Sex, Drugs and Weirdness.

As I’ve been antisocial in general for quite some time and honestly missed the guy, I finally hung out with my friend, Moe. I had just had my profound psilocybin experience the previous night but wasn’t prepared to say too much about it, as I had not had the time to process it to any length, but as we hung out and shot the shit in my apartment much of what we spoke of seemed to resonate with my trip.
I did tell him about taking shrooms, but as he didn’t ask, I failed to dispense with all the details. I told him I had just one more item on my drug bucket list — and I didn’t even have to name the substance.

“DMT,” he said. He didn’t even phrase it as a question.

He still had my book, DMT: The Spirit Molecule, which I desperately wanted to read again, too. My interest in the drug is due to its associations with the pineal gland, which is believed to manufacture DMT, perhaps playing a role in altered states such as dreaming, Near Death Experiences and, so some believe, alien abduction experiences.

Repeatedly over the course of my experiences there has been the repeating theme of Ajna, or the third eye, which corresponds to the pineal gland. I feel pressure there when I’ve meditated, had experiences involving it during my “astral projections,” and it has cropped up continuously in my spontaneous artwork. It is also associated with a sense of direction, which I certainly lack, and sleep cycles, and mine are almost always out of whack — so I’ve occasionally entertained the possibility that I have a malfunctioning pineal. To learn that it might be associated with DMT only served to increase my curiosity, and perhaps the aforementioned hypothesis.

My curiosity is whether the drug would replicate my “astral projection” experiences (which may have been a form of lucid dreaming, for all I know) or even my alien abduction experiences. Though I truly believe the alien experiences were physical ones, experimenting with DMT may prove otherwise. In any case, I need to know.

I also mentioned to Moe how both my acid trip and most recent shroom experience seemed imbued with sexual energy. In my life I’ve noticed a correspondence between sexual energy and certain seemingly paranormal experiences, so perhaps that explains the synchronicities that occurred in the days to follow. One occurred after I’d gotten the shrooms, I believe, but before I had taken them. This was when an article of mine which I’d written some time ago involving shrooms was quoted on another forum. Other coincidences occurred in the days that followed. On Facebook, I saw two posts within a few minutes, one by Anti-Media and one by Cyanide & Happiness, both involving magic mushrooms. Then, at 5 AM on April 10th, as I checked for videos below the porn I was watching, I saw a porno starring a woman going by the name of Lila — a word, meaning “play,” that I had written several times during my trip.

When I mentioned to Moe the sexual nature of the trips, he immediately asked me how long it’s been. I confessed that it has been my longest stretch since I first got laid in October of 1999: seven long, non-fucking years.

“Don’t make it a decade, man.”

Word.

Constantly I circle back to two things I need to do to improve my life. The easiest to confess is needing to get my unambitious ass in a better job by the time I’m forty, which will be this November. I’ve spent most of my life in shit jobs and over fourteen years in the fast food joint in which I am currently wading and wasting my life away in. If I’m going to be miserable, I might as well be making more money in the process.

Needing to get laid is a bit more difficult to admit, though I suspect it is at least as obvious. I kept telling myself I was happy being single and settled on the fact that it should stay that way. I no longer wanted that war of impulses waging in my head: I wouldn’t make a good boyfriend, had no interest in being a husband, and didn’t think I was responsible and mature enough to be a father. I didn’t like how awkward and self-conscious I felt when I began anything approximating an active pursuit of a female of the species, and typically as soon as I get in a relationship I feel trapped and want to be alone again. So given that context, not getting laid made sense: no chance of getting tricked into the delusion of love again, no pain when it ended, no chance of accidentally impregnating a girl. It seemed to be the safest, most logical route.

Despite that, I did find that I missed having a girlfriend. Sex is certainly a big part of it, and that reason alone would certainly not justify any attempt with a girl, but there were other things I missed. The closeness, the intimacy, the way being in a relationship with a girl I truly cared for made me feel more human somehow, more connected to the world, more real, even. It was an entirely different state of consciousness. Indeed, women were in many ways like an addictive drug, at least when I allowed myself to get close.

To me, though, all of that sounded just slightly less shallow and selfish than wanting a girlfriend for the sole purposes of securing sex. Or was I, as my friend Abbey once accused me, merely trying to rationalize away my humanity? Was all this just natural and I was being silly and immature fighting these impulses? It suddenly seemed as if that aforementioned internal war was still raging in me after all…

Though he is likely to debate the point, Moe has always had a way with women — and women had a way of emotionally scarring him. As similar as him and I were, as much as he seemed to be a brother from another mother, he had a degree of confidence and machismo I never really had. Occasionally I was jealous of it; I always admired it. His guidance in this endeavor, should I elect to go forward with it, would certainly be of great benefit.

He said that sometime in the near future we should go to a bar in town and maybe I could pick up a girl; though I said I probably would drink little to nothing at all, I was willing to give it a try.

Long ago I had noticed that when I didn’t get laid, everything became sexualized. It became a default metaphor for things. My jokes often referenced things of a sexual nature. Jung was right: what is repressed rather than properly expressed is projected. There seemed to be no escaping it.

So I might as well face it and deal with it.

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Violence With a Side of Fries.

Within the first half hour of my shift on Monday, as I’m changing trash in the dining room, a newly-Christened manager hails me from behind the counter and asks if I’ll take this order of fries out to a waiting car. 

I say sure, grab the bag from her hands and go out the door to the side of the building, where I see two black cars parked in the two spaces right beside drive-thru. In the area around those cars are several female human bodies, most screaming in rage, some punching or grabbing one another. I went back in, told one of the kids behind counter to tell newbie manager there was a fight, and then went back outside, still holding the bag containing an order of fries.

It made me think back to a YouTube video I was watching just before work which described a technique for diffusing a fight. There was a video of some guy who did this, I think on the subway, and it apparently went viral. They called him “Snackman.” Essentially, if you walk between two people battling it out just casually eating a snack, it totally ends the battle. Well, I had the knowledge and an order of fries — but no confidence to give the technique a whirl.
This new, 18-year-old girl that started working a week or two ago and was visiting off the clock followed me when I went back out. Unlike me, she confidently and casually walked into the middle of it, talking to one of the girls calmly, seemingly unafraid and never attacked or even screamed at by anyone throughout the whole ordeal, at least as far as I could see. And all without a snack. I was impressed.

Steve, another shift manager, and Karen, our store manager, both came out with their phones. Steve was snapping a photo of the license plate on one if the cars. Karen was texting someone and suddenly said, as she was gazing at the continuing chaos a short distance away, “She has no arm.” I hadn’t even noticed, which is unlike me, but one older woman in the bunch with a face that screamed exhaustion just casually stood to the side of the mosh pit, bearing a nub on one arm at just about the elbow. She also had no belt on, wore no underwear, and had the flattest ass I’ve ever seen on a human being. I was just slightly more disgusted but fascinated.

A cop arrived, parked in the “I can do what I want” kind of way that seems typical for officers, blocking the drive-thru in the process. He almost immediately called for backup. They were still screaming at each other, but also took turns screaming to him. He screamed back that they should stop screaming, because he just got here and he’s not putting up with this shit.

He was desperately trying to keep his cool and play the role of the adult, but he had just stepped into an area of rage and was immediately infected. Their anger — less so with respect to the cop, but I turned away and went inside shortly thereafter — seemed like emotional fireworks. Like a Wild West shootout of anger, bullets of angst flying in every conceivable direction.

Not twenty minutes later, I saw another display of anger, this time at the dish sink in the stock room, where Steve’s son was at work (if you care to stretch the definition). Evidently he had been mouthing off to his manager-father and had said something about Karen behind her back. As Karen spoke with him, you could hear the anger in her voice and feel it at a distance — but it was a concentrated, focused, steady stream, like a laser beam. It was so controlled. So unlike the shoot-out fireworks I’d felt earlier.

I liked how the 18-year-old girl could walk into the atmosphere if rage earlier and remain apparently unaffected. I admired Karen’s capacity to remain in control and focus her anger. Both of these instances, they felt different than how I felt my own energy in such circumstances. I hold it in until I’m shaking and then it eventually breaks out, as if in sparks, and sometimes this leads to the inevitable, uncontrollable burst, like a bomb going off. Its similar to my anxiety in that way. I just don’t manage it well. I’m learning, but I’m by no means there yet.

On Memory Issues With Strange Experiences.

The most unusual experiences of my life were ones that occurred when I was stone cold sober, though they certainly share certain qualities with my psychedelic experiences. In each category, the most frustrating obstacles deal with memory and translation.

Memory is problematic enough by nature and it doesn’t help matters that it is truly all we ever know of experience. Sorry, my dear Buddhists, but we know of no Here and Now. We are always living in the past. There is a time delay between when our bodies receive stimuli and when we experience it, a fact that I think Sam Harris has exemplified pretty well.

As he has explained, when I extend my arm to touch something the signals clearly have a longer journey to the brain than, say, when something brushes my nose — yet if I take my own finger and boop my own nose, I seem to experience both my finger touching my nose and my nose being touched by my finger in tandem. No apparent delay. How? Well, my brain waits until it has all relevant data before providing me with my perceptual experience.

Our immediate perceptual experience, then, is sensory memory, and so we are always living in the past.

On top of that there is the possibility that every time we remember something we are in actuality recalling our former memory of it. In other words, with every subsequent occasion in which we recall something it decreases in accuracy. This may not be the only way in which we can remember, of course — there may be ways in which that root, sensory memory can be directly accessed and it is only that this memory-of-a-memory chain is simply more economical and becomes a sort of default as a consequence — but without knowing how to switch gears or at least differentiate between them, we’re still left with the problem. We’re still left to rely on our increasingly inaccurate memories and often trust them too blindly.

In some instances, however, we aren’t even granted what ultimately constitutes false memories but are instead left with hazy recollections or, worse, no memory at all, save for perhaps remembering that there was something profound that has been forgotten. The easiest example is transitioning from the state of dreaming to awakening — or the similar experience of transitioning from being high on a psychedelic to being sober.

Why are carrying over those memories so damned difficult, however? Part of the issue, I suppose, is that in these cases we have to rely on memory greatly, even entirely, because leaving the state of dreams or the psychedelic-saturated sensory landscape takes away the environment (or the state-dependent perceptions of our environment) that would otherwise assist us in triggering any associated memories.

It may also be a translation problem, which is to say it may not only be that the memories themselves are state-specific but that the manner in which we were feeling, thinking and perceiving while dreaming or while under the influence of a psychedelic may be so distinct from our typical, awakened, sober mode of consciousness that they are lost in translation.

On the shroom trip some things seemed so clear, so self-evident in that state, but later seemed frustratingly out of reach. I get the sense sometimes that these experiences are allergic to language — much as is the case in my unusual sober experiences. It even seems at times that the experience becomes even more confusing as a result of my attempts to understand it.

Renegade Homunculi and the Tug-o-War Puppet Leader of the Soul.

Though it was an amazing trip, there were some scary parts (or at least frightening implications) of this most recent psilocybin mushroom experience, namely the creeping sense I had that my identity was composed of populations of personalities typically veiled from my inner eye, —

“Pay no attention to the gibbering homunculi behind the curtain.”

— that most if not all of what I took to constitute my identity was in fact a consequence of the interactions between these underlying personalities rather than any actual conscious deliberation of my own. The thoughts that I thought were the end products of conversations between various, underlying personalities, or so I seemed to observe. Extensive and detailed processes went into and underliewhat I experienced as the most minute decisions and behaviors. To me, this suggested my sense of personal freedom and individual will was a total illusion and all that I typically considered to be myself was actually produced and governed by the interaction between these lower intelligences. Later I also felt some discomfort when it was implied that I was not only a product of many lesser intelligences but a tool for a higher intelligence as well.

I was a marionette with strings being pulled from two directions.

Am I a passenger dumbly believing he’s the driver? And who am I, anyway?

Is the soul naked awareness, devoid of any individual characteristics? Is this the deepest part of who we are, our ultimate nature, perhaps the only thing we are when we have rid ourselves of all false identifications? The thought is more than slightly terrifying: that I might be someone else could be conceivable, that I might be something more is expected, but to be nothing? To be nothing but awareness, nothing but pure being at the core — to have that the only true and permanent aspect of I? I didn’t suspect it and the experience that seemed to suggest it was one that I never could have imagined.

At one extreme point in the trip, I had the sense that there was nothing left that I’d formerly identified with that I could truly call my own. I was a soul without an Original Face. I got that frantic, desperate impulse to grab ahold of something, to anchor myself, to find something to stand on or lean against to steady myself, but there was nothing there to hold onto.

Did it matter? I mean, fuck, was there anything to steady?

Is it that I’m truly nothing with awareness, or was it only that my means of feedback had gone haywire, that something had disturbed this fluid mirror I call my mind and I could no longer discern the reflection of my own face despite the fact that it was still there?

I hoped for the second.

I thought to myself that this experience might be giving me a good idea of what schizophrenia or some similar mental disorder is like — assuming my brain didn’t stay like this permanently because the psilocybin triggered some latent psychosis in me or something. I didn’t expect that, but by ruling it out prematurely I feared I might be asking for it.

My remaining comfort throughout the experience was that my mind would have settled and my feedback would return after I got some sleep and woke up the following morning. I just wanted to wake back up as me. Or the personality I’d formerly identified as me. Whichever. So I was quite relieved when all was back to the familiar abnormal when I awoke.

I don’t believe that what I experienced was egolessness, but it was certainly closer than I had ever been to that state and it certainly felt as if I were on the precipice. I can’t help but wonder if my mind is a mirror as I’ve always assumed or whether it might instead be a portrait painted by the populations of homunculi hidden in the shadows of my psyche. I float along the river of life that stretches betwixt womb and tomb thinking I’m at least rowing, at least having a hand or two in guiding my own vessel, but am I really the captain of this flesh-vessel or just a tug-o-war puppet leader a bit too caught up in his role?

As I continue on with my short meditation sessions, following the breath for fifteen minutes every day before leaving for work, indifferent to loose thoughts running through my mind and quick to disengage with ones I get mindlessly absorbed in and return to the sensations of air going in and out through my nostrils, I can’t help but wonder if there really is a true face behind that inner eye. All these thoughts I try to witness from a third person point of view: are they obscuring my identity, or do they constitute layers of a thick mask hiding a big, bleak, no one?

Shrooms, Lemons, and Lila.

“If Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness does not include the right to experiment with your own consciousness, then the Declaration of Independence is not worth the hemp it was written on.”
— Terence McKenna.

“Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible in us be found.”
— Pema Chödrön.

4/6/18

I had an eighth. I ate about half of the bag, then felt wary about finishing the rest. After washing that down with some Arizona tea, I smoked a cigarette as I watched the first episode of Planet Earth II. By the end of that smoke my confidence recovered a bit, so I had a bit more, guzzled some more tea and had another cancer stick. Around then I achieved that point where I thought it began hitting me, but I wasn’t entirely certain whether or not I was fooling myself. As I continued watching animals interacting on my Roku, I suddenly remembered having added a YouTube video to my “watch later” folder — a segment of a speech by Terence McKenna in which he explained the Stoned Ape Theory. Halfway through watching that this feeling welled up in me, almost like a voice in my mind urging me to finish the rest of the bag and then go for one of the two lemons I’d stolen from work.

Standing up, it seemed unmistakable: I was feeling it. I went to the fridge, grabbed a lemon and sawed into it with a butter knife, then took half of it with me back to the papasan. After I sat down, it was like this mad, primitive frenzy overtook me. I tore into the lemon like a wild animal lost in the passion of its kill, sucking the blood out of some poor, defenseless prey caught in its claws. It was rather disturbing, even at the time, though at the same time kind of amusing.

In the midst of it I realized that I’d gone through this entire opening process before when doing shrooms: building up to the moment I begin eating them, stopping halfway through and considering not taking the rest of the bag, finally taking a bit more, ultimately finishing the bag and then going for the lemon and tearing into it with that wild, unrestrained fervor.

Though I had taken notes the first few times I had taken shrooms, I’ve slacked on doing so the last few times I’ve done them, which I’ve gotten down on myself about. I was also largely unsatisfied with the notes I’d provided for my first, full-blown experience on acid about two months ago, and so became determined to take notes during this experience. So after the lemon, at roughly 2:20 AM on Friday, April 6th, 2018, I lean back in the papasan, iPhone in hand, and begin typing.

Reality suddenly seemed charged with sexual energy. Being in my body felt erotic, even the simple act of moving felt sexy. This was only the beginning, but as I’d soon realize, there was so much sexual material in this shroom trip, just like LSD trip. As I had observed once before, when you deny yourself sex and try and push away the need, everything seems to become sexualized as a consequence.

As I enjoyed the experience, smoking my cigarette and typing, everything suddenly turned up another notch. Awareness intensified as my vision became incredibly bright, like someone flipped a switch and a high-watt bulb blasted on behind reality. Even that background static of silence seemed to be cranked up, heightening in frequency, the soft hiss achieving a higher pitch.

From this point on, everything came in waves: sensations and emotions would rise higher and higher, almost like the build-up during sex, but right before it seemed certain that I was about to burst through the ceiling and achieve some unfathomably intense, spiritual orgasm I’d be abruptly cut off at the climax and all would abruptly be calm again. Soon the wave rose so high that I felt like I could almost get lost in it, entirely surrender to it — and then, yet again: a sudden, peaceful calm, a plateau.

Grabbing my iPhone, I got out of Notes application, found Voice Memos and spoke into the microphone. “It’s 2:41 AM,” I said. “I’m probably going to find it difficult to keep writing, so maybe doing a voice recording would be a better idea. Things seem so erotic and comfortable right now. Very strange.”

As I looked at the ceiling, I found it waving and rippling like fluid or fabric, patterns emerging from the paint splotches. Though staring at it was astounding in and of itself, moving my line of sight across it was even more breathtaking. It was akin to what I had experienced when staring at the ceiling on LSD, but that was more rigid and mechanical, whereas this struck me as more organic and beautiful. Simultaneously I felt what I described as a mosaic of various emotions, a mishmash of moods stitched together and bleeding into one another. Some of those emotions were gross or negative ones, but they all seemed wrapped up and glazed in this overall emotion or mood that seemed to cleanse all the ones it contained.

Suddenly remembering that I wanted to listen to music, I pulled up YouTube on my Roku and found the full Tool, Lateralis album, which I had listened to while I was on acid. Shortly thereafter I paused it, grabbed my iPhone and went to the fridge for the other half of the lemon. As I did so, I commented on how I was clutching the phone and speaking to it as if it were my best friend, which instantly reminded me of carrying around my small, black, micro-cassette recorder on those sleepless nights during high school. Given the flashbacks, in light of all these puzzle pieces of the past that had surfaced, I had diminished confidence in my memory, so the recorder became sort of an external hard drive for my mind. I principally used it to document any memories that surfaced or any unusual, real-time activity, but it also served as a confessional, and in many ways served as this app on my iPhone did: as my little friend, mute and non-judgemental, to whom I spilled so many secrets.

After grabbing the lemon out of the fridge, I realized that I had to pee, so I brought along the lemon with me to the bathroom. Walking felt strange. Entering, I remarked how strongly it smelled of pot on there, did my thing, and then washed my hands, trying desperately not to look in the mirror. I tend to get transfixed like a stoned Narcissus when I chance a glance at my reflection under the influence of psilocybin. I sat on the lid of the toilet and decided to smoke a bowl, and found that sitting down felt strange as well. I found myself gazing at the shower curtains my mother had recently gotten for me, depicting trees, and thought on how Bill Hicks had said that when you do shrooms, you should go to nature. I suddenly understood it, as even the artificial greens of the trees seemed to produce profound calm in this state. I’d like to do it in nature as long as in a safe and secure location where I wouldn’t be interrupted, however, and that can’t be guaranteed, so my apartment it is.

I noted that everything I sensed seemed to have a little spice to it, by which I meant that enlivening, pin-prickling kind of sensation I like so much about hot and spicy foods like chili and Mexican foods in general. It even manifested visually in the form of tiny, multicolored points of bright light that would pop into existence at seemingly random areas of my visual field before swiftly vanishing back into the ether from whence they came.

Staring at the barren bathroom wall right in front of me, I noted the elaborate designs overlaying it like a transparent, three-dimensional film, or as if it were even carved into the wall itself. The only thing that betrayed this illusion and momentarily banished it was trying to focus on the details of the design. Given I had now seen this general effect on both my ceiling and my wall, I was curious to see if I might also perceive designs overlaying paper. If I set up some blank sheet of paper to the easel in my bedroom, would I be able to trace the designs? This curiosity was soon forgotten when my eyes shifted to the ground right outside of my bathroom door, into my dark bedroom, to see the same effect take place on the carpet. It was then that I again noted that along with these hallucinatory designs came the mosaic of emotions, which in turn made me wonder if this constituted synesthesia.

As I finally bit into and sucked the juicy life out of the lemon, I reflected on how everything seemed so fucking cool, interesting, hyperreal, but how it was all so frustratingly difficult to articulate. Everything also seemed like such a journey: the distance between the papasan to the fridge and to the bathroom, and even what a journey it was to articulate all that to my nonjudgmental confessional.

Done with the lemon, I now turned to the bowl, and the first hit felt incredibly good. Mushrooms and cannabis mingle nicely. In staring at the shower curtain, I again did what I had done during my LSD experience. Looking at the shower curtain, I was admiring how the drug in my system was able to exaggerate the movements of something already moving only to realize that it was not, in fact, moving at all. On acid, it had been the cover for Lateralis as depicted on the YouTube video, which I found, to my surprise, had not been moving at all. Now it was the waving fabric of my shower curtain. This time, however, the movement seemed to have an erotic element to it — but then again, everything did. I finally decided to take a second and much-delayed hit from my bowl, after which I entered into an exceptionally strange period of the night.

Later, while listening to the recording to transcribe it, I could hear the flick of the lighter, my inhale and exhale. Then there was a stretch of silence. I didn’t even cough, which is highly unusual for me despite the fact that I smoke pot on a daily basis. After that stretch of silence, for all I know I may have paused the recording and then picked it up later to add the additional two minutes before closing the audio file, but I honestly don’t think I did. In any case, the long stretch of silence is suddenly interrupted by a moan and this incredibly loud slap that makes me jump every time I listen to it. Perhaps I dropped the phone? After that there is a long period of muffled noises and scraping, and in the background I could just barely hear myself speaking, as if the speaker was being muffled and it made my voice sound like mumbling. I don’t think it was in the breast pocket of my flannel, because I was still in the bathroom when I recorded what happened next and the muffled voice suddenly went clear.

In what I could piece together from what I could make out of the tape and what it subsequently triggered to memory, my consciousness was suddenly “somewhere else.” I remember being on the ground in a dark place, looking up and around me to find myself surrounded by a circle of spirits, or so I called them. They encircled me in a stonehenge-like fashion and I felt as if I were part of some ritual. There was a female, taller than the rest, with whom I had a conversation, at the end of which I remembered expressing to her how I wanted to remember all of this but was afraid that I’d either freak out and doubt the experience or forget that I’d even been there when I “went back.” She told me that when I went back I’d remember the general outline, and that this would trigger the rest of it, much like in the case of remembering a dream. In the end, it did function that way, but only in part, as I don’t remember the details of our conversation up to that point.

I’m glad I recorded this, as I immediately forgot about the incident.

I needed another cigarette, so made the journey back to the papasan. Once there, I switched back to the Notes app and began thumbing my thoughts once again. I noticed that I now felt as if I were rooted in this steady, solid, confident and powerful silence behind everything. It was that calm, slow, measured, precise undercurrent behind all my thoughts, emotions, sensations and behaviors, an aspect of myself that I could only touch briefly in the rare heights I achieved within the context of my daily meditation. Though my sense was that I was always rooted there, I could feel it now and naturally identified with that aspect of myself. I felt that everything else was at a distance, that I was protected as if through some impenetrable wall of glass that buffered me from my mental contents and perceptions — both of which were getting rather wild at the time.

Reality seemed hyperreal and entirely surreal. Colors emerged out of nowhere and streamed across my field of vision, creative designs of exquisite beauty emerged out of the hairs on my forearm. In the midst of writing about how fast any movement seemed to be, how I felt like a ninja and saw trails, the bionic man sound chimed in crystal clear. Afterward, I tried to determine whether I had experienced it as an internally-generated sound or an auditory hallucination and was unable to attach a label to it: in this state, it did not feel as though there was much of a distinction to be made.

Within my mind it was just as weird. “It’s like being given a friendly, warm tour through the insane circus in your head,” I wrote, and then added a space before dedicating a line to two words I would repeat from this point on in my notes:

“Lila. Play.”

It was as if the boundary separating the conscious and unconscious, liminal and subliminal aspects of my mind had suddenly dissolved, leaving me in a truly psychedelic, truly mind-revealing experience. My thinking patterns as revealed in my writing became exceptionally strange. One or two lines would deal with one train of thought, then I’d hop to another track of thought, but ultimately return to the original track. I know I wasn’t visually referencing what I’d written before as at this point as I was thumbing away at the keypad non-stop, and I find it equally difficult to believe it was by memory. Instead, it seemed as though I was serving as a stenographer for multiple trains of thought chugging along in parallel, and since I couldn’t document all trains simultaneously, I just hopped back and forth from one mental track to another, riding multiple rails. The trains of thought were decipherable, however, and I was able to group them together in retrospect.

I repeatedly experienced déjà vu, to the point that I referred to it in my notes as “the new constant.” I felt certain that I had gone through specific, underlying thought processes before and in some cases, even the words I used to express them. Later, despite not having remembered that observation, I seemed to explain the mechanics of it all. It’s like I’m at first outside of the realm of thought and a stream of thoughts are presented to me to review as a whole from a third-person perspective. If I approve of them, I then enter the stream of thought, inhabit it and experience it from beginning to end from the first-person perspective as if for the first time, though there is that lingering sense of déjà vu. After I reach the end if the thought-stream I look back on it from a third-person perspective again, but now with the memory of having also experienced it from the first-person. I then feel embarrassed because the thoughts were so over-the-top dramatic and perfectly timed as if I was putting on a show for someone and came across as a really bad actor, as it all seems so pretentious and fake.

What seemed at one level to be deliberate and instantaneous thought I found at a deeper level to be the ultimate outcome of extensive subliminal dialogues between entities. I found myself wondering if I was truly anything more than the stenographer and translator of my thoughts. At one point I had thought to myself “I’ll try and catch that thought on the next swing around” and wondered if my thoughts were not only predetermined but cyclical. As time went on, I began describing deliberate thought as being very laborious, as if in order to think I had to think around and through a sort of obstacle course. One moment these mental gymnastics seemed exhausting; the next, I’d get another random, potent pulse of energy and found the strength to keep going. In the end, thoughts manifested in a form that reminded me a lot of poetry and it struck me that the manner in which I was taking my notes was akin to a linguistic totem pole.

I also found that my internal voice, my internal narrator, seemed to take turns embodying various stereotypical or archetypal characters. There were also swarms of lesser thoughts or voices breaking through, like there was a crowd in my mind, and I wondered: is this the way my mind is all the time on a subliminal level, and it’s simply that in this state that deep realm of thoughts have been given the psychological equivalent of a megaphone?

The aforementioned sensations of déjà vu extended to the realms I appeared to be visiting as well. Something as simple as grinding a cigarette butt into the ashtray on my red plaid lap would trigger my slippage into such a realm. It felt as though these places I kept falling into and stumbling my way back out of again were real, separate spaces that my consciousness had access to. Though I was skeptical of that intuitive certainty, I knew that the right approach was to let go, give in and enter the new space and play according to their unique rules as if it all were real, even if it all turned out to be a psychedelic ruse. Even in this act of play, however, I felt that buffer, that safe distance I felt in the “real” yet presently psychedelic world. I also felt as my identity itself was a world which I could occupy as a space or “be”.

Though I wasn’t able to ascertain whether I was traversing a complex webwork of parallel worlds or whether they were merely dreamlets, I felt as if the process of traversing these worlds as well as many of the worlds themselves were familiar territory, as if I was native to this manner of existence and had finally swung by through this sacred fungus to visit my home.

I wondered if I was experiencing the same things I ordinarily did, just handled and translated differently by my brain on account of the shrooms. It seemed as though the sensorium, which was typically predominant, was suddenly on equal footing with the realms of thought and emotion. All were just as real, just as potent. In addition, I again noted there was a cross-contamination between these equivalent sectors of experience, though I was no longer certain synesthesia was the right word for it. In any case, sounds, emotions and thoughts manifested as imagery, as scenery.

“Metaphors become real,” I wrote. “Analogies give birth to and end real lives. Our thoughts are people. There are villages of souls there. Patterns in my thinking become tangible, three-dimensional, like objects in themselves and so become more easily maneuverable.” I could also see my thought processes and patterns more easily.

Later, I also got the sense that, much as seemed to be the case with my thoughts, events in the external world were preconceived. Time only existed when you experienced the stream of events from a first-person perspective; outside, from the third-person perspective, all events already occurred and every origin and outcome could be known. I found it rather frightening and depressing — even from a young age, notions of determinism have always elicited that reaction from me — but then another thought intervened: “Kind of sucks, but buck up, sit back and relax.” I then referenced a Hunter S. Thompson quote that a friend of mine used to echo rather frequently: “Buy the ticket, take the ride.”

Twice I mentioned how things that seemed polarized from the up-close, first-person perspective seemed utterly indistinguishable, void of all distinction from the distance offered through the third person perspective, particularly the dualities of happy/sad and slave/master.

I kept yawning in pleasure, my nose full of mucus and my eyes watering profusely. “It’s like having the bliss flu,” I wrote.

Elsewhere, one part of myself seemed to be offering me self-analysis and recommendations.

“Your emotions moods have so many ups and downs,” I found myself writing. “Stabilize. Find a more suitable environment. Find a better job. Finish and publish your book.”

I wrote, “Document the downfall. Just like you said from the beginning.” This was in reference to the feeling I got shortly after the “alien” flashbacks in high school, where I became possessed by the notion that we were going to experience a global catastrophe, after which those creatures would intervene. I always had the notion that I was supposed to “document the downfall” of our civilization.

“Fuck lost civilizations,” I also wrote, which was in reference to my recent research on Graham Hancock’s ideas, then going on to proclaim that I should instead “focus on this — the intricacies of interspace, telepathic lines of communication between spatially dissociated minds, even temporally associated minds.”

This seemed tied to how I later described the boundary dissolution I was experiencing as revealing intimate, infinitely complex interconnections with everything else. This brought thoughts of what my childhood friend, Nimi, The Teacher, had told me about a web stretching across the universe, connecting all souls. “I feel it now, vibrating inside and reverberating,” I wrote, “spreading outward like the ripples caused by a stone cast in a pond.”

Sexual desire erupted in me, possessed every fiber of my being and every aspect of reality, but the yearning had greater width and depth and greater intensity than I had previously experienced. Evidently in association with this and rest of the beautiful madness I was experiencing, I was reminded of that Nietzsche line:

“I say unto you: one must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star. I say unto you: you still have chaos in yourselves.”

At least twice during this period I had the distinct sense that someone else was in the room with me, unseen but distinctly felt. At least three times in succession I had been flicking my lighter to light my cigarette and it seemed like someone else blew it out just before I could get my cigarette tip up to the flame. After I gave up, I discovered it was already lit. The second time I felt a presence, I simply wrote: “It feels like there is one other intelligence here aside from myself.” I remember asking out loud, “Who are you?” and half expected for someone to answer. Though I cannot be certain, I feel this had something to do with a disturbing line I later wrote:

“I am a tool for a higher intelligence? Fuck that. Fuck that. Is it real?”

Again and again throughout my notes, I came back to the subjects of play, of games, and of Lila, which was a word I’d vaguely recalled looking up before.

“Words are our playthings,” I wrote.

“Am I creating or describing, telling the truth or lying?” I asked, to which another part of me answered: “In play, ultimately nothing matters. You are immortal, infinite to it, yet left a derelict in the inconsequential game.”

“Struggle to think clearly,” I wrote some time later, “but this is all play. All of it. Games within games, don’t forget. Take it seriously but keep that awareness that underneath none if it matters. No matter how awake you think you are or I think I am, we are still asleep.”

Constantly throughout the experience I marveled at this — at my heightened awareness. I felt so awake, so alive, and only from the vantage point of that state of awareness did I realize how asleep I really am in life, how asleep we all are. In that state of consciousness, certain things seemed so clear, so self-evident — things seemingly inaccessible in the normal mental mode. Try as you might, however, you can’t really take it back with you, can’t effectively translate and articulate the insights.

“I’m trying to figure it all out, master this maze,” I write, “become lord of my labyrinth within.”

“Keep trying,” I write back to myself. “Keep your spirits up. Remember that it’s all play.”

“Break the code later,” I said, writing to myself again. “Get it all out first. Prima materia must first be gathered before alchemical operations can commence. It’s all play. Lila.”

“Lila,” I wrote for the final time. “Research it later.”

And so I have. There was a website I had visited many years ago that was called Lila, and I believe it dealt primarily with drug experiences. Interested in what the word meant, I had looked it up, but had since forgotten about it — at least consciously. I did remember that it had some association with Hindu philosophy. After a bit of research the last few days, I think I get the general gist.

From how I understand it, Brahman is conceived as having two basic forms, namely the unmanifest and the manifest. In it’s latent, unmanifest form, Brahman is pure and perfect awareness, the divine absolute. In manifest form, this entity becomes the ever-changing stage we call the universe, including all seemingly individual entities inhabiting it. This manifestation is accomplished through Lila, a Sanskrit term variously translated as drama, spontaneity, sport, or game, though most typically as divine play. Given its absolute perfection, it can attain nothing, so there is no driving motive, only spontaneous, aimless, creative and childlike play fashioned out of bliss. In this sense, it is both a detached observer and participant, engaged yet unrestrained, outside the universe and yet constituting the universe itself. To erroneously believe that this manifest play is the true reality we are said to be under the spell of Maya, or illusion.

I fell asleep that early Friday morning thankful for the experience but hoping it was in no way permanent, hoping I would wake up as myself, that my identity would be entirely restored, that I’d be able to think yet again in the traditional way. Aside from a strained feeling in my head that began the following morning and proceeded to follow me throughout the day, however, there seemed to be no ill side-effects.

Without doubt, it was my most mind-blowing psychedelic experience to date, and I’m still trying to wrap my mind around it.

Not Driving Mr. Ulysses.

Typically, there are one of two states of mind you find yourself in when you work at this fast food cesspool of a place. You are either stressed as shit or bored as fuck — there is no hope for a happy medium unless, of course, you’re sufficiently stoned.

This Tuesday? Well, I was bored as fuck and painfully sober.

At work, they’ve been remodeling the dining room, huge sheets of plastic curtaining us from the construction. For the meantime we’ve also gotten rid of third shift, which means closing down at eleven and being out by midnight. Tuesday, we were closing up one hour earlier because they were upgrading the wifi. Despite that, it felt at least as long as the average day, and I was trying to ease my boredom and be helpful to my coworkers in the process.

I was relieved by the time we were about to leave around eleven. Then it all went south, as that was when the manager asked me if I’d drive home Ulysses, a coworker, and I was overwhelmed by the annoyance that instantly flooded my veins.

I was already pissed on account of being bored out of my gourd and due to losing money by having to get off work an hour early, but at the very least I wanted to enjoy my free time. With one question, he ruined all of that. He couldn’t have known, of course, how the circumstances he had now put me in played out in my mind, how he had unknowingly wedged me betwixt a rock and a hard place. And my response is certainly my own responsibility, so it really wasn’t him doing it, he only provided the stimulus.

In any case, my circumstances were the same. If I said yes, Ulysses could point the way to his place, but I knew I’d get lost on the way home. Atop of not making an hour’s worth of money, I would not be able to enjoy that hour of freedom and personal time. I would be irritated taking him home and even more so as I would drive in mad circles, cursing my spinning internal compass, just to arrive home later than I would have had I left on time. If I said no, I’d feel guilty about it, feel like a total dick, and it would ruin my mood and consequently ruin my free hour anyway.

Lose-lose situation in the blink of an eye.

“I really hate doing that, man,” I responded to him instantly and involuntarily, “I get lost really easily.”

I avoided eye contact when I said it and my tone was like that of a stubborn, cranky child. I could feel that he was rather put off, confused and irritated by my instant, emotional, overly-sensitive response to what to his ears probably sounded like a simple and easy request, but, well, I was feeling stubborn and cranky. I never really said yes or no and left for home as soon as he gave the go-ahead. It left a mood in the wake that lasted for hours.

One day, I hope to get a better handle on my damned, childlike emotions.

3/22 Timewarp.

On Fatherhood.
3/22/05

“Don’t you ever want to be a father?”

I’ve certainly considered the idea. I mean, I can’t even get laid now, so that’s obviously far, far in the future, but I sometimes think it would be nice to have a kid. Then reality strikes my brain like a bolt of lightning: everything would have to change. I would have to change. I’m not the role model I’d want to be. Too many things would be in conflict between me and the girl, whoever it would be. I mean, I’d never allow my kid to grow up within the structure of some religion. I’d never allow her or him to be conditioned like that from such a young age. There’s no way. I’d have difficulty with the Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy thing, because that confused the fuck out of me when I was a kid.

“No, dear, there’s nothing to be afraid of. There’s no such thing as monsters. No such thing as ghosts. Magic doesn’t exist, except for the tricks.”

Yet I’m supposed to believe that some obese motherfucker in a red and white suit fits his bloated ass down our chimney, fills up our socks with goodies, leaves presents under the tree, eats milk and cookies and then, by placing his finger on his facial booger-factory, zooms back up that soot-covered smoke-hole back to his flying sleigh, parked on our roof, with eight flying reindeer and one with a luminous schnoz like Bill Clinton’s so he can do the same to every other children’s house in the world before making it back to his toy factory in the North Pole where crafty midgets make toys for all the world’s children with brand names on them?

And people wonder why our world is so fucked up.

And besides that, would I really want to raise a kid in this world? I really have to contemplate that one. I mean, I know it sounds pessimistic, but our education system’s crap, our society seems to be headed for self-destruction, and we’ve got a numbskull like Bush running the country. What am I supposed to say to him after I first see him as he squeezes out through the sacred lips of his mother: “welcome to hell, kid, somehow I thought this was a good idea”? Or, “it’s not my fault, blame the poor quality of the rubber”? I hate to be so bitter, but considering how miserable I feel and have felt, would I really want to throw a child into the same sea of vomit-inspiring stimuli? Is it better to be born into hell, or to never be born at all?

And another thing, which, judging from the fact that I held off throwing it in this post until just now when it’s been at the forefront of my mind all along, is actually more of a concern that I wish to let on, even though by saying that I might have let on: I know how weird and lonely I feel; how out of place. Whatever’s inflicted by brain — psychosis, neurosis, the introduction of various elements of extraterrestrial psychology by means of transgenics while still in the womb as part of a slow process taking place in certain bloodlines over generations in a program unerringly aimed at creating a perfect mix of humanity and them for the purposes of colonization through living in a body that has naturally adapted to the earth’s ecosystem over a long process of evolution, or whatever — would it be ethical to pass it on, to multiply it?

I just don’t know.

But the kid thing keeps popping up. I don’t even know why it keeps pushing itself into my mind. Like that child-hallucination I sometimes have in my lucid dreams — or astral projections or out-of-body experiences or whatever — the one that named himself Josh: is he, perhaps, just some fucked-up manifestation of my desire to be a father? Of my fear of being a father? I don’t know.

I always have that fear that years from now if I ever have a kid, I’m going to be there in the hospital holding him for the first time, and I’m going to look down into his eyes and — he’s going to give me a big Cheshire Cat grin and I’m going to get telepathically sucked into his pupils.

Don’t ask.

There are two pregnant girls at work. One’s just a little younger than me, and the other’s sixteen. Mitch the manager has a kid and keeps telling me about how cool it is to be a father, to watch this small being you helped create explore life with fresh, new eyes and senses, full of curiosity and wonder, touching objects, giggling, looking at you mysteriously, sucking on their pacifier. I mean, sure, it sounds a lot like just having a midget raver around the house, but still, it gives rise to this two dual responses in me that wrestle and fight like… well, like so many other things. but the point is, it keeps popping up lately. Why?

The girls around get all excited, start saying how they want a baby and all that. This is what Rena calls the `itch’ — seeing another girl with her child and wanting one of their own. Maybe all the talk of children and parenthood lately and the lack of any real purpose in my life has brought out of latency some male rendition of the `itch’.

Unlike so many others, however, I’m not ready to scratch.

My Naked Green-Eyed Monster.
3/22/06

Separating you from yourself and looking at yourself from a third person perspective (and then talking about it in second person) is incredibly amusing: makes every aspect of your insanity amazingly amusing.

This emotion is such a wild one: only guilt rises to meet it.

For instance, I’ve noticed not once, but twice this week now that in particular situations that the rate of value I hold in a person increases my disdain for their happiness when such happiness is not produced by me.

This is, again: jealousy. An unwarranted sense of ownership. A feeling of greed. A total fear of losing what somewhere, hidden beneath the rubbage of denial, you secretly consider `yours’.

Envy and jealousy are relatives. Envy is, through the eyes of the envious, wanting to possess what they perceive to be another’s possession: “I want his girlfriend.” Jealousy, on the other hand, is being protective over what you already consider a possession of yours: it’s your possession and no one else has the right to possess it: “She’s my girl, get your fucking hands off her.” Envy and jealousy go together in a way; it may in a sense be necessary, as you envy the rival possesser’s power over that which you assume possession — “I want the girl you have, because she’s rightfully mine” — but the true emotional focus, in jealousy, is not on the rival possessor and your envy of his powers, but the perceived possession of yours which you’re threatened to lose: “why does she want him instead?” It is a primitive, instinctual reaction to the threat of losing something highly valued: the more intense the reaction, obviously, the higher the sense of value you imbue the `possessed’ with.

Still, it seemingly reduces the subject to an object of possession, which is an embarrassing, shallow perception I seem to have trouble accepting in myself.

Evolutionary psychology says one thing, but your body says another: that’s funny, too. That for men, the act a woman he feels he `possesses’ means more than the meaning it holds for her: a man, they say, is more likely to get over the fact that she feels something for another man than he is to get over the fact that she’s fucking or kissing another man. For a woman, its reversed — so they say.

Perhaps this just goes even further to show that as heterosexual as I am, I tend to take on many psychological characteristics typically associated, in modern culture, with the feminine.

Because I’m looking down at that green-eyed monster right now, happy for the moment that I’m outside his skin, and I’m laughing and laughing at how ridiculous all this is: twice in the same week. Now, much angrier than before, of course, but that’s probably due to the long history with the second, the monster says to me in growls. I laugh. Whatever.

Excuses. Rationalizations. Eyes wide and green and fixated on her but blind to yourself, you’re such a goofy little fucker.

I shall call you: Othello.

I keep my little green-eyed monster in his cage, feed him well: like usual, yes, though now the curtain’s off. You need some sunlight. Little naked green-eyed monster, they can both see you now, because I’m taking this little photograph for them and putting it where they can see it if they choose. Can’t let another Kodak moment pass me by…

Moe’s Labyrinth and Saving Face.
3/22/08

“If this does end up to be a bunch of bullshit,” he says, “I really don’t think I’ll ever be able to trust anyone ever again. The way she made me feel, I never felt like that before. It was very sincere.”

I don’t want to say, ”I know how you feel,” even though I do, because I’m afraid it would close the door, that it would sound like I was dismissing his pain, that I was competing. That it would be a way of saying, “It’s not big deal,” a way of downplaying his present agony. And the last thing I want is to sound dismissive. Because I’m not being dismissive. I couldn’t possibly dismiss this, even if, well, even if I didn’t, know how he feels though experience.

To lay complete trust in another, after fighting against yourself just to keep your guard up so you won’t be shit on again, and then, after much interior battling and juggling, to finally be convinced it’s okay to open up, give in, let go and trust again, to let yourself be vulnerable due to the other’s convincing sincerity — and only, and seemingly inevitably, to be casually, and so coldly, shit on again…

But I remind myself, so as to not be blinded, that I really don’t know, from experience, how he feels: my circumstance with Kate was circumstantial. One could argue it really wasn’t her fault that she never came back from California. Here, in Moe’s circumstance, the girl is being downright malicious, or so it would seem.

Still, the way he’d explained it to me, how he’d finally trusted in the experience, how he finally gave into it just to have this happen — it sounded so familiar. It’s like you’re hanging on the edge of a cliff for dear life, and you’ve been hanging out there for as long as you can remember. It’s been a long and difficult time, but you’ve managed to keep a hold it all on your own. Then, one day, someone reaches out a hand. You hesitate, you try to be smart about it, but finally, after taking it from so many angles in your head, by honestly questioning and analyzing the situation, you reach out your hand and let it wrap around hers and her hand wraps around yours. You still keep your other hand hanging on, though, because you can’t be sure. A part of you is still suspicious. She’s so convincing, though, so convincingly sincere, and so eventually you put your guard down, open up, learn to trust again, and you let go off the cliff, you take her other hand. She smiles, holding you there.

And then, then she casually drops you. Or in the very least slaps or kicks you in the face.

Thing is, it’s hard for him to tell if he’s over-reacting at this point because he can’t really know if anything’s going on. Then again, regardless as to what’s going on, is he really over-reacting? After all, what she texted him was far beyond suspicious. I had just clocked in to begin my third shift, I was back in the kitchen area by the sinks, washing, sanitizing, and Moe walks passed he grills and fryer vats and he tells me something along the lines of, “I’ve got a bad feeling.” I ask him what specifically, and he tells me he doesn’t know, and I know from the way that he tells me, ”I don’t know,” that he really does know, and the next time I turn around he puts his cell phone up to my face.

On it is a text message. I don’t have to look at it to know it’s from his girlfriend, Stacey. I probably don’t have it down to the exact words, but it went something like, “I changed my mind about tonight, I’m hanging out with Bailey! Is that okay?”

Baily, you should know, is her ex-boyfriend, and they had gone out for quite a long time. Her parents still talk about him. Moe knows he still texts her, and he tries not to be suspicious or jealous, I know he tries to trust her, but it’s not the kind of thing you can ignore. Many might think he’s being unjustifiably suspicious, but this is just a lone node in a network of things; to think his reaction is unreasonable would require taking it out of context. Stacy has pictures of Bailey everywhere, and though I think she took down some since Moe had casually commented on it, they’re still around, and plentiful. She used to have pictures of him all over her bedroom wall. On the sun visor in her car. And as a screensaver on her laptop, which she asserts she does not know how to take off, even though I — not being at all that computer literate, understand — know damn well how to change my own background. And not a day or two ago, Moe tells me, she explained, basically, how much Baily is an asshole. And now they’re hanging out tonight. Not only that, but she’s breaking plans with her current boyfriend, Moe, to hang out with the guy, who is, as I said, her ex-boyfriend.

And take into account the fact that Stacey is not only a physically beautiful girl, but an indisputably intelligent one, which puts her in a certain disadvantage when it comes to people such as Moe and me, who just happen to know that she is intelligent. How could she text something like that and not think that it would spawn a relentless sea of worries in Moe’s head? That it wouldn’t spawn jealousy and concern in him?

Considering her intelligence, it’s just not possible that she couldn’t know. And since she’s not stupid, one must come to the conclusion that she wrote that text knowing that it was going to make him jealous. As a result, she either knows that he knows she’s trying to make him jealous or she doesn’t expect him, as jealous as she knows he is, to suspect that it was her intention to make him jealous, expecting instead that his value in her would blind him to the possibility that she could play such a game with him. And in that case, well, it’s just a blatant insult to his intelligence. And, of course, it’s as equally malicious as the aforementioned possibility, if not more so.

All too often I’ve witnessed and experienced girls playing these games, testing guys to see how they respond, to see how much the guy cares for them and trusts them. These women, do they realize the futility of this game? Do they know that this game is a lose-lose situation for the guy?

Think about it.

For instance, if Moe were to call her right away (and she actually answered the phone) and expressed how he felt, what would her reaction be? If he said he knows his feelings might be irrational, that he might be paranoid, but he can’t help but feel absolutely uncomfortable and insulted that she had broken plans with him to hang out with her ex-boyfriend, especially in such ambiguous circumstances and for totally unstated reasons that didn’t take into account his feelings in the matter at all. Really, if he was totally raw and honest with her, what would her reaction likely be? Probably, she’d think he was being a jealous, controlling boyfriend. Moe knows that, of course, and he doesn’t want to look like that, let alone be that, and this is one of the reasons why he’s hesitant to go that route.

But consider the other option: he says nothing. Tells her, “Yeah, it’s okay,” and then leaves it at that. Doesn’t question her, doesn’t express how he really feels. Takes her at her word, tells himself he’s just paranoid, reminds himself that a friendship is a facade without trust, and a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship even more so. What then? And what if she really was doing something with her ex-boyfriend? Moe would feel like a fool, Stacey would see him as a fool, and she’d think he was so naive she could walk all over him and he’d let her out of his immense value and deep care for in her. That or she would take this as an indication that he simply doesn’t care for her — for, she thinks, if he did care for her he would have said something, done something, expressed his disapproval. If he cared for her, in other words, he would’ve acted like the typical image one has of a jealous, insecure and controlling boyfriend.

It would seem he can’t win. Stacey, in a single text, has placed Moe between a rock and a hard place and now he’s just a ping-pong ball bashing his head back and forth from either end. I watch him, and his emotions are like an electric windstorm. He wants to cry, he wants to beat the hell out of something, he wants to scream, he wants to kill. He’s angry at her for putting him in this circumstance and he’s angry at himself. Alternatively angry at himself for feeling this way when it might be nothing, for doing nothing when it might be justified, but forever angry at himself for just not knowing what the fuck to do.

He texted her back when she threw him that text, and just said, basically, “Yeah.” That it was okay. He expected a response, expected her to say something back, but she never did, and so now this war is raging within him. It’s like an atomic explosion trapped inside an indestructible box. No matter what he does, no matter how much he kicks and punches and screams and cries and whatever, he’ll never be able to completely and accurately vent what’s within him. There’s so much within him right now nothing he could say would ever properly articulate it to himself, let alone anyone else. How do you translate that cyclone of emotion? You could be the best writer, speaker or painter in the world and you wouldn’t be able to do it. Nothing but pure interface could ever hope to express this.

I tell him that I know anything I suggest would sound stupid right now, any advice I could possibly give would necessarily sound absolutely lame. That being said, I suggested to him that he call her. Just tell her what he has managed, in part, to tell me. Tell her he thinks it’s fucked up that she would say that and not expect him to get angry. If he would explain to her how he feels, if he would explain to her the complexities I’ve just described here in his own words, maybe he could transmute this lose-lose situation into a win. Potentially, if he said it right, conveyed it in full, she’d know he cares for her and that he wouldn’t look like the average jealous, controlling boyfriend or the naive or apathetic boyfriend that can be pushed around, walked on, and yet raise no complaints.

But he tells me he can’t talk to her now rationally, that he couldn’t be calm about this, and I can totally see that. It just adds another layer of complexity to this. Another twisting hall in this dark labyrinth.

Outside, as I smoke my last cigarette for the night and he’s waiting for his father to come pick him up, I ask him what is going to happen if, as planned, they hang out tomorrow and she says nothing about it. If it all doesn’t happen how he expects it might happen. That he doesn’t get a call tomorrow before they’re to hang out, and she says, as he says has happened before with him, “I didn’t want to tell you because you’re such a nice guy, but it’s not going to work out. You’re just not good enough for me.” What if, in other words, she blows it off, acts all casual and natural and doesn’t break up with him? What if he sees her tomorrow and, amidst hanging out, he doesn’t see a hickey on her neck that she says nothing about and which he knows he didn’t put there; that when he comes in to kiss her she doesn’t turn away, push him back, and finally tell him she cheated on him and no longer wants to be with him. What then?

He tells me he doesn’t know.

I know he’s risking a lot by telling her, by being absolutely honest with her, by telling her how paranoid this makes him. I tend to think a degree of jealousy is natural in any relationship, and that, all things considered, Moe’s level of paranoia, jealousy, anger, fear, sense of betrayal right now — all this is a perfectly rational response to this circumstance, given the context. She was fooling around with other guys, after all, while she was still dating Bailey. Word of mouth, though always spoken in whispers, indicates her tendency to not take commitment seriously. Again, it’s only ”rumor” that has it in this case, and rumor has a lot of things, but again, one has to consider the whole, elaborate context.

Trust is pivotal in a friendship, and more so in an intimate relationship, and Moe has remarked that in the case of him and Stacey, for the first time, he seems to have both a friendship and an intimate relationship. I don’t believe, however, that trust can ever be complete. There’s always some doubt injected into the mix and there’s nothing wrong with that. So maybe it’s not the presence of that level of distrust, no matter how high or low, that makes a relationship a healthy or unhealthy one, but what you do with it. Maybe the important factor is the communication. The honesty. The doubt inspires decay if left alone; it inspires growth in one way or the other, at least, if it’s worked with.

He should talk with her about it. When he’s calm, when he can handle himself, he should tell her about his labyrinth of paranoia completely, with all its complexities, just like he told me. If she hears it in part, in only a condensed form, yeah, he’ll sound like a paranoid, controlling boyfriend. But if he tells her it all, like he told me, she’ll understand not only what he feels but, more importantly, why. And if nothing is going on between her and Bailey, at least he won’t seem like a jealous, controlling boyfriend, but a boyfriend who cares for her and is afraid of losing her because he’s been shit on before. And if there is something going on between her and Bailey, then at least he won’t seem like a naive fool in her eyes, like someone who can be pushed around and stepped over.

For if there is something going on and he says nothing, the time could come where she drops him, and he’ll feel like a fool, even though he wasn’t a fool, because he’d seen what he thought might be signs. And if she doesn’t drop him, he’ll still wonder whether something had gone on, if something is still going on between her and Bailey, and that unspoken suspicion, that lack of honesty with her, it will make him grow increasingly cold and distant from her. Secret thoughts and emotions will pile up and, in the end, things are just bound to get worse.

Communication may not abolish distrust, but it will open the lines, break through the walls building up between people, give the person a better chance at verifying or falsifying their suspicions. And in the long run, either way, they can save some face.

Slavery With Extra Steps.

In the job market, freedom means being able to choose who you want to be a wage-slave to so long as you can sell yourself to your preferred master. That sort of game strikes me as pretty fucked up.

My response to any argument against it would probably be to quote a conversation from the Rick & Morty episode, “The Ricks Must Be Crazy”:

Morty: You have a whole planet sitting around making your power for you? That’s slavery.

Rick: It’s society. They work for each other, Morty. They pay each other, they buy houses, they get married and make children that replace them when they get too old to make power.

Morty: That just sounds like slavery with extra steps.

Back in my teens and twenties, I had commitment issues when it came to jobs. I couldn’t hold one down. I walked out of just about every job I had until I started working for my current fast food chain. I’ve been at this particular store — save for a short period in which I was temporarily transferred when they rebuilt the place — for a little over fourteen years.

The last time I walked out of a job, it was my first and only factory job, and I worked there for a little under three months. Taping boxes on an assembly line, then stacking boxes in the back of a semi. It was my first “real” job, or at least that’s how it felt, and I couldn’t take it. I was making what for me at the time was great money — and I’ve never been so depressed in my life. I generally feel out of place, but I stuck out like a throbbing, cartoonish thumb here. I walked out when I couldn’t deal with a particular authority figure, my roommate Sandra talked me into talking with management, and I did and got the job back. I got overwhelmed one day about a week later and walked out again.

Then followed an enduring period in which I was jobless. I was unmotivated and self-loathing. The fear of not having a job that last time was astounding: was I going to end up a bum on the streets? Was it possible that I simply wasn’t wired to make it in this world? Every job seemed to crush my soul. I didn’t fall into the rhythm like everyone else. I didn’t belong.

Once I finally got my present fast food job, I came to fear my impulse to walk out every time I got pushed to my breaking point. I couldn’t walk out. I needed to pay rent. And so I’ve remained here for nearly a decade and a half.

Now I can’t seem to break free of the prison I call my job. Its like a horrible marriage, an emotionally abusive relationship I can’t find the strength to escape the grips of. Maybe I have more in common with the sea of dysfunctional couples and the unhealthily married masses than I have typically deduced.

Back when I was exploring astrology, I came to learn the meaning of my moon in Aries in the Sixth House of the zodiac with respect to the kind of employment I was bound to work in: food service. I thought to myself, Is this coincidence, or is this fucking fate?

Some believe we are born with the legacy of our former incarnation: we start out how we ended, psychologically and habitually speaking. According to my apparent past life memories, I died a bum on my last tour of the flesh. I remember dreading growing up as a kid as all the other kids seemed excited.

This wasn’t promising, not from the very beginning.

I don’t want to go down the hobo road again. I don’t want to drift aimlessly from job to job, live out of my car, or be homeless and jobless and sleep in dumpsters. I fear leaving because maybe I’ll successfully get a new job, but then I’ll just get pissed and walk out like I have so many other times. Maybe I can’t endure a real job. It could be that cabinet factory job I had all over again. Maybe it will be too difficult to learn something new; maybe I’m programmed, hopelessly bound to the wheel of shit-job misfortune.

I keep thinking about a stock guy I worked with at that grocery store. In the short time I was there, he had left for a new job after working there for eons — and then came back within a week or two. The change? It was too much. He just couldn’t take it. Though he hated this job, there was an addictive security in the familiarity it offered. Like so many others, he was programmed.

Like the elderly who finally make it to the finish line of the rat race but can’t just enjoy their retirement; they get bored and need a job to kill time until the ticker stops ticking. They’re programmed, too.

I don’t want to be a robot. Fuck that. And I can’t leave here and just come back. If I leave, I’m just gone. One way only.

I’ve got to at least honestly try to get out of here again.

Pigment Boy and the Hero’s Journey of Hygiene.

Nowadays, if I skip my morning ritual of showering, tooth-brushing and gargling, I feel utterly disgusting. There are those relatively rare occasions where I skip one or all of them, however. Sometimes on weekends, if I’m not going anywhere, I’ll get too wound up in my head and put off doing it forever. Very rarely I’ll be late to work and skip the shower in my frantic race to engage in my wage-slave duties. In any case, I regret it. I just don’t feel prepared to do anything beyond the apartment door or deal directly with any other human. In many ways, it’s become as vital a component to the process of waking up as coffee.

In reflecting back upon how I used to be, though, this seems most amazing and strange.

I had fairly good hygiene throughout elementary school and middle school, and then had a brief fixation on being clean in seventh or eighth grade, one that was actually just part of a much broader fixation on my appearance in general. I’d have my mother trim my hair constantly in my efforts to get it perfect. I would use hairspray, moose and gel. Self-conscious about being weak and skinny, I got weights. Near the end of that swift phase, I began doing relaxation exercises taught to me by those guided hypnosis tapes my mother had gotten for me when I was younger, determined to exercise my mind and keep it healthy as well.

I was slowly transitioning out of that external fixation into my new internal one around freshmen year of high school and had crossed that bridge entirely my sophomore year. After my flashbacks or whatever they were, after all the strange things began happening in my life, I became more fixated on the internal than I had previously been focused on the external.

Anxiety was also at an all-time high. I resisted sleep. With no commercial break for consciousness, it all just felt like just one, long, entirely fucked up day. We always showered before bed or after waking up when we were younger, typically at the same times, and that pattern was suddenly out the window. There were no set transitions to mark the passage of time except school-time.

Anyway, hygiene was not on my to-do list. It was, in fact, the furthest thing from my mind. I simply didn’t care much about my body in general. I gave up haircuts completely and hung up my moose, gel and hairspray forever. I hid it all under a black hat. I hardly ever brushed my teeth. Sometimes I would rub the area on the ribbed underside my shirt collar against my two front teeth to scrape away the slime cocooning them because it got so irritating to feel it with my tongue. I would feel disgusted with myself over the long, smeared line comprised of a months-worth of tiny leftovers from my primary diet of Pepsi, coffee and Ritz crackers, but I certainly wasn’t revolted to the degree that it ever inspired me to actually do something about it.

It helped that I preferred my hair unwashed for a certain time, as otherwise it would poof up, which looked ridiculous with my hat off and — my true concern — it felt uncomfortable with my hat on, which it almost always was. Eventually it got far too naturally greasy, at which time I would wash my hair in the laundry room sink — not in the shower, of course.

In the group of friends I became a part of around that time was a particularly sexy and somewhat aggressive girl I’ll call Kelly. For some reason, she always insisted that I “wasn’t naked,” which was something she said to me often and seemed to believe quite strongly, though I never got her to clearly articulate what it was that she meant, exactly. In retrospect, though, it was true enough. I hardly ever took off all my clothes. At the time I suppose I did feel vulnerable naked and felt that it was best to be wrapped in a cocoon of sweat, jeans and flannel at all times. Showering took more effort than I could invest, and just thinking about going through the motions seemed exhausting. I could hardly keep my eyes open.

When I could no longer remain awake and would literally crash into unconsciousness on my mattress, I slept clothed, of course, often with both my backward ball cap on as well as both my shoes.

Those kids who tie their laces loose or fail to tie them at all just so they can leisurely slip in and out of them without having to lean down and engage in that tedious, torturous, tying and untying process — you think they’re lazy? Hold my coffee.

Since I never showered, I just changed clothes when it suited me, and when it happened it was rarely all articles. I often wonder how horrible I must have smelled back then, but there were surprisingly few comments, and those I remembered were only in one case necessarily negative. One girl I knew said I smelled like broccoli; another girl claimed I smelled like Fruit Loops. Both were odd odors, not necessarily unpleasant.

Then there was one occasion in the summer of 1999 when I slept on a cot in a small room at a friends house and for some reason decided to take off my shoes before doing so. When a good friend of mine opened the door to wake me up, it must have been like the feet stink just punched him in the face. Between laughter and gagging, he told me that my feet smelled horrible.

For all I know, there may have been much talk behind my back about the poor hygiene and what had to be an unpleasant smell, however. Some time ago I considered two stories I’d heard that has gnawed at me for years, one told by Mark Vonnegut in his book, The Eden Express, and the other by neuroscientist James Fallon in a host of lectures and interviews. In both cases they exhibited behavior that everyone around them accepted as evidence of a mental disorder — schizophrenia for Vonnegut, psychopathy for Fallon — and yet they did not discover this about themselves until far later in life. More importantly, it was only upon questioning those closest to them that they learned how it had been clear to them all along.

Both were victims of an Unspoken Conspiracy of Silence.

It took some time, probably only a few years back, for me to realize that I may very well be involved in such a conspiracy myself. A former coworker of mine, Gus, is forever filthy. Quite often, the odor is so bad it’s painful. It is clear to everyone at work that he almost never showers. His skin has that lizard-like, leathery look to it, and we often joked that his arms up to his shoulders were the cleanest parts if his body given his short stature and the fact that he always cleaned dishes in the deep-bellied sink in the stock room. Even so, when you are unfortunate enough to have his arm hair brush against your own, the follicles feel like stiff wires scraping against your skin.

When he takes off his hat, he looks like the Crypt Keeper from Tales from the Crypt. You bear witness to the long, oily, stringy locks of hair sprouting from random areas on and dispersed across his otherwise barren scalp. They are plastered to his grisly gourd in a twisting, serpentine style with sweat and fast food cooking oil. Though I’ve never seen them myself, I’ve heard horror stories about how pitch black his feet are when he takes off his shoes.

It struck me one day that on top of the possibility that he simply can’t smell his own odor because he’s too accustomed to it, none of us want to tell him about it for fear of hurting his feelings — yet we’re all comfortable enough making fun of him about it behind his back, of course. And if he doesn’t know it himself and we don’t tell him, it may never show up on his mental radar at all. Like those that Vonnegut and Fallon were closest to, what is obvious to us about Gus he may be entirely blind to himself. This also may have very well have been the case with me and my horrible
hygiene back in the day.

I also understand how he might be able to push the occasional shaft of light illuminating the terrible truth back into the darkness of his mind, as I’d had a few cases of that myself. My pattern was to get offended or embarrassed by these revelations before promptly pushing them out of my mind.

At one point, I believe it was during high school, I got bothered by this thick, slimy film that had come to coat the upper portion of my tongue and my parents made an appointment. They gave me a prescription for drops to put on my tongue, and while the doctor never said what was wrong, he asked me if I brushed my tongue when I brushed my teeth. Well, I didn’t brush my teeth often and I had never brushed my tongue. He suggested I do do. Once I did, instant cure. Ever since, I’ve brushed my tongue.

It was either during or just after high school that I had become increasingly bothered by this black streak that began just below my chin and extended down my neck, to my Adam’s apple. When it didn’t go away, I feared it was a rash or mold or skin cancer and my parents finally relented and took me to the doctors. In the office, a hot nurse had come in to ask me several questions, one of which I distinctly remember referred to any sexual activities it might be engaging in. She then examined what she described as a “strange pigment.” Eventually, she took some rubbing alcohol and applied it to the area and discovered that in doing so she was smearing it, erasing it. Washing it off.

It was difficult to cover my shame. In the midst of drinking coffee some must have dribbled down my chin and neck. One of my father’s friends heard the story and for a time referred to me as “pigment boy.”

At one point when I had run out of money and had to move back in with my parents. I had only just gotten out of the car after they brought me home when mom started barking about how they were only letting me move back home with certain stipulations. Her trying to push a curfew on me despite the fact that I was going to be paying rent pissed me off enough, but when she added that I had shower, it hit me like a fist to the gut. I was so angry at her and ashamed of being gross that I can’t even remember how I responded.

One last embarrassing incident involved an attractive manager I was working with at the time. In the midst of the conversation, she said that if she were single she would go out with me — on the condition that I showered. I was very hurt and defensive about it.

She should have gone with Katie’s technique. It all changed with Katie. This was a beautiful California girl who had recently moved to Ohio. I had met her at work and by some stroke of luck she became my girlfriend for a short but intense stretch of time. After sex, we would take a shower together in the upstairs restroom, and I broke into the habit at once.

Ah, the power of conditioning.

Though I presently am not and never again wish to be as fixated on the external as I was for that brief period in middle school, I now regularly shower, gargle, and brush my tan teeth. I even shampoo my facial hair and my shaven, peach-fuzz scalp. My body has no lasting damage from my once-poor hygiene, but I cannot say the same regarding the years of neglect that has left me with my coffee-stained, not-so-pearly whites.

And next time I get a body, I’m planning on taking better care of that precious flesh-vessel from day fucking one.

Prowling Around in the Dark.

No one’s there.
Just stay calm.
Ignore the sounds.
Rationalize causes.
Await unconsciousness.

Eyes closed, motionless,
preparing for a coming scare.
Paranoid, restless, learn
to relax, and simply not care

what may be prowling
around in the dark, awaiting
the right moment to strike.

Feel that adrenaline rise,
urge to get up and hide
in the light, so ready to fight

despite
the likely futility.