Archive for January, 2010

055_barneyThey called it the “barbeque that seats four“.  A vehicle with a propensity to burst into flames, due to a design flaw that allowed the gas tank to be ruptured during a rear end collision. I lived in it with my parents, on and off, from about age four up until the age of nine.  Talk about a five year mission!

We drove from location to location, looking for a place with a job where we could make our home.  Sometimes we’d stop at a motel, often we would sleep in the car at a rest stop.  The back seat came down, the luggage went into the front seats, and out came the sleeping bags and pillows.  Crowded, yes, but quite an adventure.

Money came from grandpa in the form of an allowance, which was enough to buy gas, eat at Howard Johnson’s, buy souvenirs from Stuckey’s, or go to the occasional local carnival.  My main form of entertainment was drawing and reading—comic books, TinTin, and any number of strange and unusual childrens’ books.

Our particular Pinto was named “Barney”.  He was red with black seats and upholstery.  What was most cool about him was he had “the three controls”, which were the fan on/off, the temperature hot/cold, and what I remember as being a defroster front/rear.  I was really into Speed Racer at the time, so I found it cool to imagine that Barney had special powers too (if only three).

One particular hilarious adventure happened when we were leaving California to go back to the east coast (having failed to find a job or a place to live in the Golden State).  Mom was driving Barney with myself in the back, while dad followed behind in a U-Haul Van.  We decided to drive through the Mojave Desert on the way to Las Vegas.

The temperature was over 110 degrees and the car had no air conditioning.  One of the things we always carried with us in Barney was a large red and white plastic cooler.  I got so hot sitting in the back that I opened the cooler and climbed inside (but couldn’t close the lid all the way.  I lay on the ice and bottled drinks, which gave up their cold in a cloud of steam that trickled out the lid.

My mom looked in the rear view mirror and stopped the car, fearing a fire had started.  She saw me hiding in the cooler and asked what I was doing in the cooler, of all places?  I said I was trying to stay cool by putting myself on ice.  Even then I was a smarty pants!

Barney was only a V4, so he didn’t have a lot of power.  He had a propensity to break down more and more as he went on.  For example, when we left Las Vegas the fuel pump busted and had to be repaired.  Because we had just gotten gasoline at a service station from an Asian attendant, I said we broke down because we bought Japanese gas.  Oh, kids.  Aye-yi-yi.

Repairs meant calling grandpa for repair money.  Then the adventure would continue.  AM seventies radio, three television networks in the hotel, and bookstores were my culture troughs.  Occasionally we would stop and stay with family or find a place we could live in for a few months, but always we would be back on the road on the quest for a home.

Eventually, we did find a place to live with a job.  Shortly afterward, Barney broke down for the last time on a major bridge during rush hour on a roasting hot day.  That day is vivid in my mind—the parental swear words, the finality of Barney’s last gasp of service, and the growing realization that we were putting down roots.

We had Barney towed to our home, but it was obvious he would never ride again—too expensive to repair.  Too many asteroid belts, hostile android encounters, and radioactive mountain terrain on a Volkswagen wannabe engine.  I watched the tow truck take him away for the last time, never to know the Three Controls again.

But there are times at night before I go to bed where I remember.  The awkward feel of the uneven backseat while being squeezed in with two grownups.  The timelessness of the road and the never-ending panoply of mud-bottom America.  The roaring sound of eighteen wheelers driving by lulls me to sleep, and Barney is there to remind me that freedom and adventure are eternally of our spirit and may strike at any time.

Any day a car may appear out of nowhere, you climb inside, and notice it has three controls.

054_closetotheedgeEveryone decided to hike downriver that day.  I insisted on staying behind, claiming that I would stand guard over everyone’s gear.  They walked out of sight for a rendezvous with the confluence of two branches of the river.

As soon as they were gone, it was safe again for me to talk to the voices in my head.  Quiet enough once more to hear the immensity of nature careening into me from all sides.  Free from the distracting weight of human beings striving in their dark ignorance toward the dawn of understanding.

Out came the inner light and like a shadow I danced as it danced.  Canyon lands rising up about me in stony magnificence, unchangeably real and transient both at once.  Wide river water coursing past my ankles as cold toes taloned into the rocky, sandy gravel.

A huge grotto of boulders blocking the river draws me close and I talk to me myself and I, among the other people who live inside my brain.  We have these talks so we can decide what to do.  The muddy sand squelching under me, deep eddies passing under my tread, I douse myself in a waterfall of cascading fountain and am reminded of the living spirit that moves through us.

Everything comes off, slapped flat against a sunny boulder to dry.  The Walkman is left beside my shoes on a sandy beach.  No civilization star charts are needed where I’m going.  I step outside the circle and invite the universe to tell me stories.

See, I’ve got a big dude choice to make.  Love, knocking at the door and asking if anyone’s there.  I don’t know.  Never had anyone come to that door before.  The question isn’t whether or not I will answer (I already have), but how will I answer.  Trust in front or behind?

I start climbing the jagged cliff, up the side of the canyon.  The first twenty feet is fairly easy, and I stop to look back at my Walkman and shoes beneath me.  They seem so small, now.  Then I’m scrambling up and over, higher and higher until I reach a ledge just below the peak of the canyon rise.

I start walking along the ledge, rocks and gravel tumbling down the slope below me to disappear over a sheer drop to what I believe is an underscored rock face.  I reach the end of the rise and find myself on a round platform of stone looking over the confluence of the two river branches.

Giant rock formations surround me across the river chasms, higher even than the topside I am skirting now.  Titanic vistas of stone push into me with their awesome scope, beaming both the dread reality of an easy demise should I step two feet over and the soothing sensation of being opened up like a sealed geode to the wonder of being in love and knowing nothing.

All of us, ants before a grand and mighty universe unfolding beyond any reason or dreaming.  I understand this is as far as I go in human form, so I turn about and begin the long, difficult descent.  To come back to earth, even in a symbolic way, is harder.  Limbs grow tired, throats turn parched, and the mind loses clarity against the storm of outside struggle.

The last twenty feet are an agony of return.  In the grotto, I resume my trappings of civilization and walk the riverbed back to camp.  I sit down before a blackened ring of stones where a campfire will appear tonight.

I come to the conclusion it was too late to avoid this by several weeks.  I am only deciding how I will ride the lightning.  A door in me creaks open and a seething avalanche comes shooting out into my life, stunning me into a trance.

As coincidence would have it, the group returns shortly after I commit to diving face first into the love of no return.  Looking at the naked, muddy people approach me to tell their adventure, I see I’m not the only wild thing in the desert this day.

But that is a tale told another day, and then only to a few.

They’re up to something, here in the new honeycomb hideout. Unlike most bees, killer bees stay busy during the winter, making their ultra-concentrated mega-monster honey and training in honeycomb battlegrounds for the day when they can rip and tear with adamantine claws and stingers armed with DDT in the poison capsules.

Oh yeah, and they got a phat base ringin’ down from their ghetto blasters, drumming their wings with beat box fresh fly slack attacks. Stand clear of this hive, they’ve moved into the neighborhood and they don’t like noisy neighbors!  We’ve already lost one bunch of neighbors next door—I’m wondering if the killer bees didn’t replace their ordinary soft drink with one of those ARM mortgages.  The place is now sealed off.  Weird.

I do notice I get a bonus to many rolls with the Killer Bees around. It’s kind of nice not to whiff my attempts at getting something done with half a brain.  Can’t complain when the popcorn comes out just right, with almost all kernels popped—or when those nasty caked on egg stains come off the pan when I’m scrubbing in the sink.  It’s like a soothing drone, this buzzing buzzing buzzing in the winter when most all other insectoids and their kin are stunned into immobility.

Just imagine what these super evolved bees will be up to when things warm up in the spring.  It’s going to be a crazy year, this 2010, and it’s already shaping up to be one to lose one’s mind!

Out on the loch state of mind in the lifeboat, I pried open The Accumulator and rummaged around.  Seems like the memories of an old flame stirred the pot and brought a few things to the surface into clearer vision.

It appears I wrote a journal entry about the incredible day I had smoked oysters. That moment moved me so strongly I had to set it down on paper lest I forget the intensity of it.

From the meeting at the bus stop—she having first done a morning walk in the woods to think us over—I dodging a dear friend’s photo meeting so I could get up early (eleven AM is early for me) and be on time.

Together through a long day on the town worthy of a dozen dates.  On into a night of just two people talking and sharing a connection.  To the kiss goodnight keeping me from getting to sleep until five AM (thus having to write it all out of my system).

But even before that day, a journal entry about the kiss.  The first one, soft and wonderful beyond imagining.  Opening my heart and sending me straight to the bottom that would become a return to the surface. Then I realize I’m flooded with memories, reading a non-linear journal moving back and forth between moments in time and space to tell me what I have forgotten.

See, I built this inner space communications module, an interocitor if you will, out of cardboard and magic markers. But as my friend Xtine would say, the model kits we see in the store don’t quite make the grade. What we have inside is the real thing.

Back when I was on UFO Girl’s ship of the I-magination there was alien and earthling co-contamination. See, if I could build an advanced organic technology at eight years old then it stands to reason I might be able to develop and improve upon that model in some capacity. Completing the picture by sticking an antenna on the whole thing to get better reception.

So there’s that musical pattern playing on my viewscreen now in sound and sight, accessed by looking in an old memory constellation of love—what else are spaceships powered by?


Hek yeah, my music quest demands that I answer this one.  Yes.  Yes!

Good ol’ UFO Girl, crazy as she is, left musical messages for me during that time for me to find now. It’s like opening a time torpedo.  “This is how you put the antenna on,” followed by “This is how you look into your brain and extract materials for analysis.”

Because hidden within the nuances of my life, powered by the completed harmony of an array of musical meditations, she’s hidden the plans for me to build my own flying saucer.

That was some kiss my old flame and I shared.

I tend to lack interest in manufactured mediopoly concisions; too many false-prophets shouting and screaming.  However, exceptions always manage to creep in, as it should be. No matter what system we come up with, it can’t possibly include boundless life.

A catastrophe has occurred and there’s been a tremendous loss of life. I feel that, because it touches a part of me I resonate with strongly.  There’s scorn and self-righteousness being heaped on the empathy many are feeling for the suffering that has transpired.  This development moves me to comment on a part of me that I also resonate with strongly.

Thoughts and prayers are a form of consciousness-raising activity.

They don’t exist inside a vacuum, they are a taking of action. Expressing them allows the sharing of ideas that de-atomizes the community, strengthens ties and organizes people around their mutual interest. From organization comes a scaling of action from which changes are made to our environment. So there’s nothing small or ineffectual about one’s thoughts or prayers—thus the hysterical ranting against them by vanguards.

Caring is a dissident act.  If that’s all you do—feel for another—then all is not lost.  That’s where the tide turns—with the blood shaking your heart in an awful daring of a moment’s surrender which an age of prudence can never retract.

By that, and that only, have we existed.  The false-prophets have reason to scream loud, but they can never scream enough to drown out the caring of a single heart for another.

The incomparable Anne Wagener has done it again. I mentioned earlier that she had two short stories in the hopper, but she surprised me by ditching the observatory story and revealing something else instead. Wow, total bonus!

I read both of these stories and liked them very much.  Moved me deeply and freaked me out.  But I enjoy strange fiction with an introspective angle, so it’s my kind of thing.

  • This Piece of Me—A girl with an unusual characteristic, totally weird.
  • States of Water—Losing a best friend as rite of passage, heart crushing disturbia.

I swear, one of these days I’m going to see her stuff on a bookshelf or for sale to use on the Nook or Kindle.  Congratulations Anne, you keep writing girl. Rock the mike!

Last Saturday two of my friends got married.  I always get emotional at such times, though not quite the way people might think.  Panic and fear.  Excitement and elation.  Confusion and bafflement.

See, whenever two people make that conscious commitment to each other public, these are the sorts of things I hear:

  • “We’re going to defeat the entire Dark Destroyer army by ourselves—with a stick of chewing gum.”
  • “We’ve decided to fly on a rocket straight through the sun—and not break a sweat.”
  • “We’ll be, you know, rescuing the earth from the erupting super volcano—by eating hamburgers.”

Oh my goodness, my friends are going to rescue the earth!  Uh, won’t flying through the sun be a little like suicide?  How are they going to defeat an army with chewing gum?  My brain hurts!

Not that they should be saying something else.  This is marriage, the supreme ordeal of doom! We aren’t talking about a love affair, which is all about the fun (and once it stops being fun the gig is up).  We’re talking about epic quest stuff here, not mass entertainment stuck in the infantile view of relationship.

See, when two people take each other as their center, all other things are secondary.  Family, friends, communities, religions, governments, and corporations—all get second place.  That’s unacceptable—not only does it deny the obedience that is rightly owed some of these temporal authorities, but it absolutely destroys all other personal relationships.

This is often portrayed as the “ball and chain” in popular entertainment.  That crazy marriage has wrecked all the fun!  Don’t those two people realize they have to live in the real world?

So rituals exist to connect this unnatural act back to the rest of the world.  One’s allegiance is channeled back into the institutions of authority and privilege, lest people start getting ideas.  That they can, you know love another person and sacrifice themselves to that person regardless of suffering, regardless of death?

If that isn’t a harrowing adventure, big dude quest to save the world, I don’t know what is.

Can’t have any of that.  Must control the scope of the act so that only certain means of expression are allowed.  Only properly ordained types of people can be allowed recognition, because to grant even imposed rights upon any subset is to ultimately allow it for all.  This act must be controlled, sanctified by proper channels, and made into a sacred institution (that is, “safe” for local consumption).

In other words, the moral act of commitment is so dangerous it must be controlled.  Because God forbid these people actually start completing any of these impossible tasks.  Others might be inspired by them to jump into their own crazy act of unnatural disobedience.

Going over my horoscope for right about now (funk soul brutha!), and considering the numerological significance of what this year means (wouldn’t you like to know which system?).  I have come to the conclusion that this is the year in which our minds are gone.

There is no intelligent life on this planet, only you reading this and me telling you these words with my keystrokes in the past coming to the present to be read by your eyeballs in the present which was my future at the time I typed this.

Hold on a minute, I’m receiving a transmission from my past self.  He tells me he really enjoyed the music I sent his way from the unknown.  Most perplexing, because I’m not entirely sure I had anything to do with hooking him up.  I just sort of sent my blessing back in time to what already happened with a fond remembrance of the unexpected discovery I’d made.

Getting back to the here in now, as contaminated as it is suddenly with the rich and deeply satisfying youth of days long past, oh never mind.  We just shifted gears even more in the past and are sitting in the chamber of the distant shadows of what we hardly remember because it touches us in the formative years.

You see, our thoughts are unbound by the limitations of time and space, even though they rely upon time-space constants of electro-chemical interactions to create consciousness.  Our brains think they are running the production, but it takes a village to have a bowel movement.  There’s more going on than the mere cooking of a hamburger.

It’s a little strange to enter these weird fugue states of otherworldly consciousness (without the help of any props, look Ma—no hands!).  But consider it normal operations as the whole bunch of us shamble about on our quest for solutions to the puzzles under our trees this holiday season of SciFi past.

Oh, this century is ON.  But we have to lose our minds in order to find them.

My job stuff, along with romantic stuff, is off limits on this blog-a-roo.  But again I find exceptions creeping in.  Something Captain Picard in Star Trek: TNG said about laws being unjust as long as they are absolute.  That is, inhuman.

Inexplicably, a tale from my past keeps coming back to me this holiday season, and so I must reckon with it.  That is, after all, the purpose of this starship adventure I find myself traveling along.

There was this time I allowed love to enter into my house, and it tore my furnishings asunder as if it had been one terrible tumult of super-accelerated fireballs.  You see—I received as an Xmas gift a CD of an album I listened to in depth a great deal during this time.

I’d already been thinking of my past love in the crumbled corners of my mind, but to get those songs (and cheesy, adolescent songs they seem to me now—though still with great meaning) at this time, it’s as if I’m opening up a door I’d held long closed.  One I’d rather not revisit, as pleasant and as magical as some of the things I’d jammed behind it are.

But enough!  Wraiths of torment, I release you from your burdens of guarding these treasured memories.  Away with the tender keepsakes and wondrous insights of affection dwelling in a tightened tomb.  Let treasures sparkle in bright sun and with open offering to those who find them compelling.

Not into the dark, but into the light where this soft, glowing memory howls in vivid, windswept peaks and heat-soaked hills of elevated spaciousness.

I’m remembering a certain love I got to know during tennis class.  Our late night talks together, one of which led to our first passionate kiss.  The laser Van Halen show we watched together, and the smoked oysters we had one night in my room.  Walking alone in a field at night and collapsing with giddy delight so strong I had an out-of-body-experience.

Then the frustrations and misunderstandings with one another.  Each of us wanting different things and not having the wisdom to either recognize that or work it out.  Culminating in a break up in a hamburger diner that no longer exists, the two of us going our separate ways yet heartbroken and shaken by passions perhaps no human being knows how to make whole.

She married my rival and has a family now.

Me, I would wander many cold and empty paths to come.  Into darkness so terrible many never come back.  But I came back and I didn’t know why or how.

Now I know why.  I said, “yes.”

Yes to love no matter what the consequences.  It sent me straight to hell, but I held onto it fast as painful and disappointing as love turned before it tossed me aside face first into knowledge of my own death.

To those who have loved, that is how you answer evil.  You say yes.

Yes!  Yes, a wonderful word, a word of freedom and expanse, which releases all bonds and opens the door to the buried secrets you kept within.  Hoping beyond hope that an understanding would come.  That it would make sense before you die.

Could I ever have imagined I would share this now, in this time, with the whole universe of those who use computers?  To try and unburden my soul of even a smidgen of the choices I have made and bear the blame for?

Down the rabbit hole and up again, to witness the vast expanse of what love transforms before us.

Believe it!