Dogma

 

 

 

So, when I got the call for the week long gig, only a 20 minute train ride from home, I could hardly say 'no'..

I was recommded from another client, who heard I lived in the area, and usually available last minute.

 

"Hi, Li?" said a womans voice, "Hi, this is T, I'll be gone for about a week, and I'll need someone to stay over, do you think you manage that?" she asked.

" Im sorry, who?" I asked kind of taken aback by the sudden proposition.

"Ha! It's T, Im friends with J..she recommened you for house sitting. Do you think you might be available starting next tuesday? I just have the one dog, Bessy, and shes a bit older" she said with anticipation.

"Sure, that's not a problem- I'm staying at the family house right now, and taking classes locally- there wont be any problems with that" I responded.

"Oh, that's wonderful news! I usually have a regular sitter, but he hasn't been available the last few times, and I really needed someone this time around....with the special needs and all'. she added.

"Special needs?" I inquired.

"Yes..well, it's not THAT taxing- just a few extras than any regular dog; Bessy is partially blind, you see, and so we have to put a little vest on her before walks..not THAT much different" she said.

"I get you..Well, it sounds good. When did you want to meet beforehand? I usually meet up for orientation first.." I said.

"Oh! That's a really good idea. Let's see, how about this Sunday..around noon, say?" she asked me.

"Okay, sounds good..see you then" I replied.

"Great, see you then" she said and hung up.

"Well THAT was lucky", I thought to myself as I hung the rectangular plastic phone back up in the cradle:

 

I had just recently returned from travelling out west, and was running low on funds, and had been, at that exact moment, pondering how I might score a little bit of extra pocket change.

There was some cash flow coming in, with artwork I was creating for a local fashion show, but any money from THAT event wouldn't shake out until a few weeks later- plus, I was starting to take classes at the local college, and needed funds for books asap.

 

"Let's see...she said Rodgers Park near Lunt st..." I said to myself as I unfolded the paper map, "Okay..wow...that IS really close".

I smiled, and returned to my desk to finish a row of beads.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The House on Dreary Lane

 

 

The following Sunday arrived quickly as I exited the El stop, and began walking towards my destination. These neigborhood streets were mainly filled with old brick apartment buildings, with a few 60s design houses sandwiched in between.

 

I noticed one such house wedged between two towering structures and saw their cute mini-apple tree in its small 4 foot front patch of yard as I turned the corner, and headed down the block, towards a street gaurded by large old oaks. 

 

The sun flooded in as the stately trunks lumbered over me, make a green canopy that stood firm against the sunlight- which was now beginning to unfurl out after a relatively grey morning. The large glass sunroom windows beamed a brilliant gaze from the buildings windows, reflecting light from every direction, making an organized pattern in between the brick layers of sun and stone.

 

I started to notice this was a smaller, more narrow street, and surprisingly understood that the whole neighborhood must have known it also- because as I looked around, I saw that the mini street seemed to be filled with mini cars to fit just such a spot.

 

"Jesus, did everyone here just decide to join the mini-car culture club?" I said to myself as I looked up, "Let's see....Okay..I wonder if it's that big house on the corner. Wouldn't that be cool if it was?"

And as I got closer, the address became clear "....looks like it IS..Oh wow, cool"  I smiled to myself as I walked over to an old, large, well shellacked victorian style wooded house..with dark maroon stain carvings on all sides.

"Holy shit..this place is really well maintained"  I said to myself as I walked along the impressive wooden railed front porch, and found the brick stairs ascending.

"Is this REALLY the place?" I asked myself, "Yep, the addy matches".

I walked along the front wooden planks, and swinging bench as I made my way past the large, darkened, unlit glass windows.

Everything was still and quiet.

"Good god, is anyone HOME? I said to myself as I found the front door, and rang the bell.

 

b ..o..n..g....I could hear a very faint bell in the distance.

 

I waited a moment, after no one answered and tried again.

 

B...o...n....g..

 

"She has a dog, does she? Why am I not hearing it bark? God. Did I get the days wrong?" I began to wonder.

 

I waited a bit longer.

 

"Well..." I stepped back a moment, "Is this NOT the right place? Did I get the address WRONG? Oh no.." I really began to worry, but just then I hear a scuffle coming from inside, and a slender woman with mousy blonde hair emerged..Hello there...sorry about that..I had to pull Bessy in from the other room first..Hi..I'm T" she smiled and put her slender hand out.

 

"Oh, Hi..I'm Li- Well, I'm just glad I got the address right.." I began.

"Oh? was it hard to find parking?" she inquired as she opened the glass door and ushered me inside.

"I just took the El- I'm only 2 stops away" I replied.

"Oh oh oooh....I thought you mentioned DRIVING in. No matter- the vet is around the corner, and parking here is very strict without a residential pass"she replied.

"Yep, sounds complicated" i said as I started to look around.

"Come on in, and I'll show you the routine" she said as she looked down at Bessy, who was looking up at her. A white, short haired dog that looked a bit like a sausage with sad eyes as he looked up at her with a drooling tongue.

"Okay" I replied.

 

I walked past the long, empty vestibule, and felt up the vibes- kind of vacant but pleasant enough. The dark red wood floor continued before me, as the walls looked to be a light yellow wall paper with a texture mimicking the looks of pollen on flower stamens.There was a pleasant warm breeze wafting by, and I looked up to notice the bronze chandelier hanging above, as we made our way past the large glass door and into the main hallway:

 

"So you have worked for J I take it?" she asked me.

"Oh yes, many many times" I replied confidently.

"That's good to hear- that you've had experience with her dogs. My dog has special needs as well, as Bessy is mostly blind by this point. There is really nothing we can do for her, except help her feel more comfortable with the change, but that's slow going you know" she said as she stroked the top of Bessys head.

"Of course", I said and looked down at Bess, who was standing next to her, looking around vacantly.

"Have you worked with blind dogs before?" she asked.

"No" I replied.

"Oh, well, there ARE a few set routines I do with her" T began to say.

"Okay" I said.

"Because she is having a hard time learning new ways to do things, I have to help her with a few tasks.."she continued on.

"Allright" I said, but in the back of my mind,I was beginning to wonder what the job might really entail.

"...For instance when we climb the stairs, you are going to have to help her with getting up there by keeping to the RIGHT of the stairway at all times...this is one way we are training her to help her get used to navigating around the place".

"Okay, so do I have to help her go up everytime? Or, does she ever go up on her own?" I asked.

"Well, that wont matter, because she will want to stay with you at all times, so whenever you go UP there she will need help" T explained.

"Oh, I see.." I trailed off to watch her demonstrate.

"SO, let me show you how.." she said and she began to walk up the stairs with Bessy next to her

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Meeting Place 

 

At one point, I found myself wandering along the Thames river in London, Ontario. It was a beautiful late spring day, and all the flora was in bloom.

I lived nearby, and while I was given plenty of days to explore the local greenery in the months of time I  dwelled there, I never quite managed to, and decided it was finally time to do so.

 

I was in need of fresh air, and decided to take a break from the confines of our purple walled apartment- away from the beadwork I was engaged in, ready to take that lengthy stroll alongside the rivers bank, and finally see what the landscape had to offer.

 

I walked across a relatively empty road which was in front of our place, towards the red bricked condos across the street, and then on towards the unknown green. The sun was shining, and I could feel my heels dig into the cement path through my well worn Birkenstock sandals, as I breathed in the day, and edged closer to the wood.

 

It became one of those isolated moments in time- you know what I mean; a moment where it seems like you might very well be the only person in the world; What was once the bustling backdrop noise of Richmond road, busy with the days pedstrians, had now fizzled away into a brightly lit sun filled sky- and getting more intensified with each step.

 

"That's so strange... How am I in the middle of the city, yet haven't ran across, or heard a soul?" I thought to myself, as I started to notice that not a single car had driven past, and that I hadn't seen anyone the entire time I had been walking along.

 

I gazed up ahead, scanning the road, as I opened my ears to listen hard for the sounds of cars, or see ANYone nearby. After a moment, I could hear a faint sound of a motor floating on the wind: an unyeilding confirmation that others were here.. SOMEwhere, and took comfort in the thought. It's not like I really needed or wanted others around- especially on this solitary journey, but the moment was becoming unbelievable after about 25 minutes or so.

 

On and on my solo journey continued, until eventually, I gave up on the matter enjoying the day instead, walking along the cement.... and as I  purposely tried to miss the cracks along the way, I paused to look up at the brightly puffed clouds, as a small white butterfly darted nearby.

 

There was hardly any noise at all now, as the faint motor was long gone, and all that was left was the gentle sound of the wind shifting in tall grass- which was all around me now, with more blades motioning up ahead, in the distance. A replaced familiarity, for certain, but a much more pleasing noise to listen to than the repetition of cars.

 

Like soft strands of sound currents, guiding me onwards through its whiplashy grasshair breezes, I was delighted to meet this peaceful companion. Yes, it would have been fine to live forever in this wistful moment, with my new found partner, who would never leave my side; guiding me onwards for now, until always.

 

But just then, it did.

 

The wind left me... and like an off switch, the sudden buzz of existences last little voice was disconnected.

Like someone finally turned off the TV set, and all that was left was the silent stream of my heartbeat & breath, as I soon began to resent not bringing a pair of sunglasses, after all.

 

"This is so strange. Where is everyone?" I thought to myself as the ground became greener.

 

"Why didn't I bring any water with me? Maybe I should go back..this is so damn bright" I began to complain," ..but I'm almost by the waters edge. Well... I don't have to stay long"  I concluded, and decided to press forward. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In The Back of My Mind

 

The hill of random trees and grass soon opened up to reveal the riverside below, where I could see families walking along it. 

"Finally. I finally ran into some people, wow." I said to myself, as I began to walk to the waters edge.

 

"Hey !" One person yelled to another.

"Hiya!" They yelled back.

"Hahaha" a gangle of children laughed, while the low murmer of voices emerged all around me.

"DAD" a teenager said as she walked by.

"We should probably go this way" a lady said to her group, as they studied a small piece of paper together.

 

I looked around, as I dodged a bicyle whizzing past.

The place was buzzing with people. 

"Holy shit, where did all these people come from? Nothing, and then this?"I wondered to myself, "Must be this perfect weather, everyone turns out for THIS sort of a day" I concluded as I decided to take the trail, and walk along it awhile before heading back. I mean, I had made all that effort, I figured, the least I could do was walk around a bit before ditching the whole scene.

 

"Excuse me! 3 on the left!" a voice said from behind.

Whooosh!

3 bicycles went zooming by:

"Hi" said a set of wheels.

"Hi" said a set of wheels.

"Hi"said a set of wheels.

 

"Yep" I replied.

 

"Did you hear what Jan said about it?" some guy asked his companion, as they passed me by.

Just then a curly blonde 3 year old came racing up "LALALA.." he sang, and giggled as a golden retirever jogged alongside, and they raced off towards the waters edge.

 

"This place is nuts..Is there some holiday I don't know about?" I asked myself, "Why is like half the city here?" I decided it was time to turn off the trail, and try finding an empty spot by the river to sit.

The wide green lawn was now bottlenecking into a forested pathway, with the wooded area filling the  riverside bank in full, with lush and leaf.

 

"This looks like a good place to veer away...let me see if I can shimmy into this wooded part, away from everyone..." I said to myself as I cut off the trail, and stepped on to the forest floor.

 

I found myself immersed quite easily, away from the chatter and commotion as I walked into the shady landscape, and quietly looked around.

 

"Excuse me!" a voice said from behind.

 

I jolted, and spun around- quite surprised to see a young man in a purple shirt, and tan pants smiling at me, alongside his two partners.

 

"Hi" said a sweet voice from a brunette girl in a flowery top with cut-off jeans, and boots, arm-in-arm with another girl, as they strolled on by in front of me.

 

I looked behind for more people, I mean, I wasn't exactly slicing my way through the thicket with a knife, but I certainly wasn't on a path either.

 

"Why the hell did these people follow me in here? I hope they don't stick around" I said to myself, as I paused to create distance between us, and did not mind stopping anyway, as there was a beautful light yellow green canopy of leaves all around me now, speckling in the sunlight, which made dancing patterns, like a living stage easment of chartruese performers all swaying in unison.

 

"SHhhhhh" said one of the two girls.

"I don't think anyone can hear you" said the other.

"...But can they SMELL you? THAT'S the million dollar question" the boy said, as they all started to laugh, and, the sound of a lighter suddenly flicked.

 

Soon enough, I could see wafts of smoke wisping through the branches, and heading my way.

"I mean, I COULD JOIN 'em..but nah.. I gotta get home soon" I thought to myself, as I veered away from the group, and decided to head into a denser part of the wood.

 

Soon enough, I saw the clearing run into a massive wall of vine that seemed to have been woven between 3 trees, with very little way of getting through- especially in the long cotton gauze skirt, and ruffly oxblood blouse I had decided to wear that day.

 

"Hm" I said to myself, "I did NOT plan this well. Maybe I could just squeeze UNDER it.." as I saw a small opening, and began to do so.

 

A few minutes later, I suprisingly found myself on the other side, and smiled at my accomplishment.

"Try following me through THAT bitches" I laughed, as I pondered on my next move.

"I should try heading torwards that river, and get on firmer ground" I said aloud, as the floor was getting soft, and mushier with each step forward.

 

SHQUISH!

 

My foot splattered into the muddy land.

"Hmm..definitly NOT a day for THIS direction.." I said to myself, "Maybe I need to head THAT way, as I attempted to head for firmer ground, going deeper still into the thick green.

 

On and on I navigated, enjoying my unknown journey in a muddied way, not really certain of where I might end up once I cleared the thicket, and was still in hopes of stumbling across a waterfront resting spot. Preferably, one that no one had discovered as of yet-a place to visit later perhaps, but in the back of my mind, I knew that sort of solace had passed me by with my windy friend awhile ago, and that I  was more caught in a brambly wet thicket with no direction out, than a breezy passage.

 

"Sally!" A voice said.

 

It was a familiar voice from before- that brunette boy!

 

"Oh jesus christ, where the fuck did THEY just pop up from" I asked myself, as I started to dart away from the source, " I swear to god, fucking stoners...and why is it always ME that gets this..I'm literally UP A BUSH for fucks sake!"

 

I started to remember the triple woven trees, and how close that lot sounded in proximity to it. I started to listen for more:

 

"Hmm...I wonder what they will do when they reach that tricky spot? Those girls aren't climbing through that shit- not in THOSE flip flops she had on" I chuckled to myself as I looked down at my well-worn,  muddy half-cracked Birks.

I listened a bit longer as I heard the three approaching nearby with faint giggling, and chatter.

"Hey! let's go THIS way" the boy announced, as his voiced edged closer.

 

"They finally got to that vine of defeat. I hope they don't forge their way over here.," I thought with an air of forfeit, "Either way, I guess...I gotta get back soon anyhow, if they want a suprise audience, that's on THEM....and NOW, I  have to figure out where OUT is, exactly..." I thought, and started to consider a way to get out- ideally away from that pack.

 

I started looking around to choose the right way, but soon realized I was lost.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hungry Like the Wolf

 

 

"You GUYS, LET'S GO OVER HERE" The boy yelled, as he got closer. I could see his bright purple shirt shifting through the brush.

 

"Which way? Oh my god. Haha" laughed a girl "How are we gonna go THAT way?"

"Where was that burrito truck.." the other girl said as her voice started to fade away.

 

The boy was getting near:

"YOU GUYS LOOK, RIGHT UNDER HERE!" he announced. He was closer than ever now.

"LETS GO OVER THAT WAY" said the girl as she approached the boy.

 

I slid behind a jaggedly barked, fat oak tree, out-of-sight, and leaned against it.

 

"I'm just gonna sit tight, and wait for this litter to scamper on by.." I thought, "....they seem completely set on playing peek-a-boo with me in the woods. If I just sit here, maybe they will simply disappear".

 

And there I stayed, as the area grew silent all of the sudden, and my windy friend made a surprise entrance. My hair trickled in the breeze, as the wet mud dried on my sandals, and cotton skirt hem... and I absorbed the still sunshine..... and waited a bit longer.

 

"Welp, I didn't make it down to the waters edge, but at least I didn't run into that fucking group of gnomes again. My life is just one big cosmic joke to SOMEBODY out there, I just know it." I said to myself, as I decided it was safe to come out of my oak cloak, and press onwards.

 

Just then I heard something!

The sound of WATER.

Could it be? Did I inadvertantly find the riverfront?? Dang, that sure would be sweet! 

I started to follow the sound.

 

'Bloopop bloops bloop..'

 The ground was a lot firmer now, and not a stoner in sight!

"In a very odd way, those three sorta helped push me to where I wanted to get to this whole time,.."  I smiled," ..that's funny", and continued towards to sounds of rushing water.

 

Soon I could see bits of the grey-blue river through the still thick green, as the water went racing by. 

"MADE IT" I thought. 

I was so pleased I arrived, but how do I get closer? It seemed like the only actual way towards the waters EDGE was around a gangly mess of forest tangle, so well interwoven, it might be considered a fort.

 

"Hmm...let's see if I can walk around this, and get closer in a differerent spot" I said to myself, as I started to consider a strategy.

 

 

 

"Twwwweettttoo" went a whistle in the distance.

"Twwwweettttoo" it said again.

 

"TWWWWEETTTTOO" I copied in the best whistle I could muster, which was surprisingly good that day.

 

"TWWWWEETTTTOO" it chirped.

"Twweeettttooo" I repeated.

 

"Twwweettttoo" I repeated, kind of enjoying the sound, then added my own little spin to the next:

 

"TWWWWEETTTTOO, TWWEETT TWWEETT TWWEETT"

 

"Twwwweettttoo, twweett twweett twweett" went the chirp.

 

 

"Wait a minute.

Did that bird just fucking copy me?" I asked myself, " Holy shit, I didn't even think it was LISTENING...let me try this again". So I did.

 

"TWWWEEETTTTOO, TWWEETT TWWEETT TWWEET" I chirped.

 

"Twwweeettttoo, twweett twweett tweett! Twwweeettttoo, twweett twweett twweett!" repeated the mime.

 

 

I sat there a moment.

"No way" I thought to myself, "That must just be a regular bird call or something..no way that was in response to mine".

 

But after a minute, it started again:

 

"Twwweeeettttoo, twweett twweeet twweeet" went the whistle.

"Hm. I can't know for certain...I know, let's trys somethig a bit more complex" I thought to myself, and whistled:

 

"Twwweettttoo, twweett twweett twweett, tweet-tweet-tweeeeeeeettttt!"

 

The whistle replied "Twwweettttoo, twweett twweett twweett, tweet-tweet-tweeeeeeetttt!"

 

 

"Wow!" I exclaimed, "Confirmation! This is interesting.. Well, it's definitily talking to ME" and I continued to mirror on and on- singing, and repeating the same endless song.

 

 I paused for a moment.

"I wonder how complex we can get?" I considered, and then I added on something new:

 

"Twwweettttoo, twweett twweett twweet ,tweet-tweet-twwweeeeeettt twwwwwweeeeeeeeeeettttteeerrrrrrrrr. TWEET." I sang.

 

"Twwweettttoo, twweet twweet twweet, tweet-tweet-twwweeeeeettt  twwwwwweeeeeeeeeeettttteeerrrrrrrrr.TWEET" chirped the whistle.

 

"Clever little thing. He caught that right away!" I thought to myself.

 

"Twwweettttoo, twweett twweett twweett, tweet-tweet-twwweeeeeettt twwwwwweeeeeeeeeeettttteeerrrrrrrrr.TWEET" the whistle went again.

 
"Twwweettttoo,twweet twweett twweett, tweet-tweet-twwweeeeeettt  twwwwwweeeeeeeeeeettttteeerrrrrrrrr.TWEET" I repeated.
 
"Twwweettttoo,twweett twweett twweett,  tweet-tweet-twwweeeeeettt twwwwwweeeeeeeeeeettttteeerrrrrrrrr.TWEET" it chirped another time.

 

 
"Twwweettttoo,twweett twweett twweett, tweet-tweet-twwweeeeeettt  twwwwwweeeeeeeeeeettttteeerrrrrrrrr.TWEET" I whistled again, and I was never a very good whislter- having the ability only when I inhale, rather than exhale, but today it was coming out like I never inhaled before.
 

"Twwweettttoo,twweett twweett twweett,  tweet-tweet-twwweeeeeettt twwwwwweeeeeeeeeeettttteeerrrrrrrrr.TWEET" I repeated with glee as I made my way past the thicket, and inched closer to the waters edge and to the source of the song.

 

"Twwweettttoo, twweett twweett twweett, tweet-tweet-twwweeeeeettt, twwwwwweeeeeeeeeeettttteeerrrrrrrrr. TWEET TWEET" said the whistler.

"Wait a minute. Did they just add something on?" I asked myself.
I listened for more.
 
"Twwweet, tweet-tweet-twwweeeeeettt tweet tweett tweett twwwwwweeeeeeeeeeettttteeerrrrrrrrr. TWEET TWEET"
"They did! They DID add something on!" I said to myself, with a smile.
They whistled it again.
So, I repeated......and so did they.
This was getting quicker in exchange too- like a saucy comeback, the added tweets were given to me- like I was the one being tested now.
 
I thought about it a moment, "This sounds way too clever to be some bird. But every whistle sounds perfect....but mine sound great today too... Hm " I said to myself, and considered what it might have been, before I realized, wait a minute..
 
"IS THIS THOSE STUPID FUCKING HIPPIE STONERS AGAIN?????" I said outloud, with a grimace as I listened for more.
"Well, wait, I don't hear giggling...Maybe it's someone else? Maybe they are being quiet to attract a bird, which is really ME this whole time. I bet it's purple shirt boy, cuz no one else is out here, and I haven't seen anyone else this whole time...It's gotta be that bunch. Hm"  I thought to myself, as I walked on.
 
"Twwwweettttoo, twweett twweett twweet, tweet-tweet-twwweeeeeettt  twwwwwweeeeeeeeeeettttteeerrrrrrrrr.TWEET TWEET." went the whistle repeatedly, demanding a reply, in kind.
 
"Sure, I'll play along, after all, they stalked me into this thicket to begin with, can't wait to make this game complicated as fuck, and then surprise them when I cut out from behind a tree" I said to myself with a smirk, at the satisfying thought -I mean, challenge accepted bitches, I had finally had it. All I was trying to do was get away from this group, and my god, I think I now understood why.

 

"Twwwweettttoo, twweett twweett twweet, tweet-tweet-twwweeeeeettt twwwwwweeeeeeeeeeettttteeerrrrrrrrr.TWEET TWEET!" went the whistler.

 

"Okay, try this" I thought, and began a toungue twister "Twwweettttoo,twweett twweett twweett,  tweet-tweet-twwweeeeeettt, twwwwwweeeeeeeeeeettttteeerrrrrrrrr.TWEET TWEET, Twweeeterrerererooooo!!" 

 
Then, without the slightest hesitation, the whistle repeated faithfully ""Twwwweettttoo, twweett twweett twweett, tweet-tweet-twwweeeeeettt tweet tweett tweett twwwwwweeeeeeeeeeettttteeerrrrrrrrr.TWEET TWEET, Twweeeterrerererooooo!!"
 
I began to repeat"Twwweettttoo, twweett twweett twweett,  tweet-tweet-twwweeeeeettt , twwwwwweeeeeeeeeeettttteeerrrrrrrrr-----."
"Twwwweettttoo,twweett twweett twweett, tweet-tweet-twwweeeeeettt, twwwwwweeeeeeeeeeettttteeerrrrrrrrr, TWEET TWEET, Twweeeterrerererooooo!!!!!!!" said the whistler, repeatedly, like my personal photocopier, but NOW was beginning to repeat OVER me, and no longer waiting for my chants to finish.
 
"What a jerk..OF COURSE he isn't even waiting for me to finish. But, why is he repeating OVER me?" I asked myself, ready to look this idiot directly in his eyes, and see the look of surprise that would lie there when he sees it was really ME this whole time.
 
I edged closer to the source of the whistle, looking forward to my great reveal, all the while getting nearer.That's right- I was ready to roll up my sleeves, and really hit 'em with something complicated now that I was getting close.
"I know!  Why don't we just do a crazy one..what will they do if I do something incomprehensible?" I said to myself with a chuckle. So I began to whistle out anything that came to mind:
 
"TTwwwettooo, twweett tweeetterrooootwweeeeettetetetrtwtwtetwwoooooooo!!!!"
 
And the forest went flat silent.
 
"Haha, that's what I thought" I giggled, "Well, maybe that's the end of it----"
 
"TWWWWWEETTTTTOO, TWWEETT TWWEETT TWWEET, TWEET-TWEET-TWWWEEEETTT" the whistle cut in again.
 
"Oh, I see, were gonna take a few steps back..ok" I thought to myself, as I repeated the line back.
 

 

I was very close now, with the whistler being only a few yards away, but the brush was so thick here, making it impossible to see anything anything through it- like that bright purple shirt of his.
 
I slowly approached the area, as I stopped chirping, and began listneing to figure out exactly where the group might be squatting.
 
"TWWWWEEEETTTTTOO, TWWEETT TWWEETT TWWEETT, TWEET-TWEET-TWWWEEEETTTT" went the familiar song.
 
They were right in front of me now - just past this green brush...
All that remained beteeen us was this thick leafy patch in front of me.
"They SO don't see me coming" I said with a smile, as I waited for one final chirp to cut in.
 
"TWWWWWEEEETTTTOO, TWWEET TWWEET TWWE------"
 
WHOOSH!!!
I slammed open the brush with my arm to reveal my presence, ready to finally end this ruse in a crushing defeat of salty entertainment, with brunnette boys stun, and stutter on the menu.
 
"TWWEEETTTE TWEEeet..." I began, but there to my amazement it stood:  a four foot tall feathered creature, with a black crest, beady eyes, and a long orange beak.....just blankly staring at me, as it stood on one leg.
 
 
"What the Hell?" I thought.
"What the hell?" it thought.
 
And we both thought it together, both stunned that the other turned out to be absolutely NOTHING like who the other thought they were.
 
"That wasn't a person" I thought to myself.
"That wasn't a bird" the bird thought, as I quietly closed the curtain, and eventually found my way home.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like A Band-Aid

 

I never did like them too much, but understood them even less back in the 70s, when the strip seemed to use the strongest adhesives known to man, and sometimes made a straight rip impossible without some skin joining it.

 

It was no less true when discovering the facts about mythical beasts. 

I was 4 years old.

The holidays were approaching, and I had heard a very unbelivable idea at my pre-school. It was S's brother who said it, during parent pick-up,  near the end of the day, when S and I were in the book nook.

 

The parents were busy rushing in, and you could hear the hurry of the streets as the doors would open and close.

The sky was darkening outside, and the whole city seemed anxious to get to wherever they were going admist the twinkle lights wrapped around the city trees, as newly fallen snow blustered with determined cement walkers.

Both S and I were usually late-in-the-day students, and was used to these sort of goings on, finding the book nook to be a perfect place to insulate away from all the commotion, while we half-waited, half-played in the growing empty school room.

 

S's mom walked in with her brother B. She stopped to speak to a teacher before heading over to the cubbies to grab S's coat, and artwork.

B scouted the room, looking for S, then upon spotting her, darted over like a rocket.

 

I watched him race over, zig-zagging through the various areas which were partitioned into various play areas (with the help of shelving), making the large hall feel very dollhouse-esque- ESPECIALLY with the way THIS kid ran through it, and he knew the layout by heart.

 

This wirey boy in a flannel shirt and jeans, with poofy curly brown hair which almost resembled clouds (I mean, his hair defied gravity some days), would just take OFF- like he was running a race, or for his lifes purpose, which, was apparenty terrorizing his younger sister:

 

"HI S! WE'RE HERE!!!!" B announced as he leaped over, and knocked a book out of her hand in one swipe.

"Where is mom?" S asked, looking annoyed.

"SHE'S over THERE" he started giggling as he circled around in front of us both.

"I'm going over to see Mom-" S began.

"No you're not- not until you put the toys away.. A-HAha!" B laughed.

S hestantly looked over at a pile of tinkertoys she had been using, which she had long since forgotten about, and began to walk over towards them.

"So what did you do today at this BABY school?" B taunted her as he trailed behind.

"I didn't DO anything, and it's not for babies!" S replied defiantly as she grabbed at the logs spread across the carpet, and proceeded to plop them in the bright yellow basket.

 

I continued on with my own book; a story with brightly colored images of forests and oceans. I could just sail away through a book- no matter the time or place, and with a book so brightly painted as THIS one was, I was transported without delay; to a happy world of sunrays, and refreshing breezes.

 

"MOOOoooooom" S suddenly yelled across the room.

"Hi sweety! I'll be right there" her mother replied as her hands began to pile up with items from S's cubby.

 

"HI!" said a voice behind my book. 

It was B.

I saw this kid a few times before, but we never really spoke. He was an older kid, and I just felt out of my league with his smart ass style of engagement.

"Hi" I said timidly.

"Whatch'a doin'?" he asked me.

"I'm reading this book" I said, as I turned the book around to show him the pretty hand-drawn colors.

"That book is for babies" B laughed.

"Babies? How so?" I asked him. I mean, I knew he was older, and probably wiser, and wouldn't mind knowing why he thought so, but how was this beautifully hand-drawn book irrelivant to anyone over the age 3? That left me a bit puzzled. 

"A-HA! Well if you don't KNOW, then you obviously ARE one! Heeheehee" he giggled with a big smugly smile.

S walked over, and snapped "This school isn't for BABIES, and even MOM said so!" as she folded her arms.

"AWW..SHE just TOLD you THAT cuz you're a BABY" B taunted back.

"No I'M NOT!" S yelled.

"YEAH you are. Look at these BABY books you read." B teased, as he started rifling through the books on the shelf, putting them back upsidedown, and half opened.

"Oh yeah? I'm just like YOU- I know everything YOU KNOW" S replied.

"AHA" B began to laugh, ".. No ya DON'T".

"YES I DO, mom SAID so!" S replied defiantly.

"You don't know ANYTHING" B said smoothly, as he plopped down on a bright blue bean bag chair. 

"OH YEAH? Like WHAT?" S demanded.

"I can't say. She told me not to tell you." B replied.

"THAT'S not TRUE!" S barked.

"OH YES IT IS" B snapped back.

"NO IT'S NOT" S snarled loudly.

"What did your mom say?" I interjected. I mean, more than this basic sibling back-and-forth fight I had never really witnessed before (being an only child), I was really getting invested in what the secret could be.

"I can't tell YOU.." B looked at me, and continued"...OR you" he turned to S pointing his finger at her.

"THAT'S not fair. I'm going to ask MOM" S yelled, as she turned to go find her mother.

"Go ahead..she's gonna say the SAME THING, BABY" B replied.

"I'M NOT A BABY! STOP SAYING I'M A BABY!! I'M NOT A BABEAAYYYYAY!!!" S started howling. I mean, that girl really lost it- B had finally pushed her to her limit, and of course, NOW he knew.

"SHhh shhhhhshhhhhhhhhhhh" OK.. ok.." B said gently as he started to notice other parents looking over at the three of us, wondering what all the fussing was about.

 

He walked over to S, and whispered in her ear, while S leaned over, and listened intently.

"THAT'S NOT TRUE" S said with a look of utter shock.

"AHA! OH, YES IT IS" B said looking at her with wide eyes.

"NO IT ISN'T..YOU'RE A LIAR! AND I'M TELLING MOM!!! MOOOOOOOMMMM" S looked horrified and pissed off all wrapped up in a bright yellow jumper, with a matching polka dot hair ribbon.

"IT IS SO!" B yelled.

"What is it?" I asked. I had to know what it was, and this was finally my moment to open pandoras box of goodies.

"He said that Santa isn't real" S said with a scorned look upon her face.

"What did you say?" I asked. I mean, I couldn't even comprehend those two concepts as congruent, let alone contextual.

"It's TRUE S" B said proudly, like he was now doing a community service worthy of recognition.

"No. IT can't be..it just isn't!" S said with a worried look on her forehead, and a tear about to form in her eye.

 

I started putting it together.

"This kid is saying there is no such thing as Santa.." I said to myself,"..... WOOOOOOWWWWWW. What a desolate and grim thought...Well, he MUST be wrong, there's Santa stuff EVERYwhere...plus, everyone puts out cookies.." I decided to voice in:

 

"That's not true..Santa visits OUR house" I perked up.

"SEE?" S added on.

"AHA. No he doesn't.. all these people racing to the store, are going to buy you BABIES presents and stuff, and they put it out after you go to SLEEP... BABIES" B said, as he started to laugh.

 

"B!!" his mother called him.

 

"COMING!" he hollered back, and whizzed off like a curly haired, mop-top, grunge nightmare that he just became, as my world was beginning to unravel.

 

S walked off to join them as the toys were now back on the shelf, and left me alone in the area.

 

"Well, that's simply NOT true. Why would he say that? Everyone knows about SANTA. Santa Claus is coming to MY TOWN..that's right...Although... I've never actually SEEN Santa... I better ask my mom about this. She wouldn't lie to me.. but she DID lie about 'having my nose' that one time..." I pondered the whole ordeal to myself, as I drifted away into a book, and eventually forgot about the matter entirely.

 

But somewhere in the back of my 3 year old intellect, the rumor felt like the facts, and maybe that's why I had forgotten to ask my mother about it, until the following Sunday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Through The Ringer

 

We were doing laundry at the laundrymat down the street- a groovy sudser decorated in orange and brown flowers. I never minded hanging out there for long periods while we washed away; music would waft over the smell of soapy bell bottoms, and the dryers would spin around as people would fluff out, and fold their freshly washed threads.

 

We were almost finished for the day, waiting on a last load of towels that were spinning around furiously in the deep cavernous dryer (which held me mesmerized as to what it must feel like to be a towel in there), when I remembered my last tangle with dirty laundry: Mr. B, and his aweful lies:

 

"Hey Mom.." I said aloud.

"Yes, sweety" she asked me, as she was folding up a bright red courduroy jumpsuit.

"I heard something at school..from S's brother B" I began.

"Oh? What's that..? she asked me as she shook out a wafty chiffon orange fabric, and began to fold it over.

"Well, B said there's no such thing as Santa" I said boldly, absolutely positive I was going to get a real good laugh out of her.

 

But instead, the whole place got quiet. The music stopped playing as the song was over- even the dryers all seemed to have ended in unison. Kids were being escorted out the place, while other people looked on with absolute curiosity as to what my mom would say.

 

My mother didn't even glance my way, but instead folded the last of the fluffy hot towels, and seemed all ready to go when she replied  "We'll talk about this at home", and grabbed my hand as we walked out through the glass doors, and into the frosty cement pathway, homeward bound, towards my answers AND a finality on the matter.

 

 

 

 

 

We got back to our place, had a grilled cheese and tomato soup for lunch, when the conversation picked up again:

 

"So, what's this your heard from S's brother?" mom asked me.

"HE said there's no such thing as Santa" I said with a sober expression,"... S said he's a liar, and he IS pretty mean to her" I added.

"Well, what does S think?" she asked me, as she took a spoonful a soup.

"I don't know, S said he's a liar, and went to go ask her mom.." I began.

"And what did SHE say?" she inquired with a crunch of her grill.

"I don't know- they left, and I wasn't there when she asked" I replied with a look of dissapointment.

"Ah" she remarked, "Well you know Li, Santa is only ONE part of the holiday- it's not really ABOUT presents.

"I know, but B said that part isn't real, and that it's really PARENTS who buy gifts at the store. Is that true?" I asked all wide-eyed, only half ready for the answer I might receive.

"Oh yes, that's true. We certaintly buy gifts for everyone during the holidays. You probably don't remember, but last year we bought your friend I, and her mother & father those cookies at the store" she said.

"Oh yeah..I guess we DO buy presents. Thats true.." I replied, looking perturbed as my deeper question was getting spooned over.

 

I took a bite of my sandwhich.

 

I mean, I guess I KNEW people were buying gifts, but other presents ALSO appeared on Christmas day- gifts I had never seen or witnessed being purchased- and that was hard to believe, seeing that I was with my mother most of the time. I mean, when did she go to get MORE??  I guess it's POSSIBLE, she could be the one putting stuff under the little wirey tree stand every year...Is it though? Would she really DO this? And more importantly, was I ready to hear the answer?

 

I gulped my bite down, and swallowed some tomato soup before finally lunging in for more.

"So, is it true?" I asked her.

"Is what true, sweetypie?" she asked me, as she wiped her mouth with the bright paper napkin, and put it on her empty plate.

"Is there no such thing as Santa?" I asked her, really unsure if I should have asked twice- I could smell exactly what she was cookin' with her eyes averting mine by this point.

 

Up until now, the day was pretty cheery, in bright laundry colors, but all of the sudden, it was like I entered some M.C. Escher sketch, with no way out.

My mothers face looked all serious, the soup turned cold, and the room started fading into grey.

 

"Well, sweety, I'm afraid that B is right..." she said as her forhead frowned slightly.

"What?!" I barked. I couldn't believe what I was hearing.

"That boy is right" she said as she got up, and grabbed the dishes from the table.

"There's no such thing as Santa?" I asked her as she stood by the ceramic sink, turning the hot water handle, and a gushing stream began to pour out of the long silver neck.

"No" she said placidly, and began to scrub away with a bright yellow scratch pad.

 

I couldnt believe it. B was RIGHT? 

 

And that kid was such a jerk. I was now mad he had been right all along. We WE'RE babies. How could I have thought that Santa was REAL? I mean, were WE'RE buying gifts for others, that much was true. 

I looked at her, and thought I knew this woman. Why was I told about this pretend person to BEGIN WITH? Why would she tell me this? More importantly, why was everyone ELSE going along with the lie TOO? I mean, I saw pictures of the guy- in a bright red suit, all over the place, always smiling, always looking cheery in his happy frosty home. Being pulled by flying reindeer...now that I really considered it, how could I have believed this AT ALL?

 

My friend 'I' sure thought Santa was real, just like everyone else at the school. What a terrible secret I learned. What was I gonna do? Should I share it? Everyone I knew seemed so happy with the holiday, and I didn't want to be like B, OR have anyone feel THIS holly-bummer.

 

"MAYBE, my friends at school DO know, and maybe this is just a big PRETEND like when we play dress-up, and only me and S didn't know" I thought to myself, as we moved into the livingroom, and sat on the couch.

 

The sun was now setting, as the new reality sunk in further, and I glanced at the golden rays dancing in between the livingroom, and hallway.

 

My mother was watching my face- very carefully, ready to respond at any inquiry I might produce; she could tell I was still processing the whole matter, and this was FAR from over, for ME.

 

I thought about all the stuff we did at school, all the parents who would mention Santa when they picked up, or dropped off their kids.No wonder they were laughing all the time. I couldn't believe it.  It was all one big farce, and NOW, I would have to carry this little fact around with me, and not say a word to anyone about it at school.

 

I took a deep breath in, and slowly exhaled.

 

I was ready to do it. I was ready to hold the dream alive in the name of happy holidays everywhere- and thank god I had OTHER holidays to fall back on.. I mean, the Easter Bunny and I were NOT that close, but I was willing to give it shot, with those eggs and jellybeans. I felt a moment of relief...

 

...but it was just a moment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And Then There Were Three

 

 

 

A thought suddenly dawned on me:

"If everyone is lying about the one guy, what about this rabbit person? I mean, I never saw them EITHER" I began to reason.

 

I straightened up in the couch, and looked over at my mom, who was staring back me, ready to converse, ready to help heal any worry I might have with this red-and-green band-aid I had half-stuck to me still:

 

"Well, what about the Bunny Rabbit?" I asked her.

"No" she replied, looking stoic.

My heart sank, as the glittery dust of magical creatures began to vanish into thin skies.

"What about the Tooth Fairy?" I asked, as I started to panic; I mean, we put TEETH down, MONEY showed up--surely there was a REAL system in place.

"No" she replied again.

"What about BIRTHDAY WISHES???!!" I asked fervently; I figured there HAD to be SOMETHING factual SOMEwhere.

"Well that's something else..."she began.

 

"'Something else?' I thought to myself '...Another lie. Why was there so many of them? At all points of the year to too; MY birthday was in the SUMMER, and so, like a seasonal wheel of lie-to-lie, I got fed a steady supply of pretend year round....At least I had Halloween.

 

I sat and watched the sun set as my big secret was bigger than I imagined, and the Santa part was now diluting over me, into a larger soupy abyss of one big opposite world. A world that seemed to celebrate being in-the-know, yet paler compared to all the dazzling lights, and pretty bows it displayed..and I could only imagine there being a logical answer behind it.

I could sense there had to be SOME reason behind why all the adults kept the lies up, and that, from this moment on, the hidden secret as to 'why' would be my next sticker to remove.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Body Rockin' High

 

I couldn't believe it, after nearly a decade of taking ballet class, I was finally granted the freedom to not attend anymore. It's not that I didn't like going, but the hours were intense, and they took dedication- dedication I simply could not find as a beginning sophmore in high school, being more concerned at the moment about finding the meaning to life, than formal schooling. 

 

Let's face it, they don't offer a required course in learning to 'be here now', or finding ones 'bliss' at the local high school, let alone a course in shamanism, spirit guides, or simultaneous realities. I simply HAD to know, and I sure as shit wasn't making MY priorority learning anyones elective.

 

Ballet had to go, and make room for a lit cuppa at the local coffee house hanging with Burroughs&Morrison one day, Jane Roberts & Lao Tzu the next, and I was happy to make the trade-off.

 

I only had a couple more ballet sessions before the end of the semester, and would never have to practice again.

"I can't believe they were so cool with me stopping. Thank god. I will miss it though- it wasn't ALL hard" I said to myself, as I shuffled my way through the long high school corridor between classes.

 

I started to consider the time and effort I had put towards dance over the years, thinking about the very first time I started class at age 6.We were all there on a Saturday, near the end of the class, and all the parents were piled into the waiting area, ready to pick-up, watching their special primaballerina create  magic amidst the misstepped pointy pink toes.

 

"Alright, let's begin" the teacher would say.  She had just shown the whole group what to do beforehand, as she had outstretched her long towering leg, then slowly pointed her narrow toe, and tapped the ground lightly in front of her.

 

The piano player lifted her hands, and plunged into the piano keys, and the music began. Our teacher, Miss C started the foot motions again, and very slowly so, as everyone kept watching on in awe and amazement; The foot matched the timing to the beat of the sound! Unbelievable to the average 6 year old, in truth.

 

"Let's try it again, THIS time I want to see you put YOUR leg out and try, not just watch me, ok? Let's begin..". 

 

The music started, and half the class pointed their toes, while the other half just stood there watching Miss C repeat the step again.

 

Yep, it was a room full of Baryshnikoves to be sure, and after a few weeks, the group managing to get their tootsies out there to the beat was a real achievment:

 

"Ok,let try this again from last week-but this time, let's not look at our FEET while we do it- Let's keep our head held HIGH" she began as her neck suddenly grew 5 inches taller, and started to beam, " I want you, to pretend that you have a DIAMOND.." she continued as her eyes got sparklier by the minute "....A beautiful diamond that sparkles in the sunlight...".

 

The class perked up as we imagined some sparkly bauble with super powers lingering around our necks:

"..Your diamond is SPARKLING,and is beautiful to see! So let's keep our heads UP while we point our toes. Ready? Let's begin.."she said in a methodical lull.

 

The music started, as everyone got into position, ready to begin, with their diamonds shining bright enough to power the headline signs of Broadway for years, but after two cords or so, DOWN went the bobbling heads, back DOWN to watch their feet again, mine included.

 

"What happened to your diamond? Did we forget to shine our diamonds?" Miss C asked the group. "Let's try it again, but this time I want everyone to keep their heads UP, and SHINE their diamond forth- like a beautiful necklace..Ready? Let's begin.."

And as the piano started, the group looked back down at their feet.

 

"Let's stop for a moment, and really imagine what our diamonds look like. Can you SEE your diamond on your neck? What color is it?" she said.

"Mines pink" one girl piped up.

"Very pretty! Now, imagine that beautiful pink diamond SHINING OUT, like the sunshine- for everyone to see.."

The girl sparkled with attempt.

"Very good! Everyone see how S is doing that? See how she keeps her head UP when she points?." Miss C proclaimed as everyone looked at S with awe. 

 

"Dang, why does SHE get a pretty pink one? I did not think of that...this diamond could be anything I want! Hm..maybe I should imagine a really BIG one, like one the size of an APPLE- I bet it would make this toe pointing thing easier to pull off if everyone's staring at THAT big ol'e thing..." I said to myself, as I attempted the footwork, and I looked forward at a wall.

 

"Let's begin.." Miss C announced.

And the music started up, with crashing heads smacked back down to the floor, right on time- but THIS time, something stuck! My diamond was REAL, and I had not forgotton about it.

 

"This is weird" I thought to myself, as I concentrated on what my feet might be doing without me seeing them "..Just. Don't. Look...Down.." I said to myself as my eyes started peering downwards, "DONT DO IT! WHERE'S youre diamond Li??" I said to myself as I snapped my head back up."What the hell are my feet doing though..? I side-eyed around the room to see what everyone else was doing. "Yep..that LOOKS like what I THINK I'm doing..."

 

Soon the song was over.

 

"Very GOOD LI! Everyone look at LI." Miss C said to the class.

 

I was stunned.."Holy smurf, I did something right- I found my diamond!"

 

 

 

 

 

 

They Went In Two and Two

 

Over the years, my skills improved- slowly but surely, painful foot cramp after painful foot cramp. Memory of motion upon memory of motion, until the motions became second nature, and the memory became the mind.

 

Fall or spring, rain and shine I was there in the studio, keeping my shoulders down, my spine lifted, and knees rotated in correct alignment above my feet. 

Some days I was tired, some days I was excited, some days I felt reinvigorated, and some days just dead ass exhausted and beet red with sweat by the end of a class- but no matter what transpired within me, I grew, and progressed at the barre... and it showed on the floor- you know what I mean, when that 'moment of truth' arrives (usually for a compassionate 20 minutes or therabouts)...to see how you do without a support.

 

"You have one friend in dance, and that is the floor. I suggested you get to know it well" Miss C would say, as well picked ourselves up for another sweaty round of developpes.

 

"LIFT yourselves..Imagine someone pulling you- holding you up by your hair..THAT is your center. THAT is your pillar of strength" Miss C would remind us as we would lift ourselves ever so slooowly from a 4th position plie.

 

 

"Breath OUT on the lifts....This is not HARD- these jumps are for your RESTS, and ENJOYMENT: You have a moment in the air to regain your strength before you LAND AGAIN- I suggest you jump high, and use the time generously" she would add on, in between pa de chat jumps across the floor.

 

"LET"S BEGIN" She would announce, because now we knew the truth of the effort- both in time and dedication, both student AND teacher would NOW be revealed.

 

And we became better and stronger with each attempt, willing to put more energy into the steps than the last 10 times we tried it. "I KNOW I can do this step better dammit!...Everyone else is keeping up- I KNOW I can do it better-Wait, what's the next step???- Oh crap..what do I do next?" I would say to myself as I tried to keep up and glanced my peepers towards other students fancy footwork; We looked to one another, not only as competition, but as a source of salvation simultaneously. Even students who you were CERTAIN knew the steps perfectly, every now and again, you would catch a look, or a glance of uncertainty coming from the most surprisingly advanced students once in awhile.

 

That teacher knew PRECISLEY what we were willing to invest too. She knew exactly what sort of energy the class had, and pushed us to our very maximum, yet never broke us:

 

"You know, we've been at this awhile now..if you simply aren't ENJOYING the dance, then I don't know why you would take it. Dance is not the act of going through motions. It is an embodiment of sound, with the art of expression. Smile, enjoy this gift you are giving to your audience. You are there to exhibit the grace that IS movement" she would say poetically, and gently, as we poured icey water down as fast as we could from our water bottles, panting in the summer sweat of the room, waiting for the next round to begin.

 

 

 

"Time for Grand Allegro! Let's go!" Miss C would announce as we would line up at one end of the room, and get ready for the largest jumps one could manifest- and you would be surprised that by the END of class, after all that other body work, that the jumps weren't as hard as you suspected, that the jumps were actually the SURPRISE ending you had no idea was coming; that all those footworks, and barre excercises was for this LAST part, of being able to whoosh through the air, and FLY. Like a graceful shooting star, or a flying angel.

 

And we would fly in pairs.

The best students always lined up first.

And it was always like that.

 

I was actually pretty good with timing, but not always so good with choreography, and hated the dumbass best-to-shitty pecking order, and chose the pacifists route of going on last- just to make it easier on us ALL, and I seriously did not want to contend with unnecessary systems.

 

 

 

 

Until one year, this girl.....T. The music was blaring, and the really decent students had long since jumped, so it was NOW just the newbies & unncoordintated who were left, T included:

 

 

"Go ahead" T said, who was ahead of me.

"No, YOU two go" I said as I nudged her attention forward, and the piano teacher played louder.

"No, I go last.." she announced, as she walked to the back of the line, as cues were being missed, and the advanced students were now soaring back towards us, leaping into the air, on their way to the return.

"Ok,so, who is going next?" I asked to see where her partner flew off to since she had seemed to have run off to join T in back, while mine had decided to join the other two behind me to make a 3rd.

 

 

"What's going on? Why is NO ONE dancing???" Miss C asked the group.
The music stopped., as the teacher walked over.

"What's the problem?" she asked again.

"T wants to go last, and I don't have her partner to go next" I piped up. I wasn't there to play line games, it's just that as last person, you sometimes jump by yourself, or tag on third behind team of two, but today we had even pairs, and this new girl was breaking teams by wanting to go lastly, and soley.

 

"Well what about F....K?" She asked two other girls who looked just as confused as I did.

 

"I wasn't sure if I should go with Li, or go to the back of the line with T" said F.

"Yeah- I just joined these other two" K tagged on.

"Well you see Li standing there next to you, don't you?" Miss C asked F.

"Yes" replied F looking nervous.

"Then you need to fall in line, and go out there no matter WHO is next to you"

"Oh" replied F.

"Shuffle into lines of two, and pick a line..honestly, if this was a performance the music would NOT stop because you're confused....." she looked rather agitated as now everyone was stuffed into the waiting area, antsy for the class to be finished, and ready for their nights to begin.

"....and Li, next time go ALONE- just because THEY don't remember what to do, doesn't mean you CAN'T" she tagged on.

 

"LET'S DO IT AGAIN" she announced.

The music beagan:

 

Whoosh! 

Up up up we went....

.....breathing gulps of air before we landed.

 

I was actully pretty good at that- floorwork in pairs. There is a certain coordination that takes place with dancing in groups, and I would miss that now that it was all over. I would be going it alone, as indeed I should have known to do all along.

 

 

"Yeah..that was a lot of fun" I said to myself as I pushed the exit door open next to the gym hall, and walked down the brick and cement stairwell, and through the maple leafed pathway. 

 

 

 

 

I Want Body Rock, Body Ody Rock

 

 

 

 

All that effort would now vanish with one step, and I wouldn't be expected to do it ever again.

Stopping was bound to happen EVENTUALLY- I mean, I wasn't going to join the local ballet company, and dance professionally.

Yet, it was still like a funeral for an unkown soldier, mourned only in the the silence of my dancing thoughts and reflections; my tiny dancer in my head, dancing soley for me, eternally spinning spritely.

 

What I was REALLYgonna miss, was those rock solid workouts. They kinda sucked initially, but boy, did I ever feel great after a hard session. "Damn. I don't know what I'm gonna do about THAT" I said to myself as I sat at the table with a piping hottie, and cracked open a new book on 'aura colors and their meanings'.

 

I was starting to really consider my decision at this point. I hadn't weighed it out fully: the dedication I had put in- that had molded my body to a certain extent, and I wanted to keep my efforts after all.

 

"Damn. I mean, anything I replace this class with will take TIME, or more CLASSES or BOTH.. I wish there was something I could do on my own that didn't require a whole fucking gym..I mean, God did MAKE US with ability, for fucks sake" I thought to myself as I put my coffee mug into the grey rubber dish tray, and walked out the door.

 

"Well, I'm certainly NOT going to let a lack of classes prevent my performative abilities..I'll just get a barre, and practice at home then." I said to myself as I walked down the long cement sidewalks, and past large, golden lit houses glowing against the darkening cobalt sky.

 

But when I got home it was another story.

 

"Hm. I never really thought about it..there is no real good space to really put a barre in here. God dammit. Why is it constantly all or nothing?" I said to myself discouraged about the prospects.

 

"Well..I can AT LEAST keep up with my stretching...and I swear to GOD I'm not going to let this lack of space thing hinder my elasticity by any means. I KNOW I have room to stretch out on the floor in my bedroom at least" I said to myself as I walked into the room to try out the space.

 

From that point on, I was lit. Like my own little 'flashdance' I was a manic on my bedroom floor, and I was stretching like I had never stretched before; Lifting my hands over my head, reaching my spine towards the ceiling.

"Kinda, thank GOD I stopped that class- I've never dedicated myself quite like THIS before" I said to myself as week three of home regime ensued.

 

And it truly WAS not like ANYthing I had done before; dedicating the same amount of time each week that I would to dance studio time, but now more focused on the stretching- and trying new things! Like twisting my spine while sitting instead of standing. Or curling my arms around my legs in some pretzel-like configuration.

 

"I probably shouldn't be doing this without my slippers on..." I said to myself as I sat in a squated lunge position, quite lazily, and hung there a bit half-heartedly in attempt, but felt a nice stretch in my thighs as I did so ,   " ..OR sit here all out of alignment. This is NOT GOOD discipline". I sat there to think about it.

 

"I guess class was really good for that. Hm" I thought, as I slowly lowered into the splits next"..no matter.. I quite like this everyday schedule instead" as a solid six weeks had flown by, and I hardly noticed a change in my fitness  at all.

 

In fact, by NOW, I had pushed my elasticity well beyond my regular limits, and I was happy with the notion. "That's right. I walked away and EXPANDED my ability... In fact, I'm gonna go do some stretches right NOW- Don't even care that I just finished my sets- gonna go do ANOTHER round just cuz I CAN." I gloated to myself, as I headed back into my bedroom, so pleased that I had finally excelled at SOMEthing with my body- it wasn't leaps in the air, or quick footwork with snappy flair, no,but in some performative way, I had finally strived with ability, and WON this new winning- even though there was no one there to hand me flowers.

 

Back and forth I stretched, breathing in and out, looking at the sunset hitting the brick walls, and back stairwell of the building just opposite the alleyway of which my window faced. I would oftentimes look at the sunlight hit the orangy brown tone of the mortared stacked recatangle patches, and see the vivid blue sky and white clouds pressing its shine just above it- next to the sharp border of the bumby umber brick line of the building.

 

I extended my limbs farther than before leaning over my thigh as I rested on the floor in the splits, splayed across the wooden floor so easily, and without any hinderment at all. I felt my head resting on the cold shellacked light-brown grained strips of wood, as a strange feeling suddenly took over me.

 

It was nothing I had ever felt before..I raised my head up, as a sensation took over my body entirely.

Not like a headrush, but almost like a few shots of tequila- but my head wasn't spinning.

What was this?

 

It was like morphine- all buzzy and aglow everywhere I sensed my body - which was everywhere, all at once. I got up for a moment.

 

"Oh wow. What is this?What the hell is going on..?" I giggled to myself, as I felt happy with this sudden rush of warmth and rapture, and decided to sit down on my bed, but instead smooshed into the blankets like a pile of laundry - just crumpled up into a pile of structure, and looked up at the ceiling, smiling to myself at this strange ability I had just found; like a hidden superpower gifted only to overzealous humans who had enough drive, and obsession to discover it.

 

Endorphin rushes were now unlocked, and that is how my adventures in yoga began.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

**************The Inside Track********************************

 

So, there we were, sitting down for the final hash-out. You know the one I mean- the one where one of the two is all 'ready to go', and is, at this point, just sitting the other person down to INFORM them of their decision to end the relationship.

 

"Li, let's talk" R said nervously, as he calmly sat down in a pool of sweat.

"Sure, R. whats up?" I said with a placid smile;I had just got home from a long day, and had been expecting the sit down for quite awhile now, and knew it was only a matter of time by this point; A loveless, relationless, sexless, interactivless, less-than-less state of emptiness had occupied our one bedroom apartment the entire past 10 months, and seemed more vacant now, more than ever:

"I found your diary" R announced.

"Oh?" I replied. I did not expect that as the opener.

"Well, yeah, I knew where it was" he said.

"So...?" I said sharply.

"So I read it" R stated firmly, and wide eyed.

 

Of course he read it. This was someone who wasn't ever going to get direct with me about ANYthing, let alone a feeling. I was surprised that he would bring up the infraction so easily, but figured it was his final stand of truth:

 

"I read about all those other people, and I just can't believe it" he said wih a broken voice, sounding like he was just warming up for a rant.

"You can't believe what, exactly. That you invaded my privacy? Or what you read?" I said coyly.

"I just simply can't believe that you did all those things, and you never mentioned a word" R declared.

"Wait a minute, it's MY diary right?" I asked him without hesitancy.

"Yeah" he replied.

"So, what makes you think everything I write is FACTUAL? Jesus christ R" I said, beaming directly into him...and this was entirely valid- especially since I was speaking to someone who claimed himself a writer, and while had not published a single scroll, I never held it against him.

 

But here I was, on trial for free-form writings which was apparently, never mine to own.  

He looked there with a stun of utter amazment..He hadn't thought of that:

 

"So, you left that there for me to find? Is that what your saying?" he asked me looking confused and upset.

"Oh my fucking god R, you think because I keep a journal and write things in it, I left it there FOR you?" I clapped back in utter disbelief, as I continued "....I mean, who the fuck THINKS like that..?Oh, wait. I know WHO: YOU. Only YOU would think, that instead of just telling you DIRECTLY- like I am about EVERYthing else, I'm somehow not being direct with you via passages in a journal" I remarked.

 

"Well no" R said, slumping back in his chair.

 

 

It was true, we hadn't had a heart-to-heart sit-down in a long time. The kind that explains why we weren't spending any time together.The kind that explains why there wasn't a smile in my eyes, or a song in my stories when we sat down to dinner- if in fact, we had free nights to do so, on those cold, dark November nights.

 

It was the only time of the day we saw one another, both being extremely busy with career; His consisting of a full time job, with a part-time teaching gig at night. Mine with a fuller work schedule at the school teaching, and finishing my associates degree with classes at night, or early mornings, or both. It made time togerther that much more valuable.

 

"So, you're saying NONE of it's true? I mean, my god, Li, if even HALF of it's true..I clearly don't know you at ALL. I thought we had a special connection to one another" he stated.

 

"We do. How are we not still 'us'? Because you read my writings? Look, clearly, you're gonna believe what you WANT to believe..no matter WHAT is fact or fiction" I said firmly. I mean, I wasn't gonna lay into the guy while he was on his throne of justifications and clear virtuousness; He had saved his 'Goodbye' for THIS very moment, and I wasn't going to stop him.

 

"THAT'S not the point, the point is, you didn't say 'ALL fiction', and that's enough to be upsetting" he said with a glare, and a wince.

 

"No, the point is, you felt a need to read my journal, which, could be about ANYthing..including it being fulling fictional" I replied, and continued my stance ".... I did not say if it WAS or WASn't, because it's not YOURS to know".

"Well is it?" he asked me.

"Is it WHAT?" I asked.

"IS IT FULLY FICTIONAL??" R raised his voice. He was clearly getting frustrated by the back and forth.

"THAT'S not YOURS to know- even if you read it front to back" I declared, and folded my arms.

"Well,I just can't trust you then" he said firmly as he raised back up in his seat.

"Then don't" I replied, glaring at him.

"What do you mean? You dont CARE if I trust you?" he asked me looking hurt.

"Do YOU care to trust ME? You read my journal, instead of just speaking with me..." I began.

"-But I did!" he barked, and jolted straight up.

 

That's right, he had. It was about 3 weeks ago when he asked me 'how I had been'. He had just gotten up from the bedroom, where he usually crashed, and asked me how I was doing before getting back to it. It's not that I held these small pockets of sleep time against him; with both of us working so much, ANY sleep was better than none at ALL, and during those longer work and school weeks, we were both slammed, and ready for a good nights rest, with or without extra dreamtime.

 

But that was LAST season, and now, he had not only continued on with the nappy tradition, but added sleep-ins to the weekends- which were normally filled with chores, and to-do's (not to mention homework).

 

"Yeah..that's right.." I began.

"That's right! So you really don't have any excuse!" he snapped.

"Well..I guess I just didn't feel like talking to you RIGHT then" I replied.

"But you felt like doing all that stuff I read about,right?" R asked.

"So" I replied. I wasn't going to dance around my writings, with someone laying into me.

"SO? You could have TOLD ME" R pleaded. .

"Told you WHAT exactly..Was anything in there about YOU?" I asked him blankly.

 

And there it was. The sad reality he was skirting around but didn't want to really face. I mean, it was easy enough to toss out accusations, but he was not really prepared to hear as to why they existed.

 

"Look, it doesn't matter if it's true or not- you asked me about how I was feeling a few weeks ago, and did not interpret that to mean 'let's talk about our relationship'. Honestly R, if you had something to say, you should have just said it, instead of just asking me vaguely between your naps" I replied.

 

He just looked at me with a scowl. 

I felt remorse for saying it, I really did. I wasn't trying to make a dig at the guy about his issues with depression, but sleeping was a result of it, and had turned me into rip-van-winkles not-so-engaged wife.

 

"That's really not fair, Li. You KNOW how much I'm working" he said with a pained tone.

"I know how much your sleeping" I said very matter-of-factly; I decided it was time to just rip this moment off like a band-aid.

 

I mean, I felt bad that we had gotten to this point, I felt bad that this was ending the way it was, I even felt bad that the guy ran across my journal instead of having a direct conversation with me first. But he was sleeping more than ever; whole evening snoozers could timelessly seize the next mornings afternoon with a 3pm hashtag ( #3pm), with early bedtimes to boot- after 4 years of being with this person it was starting to morph into a vague roommate than actual friend. And now reaching year 5, I was not interested in being anyones cryptkeeper:

 

"Really? Fuck you Li" he said angerly.

"No thanks, as you know, THAT'S not happening between us either at this point" I snarled..

"That's the thing Li, why didn't you just TELL me how you were feeling?" R asked me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Minnow Would Be Lost

 

 

I always thought actions spoke louder than words, and stared at him, looking perplexed:

"Was I supposed to shake you awake, in order to engage you?' I asked him. "Look, if you're beat, that's fine, but you're upset with the obvious..and the obvious is the obvious..."

 

Because it was obvious by that point; we weren't GOING to find a better place between us, and there was nothing to stop that now; We weren't married. We had no children, no shared accounts or obligation, and with very little interest or energy in resolution of the differences, seemed futile to hash everything out, blow-by-blow.

 

"Look, I DID mention that I wasn't happy. I DID say that I think we should consider getting separate places" I stated resolutely.

"Yeah, but you didn't say why" R complained.

"Actually, I did. I said I wasn't happy with the way things are, and that I might prefer to have my own place... It's not even that personal" I replied. Which was somewhat false- I mean, it actually WAS really personal; I personally wasn't happy, and at THAT moment pretty pissed off I felt compelled to LIE about it.

"Yeah, but I didn't think that you meant ending the WHOLE THING" R retorted.

"I mean, if that's how you want to interpret it. I'm not tell you what to want R, I'm telling you what I want" I said calmly. I seriously wasn't there to argue.

 

He just sat there in silence, as I joined him.

 

"Well. I don't want to do this, and you've refused to tell me anything which is why I already moved my stuff out, and anything I might want."He said.

I looked around the room briefly, and it did not look like much had changed.

"Fine" I said, although in the back of my mind, and pit of my stomach I cringed at the thought of having to magically pull the full financial weight of the bills- like paying the full 900.00 rent until the lease was over. I I found myself moving on to the practical side of the situation.

 

It wasn't that the exchange wasn't emotionally painful, but after months of the same dissapointment in a non-relationship it was more like finally pulling a thorn out, than some major explosion just brimming with frothy truth. Nope, now it was just warm, stale flat beer.

 

R just sat there looking stunned. Like there was more to say, or that I would say more. But what was there TO say? That I was left there to fully create, and put the energy into a relationship with a sleeping bear in permanant hibernation mode? Or that this was already over? I clearly wasn't responding the way he expected me to, and felt very little need, or energy to, especially since I had a pile of work I was already staring down to a midnight deadline.

 

It sort of made sense why I surprised him; he came from an incredibly involved family of Irish Catholics who expected sooner or later to see grandchildren, and some sort of recognizable lifestyle where we would join the clan, but neither one of us had any interest in kids, and it made our relationship a soft conflict in his world to begin with:

 

"It's not that you wouldn't get along with my friends Li, it's just that they are doctors, and professionals..you wouldn't have much in common with them- they are kind of above you in that way" he said to me, early on in the relationship, one late friday night.

I overlooked the comment as naivete, and eventually proved him wrong, but now felt very little need to prove anything at all, let alone what he might have stumbled across in my journal.

 

My journal.

Why did I decide to begin writing again? I hadn't had a book of writings since high school, and decided it useless as travelling cross country had no room for spiral upon spiral. But now that I was somewhat settled in this 3rd floor one-bedroom apartment (which housed a bat in the fireplace who I later befriended, and fed fruit to on the windowsill at night) seemed to easily touch the bright blue sky which beamed through the sunny livingroom windows. It was just the inspiration I needed to try writing again.

 

At the time, I was taking required college courses which I absolutely despised, and was trying to make the best of the work as much as I could, but it was taking a lot of effort and focus. I wasn't beading anymore, and had happily taken on a 2nd position at my local school where I taught, which natually was taking more energy as well.

 

Journaling seemed like the perfect outlet for getting some kind of creativity back into my life- one that wouldn't require a lot of deep skill, or thinking. Just scribblings of passing thoughts, and events which seemed to have transpired right in front of me without any time to process or consider. Like a Now-and-Later candy, I was definitly saving these  'Nows', for later. 

 

It's just that one of the 'laters' had finally arrived, and I was still trying to find out where NOW was....and now, it was gonna just be ME in the place- no extra sleeping bear to chainsaw up the walls, no empty shell to mimic what a relationship should feel like, no person there to be a constant dissapointment.

 

It wasn't all bad though, and I would miss the good parts too. I had, after all, been the one to suggest the move to begin with; he had been living in the city, in a shabby house with 3 other roommates, but were now being removed by the owner who decided to stop renting after a contentous heating bill ran up, on their run-down boiler:

 

"Well, I mean, you guys have a new apartment NOW..." I mentioned, after he moved out and found a new crib with the others.

"Yep, but it's not really working out, and it's way far away from both my job AND the college.." R sighed.

"Maybe you guys should move north.". I suggested

"WHERE though Li? There's no WAY we're finding a house or 3 bedroom for the price all three of us can afford" R replied.

"Well what about you?" I asked him.

"What aboout me, WHAT?: he replied.

"What can YOU afford?  We've been together for awhile now, and my basement apartment is getting small- how about we find a place north, TOGETHER?" I suggessted. I wasn't sure if was such a good idea, but I just blurted it out, feeling open about a lifestyle change.

"Oh.. I dont know Li... D, J, and I have kind been a team.." He began.

"-but you said it isn't working out" I stated looking puzzled.

"Well, the living is Ok.." he began.

"Whatever you want to do R- but you mentioned the burden of travel time, and you drive. Its not like D or J have to worry about that- they don't have cars, and both of them work in the city and take the El" I stated.

"I know, but I'de hate to just walk out on them.." he replied.

"Look, talk to them, and do what you want. When is your lease up anyway?" I asked

R thought for a moment, then looked over at me and said "In March".

"That's like 2 months away" I said, and continued '..my lease ends in May, that would give us time to figure it out, if you want to do that with me. I know a lot of places open up in the spring because of university kids moving out".

"That's true.." R reasoned.

"Yup" I stated," AND that WOULD give them both enough time to find a replacement if they wanted to stay there..."

He looked at me blankly, so I continued "I mean, if you dont want to live that far away from work-that's the thing. It's not that you dont WANT to live there, but you also gotta do what best for YOU....and if gas is costing you twice as much, and the parking is shitty getting home late at night after classes, why WOULD'NT you move closer?...just sayin'" I finished bringing logic to the table, and leaned back on the couch to smoke a bowl.

 

 

And that was all it took to really convince the guy- it made economical sense, and we seemed to have a pretty steady thing going on between us, especially with our visits to his friends and family.  I was well received more than he had anticipated, and it put his mind at ease when it came to a premarital living situation. But when the actual move-in time came, he seemed to feel right at home, without the slightest hesitation. I was surprised by that in the beginning, but now saw our wall-to-wall pad of possibility as padded in memory foamed stagnation and regret.

 

"This is not going to be fun come move out time" I said to myself, as I looked around the livingroom at the 6 floor to ceiling bookshelves, half empty from his removal.

"What's that?" R asked me as he grabbed a few more books from the shelves, to take along as a last minute resolute sweep away.

"Oh, nothing. I was just thinking about how much work we put into moving in here" I remarked.

"Yeah, well you have less things to worry about now" he said abruptly.

"I sure do" I replied.

"Do you want the keys back? Are you going to get a roommate?" he said as he walked towards the front door.

"Why would I do that..?" I asked him.

"Well.." he began-then decided to stop speaking, realizing it was none of his concern.

I placed my hand out.

He reached into his back pocket, and pulled out a jangly set of keys, and proceeded to pull them off the worn split ring.

"Well, I'm really surprised you have nothing else to say to me. I mean, we did after all spend nearly 5 years together..."R said.

"No we didn't" I replied.

"Yes, we did" he shot back.

"Well, you spent half of it sleeping and the other half working, but you managed to have time to fit in lunches with your ex-fiance" I said. I mean, he wanted something to talk about, why not something relivant to the discussion?

 

(Oh yeah, I should have mentioned that earlier- He casually spoke about it one late saturday afternoon when we were reading in the livingroom; how a recent lunch the two shared was particularly enthralling).

 

"So? She called me out-of-the-blue, and wanted to get together.. Is that what's been bothering you?" he asked, me looking seriously concerned.

"Nope. I know you two are friends. Please go" I said. It was well past the hour of unpacking, and I now had the keys in my hand.

 

"OK" he said, and off he turned towards the front door, and walked down the creaky wooden steps, past the sunny windowed hallway, and out the vestibule door.

 

Click.

I dead bolted the front door behind me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did I....

 

 

A couple days had gone by, and I was finally feeling alone in the apartment, knowing no one would be there when I returned.Knowing no one would be there to greet me with snoozes and blankets, and no one would be there for dinners either. I was feeling saddened by the ending, and wasn't so certain I had handled things correctly, but didn't see how it could of gone any other way than the way it was meant to have GONE, which was exactly how it went.

 

The empty space was still filled however- with my cats meowing, and rabbit who would come out from underneath the hutch to greet me by the front playpen gate every morning:

 

">Grunt< !" the rabbit noised. She was a tiny little thing- a mini-rex that I adopted from a family at the school I worked for. They didn't want her anymore, and when they offered the whole cage with her, I could hardly say no:

 

" Oh yeah..and she likes to hump cats" the mom told me as I loaded 'Shadow' into my bright red honda civic.

"Oh really..?" I turned around to look at her.

"Yep. She did it with Ralph the cat, and she did it with my sisters cats too. She isn't fixed, that probably has something to do with it" she smiled.

"I guess so.." I began," Well, Sammy will have something new to run from" I joked, as got in my ride, and sped away. 

 

And they weren't kidding- not only did she like to hump my cat Sammy, but despised everyone else, and let everyone else know that by simply grunting at them on the daily. A simple stroke on the nose was worthy of a bite, while food was literally ripped out from your hands like a snarly swipe at a craps shoot.

 

"This was fun when we fed her together.." I began to say to myself, "...but that sure as shit wasn't often.."

Then, I started to drift on the matter:

 

"Did I not include him with the rabbit? Maybe I should have told him more often about how much it meant to me when we fed her together.....

Did I demand too much? I don't think so..What was I supposed to do? Wake him up everytime I need to get laid?

Did I lie to myself about this relationship? I mean, he's some writer guy who seems pretty intelligent..Did I force this on him?

I really wasn't communicative when we parted ways..Did I end that right?  I mean, I feel concluded..but did I conclude it enough for him?"

 

On and on my mind chattered mental reels as got ready to leave, then locked the front door, and went off to work.

Vroooommmm!

 

"Did I rememeber to lock that front door when he left?" I asked myself; neither of us ever used the front door, since it needed two keys to get into, instead of the one for the back lock. 

 

"Did I just become the asshole?" I asked myself as the light turned green, at the main street intersection, vrrrooooommmm!

 

"God, I never saw myself as that..but when you neglect someone long enough, they simply move on. Did he not see that? Maybe I wasn't patient enough, and just don't know what real maturity looks like in a reltionship? Maybe I should have just been more understanding with all the sleeping.  I mean, we aren't married..Was I too demanding?.." I asked myself, as I walked out of the kitchen and into the classroom to the put the bright yellow plastic bowls of vegetables (which was apart of the students lunch), and placed them on the narrow synthetic wood grained table, between the small clear plastic cups.

 

 

"Maybe I never gave us a chance..Maybe I should have said more...I thought he understood, I thought he knew what I meant by it all. I mean, jesus fuck..I SAID I wanted to move out..wtf does someone THINK that MEANS? Why do I have to spell things out?" I questioned as I sat down, and opened the colorful glossy hardcover book to begin reading for the bakers dozen, at the green and blue oval carpet.

 

"I don't know..Did I really comprehend the nature of that relationship? I mean, why did we even get involved to begin with....? He was rude to me about the friends, he was surprised that people liked me more than he ever imagined..that's pretty fucked up.." I thought to myself, as I sat in the quiet naproom, with R. Carlos Nakai fluting away in the still corners of the silent sleeping atmosphere.

 

"I don't know what I was thinking...His was obviously tight with his family, and not over his ex...Did I not make enough of an effort- or maybe he?....Maybe this was just wasn't meant to last.." I reflected, as the class ran around the playground, zooming on tricycles, and zipping down slides in the crisp cold sunny afternoon air.

 

"God, I'm really fucked on money" I reflected "I have enough covered for this months, and nexts...but the one after that...where am I going to find another 500$?" I started to really worry, and could feel the twinge of sharp pain, and andrenaline running up my spine. " I might have to ask my parents for that..dammit" I started thinking about the whole 'ask' that might have to ensue.

 

It's not that asking was not welcomed, or that money wouldn't be forthcoming, if in fact available- I mean, I was lucky that I had it like that, no doubt, but I had it like that because I never asked for it.

My family hardly had the bankroll, but they saved and was wise enough to have their savings. And that's exactly how I saw it. As THEIR money and savings. I was a whole grown ass adult by this point, and no one wanted to be on-the-hook at family gatherings; that would just put a bad taste on the menu for EVERYBODY around the holiday table.

 

Nope. I would be better off leaving these problems to myself, but how? I was already working as many hours as the school would give me (36 or therabouts), and school was kicking my ass for the rest of it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Never My Love

 

 

I started to panic, as I woke up to the realization that I had absolutely 0 fuck income to pay for this last months closing rent, and what was worse; needing ANOTHER set amount for a security deposit on a NEW apartment to rent out afterwards.

 

Not to mention movers.

When we moved into this 3rd floor apartment, we decided right then and there to rent, as we checked the place out:

 

"Hm...looks great, but it's on the 3rd floor Li..are you sure you want to do all those stairs?

Nope, not really, but the price is right, and look at all the sun in the livingroom! I could grow Calamondon like I wanted!

"What?" R asked as he stepped out of the dark, and quiet back bedroom.

"You know- those little trees we saw at Gethsemane Gardens!  It makes little oranges for marmelade"

"Oh, right, right" he replied as he walked into the brightly lit long, narrow, ivory tiled bathroom.

 

It was an strange shaped one bedroom, in an S shaped kind of a layout, with a large white painted fireplace, and sunny west facing windows shining in front of it. The owers were very stern when showing us around:

 

"Well you know, this is a very well-maintained place. We don't like anyone destroying walls. You two have books you say? How do you plan on keeping all of them?" M asked. He was a short, pudgy man with scrambly brown hair, a large bulbous nose, and pot belly hanging over his jeans. His coke bottle glasses hung near the edge of his hairy nostrils as he stared at R.

"Don't worry, we have large book shelves for it all" R replied.

"Ha! Well THAT'S an aweful LOT of HAULING up and down the stairs..Are sure theres enough room?" he asked.

"This place has a TON of room" I chirped.

"No, I mean the back stairway- that's the loading path..you might want to go measure and make sure. Ha!" he gloated, and folded his arms.

R dashed off to the back stairs to measure with his handy measuring tape he kept in his overfilled leather coat pockets. Like a squirrel, he always had little bits and bobs with him, for whatever occassion or camping excursion one might need in the greater Chicagoland area.

"LOOKS FINE" he shouted.

"Looks fine" I repeated, and smiled at the fellow.

"I figured it would" he said beaming with pride.

"I think this place will work out well for us" I said, happy as a lark in her new nest.

 

But now the eggs had cracked open, and the Calmondon plants sat there, dead. They had been infested with bugs from the store itself, with no bug product known to man in which to save them. They simply withered away, no matter what new and improved bug spray I tried. Hippy organic crap or not- nothing worked.

It was time to fly the coop, and needed roughly $2000.00 to make that flight a reality, ready or not, come 2 months from this exact moment.

 

"I am so fucked" I wimpered, as my eyes started to well up with tears. "Don't get emotional Li, you're at work" I said to myself as I pulled a few tricyles off to the side of the bike path, making way for a few speeders racing around the corner.

 

Time was passing quickly, and the sun was starting shift in the afternoon sky, as busy commuters made their way home for the evening, it was still brilliantly light in the sky- an oddly sunny day, after a long and dreary dullish, mourning over the earlier part of the week.

 

"I seriously have no fuckin' idea, what to do.." I thought to myself, as I struggled to NOT think the thoughts that started unpacking themselves no matter what. I had shoved the feelings out all day quite well; It had been less than a week since the walk-out, with very little time to process everything in between, while simultaneously being filled with these dumbfuck courses that I hated, and didn't know if I was gonna pass anyway."..and I was so cold-heart to R when he left...".

 

I looked past the playground fence, at the cars passing down the bustling suburban road. Most everyone had these large bronco truck style cars at this point, making the vehicles super massive in impression, and somewhat noisy, as I heard the engines get louder while zipping by.

 

"....I.... don't know what I'm doing anymore" I said to myself, as lines ran down my face. I mean, I USED to create with my beadwork, and that was gone. I USED to have a relationship, and that ended, and I USED to have a sense of security, which is now nowhere to be found...oh, wait! With homework assignements I can barely follow. 

 

Just then I heard a roaring engine from the main road. I looked up to see this larger truck accelerating faster than I thought those cars could possibly pull, and it started to swerve.

Next, it whoooshed even FASTER as it ripped onto another road, getting closer. It wasn't slowing down, as it was now approaching the corner of the school.

 

 

"Oh shit. Is this guy heading for the playground?" I asked myself wide eyed as I started to consider the chaotic velocity of four wheels getting larger, and the surroundings of my group. 

 

It got closer, as I stepped back and swallowed my adrenaline, ready to pounce.

 

But then, all at once, like a slow motion movie in kodachrome, the truck clipped the cement curbing with its tire, making a single >squeak< like a gymshoe burning rubber on a new shellaced baskball court, and proceeded to gracefully spin into the air like a ballerina. Spinning once, twice, and landing with a

 

CRASSSSSSHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

 

On its roof.

 

Cars started pulling over, people started racing to the scene.

I looked over at my students, who all happened to be on the other side of the building playing games in the field, and out of sight from the incident, with butterflies racing around, like I was standing in two completely different worlds simultaneously.

"Thank God..Ok, nobody saw that." I said to myself as I watched a police car arrive"  Except me..I saw it. So did those other cars, thank god people stopped to help them out" I said to myself.

 

But no one helped them out.

Because there was nothing to help out.

Not even after a dozen police, EMT, and firemen.

No one emerged.

 

I kept my eye on the road as parents picked up their kids from the school:

 

"Wow..something's going on out there..it was hard to get in the lot" one parent said as they made their way inside the classroom.

"Yeah, there was an accident on the road" I would inform them, with a chatterless, clear head and heart.

.

With my tears long since dried-up, and my petty problems shook right the fuck on out of me, I had been struck with a reality that slapped me anew: One where life is instantanous, and sacred, with very little room for interpretation in- between; all of MY lifes troubles simply died with that person, that very afternoon.

 

 Eventually, I  got home, and greeted my pets, made myself dinner, then finished my homework by my midnight deadline.... ready, to begin a new day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rocking My World 

So at one point in time, I found myself on this remote island, and was graciously taken in by a local who had an old wooden shack for weary travellers.

I couldn't believe our luck, as we had decided to leave one island, and take a chance on a new one to begin a more permanent off-grid life.

 

All we had or ever needed was on our two backs, and whatever we toted in hand, which wasn't much; a few blankets wrapped up, holding a couple of extra long eagle feathers we had found along the oceans treasure-filled shores, during our long walks that previous winter.

That, and a few tightly wrapped tarps (something everyone needs when hiking and camping), and a bag of snacks.

 

I wasn't so sure at first about this idea, as making a larger move was a big decision so late in the season; it was August, sure, but soon the winter winds would surprise us, and I was not interested in foraging a campsite all winter long.

 

We had already slept in some random fields when we first arrived, which was late in the afternoon, making our landing a solid nighttime for scouting, WITHOUT flashlight or moonrays to boot:

 

"Ow! Are you sure M? You want to just sleep here?" I asked M as he scouted around for a place to set up camp. We had just landed, and left the ferry & dock, travelled up the rocky dirt road, to find an empty field near some sort of well made building, but empty and locked up.

 

"Yeah..I don't see what choice we have..We can't very well go looking for land now" he replied.

"I thought you knew some people here?" I asked. I was surprised he didn't know more about this new island we had just rolled up on. I knew he had maps with him, but not an addy?

"I do, but I don't know where they are- there no phones here, remember?" he reminded me as he started to walk into a larger field area. I joined in the direction and said "That's right..well, when did you guys last speak?" I mean, was this invite during some passing drunken fire rager, or was this a legit open invite?

"Did you tell them we were definitely coming to visit, or?" I asked him.

"I did..they know...When they were visiting last spring, remember?" he reminded me.

"Oh yeah..I didn't know T invited us way back then..." I trailed off remembering the passing invite at a local community potluck at someones open drum circle, and art opening.

"Yeah..so we can figure it out tomorrow- do we have any bread left?" M piped up, turning around to see.

"I think so, there's bread....and some cheese, I think...and a banana.." I mumbled as I started to look through the sack , which was really more a feel thing than a look thing by this point; No moonlight was a real problem by now, and stumbling around on new lands, in the dark, with one hand in the bag, was really no way to exist. How the fuck did I find myself in THIS situation? At least the stars were out, and of that , there were a million. I could see a few falling nightly in this majestical place, which was pretty much all of Northwest Canada, and now was no different.

Pchooooo! One wooshed over Ms head, as I looked down at him.

"That's fine- and we brought blankets.." he said, as he started to unwrap the tarps.

"Sure" I replied, happy that we were stopping to set up camp. 

I opened the fabric wraps to reveal a crumpled clear plastic bag with half a loaf of bread, and a small block of cheese. "Here" I said.

"Lets just set up first,then eat" he said as he fluffed open the large plastic tarp and let it settle down unevenly on the grassy forest floor. I looked up to see a star shoot past and disappear forever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not Exactly

 

 

"So, you want to go find your friends today, or what?" I asked M, as we woke up rather unrefreshed, and early the next morning at dawn.

 

"We have plenty of time" he replied rising, as he slowly yawned while the misty morning air hit his pink frame against a purple sky.

"I know, I'm fucking tired still..." I grumbled off.

"I know..but we gotta get moving..." M said as began to pull supplies together while his matted hair locks tossed all over, ".. C'mon".

I dashed up with as much enthusiasm as HE was showing, and for 10 seconds that worked, until the drowsy haze of sleep kicked in..

"Oh please God, I hope we aren't here again tonight" I said to myself as I started to gather our stuff to leave.

 

Soon enough, we were back on the dirt road, choosing to continue our walk away from main shore.

"Wow..it's really pretty here- look" I pointed to an odd shaped house, which happened to cross our path at that moment..a single sign of residency, other than the main dock.  Although, not a house exactly; it looked more like a pirate ship that was sliced in half, and slammed up against a sheet of glass, from head-to-toe.

 

"Wow. I wonder who lives there...?" I asked M.

"Yeah, no shit" he said with wide eyes, and continued, "..Well let's go up this road, it looks like a split..I'm not sure where our friends are, but they mentioned that they were around others peoples places, and a lot of people living in THIS part of the forest. We might find them in that area".

"You mean, just start asking around door to door?" I inquired.

"Yeah..it's the easiest way" he concluded, as he pointed down at the map to show me where we were.

 

Oddly enough, the map was quite detailed and in a way, wasn't surprising as we had visited the local library just the week before to obtain an insanely detailed map of the place.

But this map had little details I didn't expect:

 

"Would you look at that..it has the post office on here...and the dock..look- they even drew in some landmark trees...I think they forgot the gnomes" I jested.

Just then, we saw a tall slim man with brunette hair walking towards us.

"Hey you guys..are you new?" he asked with an earthy smile. 

"Yeah, what gave it away?" M said laughingly.

"You pretty much BEING here gave it away" the man said, and laughed heartily before continuing,".. Who are you friends with?"

"We got invited by A and T- Do you know where they are?"M inquired.

"Ohhh A, and T..sure, I know them. You guys are pals, or what?" The man asked, as he drew out a handrolled cigarette from his pocket.

"Yep, we were all hanging out over on this other island at the solstice drum gathering-" M started.

"Oh yeah! Sure sure sure..I know people who go, but I don't leave this place. You know them from THERE you say?" he blinked at M as he flicked the lighter, and torched the wadded up tobacco stick in his mouth.

"Yeah" M replied, looking sharply at the guy, and left it at that.

I decided to speak up "We were hoping to find them so we could visit like we SAID we would..we were thinking about moving here".

"OOOHHHH, you wanted to MOVE here.." He started to laugh,"... THAT makes sense. It IS pretty here, dont you think?"

"Just gorgeous...I agree.. I came all the way from the US... that landed me here" I smiled.

"Really? You're American? I know Americans here..." the man said as he blew the smoke out, and sideways, into the air.

M started to frown, and interjected "Yeah, well I'M not American, and we WE'RE just visiting friends to START. No one's made any final plans YET. Do you know where they might be, or not?".

"Oh, sure, I get it..Tell you what, why don't you guys stay at MY place..I have an extra cabin near me, and see if we can't find your friends FOR you".

M looked over at me. I smiled in stun, and M replied " Sure. That sounds like a great idea".

"Cool. Well look, I'm just down the road, you can't miss it..I'm actually on my way out to the local pantry, but will be back in a hour or so....here, let me draw a little map for you." he said, and out of nowhere whipped out a pad of paper and pen, while is handrolled cigarette just dangled from his mouth sideways.

"Here..." and he began to point "...and you guys just go up there, and I'll see you soon-just don't let the cats out. I have the male and the female, and I don't let the them out during the day when I'm not there, because they can bother the ducks out back, and I just don't trust them! I let them outside when I'm there, and they make great helpers to keep the place clean, but just don't let them outside when you get there...".

 

"So how far is this" M began to ask "..Is this meters or what?"

I looked down at the scribbled page to see the jankiest, most nonsensical writing I had ever witnessed. I mean, a 3 year old could have drawn straighter lines then what was there.

"No, No..it's just up the road..by this arbutus tree...when you See THe MAILboxES.." the guy started to yell as he kept walking further down the path, away from us, leaving nothing but a waft of smoke in the air, and he soon disappeared.

 

"The mailboxes..What the hell is he talking about?" M asked rather mystified, as he looked at the map.

"What the fuck was his NAME?" I asked, just standing there looking rather frozen. I mean, it was 7am or some shit, we hadn't seen a soul since the ferry- which HAD people, yeah, but THEY all had rides, and were long GONE WAY before WE ever got up the steep HILL (which greeted us the night before). Plus, my blood sugars were dropping right about now as my hunger and morning thirst came on, with the sunlight beginning to come on brighter than ever it seemed.

 

"You know, M, the MAILBOXES" I said with an impish grin, as I started to skip up the road. "Let's go see, Let's go see" I sang out in a merry way, as I danced down the empty, early morning road towards the cool, deep dark thicket of the woods ahead. I didn't really feel like I had the energy for an all out adventure, but I really didn't feel like I had the energy to stand there in the beaming rays of this early morn, and so, I siezed the moment to blaze the way.

M started to trail me, and we soon saw a set of delapitated mailboxes made of old wood, and rusty nails- one was a deep blue metal box, bent over at its railing.

"See?? MAILBOXES " I smiled, as I started to look around. Just then I noticed a path through the grassy hill- right next to this massive arbutus tree. We stared at it in amazement.

 

Now, arbutus trees, also known as 'Madrones' are a really distinct and amazing tree, and if you've ever seen one (especially in the earlier morning light), would know exactly why:

With its odd, peeling bark trunks- a distinct rusty, burnt-sienna color that peels along the trunk lengthwise, in large, sweeping curls- not unlike the curvature found in thin onion skin layers- but then the layers curl UPON themselves, making a wavy pattern mass, floating UPON itself in coiling wafers only to reveal this yellow-green underbelly. The trunk is actually this lemony-green, which (when dewey or wet), looks bright green like a printed label on a can of green beans, making for a distinct and strangest of designs amongst the greenery backdrop of dark green sameness.

 

Of course, the branches and berries of this tree are also just as alien; boasting 3 color berries, in red, orange and yellow- they look like little beaded citrus fruits, all waxy and bulbous- and smell like Froot Loops cereal.

 

Right then I knew it was true:

RIGHT THERE when I smelled it! That Fruit Loops was never INVENTED. No. Someone smelled this fucking TREE, and wanted to EAT IT. Made sense to me, it smelled sweet as I grabbed some from the lower hanging swirled branches, and continued on my way up this new trail.

 

"Lets go!" I sang out, and bopped up the hill.

I was actually having a good time now, and was excited to see where this trail would lead. An extra cabin? An extra TENT? ANYthing would be better than sleeping in that open field another night, and I was ready to see what it was.

"Oh my god, that guys drawing is sort of making sense now" M laughed as he soon joined me off the main road, and were facing a steeper climb, up a large mountain:

 

"Why did you tell him all that information, Li?" M asked me.

"What do you mean?" I asked back.

"Well, about maybe moving here, and then you being from the US?" he asked rather curiously.

"Hm. Well, the guy sounds really fuckin' paranoid, and I figured, if I was really OPEN with him, that he might just TRUST us, rather than be suspicious..and really I didn't see that as a big deal." I added on.

"I guess, but we don't know him, that's all I'm saying. You just dont KNOW people" M said pensively.

"Oh jesus christ M, how BAD could it be? This place has what. All of 50 people on it? Think what you want. Look. He invited us into his HOUSE, didn't he? Just don't let those fucking cats out...mmm'kay?" I added, and started to laugh.

 

Up the narrow trail we went, as the sun was now bright in the morning sky, evaporating the early morning mist, and turning all the deep greens into a bright yellow-leaves smiling gayly all around, with pittering white butterflies zigging past our trail. I felt in my pocket, and touched a cold metal box, then pulled out some altoid mints.

"Here, you want one?" I asked M, and handed him the tin.

"Sure, thanks" he replied, as he took a mint from the can, and popped it in his mouth as we continued up the narrow pathway-which was now surrounded by ferns, and a canopy of tall trees making us feel like we just entered a cave of green and lush.

 

Very shortly, we saw up ahead the tip of a wooden structure. 

"This has got to be the place" M said.

"Is it?" I asked. 

We got closer to see a greyish, wooden structure, in a geometrical shape that was still, and quiet. There was a large glass window that reflected the green of the woods.

"Should we just go in?Or..?" I asked M.

"Let's knock, just in case we got it wrong" M suggested as we went looking for a front door.

Just then, BOOP! Up popped a white haired cat in the large window, and started rubbing on it. 

"This is definitely the place" I stated.

 We eventually found a door, went in, and made sure we didn't let the cats out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

His And Hers

 

We stepped in to a well lit area, that had floor-to-ceiling wooden bookshelves, a large black potbelly stove in the center of the room- next to a rocking chair, and two white cats sitting on a small squarish brown sofa- on the other side of the stove.

"Wow" I said "Check this crib out" as I started to look around.

"These must be the two cats" M stated, as he opened up his pounch to roll a cigarette.

"Meow" said a cat, as it jumped down, and started walking towards us.

"Oh, hello" I said, and petted one that was rubbing on my leg.

M blew out a big cloud of smoke, and walked over to look at the books on the shelves, as I saw a large brown bean bag chair in a corner, and decided to sit down.

 

So after what seemed like 4 hours, and a small sleep on the guys bean bag chair, we heard wrastling at the front door:

"No, you stay there Sir, Uh..no..you need to stay in there until I'm ready to go out..." a voice said over complaining felines.

We perked up, and looked over.

"Oh hey, I'm glad you guys found the place. I was gone a bit longer because I was waiting on word about your friends, and yeah, they know who you are- so I can show you how to get there, but I met them on the dock waiting for the ferry- They said they were leaving for a few days, and we decided to just let you guys stay HERE, at my extra cabin until they got BACK..it could be next week..or the week after.

I know you had mentioned MOVING here, so that would give me time to show you guys the places that are around..you know, see what's happening. Sound good?"

 

We were both kind of silent for a moment, just processing everything that was just said and done, while he continued "Oh Hey, my name is K" and he put his hand forward.

M got up from the smooshy bag, and walked over to shake his hand.

"Hi K, I'm M, and this is Li"

"Hey" I waved, and smiled gently as I started to pull myself together.

"M?Hi..Hi Li. So I have an extra cabin- it's nothing fancy, but it's an extra place people like to use to crash now and again, so there's all sorts of stuff already in there you guys can use. I'm not sure about the bedsheets, but I'm sure you guys have your own bedding, correct?" K said as he walked over, and sat down in the rocking chair.

M sat on the brown couch next to a cat.

"Um, yeah..Hey look, we want to thank you for taking us in" M began.

"Oh, it's not a big deal, people have to do it here all the time- and without technology, no one's really sure where anyone is, so.." he sort of half laughed.

"Oh, yeah..ha...Say, is that public phone at the dock, the only phone on the island, or..?" M asked him.

"Oh no no no..there are other phones, but most people don't really have them, being off-grid and everything...a couple of people have them- like the houses at the lagoon..they have some" he answered, and began to rock in his chair.

"Did you stop in at the bar and inn? They have a phone there too, I believe, but it's really only for guests who stay at their lodge- But for EMERGENCIES, you know.." he added on, as a cat jumped into his lap.

"Yeah..makes sense" M answered "That's a bar by the dock? It looked closed" he added.

"Yeah, well it WOULD- they are remodelling the bar part right now, so..probably nothing to drink right now, unfortunately" T said.

"Um, yeah, we didn't know if there would be ANYthing on the island AT ALL..so that's good to know" M replied.

"Sure" T replied as he petted the cat with squinty purring eyes, and rocked in his chair just stoic in feature.

 

 

We all kind of sat there for a moment, before T piped up.

"You want to smoke a joint?" T asked us.

It was such a random question, during this silent moment, but why not. I was pretty hungry by now, but smoke could sometimes take the hunger pangs away in a pinch.

"Sure" said M with a big grin.

"Good. Because I just finished a harvest, and I'de like to try it out, and see what exactly I'm dealing with this season. Are you hungry? I'm a vegan mostly, and have this brown rice..wait, let me check, oh yes, I have this brown rice, and vegetables I think..let me go check the garden out back..I think I have some squash" he said as put the cat on the ground, and got up.

"Anything is really kind of you, thanks K" replied M, and added " ..and Hey! If you need tobacco, I have plenty"

"Oh, not a problem." K replied as he reached over for a large wooden box that was on a bookshelf, and sat back down in the rocking chair.

"So, you decided you might want to live here?" K asked us as he began to crush up green plant matter on a little tray.

"Yep!" M began,"We are really looking to live off the land, and find a way to reconnect to nature"

"Oh, that's really good- well you definitely found a place for THAT." K said with a slow mysterious smile coming over his face and continued on".. but I say 'a place' because, you know, this is just one 'place' you could do that. Why here?" he asked.

"Haha, well, like I said" M began, "We weren't really sure, but A and T said that there were kind people here, and that we might like to think about having our idea here, on this island".

"Wow. I'm surprised they said that" K smiled, as he licked the edge of the rolling paper, and continued on "I mean, this place isn't exactly KNOWN for welcoming strangers.. Don't get me wrong- there's a lot of community here, it's just not something people are looking to EXPAND on, you know what I mean" he said, as he started to laugh.

 

After a few minutes, he produced a hand rolled spliff, and lit the tip. "I mean, SURE, a lot of people like the IDEA of being here, because of the freedom and whatnot..cough cough!!" K spoke as he handed the joint to M.

M inhaled it deeply, and smoothly blew out a ring in front of us, making all three of us pause to watch it dissipate.

"Yeah, no doubt, but we have a PLAN" M began confidently  "...I plan on growing, and Li is an artist."

"HAHA..everybody has THAT plan. Oh really, you're an artist Li? What do you do? " K looked at me, as M handed me the smoky stick.

"Yeah..." I said as I inhaled to doobage, and then continued in a withheld voice "I work with beads".

"Oh, she's really good- she make these little bags and anklets" M interjected.

"That sounds neat. What do you plan to do with it?" K asked me as I handed the J back over to him.

"Actually, on the ferryride over we met J&O, and J said she had a store here that I could put my work in" I said, smiling ear to ear as the buzz began to lift me off, and started to feel floaty and safe in the once unfamiliar cabin.

 

"You met J&O? That's really good- she has the only shop on the island here- that's really gonna be your best bet for selling". K said.

"Yeah, I couldn't believe we happened to have run into them on the way over. She really loved my work too- what were the chances?" I replied.

"I really wouldn't know, I never use the ferry" he smiled, and then asked "Did O offer you a place to stay?

"No" M stated.

"That's surprising- they usually help people when they arrive. Did they know you were visiting friends?" K asked.

"Yeah, but said they didn't know where they were staying here" M replied.

"Ah. They figured you would make your way there.. Well, good enough. Let's get the squash, and I can take you to the other place " K said as he got up, and stretched his arms towards the ceiling.

"Sounds good" said M, and off we went out back to the garden, and the cats came outside with us.

 

 

"Quack quack qauck qauck" went a small army of ducks rushing over to the rope and twig fencing.

"Now hush Biss" K started to speak to the one in front,"..they aren't going to get you while I'M here" K said gently as he walked over, while a few small ducks waddled back and forth excitedly.

"waaaawaaawaaawawaaaaaaaa..." the ducked cooed as he got near to feed them something from a nearby bag.

"These are my ducks, and they are very good females.. They make me eggs all the time, don't you?" K said adoringly, as he started to give bit of food from the bag.

 

"Ok, over here" K said as he pointed to a very slim trail which started just past the ducks wooden hut.

"This set-up is fuckin' cool" I smiled, and through the path we went, up the mountain further, and into the summer sun, only to soon see a large wooden shack, with a small porch, and a tiny, round window in its door.

"Here we are" K said, as he opened the door with a creak.

 

We walked inside, to see large windows on both sides of a narrow room, with wooden shelves everywhere else, while ahead of us was a wall-to-wall built-in wooden bed, on a wooden riser, with MORE shelving underneath it.

"Oh wow. This is great" I said, as I began to absorb everything in front of me.

"Yeah, this is really kind K, thanks so much" M added on.

"Like I said, not a problem, but again- I really don't know about the bedding. You know, you gotta be careful with bugs, and whatnot, but the rest of the stuff in here is free for you guys to use, so yeah. Enjoy" K replied.

I looked around, and saw clothing sort of half folded on some of the shelves, and a shelf that held an old bristly shaving brush, and ceramic dish- with more dishes behind it.I walked towards the large windows, and noticed a few shelves with books and comics.

I looked closer to spy some books with some esoteric titles, alongside some comic books entitled 'Elfquest'.

"What the fuck is an Elfquest" I said to myself, as I started to look through the stack.

"Wow, can't wait to dig into THESE" I said to them both, as I started to take a few items off the shelf to read.

"You guys can figure out whatever you want in here..I'm going to go make the rice..see in you a few?

"Yes, thank you " M said happily.

"Uh, ok..see you soon" T said, and off he went.

 

"Holy shit M. I did NOT expect this to go the way it did" I said to M somewhat surprised- like a cassette conversation we had put on 'pause' while we smoked a fatty, and now hit the play button to start it up again.

"I know, A and T are gone, and who KNOWS when they will be back" M said.

"Yeah, but we have this cabin now, so who cares?" I chirped.

"Yeah, but didn't you hear what K said, Li?  People are using this place ALL THE TIME. It's still summer, what are the chances no ones gonna need it in a week? In TWO weeks..? All IM saying is, we don't want to BE HERE when someone ELSE needs it too- if A and T are BACK, or NOT"

"I doubt that M..no ones coming here before then.." I began.

"Before WHAT....? Before A and T come back?  WHO KNOWS when THAT is" M said sharply, as I looked at him with worry, I was starting to get a bit concerned for where he was going with this, as he continued on.

"Did you hear what K said? He said that this is a pretty common thing, needing a crash pad...Plus, if J and O have an extra place like this one, it happens more than you think." M said assuredly.

"That might be true M, but if K and O have a place, couldn't new people simply stay there?" I started reasoning.

"Is THAT what you want to tell 'em, Li? If people show up, to tell them to 'just leave'? I don't think you're gonna have a SAY, let alone a bed..." M said with wide eyes.

"Well I doubt that would happen ANYWAY. BESIDES, K said he'd show you around the place, who CARES if A and T aren't here? We can go around with K, just as much as A and T could show us.." I said firmly.

"Maybe. But T knew of some really kind places for me to grow. The sooner I can set up, the sooner I can start growing "he replied.

"But K IS a grower, I mean, HE'S gonna know too.." I retorted.

"Yes, but K is looking for the same thing that I AM- he's a nice guy, but that doesn't mean he's gonna share the spots- and K would know WHERE, and where NOT to take me. T is a friend of mine, so I know I can trust him." M replied.

"I agree, but what else can we do? If A and T aren't even HERE, it's not like T is going to be able to help you out if he knows sweet spots, and the grow season is entirely over..." I said.

"Yeah.. I guess..I guess I'm just pissed off that A and T aren't here, and I wanted to get started" M grumbled.

"I know sweety, but I already have a place to sell my work, and J also offered me a cleaning job for a couple months...so we will have money" I reassured him.

"Really? I did not know that..That's really cool" M looked over at me.

"Yeah, so don't worry. I dont think A and T would leave us outside all winter long, and if they aren't coming back for all of winter, we can just crash their house" I stated coyly, and started to laugh.

"That's a good point" M started to smile, and continued "Let's go join K, and go see what he's up to".

"You go head, I'll be there in a few..." I said as I headed for my newly found stack of word goodies.

"Why, what's up?" M looked at me a bit perplexed.

"I just want to look at a few of these books" I stated, as I picked up an Elfquest comic, and started to flip the pages.

"Cool, see you later" he said, and off he went into the hazy shrubbery of birds singing, and little bugs whirring through a summer shine.

 

I looked down at my new selections, ready to see what they might reveal:

"Meditation...Auric fields..Ha! 'Be Here Now'- OF COURSE...What the hell is an 'Elfquest'? Sounds stupid'. I said to myself, as I started to get comfortable on the bed, which really wasn't as bad as the guy made it out to be; There were a few folded blankets next to some pillows,  on a yellowish flower patterned sheet which was stretched edge to edge over a fluffy cotton futon style mattress, of which there were two, making the bed feel very 'Princess and the Pea-esque' and so I decided to try it - to see what sort of lump it might reveal. I grabbed a pillow, and layed down. 

"Hm, this is actually not bad" I said to myself, as I started to breeze through a few of the comics pages, and then stopped to notice the sunlight peering through the glistening windows.

 

I looked at the sunlight hit the different glass squares, which suddenly flashed through deep amber brown glass rounds I had not noticed before.

"That's so odd, and creative" as I noticed that the top of the glass window panes were actually segmented slices of glass wine bottle bottoms, in various shaded of browns and green, and then suddenly yellows into a random orangy red, and then the amber browns continued.

"Wow. I wonder how many drinks it took to make that window...I bet it was the same fucking person who brought these Elfquests" I said to myself, closed the book, and went off to join M and K.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feline Antics

 

 

It wasn't long before I got to the place, and entered into an already half-smoked joint, as the smell of brown rice filled the air. The cats walking around the room, with their tails in the air, as they smelled ceramic dishes that were placed on the floor near the bookshelves.

"Hey" I announced. 

"Oh hi.." M said as he continued "...So anyway, yeah- I would think it's easier to try and use a fertilizer rather than composting,sure... but we're planning on growing off the LAND. So it's NATURAL"

"Yes, but what about when you drain your soil of nutrients? Surely youre gonna want to revitalize it" K asked him, looking rather confused.

Looks like they were in the middle of an intense discussion about crop growing, and both being farmers sounded pretty passionate about it. I mean, I WASN'T gonna get in the middle of it. So I sat down with a book I toted along, and listened half-heartedly:

 

 

"NoNoNo...that's the THING, you simply find a new place to GROW.." M explained as he puffed out a pool of smoke, and K chopped up orange squash bits, on a super thick chopping block with a heavy chopping knife as he did so.

"So you're talking a really small HARVEST then. Surely you wanted to pull in enough harvest to fund you all winter long?" K asked as he glanced up at M.

"No, that's the THING- we could simply ROTATE the areas every SEASON" M replied.

"Well you're talking an aweful large amount of land then..." K started to laugh, and continued "... and I don't know if you're really gonna find that HERE. You DO realize were on an island with really LIMITED landspace..?" K said dryly as he inhaled deeply on the spliff M just handed him.

"I looked at the map. I know what it shows-.." M began

K interrupted with "- That's what you KNOW, from a map.... right? That doesn't show the day-to-day SITUATION. Look. I will show you the places I KNOW, but that doesn't mean someone ELSE won't have a PROBLEM with it" K started to giggle.

"What do you mean?" M asked curiously.

 

 

Now, I should probably pause the story here to explain, that at THIS point in time, at THIS place in the world, growing weed was illegal, so no one was growing it on THEIR property.I mean, yeah..this government-free-I-do-as-I-please-fredom-trip might have made for an ideal LIVING situation in a lot of ways, it didn't mean there wasn't oversight. Quite literally- I had to hear that shit all summer long.

 

You see, because there wasn't a local policing body on the island, the govornment authorities circumvented any lawbreaking weed growers by flying choppers all around the place, making outright crops a no-go.

This meant that everyone was looking for spots that was on 'crown land' ( govornment, unowned areas), that was sunny, but also hidden- and of course, NOT on anyones property.

 

Of course, M was not aware of this before he had suggested we pick up and move here, and now it seemed that the detailed maps he had obtained the week prior was lookin' REAL irrelivant:

 

M looked over at me, and started to walk over to hand me the joint.

"Well, I mean how much product do you NEED? Maybe you don't need as much land as you think" I stated. It was a weak argument, but it was all I got.

"More than you would know, Li" M said as he handed me the brown crispy fire.

"Yep" K agreed.

 

"Well, isn't there enough room for EVERYONE to grow?" I asked.

 

And there it was. The question everyone was dancing around all joint long, and I just blurted it out. 

A strange pause took over cabin- even the cats seemed to be frozen in time, as the rice bubbled in the pan.

M stared at me in bewilderment, while K just glanced at me with a frowned thought.

 

"Well that's very interesting you would say that Li, very interesting indeed, because, as you know, there are many people here who grow..." K began.

I don't know what took over the man, but suddenly he had the vigor of 1000 wars, and I felt like I was in a motivational seminar or some shit, with the amount of energy that was flying around that room- I mean, he really wanted to tell me, and I really wanted to know:

 

"You're talking about LANDSHARING, and people DO do it, and they do it for good reasons, but everyone has different NEEDS for the product-most selling, you know. But some are for medicinal use, and of course personal." K smiled, and then continued "There is the F family down the road.. They have three kids, and need all the money they can make right now- so there's no WAY I would ask to share landspace with them right now..I would ask B, but you know, he just had a surgury, and I do believe he's splitting the land with his kid right now so they can help pay for the bills on all that.... I wonder if W would let you grow near him? They have room you know, but I DO believe that THEIR spot got busted last year, and is now a common area..you know..not a good spot anymore"

M looked concerned and asked "Well, where would be a good place to look for the amount of space we need? THIS side of the island, or the OTHER side?"

"I really wouldn't know" K said cryptically, as he turned the propane tank off, and took the fried rice and squash off the stove.

 

 

"Well it's not like THAT'S the only thing we can DO here, right M?" I smiled, and tried to be a cheer-up to a rather sticky flare.

M looked at me sideways, and replied "SUre"

I could see his ideas were getting dashed by a few new realities he hadn't seen coming his way, and added on;

"I mean, I do have BEADS..if I CAN find ways to do that here, ANYthing can happen" I smiled, and looked at K.

"Ha! That's true. There was is a small pencil factory here on the island" K agreed, as we all moved to the other room, and sat down to dinner around the potbelly stove.

"Really?!" I asked, half in disbelief..a fucking pencil factory..in the middle of nowhere, oh sure.

"Yep. They find dropped branches, and make pencils to sell on the mainland." K replied matter-of-factly.

"Wow...Where IS IT?" M asked.

"The pencils? They come from all over the island" K answered glibly.

"Ha..no, the factory" M asked.

"Oh, it's just down the road.. a staff of 3 I believe. But I think they stopped production for awhile" K replied.

"No one wanted pencils anymore?" I asked.

"I'm not sure" K trailed off.

"Well M knows how to do things that apply ANYwhere. He's actually a dulcimer maker" I replied with a smile.

"You play the dulcimer?" K asked M.

"Yup." M replied.

"He actually MAKES them, so yeah.." I added on.

"Do you have one with you?"K asked him.

"Not with the travel, no" M replied.

"Oh..that's too bad, there's quite a bit of musicicans here- They would have LOVED a dulcimer to add in. Oh well, you'lle make one soon enough, right M?" K started to laugh , "Yes, living here, you get used to multi-tasking" as he rocked in his chair further.

"I could see that" M replied with a smile.

"This is really good, thanks so much K" I said.

"Oh, no worries..You want some Saltines to go with it?" he asked us.

"Saltines? SURE" said M grinning ear to ear, then said "Wait a minute.. I thought you said you never LEAVE this place?"

"I don't.. I have someone who goes off island, and brings me back things. Plus, there IS a small local grocery- it's sort of hidden, but they have locally grown vegetables, and everything you need there" K answered as he popped a fried squash cube in his mouth, and began to rock in his chair.

 

He then put his bowl down on the small table next to him, and took out his magic box which was hidden in plain sight, and said "Did I tell you about my two cats?"

"You haven't.. Tell me about them" I replied as I was feeling well fed by this point, and happy to listen, but if I had known BEFOREHAND what I was unleashing with that answer, I would never had said it:

 

 

"Well, I have two cats. The male and the female. The female is very agressive, and the male not so much. You see, I had the female first, and so the male didn't hold as much authority when HE arrived.... but NOW that the male is OLDER -he's a lot younger and stronger you see- and so the FEMALE has to SHARE a lot of the spots that were once just hers."

 

"Wow" I replied, as I took a long drag of a cigarrette I had just finished rolling.

 

"Oh yes. The female likes to go outside, but the male is the first one over by the ducks. The male thinks I don't see him. And, did you know, at one time, I thought it was the FEMALE who was attacking Biss, but then I saw the male over there, so I knew it was HIM" K went on.

 

"It sounds complex..you know a lot about cats" M said

"Are you a veterinarian?" I asked him in jest.

 

"What? No." K replied with a stout face, and concerned brow"... But the male is actually a lot SMARTER than the female in a lot of ways..."

 

On and on this guy went about the cats like they were in a clinical test environment, and I actually started wondering if we weren't either. I was high as a kite, with no end in sight; I mean, I must've spent one of my nine lives listening to that shit.

 

M picked up a guitar which was hanging out in a corner, and started tuning it.

Light notes filled the air, as K grabbed a sherlock holmes type pipe out of the mystery box which was still on his lap, and started to rock on again in his rocking chair, listening to M play.

 

I was ready to go to bed, feeling pretty heavy from the long travel, and short sleep the night before; it was finally kicking in.

"Hey guys, I'm gonna go lay down" I stated as it looked like the serenade between the two ofthem was working out just fine.

 

"Cool see you later" they both said in harmony.

"Fucking bromances..jesus christ" I murmered to myself as I made my way back, past sleeping ducks, and a gentle night breeze.

 

Back to the dark cabin I retuned, and as the sun had now set, there wasn't a single ray in sight.

"Oh shit" I said as I stumbled up the front porch, and opened the door.

>creeeaaaakkkkkkk<.

I slowly felt my way along the bookshelves as I remembered one nearby holding a small candle and matches. I procured it soon enough, lit it, and made my way back to the bed where Elfquests were still waiting, and was where I stayed as I drifted off to sleep.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get Into the Groove

 

A few days had passed, and M was looking fervorously for a grow spot on the daily. I did not mind it so much as I had more time to read at the cabin, and lightly organized a few disheveled areas as well, especially after finding an interesting artifact right next to a small venus de milo statue on one of the shelves:

 

It was an interesting hippie handbook someone had hand-drawn, that had all these psychedelic images and moralistic sayings like " Cleanliness is next to godliness" and " Respect Mother Earth, she's the only mom you have" and decided to do both by giving the place a good clean sweep.

 

As I flipped through the notebook, I ran across this image of the cabin, sketched out in color pencil.

"That's fuckin' halarious..someone DREW this place while they stayed here, and decided to leave it" I said to myself as I started to look at the room, and compare to see what might have been the same and what had changed since drawn, "This looks like an exact copy..well..minus THAT".

 

I looked to notice an odd design under the bed in the sketch..a sort of tree root design.

That's weird..the bed used to have a tree root growing under it, or is that when the drugs kicked in.?" I started laughing".. fuckin' stoners" I said to myself, as I put the book down, and continued on with my day of organization.

 

A bit later M popped in.

"Wow! This place looks great!" M said all surprised.

"Well, it's kinds of crazy in here, and I figured we should probably at least TRY to leave it nicer than when we arrived" I stated.

"Your'e really gonna do ALL THOSE shelves? Ha" M chuckled. I looked over, it was true- I had pulled a lot of things off the shelves in order to clean and organize the items a bit better.

"Yeah... it looks like a big project, but really it's just organization, I think" I said.

"Well organize it quickly- I found another place to stay" M replied.

"Really? Where?" I asked with surprise.

"With my friends P and L.." M said.

"Who the fuck is that? I asked.

"You know. They were who A and T were with when we met them at the circle"M reminded me. 

"Oh yeah.. We didn't talk much" I replied. I had remembered them being there, but was busy elsewhere at the event, and just never made my way over to really meet the pair.

"Well they are here too, and said we could crash at their place for awhile" M replied.

"Okay, do they have a bed, Or?" I asked M.

"I really don't know Li, but I'de rather go hang out with someone I know, and see what places P might know about for growing" M said firmly.

"I understand, and I agree. If I have to hear another fucking night about those two cats. Jesus fuck" I grumbled. 

"I know" M agreed,"Why don't they have NAMES?".

"I'm not sure, but maybe he thinks they don't listen to him ANYWAY. Fuck, I know I don't want to" I replied, then asked "Whendo you want to tell K that were leaving...tonight? or.."

"I think later on tonight." M said.

 

"Oh hey guys..Oh wow! This place looks great" K announced, as he suddenly popped in through the front door.

 

"Oh hey K ,we were just talking about our plans, and ran into some friends of mine" M said.

"Oh really? Whose that?" K asked him.

"Just some other kind people we know..."M trailed off.

"Well I know everyone here, who would that be?" K asked him with a smile.

"You know P and L?" M asked K.

"Hm..I don't think I do.." K said with a frown.

"Yeah, well I'm not sure they are LIVING here, I think they are just house-sitting someones PLACE, so.." M replied.

"Oh, well it sounds like you guys have a place to stay then..that's good" K smiled, then asked "Are you going tonight?"

"No..They have some dinner that's going on.." M began.

"Oh yeah- that's S's thing..she has a dinner that she does..Ok, sure.. Well, let's see what I have at the house, and meet you guys back here, sound good?" K asked us both.

"Sure" we both chimed.

"Wow, Li, place looks great. Thanks again- everyone appreciates it- the cabin goers I mean" K said with a smile.

"Anytime K" I said, as he walked out the door and down the wooded path. I then turned to M and  said "Well, that was easy".

"Yeah, I wonder why he doesn't go to that dinner." M asked suspiciously. He had seemed to cool it with K and spent the last few days dodging conversation, and keeping busy by looking for grow spots. M was fine with K when we first got there, but was getting tired of the one-on-one engagements that K was entangling M in. It's not that M didn't like back-and-forth, but M, in a lot of ways was very much like me; preferring the sounds of silence in between the peaceful notes of nature, feeling akin to music of our world, dancing harmoniously all around us, without any words at all.

"Maybe he wasn't invited" I replied.

"Maybe he's not going because WERE here" M said.

"I doubt THAT M, but now that we are leaving tomorrow,we can have one last night with the guy.... I'm sure he would have stayed home regardless of US being here" I reassured him.

"I guess. Maybe they don't like him" M pondered.

"I mean, he DOES on and on about those fucking cats" I said with a grin.

 

And it was true..this was day 5 or 6 on bromance&cat affairs, novels&spliffs, ducks & a summer breeze. And while it was a fun summer vacation in a lot of ways, it was also starting to feel real crusty like the stale millet he was feeding those two cats on the daily.

 

Lets pause here for a moment. Fucking millet. What was the deal with hippies and millet. I could never figure it out. You'de think the go-to would be wheat, or oats, or even some soy bean, but no. Millet was like God's gift to hippies, and boy did they like to worship. This island was no different; it was a whole 'thing' there- to ethically only feed ones cats millet grain- under the notion that cats didn't need anything else (being avid mousers), and could EASILY forage for themselves off the local wildlife. So all these desparate cats there were eating millet grain like it was gold, and living in the woods as often as they could spy a snack. It really wasn't surprising that some cats simply went wild, and made their own way on the island. And without any sort of animal control, it wasn't hard for them to do so.

 

I wondered how long it would be before Ks cats did the same..or Biss ended up a meal before ditching the whole scene. "No wonder they don't have names" I thought to myself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Gaslighting

 

 

A couple hours later, the cabin was in good order, and well dusted out; even the sheets, which were stripped, and bucket-washed had now dried in the summer sun, on an old tatty rope line which was secretly knotted, and slumped onto a nearby tree trunk ready for anyone to use it, once more.

 

 I had found it just the day prior, as I was getting ready to make use of K's water supply, as well as washing supplies. He might not have had an electric washer, but 2 huge bright blue plastic buckets, and laundry soap was good enough for me. I had learned early on with island hopping that any 'down time' was also a good 'clean-up' time, and should always been treated as such, and this time was no different.

 

"Let's head on over, and see if we can't make it a quick night" M suggested as he walked out the front door, already heading over to K's place.

"Sounds good" I yelled as I finished spreading the crisp yellowy flowered sheets on the futon mattresses. "Well, one more night HERE, could be as good as ever. I better enjoy it" I said to myself, as I considered where the hell M would be taking us for our new beds the following evening. I had really grown accustomed to this new space filled with new amazing elfin adventures, and meditation practices still yet unlearned:

 

"'Grounding'..What the hell is that..? I asked myself as I ruffled through some random meditation handbook with a chapter entitled "Grounding Techniques"

"Is that like electrical ground wiring for your house or some shit?" I wondered as I had began to dream the days away into a eurphoric bliss of random words, thoughts and ideas merging into an endless future of potentials with the time simply not long enough appreciate fully, and was now already time to say 'goodbye'.

"Well, shit, if P&L's place is really bad, I could always ask O if she knows of any place I might be able to get for some of that cash I will be making- maybe we could just trade for that extra spot they have" I thought as I took one last look at the place in the setting sun, with sunlight streaming through the amber glass, making a brown pattern of circular light on the well worn wooden floor.

I grabbed a couple books, and off I went to join the others.

 

"Heee, ey...!" said K smiling, sort of dancing around the plac, with a small solidly thick glass in his hand as I entered the cabin.

"Hi" I replied, smiling back, and looked over at M.

M was leaning over the kitchen counter, with a smile, rolling a spliff with 4 rolling papers over a cookie tray full of weed. "Hey babe, I'm just rolling up a few.. you want a drink? "

K was dancing around the propane gas range, flipping rice and vegetables as the flames torched around the pan, while singing along with a small hand radio he had nearby on the window ledge:

 

'I AM THE GOD OF HELLFIRE...AND I BRING YOU.....FIRE....' the radio was fuzzy as shit, but managed to tune in the more K danced around.."Fire!" K shouted.

"What the fuck is going on in here M?" I started to laugh then asked " Are you guys best friends now?" as I gave him a peck on the lips.

"I don't know Li- when I came over, K asked me if I knew how to roll a joint, and he handed me this" M said as he pointed to a big black garbage bag filled with weed.

"And then he poured me one..you want one?" M added on as he picked up a glass which matched Ks, and looked to be filled with whisky and lemon rinds.

"Yeah, no thanks. I'm good" I replied (as I really was not a drinker), and went to find the familiar brown bean bag chair to read a bit.

"Let's see, okay..grounding techniques. Excercise 1: The Knotted Rope.." I said to myself as I picked up the meditation book that had left me so perplexed this whole time:

 "Okay...imagine a red rope knotted onto your tailbone. Next imagine the rope growing longer until it reaches the center of the earth.... Next imagine how it feels to be connected to the earth through this cord...Now I want you to send your thoughts down to the center of the earth..." I read on and on.

"Hey LI..Do you like that cabin? It's pretty cool, isnt it?" K asked me, as he dropped some soy sauce onto the pan and gas range-'tssssssssssss!' went the fire, as the radio danced on the sill.

I looked up to answer K, "Yeah..It's been really nice. Thanks again for letting us stay here, that was really nice of you- especially with all the books and whatnot.." I began.

"-Do you want a drink?" K interrupted me.

"No thanks, I really don't drink" I replied.

"You DON'T? Oh! I did not know that! She doesn't drink? Really?" K turned to M to confirm.

"Yeah, I know, that's really strange right?" M smirked as he walked over to get match, and then lit this 6 inch long spliff, as a huge torched flame appreared, before extinguishing.

"Oh that's no big deal..A lot of people live super clean lives here, and don't drink a drop! As a matter of fact, having that bar open here was a real source of contention!" K started in with zeal, as he splashed his drink around the rice pan, which was now starting to smoke a bit.

"OOOHHHH yes, that was a real problem for some people, they did not like the idea of a place that was going to promote that sort of lifestyle.... and while they had a few good points, the bed&breakfast has the freedom to do what ever it is they WANT to DO- and it's not like the bar is just for drinks- there's a pool table in there, with darts, and so on. The drinking really only becomes a problem when people start driving home. Those roads aren't to be played with..not around here'. K said with a seriousness as the music on the radio started up with the Supremes singing "Baby love..my baby love.."

"Oh really..?" M began to ask, "Why is that?"

"Because the road doesn't have railing, thats why" K began as he took the joint from M, and began to smoke it, then continued on"... and some parts there could take you right down the mountainside, THAT'S why". K laughed as he finished his hit, and handed M the J with a sloshy face as he took the pan off the burner, and brought it to the wooden counter.

"At any rate, if I had known you didn't drink Li, I would have gotten something ELSE for us... like wine for dinner. Say! I DO have something we could share later!" K suddenly looked surprised, and smiled a big grin.

"Really?" M asked all wide eyed.

"What's that?" I asked.

"I have some really KIND, reserve- it's a purple strain variety, and I save it for special occasions." K said proudly.

"That's really nice of you K, but you're already smoking us out" M started to laugh as he choked on the doobie which now had a cherry the size of a plum pit.

"That's fine, we could just smoke it back at your place later on" K began"..after this wears off."

 

Well.

No one saw THAT coming; a slick K add-on to be sure.This whole time we had primarily been held hostage at this mans cabin listening to cat stories endlessly, but THAT reality was gonna follow us BACK.

It was only a matter of time NOW, when I might have to confront the guy on how boring these cat stories really ARE, and now that it was a party, god knows when THAT snap was coming..12am or 5am? No one knew for sure.

 

"Lets go!" K sprung up from his seat after a dinner of fried rice, and yellow squash with brewers yeast.

He dashed off to his back bedroom, and soon reappeared with a large black metal canister. "Let's just take this with..and let me grab my lighter" K began as M started to head towards to door with guitar in hand.

"Yeah, this is gonna be a long ass night" I said to myself as I caught up to join, and off we went, into humid night air.

 

 

 

 

"Let's see..." K said as he swung the front door open like a golf pro at a beatdown match "I think I have lamps up here.." he began. Then, out from nowehere (and from a shelf that was way hidden around a shimmied corner of shelves), K produced 3 oil lanterns, and set them in these empty candle stands which I was curious about the whole time I was there.

 

"There" K stated as he lit the last oil lantern. We found our eyes adjusting into the new glowing space more lit than I had ever seen the entire candlelit experieince there. It made everything look golden brown, and glistening with sparkly edges.

 

M sat down in a chair, and began to lightly strum the guitar. I sat on the bed as K sat on the only other chair in the cabin, and opened the black canister. "Here" K said, as he produced a long pale paper stick, and presented it to me. 

"You need a ligher?" he asked me.

"Yes, please." I replied, as I inspected the premade joint, and sniffed it. "Hm. Well, it SMELLS normal" I thought to myself.

 

Now, I know I've had some good weed, but this tasted like candy grapes and wisteria flowers all wrapped up in a neon purple cloud of electrical goodness, paired with LSD on a bad hair day; that whole ROOM started LOOKIN' purple- which was so strange, seeing that it was all golden before. It was like the colors cancelled each other out, making the room a glowing brown, breathing box of etheric expression, and surreal movement.

 

I was a goner in a nightdream and a feeling, neither spastic nor sleepy. Just floating on a haze of guitar notes, flickering oil lamps, and K speaking about the ongoing parties that existed on the island:

 

"Yeah, I mean at one point people had invites, and set times to hang out and party and whatnot, but then after awhile, it just became one steady rolling party, that keeps moving from place to place." He laughed and continued, "... Yep. So NOW, it's just finding out where everyone IS, and joining... Here Li"  K said as he handed me the spliff for another round.

 

"Oh, no thanks" I declined, and took a deep breath in.

"So, it's like whoever joins? or..?" M began to ask as he took a drag.

"Well, I mean, SURE..,whoever is INVITED" K began to explain.

On and on K went, explaining how things worked, mentioning various ancendotal stories which he found relevant to the discussion. I mean, thank god he wasn't talking about that cats this time, but it was just then when I realized that it wasn't the cat stories that I found bothersome about the guy, but that K, was simply a boring person to listen to.

"Hm. How about that. He makes ANY topic irrelivent to my ears" I said to myself as I soon found myself tuned out from the chat, with K perfectly fine with that, and I decided to lie down (which no one seemed to notice), and that was fine with me.

I felt overwhelmed by the atmosphere of oddly lit cabins&purple clouds. This was turning into a very unexpected last night there.

I closed my eyes, and listened to the two men yapper away about 'travelling orgies' and 'free love', then about 'wintertime in the forest', followed by 'the nearest doctor'. I started thinking about where I would be come 24 hours from now, the whole journey from one island to the next, finding myself in a foreign land, in a foreign wood, with very little means, or possibility.

 

"Jesus Fuck. What am I DOING here?" I asked myself, as I continued to stew on "..I mean, if I WANTED to play housemaid, and generally be IGNORED, I can DO THAT anywhere. God, I hope there are more interesting times to come thanTHIS scene".

 

Nothing in the cabin had changed, and I was wondering how long K would stay before M and I could finally crash out for the night, but M wasn't helping the situation either;  stoned out of his mind- and when he got into it, could play the guitar until sunrise. 

 

I started to really feel it out; You know, how I had searched, and looked for a place- ANY place in this dear year of our lord 1991, that had ANY sort of resonance to off-grid living within the confines of an ulitimate freedom trip: No set rules, no set limits, and most importantly; no law enforcement.

 

I simply did not believe, at age 18, that any sort of govornment, any sort of ruling authority, was truly NEEDED amongst civilized men-  no matter WHAT 'Lord of the Flies' would tell ya, I was absolutely convinced that a green lifestyle, happily lived in a fully self-sutained universe, would send most of societies problems, right the fuck on out the door of existing.

 

But, now, here I was. Treading grounds unknown to me, with a small society largely unmet, in an ecosytem untested for such lofty ideals, or was it? I mean, I had managed to land MYSELF employment, and even a place to sell my artwork, but for how long? The job was only for a summer, and how many sales really took place at a shop in the middle of no where?

 

"Damn. I hope we find land to park the house on soon" I said to myself as my mind moved to where we had just come from: A piece of forest that M was watching, until the owners returned. It was a small group of schoolbus homeowners who had decided to join up funds, and share the woodsy scenery. I had never met the bunch, as they had all left for Mexico before I ever arrived on the scene, and eventually decided to stay in Mexico a few seasons longer than planned.

 

M had generously offered to watch the grounds while everyone else got away, but he didn't seem to mind the change of plans since he enjoyed the solitude, and often spent time splitting wood, playing his dulcimer, filling the tub from the water well, and getting the outdoor tub ready for a bath, by starting an open fire underneath it.

 

But now, that time had passed, and with the bushouse not yet ferried over ( an expensive task, as the main ferry to this island was a foot-ferry only), we were kind of stranded looking for spots to begin.

"Maybe this was a fucking stupid idea to come all this way. I don't need to be HERE, with M leading literally a NO-charge into my future. Why did I decide to come here, even. Well.. I can work this summer job, and decide in a month..no need to fret over all of it NOW" I concluded, and took a deep breath in.

 

I started to think about all the cool things I had seen along my journey up to this point, and the cool stuff in the cabin, wishing I had a plate of beads in front of me, but didn't because of the dimly lit environment. Then I started to remember what I had read earlier on in the evening, transcribed in that meditation book:

 

"Hm..a long cord. I can imagine that....Oh, I see" I started to feel the excercise within me..feeling sunken into the futon mattresses, and feeling the deep brown cabin glow overwhelm me.

"Wow..I feel heavy..like I am deeper INto my body than I've ever felt..Let's try visualizing that rope thing.." I said to myself, as I started to imagine what it was like to have this red rope tied to my body and pulling me down into the earth.

"That's so strange..I can feel myself beneath myself" I thought as I dreamily imagined another me, an exact image of my body, sunk deep below the futon and sinking further, and further with every moment. 

 

I opened my eyes for a second, and looked over at the other two, who were still there, just chit-chatting away. "Well, I didn't actually GO anywhere- that was kinda neat. " I said to myself as I put my head back down, and decided to continue this new exploration.

"Wow.. ..this feels really weird..that book has me fucked up" I laughed to myself , as I decided to try the whole thing again from the beginning step again.

 

It didn't take long to find myself back into the place where I left my doppleganger, and started feeling my 2nd self lower into the ground further than I had felt before. Down, down I went- losing track of my surroundings and time. "I wonder how long I've been here.." I thought to myself, then started to listen to the world around me, and recognized that faint guitar and murmuring in the backdrop of my mind.

"Okay, must not have been a long period since I started this journey. Everyone seems to still just be sitting around like before". And off I buried further.

 

Soon I was deep into the earth- well past the cabins floor now,  and the imagery of browns in my minds eye was overcome with a void- a real lack of any sort of light at all. I felt pulses all around me; like the heartbeat of worms, and the electrical smell of petrichor racing between minerals in the soil- dancing along electrical bands all in harmony, all in choreography with itself

 

"Hm, it's like a hidden, buried life under here" I thought to myself, as I unlooked around. When suddenly, the cabin began to shake everywhere!

 

 

"WHAT THE HELL?!" I opened my eyes, as I heard a massive rumble and I looked over to see the cabin beginning to lift at the opposite end of the room. Like a set of piano keys being swiped-Like some massive wave on a tremendous ocean; the whole place was getting LIFTED, and was heading straight towards ME:

 

'SWWWOOOOOOOSHSSHSHHSHSH BAMMAMNNAMM' the cabin was getting lifted plank by plank as the jaunty bookshelves waved, and slammed back down.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting Back the Got Back

 

 

 

Yep, good feeling gone.

"Fuck this grounding excercise shit." I said to myself. My heart dropped into my throat as I swallowed my heart attack twice, and then looked over at M and J, who were now dead center of this wave, and yet were still just sitting there, talking. 

No sooner had I noticed it, than I found myself lifted into the air, with my eyes fixated on the ceiling above me, looking for anything that might come crashing down on top of the bed.

 

SHHRESHRA-BOOOM!!!!.......

 

The lamps were still lit, just flickering a bit, as large chunks of dust particles were left floating in the air around me.

"What the fuck just happened???" I asked myself as I shot up like a bolt of lighting, and looked at the other two in the room, who seemed to just be chit chatting away.

 

"Holy shit. Did I just hallucinate that?" Why is no one reacting??" I wondered.

"Hey..., HEY!." I said loudly.

M stopped strumming, and K stopped talking while they both looked over at me to see what the deal was.

"Um, yeah..did you two just feel that?? What the fuck WAS that?!" I asked, in a serious manner.

"Oh THAT" K began" Yeah, that's just an earth tremor- happens ALL the TIME" he finished explaining, and proceeded with his previous topic " So, yeah...that's how we fish..".

M looked over at me, and whispered "Happens all the time. Really normal" and went back to plucking the verberating strings once more, while he listened intently to K.

"Sweet Jesus, I'm glad I BOTHERED asking their stoned asses about it at ALL" I said to myself, as I layed back down on the frazzled futon, now with crumpled sheets. 

"THIS is NORMAL?" I started thinking, not feeling a need to mention the whole red rope incident, while I considerd the whole moment further:

 

 "Hm. I swear to GOD you never know what's going to happen moment-to-moment.. What even the fuck WAS that..? I bet a million people do that fucking excercise, and no one has to contend with scary house shaking garbage shit like that- why is it always ME with the fucked up experiences?... And what's up with THOSE two? Are they really THAT stoned? Seriously, not a reaction from EITHER ONE of them? ... Please, Lord, what am I MISSING????" I continued to race, as my buzz was absolutely killed by this point, leaving just my isolation of thoughts, and adrenaline:

 

"I mean, since we GOT here, I've been left to my own devices, with very little engagement coming from M, with K's big ole' blabbery mouth to boot- he won't EVER shut up, no matter HOW many times I try to switch topics, or suggest activities.. I swear to GOD I didn't come all this way, to be left on the shelf like a gooddamn book around here" I reflected, and started to get pissed off:

 

"I mean, sure. This is only ONE moment in time, but for DAYS? I hope time with P&L are WAY cooler than it is with THESE two ...what a waste of time...." I trailed off as I started to think about what I had really done there, with my time; Some beadwork, and chores, reading and petting the ducks..it really was quite pleasant on consideration.

 

"I mean,....I guess it wasn't a COMPLETE loss"  I concluded, as I started to replay the whole cabin-quake incident, and the kind bed I was laying in, and the generosity K had given us with dinners, and getting us high all the time. I mean, Elfquest is no light trinket to bestow on any weary traveler, and I would know, because I was there, looking at the colorful pages, and hard lined inks like jeweled treasures before my eyes.

 

It was then, at that moment, a funny thought suddenly took hold of me, which gave a surprising comfort:

 

 "Hm. I went rooting around to find some sort of 'connection' here on earth, and well.....I guess the earth heard me." I snickered to myself at the stoned thought, as I closed my eyes, choosing to end the night with my company, finally realizing who truly had my back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Creepy Brew

 

So, when I was in high school, which was really more like a college, I would often treat is as such, and simply ditch whole afternoons to go do what 16 year olds felt was WAY hella cooler; in my case, hanging out at the local coffee house, and reading.

 

It's not that I couldn't have stuck around the campus mind you- like at the schools library, but the library was oddly PACKED at my high school, and didn't allow beverages in at all- Plus, most coffee houses where I lived was dead ass at 1:30 pm on a weekday, and that made it the PERFECT time to be there, reading; with a background scent of coffee grinds stamped into light jazz notes.Here, I would sit and reflect on the reads, by looking up at the atmosphere of glass windows and exposed brick walls to reflect on a new idea or philospohy.

 

I simply loved reading, and managed to find some interesting throw back metaphysical books for cheap at the local thrift no matter WHAT time of year, giving me a wealth of thought to ponder on, over an endless cup, with marlboro reds on the side.

 

'Be Here Now', 'Diet for a Small Planet', '100 Monkey','The Teachings of Don Juan','The Naked Lunch','Joy's Way','Famous for 15 Minutes','Seth Speaks'..The titles went on and on, old or new, it didn't matter-if it had some lesson in it, some new concept or belief, I was there to absorb it.

 

Of course, being a smoker and often broke, didn't help me stay long- which was sort of a plus, because a lot of coffee houses were becoming trendy, which were now being filled with familiar faces, and conversations instead of the kind of silence that savory ditch hours really deserved- I mean, if your'e GOING to fuck up your grade average, it's GOING to be for time well spent-maybe even write a few notes along the way.

 

It was something I always seemed to do- whether it be on scribbled napkins, or the back of homework assignments, I was sure to have a handful of writings, and imagery at the end of a long ditched afternoon, attending a class whose-name-still-remains-nameless to this moment, and probably will remain so, as long as there are 16 year olds ditching class, and doing exactly as I did.

 

So, it became the natural choice (when the crowds started filling in), that I would opt out, and get lost in the hidden greenery of Evanston, Illinois- of which it had so much of. You could pretty much head in any direction, and end up in a park eventually...or Lake Michigan. You just couldn't lose; I would just start walking around until I found an area that looked secluded enough for undisturbed thought. It really wasn't that hard to have for most of the year.

 

Keep in mind, my time wasn't exclusive, I mean, I did take along a friend & smoking buddy K, who was always down for a drop, and a square after the 12pm hour. Actually, she was the goddess of corruption, and got me started on the whole concept of 'Do as Ye Please' when it came to questioning the validity of educational institutions...and sweet Jesus, she had an argument for ALL of 'em.Any 1 fuck reason you could come up with, as to why one SHOULD stick around for PE for your LAST class of the day, and she could give you 5 as to why one, SHOULDN'T.

 

...and they would be good reasons.

And so, you would find yourself regularly having a coffee and smoke, knee deep in something relevant soon enough, with or without her companionship.

 

See, one thing she did not anticipate, was how 'well'  the whole ditch approach was gonna stick with me- I mean, I clearly became my own 'master of demise' for a solid schooling; It's a fact: I was thoroughly hooked-and-a-goner, on haiku and Hemmingway instead of lunch lines and hall passes.

 

Between my own time alone at the cafes, and then time with a friend meeting later on, I had made a very nice private schooling for myself; a very exclusive sense of my times value with others. A real nice 'read and share' balance in my happy-ditched world of thoughts squared, and ideas stirred into one solid reality of my own storyhead.

 

Another real plus+ with this girl was her ability to be a well thought out individual- you know, never filling the air with useless words or banter, just deep into her OWN literary jungle filled with what she found, and seemed to be engaged with most of her hours:

 

 

"Hey..did you read this?" I asked her

"What" She replied rather cooly.

I held up a copy of 'Go Ask Alice' to show her.

"I just read the part where she leaves home, like....how did we get THERE?? At first she just seemed to be hanging out with some guy, then she's getting high with him..but why did she LEAVE THE ENTIRE STATE..??? what the hell?.." I declared.

"Yeah, well..you just have to read the whole thing first" she would respond, and get back to it, with a shrug and knowing glimmer.

 

According to K, this was HER world, and I was just along for the ride to bask in a deeper understanding of it, but I appreciated her company none-the-less because the replies were always interesting with some of the quirkiest pop offs: where the delivery of her words was half the meaning, and the other half, spoken double time.

 

Yup, HERS were words that held matter, and could create or destroy whole FUTURES with a few sound reasons easily found amongst her scattered books of poetry, and philosophy- which she would carry WITH her.... in this roundish black shoulder bag.

 

Of course, 'the bag' had changed over the semesters, but it never stopped her from pulling out a full-sized double cassette player from it, no matter where OR when. Local park? Now were jamming to The Cocteau Twins. Smoke break between classes? It's Friday I'm in Love. Teachers running late to class? Now were getting the Led out.

 

That thing was ON more often than it was 'off', and so, one of her main issues in life was a lack of batteries because of it,  and we would often listen to it until it died, and would wait until god presented us with batteries once more...that, or if we waited a day, sometimes, the battery gods would gift us with half a cassette tape worth of tunes as consolation.

 

Not only that, but she always had cigarettes and without fail, always let me bum a few. Sometimes I was pretty bad about it, and would eventually return the favor with gifting whole packs or paying a few bills as recompense.

 

Yes, she was definitely just the creative sort a Frankenditcher like me appreciated.

 

Over time, I got pretty bad about it over time however; leaving almost as soon as school started- finding it boring AF, really only waking up to go catch a few friends before school, before I headed on my way to where ever. But soon, winter would be approching, and the already filled cafes were now getting worse by the week with local college kids knee deep in exams.

 

One grey autumn day decided to hit this one cafe, and trudged over through the wip-smart cold November wind, but after peering through the double glass doors, saw the line of 8 people and said to myself "Oh, fuck this" and decided to try another place which was right up the street. No sooner did I get there, but was already swamped with its OWN set of customers swarming everywhere- including outside of the front door.

 

"Goddamn it" I said to myself.."Well..."

 

I started to consider where to go.

 

"I can't take drink into the downtown library.... but at least it's quiet" I decided. That, and there was a smoking area a hell of a lot closer than anything on campus would have.

 

Now, normally, I wouldn't consider the library, simply because there's usally librarians walking around asking if they can help you, and if you are trying to concentrate on something, can be really annoying, but I knew the library well, and knew specific areas that I might be able to dawdle around before getting discovered, and serviced.

"Good enough", and off I went..walking the long way there- checking out some back roads usually unwalked.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That's When I Saw it:

 

A small glass front of a store, surrounded by large tan stone blocks. It was nicely tucked away...right next to the breakfast joint which always seemed to be closed, as it was this very moment. I looked in to see coffee beans scattering loose in a massive burlap cloth bag, slumped over towards a corner of the window.

What's this?! What's this?! My spidy senses were tingling.

 

It was a brand new cafe, and there was no one in it.

When I say no one, I really mean no one..well, almost no one..there was like one other person in there, ort of half tilted, just sitting there.. in front of an untouched latte, still as a statue.

 

I decided to try this place out. 

It was kind of odd at first-very unfamiliar, the walls were a dark grey- looking more like some sort of fabric wallpaper than paint, with framed black-and-white photographs of trees along it; stuck to the walls with velcro; making them all frameless and floating.

I then spied the long wooden floors, with bright track lighting bouncing in reflection.

I opened the heavy glass door, and walked in to a long glass enteryway before hitting another glass door.

 

"God, no wonder there's no one in here..how far back is the counter?" I opened the second door to see a large wooded cafe barista in front of me, with a few dainty wood tables opposite, just near that front window splashing a bean bag- which I could now see, consisted of FOUR splash bags, with a few palm ferns hanging OVER like a jungle canopy, making the outside rather hidden and unseen.

 

"Wow, no wonder I didn't know this was here" I said to myself as I walked up to see this dark horse of a guy, who had dyed black hair curled behind his ear, tats up his arms, and seemed to be focused on cleaning up some equipment, with a book open on the counter.

 

"Be right with you"  he said nicely, as he pulled out some shining piece of equipment from an already blingly machine.

"Hm, that guy is surprisingly relaxed" I thought to myself, seeing as how a lot of cafe bartenders were usually made up of either frazzled-looking swamped worriers, or stoned college kids who clearly gave 0 of how fast the coffee was being poured.

But this guy seemed to be surprisingly with it.

"Damn. I hope they make good coffee here" I said to myself.

 

 

He turned around and smiled:

 

"Hi, What can I get you?" he asked gently- which kind of surprised me.

 

"Just a coffee.." I replied.

"House, or fress press?" he asked, as he went to grab a mug from the shelf.

"Just the regular house..whatever you have is fine" I answered.

Off he went to make the drink as I listened to the emptiness of the cafe- with just the fainstest sound of new age music wafting from some distant speaker, it was so quiet here. I was having a hard time believing I was in downtown Evanston- it felt more like another universe.

 

"There's sugar and cream at the bar over there" he said, as he pointed to a wooden countertop just opposite him, near the tables.

 

"Thanks. I take it black" I replied.

"No room for cream then?" he asked.

"Nope" I replied.

 

"That's funny" I thought to myself,".. I don't think anyones ever asked me that before"

 

And it was true, every OTHER time I went into the cafes, they just brimmed it without EVER asking, and I honestly was now wondering why he bothered to ask about it at all.

"Oh snap!" I thought to myself " I only have $1.50 on me. I hope that's enough"

 

"That'lle be 97 cents, with tax 1.12" he said.

"Cool" I replied, and handed him a handful of change.

"Are you at NorthWestern?" he asked nonchalantly, as he leaned on the counter.

"No. I'm at the high school" I replied, and just looked at him blankly.

He sort of smirked, and replied "Ok, cool..here ya go" and handed me my mug.

 

I grabbed my coffee and looked around for a nice tuck. I looked over at the wall of photos, and decided to take a eyefull while I drank some- making comments to myself as I walked along the long wooden corridor, which seemed to just go on and on:

 

"Hm..Not bad.. Boring. Boring. Interesting. Boring. Stupid. Wow, that's cool. Boring. More boring.."

 

Suddenly, the photos ended, and a suprisingly large, 4 foot by 5 foot colorful painting took its place. I gazed at it, as it reminded me of Arthur Segal's work..but a very bad version- like a clown had puked out color in all directions. 

"Seriously what are some people thinking when they make this stuff?" I asked myself as I shrugged it off and turned around to see, what I could NOT believe what I was seeing after that nightmare of a rainbow assault:

 

A set of tables and chairs neatly tucked away in this pocketed area..with MORE grey fabric walls with black-and-whites...but most importantly, in the middle was a tiny sign with extra fancy cursive writing, which read:

 

Smoking Area.

 

 

 

 

"Sweet mother of God" my jaw dropped in amazment " I'm home"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A World of Pure Imagination

 

 

 

I looked down to see a beautiful plastic black ashtray sitting on the table in front of me. "Thank you God" I said to myself as I sat down to a very kind afternoon of piping hot beanwater, and pages galore. 

 

The very next morning at school, I saw K walking over

 

"Hey" she said.

"Hi" I replied.

"You want to go after lunch?" she asked me. It had been awhile since asking to join early like that.

"Sure" I began, "... I found a new place.."

"Oh really" she cut me off, before taking a long drag on her cigarette, exhaling and finishing her thought"..it's not the library or some shit, is it?" she half laughed.

"No, but its near it- that's how I found it actually" I responded.

"Hm, well maybe- I really dont want to walk far" she replied somewhat cynically.

"You'lle see" I smiled.

 

1pm rolled around soon enough and I dragged K farther than she would normally walk in her spiky black heels, and motorcyle jacket.

"Where the fuck are you taking me"she asked, looking rather drab and annoyed.Her black lace shirt was looking frumpy by now- all worn and twisted from the long walk though the hard rushing winds of the soon-to-be winter landscape.

 

"This NEW place ...C'mon, were almost there" I reassured her.

"OKAY" she said, lookly rather salty, and rosy pink in the cheeks.

The winds had been particularly brutal the last few days, but it didnt stop her from refusing a hat and gloves, making her platinum white hair and pale ivory skin turn frosty and pastel- like a pissed off black-and-white frozen treat.

 

"Here " I said rather happy that we had finally arrived, and I opened the door.

She looked rather surprised, much as I did when I first found the place:

 

 

 

"This is it?" she asked as she started looking around for a name

"I know, right? It's so hidden, c'mon" I said as I pulled her in.

 

Inside we went, and there was the same guy, with his nose in a book.We walked over to the counter and I asked "Hey, can I get a coffee?".

 

He looked up from reading his last sentence, and looked over at us. He smiled as he recognized me from before, then looked over at K.

 

"Did you want the same?" he asked her as he smiled her way.

"The same as her you mean?" she asked him with a grin "Why, what is it?"

It's Columbian dark roast in-house, regular, not decaff" he went on to explain.

"Sure" she replied, as they clearly were feeling each other in some early onset mating dance. 

I rolled my eyes, and went off to start reading.."Bye K" I said as I made my way back to the empty smoke section to settle in. Awhile later she joined me,smiling.

"How the FUCK did you find this place?" she asked me.

"Oh, I dont know..I was just walking around, why you like it here? " I asked, and smiled at her.

"Yeah, its O.K." she replied kurtly, and began to read her book.

 

I mean, it really didn't get better then that at 16 folks: No class, in a book filled cafe with some hot waiter, and your gal pal ...with endless coffee and cigarrettes. 

"Like God WANTS me ditching" I laughed to myself "Thanks universe", and off I went to discover another word-filled world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good Feeling Gone

 

Life was pretty sweet all semester long. Everyday, would head in for my regular drink, with my regular spot. I was plowing through various writings with an intense precision most people never delved into; like a specific sentence or a phrase- I had the time to consider it fully, not just for its concept or message, but the way it might have been phrased, or artfully organized.

 

In this way, I was able to study philosophy alongside poetry alongside history all at once- and made for a more plentiful landscape when it came to understanding the many facets of the world around me, as I puffed away on tobaccoo, and drank the brown nectar to keep my wide-eyed and alert.

 

The cafe DID have a couple new people show up now and again, but hardly anyone smoked anymore, and since the smoking area was technically separate, but sharing the same air space, the place hardly had a non-smoked area. Simply put, non-smokers weren't interested in hanging out in there, and cafe-going smokers had not discovered the place as of yet. It worked out just fine for me, for a while, until enter-->A:

 

One day, on a day hardly ditched, I showed up later than usual, and was happy to get there when I found my pal K with a mutual friend named A. I was kind of surprised by it, since this WAS, after all, a two person secret as far as I knew, until now:

 

"Oh, hi  A" I said with a warm smile.

She looked over at K "Hi Li" replied A.

'What's up K? How are you guys?" I asked them as I began to take my coat off.

 

Now K, had a look of frozen concern on her face, and while she didn't say a word, I could sense that she was feeling perplexed about this sudden meet-up, and being put on the spot.

 

It's not that A and I didn't get along mind you, but A was quite a private person in a lot of ways- ways that I never really understood, and she was fine with it that way- most often mistaking my kindness for weakness, and my lack of experience as naivete. I openly did not respect her for it, and directly called her out on her attitude regularly, which created an A, who really had no interest in being open or sharing around me. I mean, she got what she gave.

 

I forgave her for it however, seeing that she was unnaturally short, and not very feminine in feature, leaving most people assuming she was a 12 year old boy. I would see it happen to her regularly, and I figured it couldn't have been an easy life hearing that crap all the time, and probably would get much worse as she hit her adult years.Therefore, I saw her exceptionally rude and racist attitude as an inadequacy trip, and never bothered to take her behaviors personally when she did weird shit like not look at me when speaking to me.

 

"I thought you were doing that art thing today" K asked.

 

"Um, yeah, it's done" I began to say as I pulled out my notebook, and continued " ..I thought I might come here for a coffee before I have to go home, and deal with a mountain of homework".

 

 And freeze.

 

I mean, here's the thing;  I would ditch a ton, but some classes I DID like, and DID the work even though I kinda didn't care if I passed the class or not..I was ahead on credits in a lot of courses, with my eye on the minimums for each grade level.

 

Don't think for one moment, that doesn't take skill; It takes masterful ABILITY to barely pass each grade, while simultaneously win AWARDS at the same time, and have everyone go along with that. I mean, there was not much anyone could do with me: I was happy learning what I WANTED to learn, the WAY I liked to learn it, but at this very moment, was now suprised to learn something completely new.

 

"Oh" she said, as she took a long still drag of her cigarrette, looking at me with statuesque eyes. A just sat there looking at K, like she was on some house arrest against direct eye contact, when I suddenly felt the awkwardness of 'Am I the Asshole' with the whole moment.

 

Like, how did THAT happen.? How did I get burned on arrival while simlutaneously feel exhausted from the journey here, only to get slighted by deciding to sit down for a fucking coffee??

 

Good feeling gone.

 

I grabbed my stuff, and put in on a chair near a table on the other side of the area. I mean, seriously how did I get fucked on this hidden gem of a share? All I really wanted was a coffee and a square, and to get the hell out of there, which I did, and was happy to do so.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Must Be the Season of the Witch

 

Naturally, K approached me on next meet, explaining how A was going through something 'personal', and my presence was just an ill-timed coincidence. Like I cared at ALL about that shit; It was blistery cold out at that point in the year, with blowy flakes on the daily. Everyone in the city was bundling up, and with the exceptionally cold season, and there was really no place like home across the WHOLE town. Any trek OUT, was a pull for ANYone trudging through it on a heel-toe express, let alone halfway across the city.

 

"Yeah, well that's cool. I'm glad you could help her with whatever" I replied with a sour look. "I'm heading over, do you want to join? I asked her. I figured we could just cut-to-the-chase on this new 'surprise, surpise, I-got-a-pal-and-some-flies' kind of situation she was now willing to throw my way, and I was more than willing to go have a discussion about it with her, at the source of the matter.

 

"Maybe in a bit...That waiter guy..C.." she changed the subject.

 

"Yeah?" I asked with a smile. I knew she liked the guy, but then again, one could never tell with her. If this was a guy she liked, or a guy she was dismanteling. There were always two distinct catagories that she would place her interests INto, and it was always fun to see where they would shake out:

 

 

"Yeah? AND?" I inquired with a grin.

 

"I don't know what I think...I mean, he's kinda cool. He's very well read. So THAT'S cool" she replied with a raised eyebrow, and a look of impress.

 

"Yeah. I noticed that, he knew a lot about Andy Warhol...which surprised me. What is he- a musician? Do you think he's attractive? Or.." I started to get nosy.

 

"I think he could be" She replied.

She often said this when she saw potential in a guy to dress or mold them into certain styles that she herself enjoyed, and took this influence as somehow gifting them with a new suit fit for the Gods of 'All Things Sexy'. And most of the time, she would be right. She had a keen eye for detail, and a natural ability to bring out the fanciful in pretty much anyone she met, and this guy was no exception.

 

"Yeah, he's in some rock band, and they're all moving out west. He's actually got a pretty cool style, and is giving me a copy of their demo...We'll see" she said with a smile, and then decided to join me.

 

 

Off we went, and arrived at the cafe as usual; I grabbed my cuppa; "B'ye K" I waved to K, and went back to read on and on.

 

The artwork had changed by now, and these NEW oil paintings arrived with really bold and intense designs. Much larger than the black-and-white tree photos from before.THESE seemed to have caught the attention of the public eye, with quite a bit of foot traffic coming through.

 

 

"What the hell?" I said to myself as a woman showed up and, with her oversized purse a flappin' off her shoulder, then climbed up a chair, and pulled the painting off the wall, with her jingly charm bracelet a-swingin'.

 

"Sweet Jesus, talk about having a manic art attack" I said to myself "Well, I guess when you need art, you just need it". I shrugged it off, as I picked up on the last line of my read, yet I clearly wasn't reading in between the lines AROUND me; with the dissapearing paintings came a new set of regular cafe goers..no one I knew...yet. The place was kinda catching on.

 

Soon I saw A there with a pal, knew it was only a matter of time, and decided to simply let the cat out-of-the-bag. Well actually, it was more like I was with a pal who I had been hanging out with one day, and I simply wanted a coffee. We were in the area, and decided to pop in:

 

"Wait, what is this place?" U asked me, with that same absolutely confused look on his face, looking all around for a name or entryway.

 

"It's a cafe I like to go to..it's really unknown, and it's got a smoking section, which is hidden, and out of the way, it's really cool.C'mon let's go get a coffee" I said with a grin.

 

"Wow- a smoking section, really? That's really surprising..wow" U said, as his eyes took it all in.

 

We went in, and that same barista Guy, had now earned an actual name:

"Hey C" I said.

"Hi Li. Same?" he asked.

"Yep..you want one U?" I asked him. I had extra cash handy.

"Nono..I have money" U said and broke out a 10 dollar bill.

"Oh snap- Li you want a muffin or anything?" U asked me.

Holy shit. This was a great idea inviting him along..hell yeah, a cafe pal with a wallet. 

"Oh sure- thank you so much U" I said, smiling as we made our way on back to the stay.

"Wow..just wow.." he exclaimed "This place is fuckin' cool. Look at all the art. You hang out here? 'Cuz this is a really sweet place to hang out..wow." He sat down, and produced a cigarrette.Then as he lit it, got up to gaze at the paintings on the wall.

 

I watched him walk along slowly, and absorb the ideas, as U was a ceramic artist that threw down at the local pottery store. "Hm. He's lucky he got introduced to the place with this COOL art on the walls" I bega to think"... if he only KNEW what it was like when I arrived with those boring ass black-and-whites stuck everywhere..wasn't so cool then'.

 

Down we drank our hots, as we lightly chatted about some things unmemorable, and decided to part ways soon thereafter.

"Wow, let's do that again sometime" U said.

"Sure..see you around" I lied, and went on my merry way. It's not like we wouldn't see each other again, it's not like I didn't appreciate the time, but we hung out never, and now that we had hung out for a bit today, I was more certain of it.

 

Winter break was approaching, and soon I would be staying at home for the week as school was closed, and taking a break from the cafe seemed like a good idea anyway. It's not that I didn't like the place anymore, its just that since the one incident with K, and our 'fragile pal' A, the place was feeling more like a crapshoot, than a bean-blessed haven.

 

I mean, you couldn't see the smoking area from outside, it's not like you could CHOOSE from outside to NOT go in (to avoid the issue)...

...and you couldn't GO IN to SEE if they were THERE, and THEN decide NOT to purchase a coffee..I mean, if you're going through all THAT trouble, you might as well sit your ass down in there, WHATEVER the situation is, and live your life.

Seriously,if  anyone could avoid a problem, as anyone would, I could- and by not going IN there over break, was EXACTLY the right time to be elsehwere, and do exactly that; Home brew was better than no brew, and a smoke out in the cement alley, was better than no smoke at all, by comparison.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It's More Than a Feeling

 

We were now into the new year, and I was more than ready to hit a few new books, diving deep into a few scores from the local thrift. "This is going to be good" I said to myself after scoring a few choice Jane Roberts gems. I arrived at the cafe as usual, and grabbed my mug from C to drop on a table.

 

No sooner had I stepped into the spot, did I hear "Oh hey Li...it's so good to see you" said a voice.

 

I looked over to see U, sitting there with 5 of pals we both knew from school.

"Oh Jesus Fuck" I said to myself.

"Oh, h-hey.." I squeaked, as I sat down another table to read, hoping my intentions were somewhat clear, and seemed as such.

I started my book journey as Seths voice came over me,while Jane Roberts starts to channel the writings. "Now. Lets begin with ...." I started to really get into the whole moment with it.

 

Whooosh!

 

Suddenly, there's U, sitting across from me, winding up for a real roll. "So, how you been?" he asked "How was break?" as he took a puff from his long cigarette which was in a long wooden holder, giving a granola glam vibe, as he smiled at me.

"...It was ok" I answered quietly, and somewhat annoyed. I mean, fine you want to invite the mouthpieces, okay, but do I have to join in? I was really starting to regret the other day.

"Yeah? What did you do?" he asked me with a wide smile.

"Not much" I answered.

I was being rather cold, and he picked up on it right away.

"Well, that's good, I'll just leave you to read" he answered.

"Hey, it's not like I dont want to talk, but you got a bunch of people, and I got a book, ..Let's hang out sometime, ok?" I lied again.

"Well, whatever, O.K. Sure" he said with a plasticine look, and his long black wavy hair breezing away as he got up from the reversed chair, and off he went to do whatever he did.

"Jesus christ, why can't I just sit here?" I said to myself, as I got up for a second cup.

I get to the front counter to see my very pretty friend S chatting it up with our rockstar. "Um..can I get a refill?"

C smiled away from S, and said "Oh sure, no problem" and then asked "No cream, right?" as he danced off to get a new mug.This guy was clearly floating on SOMEthing, and S was obviously the supply.

"Yup" I said, and turned to S. "How you been?" I asked her.

"I'm good" she said with a whispy smile, and glittery eyes all lit up with C vibes and vowels in her air.

"Oh good god" I thought to myself as I smiled at her "I wonder how this scenario would have played out if K had decided to join me?"

 

I mean, by this point both K and C had been knee deep in discussing poetry and philospohy in almost every topic they could exchange, K now joining me regularly every afternoon. They both seemed stuck on Jim Morrisons work a lot, and would often argue the finer details of the lyrical implications of his work.

 

I found the whole topic to be some extension of a preferred hidden dialougue those two had going on, and I never really DID understand what exactly went down between them. I'de have sooner stayed way the hell out of 'office romances' than join in, even if meant that Jim Morrison was off the menu for discussion, so be it. I couldn't afford that cup of tea anyway.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 3, 2, 1

 

 

 

 

 

Well, it didn't take long to find out, as two weeks later, the obvious would happen, and it happened exactly as it didn't once before:

 

There was S, nearly LAYING on the barista counter, with C reading sweet poems from his book, and heart... to her bubbly ears, and mind. Her icey blue eyes contrasted nicely against her heavily filled black eyeliner cat eyes, and always made her have this look to her, as if she was looking somewhere far off..like towards a distant utopia, or perhaps a set of headlights. 

 

Either way, it was actually quite funny to see, and watch, and for those weeks I often did, and wondered if she knew he would be stabbing her with that sweet goodbye-I'm-moving-out-west-now lullaby, soon enough.

 

"I wonder if C will tell her anything at all." I thought to myself, as by now, S was nearly falling off the counter reading his book, as he helped customers with coffees and whatevers. And I felt torn upon seeing this. I felt torn because I didnt want to involve myself further with the whole matter- in terms of K. I mean, they were chummy, but who the fuck knew. 

I DID mention the S situation just ONCE to K. It was the the next time I saw K, and said "Hey, K, before I forget- that S chic is really into C- she's all over him at the cafe" I said casually before heading off to a class.

"Oh really. I'm feel sorry for C" she gingerly laughed. I mean, whatever that meant- that was where I left it, but now, weeks later, here we were- with pretty much the SAME issue- namely, me being present for boy-girl drama:

 

"Hey, let's hit cafe" K said to me, one cold, and shiny blue midday. 

"Oh, Jesus fuck" I thought to myself.."Here it comes..I really don't want to be there for this. Please god, dont make be BE there for this".

"O.K. Sure" I said confidently, I mean, it was early in the day, and knowing that, my chances of an empty cafe was pretty good to avoid any drama- all I wanted to do was seriously read my damn books.

 

Off we went to arrive to a nice, empty cafe. 

"Thank God" I said to myself as I said aloud "Bye K", and off I went to read my book.

 

It was February now, and the weather was still cold, and icy outside, with now one of two steady coffee and cigarette regulars. It was kind of nice to see the place fill out with other readers, who seemed to just as studious as myself. "Probably Northwestern students" I thought to myself, as K made her way to back to see me.

 

"Hey" I said as I put my book down for a break.

"Yeah..I think he's fucking her" she said.

"Wait, what?" I asked.

"I mean, who cares really, but, I thought he was way cooler..I mean, S? God is she stupid" she said, sounding rather dissapointed.

"A lot of guys thinks she's hot and that's probably why. Who gives a shit anyway- Isn't he moving out west to become a rock star? I mean, who does that? What. Chicago 'too rural' for his sound success? I'm just not buying it. Fuck that guy" I said as I laughed, and picked up my coffee to drink.

"Well, he does have a plan, and it sounds reasonable.He's really not a dumbass Li. I hope it works out for him" she said trailing off before buring her nose into her journal.

"Yeah..EVERYone has a PLAN K, and it works out for NONE of them" I laughed, and got back to it.

"Well, mabye not for you" she snapped back, before looking away.

 

Some time went by, and I decided it was time to get going.

"Hey K, I'm going to split" I said to her as I grabbed my coat, and back pack.

"OK. bye" she replied and off I went to drop my coffee mug into the dirty dish bin. No sooner had I turned the corner, then there it was: My crystallized moment of horror, actualized:

 

S draped all over place..alongside 6 other kids I knew from school spilling out in every direction, corner to corner- probably from the large doobie that it looked like they all just smoked.  

 

"Oh my god" I thought as my eyes grew wide and alert." I got the hell outta here- and just in time", and off I flew, into the darkening snowy skies of that grey city. And as I continued on, nearing my destination home, I could only imagine how things were playing out, and what I might hear about later on. 

 

All I knew was, that I got royally fucked on a once nice space for my deviant behavior.

"Fuuuuuccck. Next time I find something, I'm not saying shit to NOBODY. Jesus. Well,..back to the library it IS" I said to myself, pretty dissapointed, but happy to have any alternative space at all.

 

I was almost back home, deciding to take a new way back- a shortcut through town, which had a long row of independent shops made up of boutiques, and places that hardly ever lasted past a few years.

I was happy to be close to home as it was now a cobalt sky, showing a few stars through the black clouds on the horizon."God, it's cold out" I said to myself, as I looked over to see something  unbelievable:

 

It was a warm, yellow hue shining onto the cold and snowy cement sidewalk ahead of me. It was streaming gently onto the snow, making all the snowflake banks look sparkly and magical.

 

"What's this? What's this?" I woke up with a rush of excitement, as I started getting closer with amazement.

And there it was. A brand new cafe had just appeared.

It was still open, and there wasn't a person in sight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Farewell Touring

At one point, in my teens, when I had no wheels, I would regularly take the bus to wherever I needed to go, and oftentimes those places would be west of my usual haunts, requiring longer rides on the local.

 

The bus schedule was regular, but ran few and far between, which left a rather inconvenient wait time more often than not. Yet every 2 hours, sure enough, that bus would arrive... rain or snow, it was right where it needed to be.

 

Normally, the bus was perfectly toasty or chilled, never packed but always filled with dry looking passengers slumped over half asleep, in somber winter coats, with layers of scarves and hats working as half-blanket, half-pillow. 

 

Regardless of the corpses it was carrying, the inside was always minty clean, and had the fuzziest scoop seats for the ride- in sparkly cornflower blue fluff fibers that would twinkle from the overhead flourescent lighting. 

The windows had a matching light shaded blue tint to them, and it kept the harsh summer rays out, which meant everything on the long rides home in the neverending summer heat. I would often sit in back of the bus because of it, as the back stayed cooler with less air flow, and had more generous seating along the backside, with not a lot of people traffic to boot.

 

Of course winter gave just as much reason to sit in the back as well, and while the hour+ long rides were tedious in the dark winter afternoons, I generally enjoyed these go-between moments in time, as I would often bring my walkman, and blast out to something on cassette. No matter where I was, sound occupied my mind thoroughly like a tangible world waiting for me to enter, and as I put my headphones on, I could pick up on a life I was living elsewhere- all I had to do was press 'play', and my real life continued on.

 

CDs were really the 'thing' at the time, but I found the battery life often sadly lacking when compared to my trusty cassette player, and so I mainly stuck to my tapes.

 

I also enjoyed the fact that the cassette had these novel extra volume settings like "extra loud" and "super blast"..You know- hyped up techy propeganda that meant as little as Nigel's '11' ( 'This is SpinalTap'), but was always still somehow louder than the CD player could ever get, like a drug not delivering its sell:

 

The content would travel up the mini red and white headphone wires, and translate out through the puffy foam endings, as I could easily tell the difference once the bus started revving and slicing into every other line of the songs, sometimes skipping, as the bus would hit a pothole.

 

Not only that, but the amount of skips during the jostled ride made it impossible to get through a single song without at least 6 interruptions no matter HOW I held the player; in my backpack, on top of my scarf- I even tried holding it up in midair with very little success, and I often wondered if the bus drivers searched out gashes on the road with malicous intent:

 

"...run Manchester schools..spinelss swinessSZ- BUMP!!---  zzzzzz...whirrrr...tick.tick.tick.

...-mented minds...." and the bus kept going.

 

The cassettes little yellow toothed volume disc knob was master of my ears and mind, without any skips AT ALL- always helping to regulate my happiness perfectly. Like when my favorite tune started, THAT'S when it would be time to move the volume to 'super blast' mode, and you KNEW the sound was gonna hit just right; no skips, no engine humming, no talk- just pure wave.

 

While I might have not been a joiner on the CD bandwagon (and felt like I was missing out on a pretty cool Tron style invention), I didn't miss the price gouge that went along with it: $8.00, $12.00, for a single CD! $16.00 for something NEW, then double albums averaged for $24.99. People were spending so much cash on these rainbow rounds of plastic notes- like they were gonna close down libraries, I simply couldn't keep up OR afford it. If you found a CD for $6.99, it always had a sticker on it saying 'The Nice Price'..like you found some fucking deal or something. It was such a burn, and not in a sharing way.

 

Technology was movin' right along, with new computer related inventions blowing up every year, I just knew it was only a matter of time before the shiny new dics of sunlight would be considered yesterdays wash, but a cassette player was something more established. And so it was:  A tried and true device; helping us for years upon decades; through wars, interrogattions, documentation, and presidential elections..yes, THIS was the shit- but now in neon portable.

 

I did at least choose earphones over a boom box (which you would see now and again on the bus), but boom boxes were an older trend that had mostly faded away by this point, and the noise was another factor; those corpses did not want to be raised from their slumber, nor should they have.

 

Plus, ANOTHER sound advancement had just taken hold: A lot of people around this time were starting to use these inner ear speakers instead: This newer sound toy that were the mini-super-modern-barely-there version compared to the banded variety that was quickly going out off fashion.These 'ear buds' were the next big thing, and so I tried them, but found the sound quality lacking richness, and so, simply stuck to my trusty over-sized jet black cloudy poppers.

 

Of course, having the tunes on 'superblast' meant that the snoring guy next to you would have to contend with a beat as they drifted homewards for the afternoon, but the bus never got crowded enough to ever fill out, and music heads never had to really worry about it, especially sitting way in the back ....or so I thought.

 

Then, one day I took the bus out west of the city, and while the bus seemed to be running a bit late as I waited, I had plenty of time to get to where I was going, and did not mind the time waiting under the hot summer sky- not with New Order blasting stronger than the sun. Soon enough, I spied the little blue and white dot in the distance, spinning its bounce-step along its route, looking more speedy than usual.

 

SHhhhhrrrshhhhhh...

 

The bus pulled up to an abrupt stop, as the roads dust kicked up around its wheels in slow motion. There was this eerie silence to the whole moment as the engine kept humming and popping. The bus really DID have a strange aura today, what was the deal?

 

The double doors flapped open, and a small woman with beady eyes peered through her orbous eclipsing lenses, with pursed lips and a blank face. I walked up the grated stairwell as I smiled, and said "Hello".

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sybil At the Wheel

 

 

 

She stared at me blankly as I pulled out my wallet and began to put a bill into the money machine, and then dug deep into my coin purse to finish paying the fare.

I could feel her eyes upon me as the bus sat there, not budging an inch until the very last dime was being dispensed, and then turned her attention back to the wheel.

 VRRRROOOOOOSHHHHH!!!!Off the bus sped.... down the road going faster than I knew a bus could go, but being late and all, made logical sense.

 

swishshh...swishshh...swishhh...the bus smacked into some tattered trees on the rev up, as the landscape started to blend into a hot bake jungle of g'bye.

 

Fortunately for me, I was used to public transporatation, and on rides way faster than THIS one- such as  the 'El' that would FLY everyone into downtown Chicago on that purple express train every single morning.

The cta always gave one true grit, not only because every germ known to man existed on that thing, but because the elevated tracks were incredibly dated. And while they were repaired and upgraded in spots, they generally looked older than not, making those rides feel like part-destiny, part-chance as they raced down their well worn grooves, swaying everyone back and forth like a death dance that was simply ignored by the passengers as they read the morning newspapers, and corsped out over steaming coffee in thermoses and foam cups.

 

I made my way to the back of the bus, and found my favorite spot to begin my other life, while I  looked at the clouds and sky and the bus made its jolted way down the road..vrrrooooooommmm!

 

 

Skrreeeeeettttcchch! SHHHHhhrrrrrrrrrr...." the bus kept repeating this intrepid cycle as I watched how other people would handle these sudden take-offs. I mean it was kinda funny in a way:

 

One guy took a jogging walk down the aisle with HIS pickup-

'Woah' said another as he decided to sit near the front, and make the walk short. 

 

The bus was getting fuller and fuller by now. In fact, after about 30 minutes or so, the bus was more packed than I had ever seen it, and now had several people sitting in the back area as well. 

"Wow" I thought ot myself "Well,..maybe a bus didn't run to day, and is picking up extras people. Hm"

 

Just then, I saw a fellow hop up with a boom box. He looked built, and strong and somewhat annoyed.

"Oh, this should be interesting, I wonder how he does with this bus liftoff, and holding his box"

VRROOOOSHSHHHHH!

The bus seemed to be taking off faster than it was before, but nothing caused imbalance with this guy, having a muscular body built by the gods, seemed to have moved through the surprise chaos like it was simply a dance move.

 

Just then, the driver looked up through the rear view mirror and glared at the passengers.

"Wait a minute... Is she doing this on PURPOSE?" I asked myself, " Why does she keep looking at everyone? Maybe it's some protocol with bus driving rules, whatever.." I concluded, not thinking much of it as one of my favorite tunes was about to begin.

So, I turned the volume up to its highest allowance, and bopped my head to the beat of the song as we zipped along.

Shortly thereafter, I felt someone looking at me, and looked up to see; sure enough, there was old beady eye..zeroing in on me through that mirror.

 

"Okay..." as I looked up at her, staring back. But then she looked away. "What the hell is going on here.? Why is this woman playing eye tag with me, what the hell??" I asked myself. I mean, I began to really wonder if this was something OTHER than protocol. 

"Back to it then" I concluded, and off I went on to dream about something better, as I turned up the volume, and zoned out.

 

 

-enter dream-

 

 

 

Suddenly, the overhead announcement came on, "WAAAWWWAWAWAWAWWAAWAWAWWA...WAWAWWAWA..WA"...I looked up and she was with a long coily black cord, and an black box in front of her.

 

"Wait, what did she say?" I asked myself, and turned the volume down to listen, but the announcement was over. I looked around "No one looks dissapointed, Well, ALMOST no one" I looked over at boom box guy who looked a bit intense, and somewhat frowning. 

 

 I was finally arriving at my destination, and decided to walk towards the front doors to exit. I pushed my way through to finally get to the front of the group, and held on to the railing as we started to arrive.

 

Just then, ole' beady eye decided to speak:

 

 

" You know, you were playing that music awefully LOUD back there" she began.

 

"What do you mean?" I asked ".. this is a Walkman" I added.

 

"Well I could HEAR you!.... and  if I COULD, EVERYONE CAN!" and continued on"  I ANNOUNCED that music isn't ALLOWED on the bus! Didn't you hear me say that?!! That's how I KNOW it was you! You're being too loud because you didn't HEAR ME!... and If you can't HEAR ME, then it's TOO LOUD FOR YOU"

 

So THAT'S what the deal was. NO WONDER she was staring at ME more than the ROAD. She was CONVINCED that she could hear my 9.99 cheaps from the BACK of the bus, and was now trying to convince me too. I mean, it's not like it could have been the guy who walked in with a playing BOOM BOX, COULD IT? Nope.

 

"What a strange thing to lay into me about.." I thought to myself, as the stop inched closer and closer "..this lady is a nutbag".

 

Now, by this point, I was tired of the ride. What was once a pretty chill time to get lost in my own harmony sauce, was now a paranoid, are-we-gonna-make-it death ride, with a librarain from hell who was absolutely SOLD on her auditory detective work.

 

I sat there thinking about what I could possibly say to such ridiculous nonsense, but just felt exhausted before I could even BEGIN to articute a comeback, but did I really want to do that?

 

I mean, my stop was seconds away....

..and did I want to get into it with the DRIVER of the scary club? I mean, if I just ignored it all, if I could just be patient, I wouldn't have to bother saying a WORD; and mostly, I wouldn't be held RESPONSIBLE for pissing off an already crazy-ass driver, and risk OTHER dead-O's who would still be held captive for god knows HOW long. Yep. Let's just ignore the moment, and let her pass.

 

But no, not her.

 

"HEY. DID you HEAR ME??? Whats WRONG with YOU?!You think you can just go around doing whatever you WANT? There are RULES, and you're LUCKY you weren't kicked off the bus..."

 

I just stood there, my eyes glazed over as I could see my freedom approaching.

 

"WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH YOU- ARE YOU TOUCHED IN THE HEAD OR SOMETHING? Are you DEAF from all that music you're putting into your EARS???" she snapped out.

 

"I can hear you. I think everyone can hear you fine" I replied calmly and somewhat relcutantly, as, by this point, the whole cemetary had resurrected completely to join in on the tea.

 

"WELL THEN?" she roared.

"Well then what?" I replieed, stalling her out.

 

The bus was now slowing down to drop me off.

 

"Aren't you gonna SAY ANYTHING?" she yelled , looking cross as an inbred jay bird, snorting over her coke bottle specs.

 

"No" I replied calmly.

 

"WHY NOT?!" she yelled, getting more and more pissed off with every word.

 

Bitch turned red by this point. 

And it was a good question:

 

I mean, I had every reason to slice into her, and now that my stop was approaching could easily do so with very little clapback, but had no energy or interest in this person in any shape or form... and as I stood there, time became slow motion, as my brain started a long chain of exahusted reasoning of sense and logic:

 

What was wrong with this woman? What was her problem with music heads? Why was she trying to engage me in this way? Couldn't I simply get from point A, to point B without some weird ass bullshit? Who gave this coke bottle wearin' freak this job? ....and most importantly; Is this bitch gonna open the doors, and let me if if I give her no answer AT ALL?

 

 

Then it just popped out of me. Without thought or feeling. Just an honest answer that was simple, and to the point. I didn't say it was animosity OR hate. Just a pure feeling, with no regret:

 

 

"Because I don't want to know you" I replied.

 

There was a dead silence, as she sat there, with her eyes on the road, turning the wheel, and with the bus now silently stopped, for once, in a -hussshhhh... not jarred forward, on a frictious DIME as she fucking FINALLY stepped on the breaks.

 

The doors opened, and off I went.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Epilogue: A Good Citizen

 

 

"God. What a fuckin' nightmare." I said outloud as I walked away.

"At least, I kept the peace, remained calm, and found a real honest truth in the situation..." I started thinking:

 

"... I didn't end up knowing OR LIKING the bus driver, AND got to where I was going.

 

....and that, while I clearly handled a burned-out bus driver with grace, I also managed to do so with demonstrating a fair justice that we ALL deserve to have, in order to live together in this world: An amicle atmosphere whenever possible...

...Hm. Well, I'll be damned. I'm a patriotic citizen AFTER ALL" I chuckled to myself as I pressed play.

 

My time west of the city was short and sweet, and soon I was back at the bus stop waiting for the ride east into town, where my slippers ,on warm wooden floors would be waiting.

 

Soon I saw the bus, and it pulled up to where I stood in a regular fashion.

"Thank god for small miracles" I said to myself, as the double doors flapped open, and a small woman with beady eyes peered through her orbous eclipsing lenses, with pursed lips and a blank face.

 

I walked up the grated stairwell as I smiled, and said "Hello" then made my way to the back of the bus, and found my favorite spot to begin my other life, while I  looked at the clouds and sky and the bus made its jolted way down the road..vrrrooooooommmm!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Full Circle

And in an instant!

I was drawn to teaching.

I was a natural story teller, with a ton of energy..Ready to get everyone dancing and moving, ready to explore bugs in the garden, and monkey bars in the playground,- as well as artistic expression:

 

I was REALLY looking forward to engaging young minds through abstract thought found in math/music, paint, dance, stories, textiles, sculpture, and more, and wanted to experience it all in a public sector kind of a way- fostering abstract language across the board; as an inner resource to help create IDEAS..ingenuity..originality..problem solving...alternative solutions..etc..

 

Yes, there is truly NOTHING that art does NOT support- I mean, there would BE no rocket to the moon if the IDEA never existed firstly.

 

Being naturally night owlish, I found the afternoon-into-the-early-evening shift an ideal time to share and work in the community; You know what I mean, when a lot of people are just beat at the end of their day, and have to consider dinner for the whole family after a 45 minute ride in from the city, showing up after whatever kind of day people have, I was there with a helping gust of paint and perler beads, and an uplifiting attitude.

 

I was lucky to have discovered an opening at the very college I was attending for my diploma(s), and felt at home right away with the other teachers. Some moments of life are just like that- having everything in common with everyone around you in some particular way; music preference with one person, cultural background with someone else, even fashion choices and culinary preferences with a few others. Yes, you can just taste the glimmer in the air when you are right where you need to be, and starting out as a teachers aide in my early 20s, was definitely IT.

 

Being an eccentric artist type, one would think my career choices would have been a bit more related to the art fields - like working at a fine art gallery, or an art related industry, but found my calling to TEACH art a much more rewarding return on the day-to-day...

 

I mean, it's not that I didn't INITIALLY dedicate my time to my artistic career, I did- (and had quite a bit of success for very little effort, I must admit), yet found it to be very 'in my own element', as I felt removed from others around me; going about life from home, to certain places-and-people, then back home to ANOTHER specific set of people-and-places..... then passing corridors of streets and sidewalks, and seeing people I knew I would NEVER meet, or exchange creative ideas with.

 

Creating with the creative, selling to the creative, just wasn't enough- it felt isolated and 'away' from the society around me, and while I wasn't necessarily certain teaching would be 'my thing', I knew that my career, up to that point, just wasn't enough, so I decided to give teaching a go.

 

I really had no idea what to expect, and was grateful to be given the opportunity to join a solid team, learn new ways of incorporating my teaching style with my colleagues, and learn new teaching strategies along the way. And learn I did. I soon learned that there were MANY teachers who were drawn to this particular field for very similar reasons as I did; feeling connected to society through a public sector type of field.

 

That's also where a lot of it ended, as 5 years grew into 10, then adding another 5 into the mix, I also worked with many different teachers who were drawn to early childhood education due to many reasons. One repeating theme due to a 'mother calling'. You know what I mean, A teacher who starts OUT in teaching, but sooner or later discovers the desire to HAVE and teach thier OWN children, not teach everyone elses.

 

Obviously,  there were also teachers who simply HAD to stop when they decided to have kids, because it was just too much. It's an incredibly high burnout field, and a lot of people transition THROUGH early childhood teaching more than keep the career long term- any mom who teaches pre-k is a serious trooper, no doubt.

 

I was never one of those teachers however, having recognized my limits for a long term career knew that I should stick to part-time employ, and felt completely balanced in this afternoon- early evening part time position, that still gave enough room to create at my home studio into the early morning hours. Keep in mind, I was also still taking classes at the college at night ( or the mornings depending), so 0 drive time to my diploma didn't hurt either.

 

Eventually, I got over the work-art-school trinity and my day-to-day became very balanced with work-art, and I watched my teaching skills improve...whether through reading books aloud, or addressing parents needs on the daily, or supporting others around me ( like taking on the kitchen job, cleanup, etc). I was starting to feel like a well-seasoned pre-school teacher, and like everything, certain markers of accomplishment revealed themselves throughout the day, and in the long stretches of the silent nap room.

 

Naptime, by the way, wasn't a place of boring, or tediousness, or burn-out as long napping shifts can become. Just a place of familiar, and comprehension and consistency... Yes, as I would lead the afternoon meditation, I felt right where I needed to be:

 

"Alright everyone, it's time to get the wiggles out, and in order to get the wiggles out you need to tighten you arms as tight as you can, and relax your arms,...take a deep breath in, and out, another in and out..tighten your legs as tight as you can..tighter! ok, now relax your legs..take a deeep breath in.....and now I want you to see a star above you head, and see the light coming down into your head...and down into arms......"

 

It was some meditation book given to me to read, but after reading it once a day for 6+ years, 'no book necessary' - and was really able to make it come alive with this soft monotone voice, and animating the words with my hands and facial expressions- like we were at Disney or something, and I was some main character leading everyone off to a nappy-ever-after, with Carlos Nakai on CD repeat,  jamming us all the way there on long drawn out notes of peaceful woodwinds.

 

It was a pretty successfull routine, and some kids really looked forward to the meditation and drifting off. I was really consistent with it too; Like a well rehearsed script; Day in-and-out, no matter what, the EXACT SAME speech. It became something that only TIME brings: making it look easy, and barely remembering a word you're saying while youre saying it : so fully remembered, so fully conditoned, that your attention is anywhere but- which was a plus, because the nap transition usually needed an extra hand or two with helping students with blankets and stuffed animals and books, etc..

 

 This long sleepy stretch is mostly a good experience for students, but there are always a few kids who can't sleep, or are too anxious to sleep, and so nap was always long and grueling for those ones, and I totally related being one of those kids myself when I was that age; energetic, and creative (usually super focused on drawing or scultping, or music or the arts of any kind), just basically too creative to sleep.

 

And I was pretty invested in all of it too. ANYthing I SAW, I was happy as hell I could draw it out, taking it WITH me, like a keepsake of something I wanted forever. Or,being able to create things from my vivid imagination, being brought forth- OUT LOUD for everyone else to see it too. Yeah, I was real happy to be alive to show everyone what it was all about.

 

I mean, when I eventually ran across this young minds art picture book series, and saw Picassos , I stood there, having an incredibly serious moment, recognizing a fellow kindred artist. Then gave the works a once over, concluding " Yeah....I can do better than THAT", and I meant it.

 

My creativity saved me during those long boring naps as I attended Moody Bible pre-K, amongst the snores I would be there with my books- just NOT sleeping. See, the room was just too bright ( being light & noise sensitive), with these super long stained glass style windows, with golden curtains that barely held the light out.. I would usually ask to go to the bathroom, and hang out in the bathroom for a bit:

 

"Can I use the bathroom?" I would ask.

"Sure. Don't forget to wash your hands" the teacher would say.

 

And I did. I would wash 'em a few times..Before and AFTER I picked my nose..Then I would look out the window, up at the tree branches..then watched a spider in the corner near the ceiling, then dance around..you know- just hang out in the bathroom, and do stupid things kids do- making up little games with yourself, and imaging the rooms as another place- basic playing around.

 

This was all well and good until, apparently, I had decided to lock all the bathroom doors from the inside of the stalls, and go back to the naproom. I mean, I guess I did it repeatedly because a teacher finally ended up escorting me in there, looking all pissy about the matter.

 

 

Nap was so long for me then, but now, not so much. Yep, I had finally found my rest at naptime, making it my own, my mind wide awake in the dark, still, 'room of calm'. I would sit in this blue chair that had silver railings along it, and was a bouncy rocker as it boinged on cushy foam padding, swaying easily, and I found it quite comfortable to clear my mind, and to still my thoughts for the afternoon ahead- and I would consider the afternoons schedule of events in these moments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Loudest Emptiness

 

I had been at this for a solid 7 years by now, all seasons circling, 5 days a week, as time seemed to move around me in super fast motion- swirling around my blue chair, as I sat there, in this meditative-awake state, in a perfectly blissed out state of peace.

 

I mean, the job really DID make me happy; I felt super balanced between my extroverted, outgoing, assertive, chatty self in my public day experience, and then my more 'chill&vibe' introverted, quiet half that contained a music-and-beads sort of homelife. I was also discovering a way to REALLY utilize my time in the blue chair, during these blocks of quiet, by simply quieting myself:

 

It was quite by accident one day, when I sat there, listening to the room; the snores, as the fishtank bubbled away... and then the background noises of Carlos' tootin' started up... I then noticed the sound of the other classroom across the way (which was bustling), and the trees outside which caught a gust, making the leaves sound like scattering static.

 

I could hear the microwave beeping just beyong the door, into the kitchen as teachers heated something for lunch...and a phone would ring in the office as it got answered soon enough. All the various noises got added on to my collecton of sounds as I eventually went past the school walls, and could hear a car on the road, and then the heavy doors closing as students went in and out of the main college entryway.

 

It was in this moment, that I noticed something:

 

That, outside of listening to these few noises, in this moment, my mind was completely empty. I mean,  I simply wasn't thinking of ANYthing- not the afternoon ahead, or past events, or bills, or school, or relationships, or whatever. I was simply empty of ANY thought or feeling at ALL, feeling very much like the wind that might haunt the Grand Canyon; invisible and everywhere; silent, empty, and still- devoid of any obvious existence.

 

Suddenly an immense sense of joy took over me, as I felt free from my mind and any torment of thought it could ever possibly ever think- because I had NOW found a way to shut mySELF off. Like a little shut-off valve..I was totally amazed by this new place I just discovered out-of-the-blue..like seriously, where tf did I just roll up into? Yep, naptime was clearly becoming an incredibly relevant event, it just took me THIS long to recognize it.

 

 

"What a strange place to have some meditative breakthrough..." I thought to myself, "...but no matter- naptime is the PERFECT place to model meditation as an alternative to actual SLEEP, and who knows? maybe it will inspire someone to try it out... I wonder if other teachers meditate at nap too?" I started to wonder.

 

"Well, of course NOT" I began to remember:

 

Being the teacher to CLOSE the school each day, my day was, essentially just BEGINNING, while my colleagues were near the END of theirs. Plus, I was the main teacher facilitating the napping hours, and so:

 

"No..I guess there wouldn't be alot of teachers having this- they are lucky they even manage to get time to eat, prep. for the afternoon schedule, and finish up the practicum student meetings, let alone sit for 5 minutes in the blue chair...."

 

I started to consider it further "Yeah, this is really a one-of-a-kind type teaching position..then again, I AM a one-of-kind type of person, it's not surprising the universe happened to have us both, and group us together like this"  I laughed to myself, perfectly content with that answer.

 

"Plus, I am an artist ..." I gloated, rocking in the blue chair "....a mininimum of one artist at each school sounds right" (as I was making a Reggio Amelia schooling reference, happy that our school was mirroring the philiosphy in this one way).

 

"Another ribbon of accomplishment" I thought to myself, as I blinked into the dark room, hearing the gentle waves of Carlos' flute wafting my happy flag in front of me; I was proud to become my ideals. My day was really starting to radiate. You gotta understand, I was super dedicated to the idea of living this educational dream, and I knew I was at the right place to accomplish the goal:

 

Not only were we licensed and accredited in as many ways as possible, with phenomenal facitilies ( being apart of a state college), with constant professional improvements (conferences and workshops), but I had MY OWN sole agenda- being a lead driver of 'going organic' with the school menu, helping to implement an ECE green licensing program which focused on going green by incorporating outdoor gardening, and recycle programs, etc..

 

I was also a big fan of Reggio Amelia style approach to environment and play philisophy, and liked to do little extra green touches on the side- like help put in the foundation beds of the colleges organic garden, and mantaining an artist-in-residency at the college for a sprint, by teaching college students on process vs. product play, while travelling to the sister campus to provide larger art projects for the ECE classooms. This would include projects such as green ceramics, as well as a massive 24 ft x 15 ft handprint mobile- (a paint print of each students hand), which hung in the colleges main hallway, right above the stairwell.

 

I seriously wanted to work at a school ran by the best people; from the smallest position to the leads, and while there WAS still SOME smaller turnover rates (like with my assistant, and other assistant positions etc), the duties were light enough as to not make massive impacts on the day-to-day consistency (which is essential for a solid educational environment).

 

I just kept rocking in my blue chair, so happy to have been able to be apart of an educational approach that I believed in "Yep, there aren't many ECE programs that focus on the arts" I started to reflect, "..Hell- there arent many art teachers in general.."

 

I stopped rocking. I hadn't seen it like THAT before.

 

"Well, there aren't many arty kids either" I started looking for solutions to my own questions.

"...so it kinda makes sense why there aren't that many art teachers..." I started to consider the various families and people I had run across over my time there. And yeah, there were a handful of dedicated students over the years, that were really into creating; always heading DIRECTLY for the markers, paint/ perler beads as soon as were readily available, no matter WHAT other activity was happening, no matter WHAT the season, but those naturally inclined types were actually few and far between.

 

I mean, most students adored the afternoon art projects- especially perler beads. Perler beads were this newer invention, just now ironing everyones thoughts into a pixitlated tray of joy. Kids would be racing over there, like musical chairs, it was so popular. And the concentration, my god. The room would be so quiet at times, with the amount of focus going on, with the designs getting more and more intricate. I was grateful to have a kind sound system in there to balance the serious tone out.

 

Of course, everyone loved dancing and using percussions too, and the art eisle holding paint cups, and various new painting methods was always super popular- so much so, we had to upgrade the drying rack after the first one exploded, and finally gave up trying to save everything after it died of overload:

 

 

KABOOOM! Everyone in the classroom looked over.

J was already racing over to the deceased rack.

"Do we just let them dry there? Or.." I asked.

"I don't think there is much else we CAN do. If we try to separate them NOW, they will drip, and there's no where to dry them" She resolved.

 

Up to that point, I just hadn't considered how much various art forms we really encouraged with our afternoon program; how popular art become in the classroom, and how many things we really explored:

Balloon painting, paper collage, glitters, gemstones and flower petal painting, looms with yarn, glass beads with Nymo thread..Paint spin art, and pringle can marble art, finger painting, crayon fingernail tips, ice cube painting, and stickers, and of course the classics like playdough, markers, pencils, crayons, scissors, tape and glue....the variation was inSANE, and made art fun as well as learnative: part-self expression, but mostly scientific- exploring properties of unknown materials and pushing it to the limit.

 

And I was just THAT teacher (to my colleagues dismay); to really encourage the class to go bananas when it came to investing into the work- I mean, if we were doing gemstones and glue on paper, and someone wanted to just pour glue onto paper, I completely encouraged it. And sometimes really cool stuff was made when the elmer's glue turned into a dried cloud pool WAY the hell past the papers border, and then the student would decide to put a single gem in the middle. Like this tiny sparkle amidst the lake of milk.

 

It really contrasted with the work of another student, whose idea was to deck the paper out in edge-to-edge gemstones, so that it could barely hold together (because it would now weigh 5 pounds consisting of plastic dazzlers). Contrasts like this always made people think, and I would showcae the works together, out in the college hallway to show some of the really cool contrasts that students created with the materials..so different, and yet so much stronger as a unified variation, rather than a set of 1000 cookie cutter expressions, and college kids would often stop and look.

 

It did get messy at times, and I was grateful we had a cleanging crew who swept the glitter and confetti bits away, like the magical inspriational mischief it rode in on, ready for the next days reign of rainbow terror, and paint splatter nightmares; I encouraged it all.

 

 

I kept rocking in the blue chair:

 

"Wow... I can't believe I never reflected on that; I never DID run across my type of teaching style, OR student version... a mini-Li. Now THAT would be  scary" I laughed to myself "..but how would I RECOGNIZE that kid anyway? ...Well, if I EVER DO run across such a student, I'll feel at rest knowing I wasn't the only 'art-from-the-start' kid, and could die a happy Pre-K teacher death, comforted that god created some similar version, and will be running around keeping the dream alive long after I'M long gone, and buried,".

 

 

 

 

The cd ended, and I got up to press 'repeat'.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Closer 

 

A solid 12 years at this routine, and I had it down pat.The transitions into this quiet time was like a well understood dance, and the empty canyons of my mind had become far reaching, and emptier than ever by now..I had larger and larger inner landcapes of peace and tranquility...whole continents of mute.

 

Maybe it was the extensiveness of the silence that seemed to echo out a certain truth, or perhaps it was the new seasons in which the canyon seemed to now rest upon. What it was, I could feel my time in the blue chair coming to a completion... my peaceful inner world, in a complete loving orbit- although I wasn't so certain at first.

 

 I mean, how would I really KNOW? When you dedicate yourself to an ideal, and love the job, thick or thin, it can get harder and harder to discern ones true readiness for finality of said experience, but with new avenues of adventure inviting me on, I could sense it would really only be a matter of time, before I would be on my way:

 

It was my last semester, as everyone gathered around on the large blue and green oval carpet, to hear the new book I had brought in; Sort of a 'good-bye, and I'll miss you all' book. It was the kind of book I HAD when I was that age; an art book for growing minds that focused on a single artist (this one focusing on Henri Matisse). 

 

I read it aloud to the class as the story began with 'the day and life' of this guy, and what sort of artwork he created- you know what I mean- simple little sketched characters acting out the mans storyline..and as I went along, I looked at the students, and noticed one student in particular looking rather odd.

 

Just a particularly serious look across their face as they stood up to listen to this book, as to get a better glance at the imagery. They just stood there, in the middle of the seated circle of students ( as no one seemed to mind), fixated on the pages as I turned and read. I really wondered what might be going on through their mind and asked about it:

 

"What are you thinking about?" I paused to ask.

"Keep turning the pages" they replied, just staring deeply into the pages.

"You want to keep going? Ok" I said, and continued to read.. I was really curious. What was deal. Did I pick a boring book? No, everyone is engaged in it......Is it too scary? Matisse isn't scary..is it? I was really starting to wonder- I mean, I started to think was in trouble, and a 4 year old was about to let me have it.

 

 

Soon, the book of cartoon sketchwork gave way, to reveal a glossy photo image of an actual work by Matisse. You could hear faint "Oooooooo"s and "Ahhhhhhh"s from the group as the last image was super opaque and brilliant by comparison to the rest of the simply sketched book, but not one peep from my stand alone. They just stood there, looking serious as ever. 

 

 

Now it was time to go outside, and we all got up to get ready to go outside, and most students dashed off to their cubbies,as I started to close the book when I heard:

 

"Turn to that page again......." a voice said. It was that one student, still standing there, looking at the book in my hand.

 

I lifted the book, turned to the last page, and pulled the pages open wide, right before they grabbed it:

 

"...Yeah.......

I can do better than THAT", they said, and they meant it.

 

..and with that, I closed the book on a very long chapter.

 

 

Finding Gods House

So by the time I was 11, I was knee deep in hebrew homework, and swimming in it as well as anyone my age-​ although I never felt languages as my strong suit. I was, however, mystified by hebrew, and how similar sounds from the english alphabet would be found in a complete different set of symbols, and have a different way of relating in order to form words.

 

When I first started learning early on at age 6, I kept looking for ways to try and relate letters together- you know; to see if 'Aleph' could somehow LOOK like the letter 'A' in my minds eye, and perhaps make learning the language easier. 

 

I soon discovered that it DID, but only so much- and only SOME letters really had some sort of commonality. It also didn't help that reading hebrew is OPPOSITE direction than english (right to left, not left to right). For a really long time I struggled with just accepting this completely new orientation- I simply did not want to put in a shitton of concerted effort into learning this language at the second school.

 

I mean, it was already MORE homework than regular kids at my day school had to contend with, and no one at MY house was speaking the languge ever. It just wasn't a convenient thing to incorporate into my somewhat already involved schedule (with ballet 3 times a week, already on the menu).

 

But eventually, I relented, and just accepted this language as a completely new skill set that wasn't going to have ANY short cuts with ANY sort of orientation I had ever known, or heard about. Once I did THAT, it got EASIER to create NEW associations in my mind to remember the language, and began to letter sequence early on, and easily.

 

I also appreciated the fact that learning this language meant that I was developing literacy skills to read both the Torah AND the Bible- something that ANY true religious individual does when professing ANY text...You know what I mean; Actually knowing how to directly READ it? (Translations only tell half the story, and implication askews asunder, but in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king). 

 

By being able to read the writings DIRECTLY, I found that I could also understand OTHERS better- my parents at temple, as well as my extended family at my grandfathers church (who was a christian minister down south for most of his life). It helped  by being able to see the parts of the language THEY connected with, or found some signifigance with, in certain portions of the texts, etc..

 

So, while I really resented the extra work, there was some good stuff there. Besides of which, my best friend at the time was an adopted mixed girl being raised by a pretty straight laced Catholic woman who had that girl on a nonstop disciplinarian track at her house; and those midnight masses were always included with the expectancy of being wide eyed and appreciative- no matter what the age, issue or hour. HER day-to-day made the extra school look like a drop in the bucket, so I never minded until I got to be a little older- around 11 or 12.

 

You know, that's when everyone REALLY starts talking about it; all the things that are coming YOUR WAY with that Bar or Bat Mitvah- Like this final payoff. I really had no clue that there was some ritual EVENT at the end of the schooling.. I thought I got a diploma or whatever, and 'on my way' I would go.

 

Nope. This was a big deal. A MONSTER deal. Turns out that the mitvahs are massive events for the whole family, and some made HUGE deals about it;  Like, renting halls, and catering with a professional photgrapher...fkn pony rides, and celebrity attendance... All I'm gonna say is, they can get pretty elaborate, and the other kids at this school were no exception when it came time to discuss it:

 

"What are you doing for it?' I would over hear one kid say.

"Well, my parents want to have this party dowtown, but then mom says were also flying to the tropics..so now I don't know" they answered.

"Yeah? YOU'RE lucky. I have a 400 person one, and I have to stay to greet them ALL" said this other.

"SO? What are you complaining about?"retorted the first kid".. Your'e getting 400 gifts--haha..oh my god"

Everyone agreed and went in to the classroom.

 

I was chummy with this one girl, R, only by default really- We happen to be 2 of only a handful that attended both this place, and the same day school. So, we had a similar schedule and would run into each other before and after classes often in the study rooms, or whatever. Midwest winters kept most people indoor, but social circles kept people inside during the spring months as well.

 

She was a quiet type, with intense light hazel eyes, and short cut brown hair. Without fail this girl always had a can of Pringles with her, and the latest fashion under her ass. She really seemed to like Guess jeans, and had the brightest tops tucked in, so that her slender build would adorn the triangle label of hippness easily.

 

"Hi' I would say.

"Hey' she would answer abruptly, and get back to her work;

 

She liked me, but didn't particularly care for me since I was chatty, which kept her away from her homework. I mean, she liked laughing at my jokes or whatever, but her solution to this extra school was to try and get all her homework done AFTER regular school, and BEFORE the second school started- and time fucking off with me was really cutting into that groove.

 

That, and I also had some 80's-euro-wool-sweater-vest-and-brown-courdorouys-vibes going on, which was just NOT her 'type' of friend. Yes, those clique-ish ways were there- even at this secondary place I found rather drab, and its structure, dated- and I felt the kids at this place rather unimportant because of it (other than the handfuls that also attended the day school I went to). So, while I resented R for not engaging me more, I really couldn't blame her- no one really wanted to be there.

 

She WAS however, chummy with this pipsqueak of a girl who really looked up to her. I mean, this pip would compliment her as much as one could, and was always asking R for chips to eat. The relationship seemed really ego driven in a very cliquish-pecking-order sort of a way..and I was happy to not be a part of it, spending nicer weather, outside by myself or whatever, before classes.

 

It's not that I couldn't have spent the time doing homework like R did, I probably SHOULD have... and often did- it's just that I PACED myself... so that I would be able to really ABSORB content( So when we had a 50 page reading assignment in some book, I would dedicate my entire time between school afternoons to the one assignment). No skim read, and then ALSO try to slam in math, and science and whatever... I chose to just stay up 'til 10 doing the work instead of getting the unwind time.

 

I always caught my second wind around 10pm anyway (allowing me to finish up my nights with a bath and TV or whatever)..and while the 9 o'clock hour was gruelling at times- since I was SO ready to fall asleep and call it a night, city living amidst the electrical sound-bar buzz made it easy to push-through with a soda or hard candy, and 10 would be reached soon enough.

 

I was pretty open about everything going on with me when I chatted her up...although being the main talker,  I never knew much about R, or her personal life. I DID know that she had a younger brother though, and would often relay the nightmare which was her homelife with this infant sibling. I think she DID appreciate time with my chattyness to stop her work in order to vent about it, and feed her pippy friend token chips just to maintain a sense of efficient purposefullness to her breaks.

 

She SEEMED driven, but one could never tell if it was out of DRIVE, or some fear of reprimand from her parents- we never got close enough for me to discover, but in the short stints between schools, slices of small facts ( like the younger brother)  would shine through they grey days (which were pretty standard for midwest life), here in the northern burbs of Chicago.

 

I liked to read, and reading outside in nature at some local garden, or park, or by the lake even, was simply a better read to be had. Of course, during the colder months there was no where else to go BUT join in the study room which was located at the temple on the first floor. I really had wished I could have had time to decompress at home beforehand- you know what I mean, change clothes eat, ground out, drop off the day books&bag..but I was way  too far from home to go home first BEFORE classes (and get there on time).

 

 

Plus, the 2 schools were super close- which allowed all sorts of time for local area exploration ( if I stuck around ).  The area was mostly residential; Only a handful of places were truly available to sit and read for the heel-to-toe crowds. ...And with only a sliver of the seasons amidst the school session overlapping (when the cold days were forced upon us), one was always faced with biting decisions. I just went with the pack, and dashed off to this secondary school as soon as the first one let out. But only a couple of kids who attended both did it like this, which turned out to be my conclusive lot in life.

 

It was just this extra room that no one was using, and was always open. I don't even think anyone had this room as assigned to ANYthing, other than being a room that had a couple table and chairs in it. It overlooked the parkinglot, which was cool, because if you were waiting for your parents to pick you up, you could simply hang out in this room instead of out in the cold slushy snow, under the newly formed night sky, which held the most piercing stars.

 

At first, not a lot of people knew about this room- and if you went in there after classes, you could see through the window a line up of kids outside waiting for their rides, jumping up and down trying to keep warm with cars crawling along:

 

And all the cars were like this.

 

All of them. Simultaneously.

Like some gear pulled belt of luggage at the airport. Or a rotating dessert tray- it was constant for a solid 40 minutes of stops and starts, everyone slowly dissapearing.

 

 

My parents didn't pull in to the lot. Dad found a strip of parking along the SIDE where no one really parked, and would just wait for me there, so I never did use that spare room for toasty pickup- it didn't matter, soon everyone discovered that place, and it got really crowded in there and created longer waits to clear out the school, since parents now had to double park and run in to get their kid, if they were missed though the glass.

 

After a month, there was some teacher in there helping kids by announcing pick ups- probably (because  the building was now open later- forcing staff to stay later -I suspect). And the room became very official in ritual and use. I was feeling a bit pushed out of this once empty study hall; Like a cool hidden spot that no one knows about, then later everyone finds..it was becoming time for me to find some NEW indoor places to hang between classes.

 

Now, normally by the end of the class, I was walking out of the building through empty and alone halls, as pretty much everyone was already outside, but with the new mass preference of kids wanting to keep warm inside, the empty halls became just as filled as any regular classtime with that one room swelling.

 

I never really mingled with the other grades until Sunday classes came around, and thats when I met Brunnette.

 

 

 

 

HOUSEWIVES UNITE

Everyone would start out with regular school class on Sunday morning, and then near the end of it, would walk down together, as a whole, and join the adults for some final songs or whatever.

 

 

Of course, marching the whole student body of all ages, and having them wait quietly in the main hallway was kind of unrealistic, and once in a while one of the younger kids would lose their shit and bolt off- just take off for some water fountain waaaaaayyyyy at the other end of the hall with some teacher running after them looking panicked and confused.

 

The older kids never had it so lucky however; THEY had to set the EXAMPLE, always being lined up FIRST and foremost, by the doorway into the main area. If you were quiet enough, you could juuust make out what the rabbi was saying, and a lot of kids wanted to listen in, instead of standing there being bored.

 

At first the waits were only for a few minutes, but over a short 2 months, had somehow turned into a lengthy 15-20 minute wait, and kids were starting to get rowdier and rowdier each time they went down there.

 

My friend R was no exception- she actually relished this Godsend of a moment, seeing as how there really as NO WAY she could actually WORK in those moments.. it was like a sign form GOD that she HAD to take a break, and get chummy. 

 

She walked over to me, which kind of surprised me- I mean, we talked in that study room for a bit, but other than that really didn't socialize at day school, or whatever.

 

"Hey. Did you pick your science project yet?" she asked me. She knew to go straight for a topic of interest, which as pretty much anything that had to do with my day school, and not THIS place.

 

"No... I got O as my partner. Did you get F like you wanted?  I asked her.

"Yeah" she anwsered as she perked up. F was some boy she really liked, and was hoping to be paired up with him for this science project we had to do. 

 

I thought she might start talking about him more, and after this waiting, ANY topic would be better than listening to this guys muffled words through the front doors, as the sermon dragged on.

 

"Are you going to AutumnFest?" she asked me.

"Um, no." looking blankly at her. I honestly had no idea that the autumn season had some ritual festival surrounding it, let alone some event that most of the kids at my day school were attending.

 

"You should go.." she began"..there's going to be a pumpkin carving contest, and pies for sale..my mom is making some- and P is going..so is E" she began to tell me.

 

I just nodded my head, somewhat dissapointed that talking about some event I KNEW I wasn't going to go to, was NOW, just as boring as no discussion at all, when my eyes started to wander off....

 

I looked up at the clock ( which you could see through the main doors and into the main service area.. I mean, the guy MUST have known how long his sermons were getting) and then noticed a slender brunnette girl blaring in my general direction, and now walking directly over to us.

 

"YOU'RE going to THAT?" she was clearly looking at R and asking her in a serious manner, with these ooogley eyes.

 

R looked rather freaked out, and I didn't blame her- I mean, we thought we were having a 1 and 1 discussion, not US, PLUS this other group from wherever the hell they just popped out from.

 

"Well yeah" she said looking at me, before turning her head to finish her sentence "..like, the whole CLASS IS" she finished stating.

"Oh. THAT'S right.. you don't go to H School"

she turned to whisper to her friend. "...you both go to N school"

 

"We sure do" we both said in unison, looking rather surprised at each other afterwards.

"Yeah..WE, have our OWN pumpkin festival , so NO WONDER we don't know you" the brunette dropped rather bluntly, as she turned to go back though whatever portal whisked her and her clan there.

 

 

"SSsshhhhhhhhhhhh!"

 

The teacher looked up from the floor, and looked openly annoyed at everyone. Not so much that we were getting loud in discussion, but that we were still there, and the teacher was trying to listen to what was being said inside.

 

The doors finally opened, and in we all floooded.

While the weeks passed, this new group of girls got chattier and chattier with us, and while I could see they were reaching out to engage in some way (probably because they were just as as bored as we were standing there), I just found the repeated condescending attitude to be a real waste of conversation. But R didn't think so, and got drawn into any topic of discussion quite regularly. R could clearly see this other group as having a real inside track to what was trendy, and she wanted in. 

 

Soon, she was seeking out this other bunch instead of me, which was fine as I had other people I liked to talk to, but soon it became something else.

 

One day, while waiting in line this little group (along with R) approached me:

 

"SO, what are you going to do for your Bat Mitvah?" Brunnette asked.

"What?" I was really confused, why was anyone even asking me about it? I mean, I hadn't brought it up like everyone else was doing, and now , out of nowhere this girl, who, quite honestly I really didn't respect very much is asking me about it.

 

"I don't know, what are YOU going to do?" I asked her. I mean, we hadn't made any plans, but I absolutely KNEW she probably had some extensive list to rattle off, and now that I was asked directly about the whole matter would be forced to listen to her; Let the hostage situation, commence...(god, was this fuckin' man EVER going to stop yapping, and let us IN already?):

 

 

"Well, were definiteiy having it catered, and were hiring this rock band..." she went on and on, which was fine with me. It was so damn boring standing there for now what was 25 minute stretches, and R had not much new to say,  so at least THIS girl was some new person to listen to.

 

It became clear, pretty soon, however, that this girl was more interested in competeing with her friends rather than sharing happy things in her life. Did she even LIKE the rock band being hired? That wasn't the point, the point was the band was suppossed to be impressive. I mean, after 3 weeks of this mouth, I could see that she was just dropping names and scenarios as some sort of superiority trip, and I really was not interested in what she had to say anymore, no matter HOW new, or funny, or cool. 

 

It just seemed like a lot of time focused on this one person, who in all honestly would probably grow up to be just like her mom. And it seemed it, even back then.

 

I could see it crystallizing as she stood there with her roly poly eyes and glimmering jolly rancher smile all stuck in her braces- all goobery in the track lighting of the hallway, which made EVERYthing look all golden and ethereal. I would look at her in these neon outfits against this rather gentle backdrop and witness the lik-a-stik she had become along her journey; half snotty brat, half monster.

 

I could remember thinking to myself about how she had all this stuff going on her life, and how it sounded like her family was WAY UP her grill- and when I would watch her speak, she sounded just like her mother who I saw only a handful of times, but the energy was so similar.

 

Same hair cuts, same saucery moon eyes, same loud scratchy voices..I mean, I think the mom even DRESSED them in matching outfits..it was fucked up- like a me, and mini-me vibe going on, and in that way I felt really bad for her because, you just KNEW that some day, in the future, that HER kid would be standing there, as she would be where her mother was now.

 

But would she be any different when it as HER turn? I really wondered.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lets Just Cut to The Chase, Shall We?

 

Soon we had some sort of holiday singing special, where each class had a song they would sing and practice for in the main hall, and we were all together again, but this time for longer stints. The parents were in some other area, so the classes could practice in the main room and wait for their classes turn in the long seating rows which seemed SO long. Sure, there were 3 sections, but that middle section seemed to go on and on for MILES, and I always opted for those rows near the door, in a side section of the seating.

 

 

Brunnette spotted me and R, and came on over with her little group following...like a pack of birds that liked to peck their way through the corridors, making sure all the eggs are in a row, in their appropriate spots. They were already so good at what that whole group would probably eventually end up doing their whole lives: Attending this one place, like a generational flock, filling the ecological status quo.

 

"You have my book-What song are you guys singing?" she asked me.

 

I looked down at the music binder. It was true- I had grabbed her music book instead of my own from the stack of books which were next to me. Did it matter? Yeah..Did she have to go running after it at that extact moment? Probably Naaaa...but either way, she was clearly interested in finding out what sort of egg I was.

 

"Were singing Yemei (Yemei HaHanukkah -Days of Hanukkah)" I replied.

"Oh, we did THAT, LAST YEAR" she said rather cut and dry, having already sized up my yolk, and turned to go bother someone else.

 

Now normally, I would let those sort of slights just roll on by, Especially being in the main worshipping area...but maybe it was the fact that she was seeking me out in this situation, or the fact that I was really tired with the facade of being chummy, or maybe because I was really hungry and thirsty, and my blood sugar levels were dropping ( which can turn me into a real demon at times)...or maybe to the fact that the conversations just felt endlessly superficial. For whatever reason, I just decided to get real with her:

 

"-AND YOUR SONG, was done LAST YEAR TOO, by ANOTHER class..who cares." I added.

 

She turned around, completely surprised by the clapback and shot me look.."NO. They changed the song for OUR CLASS.... You don't care about your song? Then why are you singing it" she snickered as her fowl clan joined in.

 

'Her mom probably made the teachers change it' I thought to myself, but instead replied:

"Because I HAVE to. It's not like I WANT to be here, singing songs and worrying about outfits, when you just end up like your mom anyway"  I said rather bluntly, and smiled.

 

I mean, I really meant it. It wasn't some sort of dig, I actually DID think in that moment, she might REALLY identify- I mean jesus fuck- look at her; This mini- me running around, looking and sounding just like her mother, that poor girl...and I had already FORGAVE her for her puppet life and most of the bullshit she sent everyones way...... if ANYone was gonna rally around THAT viewpoint, SURELY it was gonna be HER, yet not exactly.

 

Now, I'm not sure what really happened, but this girl got a glazed look in her eye, and stood frozen like someone had just short circuited the robot. Her friends just stood there, looking at her like "now what happens'.

I just walked away, as it was the end of class, the teacher was opening the front doors to let parents flood in, and I had no interest being in there anymore.

 

Little did I know that the volt of words I was sending created a new sort of monster, just waiting to terrorize me from then on...and on and on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monster Mash

 

 

It started the following week:

"So what are you getting for Hannukah? Some new pants maybe?" she smirked as she gave me a once over.

"God, she's so stupid... I know.." a whisper would ensue.

"Um, can I ask you?" she once calmly asked me " Why do you wear the same outfit every week?"

 

"What are you talking about?" I asked her.

"Those pants, they are always the same ones" she replied with a nasty look.

 

And it was true: I HAD been wearing the same ones..I hadn't thought a ton about it, but now that she mentioned it..shit. I was pretty limited in wardrobe choices, so by the time Sundays rolled around, was left with just a few options in the closet, and simply went with something from earlier on in the week, etc..

I seriously hated getting dragged out of beds on Sundays for a school class...just hated it, let alone dressing for it.

 

"Well, it's the ones I had" I replied.

"-Well, I know that's not true' Brunnette cut me off ".. because R said you wear them at your other school too". 

 

Who was this person, and why did they want to talk about my clothes? I mean, clearly it was to make me feel bad about myself for not having whatever SHE thought was the important thing, but all I could see now was her mother, and wondered what her mom would have said about how her kid was acting.

 

 

I mean, here we are. In this religious place, this place to find God... with the Torah sitting there..and this person is just mean to everyone. I then wondered if she ever she felt connection to that: to the reason WHY we were there- to find God. But at that moment, she only seemed to be finding the wrongness in everyone around her as her reason for being there.

 

"My god" I thought to myself  "Is this what the parents do?"

 

It was a valid question..there were some real snot vibes from the adults in this place: Like when starting carpool, my parents got asked the question about their ride..because, YOU know, as some of those parents EXPLAINED; THEIR kids were only used to BMW station wagons, etc...

 

And for a second, I thought about it..like, getting the parents involved with what was NOW just a constant stream of nastiness- of snotty verbal abuse from this flock of hairspray and eyeshadow, but I felt that if I got all these others involved that it was somehow just the chickenshit way out of my troubles...that, and, in truth, her eventual morph into her mom (and me telling her so), was somehow WAY worse than anything she could EVER throw at me.

 

I mean, after all, they were 12 year old girls..it's not like a group of 17 year olds ready to do damage or something. Little did I know that some of the most savage sentiments could be locked in such glittery bop wrappers- had I known how bad things would get, I might have made other choices at this point.

 

 

R didn't seem to have any problems dropping me like a bad habit seeing as how, I was clearly the one to target, and she wasn't. While never murmuring a word against me, would still STAND there, in unison with the bad news birds and laughed right on along. 

 

I was honestly impressed, and saddened simultaneously- impressed because she could cut someone off so swiftly, yet saddened- and not for our relationship (I mean, I knew I was being forced into a school with kids I was not choosing as friends), but because she must have felt the need to HAVE to choose..everytime I Iooked at her, she was sweating with desparation and avoiding my gaze at all costs. 

 

Then again, maybe she just thought I sucked.... whatever the case was, we were clearly not friends any longer, and Sunday school from then on, would be giving me lessons in an entirely new way.

 

 

 

 

Bursting My Bubble

 

Finally.

We were only a week away from the big event- which I was more than happy about getting over and done with- SO ready to actually get back to CLASS on Sunday mornings, and not have to deal with this incessant negativity disguised as a walking Esprit Ad.

 

 

By this point, you are probably asking yourself, where were the teachers? And that's a good question. But, like most religious schools, they were WAY understaffed, and having all the kids together in one big room made it EASY for kids to fuck off left, right, and center, while teachers got deduced to nannys, running around, in constant 'intervention' mode. 

 

What would start out with everyone sitting, soon got turned into 'Can I use the potty?' with 5 kids joining.. and another group of 12 heading up the stage for THEIR turn, with yet ANOTHER group gathering around the piano..with the older kids all over the place.

 

There was nothing quiet about that hall of worship, and in a loud hurry that place became a jungle gym- and yet somehow I knew that if I ever joined in the way Brunnette kept compelling me to, I would soon be the only voice in the room, and probably nailed for it.

 

The whole ordeal became a real lesson for me in patience, because I knew, at some point that I wasn't going to be so nice as I was being with simple exchange. I knew it would just keep escalating since I wasn't responding to any of it beyond a couple of carefully chosen words...purposely, ignoring the really nasty stuff.

 

Brunnette seemed to be getting more and more pissed off about it too. She seemed to have known that her time was up, and soon Id'e never have to see her face again (other than maybe during holiday events); See, the next season would begin our NEW classes with NEW teachers, and her WHOLE CLASS would be in another part of the temple entirely, so we wouldn't cross paths ever again.

 

I was so happy that this final day was turning out to be calmer than I had expected it to be, but the day was far from over;  Being the oldest of the bunch, we went on LASTLY, which meant as the youngers piled out early for the afternoon, the elders were left to their own devices with the 1 teacher.

 

Eventually the room started thinning out, and small group-by-group kids were going up for their practice- doing the best they could, and knocking off class early after their turn. Of course, Brunnette and Co. was there, just a few feet next to me.

 

In the same row.

 

She had decided to be a joiner, and probably throw out some last minute jabs my way. Why god had decided on this situation in this final moment, in this exact way, in this place...well, only God knows why. 

I mean, damn. Why couldn't HER group have GONE FIRST? So they would have all LEFT EARLY?

 

Or, why couldn't I HAVE BEEN CALLED FIRST so I could leave early? But NO. BOTH our groups would be LAST, and pack all the shit up together, and WALK OUT together, with NO ONE there, for whateverdrama she has in mind..Jesus fuck..

 

"Li?" the teacher called my name. 

 

'Holy shit. I'm gonna being able to go on before and leave early! I can't fuckin' believe it.' I said to myself. It's like God heard me. Jesus, maybe temple isn't so BAD AFTER all...

 

 

Well, not quite.

 

"..Li...S has a cold, and she can't do the practice today- you three will have to get together some time before the event and try to get a final practice in" she announced, and walked backstage to continue singing with the current set of kids.

 

'Oh great. Well, at least I get to go early' I thought to myself.

 

But then I realized something.

I was sitting in one of those long ass pews in the middle of the room, and Brunnette was right by the end. Not only that, but THAT end was in the direction to leave. But do I even try to get BY them in these narrow ass rows? Id'e probably end up smelling like her with the amount of minty Tic-Tacy goodness that was beaming off of them- that and derision. That group felt completely at home too- having their legs on the pews in front of them, and was making it pretty obvious that trying to leave THAT direction was gonna be a 'no-go'.

 

 

Now, I COULD have avoided them ENTIRELY as they expected me to, by going AROUND the entire set of pews, in the OPPOSITE direction, but then it would be an obvious AVOIDANCE that just didn't feel right with me. I mean, it's not that I didn't respect the idea of a peaceful room of worship. I did. I truly did..But this now was becoming my dignity vs. pacifism which I knew was going to sit with me for fucking-ever.

 

Could I leave by taking the long way round, knowing that I kept the confrontation low-risk in this sacred room, but have my balls kicked in the dirt on the way out the door? I mean, there was no one in there now..just this other set of kids near the front, and one bookish kid next to them, with his nose deep in some music sheet, singing out-of-tune.

 

There was nothing to stop Brunnette from simply meeting me by the pile of coats in back..It would take a long ass minute to get around these pews! And then where would that peaceful place be? Looks like I'm damned either way.

 

It took me a moment to figure out what to do, because after all, the teacher didn't TELL me to leave, and if the teacher called THEIR group next, then they would HAVE TO LEAVE and all would be peaceful to the last drop. SO I waited a couple minutes, fidgeting with my paperwork, looking busy..and soon the teacher came out

 

But no.

 

The teacher calls up the other group, which means my problems were the same. By now, Brunnette was already looking at me, whispering to one another,frowning at me...Probably wondering what I was still doing there, so I took that as my queue to exit-pew-bitch-side->

 

 

'I swear to God, if she says something, I'm going to punch her.' I told myself, but then " No, you can't do that Li..no one, and I mean NO ONE would forgive you if you slam that girl in the middle of the service room..and all her friends will say it's your fault ( a he said she said thing)" I pondered, then thought.."..but she fucking deserves it".

 

My fists began to clench tightly, ready for ANY reason to go off on this girl. I mean, I was ready to take all those holy books and literally beat her with them. I couldn't belive how much adrenline was running through my fantasy as I started to emerge forth.

 

But then, like slow motion, as I got up and headed over to this bunch, another thought hit me; That this idea of a sacred room was fucking stupid...that God doesn't end at the end of this dumb ass door.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Place with No Name

 

I mean, all bets were off now... I felt free as a bird to really let HAPPEN what might happen; all my RAGE, all my RESENTMENT and patience I had with this stupid girl, who, in the end was just some unoriginal tyrannt living in a small pond, that I felt forced to keep peace with simply because of the place.

 

"That's right...There ARE NO doors" I said to myself as I started getting closer now...Only a few yards away, and walking stridently every moment henceforth- completely assured in every OUNCE of blood that would be splashin' across those pews where she liked to put her fucking Keds on.

 

...but then the words rang through my mind again, and my pace slowed:

 

"There are no doors. wait a minute...

 

..Holy shit..

 

there ARE NO DOORS". My eyes widened as I saw a doorless reality.

 

I froze with the clear realization- that this was not about respecting the sanctity of God in this ONE area anymore.....this was about respecting the sanctity of God ANYWHERE.

This was a testament to the kind of person I wanted to BE. NO MATTER WHERE 'Gods Doors' ended.

 

 

'How fucking appropriate....In a 'House of God' I sneered inside, but then asked myself 'Well.....what kind of a person ARE you Li?".

 

And like an eon living in a second, this whole gentle wave hit me..like a 2-week-yoga-retreat-with-detox-and-an-8-hour-meditation-with-a-cherry-topper-lucid-epiphany-at-the-end thought sorta dawned on me:

"I don't want doors at all, and I prefer to be peaceful like I HAVE been this whole time, because I respect this concept of God-peace as the larger value- and if my choices take me down,  ANYWHERE I GO,

from NOW ON, it's NOT gonna be due to MY anger gone violent- only theirs".

 

 

I mean, I thought about how much resentment I had for this bunch (I'm telling you, it's like I left my body to go a two week meditation retreat and came out a new person somehow), and then suddenly flashed on the peace that had continued in between the walls of this place well beyond THIS stupid petty drama, (as I had held back in both word and fist the whole time)

 

I had basically been doing this because everyone else in there had managed to do it (never hearing a raised voice in anger in that place, ever), why not just commit to that principal from NOW ON, no matter where I GO?

 

Yup. I knew EXACTLY the  kind of person I was; Someone who was now, SO pumped up on andrenaline they would have to do their entire BEST to be nonviolent, but this time, knowing exactly why.

 

I actually had a moment of gratitude from the whole gestalt, which made the next moments even weirder, because I was smiling from the realization as I approached, and the row of four looked utterly confused, and a bit worried, because I clearly knew SOMEthing.

 

"Excuse me" I said as I looked at the blocked path ahead of me.

"Put your legs up" Brunnette whispered, grinning a glittery lipgloss smile.

 

And so they did.

 

And so I kicked their legs out of way as I kept going to where I needed to be, well... not exactly:

 

"OW!" said the first girl, as her legs went whooshing sidways, plopping on the floor as I kicked her pants legs over like a sack of potatos.

 

"OH MY GOD. SHE walked right ON MY LEGS. OW!" said the second girl as she started to jerk her body out of the way.They could all see I was fuming, and I mean, I took ballet- I knew how to really STAND on some shit. Ballet teaches you ALL SORTS of strategy to really PUSH off that FLOOR to gain some height in the AIR. She made it easy to do so, and I did.

 

She would probably be left with some bruising and scrapes...I really didn't have empathy however, because I was doing my very best to not leave her BROKEN.

 

And finally.

 

It was Brunnettes turn, who, gently wafted her legs as a show of good faith, but in all honesty, didn't put force in AT ALL...just studying my face as she could see I was getting ready to really hit her if she wanted  it ( the instigators always seem to know, don't they?), and that surprised me, and I noticed it , as clear as day, like the first rays of dawn- in this slow motiom moment where you can see hours in seconds, and intent as clear as day:

That this girl was really just looking for my limits , and physically was quite passive in her stance otherwise.

I mean, if you just thought these were a bunch of little bitches, you'de never know SHE was the ring leader, now that we were dancing and all.

 

"Thank GOD" I thought to myself "..3 DOWN- and it's OVER". I looked over to the next girl, who happened to be R.

Not for one second did I think she would go there, but she did.

Nervously, she looked forward, as she feebly attempted to put her legs before me, and like the cymbal dropping during a recorded session at Carnegi Hall, I channeled the wrath of 1000 Gods, absolutely LIVID that this person who would call themselves MY FRIEND would CONFORM to the dumbest shit.

 

 

"DONT!!!!" I barked, as I lunged over her, throwing a tsunami of heat upon her crown. 

 

R turned pale, and froze as she cowered back into her chair, not able to say a word.

 

Brunnette flinched back as well, taking a moment to see what I might do next, but I continued on, finally reaching the end of that hellish row- and only turning to look back at R as I walked on. She still looked stunned.

 

But sure enough, right next to Medusas statue was Brunnettes bobbling head looking over at me...

..with her super flaxen hair snapping into place, and that roly poly smile, looking satisfied to have finally gotten the better of me.

 

....And it was fine for her to think it so, because, I got what I wanted out of it: Nonviolence - my own sense of self control..and it was something that I took with me for my days moving forward from then on.

 

While I always regretted raging on R, I think it communicated my truer feelings quite well:

That she was the only one I felt worth the anger- after all, I now had a much larger ocean to navigate through, grateful to get the hell out of that pond.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STATEMENTS                                                                                                   12.22-

 

Oftentimes, I like to write up little statements that reflect my in-the-moment headspace.

I tend to write it down on little bits of handy paper (rather than type or text), but tend to have scattered words all over the place,  because of it :-)

I have decided start compiling written works here, rather than LOSE more of them...

..I like to look back and reread what it was I was considering, and see if I could perhaps add something more to that statement..or simply remember something I have long forgotten about:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holiday Haiku                                                               12.23

 

Absolutely,

Best not knowing,

We die alone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Know It ALL                                                                   9.23

 

How do you know it

know it all

how do you throw it

know it all

snow it all

 

how does it goes it

know it all

show it all

 

you make it go on on on

and its all.

 

How do you stowe it

know it all

how does he shove it

does it all

 

How does he blows it

know it all

he makes it on on on

and on and on and on.

 

Know it all

Know it all

its all and all and all and all and

all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mistletoe                                                                              9.23

 

 

Just days and days,

Stretching the ever-haze,

From where it SPRANG- it does grow;

The Mistletoe.

 

Then HER rustling,

Doe-eyed doe,

Having at it- toe-to-toe,

With antlers marked as dew..

 

..because it is now forever new,

and then kept endlessly black-and-blue.

An infinite grow,

right here, next to your Mistletoe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Which Came First?                                                              8.23

 

When I was just a peawee,

A still sprout in the cozy womb,

Mom was expected to harvest laboriuosly,

Which gave way to a moments tomb.

 

She fell down,

Bruising her crown,

and in return-

-born me,

a roaring sea,

...and also born with a bruise on my knee.

 

You see,

Art is said to be a response in vain,

To that of suffereing 

Who knows ONLY pain.

 

 

AND seeing that this honest truth,

Is to be told, 

Amongst my Youth,

 

In seeing eyes from the farthest

Pray tell ask, which came first;

The pain, or the artist?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doing Something Differently                                               8.23

 

 

         DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT

SURPRISE YOURSELF

          FIND YOURSELF

BY not BEING YOURSELF FOR A CHANGE---

 

      DIVORCE YOURSELF

FROM not FEELING

   TRYING FEELING unyou FOR A CHANGe

                  SEE WHAT YOU COULDn't BE INSTEAD.

 

FIND YOU

       FROM WHAT isn't THERE-

STARTING FROM THE UNSIDE of you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Healing Green                                                                      8.23

 

Something to be seen-

after cuts, 

in the green.

 

That feeling where it's always been,

left in between,

left in the unseen.

 

And WHEN those cuts do disappear,

to be cleaned, 

to be preened,

 

Just in sensation ,

- fuckin everclear,

worth every cut you gave to me-

a healing green inititiation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Broken                                                 8.23

 

You want to break my heart?

Here, let me show you how,

Let me show you where to begin-

That you might shake my crown.

 

Let's take a little adventure,

To Sea and Lyrne and Dew,

Woven all together,

From my blessed heart to you.

 

 

 

 

 

ONE                                                     8.23

 

 

I hope I have woven a tapestry,

Worthy of your love,

Worthy of your light.

So that I may present it TO you,

At the end of this existence...

....and into the next

ONE.

 

 

 

Coercion Corners                                7.23

 

If you paint me into a corner,

If you bead me into line,

You will see very quickly,

What is yours is not mine.

 

If asked to stand and deliver,

and choose one side of the shelf,

You'de feel nothing but my quiver,

As I always choose my Self.

 

 

 

 

 

 

7.23

Here's the thing about Standards;

We ALL should have them.

 

 

 

 

6.23

 

While we are made of both good and bad, there is still the source, which is LIGHT..

If it was NOT truly source, then you would never recognize darkness as such; You wouldn't recognize darkness at all...only LIGHT casts a shadow..a shadow doesn't exist without it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

6.23

My work is not about the glorification of what I can MAKE-

It's about the glorification of what others can SEE <3

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Would Happen    5.23

 

What would happen?

If the end was known,

If the end was shown,

If the end was grown.?

 

What would happen?

If I had you near,

If 'I Hold You' dear,

If I made it clear.?

If I really HAD you, I swear.

 

Like kisses everyday-

and champagne in everyway..

 

..and when you'de say "What happens here?"

I could say "THIS happens dear"
Then you would KNOW what would happen-

 

In the end..

As if it had always been here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Day You Became Average     3.23

 

I did not cry,

Or was shocked,

I sorta expected it-

(Having been around the block)

 

Didn't need to see you,

Didn't need to beg,

The day you became just the average,

Just the reg.

 

..and in those moments,

I pondered,

Well, what was all the fuss?

For fake'n'average head games-

where 'Under Duress We Must".

 

Really more than any one 'thing'...

that could have been an issue,

Was the fact that what was once strong as gold,

..was really REALLY as strong as tissue.

 

..and when my tears DID stop falling for all the deluded reasons,

I went outside,

to an average day,

and gave meaning to its seasons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

CClean and PPristine    3.23

 

Everyones got their 'trinity', and I am no exception.

Whether a father-son-holyGhost, a maiden-mother-crone, or even an equilateral-isosceles-hypotenuse! every magic 3 has a pearl of wisdom to share. 

so, here's mine:

 

You never fuck your friends

You never fuck your family

and you never fuck work colleagues..

 

of course, mine can be strung together like pearls of deeper thought:

 

You never fuck your FAMILYS friends,

or your friends family or family of work colleagues..

you also dont fuck work colleagues friends, or friends you work with.,

 

Remember these 3keys to a clean karma and a shitton of avoided headaches. lol

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

>>>>>this tangent slice:

 

My favorite analogy on reincarnation has always been that of pie: Each life as a slice..with one very special slice that understands it's a slice of pie..it's THAT slices job to unite the pie as a PIE, rather than individual slices as "wholes" ...this is probably the first slice- and we ALL know how that slice usually goes: Imperfect, hard to get around, and hot out the oven :-D

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.23

I'm Married, with Goals;

it's like kids- only better :-D

 

 

 

In the Dark Room   2.23

 

In the Dark Room,

All alone, 

Was that me-

           on the phone..?

 

On that one record,

With the hand..

...sitting in a grandiose style,

A mile a minute

by that fly-by-night hat cap stand.

 

A place to meditate,

-a place to mourn,

A place to go

   and be with_drawn..

 

Beneath the covers,

Beneath the sheets,

Looking silly-

-giving a fuck about hearts and tweets.

 

The word potential holds no meaning

(as the word itself holds no rhyme),

 ...and so, here I can slip into unexistence-

-without a quandry, or a dime-

   -or time- especially withOUT THAT chime.

 

 

 

 

 

 

BoneYard      1.23

 

I Only Came for two things;

Love and Art,

Love died,

So Dont be surprised,

When you see me at the boneyard.

 

Love is Infinite- sure,

There really is no ONE to cling to

 -that satiates that open truth.

 

But I did the math,

and a cold body,

is better than no body at all.

 

It's all a corpse embrace,

So when you see me there,

Know that I am dancing with my love

and our beautiful son, 

who eventually embraces us all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Taste like Buttered Toast         12.22

 

Castle life as a castle wife,

Takes your time like a butter knife-

it covers you here...

and spreads you thin there,

But can never really take your life.

 

Castle life as a castle wife,

You'de think sometimes it'de be easier to tear it in two -

Using both hands- 

Letting me undo 

Any need

For such triviality

As a butter knife 

On my manna of life.

 

But butter knives serve it better

than a finger 

Or a spoon..

and a castle wife in a castle life,

hums to the toasty tune.

 

 

 

12.22

You can't delve into something great without finding something great inside of yourself to delve into....it doesn't have to center around the trauma- no need for a constant reenactment.

it can center around the strength that comes from that trauma...a subtle difference in focus, but tremedously distinct difference- like a hot blade on butter.

 

 

 

 

I Met Twin            12.22

 

I met him on the ocean-

between the air and sea...

 

I went a'projecting along my wave-heart,

and my completion I did see...

 

It wasn't something I understood,

or something I did feel...

 

It was more like seeing what I knew,

To be my search for something real.

 

&Upon awakening- my eyes forever changed,

A knowing within my entirety,

Distant yet close in range..

 

Searching through lands I thought I could,

Until I finally gave up,

Then he came to me in the strangest of ways,

To share a sacred cup.

 

Like air in surround,

and drinking in the water,

Gaiety then became the sun,

Bringing bliss like no other.

 

To meet us is to know one thing, 

To know us is another,

To be apart of this very thing,

Is beloved to the Lover. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12.22

What an unforgiving bitch.

Demading complete and whole harvest-

will I survive it? Of COURSE- to torture me longer..

Will I give EVERYthing to her? Of COURSE- who wouldn't set up shop with eternity.

 

 

 11.22

Forever In Time

 

I wonder, where my millionth bead went,

Did it get stuck into the cracks of the floor?

Was I in idle thought as the time was spent?

 

I wonder, what WAS my millionth bead,

Was it shining like some unnoticed notoriety?

Or was I snoozing (indeed)?

 

Wherever it went, Whereever it goes,

It was time well spent,

Like all my creations- they froze,

Into that one single event,

and this millinionth bead prose.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11.22

Who ever had time for true love?

I am sure many broken hearts would feel that they need mending, 

As my needle picks up scattered beads off a floor.

 

It's not that we didn't have eternity within our grasp,

It's that we didn't grasp the situation, 

Or the Hand holding our hearts in place.

 

Who ever had time for true love?

No one was ever going to save us from our own creations.

 

 

 

 

 

2.11

What we think we value in art, is really what we value in ourselves..

My work is made soley for my gaze- and in this way,

I make love to myself.

 

 

I make UNart.

UNart is what is not important to anyone else.

 

 

I choose to relate to the society through color and sound..

I am not anti-social-

I am creating lines LOUD AND CLEAR!!!

 

 

 

12.10

The Thinking Mind is constantly using deductive reasoning- even if commanded to accept input through a different means ( to trust the emotional reasoning, for instance).

The Thinking Mind cannot help but to eventually deduct itself out logically, and will seek that out as a solution to X..

It will willingly allow emotions to take control of actions, but like the emotional body, only as an organic part of its process, where it logically should...it is EASY to create logic to a willing Thinking Mind, already adjusted to emotional guidance..just comes down to the ego allowing itself to be slayed, and fear a normal trust.

 

 

11.10

If the work is okay, it will last momentarily..

but, 

if the work is good it will last a lifetime over.

 

 

 

If I can create, I can hold eternity at my fingertips.

 

 

 

 

Does art have to be exhibitionist in nature?

 

 

 

 

 

 

The subtle art of still receptivity one finds in art is lost;

Why wait on a flower to bloom when FTD delivers.

 

 

 

C'mon Let Me Light Your Fire

So, when I was a kid... like 12 or something, my family of 3 was chummy with this OTHER 3 person family, and got together on the weekends quite regularly.

 

At first, I wasn't so sure; While I felt indifferent about the parents, their kid J, was an unlikely person I would hang out with- a relatively popular one with a ton of swooning fans at our school, I wasn't really sure we had that much in common.

 

But I soon learned that he was pretty chilll and easy to relate to, and could be adventerous, which I really admired and usually cheered on; From climbing the mulberry trees and scoring us berries, to hauling this heavy-ass old-school sled through the cold snow after a day of sledding (even after I thoroughly gave up helping him), this guy really surprised me at every turn:

 

"Just leave it", I told him "....they  didn't want to help us carry it back, they didn't want to go sledding but gave us this sled from 1932 which weighs too much for us to actually USE".

 

"Yeah", J began " ..but they said we could use it ONLY if we took care of it- and leaving it HERE doesn't keep to the promise" he said firmly, and pulled even harder on the handles.

 

"SO?" I cut in" This thing weighs more than either of US can carry- I mean, we almost DROPPED it! - AND it's really cold outside, AND the sun is going down, plus, were only half-a-block away... Who cares? No one's taking it-it's too cold for that... It's not like we didn't TRY".

 

I was ready to just leave it, let that old ass thing find a NEW home, a NEW owner and a NEW life. I would take the punishment fully..I mean, what were his parents really gonna do if it was me? I knew that my parents would empathize to a certain extent (having to lug this 80 pound relic) and besides, this might give us a shot at getting those new neon flyers if we had NOTHING.

....and let the parents take it for the rest of the way if they really felt SO concerned about it.  I could just see it; any ONE of them trudging through this shit;

"They'de probably bring the mini-van and load it" I thought to myself, "Yep, most definitely FUck this".

 

My mind was made.

 

 I mean, the cold had finally hit me; and my little heart was beating fast, hands frozen stiff, and rosy apple cheeks on the both of us enough to last a barrel past a bushel.

 

AND, it was true; earlier in the afternoon, even when the mountain was PACKED with sledders: it was really too cold for ANY family to enjoy, but sure enough, EVERYONE had the idea to go to Mount Trashmore and sled the Sunday afternoon away, no matter HOW cold it got.

 

That's right. The mountain was EXACTLY what you are thinking; a mountain made of trash, that was then covered in grass, and converted into this family park activities area. Everyone thought it was a great idea; to take trash, and mound it into this pile,..then cover it,..and call it good.

 

The problem was, people actually USED the thing, and corrosion took place easily ( being a mountain and all)..so a lot of the times, when you visited this place, you would see rando trashy bits- little Kit Kat wrappers, or shiney foil Marlboro linings.

 

Just every now and again.. just when your mind went back to green.. you would see BRIGHT bits that stuck out like some bazaar treasure.

 

Only BEING treasure, because, it was such an odd, out-of-place element in the middle of this rather pristine park. Just this one thing. Just this one area. Just this one mountain that was a buried marketplace of neon surprises, trickling away, slowly..one spring rain at a time.

 

I mean, you'de WANT to 'pitch in', to help keep the park clean, but how? Putting these krinkled stragglers into the public garbage bin wasn't quite the right place, but doing wrapper burials seemed really immoral too. That place left me really conflicted when I left more often than not.

 

The winter was no different, and the constant sledding ripped away at the snow, in patches, leaving open, uncovered areas of pure soil with a few candy wrappers whippin' around, as kids went wooshing down, making it a side bet with wrapper races down alongside:

 

Kitkat took the lead as Whoppers maintained a close 2nd.... But wait! Marlboro foil makes it for the win (as some kid goes spinning by on a plastic demon, hitting the wrapper like a football on the fly).

 

 

 

....and on a relatively NEWER sled type:

 

A round, plastic sitting saucer. It was the mother load of fun rides, and everyone saw it. Kids flying at 80 miles an hour, zigzagging..no one knowing where they might land; at the bottom clearing? OR hit a dry patch and go soaring over near the trees...??

No one knew, no one cared. Not even parents although they looked scared AF with every step up the steep climb.

 

"What the hell ARE those" one adult said as a kid went screaming past (nearly hitting him on the way down).

"Oh, I don't know..", began this mom  ".but it looks like fun, doesn't it?" as two of her kids came over with the EXACT culprit flyer in their happy little hands.

"Oh. Okay", I thought to myself "...it's like THAT today"; Even the PARENTS weren't united in this dead ass cold.

 

This was SO damn cold too. It was cold like the last heartache you remember. It was cold like the only ice cube in 104 heat, with no AC in the house .It was cold like a homeless Christmas, while also simultanously being shunned at the Dennys for not covering the tip after an excessive 12 hour binge trip on coffee; I mean, this shit was COLD.

 

 

It was really no matter for the king of all joy rides though- they looked liked so much fun, even if they were a few degrees away from cracking in two while being plastic and all, it would be worth the risk. Everyone wanted one, including us.

 

But we were hell and gone from THAT reality- with our what..?; 1938 sled deluxe for  6?; wood and steel blades that could slice though Walmart trucks freewheelin' at 98 mph, that's what WE got- Old reliable.

 

You guessed it; It weighed as heavy as a group of six could muster, with our 2 replacing. And because this was not your regular cold where you could optionally take your hat off once you got your blood pumping (your ears would be frostbit bait in a matter of minutes if you did that), there was a band of sweat and hair that matted around our faces, with snotty noses dripping as we pulled with all our strength to get this thing around.

 

No one at the house wanted to go.

I wanted to go.

I came up with the idea.

I had this novel idea of sledding around on this mountain which was located relatively close to J's familys house, and no one had any real plans set for that cold-ass sunny midday Sunday.

 

Just coffee, coffee cake, and smokes..no one was really going or doing ANYthing. Except me. I was feeling antsy, and wanted to DO something, J agreed, and both being the curious, adventurous types decided sledding was the way to go.

 

BOTH our parents thoroughly disagreed:

 

"Let's go sledding" I announced.

Everyone looked over, my mom put her kruller down on the dainy breakfast plate.

"You want what?" said J's dad as he squinted his eyes my way, and took another drag of his cigarrette.

"Sledding?" he asked, as he turned to J's mother.

 

"Well, I don't know.." she began to say.

"Oh cool" I thought to myself".. if SHE wants to go, then EVERYONES gonna go".

 

His mom, being the hostess of the place held court when it came to activities at the house, and no one seemed to have an issue- but this time MY mother winced and sighed.

 

It was clearly a no-go from the get-go.

 

"Well it's really cold, and we just started cooking dinner" she finished saying.

His mother was an avid cook, and was CONSTANTLY cooking meals from SCRATCH. There was nothing processed in the place really, and already having laid out a whole presentation of goodies was in no mood, just like my mom, to pack it all in, and go brave the cold at some local park, which was, after all, a 4 minute walk ANY time. It's not like this couldn't happen ANY day instead of just this ONE moment.

 

"However" his mom added, " I do think we have a sled, don't we?" she turned to J's father.

"Oh yeah" he exhaled his smoke trailblazing the air in front of us " I do believe there IS a tobaggen down there, isn't there".

"DO you want to get it?" she asked him.

He just looked, blankly.

then continued '...or do you want me to go get? I could get it.."

Another drag went by while their game of telepathy went on and on. J's mom finally asked  "Do you want to stay here while I get it?".

My dad then got involved "Well, where is it? do you need help? or..?"

"Oh, nono- its fine..." his folks said in unison, looking at each other and finally resolving whatever the deal was.

"Sure" his dad finally said "..We can go get it".

 

After half an hour of figuring it out who was going to carry what, it was decided, and this sled was brought up from basement storage. 

I really had no idea what we were really get into. I mean, we didn't have a sleigh at home, and J had never been on a tobbagan before either..he had no idea what this would entail..and seeing how this was one of the first real snowfalls of the year, we were both real hungry to have the experience, and see what sledding was all about- How cold what? Neither cared about tempurature until we DID- but that wouldn't be until we were already there, happily sledding we figured.

 

 

 

But this placed was PACKED, and I was surprised by that as we waited in line for our turn down this half snow, half dirt mountain; It started off slow, as it had this lip and wasn't really steep. But as you moved past this intial point there was a sudden drop, and all you saw was hair flying upwards as kids went wooshing down the icy landslide.

 

We both had gloves and hats, and were so beat by the time we arrived- but seeing as how we carried this monster all the way there, it would be impossible to walk away now- from this incredible feat and the sheer willpower of this magnitude.

 

NOTHing, and I mean NOTHing was stopping us from having the experience..

 

We finally got up there, and started the sled. Yanking on this thing, I could feel my hands burning with cold as I grabbed harder at the leather handles to pull it forward up the hill.

 

It was a surprisingly sunny day as I looked up for a moment in hesitation. Was this a dumb ass idea? 

NOPE..lets GO.

 

 

Off we GOOOOO!!!

 

BONK. We hit a dirt patch.

 

No wait. Let's try that again. 

 

I GRAB the handles AGain, and started pulling the sled. THIS TIME, got PAST the soil patches and the lip as both of us climbed on as fast as possible. I swear 14 kids had already past us by with thier cool ass plastic wing-and-a-prayers, by the time we started moving at all.

 

I was SO ready for MINE. I mean ours. Of course J was right there along with me, trudging along as I was- wishing we hadn't chosen this idea after ALL..... and he was really cold too- choosing a lighter coat than he could have, he was shivered already.

 

Woosh! Off we sped into a cold thrill bliss.

 

But honestly, after the first few rounds, we were exhausted from pulling and pushing, holding, grabbing, running and mostly just being plain cold, and thirsty. 

 

"You want to go back?" I asked.

"Why?", J asked "..we just got here. Look Li, you wanted to go, and we're here now- let's go a few more times if you really want to go back".

"Well, I don't REALLY.... But it's really cold out, and my hands are really cold. Aren't you cold? You LOOK cold" I said.

 

It was true. He looked pink-red at this point, and his mom was often all over him for not wearing coats and hats and gloves.I just knew it wasn't in his nature to worry about it, but I did. I had my OWN wants and needs, and those fun video games at his place were acallin' at this point.

 

"Na..I'm good. But yeah, we have to carry this back." He agreed.

"Can't we just walk home, and get THEM to pick it up? We should do that" I added on.

"Oh, no WAY. It will get stolen, besides we PROMISED. I PROMISED I would take good care of it" J said resolutely.

 

I couldn't argue there- this sled was the little mans property after all, and I wasn't there to corrupt him with weird alternatives, but it really was cold as shit out, and kids were now starting to leave with parents who DROVE there, and were warming up in their mini-vans by THIS point.

 

"Look J, I'm really tired. YOU go" I replied.

"NO way.." he cut in" There's no WAY I can carry that up there by myself. This sucks".

He was totally right, and I gathered myself together, snot runs, frozen toe boots and all, and go for ANOTHER haul.

 

Up we started going, and the line was starting to form behind us.

"God, I can't feel my fingers anymore" I said to myself as we started hitting a steep point of the hill.

 

Suddenly, J let go- WUMPH! It suddenly got REALLY heavy, and he shuffled his step in a hot hurry to grab the handle. 

"Oh shit!" he yelled out.

" Are you ok?" I asked.

"Yeah, it just slipped out.." he said slowly.

"Yeah, my hands are starting to get weaker.let's make this our last run" I said as I sort of slipped on this patch of ice.

 

By this point we were both too exhausted to speak, when I wondered what sort of line might be behind building us,  I mean, we were hauling this thing when others had their light little ranbow drifters..I lookled up for a moment thinking about it, and ....

 

 

HUH?????????

 

I look down at my hands and there's no handle....

"VVVVRrroooooosssshhhhhhhh....!!"

I hear the sled go swooshing down behind us- J had lost grip too!

 

"OMFG" I'm thinking to myself.."This thing is gonna slice some little kid, and were gonna get in so much trouble..Oh Jesus, here it comes.."

 

I look behind us to a dead silence.

 

Some big ass burly bear of a man had caught the thing with one solid grip, and smiled kindly at us.

 

"Uh!" he said " Here ya GO" and slung it back up to us.

J was STUNNED. 

I was RELIEVED. I couldn't believe it. Like a gaurdian angel watching over us the entire time, fucking Hercules of all parents was right there, in our desparate hour.

 

We went down the hill, and that was it. I was ready to go, as the sun was setting, and getting colder by the moment. The wind gusts were few and far between,  but starting to pick up, and we were pulling this through the park which was unplowed the entire time.

 

Just that scare, and then those few moments down the hill gave us those adrenaline vitamins we needed for the pull back.

 

But being almost home was getting to be good enough for me, I could barely walk anymore, let alone pull this thing.

 

"Just leave it", I told him "..they  didn't want to help us carry it back, they didn't want to go sledding but gave us this sled from 1932 which weighs too much for us to actually USE".

 

"Yeah", J began " ..but they said we could use it ONLY if we took care of it- and leaving it HERE doesn't keep to the promise" he said firmly, and pulled even harder on the handles.

 

"SO?" I cut in" This thing weighs more than either of US can carry- I mean, we almost DROPPED it! - AND it's really cold outside, AND the sun is going down, plus, were only half-a-block away... Who cares? No one's taking it... It's not like we didn't TRY".

 

But J kept on pulling.

 

"I'VE HAD IT!! ARRRGGGHHHHHHH" as I dropped the thing down with a thud and simply walked away, totally abandoning ship.

 

"Hey. HEY! Come HELP ME!" he yelled as I trailed off.

 

God, it felt good not to carry that thing. I didn't care if I was grounded for being a weasel and ditching J, I'de rather be in trouble. Leaving J, on the other hand I felt bad about. I KNEW how heavy the load was, and simply left it ALL on HIM. Although, he was so pissed off about my duck-out, that his determination took over, and he hauled it the whole way back while I walked ahead a few feet.. I

 

I got in earlier, and the group rang out:

"Oh..you guys are back? How was it?" someone asked.

"It was OK" I replied.

"Where's the sled?" J's mom asked.

" I think J is still pulling it back" I replied. And just then J walked in, to everyones relief.

"How was it?" J's mother asked him.

"It was ok" he replied.

 

He didn't say a word about my last minute jailbreak, nor did he seem too salty about the whole ordeal, but I was left thoroughly impressed that he simply carried the weight all the way back. Up until then, I never knew he had that kind of fire OR strength, and taught me a lot about willpower that I really wasn't expecting out of anyone, let alone a random family friend OR that frigid Sunday that now exists, wafting around, solidified in the freezer of my memory.

 

I was SO ready to hit the family room, and get into some other activity entirely.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Want My DenTV

 

He was also really good at stuff I sucked at like Atari, and hide-&-seek. I always wished I was a better adversary in these departments, but I mean HE owned the game system, NOT ME, and simply had more practice than I ever would. Yep, beat me every time, no doubt.

 

Honestly, I have no idea what he liked about me, other than I was nice, and was cool with going along with whatever was planned (spending most visits at his place), and we would find stuff to do around the unnoticed townhouse. I never did actually SEE a neighbor- did anyone else live there at all?

 

There were 6 or 7 other units, all attached and overlooking a lush lawn that had a white picket fence on its outskirts, which was landscaped by a neighbors flowery walkway, that opened into a filled backyard of greenery. There were layers of plants to explore, and it was always an interesting time going over, and seeing what was growing.

 

Still, more often than not, the  weather kept us inside and we would hang out in the basement area which was remodeled into a family room. I always loved hanging out with him down there because they had cable, including HBO, so we were always tuning in to all these rated R flicks like Porkys and Bachelor Party, and cool stations like MTV and TBSsuperstation.

 

We would often take the pillows off the couch and make forts in front of the tv entertainment system, which was located in this sparkling glass cabinet, and had some sort of back mirror behind it, not only enhancing the 4000 million cable wires back there, but also this inset lighting, making the room look twice as bright, twice as deep behind the TV GOD which held our attentions most thoroughly.

 

Of course, visits were usually Saturday nights, seeing as how they recognized the electrical shut off that happened Fridays, starting at sundown, and by Saturday afternoon, were always ready to celebrate the technilogical start up, and our family was one of the first on the list in terms of socializing.

 

It really made my universe too, because we didn't have cable, let alone a family room, so having both at this other place on Saturday became a match made in heaven. I mean, there really wasn't much else I'de rather do; go hang out with this IT guy watching HBO, and building forts- life just didn't get better at that age, and so when it came time for US to entertain, at our lame ass apartment, I always wanted to follow suit- it's just that I had no idea on how to do that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In With a Bang, Out with the Lights

 

 

 

Then one unsuspecting afternoon, I was informed they would be visiting, and I was expected to clean my room, (since 'guests' were coming over), and I soon discovered a nifty extra in the back closet of my bedroom.

 

I had forgotten about them; These sparklers we used last summer on my birthday.

 

Normally, this was a birthday type of supply, and would be kept in the kitchen with birthday type things such as birthday candles, and cake toppers such as sprinkles or those hard-as-rocks silver metal balls, with extra cupcake papers, but since sparklers were larger, and really more of an adult supervised type of an affair, was kept here, in this bigger box of fireworks we had for the 4th.

 

It's not like we ever really ritualistically used either fireworks OR sparklers- living in the city and all, it's not like you can conveniently go shooting off bottle rockets whereever you please without it landing on some window, or rooftop, or an angry neighbor.

 

But we DID use sparklers indoors on birthdays now and again, and wouldn't it be cool to use these tonight? I knew that was something J DEFINITELY did NOT have at HIS place, and could very well be placed amongst the ranks of Atari in terms of entertainment. I was totally ready.. but wait.

Hm. 

I thought about it for a moment:

"If I ASK the adults, and they say 'NO' then I won't get to light these up! Oh no no no- that won't do at all. I wonder if I could get them to say 'yes'? I bet they wouldn't say 'yes' any which way right NOW,  because they are both running around getting dinner ready and the place ready for company, and will ignore it being doable...but if I mention it later ON, like AFTER dinner, then maybe? Oh wait, I bet HIS parents might say 'no'-especially his mom" I resolved.

 

I wasn't really certain WHAT his folks would say, but I knew his mom kept a strict kosher household, what if sparklers are some how on that taboo list? I mean, I didn't know, but I DID go grocery shopping with the woman a handful of times and, my god, if that circled U wasn't on the product box, it simply wasn't going IN the house.

 

What WERE sparklers ANYWAY?? I mean, we used 'em WITH celebrations like BIRTHDAYS that had dairy products present...aaaaand tonight were having briskette..

Plus, they were CLEARLY a kitcheny type thing..I mean, we used them around FOOD type events..just like certain glasses, plates, or napkins.... and THAT was a really BIG deal with his mom. Keeping the utensils separate ( milk from meat). Now I really wasn't so sure these would get ANY stamps of approval, from ANY adult:

 

"So, I'm not asking NOW, I'm not asking after they get here...hmmm...." I thought to myself.

 

I was real hellbent on doing this; I mean, we didn't have cable, we didn't have fun games...maybe a deck of cards and some Scrabble? Hell-  we didn't even have a backyard (being an city apt. style situation).

 

But then I had a great idea: 

"If I say NOTHING and simply DO IT, it's really not THAT bad of an infraction, because, after all,  I am ALLOWED to use them on OCCASION, and this technically IS THAT; an OCCASION where I would be using them". 

 

I had all sorts of rationalizations as to why this night was definily gonna be lit. I looked in the box.

 

There were all sorts of strange shapes in there- all bright colors with all sorts of catchy names like "xxx" and "xxxx". I really did wonder what they all did- What sort of noxious expolsion rainbow of entertainment would shower forth. The pictures always made it look like it was a world of amazement, just waiting for you inside this cardboard tube- all you need do is light this string, and a you too could have a neon dream all around, like the happy clowns showed.

 

Yet we never really used them since bringing these things to local parks will peek a frown mostly, and freak a dog out..Maybe at the lake, but now it was October.

 

"Yep, definitely mum on the sparklers." I said to myself.

 

But where to light them? Well, maybe just my room.. I mean, we light them in the diningroom at birthdays, and that's just one door over from where MY room was..... No real issue there..But you know what, it would be AMAZING in the dark! I got it:  Let's use them in THIS closet; it would make really neat designs in complete DARKNESS" I thought to myself.

 

I mean, yeah, they were dangerous, but na, they were just sparklers. Oxygen? What's that.

 

Scoring matches was no issue seeing as we had tiny restaraunt matchboxes laying around the place. I was never one to ever grab a pack, and 'play' with them, being more of a utilitarian type of a child; I simply understood certain limits with certain items like matches, or bleach, or irons, or whatever. This time was no different- I was sure to get a nice set for the lighting ceremony.

 

But after actually looking around the place, there was only a crappy old floppy smooshed pack I found at the bottom of some old tweed coat in the front closet: My mom had gone around and collected them all and had put them in a kitchen drawer with the rest of the birthday supplies and she was now IN there, getting the table all set for dinner.

 

"Damn. Welp, old matches it is." I said to myself, and off I went to go clean my room.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 When I'm Standing Close to Her

 

 

 

BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!

 

They arrived right on time for a change, and in really good spirits.  J walked over to greet me:

"Hi" he said.

"Hey" I replied, "..What's new?"

"Not much- What do you want to do?" he asked me

"Let's go to MY room, I have an IDEA" I said.

 

The parents all congregated in the kitchen and back porch area since Js dad wanted to have a cigarette out back, and enjoy the smaller cement courtyard. Off they trailed down the long main hallway chatting away, while they all hung out finished getting dinner ready and socializing.

 

We walked into my room and I said" Hey...check this out".

"What is it?" J asked.

"C'mere..in this closet" I said with a smile.

J shot me a look and replied "You want me to go in the closet with you? Why..?" asking rather suspiciously

"I have something for us" I said with an impish wink, "Here- check it out"

 

J slowly walked over and saw the sparklers in my hand.

 

"Where did you get those?" he asked me.

 

AHA! Just like a SUSPECTED- these fuckers AREN'T kosher- he was looking at them like I had scored nirvana on tap.

 

"We had em" I replied as I handed him one "..They've been IN here, and we use them on birthdays and stuff....c'mon, let's light some".

 

"Oh, I don't know" J contested," ...isn't that for outside?".

" I mean they CAN be, but these are just SPARKLERS, not FIREWORKS. BESIDES, they only last a MINUTE, and wouldn't it be cool to light 'em in the dark?" I added on- no sense in dilly dallying with formalities I figured, and I started to walk back towards the closet.

 

"What if we get in trouble?" J asked.

 

"Just say it was MY idea, which it IS" I reassured him "...PLUS, if we do 'em in this CLOSET, no one's gonna know".

 

Evil folks. Pure evil. I mean, no wonder my parents had stress issues..they NEVER knew what was up, especially my sweet powers of devlish influence:

 

"That's true" J agreed.

 

"PLUS, what do they look like in complete darkness? I bet they look WAY cool" I added on.

 

J's eyes widened "OK", and off we trotted into the back box of fun and mystery.

 

I was clearly appealing to the better side of J, who, honestly, was a pretty ethical sort. He really had no interest in being a baddy, although in the name of curiousity, all bets were off, and I clearly found his weakness apealling to this side of him ( a side we clearly had in common)

 

In we go- Slam!

 

 

"Oh crap" I said,.." I can't SEE anything..ok..hold on..".

 

Just never dawned on me it was too damn dark to even FIND the MATCHES, let alone light those things up in there.

Back out we go into the bedroom.

 

"Where's the lighter?" J asked me. 

"I have matches" I replied.

"What are those? THOSE are matches?" J asked, "Do those EVEN WORK?".

 

 

He clearly noticed the 1939 flatter then a pancake book of smooshed babes. They DID look pretty sad, with thier powdery heads barely attached, now in a faded neon orange color- these things were more antique than actual tools by this point but I was determined. I mean compounds ARE compounds right?Isn't that crushed up ROCKS or something? and look at ROCKS- THOSe things don't go bad. I just KNEW these things would work.

 

Tsss....nope.

Ts- dammmit!

 

Whhhossshhhhh...finally..by the 5th match one finally took off, as we slowly brought the sparkly sticks forth.

 

 

TSSSSHSHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!*****************

 

 

Suddenly! Dancing stars were all around us! Froshing bursts of zippy lined light; like carnival lions jumping from neon stand to stand- this was super powers happening right before us!!

 

Js eyes lit up as he smiled, and started sailing his arm back and forth in the air.

 

I noticed the smoke rising up from the glowing stick and said " Here..let's get in there!"

as we raced off to see what these things would look like in the dark.

 

 

"OOOOOooooooo" we rang out. Mesmerizing. 

 

Back and forth we zoomed our arms in this closet.

 

TTTTSSSSHHHHHHHHHHHHHh went the sparklers as they danced a billowy smoke hardly visible now..but just then the opened fireworks box on the ground caught my eye, from a squint of light from under the door.

 

I looked down, and could see the colorful fireworks in the box.

"It's too bad we don't have color sparklers..do they even MAKE sparklers with colors? It's too bad we don't have more of these" I thought to myself as I leaned over to take a closer look at the box of volatile goodies.

 

All I could see were various paper tubes of different shapes and sizes; Long tubes with strings popped out, pink sticks with little paper tubes attached at one end, and small little red tubes all connected together entitled 'ladies fingers'.

 

"That's odd" I said to myself as I looked closer" ..These  all have wicks..the sparklers didn't..that's strange". I reached out and felt the strings, which felt soft like braided cotton- like the friendship bracelets I would make for friends.

 

"I wonder what makes these different from the bracelets? I thought to myself. J was still wooshing around, but NOW was doing these Michael Jackson spin moves, like a champion figure skater,-this was a medal performance moment, and he wasn't wasting a single ounce of it.

 

"I wonder if the wicks have a harder time getting lit than the sparklers?" I asked myself.

 

It was a riveting question. I mean, I had seen my mom use string all the time with the tons of textile crochet, knitting, embroidery and sewing she was doing all the time.. This thread looked just like that. 

 

"But why would they use thread like THAT?" I wondered, "Wait a minute..are these BROKEN??".

 

I was imagining that, at that very moment; my dad keeping a box  of old ass crappy old fireworks and the string insides somehow oozed out (I mean, look at the crappy matches I was using).

 

"I wonder if its wick- like I see in the middle of candles" I asked myself.. I knew how THAT worked; the thread was dippied in WAX, and so the thing would burn away accordingly.

 

I went over to inspect the strings.

It felt just like braided thread I use when I make friendship bracelets.

 

"..I wonder how these work?" I pondered.

 

I had seen regular old thread burn before- from when we would  be at the dinner table with candles lit, my mother would have bits of thead on her sweater so very often( from one of her many textile creations).

 

"You have a thread on your shirt" someome would mention at some point during the dinner.

"Oh? mom would ask, as she wouldstart to look for it, and would often simply get rid of the thread by burning it in the candle

 

I remembered seeing how the thin threads would crisp up into nothing, and vanish into thin air as the flame would completely decimate the natural fibers with ease, and she was one to be a granola loving textile type, preferring the wools and silks to synthetic. A quality standard for sure.

 

But every now and again a synthetic fiber would make its way, or an extra puffy piece of thread, and those burned quite differently, sometimes leaving a burnt drip on the embroidered table mat. It was always a surprise with those threads, and now, these similar fibers had piqued my curiousity.

 

I mean, I honestly, had no idea how they functioned..I simply could NOT imagine them acting ANY differently than what I had already witnessed with unwaxed threads, which was surprisingly quite extensive by this point.

 

"No way these get lit with THIS crap" I thought to myself.

 

 

"What are you looking at?" J asked me,who, by this point was out of breath from the dance moves and our dancing magic just about spent.

 

"Oh, just looking at these others in the box I replied.

 

He went back to some spins as I thought to myself "There's just no way these things get lit with the threads, is there? No fuckin' way".

 

I looked down at my sparkler..it had about 2 inches left on it before it would extinguish.

I gazed deep into the popping star mandala, and noticed its bright center, like a flower with a glowing treasure center.

 

"Hm..I wonder if that bright red center is as hot as lit fire? Or if it's different in any way..?",  I began to wonder "I know! I should try out on part of that string in that box..".

 

Now, technically I knew in some way, I was attmetping to light a firework, but it MY mind, there was simply NO WAY a small cherry dot touching a 7 inch long string was gonna DO anything, let alone DO something without me easily putting it out.

 

 

 

 

SO out went my steady hand, and easy enough I touched the glowing ember to the fiber, ready to pat out.

And like life put on fast fwd:

 

TTTSSSSSSSHSHHSHSHSHSHHSSJHSHGS GBYFVDFBYDGNDHLMFDSJRDSTHSDBHSDRFS!!!!!!!!!

 

WHEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRR! RRRREEEEEEEEEEEERRRRR! RRROOP! RROP! bang bang bang bang bangba bag..

 

 

Suddenly stars as big as watermelons were all over..black billowy smoke was pouring out of the door as J and I race for our lives out of the closet.

 

I leaped over the bed when dad comes racing in..

"WHAT THE HELL????" he yelled, as his eyes got wider by the moment

 

My mother was right behind him looking terified, as Js parents looked on from the doorway. Even J's chill dad dropped the cigarette out of his hand, which left him racing around to look for it. 

Before anyone knew it, pops had already returned with a massive bucket of water.

 

 

 

 

SPPPPLLLLLLOOOOOOSSSSHHHHHH..

 

 

 

TTSSSsssss.........

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Partys Over

 

 

Everything started steaming and smoking at this finale finish.

 

"What were you THINKING???!" someone yelled.

"It was just sparklers..but the others caught too" I said rather vaguely.

J looked scared and piped up" It was HER idea".

"There was fireworks in her closet?" Js mother asked rather surprised, and annoyed.

 

Everyone looked at my dad, because everyone KNEW my mom would never have left them in there. "Well gee... we've never had a problem before" he said to the group.

"Well, let's just get this cleaned up.." my mom began.

 

"I wouldn't have done THAT(leaving fireworks in the closet)" said Js mother, and continued "..where'de you get the lighter?" she turned to j, and asked inquisitvely.

"We didn't use a lighter..we used matches" J replied.

"Matches??..." she began"..where did you get those?" she asked. I mean, she really wanted know; all they every used were lighters.

"They were old..." J started his explanation campaign.

 

It then dawned on me that this on and on questioning about this one thing, the lighters, might have been related to something that happened between J and HIS parents, because she seemed REALLY focused on where the book might have come from, and almost more concerned about that than anything.

 

"I found them in an old coat" I finished.

She seemed stunned that I spoke up for myself, and was willing to take the heat. J looked suprised by it, and look relieved a little.

 

"Oh" mom said " Who would have thought THOSE things still worked. Well, let's get ready for dinner"

 

"But ther'es soot everywhere.." I started to say..

" ....And it will still be there for you two to clean AFTER dinner. Let's go- it smells in here anyway" she cut in, and off she went to go back to where they began.

 

"What were you thinking Li. You don't light those inside.." dad began to say on the way out, holding sopping wet towel rags, and a bucket dripping all over.

" Yeah..." I said in a low voice "...I see that now". 

I felt bad. I mean, I really did. That didn't go how I planned it. I mean, I had no idea what I planned, but this wasn't  apart of it.

 

Everyone left the room, and J said  "I can't believe I didn't get in trouble for that"

"Well, you didn't do anything wrong" I replied "It wasn't your idea".

" Yeah..I guess you're right.."J started to lift "Well, I'm going to go get something to eat" and off he went to join the rest.

 

Now I was looking at this burnt crisp closet, with black streak marks up the side of its walls, with a bubbly center all solid, and frozen in time- like a nightmare souvenir. 

What was once the faint smell of sulfur in a tiny ass box, was now the over-powering intoxicant on wall-to-wall sides of my bedroom.

 

"This sucks..." I said to myself as I started to look at the damage ".... I can't believe she wants me to just walk away..." I thought for sure I would be scrubbing for days starting that very moment, but then, suddenly realized what she meant: that some damages weren't time sensitive- and one hour to eat beforehand wasn't going to hurt the situation any more or less than cleaning up would. 

 

This wasn't like the 5-second-floor-rule, or a bleeding cut that requires a band-aid. This was LASTING damage, that, even after cleaning would still be there; little bits of charred soot, forever ingrained into the wood flooring- changing its appearance from blonde to umber, in just this one tiny spot.

 

"Time to walk away" I said to myself, and off I went to join the others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last Awhile

 

 

 

 

Dinner was rather a sober one considering the events of the last hour, and the sangria buzz our parents rode in on, had long worn off. 

I wasn't sure if I should speak up or not; on the one hand, I was the LAST person anyone wanted to hear a word out of but at the same time, didn't want to be self-absorbed by being overly quiet either.

 

"Did you see that movie?" Js mother asked my dad.

"Which one? Chariots of Fire?" he asked her.

"No, it was that other one about the college kids..St. Elmose Fire" she responded.

 

"Now wait" I started thinking to myself " Are these people fucking with me? What's with all the fire references??". But resolved to think it unrelated.

J started to speak" I really like this new movie- it's called 'Back to the Future' with this car, and the car can go back to the future, and the wheels torch up...."

 

I shot J a look- Seriously bruh? ....and he continued:

 

"Oh, and I really like this one game" he said " This one called Donkey Kong".

"Oh yeah?", my dad asked "Is it fun?"

"Yeah, see, this King Kong throws these barrels at you, and you have to move out of the way" J started moving his hands around and getting all animated.

"Oh really.." said J's father "You gotta dodge the keggers, eh?"he said with a smokey grin.

"Yeah" J slashed in, having no idea what a keg implied " and they are on fire too!"

 

 

 

Ok.

"These people are DEFINITELY messing with me" I said to myself, and was ready to hear the next related bit:

 

"Here" my mother showed up with a book of matches in her hand, deluxe wooden freshies from the kitchen drawer, and handed them to pops "Light the candles, would you?"

 

"Well, gee do you think I SHOULD? I mean after ALL, we HAVE had enough fire for one evening" he smirked as he took the pack from her hand.

 

"Matches aren't fireworks " I stated.

 

"Ha!" said J's mom " Look what they lead to"

 

"Yeah, but so does a lighter, and you carry that with you EVERYwhere, mom" J sliced in.

 

"That's true" J's dad said, exhaling a rather long drag of a cigarette" you DO carry a lighter wherever you go".

 

J's mom shot him a look. 

"Yeah" I piled on" It's not the MATCHES fault", as dad lit the candles.

 

Swooosh! went the wood stick burner, and dad lit the wick.

 

A silent hush fell across the room, as the controlled fire suddenly gave rememberance to the chaos that had everyone on adrenaline set at 11, not less than 30 minutes ago.

"Well, you just can't have those things around the house" J's mother piped up.

"Honey, it was an old pair from some antique coat they purchased" J's dad reassured her.

"Yeah, it's not like it's gonna happen again" I added on. I seriously didnt want her to get more and more pissy about it, and then get into MORE trouble than I already was.

 

J looked suriprised by this point, kind of perplexed as to why his mother was getting worked up about something that was already over and done with.

"Don't worry, we'll clean it up after dinner" I stated.

"You can't bet on THAT-" J's mother retorted.

"You can TRY" My dad sliced in" but you can't REALLY clean it up- it's gonna need a whole new resurfacing and paint job.."

"No way!" J's dad began, "..it's not gonna need a whole need resurfacing, is it? a few licks should fix it right up.."

"Yeah, but you will still see the difference underneath- a light sanding should help it.." dad shot back.

"Well, we will still PRETED to clean it" I added in to the conversation (and quite nicely I might add).

J sat there stunned, wondering how we managed to get off the hook of an immaculate clean up job AND no grounding.

 

 

 

Everyone dropped it, as dinner was now ready to be served, and surprsingly, not a thing was burnt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Killed An Eel For Ya

 

 

So, unbeknownst to ME, we would be flying to my step dads parents LAKE house for a few WEEKS every summer, leaving behind the drudges of city life, and getting into lakeside heaven( or so it seemed), and enjoy visting the extended family, the summer sun and all the mystery that the warmer weather brings.

 

Of course, every year my mom and me knew what was coming first; He would be presented with lime jello from HIS mother ( something He absolutely despised), as some surprise treat- and just like that, the vacation would commence with aaaall its sunshine, and souvenier surprises.

 

But after awhile, summer tourists made it EASY to rather stay HOME and enjoy the immense calm which IS the andirondacks, rather than deal with the hubub of visitor frolic and frenzy made up of long winding tourist strips on crowded saturday nights.

 

There really WAS an amazing stillness OUTSIDE of town; with unbelievable sunsets-all the locals knew it, and I enjoyed my fair share of awe- although I made sure to be quite the disturbance of said peace in my teen years, when hand drumming was my thing, much to my grandfathers freakout-demise; He claimed it reminded him of the war, and all the drumming he would hear throughout his shifts at camp- essentially claiming PTSD as a reason for me to shut the hell up.

 

By my teen years, it was well and fine for me to just play along and do so; there was just so much else to do and explore. Abandoning musical instruments for a bit was no big thing, even if he WAS lying about it- I simply moved on to something else to enagage my senses.. and that was easy task in this landscape.

 

Incredibly captivating with its wildlife; Lake George boasts bluejays, and red dragonflies..shimmery water, and vivid aqua skies.... racy chipmunks, and the ocaasional soaring eagle- NOTHING was too amazing to have happen at LAKE GEORGE.

 

The center spot of sourcing Herkimer diamonds as well. That always mystified me; that I was visiting some lake with hidden gems all over the watery floor- if I just investigated, there was no TELLING what I may find- I saw the treasures that OTHERS found during THEIR deep sea dives all over the place.

 

Id'e walk around the air conditioned summer house, and see small mineral collections on various shelves, maticulously dust free from grandmas magical touch up-keep. You know the collections I mean; different stones they had collected over the years, with a lot of them being these diamonds found in the lake . There was a handfull here..a bowlfull there of these sparkling gems. Massive in size, some of them, and they captured the summer magic perfectly.

 

I always looked forward to the next adventure I might have up there, and even though my grandparents were a bit nutty about meals and activities schedules, they seemed to let me have free run of the house to go get into whatever trouble a kid can get into when going solo at a lake house.

 

More than not however, I was in the WATER. There wasn't a DAY that went by where I wasn't in a suit, either wet from a swim, or just dried, with my hair bleached out and knotty from exploring the lakes mystical underwater palace with my rubbery snorkling gear offhand..in ONE of my hands, or tangled up in my hair.

 

I can still smell the rubber from the glass mask, in a greysigh blue and I would have to wash the mask out before wearing.Sometimes the glass would fog right up from breathing into it by accident, and I would have to rewash again until I got it right- crystal clear and ready to be my secondary sight.....and when I placed it on, it always seemed to be too tight, and I could feel my sinuses swell up worse than take off on a jet. 

 

But soon, I would get used to the pressure, as the water was just so much greater, and eventually, I got used to big red circles dug into my skin- just permanent summer spots on my face after hours of wear. I just could not get enough of the amazing liquid adventure that seemed fresh and new everyday.

 

It's not like I saw new stuff under there from 12 hours ago- when I was in there..it was pretty much the same rocks with seasweed that I was used to seeing. The sandy beaches were,  of course, the usual  kind you'de expect to find on a smaller lake shore; A small bank of sand, that had specks of dirt all over, and leaf bits floating all over, with various bugs dancing on the surface of the moving mirror. Once in awhile I would find a teeny tiny shell along the shore,and I would adore these tiny things because it was a rare find- feeling it as a personal gift from the world to me, during my visit. 

 

The lake was rather still more oftan than not, and there was hardly ever a fish in sight along the woody shoreline...a calm place to sleep or color in a coloring book; I always enjoyed coloring in these 'Dover Series' coloring books- They would have highly intricate designs of egyptian gods and goddess....and with a fresh set of markers that my parents would always supply me with for the summer, I would be all set and was careful not to get the paper near the waters edge. 

 

Nothing kills a marker job like watermark- and there was a certain daredevilishness to the whole idea that I would be using my markers and book in a splashzone, but it was summer, and Lake George was made up of magic and miracles that ceased to amaze moment to moment, day in and day out ('Oops' more on that later).

 

Of course, the lake itself was another matter- it always had some new surprise for me- the first one was its sandy shore; the bed started out sweet, but then it dropped pretty quickly into steeper waters, and so the end of the short dock had water deep enough for a sail boat, and the sun fish would come by to nibble on your feet, if you left your tootsies in the water long enough.

 

At first, when I went into this lake, I had no idea, and I suddenly plunged down into no ground. Of course, no one mentioned it beforehand, and that helped me never forget that it was there..like a hidden boundary only certain people were privy to..the magic unseen.

 

It was all pretty familiar and nice. Every year I would come back to this same spot, and recognize the place..the dock, the fish, and the familiar landscape of mountains which would hold the sunsets in between its resting shoulders..Every night was like a silent night eve, and every morning a day for a magic carpet ride.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Happened

 

And that was something I was excited to do; explore the waters a bit more as I saw many OTHERS do (maybe even score MY OWN Herkimer diamonds). I wasn't particularly interested in water skiing, or fishing so much as I liked speed boats and sailing. Of course, those activities required adults and so, they weren't any everyday affair, so I did the next best thing;

 

I'de float away on a large, rubbery blackish-grey innertube that I swear was from 1939 or something, because those people never threw ANYthing AWAY, and it was larger than any others I had ever seen before, and HAVE ever since.

 

This thing wasn't a PRETEND inner tube, it seriously WAS an innertube of some fucking truck- and it smelled like it, as it would often bake in the hot sun and get too hot to touch after a while...yet no matter WHAT, this tube was there for me..year after year, bake after bake.

 

I probably have more sentimental attachment to this stupid inner tube than anything else from that time period, when it became more of a trusted steed than rubber float:

 

I was out on the lake, as usual, at an earlier time than usual..not that early, around 11am or something..and my uncle was on the dock, pittering about with some gear (he was planning on doing some fishing and was getting the rods together). My brother was somewhere around on the dock too, looking at the gear, considering joining him in the adventure. 

 

I could have framed the image, as my mind made a snapshot of these two figures on the dock, talking about their plans, they became an odd still life painting, crystallized and embalzoned into my deep mental library...I considered it all; what they might catch, where they would go- and especially what ride they were taking.

 

 I started to drift off to the left side of the dock( on this jumbo tube), and the house. It was an area I had never visited before, and as my mind turned away from the one 'painting' I saw manifest before me, I turned to see the waters surface bouncing a wavy image of the trees hovering over the waters edge above.

 

I bobbed up and down on the inner tube as I looked over my shoulder, and into the water..I could start to see past the wobbling reflection, and saw down deep deep into the bottom of the waters darkening floor..

 

..and as I floated deeper underneath the trees, the reflections gave way completely, and could NOW make out drifting seaweeds clinging to rocks. I could see rock nestled next to rock...and little bits of waterlogged braches wisping by the pebbly ground.

 

I couldn't believe how clear the water looked..I could make out the detail of every pebble, every outline- and I didn't need gear to do it..all I had to do was stay calm, and float along.. The sunlight would peek in, through the trees, here and there, making beautiful rays of light that would shine  all the way down through the water, lighting up boulders on the floor like glistening snowballs, or moutaintops getting light after a long rain. 

 

Once in awhile, a small pack of minnows would swim by, and you would feel so large in this miniature world just waiting for you to see and know. Did the beauty exist if I wasn't there to see it? Boy did I know the answer to THAT one, and I had planned to float by it ALL.

 

Yes, it was going to be a large task- taking this tube and floating past all the neighbors cribs, just waving and smiling like my little donut was perfectly legit on open waters- but I was gonna do it. This was just too damn cool NOT to at least ATTEMPT.

 

I mean, diamonds people, diamonds. How hard could it BE..I wasn't gonna be GREEDY and expect huge chunks like the skiers were getting..just a small fucked up one would have been fine with me. These things weren't too hard to find either; from what I had learned, they were pretty much just hanging out on the bottom of the floors in the middle of the lake, I figured some must EVENTUALLY wash up along the shore- I was absolutely convinced of it.

 

All of this determination ceased as I saw my travels beginning to unforld before my very eyes; a very odd thing I suddenly saw in the water...it looked like nothing I had ever seen before.

 

It sort of looked like a waving goldish leaf...no, wait, a fin..was this a fish?

 

It was really far down..about 8 ft or so, and I notice that the waving fin is now connected to something larger...my eyes follow the fin, which has now turned into greyer fish scales and a fish body- but this isn't a BODY- this is a long snake like shape.

 

'Wait. WTF IS this??' I say to myself, seeing that the loooong body has now CURVED in shape, with the scales now reaching near the wobbling surface, a few FEET away from ME.

 

I looked near the waters surface to see where this scaled trunk might LEAD to (you know, jump AHEAD of the mystery surprise ending), and there, 2 INCHES from my arm is an open mouth the size of a softball, with 3 inch long FANGS and round bulbous EYES, large as fuckin' saucers.

 

ALL at once the adrenaline took over; I sensed all sides of me at ONCE; I became completely aware of my surroundings; How far away from the dock I was, What boats were going across the water, what birds were in what trees above me, how my body was placed on the inner tube, the slight breeze that was passing by, but most importantly, how fucking far away those fangs were from my body.

 

-and like a cat out of hell- a bat with nine lives- a sure soul survivor of the apocolyse of the century, my ass flew up OFF that inner tube, and flipped like a fuckin' godsend flapjacked PANcake never FLIPPED. 

I don't even know how I did it, but in miliseconds, I had all four limbs paddling way the hell away from that place, screaming at the top of my lungs, and flying on that tube like it was motorized- sheer fear fuel for sure.

 

My parents came running down the stairs as I screamed out "EEL! EEL! There's an EEL in the LAKE!" (but of course, barely making sense while paddling).. I saw myself feet away from the dock, but I wasn't risking it, whatever the hell it was that I saw had frightened me so fully, I would NOT have put it past that thing to have FOLLOWED me all the way to the DOCK. I was CERTAIN of THAT.

 

The dock had these homemade wooden stairs that were were standard sized lumber- not the easiest thing for a kid my size to get up and down, and this moment was no different- I found myself just as perplexed as to how to grasp the old seaweed covered 2x4 in a hot hurry.

 

Pops, walked up to the docks edge and watched as I leaped out of the tube and lunged for the ladder up the dock, never so grateful to have felt dry wood before in my life. I think I even got a few spliters on that old ass shit, but I did NOT care..splinters was NOTHING like THAT creature I just locked eyes with.

 

I went spilling out onto the dock, coughing my ass off, half crying, shaken to the bone.

"THAT'S IT! YOU'RE GROUNDED.!!! You can't go around SCREAMING LIKE THAT!!" He yelled.

I was too busy panicking to even care what that person was going on about, I mean, I seriously did not even hear the blather coming out. I was way too relieved to be pissed off about anyones immediate response.

 

"GOOD." I replied, gathering myself together with a towel,looking for my flops, and ready to get tf outta there.

He looked all stunned, and started "Well, you simply cant go around like tha-"

"YEAH, that's FINE. I don't plan on EVER going back in there" I said upbruptly.

"Well, what happened?"he asked.

 

"I saw an eel. It was some sort of fish-and it had fangs right next to my ARM..at first I saw its tail, and at first I didn't even see it!..I was just floating that direction!....and then I could see everything under the water.." I kept babbling.

 

On and on I went, explaining every minute detail, I mean, it was pretty clear I wasn't an out-of-it kid. Creative? Yeah.

Daydreamer? Sure.

Excellent manifestor on a Wednesday with no pay 'til the following Friday? You betcha.

 

But hallucinator, I was not. I just simply did NOT have vision issues whatsoever. Not only that, but any real 'spiritual gifts' I had, came in through my auditory senses- my clairaudience. I was never one to SEE auras so much as HEAR them.

 

But I could NOT believe the ghastly shit that was coming out of peoples mouths for the next 3 days. 

My mom came over "Are you alright? What Happened?"she asked me, all worried.

"Oh, she saw a fish or something.." Dad sliced in.

His brother spoke up "She was JUST on the INNER TUBE.. I swear, nothing happened".

 

'Well no shit nothing happened, other than this thing I saw..' I'm thinking to myself.

"Actually something DID happen, L" I started, and was pissed now as I kept going " I saw an eel".

"Are you sure it wasnt a PIKE?" Pops asked. 

"Yeah, she probably saw a pike" my uncle added on.

My brother started looking worried and piped up "Well, I don't know if I want to go fishing..what was it??" looking back at me.

"Oh please- it was probably just some seaweed with a fish" said dad.

 

"We we're REALLY worried, we didn't know what had happened" my mother said, trying to comfort me.

"Wull, THAT'S what happened, and I want to go in now" I said soberly. I was cold and wet, and completely shaken. I knew what I fuck saw, and now had to listen to a roomful of idiots, and even at the early age of 10 knew exactly what was going on.

 

"Well she's still grounded..she can't scream like that around here" Dad turned to my mother, making a firm line in the sand.

 

I walked away from the dock eagerly, happy to get inside.

As I got to the top of the steps, both my grandparents were standing there, and grandma gave a sour look, and said " Are you alright? THAT sort of attitude will get you right on OUT of here" with a wincy snicker, like it was some sort of joke.

 

Grandpa stepped in "Well, let's see ...what happened?"

Because. After all, the whole noise level issues surrounded HIM and his issues with sound- no one, and I mean, NO ONE saw blood squirtin' outta me.... and if a bone isn't out of whack, you're on thin ice, kiddo.

 

So, I explained , yet again; It was an eel..or some sort of long fish? Are there snakes here? Are there some sort of alligators or snakes? I honestly had a very limited capacity for understanding what it was that I had just ran across, and everyone seemed more concerned about appearances than anything else- even with Inspector Gadget at the wheel.

 

"Hm" Grandpa started," Well,...it sounds like you were really frightened, no matter WHAT it was".

He could see that I was really scared, and his response surprised the whole pack, especially since HE was the main reason for said screaming to be a real unholy action.

He had seen wartime, and it never really stopped for him, yet in this moment it really HADN'T, and he knew I was dead fucking serious when I said I saw what I saw, and believed what I said. 

 

It was like this crazy ass godsend in the strangest of moments, abandoning his regular response to such behavior, and was totally on board that I might have really saw some shit.

 

It was at THAT moment, that it dawned on me that HE may have very well KNOWN wtf I saw, and that, he, being a navy Seabees sailor had some sort of clue about some piddly shore near his summer home.

I started to grill him. Go- go gadget grilling.

 

"So, have you seen anything over there BEFORE grandpa?" I asked.

"Well...." he began" I haven't really been OUT that way..but it DOES have odd movements at times.." he looked perplexed, and confused as he sometimes did when he was mulling thoughts over in his mind, just outloud on slowmotion so that we could ALL follow along with him.

 

I thought for sure he was just about to pop some truth out, that would validate my entire experience, vindicate me of all charges, and justify my response on ALL counts...but no. Nope. Tha was the end of it.

"Just go get dry, dinner will be soon" he said, sending me along.

"Well, she's still grounded" grandma added on.

"That's fine with me- I'm not going back in" I lashed out as I popped down the stairs for a rinse off.

"Oh!Hehe"she said with a glazed grin as she would sometimes get; Just a glazed smile on statue mode, where you weren't sure if THOUGHT was happening, or EMOTIONS, or NEITHER. Just a puppeted ending to an unREAL moment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OK, So.....

 

The next day was a drive into town- to go shopping along the touristy strip which didn't happen but ONCE a summer visit. My parents were not big on junky purchases, and this shopping district was absolutely BRIMMING with THAT:

From neon painted dolphin wind chimes, to zoomy flips flops and floaty crap for the lake! Pinecone incense in little houses, and gemstone pendants, lipglosses, postcards and more..THIS strip had it ALL.

 

I was always overjoyed with being in this area since it was a once-a-summer kind of a thing, and so, I wanted to go into EVERYTHING.

 

PLUS, I usually had more money than my regular allowance since we would usually visit this area around my birthday in August, and I would get money from relatives- my allowance growing up was 4$ a week (which I was given on Saturdays) and seeing it WAS a Saturday, vacation shopping seemed like a great way to spend ALL of it! Those stores really knew their customer, and I was happy to support the notion... and to fit the bill. 

 

I usually ended up with less than what I wanted, but a tigers eye stone would often show up SOMEhow in the loot- That, plus some beads. Every year, I was drawn to the bead loom kit that would show up in a few shops. I eventually purchased one, and tried it out. 

 

I really didn't have the patience to thread the thing, and then my first work had a row of 3 wobbly beads maybe...and the ends were frayed from not being tied off properly. Once all the NEEDLES were broken, that would be the end of THAT hobby until the next summer...until I got a newer model; a better loom with more supplies.

 

Besides the regular stores, there were also things like the 'Ripleys Believe It Or Not Museum', and the 'House of Frankenstien Wax'- not to mention the regular nature attractions nearby, like 'Fort William Henry'- (this british fort from 1755)which was right next to everything. This area was a real destination for families to get lost into the summer bake craze, which is tourist life.

 

There WAS this one toy shop I wanted to go into, but never did, and I would always get so damn pissy about that. Like, WHY NOT. Where tf we going, that we can't simply go IN? But we didn't GO in because I was pretty much the only one that WANTED to go in. Even my brother didn't want to.  I was mostly outruled, but it didn't stop me from ASKING about it every year.

 

Then one year, I stopped asking, and just went IN there:

 

"Watch this" I thought to myself, as we started to get near the storefront " I'm just gonna go IN there..fuck these people, every year they never wanna go in. I'm not gonna RUN over there where they cant see me go IN...they'lle SEE ME walk OVER there- and if they say some shit, I'M just gonna ignore em. Watch me. I will, I swear it".

 

We started getting closer, and I started losing my nerve:

"Well, wait, I AM ALREADY GROUNDED..if I do THIS, they will just pile on something else evil..ALTHOUGH..if I'm ALREADY GROUNDED, how BAD could it get REALLY?. What. I don't get  MORE swim time?" Yeah, my choice was made.

 

We were finally one store away from the place, and I started walking closer to the edge of the sidewalk to make an easy break, but then realized "I better get AHEAD of this group- I better not be BEHIND the pack, they simply wont notice Iv'e LEFT at all, and then I really WILL be in trouble" as I start to stridently move ahead. Fotunately, we all paused right before to look at some outdoor vendors wares.

 

Now, this shop, was not at street level. It was actually below ground, and had two small staircases on both sides of the front door, with little novelties opposite,aaaaall under some sort of cement overhang -the whole thing was very terracotta in a very odd Scottsdale AZ kinda way. But the toy shop had large front doors, with bright lights all over the place which made it very welcoming, that was certain.

 

I had no problem taking the lead as we were now approaching the place with my brother piping up" Hey! look over there!" he started to point to some place across the street.

"Oh, jesus christ- he's gonna fuck this up for me, isnt he" I thought fast, and said " Yeah! AND Look over HERE" as I RAN into that store, all happy with the Iine just stole from my brother to further my own agenda...

 

....only to discover that it was a pretty unengaging toy shop, with boring toys and worse, not affordable at ALL... and while I felt burned on this surprise while being slighted by my betters, I couldn't help but feel happy to know I wasn't missing much after all. Yep, the strip held all sorts of mystery waiting to be found- and it sure as shit didn't come with sharp teeth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deeply Rewarding

  

Soon, sharp teeth was all that mattered, and everyone was ready to get back to the house and eat lunch. My brother was already talking about what HE wanted to do after he went for a swim. I was silent as a mouse, for a change, which everyone assumed was because of my punishment- like I was all sad, when in fact all I REALLY wanted to do, was stop the car, and go visit some of the local woods we were driving past. That, and I was already looking forward to my coloring books as we floated on back in my grampas burgundy leather&velvet 1976 Lincoln Continental Mark IV.

 

This car was the godfather of all pimped rides. Deep red polished outside, red velvet inside; there simply isn't a car made that had more 70's luxury than THIS ride: power windows, power seating...the ashtrays would open when you popped the top, and the back seats even had their own tiny ass little oval windows BEHIND the regular window..and these ones had mini red curtains on them, with tiny bows too.

 

It was truly a royal nightmare thats only consolation, was the sweet drift ride it carried you on; Somewhere between a subwoofer on 11 and cloud 9, once you stepped foot into this thing, YOU had no idea where the FLOOR was...

YOU had no IDEA where a true right hand TURN was...

Hell, you had no idea if you were truly on the road- the hood of that monster was like a red streak dragon just coasting down the street with no real destination in sight; maybe road... OR a tree. God knows how grandpa steered in that thing.

 

It DID have tight breaks though; I think it was the fact that the lake house was situated right ON the lake, with a road INto the place SO steep, that he had to stop-start the breaks, the WHOLE way down, so as not to crash into the place. It was a real art to watch the guy jostle us back and forth on this genie bottle ride and then veer left as he turned the steering wheel 17 times to actually adjust the wheels, and then pull in with a kush stop.

 

We all went inside for lunch, and eventually everyone went off to change into swimwear. I headed into my room, looking forward to coloring books, a 2ft stack of sunday comics that my grandmother had saved all year long, and some chocolate bullseye candies I had pilfered from the candy jar.

 

And there I stayed for a bit, enjoying my time, until a I heard a knock at the door. It was my mother.

"Hi there.." she began,"Why are you in here, and not outside?"

"Well I'm grounded" I replied.

"That doesn't mean you can't BE with us OUTSIDE on the dock though" she smiled.

"It's hot on the dock, and it's not like I'm swimming to cool off" I replied. I drew my line in the sand right then and there- I mean, if they didn't want to believe me,FINE- THEY could get bit for all I cared.

"Well, OK.." she said, and got up and closed the door behind her.

 

The next few days was pretty easy going- I would finish breakfast and grab my stuff, wherever I left it around, and begin to color or read. But by day 4, pops walked in to have a serious discussion with me.

He looked pensive as he entered the room and began:

 

"Well, you've been pretty good with helping out around the place, and being constructive with the time away from swimming, so, we've decided to lift your punishment EARLY, so you can go in again" He said triumphantly.

"Oh, thanks.." I said"..but I really don't plan on going in anymore... Does that mean you guys believe me? Thanks for lifting it early, that was nice of you". I mean, of course I was helping out with little tasks around the house, I wasn't SWIMMING, tf..I was kind insulted by THAT one.

 

He sat down next to me and said "Li, youv'e been swimming in that lake for a long time now without a problem.....and, IV'E been in that lake since I was a KID, and I've never had any problems..It's not like you didn't SEE something, it's just that whatever it was, is something that's always BEEN there, EVERYTIME you swam- and you never had a problem.

..."Yeah, that's true" I did hear the man out, as he continued...

"I mean, you could just NOT swim OVER that way, if you've never had issues BEFORE..just stay near the dock then." He finished, what he saw, was a perfectly logical problem solve to a pretty basic kid-on-inner-tube-with-a-summer-freak-out kind of a problem.

 

"Yeah, well, but that thing COULD swim over to me..." I replied

"True, but your brothers been in there..and HE'S been swimming around, and HE'S fine..So's your uncle"

"Well, there's two of them- I don't know, maybe they are too noisy for that thing to try to get. I'm not risking it" I said firmly, and I got right on back to reading.

 

 I did feel bad however.  I mean, everyone was trying to be accomodating, and extra nice seeing there was 4 days left of visit time, and it looked like I really WASN'T going in. Even with my uncle offering to join as 'protector'.  Even with my brother checking out the area close to where I was..

 

..he never DID go EXACTLY as far as I went THAT direction, but he did TRY to ease my worries:

 

"LI!" He yelled over to me as I walked down the dock..trying to join everyone in the hot bake sun, and there, I look to see my brother in the water, with a reflectiive surface flowing all around him. Slowly... about a foot from his shoulder, this BRANCH emerges from the water.

 

He looks over at it and said " Look! It'a the EEL!!" and started smashing this stick to bits.

I mean, that was sweet, but did he really think I saw I dumb ass twig? I forgave him as he part-tried,as well as part-poked fun simply BECAUSE he tried, and I could see that at least HE was enjoying HIS time in the water, and I wasn't interested in limiting his enjoyment, even if his ass WOULD get bit eventually. 

"Oh well..gotta break a few eggs to make an omlette" I thought to myself " MAYBE, if something actually HAPPENED to one of them, they would understand".

 

I also wasn't gonna try to argue a 'scare' into my brother either, I mean, it was either I had a dumb ass imagination with bad vision, or he better get his ass out the water double time..Rather him think I had no CLUE, than REALLY try to get him to believe me. I mean, after all, no OTHER person there believed me, and I was in no mood to try otherwise. He was the one swimming in a silent nightmare, I wasn't.

 

The subject came up after dinner the following night:

 

Grandmother asked "Is she just not going in the lake then anymore, dear? Hehe". She would often disguise her sour attitude in non-disguises as a way to confuse others with a direct confrontation, but without any real tact.

 

My mother piped up "Well, M, No." she began calmly  "I don't think she will be going in THIS year". She looked over at me, just to make sure she was reading my facial expression correctly which was one of acceptance, and simultaneously defense. I mean, NOW what. Is she planning on a FORCED swim? tf...

 

"Well, I just don't understand.." grandma continued, " It's not like anything is actually IN there. We've been here for YEARS..there's no problems, right dear?" as she looked up at grandpa with a stonewall smile.

"Thats true" he began as he smacked his protruding lips together from the messy grease pile stack of braised bones. He wiped his hands on a crumpled napkin and continued".. but I have seen SOME things".

My brother suddenly looked kind of nervous, and stopped eating.

"What do you mean, Grandpa" he asked (HE wasn't wasting time).

"Well, I was in the OCEAN for a long time, and there can be ALL SORTS of things you don't know about" Grandpa said very matter-of-factly.

Pop started to complain "Dad, don't tell him THAT- now their BOTH gonna think there are MONSTERS in the LAKE..and you know that's just not TRUE".

 

My uncle had this smirk across his face, like he was ready to play along with what ever prank my grandfather might want to set at this point, but Grandpa was dead fuckin' serious, which surprised everyone, as he chimed " Well you just don't KNOW, I'VE been in SORTS of situations on the water- you just dont KNOW" and now Grandpa was starting to look pissed- like he was being openly challenged on his nautical know-how.

 

Everyone gave the topic a rest as the dishes were removed from the table, and dropped into suds..I could go back swimmingly to my markers and comics- life would be just ducky for the close.

 

"Is that true?" My brother asked dad on the sly, so that Grandpa wouldn't hear ,"COULD there be stuff in that lake??". He looked wide eyed, like he was seriously questioning the possibility now.

"OF course NOT.." Dad started in"..he's just saying that about the ocean- it has nothing to DO with the lake. It's fine" he said quietly, and my brother looked relieved and ready to plunge back into it, without a thought or worry.

 

I left the lake house, forever changed, without care in the world for lake life ever again. I mean, "magical" my ass- I had my OWN "believe it or not' museum of relics just CERTAIN I was blind, and I was definitely ready to leave without a souvenier- like a chunk of my ass bit off-Grounded or ground round, I was out.

 

I said my 'goodbyes' and then my 'goodbyes' but was surprised to discover it being the last gathering of the whole clan from then on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Epilogue Surprise with a Sprinkling of Delayed Justice

 

I did go back the following year, and stayed near the dock with goggles on my trusty rubber tube. My younger cousin joined in this year, while my brothers did not, and my cousin, J, just loved swimming, but went into town with my aunt and uncle more often than not, so a lot of the time it was just me and the lake, and whatever might still be in there from last summer.

 

I looked that way- back where it all began as I floated near the dock, checking what might be underneath with my glassy goggles pal (always alert, ever vigilant) for any lurkers nearby. But mostly, it was just me, and this fish that was hanging out underneath me- and THAT was how I liked it; Clear, and empty... with a fish I would later CATCH with a genius bait: A goldtone keychain that any 12 year old would think of using.

 

It took 6 hours, and a burned back from floating on the surface all afternoon, but right as I was called out of the water for dinner, right as the sun was setting, I caught this fish, and then ate him.

And he wasn't very good, but was given mutiple opportunities by my grandmother to try him out repeatedly ("Digesting Truth;'There's Always Room for Jello' ").

 

I never DID go back in after that, not really...not like I once had, and my visits there got shorter as I hit my teen years, but the whole experience really gnawed at me. I mean, I KNOW what I saw. And yeah, I'm a creative person, and YES, kids see shit all the time, so it's real POSSIBLE I projected some 'fear' into the scenery, no doubt.

 

But please, no one pretends a gaping jaw with FANGS, and a head the size of a damn softball. Nobody.

 

I was dertermined to figure out what it was..I just simply could NOT believe, that with allll those family members, that not ONE of them knew, not even REMOTELY of what this could have been.

 

It was even MORE reason to try and figure it out; It might have been 35+ years ago, but technology bitches.

 

And Lo! I found my guy in 10 minutes.

I saw the images as I swooshed my little thumb down the swipy screen..image after image.

"YEP" I said to myself, as I stopped dead center on the culprit "THERE'S MY GUY ".

 

I took a screen shot and texted my brother first :

 

"Well, guess what? I FOUND the eel in the lake."..and attached the image of what was a very VALID answer to such a long mystery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A MUSKIE

 

A "Muskellunge", or 'Muskie' for short, is a large freshwater predeatory fish, which are rare to find. They  can grow to 4 ft in length, and are members of the pike family. They also have been known to attack humans- AND the mature males will gaurd their nests ferociously- usually starting them along still, rocky shores where they remain undisturbed by water movement.

 

'Oh my god. THAT'S IT? No wonder you were scared. Wow' he wrote back rather quickly.

 

Next was my dad turn (I sent him the same text, and image):

 

'What's that.' said the text.

 

'Exactly what I told you was in that lake' I wrote.

 

'Oh, my..THAT's what you saw? Scary' he wrote back.

 

That's it. That was pretty much all that happened. My grandparents had already died by this point, or I would have told THEM too, but since they already passed, I'm sure they knew long before I ever found out.

 

I eventually spoke to my mom about it:

 

"Hey, you know that time I thought I saw an eel at the lakehouse? It was a muskellunge" I began.

 

"A what?" She asked.

 

"A muskellunge..this pike fish with sharp fangs. I just read about a girl there-up in Lake George..about three weeks ago- she got bit by one, and need 11 stitches."

 

"Thats unbelievable"she said slowly.

 

'Why, because I remember? Or because you we're all dead ass wrong?' I was thinking to myself.

 

"I can't believe she needed stitches"She said in wonderment.

 

"I can't believe that happened THREE WEEKS AGO, and this fucking fish still isn't COMMON KNOWLEDGE" I replied. Hell, maybe if I had gotten bitten, we all would've learned sooner, or perhaps EVER.

 

And there, with a final reply that took me 30 years to say, we left it at that.

 

 

 

 

I mean, why on gods green earth is there a walk in tour fish?Look at it. It doesn't look nice at all. I'm so surprised this fish isn't more well known:

 

Is this a story? Or muskie awareness week..? You decide.