Drive Yourself Crazy

I want to thank Birdman for taking over hosting duties for a while. As it turns out, I’ve been consciously occupied with outside events of personal importance that have allowed for very little in the way of inward journeys. So, thank you Birdman, you have been a true friend in keeping this haven for me while I was away.

What happened?

K and I moved to the Pacific Northwest. This is something we have been wanting to do for a long time.

I quit my job, we donated or recycled a bunch of our belongings, and declined to renew our lease. We packed up Gamera with some luggage and a pair of cat carriers (one medium and one small), and then anything that didn’t fit in Gamera went inside a huge POD.

Loading the POD and emptying out ten years of stuff from a three story townhouse was a supreme ordeal. You need mad Tetris skills and nerves of steel from having studied several episodes of the TV show “Hoarders.” It took 38 hours, 27 of which was straight-on-till-morning, without sleep.

After making sure the PODzilla transport arrived (they had tried to call us to confirm, but our phone was already disconnected), we loaded the three cats Michael, Frankie, and Blink into their carriers. K and I made sure they had plenty of water, litter, food, and comfy blankees to sleep or throw up on.

With star charts in the crevices of the seats and jammed to the gills with food, bedding, clothes and computers we left Reston Virginia behind and embarked on our galactic voyage across the country. We still hadn’t had any sleep, but we were determined to reach our first stop in Toledo, Ohio.

Sometimes a heroic effort is necessary to break free of the octopus of the past.

We got stuck in traffic. The DC Foundry has a strong gravity well that can be formidable—in this case we spent an hour going 2 miles before we managed to escape. The temperature was brutally hot, but the AC held and the cats managed not to freak out until we were actually out of the jam.

Blink needed some calming medicine and the others a little petting. This was an adventure they had never encountered before! Then we were off again.

I don’t know where I got the strength and the will to go on, but I drove through the night until we reached our goal.  Despite the hotel directions being incomprehensible we found the place.

The hotel staff allowed us to check in late and stay in past check out (bless their hearts) so we could get a few hours extra sleep. 44 hours is a long time to go without sleep, let alone move like a beast and then drive ten hours.

The cats rolled with it.

Then, every day the same: Get up, pack the stuff and then load the cats, check out, get breakfast, gas up, drive to the next stop. Des Moines (Iowa), Cheyenne (Wyoming), Ogden (Utah), Boise (Idaho), and then Portland (Oregon). Six days of travel and full of danger and hilarity.

I didn’t know if I could drive for such long periods of time. That was always something my father did, and did with great skill and stamina. So in a way I have made my contribution to the Drive Yourself Crazy Club of which Ferguses are said to be members.

There is something of a meditation in having to be alert and discerning for endless hours of monotony. The body adapts to the external demands that the mind serves to navigate.

If there is one insight I come away from, having been 2800 miles of distance through the United States, it is that the country is a huge resource extraction wealth grab for the rich.

Corn fields in Nebraska as far as the eye can see, making corn syrup. Beef fields in Wyoming making ground beef for the franchise wars. Refineries processing coal for energy. All connected by roads and truckstops, with a slight nod to tourism (if you can afford it). All fenced in and owned or dominated by big business, with no signs of civilization or individuality anywhere.

When the cheap oil runs out and the diesel begins to strangle the truck lines all of this will die, blow away, leaving ghost towns and blighted landscapes full of nitrates.

It’s already happening—I could hardly believe how much construction was going on with the roads. A third of the roads I drove were in a state of repair, traffic redirected to a single lane for 25 miles at a time, again and again. And the roads that were new were composites—where is the asphalt? The quality of the roads is going to cheap materials as it breaks down faster, talk about surreal.

We passed a lot of wind farms, and that’s great, but you aren’t going to be running trucks or building roads or making fertilizer out of wind power. To see this country propped up like a house of cards with all wealth going to rich institutions with no thought of what comes after is to witness the triumph of mindless evil over decent human life.

As K and I drove through this desolation of self-destruction we encountered the elements. A thundering torrential rainstorm in Iowa that would become a roaring hurricane a few days later sweeping the east coast in a fury, destroying phone and power for millions.

The smoke clouds from the south as we drove through Wyoming were the beginnings of the massive brush fires that would destroy countless homes in Colorado, of a size to stagger the imagination in its scope. We drove through areas where the fire had burned everything to one side of the highway and then gone out when it met the road.

Some fires still blazed in their enclosed firetraps. I thought we were passing through a strip mine, when I realized the black earth was cinders covering the landscape of boulders that remained after everything else had perished. This is the future—nature crushing us back into the savage garden from whence we sprang.

Just remember, global warming is only a liberal hoax!

The vision is a horrific one, and beyond my small power to affect—yet I still ask what it is for and I will to will Thy will in my transformation. I shall remember this and express my own personal potion when the time is right, for do I not also contain a small spark of fire inside me, a thunder being holding a candle alight?

Then we reached our destination. It was as if we had stepped through the protective mists of Lothlorien, where some small craft, healing, and knowledge is preserved.

We stayed at a Buddhist retreat run by one of my oldest and dearest of friends, allowing the cats to stretch their legs and us to remember a little of what it means to be human beings. Eat, drink, walk, recover—our journey done and the real work of building a new home begins.

Our apartment is small, but perfectly placed for us to begin again. Everywhere are trees, ferns, lichens, mosses, and birds. There are secret and hidden places for me to discover new ideas and form new substance in the world.

As I attended college here, I went to the reunion to witness and regard the connections to the past that still shape my life today. There are ceremonies of the soul that cannot be shared, but of which there is great sensation and emotion pouring out into one’s life.

My old life is gone, destroyed by a thunder-fire storm of psychic change. I am nothingness, out of which may come the dawn.

Hello, you can call me Birdman. My real name is a series of squawks and cheeps, so for the sake of ease you can use a name others have utilized for their own benefit.

I have come to inform you that Paul Tristan Fergus is temporarily indisposed. Something about a UFO and dimensional engineering feats involving object packages. A whole lot of technical stuff that quite frankly is for the birds if you ask me. Give me some tasty snacks and a brisk wind on a clear sunny day and I am happy chickadee.

Some of you may have noticed a gradual slowdown in posts here, with a general focusing on bizarre psychological adventures. I assure you this has been quite normal and intended! My fine un-feathered friend has been subjected to a great deal of stress, the misery of which has required his utmost attention to transform into usable materials for the refinement of his quest objectives.

It’s perfectly understandable if some of you have wondered about the sanity or stability of our illustrious super fool. Fear not! Such chills and thrills appear to be part of the general program, or ride, or process. At least, if I’m not a bird-brain and have got it all wrong!

Hold tight, the suspense is in not knowing if the magician is really juggling anti-matter while eating peanut butter cups or is pulling your leg. Oops, is that a real bloody stump or ketchup?

Eeegah aieee ooooeeahh!

In the meantime, you may rely on me to keep the lights on and the oxygen scrubbers pulsating. I will do my best to be a good egg—I have ordered an extra pair of dignity pants so that when I go flying off the cuff I won’t be a dirty birdie! You are all in good talons, rest assured.

For now, kick back, and listen to the transwarp hyperspace jumpspice stargate mechanisms making for a Hek of a fabulous and fantastical display of transformational transmutation of a most winged kind.

As a kid I did a lot of drawing. One of the things I enjoyed drawing were labyrinths with goodies at the center.  Over time these doodles evolved and began to acquire various characteristics.

At first, there was usually some treasure at the center.  Later on I began to tape paper doors over these pups so you couldn’t see what the treasure was until you got there—surprise!

Then a figure of adventure began to take shape.  Usually the figure was a girl, sometimes holding a torch.  On rare occasions it was a boy, and a few times it was a group of greedy hunters with hats—spittle spraying from their leering smiles.

The labyrinth became a maze, with dead ends and rooms with dangerous experiences.  Monsters, traps, accidents, or words saying “You didn’t find it sukkr!” or “Nope!”  These too were covered up with doors so you couldn’t know what was under them until it was too late: “Bomb, you ded!”

A map of the psyche perhaps, both for consideration of how people approach me, and how I approach myself.  We can get lost in the vastness of our own being, sometimes a map helps.

Can we find the gold in ourselves?  How much of a maze and/or labyrinth do we build around ourselves when dealing with others?  Do we let them have our gold, or do we direct them to the spear trap?

So I drew up another such map in the old style.  Without the paper doors, but I could code a table with rollover images now to adapt for the Internet.  Certainly not a difficult journey, although the hazards are still there. The path still connects the inside and outside—some people close off their paths completely, mind you.

Has the time come to perhaps re-examine my map and draw something more complex? Taking a bit of inspiration from my seriously inventive and clever insightful Hexe, I believe I shall attempt it!

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.