It has been a difficult week. “You have your
space music on. You must be having trouble
with your brain,” Lisa observed this morning.
My housemate has an uncanny ability to read my moods. Yes, Lisa, I am fucking drowning this week. The space music is like a pillow for a bad
headache. No I don’t think you can help
me. I don’t know of any way you can
help. I don’t wish to offend anyone. I
have been assured that these things pass if I wait. I just hate using my life
this way. Prison must be like this.
My son calls. The
promotion he has been working his ass off for has been given to someone else
despite promises to the contrary. How should
he handled this? How do I tell him? He has already told me the problem. His boss’s boss is not comfortable with
him. He is not going to get another
promotion at this company. I tell him to
cut back on his hours, to take a class, and to invest in himself. I tell him to network more effectively. I tell him that many of my own promotions
came when I least expected them.
I do not know how to reach beyond the borders
of the limitations of my physical design.
The design is partly responsible for that, yet it gives us the means to
explore beyond those borders. Take the
microscope for example, the telescope, or the amplifier. We have instruments to measure wavelengths of
light that we cannot see. So we have evidence that the physical world has
dimensions that extend beyond what we can perceive. We have all kinds of scientific theories and
mathematical fingers pointing in directions that do not seem to exist. What are we to do about this?
It is an odd situation. I do not know what the source of the grief
is. I do not know where the pain comes
from when it comes. Yet, I must
know. I am the only one who can
know. And if I would let myself know,
then perhaps I could get through it or past it.
I apparently must face or acknowledge it in some way, yet I do not seem
to know what it is. Yet I must
know. I must know well enough that it
scares me sufficiently so that I hide it from myself so well.
My daughter sends me an email with pictures
attributed to “men without adult supervision.”
Some of them actually show a certain creativity. I reply with one word, “Guilty.” She then says she will be in Brighton
tomorrow and asks if I would like to have lunch. She asks how I am getting along with the dog
she has given me. The answer is I don’t
know. The dog and I get along ok, but we
have not bonded in any sense of the word.
We coexist. But I cannot blame
the dog. I think these days I coexist with myself.
Our library has bag o’ book sales where you go
buy books cheaply in a stuffy room. There
are people to whom books are things of value greater than life. Different people value different things. I have
been known to sit in the woods in winter reading by a small fire and feed the
pages of the paper back to the fire as I finish them. Some people are morally
offended by this. These are the people
who go to the library book sales and cram their cars with books they don’t
read? Or do they actually read them all?
I thought I saw two entries in a row about
Fireworks, but I was wrong. My brain was
playing tricks on me, or malfunctioning, depending on your point of view. Playing tricks on me is a playful and
innocent way of looking at it. And then,
yesterday, there were two entries in a row about fireworks. Now what the hell
is that about? Was there some national
holiday I didn’t know anything about?
Perhaps a Canadian holiday? It
was Sunday. Church of the Holy Redeemed
Sparkler Parade? Or in thinking two
fireworks entries in a row, my mind created them?
I have nothing to say personally. It is really beyond me to crawl into someone
else’s mind, to creep down the moist and rotting stair treads, batting the
heavy hanging cobwebs away, ducking the angular spikes hanging from the low
mildewed ceiling. That’s what it’s
really like; what it’s really about. The
bare cement floor is rough, and it is always wet. The walls are set with deep shelves that
recede into darkness that swallows what little light escapes from the single
dirty bulb hanging from the center of the ceiling. Somehow, I had expected something else,
I have nothing to say personally. It is beyond me to crawl into someone else’s
mind, to creep down the stairs, batting the heavy hanging cobwebs away, ducking
the angular spikes hanging from the low mildewed ceiling. That’s what it’s like; what it’s really
about. The stairs are uncertain but for
one detail: they are steep. In one certainty they run straight down, a
carpenter’s ramp, twelve or fifteen of them.
They are bare and rough concrete, always wet. On either side narrow
walls rise from the ground, capped by a round cement top. Somehow, I had expected something elegant.
I have nothing to say.
It is my job to crawl into someone else’s mind, to creep down the stairs,
batting the heavy hanging cobwebs away, ducking the angular spikes hanging from
the low mildewed ceiling. That’s what
it’s really about. The stairs are
uncertain but for one detail: they are
steep. In one certainty they run in a
tight circle and are made of strange stones and pieces of wood, with water
constantly dripping down them. You
follow them carefully, hands pressed against the walls on either side,
navigating in uncertain light wondering when and how they will end.
I crawl into other people’s minds. It’s what I do when I do something. It is difficult sometimes, and never what you
think it is going to be. Sometimes, it
is just me, their own mind being so weak, that they are happy to let me have
full control. Sometimes it is not a
surprise; them already being used to having visitors on a regular basis. Yes, they usually know I am there. Sometimes that causes me problems, because
people in general are suspicious when someone else goes into their mind. Sometimes they are not very nice about
I think I was lucky the first time I hitched a ride in
someone else’s mind. Maybe I have been
lucky all along, because it is not the kind of thing one should do
lightly. You, by definition, are in over
your head, or at least are out of your mind, and you don’t really know what you
are doing whether it is your first ride or your one hundredth. One thing I have learned is that no two minds
are alike, that each person’s experience of consciousness is somewhat unique,
and their quality of understanding is certainly theirs alone.
It makes me wonder how much of a person’s mind is theirs
alone, and how much is really shared by uninvited visitors unaware. How many other mind walkers are out there?
How many times have I unknowingly stared blankly out across the lawn with
someone else looking through my eyes, frantically rifling through the files in
my own mind? Dashing out the back door
and leaving a mess behind without my knowing it? Are those the days I have inexplicable
headaches or even seizures? Are those the beginning of cycles of strange mood
swings— amateur mind riders with bad hygiene?
My own first experiences would have led me to think that
this wasn’t possible. Maybe I was more clumsy
then. Maybe the targets just happened to
be more aware; can’t say. I know for
sure they knew I was there. They knew
who I was. And since then it has been hit
or miss, although over the years I have found that the times I am detected are
much less often. True, I often have
clear objectives in mind, and I find the process somehow easier, but what happens
on the other end still depends very much on the target.
I think the first time was an accident. I was trying to meditate before going to
sleep, a bad time to do this. I was maybe 19, living in Ann Arbor with a young
couple, who had a visitor. Bob was a lost soul, and he spent much of the evening
sitting in a corner listening to music and smoking the reefer that always
seemed to be plentiful at that place. I
was imagining myself going down a long flight of stairs, down, constantly down,
and whenever I got tired or distracted, I just kept going, deeper into this
I might have fallen asleep. I wasn’t sure. But I seemed to have reached the bottom of
the stairs, a cramped dark place with a wooden door. I pushed the door and it gave way, into
darkness, and I stepped in. I stepped
right in to Bob’s head. He was Bob, even
though Bob was sleeping in the living room.
I must have startled him, because Bob woke up as I stepped into his
head. It seemed we were both in his head
together, both aware of one another. I decided to find out just how real this
Bob and I looked around the darkened room. I had Bob get up and walk back and
forth. I had Bob go to the refrigerator
and open it and look in. There was a jug
of milk. I had Bob reach in, get the
jug, open it, and take a swig. I then
put the jug of milk back and we went back to Bob’s corner and lay back
down. I could feel the floor on our
butt, the carpet on our hands. It had
that kind of reality to it. I was inside
Bob’s head. I had no doubt.
The next morning I woke up clear-headed thinking about the
night before and the “dream” I remembered having. It had seemed real at the time, but many
things do. It was really too much to
expect anyone to believe. It was too
much to expect me to believe. I crawled
out of my bed, found my jeans and dragged them on, shoving my hair back. I shuffled to the door of my bedroom and
opened it to be startled. The opening
was filled with Bob and his big goofy smile.
“Heavy man,” Bob said. “And I
don’t even like milk.”
The carpets needed cleaning anyway. It only took Zoe to leave a box of crayons on
the floor and for Chey to decide they were delicacies. It must have been a large box of crayons,
judging from the size of the present Chey left in the floor the next morning. She also dropped five more colorful loads that day. The
biggest problem was that she had stepped in it and it was difficult to get the
matted crayon-feces combination both out of the carpet and out of the pads of
her paws. I had to use a strong
I think I’ve been having headaches. I have those short flashy migraines called
spikes that last for about twenty seconds and seek to bring you to your
knees. Then they go away. These are different. I think they last longer
and are more frequent. I think I am
having them several times a day, and I think they hurt, but they are frustrating,
because they seem to come and go in a way that I cannot remember them too well
except while I am having them. I know I
had at least one this morning, because I wrote it down.
I know what you are supposed to do when you are having
headaches, or think you are having headaches you are supposed to go see a
doctor. This is what anyone would tell
you. If someone mentioned it to me, I
would say the same thing, and I would wonder at their lack of enthusiasm for
the doctor scenario. But I understand
this lack of enthusiasm. The headaches
seem to be of another place and time, not connected to me. I don’t quite understand their connection to
a visit to a doctor or how I would explain them to him.
It was dog walking time.
It was cold again this morning, but I didn’t feel it. I dress for it. Fleece and winter coat. Gloves.
It is quiet as I hit the road. Wind skitters leaves across the
road. Walking down toward the lake,
dodging the same overhanging twig that nails me every day. Daily, I threaten to cut it off. Month after month it survives somehow. It is so small. I could even pause, reach,
and break it off. Chey makes her deposit
in the woods along the motorcycle path.
No need to access the bags in my pocket.
I got a new book on tape from the library. These days they
come complete with the MP3 player. All
you add is the headphones, and an occasional battery. This time I got the NEW
TALES OF MIKE HAMMER. With Stacy Keech, they are as corny as ever and even if
they cause you to laugh as often as anything else, yes, it is classic hard-boiled
detective at work. The writing is awful,
but the editing is superb, and I am not sure I could take it in anything but
the mini doses in which it is delightfully served up.
How often is it that Thanksgiving and Christmas both fall on
the 25? My father calls this
morning. I miss the call, but I call him
right back. “Who is this?” he
demands. “It’s your son. You called me.” “No I didn’t.” And I was worried about my mind
slipping. My son Tom calls, “What time
is dinner?” “Uhm, what time is good?” “Between 5 and 6?” “Dinner is between 5 and 6.” Dinner arrives at 5:30. “Where’s Tom?” Zoe wants to know. But Tom is already here, sneaking up behind
her, and there are other voices at the door.
Buy me. No, buy
me. Buy us. We have a new holiday in
America, Black Friday. It leaves this black stain on our mind. It overwhelms
like locusts. It rots your consciousness
from the inside out. Maybe it doesn’t
affect you that way, but I want to hide from it. I find myself shrinking from all the gizmos
and gadgets competing for my attention and for my money. It’s too much. I can’t take it. My roommate is planning an all-out 3 AM
assault with friends. She looks at me laughing.
Stop worrying. We’re not taking
you. You are babysitting.
I went to look at a new phone. My contract had expired and my ATT $33 a
month plan was costing $60 to $75 a month. I had no internet, and my phone was dying. PCS is the way to go I was told. Everything you can eat for $40 and no hidden
charges I went to the PCS store. “What
do you want?” they challenged me. “Uh, a
phone. And some service?” They whipped
out a Droid. $60 a month. “What happened
to $40 a month?” “You got to get one of
those nasty phones for $40 a month.”
I am not completely sure what happened with the phone. I got one phone, and then another. Then I ended up with an Android, which turned
out to not quite be an android, maybe I’m not sure, but which was very
expensive, although the monthly plan was not. And it took me two hours to turn the thing on.
No it is easy to use; just won’t turn on when hooked to a charger. And there is no user manual. And the user manual that is on-line, the
pages that refer to turning it on are blanked out you see.
The Wonder Phone died after two days of fitful
performance. My music servers refuse to
operate correctly even with the recommended grade to a 12 mb bandwidth. Well, at least the Best Guess people replaced
the Wonder Phone, which was nice since
they had practically folded the back in half tearing it off last night. They said to let the battery run all the way
down on this one before plugging it in. I did, but it wouldn’t regognize the
charger. I looked through the bag of twisted cables they gave me and tried a
different cable. This one worked.
Maybe the dog and I are bonding after all. I found myself
talking to her this morning. What does it mean when a grown man talks to a dog?
Well, the dog talks to me. She has definite noises she makes in the morning
when she wants fed and this is the only time she makes these noises. But, I am not completely comfortable with
this idea of catching myself talking philosophy with a Border Collie in the
middle of the woods. Did I do that with my other dogs? I could ask my daughter, but I did, didn’t I?