Sex With Kate.

8/28/04

Though twenty-five years of age, I’d only had sex twice, and it was with the same girl, the same late night and early morning in that Autumn of 1999. Well, admittedly, depending on one’s choice of interpretation, that figure may not be entirely accurate. You see, there was also an incident in May of 2001, I think it was, with another girl, Lena, though I’m not entirely certain that counts as we didn’t really get to finish. So as to not exclude this third occasion and at the same time not include it entirely, I settled on the fact that I’d had sex two-and-a-half times.

It was the second or third night of being with Kate that she asked me if I wanted to have sex. It was then when I got what I’ve come to call the `threshold fear’. You want something or someone so much and you finally get nanometers away from acheiving it and suddenly this tremendous terror sets in. Fear of the unknown is behind it, perhaps; the fear of change. The fear of having a desire finally satisfied — for that is all-too-often, in my world, foreign terratory. I told her we should take things as they come.

We began fooling around, and things got intense again. We were heated, sweating, panting — and it almost went in. “Is that a yes?” She said. I thought I’d done something bad; I felt guilty. She explained it was her time of the month — was I sure? I was suddenly very hesitant again. I wasn’t aware her monthly visitor was present, so-to-speak — the idea of going forward with this wasn’t sounding all that good of an idea all of a sudden, but I still intensely, incredibly, undeniably wanted it.

I asked her if she wanted to, and she nodded frantically and said `yes’ in an extreme affirmative. I voiced my hesitation, albeit reluctantly, and it was finally her that said we should wait — and that in the meantime, I should do some shopping.

So as it had happened repeatedly with Terra, I was left hungry again — the difference being that this time, with this wonderful girl, there was a certain promise of resolution.

This is a type of shopping I have never done, that I’ve never had reason to do. I didn’t know where exactly I might get them. I assumed a drug store, perhaps even a grocery store in the drug section. I looked all over the grocery store one evening and couldn’t find any. I finally asked Nick, who informed me I could probably pick them up at any gas station. Mentioning it to Sandra, she said that she had a whole bunch that she wouldn’t be using and would be happy to throw the pile my way. I decided just to wait on those.

Soon thereafter, things got heated again one night. In the midst of it, I was informed by her that her monthly visitor had left. I said that I hadn’t done my shopping — and she said, well, then, go do it.

So I grabbed my keys, told her I’d be back, and left. I pulled into the gas station a hop, jump and skip away from home. I looked a while, and amongst the chap-stick and tooth-brushes and breath mints there I found the condoms. I nervously brought them up to the counter, and handed the very masculine lady behind the counter the money. I was nervous as hell.

“Have a good night,” she said.

“You, too.”

I drove home, and stepping into my room I saw the most beautiful sight: candles were lain about the room, fickering, and she sat at the center of my bed, playing with her hands, and looking up at me shyly, sweetly, her beautiful, deep eyes poking up at me just below her lowered forhead.

I placed the package on the pillow. After floorplay had reached it’s pique, I reached for it with a bit of fear. She asked if I was sure. I nodded enthusiastically. You? Yes, she said with a certainty I had never heard.

Sex with her was absolutely amazing.

I remember Kirk, my punk rock pagan friend, who often told me how sexual ceramonial ritual really was. Slowly escalating rythm, eventual climax, resolution. He informed me that sometimes sex was even part of the ritual, between the Priest and Priestess. Other times, the activity of sex was the ritual itself, as in some forms of Trantic sex magick.

I had told him that I thought abstinence was nessesary in order to acheive my spititual goals; he laughed and said that sex itself was a spiritual experience, and that I obviously had never been laid. At that time he was right about me being a virgin, and by the time Anne had taken it I knew he was correct about it being a spitiual experience.

What also stuck in my mind about those conversations with Kirk was that ritual, like sex, is empty and meaningless without a specific intent behind it — without that intent, that energy, that reason, that meaning, the activity has struture but no substance. It is an empty container, not alive at all. Without meaning, the sex is not charged — it is just “cold, mechanical sex.”

With Anne, I had sex with someone I had a deep connection with, and a four-year history with at the time. It was spiritual. With Lena, I’d had sex — or almost had sex — with someone who I deeply admired in a friendly way, but did not really desire in a sexual or romatic way, and the experience was uncomfortable, regrettable, and — cold and mechanical.

With Kate, something was different: I wanted to be with this girl, to have a long-term relationship with her, to develop something meaningful out of all of this. I felt so comfortable wth her so naturally, so trusting of her so quickly and easily — at least in a relative sense — all of which was very unlike me. And unlike Anne and Lena, Kate and I seemed to be what I considered a perfect match, both emotionally, mentally, and sexually. She seemed to harbor the same kind of dark curiousity about sexual possibilities as I did, and her desire for ever-increasing intensity in that category suited my tastes to a tee. Biting, scratching, tying each other up, trying different positions, doing it for a long time and almost violently — these things seemed to appeal to both of us. I didn’t feel ashamed or guilty of these desires with her, and didn’t have the kind of reservations I’d always imagined I’d have to have.

I knew through the difference between my experiences with Anne and Lena that it was not just about the act of sex: it completely depended upon who you engaged in it with, what the act signified, why it was beng done, what the goal of it all was. And the goal, I felt, was to get as close to the other person as possible.

I felt so free with Kate, so liberated within her. I couldn’t share the whole of my mind, I couldn’t spiritually merge with her, but with nothing but skin and sweat between us I was one step closer to feeling complete.

I had imagined that sex, perhaps even meaningless sex, might satisfy my hunger — but here, in what was more, in what was very meaningful sex, I found sex just fed the hunger more hunger. I found that I wanted closer. I wanted more intensity. I wanted to dig deeper, as deep as I could go into this experience, as completely as I could make it, to be as honest and open and free and naked with her as once could possibly get on all existing levels — and get all the feedback to let me know that she felt the same exact way.

Sex sort of became an obsession or fixation, and though it didn’t always play out this way in external reality, my mind was teeming with ways to apply creativity: what else could be done to add to the experience, to intensify the experience? So her legs were around my arms while we did it, I started at the sun tattoo on her neck as I went into her from behind, she tied me up with my belt.

Pleasure and pain often seemed to have a thin line between them, and I’d noted this consistently across my life — especially when pleasure and pain reached their heights. With her pleasure and pain seemed merged. I don’t mean to say we were sadomasochistic, we were not, but the physical, sexual and emotional sensations we shared, the reactions we had, the facial expressions, the sounds — all of them seemed to be pleasure and pain. They became indistinguishable. The lines between them distorted, blurred, and disappeared — opposites were reconciled; dualities were united in the moment of climax.

How were dualities reconclined — if only temporarily — in sex with her? In sex, the tension between two opposites — man and woman in this case — are held, and there is an escalating rythm in both ends that approximate each other. The rythm reaches a peak or climax, where there is an experience of release — or liberation — or moksha — samadhi — nirvana — enlightenment.

Inspired by her, I fled from the mindset of Neitzsche and took refuge in Frankl’s philosophy.

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Sex, Love & Starborne Seeds.

Let me
mash and smear my lips
against your soft

pair, gliding down, so thorough,
hands ascertaining form
like the skilled blind:

an assist
for the exploratory tongue trek
down your neck
and breasts, fearlessly entering

the vice
at the heart
of your inner thighs,

where I dig,
dance
and wiggle
till I see your light.

Let me bury me in you.

Green light
me so I might
fucking devour you.

Finale
of that single scene
behind me, allow

me to penetrate
you viciously, enact the rhythm

calling to me,
permit entrance

to your deep, dark, enlivening
inside, where I at once
hide and let
the consequential bliss rise
as I ride the wave,

awakening
me in the safety
of us,

the cradle of the bond,

now, finally one.
Not just
is it what I’ve always

wanted, but I suspect, it’s all
I have, will or would
need

to start this journey.

You are all I love,
who I want,
all I need:

a long-awaited season
for a hopeless starborne seed:

unless you or circumstance
decides
to metaphorically fuck me
and leave

me empty and wanting.

Labyrinth of a Dark Mood.

Throughout the day, I tried to trace back my mood, this emotional rut I’d found myself stuck in. I tried with all the might I could muster to pinpoint what triggered it or in the very least where it all started.

Idiots on the road on the way to work? Work itself? What was it?

I had been taking Jordan Peterson’s breakfast advice for anxiety: wake up at the same time every day and have bacon and eggs. I had been following the breath in meditation for fifteen minutes every morning. I’d smoked pot. I had jerked off life a madman this weekend in hopes of exorcising the sexual frustration that had been rising to a fever pitch the week before. I had been taking sleeping pills in an effort to achieve sufficient downtime.

Even so, I had ended up like this, and without an identifiable cause. I felt like a sore tooth being tongued constantly by the worlds within and around me. I felt depressed and resentful. Trapped and starved in some way.

Eventually I considered what I have occasionally considered: we feel emotions, we find ourselves in a mood, and then we just invent the reasons. Weave our justifications. In actuality, maybe emotions and moods just happen. They arrive like coatracks upon which we hang our rationalized causes.

Then again: I’ve worked in this job I hate for 14 years, I haven’t been laid in seven years, I’m a year away from forty and I feel ashamed, self-loathing, and constantly fight against my own homelessness and frustration in the face of that, particularly lately.

On break, I couldn’t focus or get absorbed in what I was reading, which was Rupert Sheldrake’s book, nor could I get involved in writing aspects of my book that I’m working on for the thousandth time. Even when I turned my inner eye and feelers towards my mood itself, I found myself psychologically constipated, unable to express it sufficiently. I tried to write a poem so many times that day, but my words just didn’t move me along.

As a matter of fact the last few days, despite the fact that I kept trying, all my poetry sucked, anything I wrote fell flat, any attempt at artwork left me feeling without a shred of talent. Any light I had been able to hold onto in the darkness of my life seemed to have burnt out like a bulb. Still waters run deep, perhaps, but I was stuck on the surface, unable to break what seemed to be an impenetrable sheet of stubborn ice. I felt empty, yet full, which sounds stupid, but even now, in the wake, that seems like an honest way of articulating it. I felt frantic, frustrated and depleted. Passionless and agitated. Nothing grabbed or moved me. Nothing satisfied.

At the end of the day, I was bitching to a manager about how, now that we close at eleven, people don’t seem to plan ahead. There’s no logic to what they do, no foresight or preparation, which is why we never get out by midnight. I find myself judging them and holding it in until it erupts in the form of biting remarks to people or embittered rants.

I’m not a manager or any legitimate form of authority, so I have no right. I know that. I wish my reason would overpower my emotions, but emotions always seem to win the fucking war.

When I got home, nothing I watched moved or inspired me. I took a hit off a bowl, tried to read the book again but couldn’t fall in. Then got the urge to read The Portable Jung again, and it’s been some time. Somehow, that did it. I watched some videos regarding reincarnation on YouTube a bit later, and I fell in the groove there, too. Finally.

What the fuck is my problem?

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.

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.

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.

Sex, Religion, and Thought-Tracks.

For the last few months, I’ve been keeping up with the daily samatha meditation. I’ve noticed that my mind is back on hyperdrive lately, perhaps an effect of the meditation and the fact that I’ve stopped drinking. Again, I’ve noticed that much as I keep a bare minimum of three folders open at once on my laptop, I keep at least two distinct tracks of thought going on in my mind at once and hop between them. Today my mind’s been bouncing between the subject of religion and the subject of sex.

With respect to the religious track, it has a definite source. Monica came into work last night, though it was her day off. The live-in boyfriend and her had gotten drunk and she left before they got into another fight, and now, clearly inebriated, she sat down in the dining room while I was cleaning and began spilling to me. It didn’t take her long to bring up the subject of a god, though this is not a conversation she’s had with me to any extent before.

Since she can’t believe in people, she explains, she believes in god to get her through life. She just talks to “him” and asks if he’ll help her get through the day. If she didn’t believe in god, she confesses, she wouldn’t be able to take it. She’d kill herself.

Just try it, she tells me. Just wake up and decide to believe.

As I try to explain to her as gently as I’m able, I don’t think I’m wired the same way, because it just doesn’t work for me.

When I realized I didn’t believe in a god back in high school, for a brief time I saw it’s lack of existence as a bad thing — until I subjected it to analysis. Then I realized it just fucking wasn’t. In addition to the fact that there is no convincing evidence suggesting the existence of such a creative, cosmic intelligence, I also see no evidence that believing despite the lack of evidence has any real, practical utility as a coping mechanism — at least for me. I know it makes her and others feel comfortable, fills them with hope, but I was never able to understand why. A totalitarian, cosmic father figure that draws the lines between right and wrong, dangling the carrot of forever-heaven in front of us and hovering the whip of eternal hell just behind — well, it just doesn’t make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

If such a god did indeed exist, he would, in my humble opinion, be the biggest asshole conceivable. I wouldn’t support him anyway.

Talking to her, though, I leave that part out.

She tells me it doesn’t have to be that, but that I should just “believe in something.” I never understood it when people said that. What do they mean? That we all have to invest uncritical certitude in the notion that a creator of the universe exists? That we all should have blind, unquestioning servitude in some external force? Neither seems necessary to me. Neither seems healthy. Any way you slice it, no god — not even The God of the Infinitely Vague — seems attractive to me.

I tell her I see evidence suggestive of reincarnation and that consciousness is but a resident of the body, that there may be other planes of existence or parallel universes our consciousness can access — that I am an atheistic dualist. But her god, her Jesus, the concept of original sin, the notion of heaven and hell? I can’t, don’t, won’t swallow it. And the notion that this singular book — anthology, really — is a guidebook for life? I don’t see it. That shit just never made sense to me.

I can cherry-pick stories and lines from Dr. Seuss that are as relevant to life. The bible doesn’t stand out as a book, let alone a guidebook, sorry.

I don’t say all of this to her. I like her. And if it keeps her from killing herself, let her have the crutches. I’m thankful something is keeping her alive, even if it’s bullshit. But I can’t stomach it. And my mind and my soul relents as well.

So that religion was on my mind makes sense given last night’s conversation, but the thought-track dealing with sex? That’s another matter. The memories just sprung out at me from nowhere; jumped into my consciousness from the seeming void, unprovoked.

Once, when Claire and I were going out during high school, I was with her at night in the front seat of a large vehicle. It may have been my old Celebrity, my first car, but for some reason, I remember being higher up, as if in the front seat of someone’s truck. In any case, we were parked at night in the dirt lot beside a house just around the block, where her cousin went to practice in his band. I wish I remembered how it started, specifically if I actually had the balls to initiate it, but my hand was down her pants. Fingers worming around. It was warm, moist, wonderful. I was working away as I watched the illuminating expressions wash over her beautiful face. She seemed to be enjoying it, but I was forever uncertain, and I remember getting incredibly nervous, certain that I was doing something wrong, and ended up stopping. I later confessed this to her and she stated the obvious: that if she seemed to be enjoying it I should have just kept the fuck at it.

I never had sex with her. I had better get the chance and take it before I die. At least once. Bare minimum.

Even after I lost my virginity at age twenty, after it blew my mind, I didn’t do that again for five years. It seemed to establish a pattern of sorts, one in which I would suffer enduring periods with no sex (I’m on a seven-year-stretch right now, as a matter of fact, and it stands as the longest period of inactivity yet), punctuated by short periods where I make up for lost time. Anne, the complex gal who took my virginity, probably fit the profile of a nymphomaniac, but it always seemed to me that she just liked sex, and there’s nothing wrong with that. During the last time we were together, I remember her telling me that our sex drives were similar, and how, based on that, she didn’t understand how I could go so long not having any sex at all. I reminded her that I was a rather chronic masturbator, but its true, it’s not at all the same thing. So am I a self-denying nympho, then?

I also remembered when Anne came back from Texas, how I had sex for the first time in years, and out of nowhere, in the midst of me doing the ol’ in-out, she spanked me on the ass.

I stopped a moment. She then asked, and I confirmed: Indeed, I like that.

Over time, she was interested in letting me try out new things. I bobbed in the muff for the first time, we had sex while we both watched porn, had sex in a chair until her greyhound tried to cut in.

I thought to myself how I haven’t had sex since I started smoking pot, and given that it makes masturbation infinitely better, I’m really eager to do the real thing in that state of body-mind. I need to find an interesting, pothead girl who wants to stone-bone rather than simply continue to engage in my nightly, solo weed-whacking.

Why has the desire suddenly flared up like this? Is it because I’ve stopped drinking and my sex drive isn’t buried by the haze that it’s been on my mind again lately?

And why am I ping-ponging betwixt sex and the religious issue in my head today, specifically? As I chewed on that for the latter half of my work shift, it struck me again that there’s probably a link between our romantic feelings for a significant other and their religious feelings for a goddess or god. To me, this helps explain why conservative men talk about Jesus in a manner that in any other context would, to their ears if no one else’s, sound blatantly homosexual. It also makes sense out of the hypnodomme thing, as they seem to strive to link sexual, romantic and religious feelings through hypnosis in order to condition some heightened sense of drooling worship and control in their subjects. I’m glad I got out of watching those videos at the same time that I kicked the booze: once I blew the nightly load, and certainly after I sobered, the thought that I was watching those videos made me feel nauseous.

I am more apt to deal with Pagans and Buddhists; their concepts are more attractive to me. Eastern religions in general, and Native American beliefs, they fascinate me. Even Satanism seems to have some merit, at least one form if it. Not that I could be certain I’d ever call them my own.

Maybe I need to have sex with a Pagan stoner with Buddhist leanings or something. Let today’s mental tracks crisscross, let those trains of thought collide.

Come Along (Invitation to a Sex Party).

9/6/17

I came to work roughly thirty minutes early with two projects. One, expressive: work on my article, or whatever you wish to call it, regarding repetition compulsion, tying it in with my newfound perspective on the nature of the ego as well as the Eastern concepts of samsara and karma. The other, digestive: reread Terry Hansen’s 2000 book, The Missing Times: News Media Complicity in the UFO Cover-Up, and take notes for a future article or perhaps some powerpoint-like presentation I might eventually try and put together and post to YouTube. Though I cannot remember which I was doing, I believe I was working on my article, thumbing away on the Notes app on my old iPhone with the cracked back-side.

That was when I heard a honk. I turned my head to the right, passed the seat where my bag lay and through the grimy glass of the passenger-side window, leaning in and squinting in my attempts to ascertain just who it was I was looking at. Not a moment passed before I realized it was Rezi.

I first met her perhaps a decade ago, though she spied me before I so much as knew of her existence. Zeke and Abbey, my friends at the time, had tried to set her up with me, but she wanted to see me without me seeing her before she decided whether she wanted to make an approach, so they drove her up to the fast food joint where I worked at the time — and, I must confess, now. Spying me cleaning lobby through the windows, she didn’t even exit the car. I wasn’t her type.

No, she wasn’t about to fuck this bone-thin, deer-in-the-headlights white boy.

In any case, I eventually met her officially, in person, without knowing about the whole thing until long after. We got to know each other a bit and though there was certainly no spark between us, we became okay friends — and significantly better ones since we both drifted from the circle Abbey and Zeke were a part of. We see each other only occasionally, typically limited to brief conversations when she came through the drive-thru, though occasionally we’ve had more enduring conversations as we had today.

Upon seeing her, I excitedly got out of my car and approached her driver side and we got to talking as I began my first smoke before I had to clock in at four. We exchanged stereotypical surface pleasantries for only a short time before I took a delve into the real and asked her whether she had gone to any of her sex parties as of late. Last time I had seen her, it had been through the drive-thru window during my Wednesday nights to Friday mornings third shift, when she had just been coming back from one.

Just recently, she told me, and there had been a bit of an incident. Though she said she usually doesn’t get down and dirty outside, she wanted to watch one of the girls she knew get jackhammered by some other guy outside, so she went on the porch or whatever with a guy of her own. After they had done the deed, he evidently wanted a bit more, which she was certainly fine with — but he got a bit too into it as he was pounding her on a metal chair. It broke, collapsed, and she ended up hurting her leg and busting her lip. The three of them rushed to her care and suggested she go to the hospital, but she didn’t want to end up at “one of those stories” — like the ones my mother had told me about her time as secretary at a hospital, or the kind of fucked up shit you read about when you discover the Darwin Awards. So she just dealt with it, she told me, though she confessed to still hurting. Indeed, evidence remained. Taking her index finger, she peeled her bottom lip away, revealing a scar.

“It sucks,” she said, laughing. “My lips are big enough as it is.”

I just shook my head.

As we discussed her and these parties, she finally came to say something that I felt had long been dancing at the tip of her mind, if not her tongue: “You should come along with me sometime.”

When my sexual fantasies have not only that lucid, focal content but also provides a context, it typically involves going to a strip joint and getting a private dance from an exceptionally intriguing and agonizing attractive and suitably kinky-clad girl — typically a redhead or a girl with hair dyed pink, purple, or some other wild color, but sometimes brown or black hair, very rarely blonde, and only in the case of that hot woman who was Satan’s mistress in the miniseries rendition of Stephen King’s The Stand, gray. But, for the lack of god was she hot. On other occasions, frequently enough while intoxicated on this and/or that, I had imagined going to a fetish party. A sex party. What I imagined, naively and without the most nanometric shred of evidence, to take place were the way things unfolded during such a party. In either case, this rarely failed to turn me the fuck on.

Still, I had little context. I knew what little she had told me, what I had read in some article Chuck Palahniuk had incorporated into one of his books, and some of the porn I had incorporated into my evening ritual of release. She offered, and the more I chewed on the idea in my mind, the more I thought to myself: could it hurt, going with her to one of her sex parties? I mean, so long as I avoided metal chairs?

Though I can’t be certain exactly what it was I said, the general gist of it was that I was seriously considering taking her up on her offer. I intended to convey that, in other words, but I’m not entirely confident she took it as an honest response. She may have only taken it as a kind, however deceptive, response, and how could I blame her? However unintentional, I had the tendency to pull this sort of bullshit all the time: make half-baked plans that never achieved fruition. There was no real way she could have known that the thought actually kind of made me all tingly in the nether-regions.

I remember looking down at my cell phone in the midst of our conversation and realizing it was 3:59 PM and I had one minute to spare before I clocked in. I bid her a swift adieu before locking my car and rushing in the doors. Clocking in at the terminal, I then went about my usual routine of changing all the trash behind the counter, but on my way to the back room, I passed the kitchen, where I saw Hady.

In retrospect, at the very least, it’s not surprising at all that I bonded so well with Hady. I first met her twin sister, Sadie, when she began working here years ago, and in the ensuing years, we grew close. Sadie ultimately became a member of the group that used to frequent the line of bars occupying the outskirts of the nearby college town. Later, Sadie and a girl we were mutually attracted to became subjects of my first, second, and third threesome. Though considerably calmer and slightly less hyper-sexed than her sis, Hady was no stranger to it all: like Sadie and me, she was plagued with anxiety and prone to depression; like Sadie, she had been bitten by nymphomania and was drowning in a sea of vagina (and the occasional penis). She had a bit of distance, however; some breathing room between herself and her neuroticism that permitted the growth of some much-needed perspective. It was in this capacity that our conversation quickly turned to her sister and how she thinks she’s a sex addict in denial.

It was a strange thing, to have these two conversations within twenty minutes of each other. It was also strange: I had an issue getting laid; Sadie had an issue with not getting laid. Was there a happy fucking medium — literally?

For me, having had no vaguely sexual interaction now for over half a decade and resorting to nightly porn, sex had become a sort of spectator sport. It’s been so long since I’ve had sex that I feel my desires have almost come full circle as if I’m in fucking high school again. I find myself thinking, “It’d be cool to, like, just to make out with a girl again.” I’m tired of masturbating, tired of porn, tired of sexy hypnosis videos. I just want something real — but not enough to sacrifice my privacy and personal freedom for a relationship.

In addition, I have no desire to return to the sort of headspace generated when I have to deal with when wanting a girl or seeking sex, my constant concerns and fixations. Am I good enough for her? Do I look okay, dress okay, smell okay? Am I too skinny, too hairy? Am I sufficient in the region below the equator? Do I want it too much? Not enough? Would she be into that?

Still, sex without strings attached would be nice, and Rezi’s invitation would certainly be the most ethical, if not the most fruitful, means of pursuing it.

If nothing else, tagging along would leave me with something new and interesting to write about.

Nine Years Gone By.

9/7/08.

I. Lazy Stalker Without a Spine.

Sighing out a cloud of smoke, I reflect on how in a way I’m sort of like a stalker, only without the vaguest sense of ambition or the tendency to behave in accordance with conventional logic as a response to my desires. Or are those core elements to the profile of a stalker? Fuck it. Doesn’t matter. I drop my face to the ground and flick some ash from my cigarette, watching it fall to the concrete my feet are resting on. It’s just before my second class of the day, around eleven in the morning, and I’m sitting on the third step up from the patio below Cunningham Hall. I’m uncomfortable, restless, nothing new.

Head up, my eyes are scanning the river of people flowing by on the sidewalk. Just people-watching, mind you. Typical. Really, I’m not looking for her. That’s what I tell myself, but I’ve been known to lie to myself when I feel guilty about the truth. When the internal assertions become a mantra, I know I’m trying to play over some whispering truth, trying to drown it out with a rhythmic lie, so I change my tune. I turn it off. I just shake my head and admit it. Truth is, I’m desperate to see her. All of this is stupid on multiple levels, not least of which is the fact that even if I knew for certain what she looked like I wouldn’t have the guts to talk to her anyway. That firmly in mind, I dig my butt into the ashtray behind the garbage can, walk up the steps, go inside and meander into the lecture hall some ten minutes early. Because, really, fuck this. I mean, I’m not going to find the courage to talk with her anyway.

After taking my seat, I suddenly realize only half of the class is here today. Only those with last names beginning with the letters ”A” through ”L” need attend today, as we were told last Thursday; the rest are to attend this Thursday. We’re taking a field trip on campus to look at plant life. The idea is, as Sasquatch tells us, that we walk to some grassy area on campus, toss a hula-hoop randomly, and wherever it lands we describe, on paper, the various forms of life within the hoop. I’m serious. This is a college course. This is how irreversibly idiotic this class is. If they gave us crayons to write with and had us break halfway through counting blades of grass for nap time, I wouldn’t be all that surprised.

From my chair in the back of the room, I continue to feed my lazy stalker instincts. As Sasquatch gives us the run-down from up front, my eyes scan the back of every female head before me, neck-gazing, looking for her. My eyes keep coming back to one, about the center of the room. Reddish-auburn hair tied back into an almost-ponytail, wearing one of those boxy ball caps; almost the dimensions of a policeman’s cap, but felt, not stiff, and colored army-green. Sexy neck. Relaxed, cool and confident posture, like she’s calmly holding in an atomic explosion worth of intensity. Self-contained, as if she needs no one and nothing, only wants. Wants and knows oh-so well how to get what she wants. And the vibe, even from this distance. No doubt about it, it’s got to be her.

After Sasquatch gives the word, we all shuffle out the door of the lecture hall, out the doors a few paces away from me, through the doors in the vestibule and out the doors right on into the outer world. As I push out the last door, I hold it open behind me and glance over my shoulder. It’s her. She’s wearing those big, seventies-style glasses. Down the steps to where I’d been sitting prior to class and onto the sidewalk below and she’s beside me. Window’s open. I can feel it. She notices me, it seems. Is it my imagination? It’s like she’s waiting for something, anticipating it, but perhaps I’m misreading it. Or misreading the direction. I mean, why the fuck would she be waiting for me in particular to say something to her? You think of all the guys in this class she could be interested in, why would she specifically be waiting for some creepy kid who had sat behind her last week, who she probably, in all rationality, didn’t notice, why would she be waiting for him — for me — to say something? She’s a fox and I’m dirt, I’m nothing. I’m a lonely, intense, withdrawn, fucked-up, going-nowhere almost-thirty-year-old with a total lack of self-confidence which may very well be justified. So I surmise this was just an unprecedented moment of arrogance talking.

Either way now is my chance to say something. Whenever I do say something in such situations, though, all I can come up with in the grips of my growing anxiety attack is either something off-the-wall weird or overly pessimistic. Something that makes it sound as if I’m trying a bit too hard to break the ice, maybe, which just happens to precisely be the case. I’m always so extreme, too intense, especially so in moments such as this. Better to stay quiet, to hold it all in reservation. Better to remain a nobody in her eyes than a somebody to avoid because she sees him as weird or, worse, a total jackass. So I fall behind, let her walk in front of me, figuring if I can’t help but look and take her in I may as well do it from a vantage point where she’ll be least likely to notice it and I’ll be least likely to make her feel uncomfortable about it. I note that she has that enticing hourglass-like figure, and that’s when I realize that she kind of reminds me of Anne. So it’s Anne who has become a yardstick for women once again.

I tell myself to shut up. To just shut the fuck up. Back to the matter at hand.

Usually, we’re cooped up in a classroom. She could sit anywhere; I could never have the chance to talk to her. This is the perfect opportunity and I’m screwing it up. Just fucking talk to her, Ben. Get to know her. Say something, anything. You’ve got nothing to lose and could gain anything, everything. Something would be more than you have.

The professors tell us to split up into groups of five, to follow them and the grad student in groups of twenty. I could go with her, but I don’t. I don’t move fast enough. Purposely. Conventional logic would dictate that if you admire a girl, want to get to know her, want to see her face, you maneuver in order to get into her group when you’re in a class that demands you split into groups during some retarded outside function. I intentionally do the opposite, however. I go with the group going in the absolute opposite direction. Reason is, of course, that I’m scared. Terrified, and so I distance. I always distance. Always fucking alienate myself. So she remains a girl without a face and me, a lazy stalker without a fucking spine.

Typical, really. Nothing new.

II. Smell of Roses.

Way back when, I never used to visualize — or have spontaneous visions, for that matter — of the sex act. I saw a pretty girl and felt that burning, aching need, but there was no imagery to go along with it, just a feeling. An intense inner yearning. A girl would elicit a raging, sensuously volatile internal psychic substance in me, but it would just be a bodily experience. That substance would not take form within my semi-private headspace in motion-picture format. Now, though, now the imagery blossoms in my headspace all too frequently, involuntarily, as some release valve when the pressure gets too high in my body before a sexy member of the female of the species. Now it’s so vivid in me sometimes I can almost taste it, almost touch her with my mind. I know I do this because I don’t have what it takes to get with and ”do” her. I know I’m sublimating. In my mind there plays this action-packed Kama Sutra sneak preview of what could be ”coming soon,” so-to-speak, but never will unless by my own hand because I don’t have the metaphorical balls to exercise the necessary skills to get to the handshake, let alone plot the course from the handshake to so much as a fuck, let alone something substantial and meaningful. What kills me most is that feeling I get sometimes, rarely, but sometimes around a particular girl. Where the visions in my mind, however intense, are fully recognized by me as being more than just cheap, more than just an insufficient substitute, but rather the high-ranking through-the-roof granddaddy of all shame. Where I feel certain that if I only had this girl, just for a night, just for a few hours, and just had the chance to let myself loose on her, damn it, I’d not only make it worth her while but all the shit, every lump in the sea of shit in my life would evaporate swiftly into sweetness, the smell of roses, that all in life would be perfect and beautiful, if only for an instant, if only in a moment in the midst of the perpetual flux of existence. And maybe if I said and didn’t just think so much. Maybe if I did, not merely imagined. Maybe, but alas.

III. Hegira via Illeism.

On a beach with her sister, collecting seashells, her parents off somewhere in the distance. I can see her in the inner eye’s wide lens. She holds a cell phone to her ear, talking to her boyfriend, telling him how much she misses him. How she will be back soon, on August eighth. How she’s going to bring him a photograph of the sunset out here, she says, because it’s so beautiful. She says to him how she wishes he could see it. He asks her to bring him back a tumbleweed if she can. And — get this — she didn’t think it was weird.

Next time she calls him, she’s crying. I can see her through the zoom lens. She tells him how her mother found out that she’s smoking pot and locked her out of the house. How she might be coming home early. He felt sorry for her and thought her mother cruel to be doing that to her own child, but had to hide the simultaneous excitement inherent in the prospect of her coming home early. Every passing second without her was utter agony and he didn’t understand it. He had never felt this way before. And he knew it was silly, he had no reason to doubt her, but he feared losing her. Feared she wouldn’t return. He couldn’t even believe that he had her when it all came down to it. He never thought there would be anything, and now she was everything.

Without her, he was nothing.

A stick figure with skin. A big head, a fat nose that served as a breeding ground for blackheads, a mustache that didn’t feel right to him without the goatee, which his job would not allow him to grow. He wore flannels and faded dilapidated jeans and hid his thick, dark brown hair beneath a black ball cap. He drank far too much coffee, smoked way too many Marlboro cigarettes. Thought too much. Felt too much. Said, did too little. He worked in the kitchen at McDonald’s in a nearby shit-towne. He was a boy on back line, or a BOB, as his girlfriend liked to put it.

His girlfriend. His. Girlfriend.

She was slender with shoulder-length red hair and eyes that changed color in accordance with her mood. Blue, gray, green. Those wonderful, intense mood eyes. Soft lips, soft skin. She had freckles and twitched involuntarily, and often violently when she was falling asleep. There was a tattoo of butterflies on her belly, a moon on her thigh, and a Celtic sun on the back of her neck. Her tongue was pierced. She smoked a lot of marijuana. Since as far back as she can remember, she has practiced what she has come to call candle magick. She rolled the candle in her hands, carved something into its surface, lit it and meditated on it until it burnt all the way down. To end someone’s pain. To bring someone joy. To bring something or someone to her. To extinguish a grudge or get over a heartache. Sometimes when she was angry she would write her feelings down on a piece of paper and burn it to banish the anger. And however it worked, it worked for her. She never learned it, not in this lifetime, not that she could remember. It was a natural part of who she was. It seemed to all be a reflex with her.

She knows how to utilize her pubococcygeus muscle and utilized it when he was inside her. Hugs from the inside. Her favorite flowers were daisies. She didn’t like giving blowjobs but had no gag reflex. She didn’t like the feeling when a guy went down on her. She grew up a Mormon, but had relinquished it and had an intense interest in religions in general. Intense. She was so intense, so mysterious. She was an insomniac and they often fucked themselves to sleep. She worked at Arby’s and McDonald’s for a while; now she just worked at McDonald’s. She worked mornings while her scuzzy, stupid, going-nowhere boyfriend worked evenings. She liked the bands Godsmack and 30 Seconds to Mars. Her parents lived in Barstow, California, the setting of many Tarantino films, and her father worked for the factory depicted in the movie Erin Brockovich.

She left behind two things at her boyfriend’s house, before leaving for California to visit her parents, just visit them, just for two weeks. It was only supposed to be two weeks. He had no photograph of her, not a single one. But she had given him a little ET figurine he kept on the dashboard of his car. He had a blue comb of hers. Aside from the people around him, so few, that remembered her and brought her up, he had no other evidence of her existence. For all he knew, she was a dream that might end, leaving him in a cold, hard reality made all the more cold and hard set against the background of that amazing, beautiful dream if she didn’t come back. So she had to come back. She would, would come back.

He walked around the basement of the house he lived at in Kent with two roommates whenever she called him from California. Right before she left, right after they had sex, she told him what he made her promise never to tell him. Three. Bad. Words. She called him at work one day and before getting off the phone he said those same words to her, those dangerous words he had vowed never to utter again. Three. Bad. Words.

Sometimes he felt responsible for how people he knew got along with one another. There were countless previous girlfriends he didn’t want to introduce to others, secretly, because he thought they might not like her, might not get along. With her, though, there was none of that. It evaporated. He wanted her to meet everybody. No one disliked her. She was an anomaly in so many ways. So perfect she couldn’t be real. The mind couldn’t even manufacture dreams this wondrous. That she existed was amazing enough, but she was with him. Him.

When he was nervous or tense, he bit his lips, licked them. They were always chapped and bleeding. When she came into his life, they became as smooth as his skin. He felt vibrant, healthy, alive. She was the antidote. And when she didn’t come back, the pain was physical. Without her, the antidote, his blood was poison. Life was a nightmare, devoid of meaning again. All the colder because of this cruel joke it had played on him. She was worried about her mother, sure. Her father, sure. She missed her family. It killed him when she didn’t come back. Her boyfriend, ex-boyfriend, that little bitch he was, he’d go on whining about it in his head for years. Reflecting on little snapshot in his memories, the only photos he had of her, locked in his cranium. The showers in the morning. The water they drank after the sex. When she was in pure agony on his bed, having her cramps during her time of the month, and he felt so sorry for her, so powerless to stop her pain, so deep in pain just watching her, feeling her. The way she’d stare down at him as she straddled him in bed, staring at him in the eyes. The candles she would position and light around the room. Their first night. Their last night. A dream. Slope into a nightmare.

The injustice. An indifferent universe.

That kid, that boy, he should just get the fuck over it.

IV. Lament for an Infant.

With a high-pitched, drawn-out fart noise the door opens, closes, opens again as fellow college students trickle in like urine out of an old man’s ding-a-ling — and then in comes this with girl with a stroller. There is no doubt that the annoying door has met its match. You couldn’t hope to miss the obvious displeasure in the wriggling infant she was wheeling around as — he, she; let us settle, for the sake of argument, on the neutral ”it” — shrieked and wailed with such deafening, agonizing intensity you half-expected it’s little developing baby cranium, unable to take it, would have exploded like a balloon filled to capacity with red Jell-O and dropped from a seven-story building onto the cold, hard concrete. The professor came in, doing an admirable job of screening out the obnoxious screaming as he took attendance and went on to his lecture. It seemed fewer of us were able to ignore the auditory equivalent of an elephant in the room as time went on, however, and in fact it took fifteen minutes into the class for someone in the back of the room to finally say to the prof, ”Yeah, uh, I can’t hear you with this baby crying.”

The professor here in Literature in English I, he’s an active old guy, always moving and really enthusiastic about the material it’s his job to convey to us. His glasses sit on the bridge of his nose and he leans down, head beneath shoulders, occasionally staring at a student in particular, and dead in the eyes as if addressing them specifically. He often ends a string of high-powered words with a “right,” sometimes under his breath, sometimes more loudly, but undoubtedly as a subconscious reflex. And either way, it’s his verbal equivalent of a period, less often a comma. He wastes no time jumping on the guy’s comment about the baby, having been waiting and silently preparing it the whole time, having no doubt been irritated with the noise since he walked in the class but reluctant to say something about it himself without prompting. As kindly as he could eh suggested that she maybe take the child from the class until it stops crying and with that she quietly, slowly, solemnly took her portable shitting, pissing, wriggling alarm system without an off switch out the door, held in a nurturing way to her breast.

Having lost his place, he backtracks a bit. The topic had been the reading assignments, The Wanderer and The Wife’s Lament. Pushing aside the religious references, I must say that much liked the content and style of The Wanderer, though Wife’s Lament struck me as little more than a whiny, melodramatic, archaic sort of diary entry. A ”woe is me” passage, if you will. Really, this poem could be the precursor to everything emo. After empathizing that these were two poems, not verse, even though they were rewritten when translated in verse form, he reflects on possible ways in which poems, in general, come into being.

He wastes no time offering the perspective that “god bestows them upon us,” hitting that ball of petrified bullshit, to put it in a graphic way, right off the bat. This was, of course, allegedly the case according to Bede in the case of Caedmon, the cowherd-turned-monk-through-revelation, who created (but not literally wrote, since he was illiterate) his famous Hymn, and this had been our first assignment for the class. In a way, and to a point, I found Caedmon’s story interesting. People would get together in a building, have a feast, pass around a harp to each other and sing songs. Caedmon would always attend these feasts but when he saw the harp would soon be passed on to him he made some excuse and left, for he wasn’t at all versed in the Anglo-Saxon art of song. On one such occasion, he had gone back to the cattle shed it was his duty to guard and went to sleep. There he had a dream that someone appeared at his bedside and urged him to sing about the creation, which, with some reluctance, he eventually managed to do. In the morning, he went to his boss and told him the story, and then brought before learned men, to whom he told his dream and recited his poetry. He was instructed to make more poetry and then take his monastic vows.

Still, I don’t know if it’s simply the material we’re reading that prompts it or some religious viewpoint he personally harbors — for a few reasons, though, I’m increasingly suspecting the latter — but he keeps referencing this Christian god thing and it’s making me wince. Making my teeth grind.

But in The Wanderer, he says, we come across another means by which poetry comes into being; what we might call existential despair, though these are not the words he used. More faithful to the way he put it would be to say that poetry is a product of man’s awareness of how fucking difficult life can be, as such hardship can often ”move” or inspire us (in the passive, impersonal Aristotelian Unmoved-Mover kind of way, it seems) to bleed it all out through pen and onto paper. He goes on to explain how the Wanderer’s condition is representative of what all of us eventually come to face — namely loneliness, isolation, pain, suffering, exile, some sense of homelessness. So one simple thing the poem does is to let us know that we’re not alone in this respect, no matter how much we might feel that this is the case when plagued with such a state of mind and being, as these emotions, thoughts, conditions are universal. Its our human heritage, if not the heritage of all forms of intelligent life in the cosmos.

Aside from merely addressing the issue in the poem’s content or message, however, the poem also provides potential answers to the question of what we might do about this type of human experience. First, it seems to recommend we not be ”too hasty of speech.” This suggestion no doubt derives from a particular code or custom referenced in the text that dictates that one not engage in self-revelation, that one not express ”woe is me” sentiments, at least not in a reactionary way. The poem states that ”no one can become wise until he has wintered into wisdom,” and this seems wedded to the concept that only through silent endurance can we truly ”winter” into such wisdom. One should learn to think clearly, that one should be patient, reflect over one’s experience and think over what one wishes to say, let one’s experience gestate, you might say, before one goes about expressing oneself. This silent endurance of life’s “winter” — life’s pain and loss — makes it necessary for us to ask questions. To gain not merely knowledge, but true insight and understanding. Once such a wanderer has once again found a home with a king and a kingdom, then, once that period is in retrospect, he can feel free to express himself to others.

To illustrate the idea of not being ”too hasty of speech,” the professor makes convenient use of the child that had been wailing in the classroom not all that long ago. He motioned towards the door, trying to display some sympathy for the wailing infant that had been delivered from us through it, saying that though it wasn’t the child’s fault, it was screaming because it was unhappy. It was scared because it was in a strange, foreign environment, and it obviously didn’t want to be here. We aren’t like that child, however. As we grow, we learn to hold that sort of thing in. To ”man up,” as my friend Moe often puts it. While we might be bored in this class, he said, not wanting to be here and waiting for this guy up front to shut up, we don’t express that in the here and now. And while he doesn’t say it, I think our instincts to shit, piss and fuck also apply here, as out in the wild, without any culture, as animals run on pure instinct, we’d exhaust the primitive desires in near-immediacy; within culture, however, we don’t just shit when we feel we have to shit, piss when we need to piss, or pin a girl to the wall and fuck the shit out of her when that incredible, mind-boggling sense of need strikes us as lightning. We hold our breath, in a way.

The poem not only makes commentary on it but also, in a way, exemplifies it. Whoever it was that wrote The Wanderer was using a strategy, a technique that kept this code in mind and delivered the contents in a way that remained faithful to it. It was also based on the awareness that how something is said is just as important as what is said; how we might make effective use of words. Or as I’ve always put it, the package and delivery of a message is just as important as its underlying content; something I could never seem to get through to my old friend, Grim, so many years ago. Specific to the poem, an acceptable form of self-revelation, with the code in mind, would be to pass on one’s experience as if someone else had lived it and expressed it. What the poet does is use passages, which are contained in quotations in the translation, which express the thoughts of the wanderer. Other passages, not in quotations, are of the narrator; the poet himself. This gives us the impression that the poet is not the wanderer himself, but sharing a message he had received from another; the truth may be that he was merely expressing his own voice through the character of the wanderer.

Some girl in the class comments how the Wife’s Lament doesn’t seem to abide by the rules expressed in The Wanderer, and that it does indeed sound like unreserved whining. Indeed, the narrator seems to boldly proclaim her right to whine in light of her circumstances. The girl said to the professor that she was thinking maybe it was that way because women are more emotional than men. He smiled nervously, nodding cautiously, saying, ‘”I’m glad you said it, because if I said it, that’d be an entirely different matter.” He was quick to add, however, that the wife in the poem explained how though her heart was aching she faces the world with a glad continence. She was able to transfer her weeping into poetry in order to maintain that; expressing her feelings and circumstances in words presented a way of dealing with that condition.

By expressing oneself immediately in words as a release valve in order to maintain our mask of strength in life, as in The Wife’s Lament, or by expressing oneself only after enduring the metaphorical winter, after reflection, after the birth of not just knowledge but true insight and understanding — either way we choose to sublimate our existential despair and it’s sweet and bitter fruits — perhaps we share this with others in time, perhaps in literature form. In so doing we add to the wisdom of those that came before us. At the same time, we can all experience the reservoir of experiences piled up by those that came before us vicariously, through such literature, by means of the empathy it elicits. Through their words, we can gain wisdom from specific experiences we never had personally. We can also, at the very least through the universal themes expressed therein, gain a sense of community.