"I dream of a hard and brutal mysticism in which the naked self merges with the nonhuman world and somehow survives...Paradox and bedrock."-Edward Abbey

30 November 2010


The fact that one holiday's decorations begin to appear in retail settings before another holiday has even ended has been happening for so long now, it is often regarded in the same way as bad weather, shitty mass media, or even the shape of modern politics; something, which is grumbled about, sometimes to the point of borderline psychotic ranting, but nothing is ever really done. Perhaps there's a feeling of powerlessness there. Maybe it's that some just like to bellyache to hear their head rattle and auditorly masturbate to the sound of their own voice.

Now, when the holiday decorations appear that early on private residences, it just becomes offensive. Almost more so than the decorations that stay up for months after the fact. Or, worse yet, the ones that never, ever, come down, either out of sloth or forgetfulness. I have noticed an increasing amount of this in recent years.

The other mourning, I was walking to the gig in the darkness of the hour before dawn. The route I took was along the western end of Rue Main, just past the cantina. It was one of the newer houses, dysfunctionally kitty-corner to the park, that was strung with lights. Gaudy, multi-colored flashing things, which could have very well been an epileptic's vision of hell. Well, if they didn't just drop into a seizure straight away.

And I growled. The memory of the previous holiday was but a few days old. It was too bloody soon. On the rest of my walk, I saw two other residences with lights. To their credit, they were a little more tastefully done.

I got to thinking about it, because my mind never shuts off. Initially, I figured my vitriol toward the holiday season had to do with my mother, and the fact it was the first one without her, and remembering those last two before. I reasoned it may have had to do with the knowledge that Jibril would've been forty if he'd not died on the last day of winter, three and a half years ago. The fresh wounding of the bruja of my acquaintance dying right before a holiday figured into the equations within the mathematics of my thoughts.

But, I realized, as true as those three factors were, they were not the sole reason. I had to be honest with myself, and even backed up my supposition by checking over previous years' observations; I have been a humbug for a long time. Almost twenty years in fact. The holidays had long since lost their luster, and, if anything, it seems to be getting worse as I get older.

Initially, it was adolescent angst. Spending time with family is all gay and fine, but when at that age of wanting to taste the world, beyond the reach of one's parents, it can border upon torture. Even and especially if one is fighting with one or both parents on a frequent bases.

Of course, there's the theological expectation of some holidays. As I studied other belief systems, and found I was not of the one, which framed some holidays, I didn't have much desire to be involved. Some of that I equate to just being a angsty twenty-something. Spitting poison at a Christian holiday made of the same type of bigoted prick as the doomsday zealots who would condemn my Pagan friends to a Hell they didn't believe in for not believing in the supremacy of the Holy Bible.

The social and commercial expectations observed also added to my growing ire. Even especially around Christmas. Despite all the propaganda about joy and peace and goodwill toward one's fellow biped, I observed some of the most blatant and brutal examples of man's inhumanity to man. Often, over perceived valuable gifts and prices.

For awhile, I really dug on Halloween, but five years of cavorting and monkey watching in the Vampire Caste kind of made that all anticlimactic. The lunar/Asian new year was fun from the standpoint of my fascinations with that, which I find exotic, the lion dances, and firecrackers, but the crowds began to get to me, and, like the Gregorian new year, it was just another day. I've always been a fan of my own birthday, it seems like it's the one time I can get away with getting piss-liquored and not get shot a glance from whomever, but I do not like getting piss-liquored and do not care for the liver sprain of the day after.

Therein lies the rub, I suppose; the holidays, whatever holiday, is just another day when it comes down to brass tacks and bedposts. The sun rose and set on such affixed calendar date long before monkeys started putting some other special value to it. It seems as though it's the build-up is far more exciting than the actual day itself. Foreplay leading up to a faked orgasm, as it were. It's all a royal scam. An excuse to spend too much money, eat too much food, and/or drink too much intoxicant of choice.

Since the holidays have long since lost their luster to me, and I've documented it before, it's not as though I'm making any startling revelations. The only variable is I can add the mourning of my mother, Jibril, and the bruja to nearly twenty years of angst-laden emotional baggage. That very statement shows I have my own fetters to these socially constructed days, and, if I was truly above it all, I'd not note it at all. Maybe one day I'll reach that point.

It would be trite to say everyday one draws breath could be seen as a holiday. Cliche to suggest surviving another day is reason enough for celebration. Overdone to point out every single moment fucking magic. And yet, there's truth in those played statements.

I am not without hypocrisy. Fuck, I all but brag about it, because my hypocrisies are a source of great amusement. Well, at least to me.

I am a sucker for those small moments. Those little bits of simple humanity. For all my reptilian detachment when observing the half-bald primates called Man, such things can pull at my heartstrings and get me to smile. Sometimes, just despite myself. For all my angst and hoped for apathy with holidays, I'm sure there will something I see, a moment of some kind, which will hit me between the eyes and reach a soft spot. In that moment, the luster will return and the royal scam will be worth it. But just for that moment.

28 November 2010

Organized Anarchy

I was the one who started calling our next door neighbor to the east Mysterio. In a township of two-hundred hominids, which is maybe during high summer and not counting drop-ins and squatters, he is an enigma. He moved into the studio cabin a little over a year ago, and has never been overly social. Upon arriving home, he scuttles inside quickly and draws the blinds. He has two vehicles; one is a pick-up, which is so rusted out and beaten up, it looks as though it should be shot. The other is something sleek and sporty and sorry-about-your-dick.

Our encounters have been less than pleasant. The first time I spoke to him was a few days after seeing a bear nearby. I'd gone along our row of houses, letting everyone know as to watch their trash, dogs, and/or children. He listened dismissively, and I found myself hoping the bear might find itself in the mood for monkey meat and that Mysterio would be the monkey.

My theory is he's actually a monkey hunter; out there murdering hitchhikers, men hu, and nurses, placing their butchered remains in his refrigerator so he might gain their power as he gnaws at their flesh. In the if and when of him eventually being caught for this and the media descending upon our Kashmir like scavengers upon carrion, I wouldn't do the cliche thing of saying Mysterio was the quiet type. Oh no. I figured he was a psychopath and I'm just exceedingly glad he never decided to try hunting me.

Sabina figures he's a dysfunctional wildlife photographer. She bases this on the fact he does not mow his yard, has dug out a sort of pond, and takes great effort to attract the birds. For all either of us know, she might be right. But I like my story better.

It was Sabina who saw the carcass first. We were storing some extra pellets when I heard her making messianic proclamations. When I looked in her direction, I saw her pointing into Mysterio's yard. There, crumbled, as though it had been road kill, was the corpse of a deer, which the ravens were feasting on.

"I sure hope that doesn't attract a mountain lion," I said. Never mind that the cats stay up along the trails for the most part, my utterance was all that needed to be said to feed Sabina's dragons.

She went and spoke with our lord mayor, a warm, friendly, hard-drinking, and slightly lecherous man around my father's age. He is short, maybe coming up to ankles when I'm barefoot. Sabina also spoke to law enforcement and animal control for our Sahel. Fuck, to a degree, I almost got in on it. I was going to phone law enforcement too and make mention of being concerned for my wife and daughter and ask if we were going to be served and protected.

Law enforcement basically stated it was not their nachos with a cheese side of I-don't-give-two-tugs-of-a-dead-dog's-cock. They had bad guys to catch. Let the lord mayor and/or animal control handle it. I like the lord mayor fine. Between him and his wife, I've heard some neat tales of Africa, from when they lived there. But the man is around my father's age and maybe comes up to my ankles when barefoot.

The animal control officer, who lives across the river from us, and dislikes and distrusts Homo sapiens as much, if not more so, then me, said he wasn't going to get involved. It wasn't really his nachos neither, but the Department of Wildlife, and they'd only bother if the corpse began to stink or a mountain lion was sighted. Although, the animal control officer and lord mayor were much more helpful about the situation than law enforcement was.

Our Kashmir is what is called home-rule. We have no standing law enforcement of our own. When Sabina and I first arrived, we were told the open container law was you'd better have one. This was the type of place one could walk down the dirt streets with a beer in one hand and a joint in the other, and no one would even blink. We've done the walking about with a beer or a bottle of wine before. It was fantastic.

Law enforcement can only come within our borders if they are summoned. They cannot just drive through looking for someone walking down the dirt streets with a beer in one hand and a joint in the other. We exist in a state of organized anarchy, where we are left to police ourselves.

As someone who has called themselves a moderate anarchist, I can groove with that. I cannot say I've ever been overly trusting those who wear badges and carry firearms in open view, and I try to avoid them. There are too many instances, both apocryphal and observed, of those cats abusing the power their station grants them. There's also the very simple observation an overseer made when I was helping to count monkeys in the name of Empire; those of us come to the mountains, like those who go to any in-between place, do so because we want to be left alone.

All things for a price, that is the nature of the deal. Only that, which is cheap, can be purchased with jingling coins and folding paper. Blood and karma is the true currency.

The price we pay for our organized anarchy is a brusque next door neighbor with a deer corpse we can see from the kitchen window when brewing tea, grinding coffee beans, or making breakfast. Since it is winter here, it's not stinking, but we see more ravens than usual. When the mercury gets just a few degrees above freezing, the dogs become rather interested. I see their noses turn and twitch in the direction of Mysterio's yard.

"Not yet," I tell them. "Let the other scavengers clean it off first. Perhaps closer to spring, one of ya'll can sneak over there and steal me the skull to put up on the barn."

Chevy especially likes himself some carrion. He gives me a look. Perhaps it is to tell me he'll get me the skull. Maybe he's disappointed I won't let him, Whistler, and Milarepa go to get a taste of the strange. It could be I'm just anthropomorphizing.

Whether I get the skull of that deer corpse is kind of irrelevant. Even if I do acquire it and hang it on our barn, what the fuck is Mysterio going to do about it? Both Sabina and I can speak to effectiveness of contacting law enforcement. But, when it comes down to brass tacks and bedposts, we'd not have it any other way.

27 November 2010


My beautiful friend, the bruja, of my acquaintance. It had been a little over two years since she had the dreads, and she had some other aesthetics over the nine and a half years I knew her. Be that as it may, this is what my mind's eye perceives when I think of her...

Back then, when we'd all go dancing, she liked to shake her groove thing to this song. I cannot hear it without visualizing her dancing, and it's been that way for years...

We first met at Netherworld. She was acquainted with a girl Lee was trying very hard to get into bed. On that particular night, I'd run into the fucking psycho x and stupidly helped her back up. I found myself the darkest corner in the gin joint with a tumbler of Irish whiskey and a mocha, in which to monkey watch and chide myself.

Lee apparently told her it was okay to sit with me in the dark corner. I could probably use the company. She knew who my fucking psycho x was too and understood my disdain. The bruja introduced herself, and like the Devil, it was apparent she was known by many names.

"What did your parents name you?" I asked, and she told me. "Reckon I'll be calling you that then."

I can admit that was probably a bit dickish and more than a bit hypocritical, given how I am about names in general. That night I was in a bad mood, and, there was some stranger one of my best friends sent by, trying to talk to me. In inspecting the recollection of our first meeting, I realize I was nothing less than caustic, figuring if she wanted to share my company so bad, she'd have to work for it.

Giddy up, muthafucka...

And she hung out with me the entire night. Talking and, eventually, getting me to speak in something more than short, sharp replies. Years later, in a sickhouse, her mother would say the bruja was one of the strongest women she knew. I would reply I thought of her as obstinate, as in as stubborn as a half-starved ass. Her mother laughed weakly and gave me a hug in those dark moments of the small hours.

Nine and a half years is perhaps nothing on the scale of worlds and the lifespans of stars, and yet it can seem like forever and a day, thus showing how time is an elastic abstract. In that stretch of time, I saw her being one of the Vampire Queens, a mystic, an artist, a hippy, the ultimate event planner, and probably a few other things I'm either still not sure about or somehow got lost in the shuffle of watching her sometimes shed metaphysical skins like a snake.

Sometimes, that bothered me. It was as though she was a changeling. Something with no true form of her own, and not to be trusted. It took me a while to realize why that aspect of her personality got on my nerves, and it was because, in that regard, we were both rather alike.

Both of us could get into something, and I mean really get into something. Head, heart, and gut. It became the paradigm. But then, done and over. Whether it was that the novelty wore off or whatever we wanted to accomplish with such thing was accomplished, and we moved on to the next thing. Of all of my friends, she was the only one who didn't think I'd completely lost my mind when I announced I was done with city living and fucking off for the mountains.

"I've been there," she said. "I know."

Nine and half years can be a small eternity when it comes to all the memories and stories, I find. As I sit back, remembering my beautiful friend, I cannot think of a single tale that encapsulates our friendship; how well we got along, how violently we could disagree, how much we meant to one another. Language begins to become clumsy and useless. I would refer to her as family by neither blood or marriage. That might be the best way to describe it. I loved her to death, even when she was pissing me off.

The last time I saw her, was in the early autumn. The bruja and her husband came up to get a kitten from us. We had dinner together and talked of trivialities. I mentioned how sometime in the near future I wanted to meet her, and perhaps some of our other mutual friends, for tea somewhere in the greater metroplex.

Through correspondence, both her and I were discussing how our views of theology were evolving as we grew older, and by virtue of some of our experiences. In some ways, our beliefs very similar, although she had the Southern Baptist upbringing and Pagan viewpoint, in contrast to my underlying themes of Buddhism and Pathiesm. She would speak of Paradox and I would mention the Tao of Chaos. Along with Jibril, the bruja was someone I loved to discuss theology with. I truly looked forward to the discussions we were going to have.

But it was chaos that took her. Is there any other way to explain it? Chaos is also what makes it difficult to reconcile. I have dealt with death before, but, as much as it devastated me, it was expected. This was out of nowhere and unexpectedly, whilst cooking dinner, that the gypsy phoned. Suddenly everything changed. Wrong place, wrong time, bad things happen to good people, roll the bones.

I am going to miss her. There are very few hominids who understood my misanthropy the way she did. We both did things for one another, which endeared one to the other, and I sometimes think of her acts as bordering upon philanthropic. As far as the females I've been friends with, perhaps Jezebel is the only one I've been closer to.

There is a skull full of memories and stories. Some, which any within the circle of friends can relate, perhaps even adding their own perspective. Others are just me and her. A night at coffee. The time I took her for steak or all the dinners we shared. Our conversations whilst walking, riding the bus, driving somewhere, just sitting somewhere watching the world go by.


Someday, perhaps, I'll get to some of those stories. But I find that day is not this one. On this day, I suddenly find myself out of words.

25 November 2010

The Cold

I find myself grateful for my stands at the mill. Well, it's always nice to be able to jack my lumber, but getting paid for it too is wonderful. The small thing of a steady source of income does lend comfort.

The stands have allowed for distraction. Just throw myself into the zen of the gig. Sure, my mind might wander now and again, my mind never shuts off, but I try to keep focused on doing my part on keeping this experimental facility running and producing. That is interesting to me, and not just from the standpoint of income, but in doing a good thing. Dancing with the dead gave me my taste for altruism with the side benefit of getting paper to survive on.

The blizzard that was prophesied for my part of the world never materialized, thus, once more showing prophets don't know everything. It has been cold, though. The wind has been talons and blades, which rip through the warmest of clothing, past flesh, beyond bone, straight to the marrow. It is supposed to warm up. Well, for the pointy lands in this time of year. But I will still want a coat.

Somehow, though, the cold seems to be in context. Twisted, in its symmetry. This is not a time to be warm. Too much has happened.

I find myself so irritable as of late. Me, the one in possession of reptile zen, who it was so hard to anger. I find myself tired, emotional, and all too willing to stab something. It is as if the p'o, the animal soul that embraces instinct over intellect, the demon, is so much closer to the surface these days. The slightest thing gets me to growl. I bite my tongue from snapping. I meditate upon the reptilian, allowing its cold blood to wash over me as I try to reestablish my equilibrium.

One of my newest associates spent a stand talking about everything from religion to politics to space exploration to science to sociology to evolution. It was fantastic. I am a sucker for conversations like that. The cats I refer to as friends, talk like that as a matter of course.

It took me back to the coffeehouses and diners. Discussions over fine meals. Memories of Jibril and the bruja. Those two could give some incredible mind. This cat at the mill was like that.

Something that got me to growl; in remembering the conversation and those lost friends, that cliche about a door closing and window opening...

There it is. Cold air, which burns like kerosene and spun glass when one tries to breathe it. Wind that slices straight to the marrow and beyond. Somehow, though, it fits. Twisted, in its symmetry. I cannot say I enjoy it. Physically, the cold causes aches in my twisted skeleton. Metaphorically, the cold burns and sucks away everything as it freezes.

I accept it because it's here. Simple as that. It cannot be denied. It is going to be.

It will get warmer, because that too is the way of things. Physically, by virtue of the orbit around the sun and the world's tilt on its axis. But in metaphor and metaphysics, that part is a little trickier.

23 November 2010

Bon Au Revoir, Mon Ami...

My favorite scene from one of my favorite films. When my mother got sick, this took on a new resonance. When she diagnosed terminal, went into the sickhouse, when the word came down there was no hope, and hour before the call, it was my focus. Then, as with now, the wisdom of this scene helps to keep me from screaming...

Although, I think offering a bag of oranges to the family might get me busted in the mouth, at best, and I would probably deserve it...

I hate this band. I hate this fucking song. This is not about me. This was her favorite band. She was so happy to see them live, in their home town, no less. There were pictures involved.

This has been stuck in my skull since word come down...

Another one that's played within the walls of my skull, along with old, old recollections of Netherworld, back when we first all met. Besides, she always wanted to be a primatologist, and would laugh when I referred to humans as addle-brained half-bald monkeys. I can admit to be savagely jealous of the fact she met the first real girl I ever had a crush on; Jane Goodall.

Perhaps I should do a proper requiem, but perhaps I already have, and it was days earlier, whilst I reconciled the ghost had flown the shell. The shell now grows cold. There will be more words, I'm sure. Maybe a story or two. But, here and now, all I find myself really capable of saying is something another beautiful friend of ours, who has since walked on, would always say to me;

Goodbye, my friend...

20 November 2010

Sickhouse Waltz

I started the mourning with some easy listening; the smooth stylings of Ministry, followed by Bad Brains. Sabina gave me a strange look for my description of easy listening, but it's exceedingly easy for me to listen to Ministry followed by Bad Brains. Before we left, there was some old AFI and Bad Religion. On the way to the sickhouse, I played early Rolling Stones, Anthrax, and Stone Temple Pilots. The context of the day spoke of crunchy tunes.

I was not looking forward to what I was about to do. The night before, when the demons came for tea, I was reconciling a friend of mine had died in all the ways that counted the day after my daughter's birthday. All that remained was mangled meat, which stood as fetish effigy to her memory, and that was to be let go as well.

Things had apparently changed in the time from that darkest part of night and the rising of the sun. It had been decided her mental function needed to be more clearly assessed. She was in surgery again, but the paralytic medications were slowly being stopped. In another couple of days an MRI was to be done to see if anything of our beautiful friend was still within a mass of gray sponge.

And we had a reason to feel a little better. At one point, there was a reaction to base stimulus, a lower brain function. There was a small glimmer of hope. Some hopeful notes in an otherwise mournful tune.

It was not so long ago I dealt with those awful last seventeen days that my mother was in the sickhouse. I can still recall vividly the roller coaster of hope and despair. Those moments of light in the metaphoric tunnel that would be winked out by the darkness of another tragedy. Having played this game and danced the dance a little more recently than the others, the feeling we were experiencing was a familiar one to me. Perhaps it's because of that, I found myself being a little cynical.

I find I still think of her as gone. She's been dead two days now, even though her shell is still puppeteered through its basic functions. All of this is formality. Delusion the family plays out so they can feel they did everything. I feel horrifically bastardish for this, but I cannot shake that that's how it is.

However, I have not given up hope. Were that the case, I would've said my goodbyes to the mangled meat and left the sickhouse, telling those who keep me in the know to phone when the biologics cease. As it stands, I'm going down again the next time the sun rises. I listen for any scrap of news.

I have danced the sickhouse waltz before. Once, with my grandmother, almost seven years ago, and again, with my mother, almost a year ago. I have ridden this roller coaster and played this game before.

And yet I want so desperately to be proven wrong. For my friend to make an asshole out of me for figuring she's been gone since the accident. I want to be able to tell her this is the shittiest way in the world to get me to buy her a steak, but being meat-drunk on porterhouse is in her future. It is said no one likes to be told they're wrong, but here and now, I would welcome the opportunity.

19 November 2010

The Empty House

She's gone. Well, in all the ways that count. Sure, her body, shattered and ruined by the accident, tied to machines, still functions. But that bit, that thing of which we define, or try to define, as consciousness, that spark, the ghost, the soul, whatever Voodoo mask you want to put on it, is no longer there. As the old cliche goes, the lights are on, but nobody's home.

Fucking perfect...

One of my old dear friends is gone. I realize I use old and dear with just about anyone I call a friend. There's a reason for that; I am a misanthropic bastard, and, just as the sun rises in the east, I do not make friends easily. When I call someone my friend, I've usually known them for some time, and given how hard it is me to consider someone my friend, it follows such a cat would be dear to me.

When the sun rises, my daughter, Sabina, and I will go to say goodbye. Goodbye means done and over. Goodbye means forever and ever amen. Sometime after that, the machines will be shut off and removed. Then, all that will remain is for the meat's biologics to cease.

I have shown solidarity and support as a good friend. La-dee-fucking-da. I still feel utterly useless.

I sip on a glass of red wine and notice, quite to my dismay, it has no taste. Not too long ago, I snarked to the gypsy about having cocktails on what would've been Jibril's birthday, as though the consumption of the drink would bring him back, because sobriety didn't seem to work. But my hypocrisy knows no bounds. I know what will happen will happen and whether I have a glass of wine or water isn't going to change it.

It is not okay. It is not going to be okay. It is just going to be, and what will be is not the outcome any of us hoped for.

I find myself remembering when my mother died, and I arrived at my parents' house. My father and brother got there a half hour before me. As I walked in, my brother offered me cigarettes, beer, and marijuana. I was in such a state of shell shock it all held its appeal and sickened me in the same heartbeat.

"What do you want, son?" My father asked me finally.

"I want my mom back," I said.

And there's the parallel, as I sit here drinking red wine with no taste, waiting for the sun to rise. I think of what I want here and now more than anything; I want my friend back. I want her healthy and vibrant once more. The tragedy, of course, is the reality of how want and get are different things.

Crunch Time

Terms like unremitting horror, chaos, and the lyrical mantra of Roll the Bones strobe through my skull like summer heat lightning. Equations within the mathematics of my thoughts as a mourning infusion of jasmine tea steeps. Once, it was said hot jasmine tea fixes everything, even that, which is not broken. In context, the metaphor seems like bubblegum and bailing wire over an impact crater from an asteroid the size of Pavarotti's ass.

A very dear friend of mine, family by neither blood nor marriage, lies in a sickhouse bed. Crushed and broken. Matted with the stink of blood. The details of how she arrived there are shrouded in a certain kind of mystery, although a tree and the rolling of a vehicle were involved.

I worry for her. For the life she carries in her body. The one she would jokingly call an alien bean and I called a parasite. If it survives, it will be named after a beautiful friend of ours who has since walked on. If she survives, I wonder if she'll want me to get her meat-drunk on porterhouse, like I did the last time she was in the very same sickhouse, although that was for very different reasons, so long ago.

In being encouraging, I want to refer to her with nicknames of champ, tiger, sport, and trooper. I used such monikers with my mother when she was so sick. Given the state of things in context of my mother, I dismiss inflicting those titles upon my friend.

Tired. Sore. Anxious. We sat in the waiting room into the small hours. The biology of habit and obligations to three of the quadrupeds in my household did not allow for many hours of slumber. Concern did not allow for it to be restful. I do not seek martyrdom in these facts, that would be petty, and I know there are those, related by blood and marriage, who have slept far less than me, if at all.

This is the crunch time. The most important of moments. Here and now could show the way to life or death. How scarring the damage inflicted could be.

I am hiding and waiting. I make breakfast more out of habit and the zen calm of cooking than hunger. Perhaps, through the prism of memory, I'll be able to chuckle about parking a space numbered 187, and law enforcement order's code for homicide. I have never been the type to prey, unless in context of the food chain. Here and now, the thought of any anthropomorphic deity of any mythology, invites thoughts of caustic anonymous graffiti scrawled across a bunkhouse wall in Mauthausen concentration camp;

"If there is a god, he will have to beg for my forgiveness..."

Yeh, it's like that...

So, I wait. Wait for news. Good or bad is a roll of the bones, and, rationally, I realize that. As a friend, who is family by neither blood or marriage, I wonder and worry. Part of me prepares for the worst I hope does not happen. Another bit wonders if I'll be committing to taking her out for steak at that one dive I took her years ago after another sickhouse stay to get intoxicated upon the cooked flesh of another species. I might not be the preying type, unless in context of the food chain, but a set of words resounds over and over again within the walls of my skull like a mantra;

Hang in there, mon ami, don't you dare fucking quit...

17 November 2010

Sweet Sixteen

The true love of my life, my daughter, standing atop Buffalo Mountain, a twelve-thousand foot peak she ascended with my sister, this summer.

Do you remember sixteen? That mystical time spoken of in story and song? The right to operate a motor vehicle, a fetish of ultimate freedom in some parts of the world, comes at sixteen. In Tibetan Buddhism, the bodhisattva, Tara, is depicted as a sixteen year old girl. Sixteen being the perfect time, when one is at the peak or their beauty, ability, and all the other kinds of y that count.

When I was sixteen, I had what might be called my first serious relationship with a girl, although, these days, I'm more inclined to called a comedy of adolescent errors. It was an interesting time, certainly. The Game Boy came out, Hurricane Hugo bitch-slapped the south, and Voyager II reached Neptune. I got braces and my family moved back to Colorado from that three and half year stint in North Carolina. For all it's mysticism, it wasn't a time of unicorns and fairies and rainbows and chocolate and wine and roses that the stories and songs made it out to be. It was an orbit around the sun.

My daughter has turned sixteen, and I am not sure how to approach the subject. I know I am not the first parent to look upon the event with a certain amount of fear and loathing mingled with hopeful anticipation. These days, my daughter is five foot nine, instead of the length of my forearm. She and I can have more adult conversations, which might say something, since some of my friends are convinced she was born an adult, or at the very least, a late teen.

It is said sixteen is magical time. Over the years and lifetimes, I have called my daughter fucking magic more times than I can count without the help of an abacus. Perhaps, for my daughter, this orbit around the sun will be a time of unicorns and fairies and rainbows and chocolate and wine and roses that stories and songs made it out to be. At the very least, I am certain she'll find it to be an interesting time.

16 November 2010

Reptile Romance: Part 3 But Despite My Best Efforts...

Just saying, with a healthy punk rock Oi!...

To say that there have been French films and equations of Chinese arithmetic that were less complicated than my break-up with the jewel-eyed girl might just be a little melodramatic. However, it certainly felt like it at the time. Even now, with distance of years and miles, it seems as though there was a lot more brain damage there than there really needed to be.

To be fair, there are things I could have done differently. Ways in which I conducted myself, that could have been better. I can own up to that. The same could be said for her. Some parts of that story border upon a nightmare I am not sure I will ever document, partially out of fear of giving those events more power than they need.

There were other parties who exacerbated and antagonized the situation, because apparently there is just not enough simple scandal and Machiavellian intrigue to go around on the average night of going out and painting the town fuchsia. Part of my reason for just watching, apart from the simple fact I like to watch, and not necessarily getting involved, is to avoid being caught in the fallout shrapnel of one’s personal soap opera. It was frustrating to have repeated attempts to drag me into one because of some splittail I was once involved with, and this kept on for a good six months. I found it to be perdition set to a backbeat of My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult.

During this social maelstrom, the gypsy and I made an attempt at something, which, in the end, was a whole lot of was-not-was. Sure, we had our mutual art crush we indulged in, but when it came down to brass tacks and bedposts, there was a matter of timing; the scandalous annoyances I encountered when going out to see my friends and monkey watch amongst the vampires, and the fact Jibril was still around, even if he was sick and dying. I fully believe if he ever once told the gypsy he loved her, she’d have married him on the spot and borne him a litter.

There was also the fact we liked to drink a lot when we got together. Our livers would have only been able to take so much before our skin and eyes took on the color of dirty gold and urine. My father’s father went out that way, and I refuse to share that fate.

Nowadays, the gypsy is with the man she calls her baby daddy. They have a daughter together. The story goes they are retarded for one another. Her and I somewhat antagonize and otherwise fuck with one another in our correspondence. I at least find this amusing.

The gypsy is the only x, if such a term applies, I still talk to. Perhaps the fact we were friends for four years before anything beyond platonic happened between us helped. Generally, I do not speak to x’s. Period. Whatever had attracted us was in the past is just that; past. My x-wife would be the exception, but that’s in the name of seeing my daughter.

It was also back then I was trying to help Sabina with a relationship that was more toxic than the bite of a black mamba. From the time I’d first met her, I could set my watch to the arguments she’d get into with her boyfriend. Nightly viciousness at the juke joint; just add whiskey and soda and martinis in liberal amounts. Perhaps it was because of my own bad luck with relationships I wanted her’s that had already lasted ten years to succeed into that fairy tale of forever.

The boyfriend was the jealous type who was convinced something was going on long before either one of us honestly contemplated anything. I have encountered such creatures before. The jealous type can be both interesting and annoying in the same glance. Their jealousy is spurred by a guilty conscious over where they’ve been spending their nights. I knew for a very long time the musician was less than true to Sabina, but my sources had taken me into confidence because I am more than willing to treat a secret as just that; a secret.

It was only after these same sources told her what I was already privy to that all bets were off with those secrets. She cried upon my shoulder for hours that night, thanking me for being someone who wouldn’t go spreading shit, but cursing me for keeping things from her. The only thing I could do was let her tears soak into my shirt and wish I could banish the violations of trust from her psyche.

Whilst I am not always the best at spotting onto the advances of someone with amorous designs on me, I caught on pretty quickly that Sabina had come to like me, like me. Over the years we had been acquainted, she had become another of my best friends. But, after the abortion that was my relationship with the jewel-eyed girl, and miscarriage that was the was-not-was with the gypsy, the idea of that kind of involvement with a female was seeming less and less appealing. The drunken rush of infatuation hormones be damned. So I started behaving cruelly toward her.

“You’re childfree. You do not have, nor do you like children. I am a parent, and you know how important my daughter is to me.” I’d say.

“She’s not some puking babbling thing. You know we get along really well.” Sabina would respond.


“You’re the Vampire Queen,” I said once. “Party, party, rock and roll. There’s no way I could keep you in the lifestyle you’re accustomed to.”

“That lifestyle was fun for a little while,” she confessed. “But it no longer serves me. I have more fun going to coffee with you or having dinner at your place.”


If, and that’s a really big if, we were to ever get together, my family, even and especially my mother, would want to know when we’re getting married,” I told her. “You think marriage is for suckers.”

“That way no longer serves me,” she said simply.

Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!

So when the gypsy and I had our curb-kicking moment, I told Sabina she had a shot. Sort of like when I had innocently, wholesomely, told her I’d have stabbed her in the gall bladder were I not secretly in love with her, I half-meant it as a joke. Something of a defensive mechanism on my part; that if my words were not taken seriously, than no harm, no foul. It was never real. It was a joke.

My father’s mother died, and I went to North Carolina. It was when I came back I found I had new companion. Well, I had a pretty good hint the night my father’s mother died, and whilst making dinner for my mother, daughter, and Sabina, I turned to find Sabina in mymuthafuckingkitchen because she refused to be a house guest any longer. She sometimes jokingly calls that when she started to take over my life.

That was so long ago now, it does feel like another life. Our world exists within the narrow rift-like valley and the shadow of the mining days. The city and vampire caste seem more like stories we tell one another for a laugh or as a spook-story in the dark of night.

Every so often, love her as I do, she aggravates me. She can’t help it, what with being a hominid and all. I'm tempted to tell her I was getting on just fine without her. That I would’ve been zen and superfly being solitary when she decided she was going to come into my kitchen and help me start cooking.

I don’t, of course. The intoxication of infatuation hormones may no longer be there, but a different chemical high exists, which I have a hard time describing in the most clinically reptilian terms. Besides, I can see clearly the look she’d give me were I to say such a thing. I know what her retort would be.

You didn’t kick me out of your kitchen, did you?”

I’d have nothing, and somehow, that doesn't bother me…

Reptile Romance: Part 2-All the Damn Vampires

This song played the night of my thirty-third birthday. A birthday I was stood up on. It subsequently has became one of my favorite love songs...

So, a womanizing tattoo artist and a paradoxical misanthrope walk into a bar because neither one is clever enough to duck…

When I was in my late twenties, the Sisters of Mercy was one of my favorite bands. Although I never thought of them as necessarily a goth act. The way I’ve heard it, such a perception would’ve probably won me a kiss from Andrew Eldritch. With tongue.

So, I suppose it was somewhat auspicious that the gin joint Lee and I started frequenting played at least one Sisters of Mercy song an hour. This is where my friend hoped to socialize me and accomplish his mission of getting me once more know the company of a woman. Often, it turned into more me monkey watching at the bar whilst he caroused about, hit on whichever random splittail, and/or the two of us on occasion shooting pool.

It wasn’t that he didn’t try to introduce me to a girl or two. Maybe it was that he was hoping I might go for a similar taste in gin joint men hu as him. Perhaps I just made it a little difficult.

“Your friend says you wrote a book…”

“Your friend says you’re smart…”

“You have really nice hair…”

“You are tall…”

“What did you think of that girl?” Lee would ask me when said female scuttled off, and I quoted lyrical wisdom.

“I tried to tell her
about Marx and Engels,
God and angels
I don’t really know what for,
But she looked good in ribbons…”

After a few times Lee’s inquiry had changed to;

“Are you going to quote those Sisters of Mercy lyrics again?”

“Well, if you’d quit throwing things at me that cannot even grasp the concept of an opposable thumb!” I’d snap.

“Look, you don’t have to talk to them,” Lee reasoned. “Just have your fun.”

“With my wiring, unless there’s something there, sex is nothing more than a noisy, messy act done by animals in heat,” I said.

“Don’t you always bring up how we’re all animals?”

“True, but we like to believe we have the capability to rise above our more beastial natures.”

Lee kind of gave up on trying so hard to find me someone. As we hung around the vampire caste, we made friends and acquaintances. Lee had more than a few one night stands and even a girlfriend or two.

I had been cavorting with the vampires for about a year, when Lee introduced me to a girl with eyes that shown like jewels. This was not some vapid men hu one met in a gin or juke joint. There was genuine intelligence there. Something happened to me that had not in five years; I found myself interested. More to the point, intrigued. Jezebel has more than once told me my curiosity can get me into trouble, and not in the happy way that leads to grand adventures.

The girl and I became involved. Yes, I became quite enraptured. She was intelligent and well-spoken. Those eyes of her’s were amazing, and she had a nice smile and an interesting tattoo located in an interesting place near her left breast.

And during that time when we were both drunk on infatuation hormones, it bordered on mystical. Not fairy tale, because she was not a fairy and I am not in possession of a tail. I even kicked around the possibility of marrying her.

Then, sobriety came. Suddenly the chemical honeymoon was over. It happens sooner or later. First kiss, first passion, first fuck is done and over. Groceries need to be bought and laundry needs to be done. One of you lets slip a social vulgarity that leaves one or both mortified, and it is either the laugh or the cry of revulsion that decides what happens next.

Lee is one of those cats who speaks to my ability to tell a story. He’s always been frustrated that after I self-published that I stopped taking the idea of being a writer so seriously. That I wanted to move on to fulfilling new dreams. He thinks I have a sort of power with my words.

Yet, in his perception, there has only been one time he’s seen me outright lie. That was my three year relationship with the jewel-eyed girl he introduced me to. I lied that I was happy, both to myself and others. I lied that even though we rarely hung out, were still going strong. That I stayed with her because of the social expectation of not being perceived as broken, despite the fact I was happier when I was on my own.

Over the years and lifetimes, I’ve tried to figure out what brought on such a deception, even and especially against my own nature. How I got hoodwinked into thinking three years was such a good idea. I am not solipstic enough to think I’m the only one who’s been in a relationship like that. Every so often, I think I have the answer, but then, a few psychic incarnations later, I have a new set of answers. When it comes down to it, no matter what, at its most clinical reptilian; we didn’t work out.

I had met Sabina right before the girl and I started dating. Sabina was one of the popular kids. She had been with her musician boyfriend for ten years. Somehow, we got to be friends anyway, despite her gregariousness and my misanthropy. Her boyfriend and my girlfriend had been x’s, which seemed to just typify the incestuous nature of the vampire caste.

One night, under the auspice of shutting Sabina up, I went out with her for drinks. At the time, my relationship with the girl was in its death-throes and I was working up my escape velocity. I’d not been out much, preferring to drink at home. Like Lee, Sabina didn’t like the word no, and there was also the fact she offered to pay to get me good and drunk on cheap beer, which might speak to a whore-like aspect in my existence.

Several drinks in, she finally got out of me that things were less than rosy with the girl, and had not been for a very long time. Somehow, the topic of lists, those in-another-life-what-ifs came up. Apparently, I was on Sabina’s.

“I wouldn’t mind running my fingers through your hair,” she said.

I have thick wavy hair, which, even when tied back, goes about midway down my twisted spine. My personal joke is I am far too lazy to get it cut and deal with cowlicks that come after. Over the years and lifetimes, more than one individual has wanted to touch my hair to the point I let it happen if it means said cat might leave me alone that much sooner.

“Here you go,” I muttered, offering her a lock, which she touched gingerly.

“That’s not quite what I had in mind,” she whispered.

“Yes, well…” my eyes drifted down the bar where her musician boyfriend was whooping it up with friends.

So what the scent of Sabina’s pheromones was pleasing? So what she was in a relationship that couldn’t have been more about convenience if there had been a jerky rack and soda fountain in the bedroom? So what I was working up escape velocity from a relationship that had been dead for two of the three years it existed?

I am the worst kind of bastard with the morals of an alley cat. Yet I didn’t take full advantage of what could’ve been written off as a drunken slip, were one to use the cop-out of drunkenness as a defense. In fact, I spent the better part of a year after that night trying to help Sabina salvage her relationship, because I saw it as what a friend did. Even a bastard like me occasionally tries to do the right thing.

Reptile Romance: Part 1-Loveless in Lizard Skin

Harcken and be glad; the gospeble of Henry Rollins. My daughter is convinced this would be me if I hadn't gotten together with Sabina...

Perhaps the best place to start would be the winter of my twenty-fourth year. A week or two before Saint Valentine’s Day, to precise. A few days after the year had shed its chronological skin, I’d broken up with a girl, whom one of my closest friends took to referring to as my fucking psycho x. My divorce had been official for almost a year, and I was living in, what felt like exile, back at my parent’s house out in the badlands of eastern Colorado.

I remember days of feeling angry and defeated. There had been the thought of reenrolling in school for archeology, but somehow, life kept getting in the way. I was trying to have a relationship with my then two year old daughter, but often felt like little more than a glorified babysitter. Living back with my parents felt like a gigantic step backward and my father and I were not getting along terribly well at the time. Of course, the fact I was into far, far eastern philosophy, the works of Freddy Nietzsche, Henry Rollins, and industrial music might not have helped.

There was the documentary I watched about the science of romance and sex. I remember thinking its timing was so ironically appropriate, what with being in spitting distance of Saint Valentine’s Day. It went through to describe how everything from holding hands to the drunkenness of infatuation hormones to the proclamations of amore to foreplay was all for one express purpose; breeding. The perpetuation of one’s genetics. The act of an animal in heat.

In reducing it to such clinical terms, making romance so reptilian, it seems little wonder that I was able to go for five years without romantic companionship and not really have a problem with it. Perhaps all that far, far eastern philosophy, Freddy Nietzsche, and Henry Rollins helped. That, and a discussion Jezebel and I had once regarding romance and codependency.

We discussed how relationships were something of a social expectation. If one was alone, they were broken somehow. But, in truth, it was more of an act of strength to go it alone. To, if that type of relationship did present itself and was pursued, it was done, not on the whims of primal biologics, but because it was freely chosen. If there was one even more hardcore anti-romantic than I, it was Jezzy.

We were in our twenties. Shy, but angsty. The two of us would go monkey watching, and she would delight in my psychic dissections of our subjects.

Although it was my fault she asked her husband out on their first date. When I caught the scent of infatuation hormones on her, I was more than a little merciless with her. Even though I helped those two get together, maybe I felt betrayed that one of my best friends, my monkey watching partner, was leaving me for a boy.

“Are you going to start wearing pink by choice and carrying a fucking purse?” I asked her at one point. When I did catch her with a purse the taunting was legendary, even for Hell.

Jezebel and her husband had been dating about a year when I ran into Lee again. After I helped him up, we engaged in a bit of ketchup. He was tattooing for money and hanging around the vampire caste. As always, he was quite the playboy. Man-whore is probably the better description. If anyone seemed to personify an almost junkie need for the first kiss, first passion, first fuck that made infatuation hormones oh so intoxicating, it was Lee.

On occasion, Jezebel and I would go out for coffee or a spot of monkey watching along the Sixteenth Street Mall. For the most part, though, I kept to myself. I monkey watched and wandered around used bookstores. Drank coffee and scribbled in notebooks. That was my life, and had been for the last three and three quarters years with very little variation.

“Are you seeing anyone these days?” He asked me.

“Naw. I don’t need that sort of brain damage,” I told him.

“How long has it been since you’ve been involved with anyone?” He inquired.

“It’ll be four years in two weeks,” I said.

“And…um? Since you got laid?”

Along with Jezzy, Lee was one of my best friends. So, I told him how long it had been since I had copulated. He was shocked.

It wasn’t that the sex was horrific. I just wasn’t interested. After the novelty of the physical wore off, about halfway through, I found myself kind of bored. To this day, I feel bad for that girl. I made out with her one other time, and I could not find myself interested enough in her to do much else, which was too bad, because she was pleasant to talk to and hang around with and not stupid by any stretch of the imagination.

Well, to Lee’s mind, this would not do. These solitary tendencies of mine were ultimately self-destructive, probably driving me slowly insane, and would one day swallow me whole. I needed to go out and interact. I needed to get laid sometime before I turned thirty.

He didn’t believe me when I told him I was completely fine being on my own. Oh, sure, sometimes I got a little lonely. There were thoughts or observations in those notebooks that might’ve been neat to share with another biped. The occasional moment of observed everyday simple humanity or a tender moment between young lovers could pull at my heartstrings, but it was not something I required.

Besides, women seemed to either have a problem with the fact I lived with my female best friend or that I was a divorced single parent. The few times my interest started to be sparked, this somehow came up. With a growl and shrug and slink away into the shadows again to watch those half-bald primates called man.

But Lee was persistent. That was just part of how he was. The friend who didn’t like to take no for an answer, which I know all too well from my years of friendship with him.

“If I do this, will it shut you up?” I asked him finally. An old question I’d put to him more than once.

“Yes,” he said triumphantly.

And there’s where the trouble starts...

14 November 2010

November's Neurosis

I have often mentioned that time is an abstract. Dig on some quantum physics or Buddhist philosophy, and you'll probably spot on to what I'm talking about. I prefer to measure time by the stars and songs playing on the stereo. The lunar calendar and Chinese years call me more to the western ones, and I'm sure that would invite one of those baseless contrary accusations, but worse things have been said about me by better beings. So it goes.

Be that as it may, I was born, grew up, and continue to live in a western society, even if, in some dysfunctional way, a little more along its tattered ledges. Upon the Gregorian timescale, and the modern American idiom, I know what time it is. Time might be this abstract concept to me, which moves simultaneously like glaciers and liquid mercury, but paradoxically, I have an uncanny recollection of dates and times, and am almost always punctual down to the nanosecond.

The month on the Gregorian calendar is one I have been trying to ignore. Perhaps because I want it to go away. When it comes to brass tacks and bedposts, it is but a set of days, but the auspice of those days have weighed heavily upon my mind.

My daughter will be forfuckssake!sixteen in but a few days. I am both looking forward to this and dreading it. She will be able to drive. Drive to see me. To see her grandfather, aunt, uncle, their spouses, and her cousin. I am thrilled she can get to know my side of the family on her own time and we can hang out whenever it works out, not so much having to be dependent upon the whims and whiles of her mother.

But, of course, she is my little girl. It's horrific enough that she's already had two boyfriends, despite me expressly forbidding her to date. She has flat-out told me she doesn't want me to meet a boyfriend, stating I'd kill him out of hand. Slowly. But kill is such a friendly word.

My father's birthday is four days after my daughter's. He'll be sixty-three. In my mind's eye, he'll always be thirty-seven. Two months and a few days ago, I became older than that mental construct. But that's okay, thirty-eight is the new eighteen, and eighteen was an interesting orbit around the sun.

It's the rest of the set of days I try not to contemplate...

The gypsy reminded me Jibril's birthday was at the end of the month. He would have been forty. She remarked she wanted to have a drink or a few on the date. I can own up I was a bit of a cunt about it, but I also think the backfist of perspective was necessary.

"If we drink, will it bring him back? I stayed sober last year and that didn't work."

Make no mistake, to have my friend back, in good health with functioning kidneys, even if it was just for a single conversation, I'd race the world to the bottom of a whiskey bottle. I'd become a shave-head monk in saffron robes. If I thought it would work, there'd be no question.

But we done discussed my views upon the waving of a magic wand...

Then there's the holiday. Yeh, that one. The one dedicated to gluttony and 'Merica's excuse for footies. I always liked Bill Maher's remark on the subject;

"Thanksgiving is holiday we celebrate the one time we were nice to the Native Americans. Sort of like a date-rapist saying; 'let's just focus on the dinner we had...'"

Last year, we supped at my brother's house. He was excited about this, because we were not eating turkey. I brought jazz for the dinner music.

"Mom and Dad aren't coming," he said when we arrived.

"What's up?" I inquired.

"Dad just said 'cancer'," my brother replied. I remember the feeling in my belly made the feast my brother had worked so hard on suddenly very unappetizing.

My daughter, brother, sister outlaw, Sabina and I were sitting out on his veranda drinking beer and enjoying an unseasonably warm day. I was barefoot. We heard the door open into the kitchen, and all stopped mid-conversation.

"Hello?" A croaky voice called out. My brother and I went in to see my mother and father standing by the counter.

"What the fuck are you doing here?!?" I was too shocked to be polite.

"And it's good to see you too," my mother said as she reached out to give me a hug.

They only stayed an hour. My brother sent my parents home with a to-go of holiday dinner. Months later, my father would say how my mother tried so hard to eat, and keep down, my brother's effort.

"She's in remission, she ain't going to die just yet," I said to my father that day.

"She's not going to die!" He snapped, the air between us turning to tigers and cobras.

Two days after New Years'...which one of us was the bigger liar?

That was the last holiday. The last embraces of greetings and goodbyes. The last time my daughter ever saw her grandmother. None of us knew it at the time. There was no way of knowing. It depends upon the day whether or not I think that's a good thing.

This month...the coming holiday season...fuck!

I find myself filled with a sense of fear and loathing normally reserved for the characters in the penny dreadfuls of Eddie Poe and Howie Lovecraft. My mother has been dead for almost a year and I find myself still feeling walking wounded, carrying a bag of broken glass in my gut. If there was such a thing as fair, I would mention the searing unfairness of this.

In days like this and times likes these, I find my temper shorter than it's been in years. Oh, I could lash out. Scream, growl, roar, punch, and break things. I could drink until, like some of the older hominids at the Cantina, sobriety would be this mythological destination like the Happy Hunting Grounds.

It would accomplish nothing. My voice would be hoarse and my hands would hurt. Liver sprain is never fun, and drinking to excess fucks with my tea drinking regiment, which just will not do. I have a maelstrom of emotions I've been dealing with for nearly a year-getting close to three if I want to go back to when she was first diagnosed-and I meditate upon the reptilian to maintain my sanity. Some days are better than others.

We had the memorial. There was the scattering of her ashes on that mountain pass. I wrote and spoke the requiem for that. She's gone. Done and over.

The harsh and painful lesson I am constantly reacquainted with; when thinking of my grandmother or Jibril, and now my mother, is it's not that simple. You never really get over this. It's cobwebs and talons and razorblades and maggots and it will spring upon you out of nowhere, like an ambush predator from primordial times along some nameless African river. So it goes.

Mei fei tsu. It's the time of the season. This year, that bag of broken glass in my gut threatens to cut and bleed through. I meditate upon the reptilian in order to maintain my relative sanity. As to whether or not I can pull it off...ask me a couple days after the Gregorian calendar sheds its chronological skin, and we'll all be surprised.

Magikal Mystery Tour

I was somewhere between six and seven when my father introduced me to The Hobbit. First, reading me bits from the book himself, then later, playing records from the BBC broadcast with Anthony Jackson. My father told me it was about dragons and wizards, and to a whelp somewhere between six and seven with a fertile, and perhaps somewhat overactive, imagination, such a prospect was nothing short of tantalizing.

The wizard, Gandalf, was an intriguing, but sort of unreliable cat. He seemed to just up and disappear at the most inopportune times. Trolls? Well, he was apparently looking ahead and behind. Captured by goblins? Probably off to get a quart of milk or something. Mirkwood? Forget about it.

Gandalf did seem to have something of a superhero complex. Maybe that comes with being a wizard. He would show up just when things started to get a little two bleak. Becoming troll food? Keep them talking until they all got stoned, and not in that interesting way that prompts one to think jam bands are on-par with Mozart and eat crap that would make a jonesing pregnant woman cross her legs and blush. The goblins? Right there in the nick of time with sword and spells. The Battle of Five Armies? He gets everybody to band against the baddies, because, the social construct of reality dictates, good always triumphs in the end.

The thing that impressed me was the bit with the pine cones. Pretty-colored incendiary napalm-esque grenades being lobbed at a pack of wargs. It bought time before those eagles showed up. For all his fucking off, that bit with the pine cones taught me you did not fuck with Gandalf.

An old song posed the question; do you believe in magic? After my experience with The Hobbit, I was inclined to say yes. Reading the mythologies of ancient Egypt and Greece reinforced this notion. Even my father's mother's stories of the Christian god, turning a woman into salt, as an example, hinted at the possibility of bending, if not outright breaking, the laws of physics.

Perhaps it was because of the brutalities of the si li nan jen that such a things held appeal. It wasn't until my adolescence that I learned how to defend myself, often better with a few quick and confusing words, than with my fists and balisong. The idea of being able to conjure a fireball out of the very atmosphere around me and lob it at my antagonists, or turn them into cockroaches held infinite appeal.

Sometimes, I think that was one of the more crushing realizations I dealt with. Moreso than finding out that Homo sapiens are brutal, hateful, deceptive creatures, even and especially in groups of two or more. Deeper than the discovery that good and evil were these monkey-made concepts of trying to maintain the pack order and make sense out of a universe that, for all its beauty and paradoxical symmetry, is inherently chaotic. The revelation that magic...well, the magic found in fairy-stories like The Hobbit and games like Dungeons and Dragons was not real.

My dealings with Pagans, seeing them cast spells, helped prove what I had come to observe empirically. Their rites and getting their mojo working was really no different than what my father's mother was doing once a week in a building with a cross affixed to the roof. An interesting, and amusing, observation to pull on the proselytizing zealots, you know the ones; those who say Harry Potter and the lyrics of Marilyn Manson, and classically, Motley Crue-though I'd be more inclined to say Coldplay-will lead to child-sacrificing Devil worship, is to bring up to those cats that the only real difference between a prayer and a spell is, in fact, the spelling. Oh, and which deity that the favors are being asked of.

Perhaps I am cynical, but I can no more believe in the fairy-story style magic that can bend, if not break to the point of shattering, the laws of physics. Not anymore than I can believe in an anthropomorphic being who keeps tally on naughty and nice in the monkey-made construct like fucking Santa Claus in a world filled with unremitting horror, but, who is, in fact, like that psychotic relative who might give you a chocolate bar for the hell of it, or just might smash your skull open with a hammer to see the expression on your face as the blows come. Both seem equally absurd, and yet I have encountered cats who cling to one, or both, notion with savage tenacity.

Yet, because my hypocrisy knows no bounds, I do believe in magic. Perhaps not the magik of the Pagans I've known over the years and lifetimes. Sometimes, a lot of times, that's almost too flakie for my tastes. Maybe it's more a combination of Clarke's Third Law; "[a]ny sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" and the everyday beauty of the paradoxical symmetry and inherent chaos of the universe around us. Sort of like I can give credence to the Divine being but a force of nature that does not terry with the concepts and constructs of humans.

Here is where language fails me. For all of my purported talent with the manipulation and stringing together of words, my supposed eloquence, I find myself tongue-tied. It all gets garbled up, either when trying to articulate verbally or in the conduits between my mind and fingertips. Here is where I fear I stop making sense.

Perhaps that's what happens when glimpsing that kind of mystical. Words fail. I find myself reminded of a sci-fi I once watched in which an alien and human were speaking over some freaky shit they saw and the alien picks up an ant and moves it to a flower.

"How do you suppose it will explain what just happened to the other ants?" The alien asked in rhetorical tones.

That's where I am; the ant and trying to explain my perception of things greater than myself. Here and now, it seems I lack the language. Well, other than to say it just is and leave the understanding of that statement up to you.

12 November 2010


I meditate upon frustration. Being picked last. Limbo and limitations. The Machiavellian auspice of schoolyard pettiness and the movements of powerful creatures. Wuwei, the rhythms and rhymes of the cosmos, and the whims and whiles of the roll of the bones of chaos.

My mother and grandmother used to tell me I was a genius. Gifted. Two of my oldest and dearest friends have accused me of being too smart for my own good. Seeing too deep and too much. So it goes.

My mother used to tell me if my spine was straight, I'd be over seven feet tall, instead of only being nearly six and a half feet. She used to joke I should play basketball. As an adolescent, I hated her for that joke, but, over the years and lifetimes, I grew to hate most sports with a pink and purple passion.

I was an awkward youth; uncoordinated and unable to run very fast. Any physical strength I had, that I've ever had, has manifested in my lower body. I was always picked last. This might explain my apathy toward the athletic competitions others-males especially-masturbate over.

So, I had limitations? Both Clint Eastwood and Dave Mustaine have spoken the wisdom of knowing one's limitations. One, whilst singing hymnals and prophecy to a speed metal soundtrack. The other whilst finding happiness being a warm gun.

The severity of my learning disability would've gotten me thrown into an institution a generation before, if my grandmother was to be believed. As it stands, supposedly, I see things backward and otherwise catawampus, but, let's face it, views of reality are subjective. Reality, it is suggested, is a phantasm. Billy Corgan said once that the world is a vampire, but perhaps that's because his view of it sucked.

I was further limited by the fact I cannot see in the dark like a cat or an owl. I lack the wings to fly like a bird or a bat. Without gills, it is more than a little difficult to breathe underwater. I am unable to spin webs like a spider.

Amazingly enough, despite such horrific limitations, I've gotten by. Perhaps I'm just obstinate like that. Maybe that's just me; refusing to be broken beneath the blade. I have yet to encounter the force that can break me, so I tend to take umbrage when I perceive I am being treated like an invalid because of my trivial limitations.

Fuck you. I will not be mollycoddled. End of chat.

By my own admission; I catch myself feeling a bit upset. Taking umbrage. I spend the day hissing and growling about it. Upon the rising of the next sun, whilst the reason might still be there, I'll be moving beyond it. To do anything less would be to admit defeat, and, as I have said; I have yet to encounter the force that can break me.

11 November 2010

Winter's Precipice

Maybe three or four inches of snow have fallen. Official looking government orange snowplows have zipped by, attempting to clear off the roadways. Or, at the very least, make them a little more passable. The moguls in ski resorts rub their greasy hands together, crack-visions of paper and coins filling their coffers from the good season they'd sacrifice a virgin to, if they could find one. Snowbums perform their own rites, preying for plentiful powder days. Such is the way of things.

Flakes, some the size of small coins, float softly down along imperceptible air currents in the manner of down feathers and will-o'-the-wisp. Low gray-white clouds obscure the summits of the tall peaks. Fog intertwines between the evergreens and the skeletons of aspens. The world fades into phantasm at few hundred yards. Sometimes, the ghost light of an early winter sun tries to peak through, but it's more out of cosmic expectation and worldly rotation than any effort to warm this narrow rift-like valley on a snowy day.

Context demands a fire and hot drinks. Contrary or defiance might explain the African rhythms, which play as a backbeat. Sweaters and boots. Hats and scarves. Slippers and blankets. The paradigm of the season.

I have mentioned how I do not believe a particular season should be subject to whims and whiles of a species half-bald monkeys that try oh so desperately to compartmentalize, label, and control everything. They happen when they happen. Celestial events, like the solstices and equinox, can make convenient frames of reference, but should be seen more as guidelines than a hard and fast rule. After all, there are no rules, only rhythms. Rules go against one of the few constants, which is change.

This year, as an example, autumn took a full two weeks to catch up after the Autumnal Equinox. The year before, autumn happened shortly after my birthday, a week or so before the same equinox. Thus, I find my point validated and uncover further proof of the abstractness and elasticity of time.

Within a week, by virtue of the world's tilt along its axis, the sun will no longer rise above Mount Pendelton, casting a shadow of long dark across this part of the valley for roughly six weeks. Somewhere in that period will be the snowfall that acts as a base-coat, sticking around until the thawing times close to the Vernal Equinox. Maybe, here at ninety-one sixty, that should be called the start of winter.

Then again, a day such as this certainly whispers of the encroaching season. And perhaps somewhere, someone declares this the first day of High Country winter. Whether the weather is that of the winter's precipice or early winter is conjecture probably best reserved for more insightful and philosophical minds than my own. I tend to think the markers for seasons, be it monkey-made or based upon the movements of celestial bodies are more guidelines than anything. The molting of seasonal skins often happens when no one is looking. Just one day, quite imperceptibly, the cyclic wheel has turned ever so slightly once more.

07 November 2010

Theological Sellouts

A couple of months before my mother died, I found myself being interested in Pantheism-http://www.pantheism.net/index.htm-one of the many different theologies I least researched back in the day. I also blame reading John Muir and more science-y stuff on this. It seemed like a nice addition to my practice of Buddhism, which, at its heart, is more of philosophy than a religion.

I've only been to a few Dharma talks, a few guided meditations, and one or two ceremonies in the Buddhist context. My practice of Buddhism has always been rather heretical, idiosyncratic, solitary, and internal. Besides, I sincerely believe you do not have to hang out in a crowd or go to a building to experience one's spirituality. Those things are stage props. Anytime I question my take on that, I run into this sort of thing;


It does bother me how anyone can cheapen something so beautiful so. Be it art, science, philosophy, or religion. Such things, after all, are not fashion. They transcend that. Perhaps an aspect of enlightenment is to understand that little fact.

04 November 2010

Harvest Lessons

The sun had ducked behind the southern ridge line, casting Mount Pendelton's massive shadow across the House of Owls and Bats when Sabina and I met out back to dig up the 'tater sprouts. Within an hour, we had excavated five potatoes. All told, the yield fit within the palm of my hand, not even weighing an ounce. I could've popped them into my mouth all at once as a snack, hardly noticing the starchiness. Sabina was a little cynical about the circumstance.

"I'm getting full just looking at them," she said with a smirk. "Not another bite for me, I'm stuffed!"

I know she was being cute, but part of me did contemplate, quite seriously, stabbing her with my hori'hori. In the neck, and twice. The whole time humming the old Johnny Mercer tune Ac-cent-tchu-ate the Positive. I have a difficult time seeing how that might have been wrong of me.

Logically, this was our first garden. More to the point, our first garden at altitude. Things do not grow as easily up here. It would've been hubris to expect a bumper crop that would would keep us in fresh veggies through the winter. The fact we got something is a victory. Albeit a small one. Literally.

Raised beds will obviously be the way to go for the next gardening season. With the root vegetables, such as potatoes and carrots, perhaps planting a bit earlier outside. The tire stacks we used for our 'tater sprouts did work for insulation and accessibility.

Eventually, of course, we want to do the insulated greenhouse. That's part of our whole scheme to opt out eventually. Here and now, we just look at the next season. I already have an idea of how I want the garden to look and what I want to plant. The theory is sound. Hopefully, we can make it work in practice.

02 November 2010

The Name Game

"'A rose by any other name...?'

'Would still prick you with its thorns...'"
-Joseph Michael Linser

"My name is not me. Not who I am..."-Articulate Lotus Flowing From the Source, or Ed

Next to John or maybe Adam, I have perhaps one of the more common male English language names. And yet, it is disturbingly amazing how many times I have to be re-asked for it, or I am called something else. Well, I mean aside from bastard or mutherfucker. The most common of these being Art, Trevor, Charles, and, my personal favorite, Richard. I mean, do I look like a dick?

Then again, perhaps some questions are best left unanswered...

Most often, Sabina calls me by my middle name of Grey. And there are so many variations of my first name, it borders on comical. I answer to most of them. Well, except for maybe Bob...unless Dirty Old Uncle is put in front of it, but that's another story. Bob was my grandfather's name. My grandfather has a park named after him. Perhaps, when and if I am ever cool enough to have a stretch of open space named after me, I'll consider going by my grandfather's name with a little more sincerity.

I once joked that like the Devil, I've been known by many names. Although, it's not like I've gone about making demonic deals at witching hour crossroads. Besides, I once fucked the Devil's wife, but that's another story.

In some ancient cultures, it was believed that all the power in all the world resided in one's name. Without a name, one did not exist. One friend of mine used to say to summon a demon, one must know its true name, which I'm sure, since he was fond of cliches, and liked quotes perhaps more than myself, was from one of the many books he'd read. There was this one cat, sleazy in nature, whom many of my friends and acquaintances at the the time believed quite sincerely would show up if you said his name three times, al-la Beetlejuice. Another friend of mine was convinced it was a good thing to know someone's full name, seeing it as a magical sign when star-crossed lovers actually knew one another's surnames.

And yet, perhaps because my first name is so bloody fucking common, maybe because of my borderline pathological hatred of labels of any kind, I find the whole power supposedly ascribed to a name to be a bunch of who shot john. After all, it has been observed that whether it's a broken heart or a broken sword, things have only the power one gives them. I do my best not to have much of anything have that kind of power. Then again, there are those who say, like my mother, I am just plumb contrary, which is also a bunch of who shot john. I haven't a contrary bone in my body.

Not too long ago, I had occasion to speak to my benefactor's partner. Just trivial banter. Nothing overly profound. In a roundabout way, the name game got brought up.

"You're Ron, right?" She asked me. Ron was a new one, but I had to let her down by correcting her. To her credit, she did apologize.

"Don't trip," I said. "I used to think I have a really common name, but I figure since it's so often mistaken and misunderstood, it must be one of the most exotic and esoteric monikers out there."

"Actually, I think it's because you're an exotic looking guy, but have such a common name," my benefactor's partner offered. I almost spewed tea from my nostrils repressing the chuckle.

"Bravo for life's little ironies," I said. We parted ways shortly after that.

The memory of the conversation provided me with mental amusement for a bit afterward. It's been awhile since I've been accused of being exotic, and I think she meant it. Of course, I figure by exotic what she really meant to say was aberration; what with being too tall, too skinny, with eyes too big for the rest of my face.

The Belly of Terror

I confess to getting a little excited when the latest issue of National Geographic shows up in the post. Yes, I am geeky like that. Despite not being a joiner, I am, indeed, a card carrying member of the National Geographic Society. Once a month, no matter how tragic, with that little periodical, it seems, I am guaranteed a story from Africa. Sometimes even sharks.

I bought my subscription because it was cheaper than picking it up month-to-month at the stands. It satisfies my scientific bents and curiosities as well as my armchair travels. And the photos...damn. A friend of mine used to say there are but a few photographers in the world; amateurs, professionals, those who want to work for the Nation Geographic Society, and those who really do.

There was the photograph of the sand tiger shark, and a notation how its young will cannibalize one another whilst inutero. Only the strong survive. A fascinating animal. These are beings of one of the oldest orders. Like reptiles and spiders.

Sabina shrinks at the sight of a spider. I know her intolerable hatred comes from a widow bite when she was very young. One friend told a story of a camp-mate dying from spider bites. Others I know are terrified by those creatures' movements. Those many legs moving all at once in some alien fashion, just like those many eyes staring up at you.

And yet, try and grasp the fear some of Grandmother Spider's children see with eight eyes, beholding a half-bald primate, hundreds of times bigger, trying to kill them for no real reason other than alien-ness...

Yes, some species of spiders have potent neurotoxins within their fangs. Venom, which can drop a monkey. Some, more quickly than others. So do some species of snakes, creatures that scare the fuck out my brother and father. A bee sting could maybe have the same effect on me because of an allergy, and yet Sabina fears a stinging insect around me more than I. Odd.

A bee, spider, or snake has poison. Fine. It can't eat you. A shark can.

As much as they fascinate me, sharks terrify me. The knowledge that creature could eat me; millions of years of perfect evolution crunching painfully down, and still being alive to watch. Preying...begging...for death before seeing the belly of the beast. There are other predators of the same capability; crocodiles, great cats, bears, and none of them can bring to bear the same abject terror I feel watching a shark documentary with rapt attention.

There is only one other order of creature, removed from the kingdoms of animals or even plants, capable of the beautifully efficient torture of a shark's bite. It is far, far smaller than a creepy-crawly spider. That would be a virus.

It is something I picked up from back when I screened thousands upon thousands of potential organ and tissue donors. This being, invisible to human eyes, can ravage a body; devouring from within, destroying flesh, bone, and tissue. Turning one's blood to poison. A level of torture that'd get Dante, Spanish inquisitors, witch hunters, and Nazi death-doctors to cross their legs and blush.

These are things I have learned. Both from experience and reading National Geographic. I can view my fears and fascinations once a month for the fee of a subscription. And I cannot...I will not...look away.

I realize my shark fear is not exactly rational. After all, I live nine-thousand one-hundred sixty feet above the surface of the world's oceans. It would take me at least a day to reach a coastline, depending on how I traveled. That doesn't make it go away. Be that as it may, I realize it for what it is, and do not allow myself to be in its thrall. As much as they terrify me, I am fascinated by sharks.

For that reason, in the end, I cannot begrudge anyone who fears spiders, despite the size difference. Still, I hold out hope that those, like Sabina or some of my other friends, can at least realize their fear is not rational and let it go. That perhaps, in not being in the thrall of that terror, they can, like me, learn a respect, if not fascination, for that, which scares them so.