes) she assumed the mailings came from an acquaintance. Every day, another appeared. There were two on Mondays. Each contained a slip of paper torn from a "page-a-day" desk calendar, with a single quotation centered on the page. The first was January 31 of her birth year. Subsequent ones counted the month backwards, day by day. In the first week, she realized the quotes were tombstone epitaphs. Fear seeped into her, and she began to dread their arrival.
She was seated at the little round table left of the coffee shop's entrance. Paper cups were scattered across her table. She was arranging them into a pyramid. He approached. "Mind if I sit?" "Sure." She smiled as she added a cup to the pyramid. He upended a palm, pointing to the stack. "What's all this?" "A shell game." She wrote on the bottom of the final cup, then placed it. "Where are the shells?" She grinned, hoisted her purse and left. He reached for the uppermost cup and saw penciled on it seven question marks and a phone number.
The best writing is done with disappearing ink. Such words shimmer and become transparent as the underlying images surface. The entranced writer records his visions to hypnotize the reader. Kerouac said that a writer should interrupt his trance only to focus his mind's eye more clearly on the internal movie. I see Kerouac, hunched over his bulky Underwood, alone in a shadow-drowned room, hands motionless on the keys. At his right sits an ashtray, spilling over with old butts and spent Benzedrine inhalers. His eyes focus beyond the page and watch pictures rise from deep within the typewriter's mechanical guts.
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