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Will I be ok inside there with my shadow? Is this a serious question? All questions are serious, or must be considered serious until we have some frame of reference to allow us to filter them. Should I remove my shoes? Should I take my clothes off? Should I wear special robes? The cloud passes the sun again leaving the head of my shadow cleanly in the doorway. I am knocked off my feet by a sudden bright pain in my head. My last memory is a cold delicate splat of the back of my head hitting the thawing earth.
The day has passed into mid afternoon by the time I wake up cold and wet. I wonder I am not dead from exposure, and I am glad I decided to keep my clothes on, as wet as they are. As I sit up, I am aware of the wind against my wet back, and I want to lie back down, but I am cold all over, cold through and through, and stiff. It may be that today is not a good day to venture inside my metaphoric brain. I should go home and warm up and try again tomorrow.
Back home, I ran the shower hot and turned the heat up to eighty degrees. I went to bed cold, waking up the next morning with the covers on the floor and sweating. It was Saturday. I didnít feel like playing with the metaphorical brain. Maybe I was a lazy. I let it go Sunday too. It wasnít until Wednesday afternoon that I returned. The weather was nicer, but as I approached the field, I saw other cars parked along side the road. People were walking in the road. Something was wrong. I began to fear for my metaphorical brain.
There was a new fence, several new structures and a crowd of people, some with cameras. One group looked like a brownie troop on an outing. At the gate, sat a man on a stepladder who was collecting money. I could make out what appeared to be a large teepee off to the right with a pig roasting off to one side. I joined the crowd moving through the gap in the new fence. I could hear country music and some large recorded announcement being repeated. I didnít argue with the man on the ladder, but forked over my $1.25.
In the center of the field was one of those mounted singing fish. This one was about four feet long and was on top of two fence posts. An older man was standing in front of him, hat on the ground, wearing a guitar and lip synching to the fishís version of Achy Breaky Heart. To the left was a large structure built right over my metaphorical brain and using the doorway as its own doorway. Shaped like a large skull, and covered in a large heavy plastic dome, it sported large red blinking eyes sunk deep in black sockets.
A speaker in the skullís forehead encouraged the timid to ďVisit Golgotha, the place of the skull.Ē Something about the name rung familiar in my brain, but since it was my brain talking, it made sense I supposed. There was a line of people roped up Disney-style to get in. Everyone was going in. I didnít notice any kind of exit or anyone coming out. Walking behind, I saw one of those fans used to pump up large inflatableís, with the usual reinforced hose attached. As big as Golgotha was, it didnít seem big enough for the crowd going in.
I got into the line to go into Golgotha. Those were my stones at the gate. I had put them there. That was my head these people were wandering around in. I was in line behind a man of about 60 dressed in kaki work clothes, and in front of a middle-aged woman dressed as a 20ís flapper, complete with short hair, short skirt, long beads, and thick makeup. The sun was bearing down heavily on us as we shuffled through the portal. It was cooler inside. I could see the line queuing up to another skull with another speaker.
If one of several billion individuals has become decoupled from the rest in such a way that it is no longer linked usefully to the social unit, and it has fallen out of place. What has it become? Perhaps it has become a sort of parasite. It is already being recognized by the others as ďdifferentĒ and is being rejected. It is in process of rejecting itself. If the tribe were nomad, it would wake up one morning to find itself abandoned at a dead campsite. It would then at least not be confused about its place in the world.
I donít know. I seem to be fascinated by that phrase. I use it a lot. It is a clear statement of truth. I really donít know.
I seem to have been in a spiral lately, a diminishing one, which has dropped me out alone into a hidden apartment in a desolate city. I have been thinking about Job a lot. I always did. I donít know that one either. I have lost a lot of things, I suppose. Itís true that I might have offended someone powerful or important. I donít know. They never say. They just do you.
Itís too late in March to be having this kind of snowy weather, too late for cold toes and the head nodding sleepy. The sun was slamming through the window this morning like a heat lamp. But it has a lot of winter to burn away. There has been much winter. I have had years of it now and am not sure I have the strength to send out one more damn shoot or to dance one more time around some skinny May pole chasing a girl who will never be caught while another I cannot see, chases after me.
Water runs down over black sand, cigarette butts, and beneath stubborn ice into the sewer. The thaw is here. This winter has been too long. Everyone agrees. Some of them are like that. It was not particularly severe. The snow didnít get four feet deep. The power didnít go out for weeks, but it was a long soul-sapping night of winter that left us all gasping for sunlight and air. I find I am already looking for excuses to go outside. My car sits neglected for days at a time as I walk to the grocery and out for breakfast.
I have mixed feelings about the movie Michael Clayton. The thing that stands out foremost is its treatment of the Bi-polar personality. They donít have it quite right. Of course every one is different and it is just one more bunch of people lumped into a sorta similar icd-9 classification for treatment and insurance purposes. I know. Iím one of them; one of the card-carrying, in-patient treated, take whatever drugs they give me but Jesus, find one that works for a change and so on. And yes, some times I go for years at a time quite successfully. Then not.
I watched that Steve King Movie, The Mist. In true King tradition, the military opens a portal to another dimension letting through a batch of Stevie King monsters. Along with the blood sucking tentacle behemoths, giant mosquitoes, and flying devils of course came the monster, religion, and the monster, man. And every idea, even ones that seemed like good ones became bad ones. They even used the word hubris. It is a bad world of bad things where it is hard to see anything, where only the smallest of men can be heroes and where the heroes become howling idiots.
Iíve been thinking about opening the blinds this morning. It seems odd that the process of awareness would get stuck on a point like this: the blinds. They sway gently in the currents from the furnace. I can see a dull light seeping through the edges. From this, I assume I will not be greeted by a blast of warm morning sun when I open them, if I open them. To do that I would have to get up, put down the computer, and cross the room. There is some reluctance in me for doing this. Iíve had this before.
There is so much to apprehend, and only little grubby hands to grasp. Itís all a nasty business. The greatest show meets the eyes, so full of detail and movement within movement within within. Are you supposed to watch, stunned? Do something with it? Close your eyes and the assault continues with what blind flashes and croaking chorus of ringing and humming and bashing thrashing and whispering. Such sounds. Five senses full of sound. And yet it seems our purpose is to somehow ignore most of this and add to it. This is life? This is our turn to apprehend?
There is a nearly-full fifth of vodka in my bathroom. The red plastic Popov bottle migrated there a month ago when I ran out of rubbing alcohol. Iíve had this bottle since I moved here, almost three years ago, and by now the bottle must have realized its mistake in coming home with me. Instead of finding a tub of ice and cozying down with a score of buddies it has led a long life of dusty kitchen shelf isolation, touched perhaps once a year for that hot chocolate drink. And now, the bathroom. How low can a bottle go?
It is warmer today, but the predicted low is still well below freezing. I would like to start walking to work again, but Iím still feeling the remnants of the ugly chest cold I had, and if I walk to work, I walk home after dark, when the temperature drops, when I am tired, and when it is probably not a good time to go walking just after recovering from a cold. I look at the forecast. I think about the ponds and paths I cross, the trees I duck. I miss my walk. I think it even misses me.
Stuffed Cake likes to throw her weight around. She has a way of walking through doors, left hip, swivel, right hip, fill the doorway, and then roll through, that clears a path in the room for her. Even people who are not looking in her direction unconsciously move aside to let her through. She is heavy, even for her size, her narrow heels leaving dents in thinner grades of tile and linoleum. At the church coffee hour she holds the place of honor at the desert table, always admired, but unaccountably untouched, carefully re-wrapped and stored for the next function.
The space between clarity and the long hairy heavy howl is delineated by such a thin, by a seemingly delicate membrane. Yet it is a tough material, capable of absorbing the most violent thrusts of feet, fists, sticks, or logic. I am reminded of a joke of sorts we used to have at a place where I worked. It was called ďstaying beneath the radar,Ē and we would dip and roll our eyes, the thought being to avoid calling the attention of the hypo manic winged execu-harpies who would tear us apart with no warning and with no apparent motive.
I moved to Canada during one of the past five years. I rented an apartment with a young woman. We were very much in love. I paid the rent. She bought the furniture. It was a small-town steep-hill railroad car apartment on a roaring animal river. I remember our first day there. It was sunny, and she sat by the window writing. There was some confusion about her marriage, perhaps less that night when she ran down the stairs crying like Cinderella leaving the ball at the stroke of Midnight. I waited there two weeks for her to come home.
There was some time during the past five years that I came here to live. I came here alone, leaving my home and marriage of 23 years. I had seen this place for a long time and had wished for just such a place to live, a safe place in the trees. It is nearly spring here now, and I watch the geese plowing into the pond below. I watch still bare branches dance slowly in the moist air. In some ways this is so much better than what could have happened to me. In other ways, so much worse.
Snow slashes. Iím sleepy. Closing my eyes, I see long rows of sleeping bodies lying on cots in neat rows, endless in imagination. And the snow drips in this early spring, some ten inches laid in last night where I was in the dark of the parking lot shoving it off my car, feeling the wet beginning already to puddle in the arch of my left shoe. I close my eyes again and the sleeping bodies are replaced by a sleeping lump which is me. I stayed up too late last night. Hence, I was up too early this morning.
Iím sitting in my bathrobe covered with graham cracker crumbs, but also with a bit of glory. I have just finished submitting my childrenís tax returns. I still have to print the paperwork, but the unfinished preparation and submission was weighing heavily on me. It was easier this year. My ex didnít ask me to do hers this time. It was harder this year. March was a rough month in general, and I like to wait for March to do taxes. The tax codes have settled out, and the bugs have been worked out of the tax programs by March.
Lemon Skin would be more tolerable, at least we imagine he would be more tolerableÖand you know that is the thing about the intolerable things in your life. You take a person, say Lemon Skin, who everyone agrees is the most intolerable person in the work place, and if you change that one thing that make him intolerable. Say he even still has Lemon Skin, just not that way. Well there would still be some intolerable thing at work. There would still be the most intolerable thing at work. It might just fall to someone else, perhaps even to you.
The living room is crowded with boxes and things from the spare bedroom. My youngest son moved in with me last week. This is the fourth time in the past five years one of my two sons has moved in. They stay a month or two and then move on, and the bedroom returns to storage space. My sons are easy to live with. They are quiet, have nice friends, and keep regular hours. They are good company when they are here, which is not that much. The daughters, I go visit. They have pretty stable lives of their own.
Two thin bottoms stalk the street, swinging their identical purses. They are out shopping today and taking in the spring weather, these lemon cookies. The wind catches the thin material of their slacks, whipping it around their legs, and it bats their short hair around their faces. They look ahead, down the sidewalk, and not into the store windows. Whatever they are shopping is not on this block. It is somewhere else, ahead, down the walk, around another corner and on another street. But their gait is casual. They are not in a hurry, wherever it is they are headed.
In this past five years, I lost my job. I am still confused in what sense I lost my job, or whether it actually lost me. The last thing I said to my boss was, ďIíll see you tomorrow.Ē I counted him as a friend.
It was one of those intense six-figure jobs that so many people want. I donít really want it. I guess I didnít want it then, and even the two stays in the hospital within six months didnít convince me of that. It was the choice between the third stay and not seeing my friend again.
Sometimes, it is just that your brain takes in too much at once and will not stop. At the same time it is matching everything up end to end, side to side, top to bottom and piling it all up. All the pollution, corruption, death, uncertainty, life creeping end to end, countless souls and tender shoots tasting molecules of air swarming in unbearable beauty. It knocks you out, makes you tired, and in the end it roughs you up, you know. I wonder if it is not a disease but merely as some suggestóa natural reaction to it all.
I am sure I have been on more than six different drugs in the past five years. None of them have worked. I have been a good patient. I have been a compliant patient, but I am losing faith in these doctors and their persistent diagnosis and tentative treatments. Now, my current doctor finds that they have never used Lithium. He is very excited. I can see this one coming, and I have a bad feeling that somewhere buried 30 years of charts is a reason they did not use Lithium. And I am weary of being a good patient.
We are talking when the word comes up. Ajabaja. I think she is calling me this, or herself, I am not quite sure. What is Ajabaja? It is Swedish, a very mild sweet and harmless form for naughty she explains. And I am already thinking that yes, I must write 100 words about this Ajabaja, this youngster with round cheeks who is perpetually sucking on a candy bar, who walks in heavy shoes and carries his books in a strap. I am thinking he has blonde hair, and his nose is running. His mother thinks about him as he walks.
It is time to put an end on the month of March. This month has been a hard one on my side. Months like these convince you that you either are made of stronger stuff than you had thought, or that you just donít have what it takes to survive in this cacophony of overstimulation. And they leave you wondering which, without giving a hint of an answer. In the end, we are all promised a good long rest from it all. In the meanwhile, we are also assured intermittent confusion, constant surprise, alarming pain, staggering joy, and unendurable beauty.
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