Wednesday, December 31, 2014

aback [uh-bak]

I'm a skinny teenager in dirty jeans and steel-toe work boots, moving pallets around by means of a manual lifter; a pump truck, in accordance with the boss's wishes. A man I do not know steps near to me and seeming not to approve, says without a trace of humour, "Do you know what the hell you're doing?"

"Yes," is all I say, as he departs. I am motionless as tears come, which I blink away.

I am weak; susceptible; defenseless. I am in love with a boy at school who now despises me and the world is no longer right for me and I am not right for the world.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Aaron [air-uh n]

I'm sitting in the open-air stern of Tim and Aaron's 25' sailboat Kruso, anchored in Florida's inter-coastal waterway. The sky is dark, the waves gentle and the breeze a perfect comfort. My belly is full from a rich meal at a fine restaurant nearby on the waterway. The boat's gentle rocking soothes. The beer and cigar are deeply satisfying.

I'm a young man and life feels good and nowhere in my head is the strict implausibility of it all. Nowhere is the accounting for all the prices being paid for this.


Monday, December 22, 2014

The Coffee Monster

I remember when homosexuality was considered a mental illness by the psychiatric community. Then it was dropped from the roster and a short time later they recognized homophobia as the problem. They literally turned on themselves. Not surprising. The psychiatric community has never entirely had their shit together. And how could they?

The one thing the human brain finds most intolerable to contemplate is the human brain. What’s going on there? Well for one thing we have this whole consciousness thing messing everything up. Consciousness most clearly does not understand itself. We suffer constant illusions that consciousness is responsible for everything we do and it doesn’t take much effort (much courage though, perhaps) to detect the falseness of this feeling. Human feelings are almost always misleading, if not always. When we try to be mindful we discover that the very vast majority of what we do is without any conscious participation at all. Furthermore, close self-observation reveals constant evidence that the thoughts that we’re aware of do not actually seem to have much control at all over the things we do or the choices we make.

The psych community has very little explanations for all this, and how can they? The neuroscience community is still working largely with theories regarding the brain, rather than fact.

What the psych community does seem to be good at though, is making observations and grouping together generalizations about things and labeling everything with their labels so that they can talk among themselves and write reports and give professional advice that is all full of these labels and thus they sound like they know something. Then when it comes to using the knowledge they are presumed to have due to all these label references, to actually solve problems, the solutions become very vague: psychiatric counselling. Which tends to go on forever without problems actually being solved and while much money changes hands all the while.

Looking at the history of changes to psychiatric dogma is disappointing. Rather than leading trends in any way, they simply follow them. The psych community suffers from the cultural superstitions of the day just like all the masses of ordinary people.

Of course, when you’re smack in the middle of any given culture, one doesn’t realize how much superstition you’re prey to, because everyone around you is also crippled by an evolutionary-infantile consciousness and supports the same illusions.

Currently we are still riddled with sexual superstition. It’s absolutely ubiquitous. I can think of only one person I know – so far at least – who I can talk about sex with, in a completely logical way, while the other 9000 or so people I’ve met – are entirely hopeless as far as I can tell. I probably could have said two people if I’d met Kinsey.

The psych community is right in there with the masses. And because of all the superstition they’re in bed with, they can’t do the research they would need in order to become enlightened. Because the research itself would be deemed sinful – or whatever any given person would say to describe the product of their hang-ups and confusion.

One day, I’m sure, all sexual predilections will be discovered to be vastly more common than previously assumed, within the realm of normal, and free of the mental illness label.

Enter the pedophile. Or more specifically – the sex offender.

What do we do with them?

For now, it doesn’t really matter whether we classify sexual attraction to children as a mental illness or not. Because sexual interaction across generations is problematic either way. As long as kids are at risk of psychological suffering – whether from perceived victimization or perceived perversity on their own part, and whether the causality stems from the incident or from the social stigma and a child’s own lack of mental constitution, sexual interaction between generations is obviously – within this culture – a very bad idea.

So the courts have to deal with child sex offenders and this is really tough, because with nowhere else to turn, they put their trust in the psych community and then receive the flawed information and flawed recommendations from a not-very-scientific science that doesn’t like to admit how much they don’t know.

Because we choose to call pedophilia a disease, or at least think of it in those kind of terms, we’re stuck with the perception that prison cannot cure them, but we can’t jail them forever, so what the heck do we do?

Between probation, parole, Long-Term Observation orders and other court-ordered restrictions including the lifetime 161 order which bans prior sex offenders from playgrounds and similar places permanently, we keep a real close eye on them and hope for the best.

So let’s take a person like Howie.

Howie is a slow child. He has obvious learning disabilities. And if I may penetrate the illusion of childhood innocence for a moment, Howie is constantly victimized. He is mocked and bullied every day by his peers because he is slow. But Howie understands the wicked underbelly of childhood. There are no police for children. There is no one to protect a child from another ill-minded child, or gang of them. Life rarely ever works that way.

Howie simultaneously worships and despises his tormentors. He knows so very well their superiority and their cruelty. He wants to be them, and he wants to kill them. He reluctantly admires their physicality. His childish fantasies about their bodies mingle with his fantasies of strangling them.
For reasons that we don’t understand and that the psych community doesn’t understand despite a myriad of labels that they will assign to all of these ideas, Howie grows up without losing these fantasies. The scars of his powerlessness never heal.

Growing up, he loves horses. Hardly surprising given their gentleness, which Howie has sorely lacked, and also given the horse’s masculine body structure. Their extraordinary popularity with pubescent girls invites fairly obvious theories of psycho-sexual origin.

Howie also loves demolition derbies. Something about the power granted by the automobile and the aggression and destruction appeals to the boy who had been so defenseless and afraid to lash out against his aggressors except in fantasy.

He grows up with his slower-than-average mind and the scars remain and the fantasies remain, as do his penchants for horses and cars. And then one day he finds himself in the company of a boy child who reminds him of all the boy children who haunted him through his formative years. But Howie is big now; a young adult. He has nothing to fear from this boy. He treats the boy with gentleness, experimenting with that which he was deprived. And then he experiments with the violence. He wraps a towel around the boy’s neck and squeezes until the terrified boy loses consciousness. Then he experiments further. He removes the boy’s clothes to see his body, and takes pictures so that he may relive this experience later in his imagination.

The experience is satisfying to Howie. He knows it’s wrong. He wants not to do it again but he can’t always control his impulses and it happens again. A habit has been formed.

Howie is captured by police. He’s tried, convicted, serves time and is eventually released under close observation. He appears to cooperate with all his conditions, restrictions and treatments. But he never loses the desires. With no skills for making friends and no capacity for generating the normal rewards that people take satisfaction in, he spends the great bulk of his adult life offending, doing time, breaching conditions, flirting with re-offences and doing more time.

He is in his early 60’s when he finally makes it through a sentence and a long probation without breaching conditions in any way. He has earned just a little bit of freedom. He is restricted by the lifetime 161 order and by a two-year 810 supervisory order which further limits his mobility but at least he can leave his bedroom at the group home once in a while without bringing down the wrath of his former probation officer or of his acting-therapist; a man named Digger.

The psychologist, Rosie, severely limited by that lack of understanding availed in her field, doesn’t know what to do about Howie and so doesn’t really do anything with him. She simply declares that Howie has an incurable sexual pathology and there is no question as to whether he might re-offend again, but that it is only a matter of when.

First surprising flaw in the system: As a court-appointed psychologist (the 810 orders Howie to be amenable to treatment by this specific professional), she suffers no limitations on how the treatment is carried out or even by whom. So she declines to treat him at all for his crippling anxiety or communication problems, and instead farms him out to her husband Digger; a man without medical qualifications of any imagining who is instructed to interrogate Howie at weekly sessions in order to scare him into confessing whatever he has been up to.

So the taxpayer foots the bill for treatment which constitutes an absent psychologist’s half-wit husband grilling the so-called patient and ritually calling him a liar and acerbating Howie’s anxiety and communication problems and scaring him into spending more time in his bedroom where there’s little else to do but fantasize about the sexual victimization of little boys and staring out his window at the neighborhood children and those walking to or from school several times a day.

Second surprising flaw in the system: These supervisory orders are shockingly ambiguous. Lawyers normally write in an almost baffling legalese in order to effectively facilitate law by being profoundly specific, a communication style which the masses are not accustomed to. But these orders are clearly designed with the opposite intent. The language is dull and attempts at interpretation can go wildly different ways. Multiple offenders with the same orders can engage in the same activity and some will be interpreted by police, judges and/or therapists (genuine or otherwise) as perfectly lawful while others will be jailed for interpreted breaches.

The boon of this system is that judges, lawyers, police and the psyche community can, in the absence of reliable intelligence concerning pedophilia as a guide, just trust their feelings and collude under the umbrella of ambiguity to interpret documents inconsistently in order to put those behind bars whom they feel they want to.

Likely this system has saved some children from victimization, as well as jailed some former offenders needlessly and for no legitimate reason.

A volunteer group works with Howie. Statistically, one in seven child sex offenders re-offends. Among those who receive aid from the volunteer group, only one in fifty re-offend.

Enter Randle.

Randle is a new volunteer who is introduced to Howie and like other volunteers before him, is disarmed by Howie’s capacity for openness. This elderly man is branded a liar on a weekly basis, yet when away from his current oppressor, has a child-like way of opening up in an unguarded fashion; a very likable quality observed less and less in this 21st century megalo-materialist society.

Randle is a little different. He knows how much feelings can’t be trusted, like in the rare brief moments when he thinks of Howie as a monster. He knows how illusory consciousness is; how infantile and unreliable this exciting brand-new development in evolution is. He knows a few things about the psych community and about the criminal justice community and due to his job in corrections he knows a lot of sex offenders.

He knows that people are worth more than their deeds. He knows that the past is the past and people are capable of great change. He has experienced great change himself (in completely different forms). He knows that Howie needs to experience other rewards than the perceived rewards that bringing fantasy to fruition might bring. He knows that Howie needs to replace bad habits with useful, rewarding habits and that this cannot be done, hiding in his little institutional bedroom.

Howie is acutely aware of his own age. He is utterly convinced that any mistake at all, a re-offence or just a breach, will result in him going back to prison for the rest of his life. Howie, for the first time in his long grueling life, has a friend that he can trust. That is one reward that is making a difference. And the things that Howie and Randle do together manifest more rewards. After horses and race cars, Howie loves dogs and he loves coffee. And he likes solving word-search puzzles. The other kinds of puzzles are too difficult.

With Randle he gets out of his bedroom often. They go to Tim Hortons and drink a lot of coffee. Sometimes Randle has work to get done on his laptop so Howie solves his puzzles. Randle always keeps a few books of them on hand. Sometimes a kid will come in and sit near them and so Randle and Howie leave and sit in the car instead. They visit with the dogs who belong to Randle’s friend. Howie loves them and they love him. They stick to him like glue and Howie enjoys fussing with them all day while Randle does his work nearby.

They take drives in the country. They get ice cream at the dairy during school hours. They go down by the lift bridge, but away from parks, and watch the big laker liners come in. One time a family with kids is in the area and so they leave, and decide just to come during school hours.

They take the dogs to an off-leash area during school hours; not that kids go to off-leash areas anyway. Kids are not permitted unaccompanied by adults, and families with dogs have little need for off-leash zones with their inherent risks. Parents don’t want their kids exposed to those same risks that bring about the restrictions.

They go swimming at the adult swim during school hours, doubly isolated from any chance of glimpsing a child whatsoever.

They go to antique stores and occasionally to restaurants and always Randle is on the lookout for kids. It’s strange though, this constant vigilance. What does it achieve? It has never been Howie’s habit to abduct a child; only to molest one who was trusted to his care. The idea that he will sneak off with a child under Howie’s nose is purely preposterous.

Ah, but triggers. The psych community has found a word that makes for a great label. Pedophiles are like loaded guns. They must be kept away from triggers. They must not find themselves looking at kids.

Of course there’s a huge inconsistency here, isn’t there?

Howie’s been placed in a group home third-floor bedroom with a window overlooking a street where plenty of kids live and play.

His interrogator, Digger, the half-wit husband, rents a modest office space across the street from a school and schedules Howie to arrive just when hoards of kids are walking to and from the school on their lunch break.

Driving down the street to go for coffee there are kids on the sidewalks. In fact there are probably 100,000 kids living in the same city where Howie lives and there is simply no way to avoid them. And of course, kids pop in and out of coffee shops with consistent regularity.

So how this trigger-avoidance deal is intended to work is quite the mystery. Former rapists of adult women are not expected to go through life without glimpsing women. Maybe no one really gets it. Maybe it’s just a matter of the creep factor. Maybe we just trust the little feeling that says – we don’t want pedophiles in the same places as kids would have fun in. Because that’s just creepy. We want to see our kids having fun in the illusory absence of pedophiles. And we don’t want sex offenders to glean any of the magic that the rest of us can, watching kids just be kids. We’ll take that away from them just for the hell of it – because they’re monsters and we should never stop finding ways to make them suffer.

Of course Randle thinks about how Howie suffered all through his childhood and what tragedies stemmed from all that. Randle does not suspect that suffering makes the world a safer place.  

But Digger needs to earn a living off the tax-payers, or at least help his wife to do so. So he must posture himself as being useful. He must be perceived to be accomplishing something. And sounding the alarm for transgressions or imaginary transgressions is the only thing he knows how to do or else has the mandate to do, so he must keep interpreting transgressions, one way or the other. So he sounds the alarm about the off-leash area where kids never go and he sounds the alarm about the swimming pool where kids never go during adult swim time while they are in school. And he sounds the alarm because Randle and Howie played mini-golf on a quiet evening and came within sight of a single child who was in no danger of any kind and who was not the relevant age/gender combination to trigger Howie in the slightest.

So Digger is motivated by money (who can blame him?) and Detective Dan is motivated by having too much work to do (who can blame him?) and doesn’t want to have to go check out more locations than he has to, and so together, under their cozy umbrella of ambiguity, they scare Howie away from the places he wants to go; mostly places where children are never present. And sometimes they outright cheat and say, “You can’t go there!” and leave Howie to think they’re respecting the law instead of their personal interests.

And so things that Howie is allowed to do, in order to generate healthy rewards, according to the charter of rights and freedoms, with a reasonable interpretation of his court orders, are in effect forbidden him on a whim. Of course, he could go if he chose to and as his rights allow, and he could not be put in jail, but then he would piss off the wrong people. Digger and Detective Dan have the option to apply to the court for a renewal of the 810 order upon its expiry in another year; something Howie prays won’t happen if he is deemed “good.”

Randle would far prefer that the 810 order become permanent, but interpreted with intelligence, wisdom and logic.

Randle is very concerned that Howie is going to spend what’s left of his life waiting for freedom that will never come, and remain in a fragile place with regards to community safety, instead of making real progress.

Randle is concerned that the system seems flawed, corrupted and based on junk psychology and should be challenged. Randle also knows that staying quiet about it could eventually make his volunteer work very easy and simple, when Tim Hortons becomes the only place at all that Howie is allowed to go, not because Tim Hortons is a child-free place. No. Because Tim Hortons is a soulless pit of an institution where no magic will ever happen; certainly no kid magic.

Every cup tells a story.




Saturday, December 20, 2014

Just me and the cockroaches... and the mice

My last shift at the corrections centre. No residents. No staff. Just a few pieces of furniture here and there, waiting for the junk removers.








My eyes were opened to a lot of new perspectives here, in the last three years. I saw a lot of young men struggling to get their shit together with a whole lot of odds stacked against them. I saw a lot of systems that don't work and a lot of people who should care about that and don't. I saw a lot of people wielding power with no wisdom behind it.

I saw more racism and homophobia than I could stomach but rarely from residents; mostly from dull-minded men in blue who were sitting on the wrong side of the glass as far as I'm concerned.

I saw men turning slowly into zombies, their minds softening; men who'd bargained for conditional release by submitting to potent monthly injections. 

I saw men with mental disease slipping through the cracks; never likely to get the help they need.

I saw men with criminal records running all the way back to their juvenile years, mirroring their history of attempted suicides.

I heard men calling me "Sir" until I'd reminded them my name five or six times; not that they'd forgotten it.

I saw a lot of men leaving six mornings a week at five or six, busing to their dirty jobs at the recycling plant or the moving company or the roofing company. I saw a lot of men doing their chores and keeping their dismal home as clean and tidy as possible.

I saw a lot of men helping each other out; sharing food and passing on hand-me-down clothes.

I saw one man's parole privileges withheld for years because he refused to admit guilt. Then finally a judge declared his trial amiss, reversed his charges; declared him innocent.

I saw men begin to panic as their warrant neared expiry because they didn't know how to live outside an institution. I saw them do what they needed to do to get put back in prison. 

I saw a lot of new guys nod vigorously when I gave them my advice: Don't try to get away with anything. They have more ways to catch you at it than you know. And then I saw them prove me right. I saw men with loving families; kids overjoyed to see their dads again; one step closer to home. And then I saw some of those men eventually leave in handcuffs. The thoughts of their kids still haunt me.  


Monday, December 15, 2014

Thinking of catching a movie? Here's some tips:

After Earth ** (2013) Jaden Smith
Yet another supposed sci-fi film that takes a setting rich with possibilities and important potential ideas and turns it into a pointless 90-minute chase sequence. As weirdly non-dimensional as every other Shyamalan offering whose trailers keep sucking me in.

American Hustle ***
(2013) Christian Bale, Amy Adams
Another revered true-ish film concerning sleazy American heroes whom you have to love because they’re even more maliciously greedy than you. Enjoy, and then take a shower.

 
Brothers **** 
(2009) Jake Gyllenhaal, Natalie Portman, Tobey Maguire
Wasn't a priority to catch this film but I'm glad I did. Not as predictable as I'd guessed it would be and more thought-provoking. And certainly no shortage of tension.


The Cove **** (2009 Documentary) Ric O'Barry
If you're ever inclined to visit Marine Land or their ilk, or to swim with dolphins, it would be morbidly irresponsible not to watch this film first. Heart-wrenching evidence and expert testimony rings trustworthy coming from renowned trainer (Flipper TV series) O'Barry, given the humility he demonstrates.

Ender’s Game ***
(2013) Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford
Visually competent imaging of the excellent book by Orson Scott Card. Never misses any of Card’s themes or insights because it never makes any attempt to start with. Utterly shallow.

The Equalizer ** (2014) Denzel Washington
Yet another recent film in which the so-called hero is an unredeeming ass hole. Does the average moviegoer see it that way? Do the filmmakers see it that way? Do the filmmakers give moviegoers enough credit to expect them to see it that way? The answers are not likely to speak well of our society.

The Fugitive ** (1993) Harrison Ford, Tommy Lee Jones
The director had to have been half asleep for this whole project. The writing and acting were each every bit as dull as the first time I saw it (without respect to chronology) when it was called U.S. Marshalls (1998, Wesley Snipes, Tommy Lee Jones) Some of the cutest gentlest fight scenes you'll ever laugh at.




In the Valley of Elah ****
(2007) Tommy Lee Jones, Charlize Theron
Jones takes on the role of a smart-ass know-it-all (go figure...) in a pretty well-crafted tale that has some guts in its exploration of the American military. Nice work with themes.

Noah *** (2014) Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly
Interesting take on an old story, now with 40% more monsters and the unlikeliest Popsicle stick handicraft ever, though certainly not as interesting as Timothy Findley's novel Not Wanted On the Voyage.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower ***** 
(2012) Logan Lerman, Emma Watson
That I'm very much not a Logan Lerman fan but still had to give it 5 stars, says a lot for it, I suppose. 80's high school film, in retrospect, that hits home in so many ways that the John Hughes films of the day, did not. It mirrors so many facets of my own experience so intimately that I can't surmise on the viewing experience of one outside my generation, or who had a distinctly different high school experience.


Requiem for a Dream ***
(2000) Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto
If you think you might be problematically over-happy, this film might just be the cure. Dark, darker, darkest. Beats any Just-Say-No campaign by a country mile. Dynamite performance by Burstyn.

Trapped * (2002) Charlize Theron, Kevin Bacon
Film actors are contractually obliged to try to portray ridiculously half-conceived characters and can’t get out of it. The result is ugly.

The Wolf on Wall Street ** (2013) Leonardo DiCaprio
Yet another revered true-ish film that concerns a sleazy American hero whom you have to love because he’s even more maliciously greedy than you. Sound familiar? Enjoy if you can (I couldn’t), and then take a shower.


The Zero Theorem **** (2013) Christoph Waltz
Another clever Terry Gilliam film with his unique hyperbolic style all over it. This one is less frenetic on the surface than others (though constantly amusing) but it's much deeper in terms of its messages and ideas.

12 Years a Slave **** (2013) Chiwetal Ejiofor
Great acting and very well-crafted, provocative telling of a true and compelling story; one that prompts us to face the monster in us and wonder how far we’ve really come. Almost five stars.

3 Idiots * (2009) Aamir Kahn
I can only presume that the title refers to it's writer, director and whoever the former's bud was who first read the script and said, "Yeah dude, this would make a totally awesome movie." The flick has garnered over 13 million likes on facebook presumably due to some cosmic malfunction in the space-time continuum or else some elaborate practical joke.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Happiness

Happiness is a neat idea. In a society where reputation is everything - even money is just a ledger of reputation if you think about it - and people are conditioned to judge themselves through the eye of the other instead of looking inward, I think a lot of people are playing a game. They believe themselves happy as long as they are succeeding in selling the image that they are happy.

I think a lot of people who kind of know they're not happy are at least content to interpret they're on a path to happiness or are at least fighting to get on that path. Of course the joke's on them if the things this society holds dear turn out to be charades.

I know I feel happy when I put my arms around someone beautiful - whether beautiful (by my appraisal) inwardly or outwardly or both. I know I'm happy with a steak on my plate and red wine in my glass; happier still when they get in my mouth - as long as I manage not to think of the cow, that is, otherwise I feel the guilt I deserve. And that's not bragging. The sinner who knows better is the worst sinner.

But there are things that trump happiness and here it gets hard to explain. Because when I start talking about freedom, harmony, peace and joy - that's where I imagine people stop listening. Because it sounds like religion or it sounds like people selling snake oil or it sounds like I'm deluded. But there are things I know well and I really wish more people would know more of them along with me.

Earth is a paradise and humans are magnificent with the rare (or unique) ability to evolve beyond the natural death-state of the universe. That alone gives us incredible joy which I experience regularly. But that miraculous evolution depends on the power of a healthy consciousness; one not fooled by the instinctive mind, and that is so very hard to find. Because consciousness is a new evolution. It's in its infancy by universal standards. It's power is a baby-power but we don't realize that. Because our conscious self is the only self we know, it feels like everything to us. It is our totality, and this illusion - of our baby consciousness being a master brain - is the chief illusion which stems all others. And all these illusions separate us from the joy of our existence. They hold us prisoner. We don't know ourselves. Our master brain is a stranger to us and we barely know it exists. Our master brain can not trust our baby consciousness by handing over the steering wheel. Our master brain can not trust our baby consciousness to adhere to our all-powerful survival instincts which almost all normal human activity can be easily logically mapped to.

I had to be courageous and patient and strong (qualities not easy for me to access) for a long time in order to decipher the truth of myself and to grow comfortable with it, and the rewards are magnificent. My master brain has witnessed the intentional (far from perfect or complete) evolution of my consciousness and has surrendered some degree of control.  Those things we call sins - the simple manifestations of survival (domination) instinct have been diminished to varying degrees. One of them obviously remains strong unfortunately (gluttony - its no secret) and another remains somewhat relevant though diminished (lust if you must know) and I have little doubt I might defeat them if I were to dedicate enough effort to it but... I'm not ready and may never be. That's a subject for another time.

As killer instincts are diminished, beautiful things happen. Illusions fall apart and reality is much more graspable and this reality - lo and behold - is the paradise. And it's so transparent how some religions refer to it and it really is a lovely joke how these religions over the centuries have misguidedly strayed from whatever beautiful poetic enlightenment either inspired them or was manipulated by them to their ends (the former I hope) and painted this paradise of reality as some place in the clouds you go to after you die. It is such a sad insanity really. To think you must die to find paradise when in fact  it is a mental journey you must take, one which in fact feels like a rebirth. The memory of my former self is growing more alien to me all the time.

When illusions fall the societal ills that are born of illusions fall with them:

depression
lonesomeness
embarrassment
jealousy
anger
guilt
anxiety
sadness
insult
suspicion (not skepticism)
betrayal
impatience...

I know there are many more on the list though they don't come immediately to mind - probably because I haven't experienced them, at all or but in small measure, for a long time now.

The result is freedom in many forms: freedom from so many ills and from circumstances dictating one's feelings. The result is joy. The result is clarity and strength of mind and desire for (and easy access to) integrity, honesty and generosity. The result is death to the eye of the other; falling out of the reputation game and being motivated only by your own courageous examination of yourself.

The result for me is lovingness; loving motivation instead of selfish motivation. The hitch is - will lovingness be the result for anyone who follows a similar path? That I can't be sure of just now. I don't even have a theory currently - how to figure that out. It isn't really on my to-do list.

There was a time in my life - years - where I suffered so much of these usual societal ills, which people sadly pass off as the normal (okay), unavoidable (wrong) side-effects of living, that I would routinely feel unease; a mild foreboding during solitary moments - usually when driving, and sometimes this unease would come over me in a vague way and I would have to poke around in my head for a moment to remember what thing or things were going on to feel bad about. And sometimes there was nothing bad going on and I would realize that I was only feeling vaguely bad out of habit: sad but a relief.

In more recent times I would find myself driving and forgetting why I felt so happy; an anticipation, and searching my brain, I would realize that there was nothing special going on to be delighted about; that it was just my habit to feel good. A very happy realization each occasion and not a disappointment!

These days I'm much accustomed to feeling good. It never surprises me anymore. I do still feel a full range of emotions but many of them are confined to moments of empathy. I will feel your sadness or your anger or your anxiety because my empathy touches you at your state of perception; not my own.

And I know that there are opportunities for me to feel better still. If I could rectify my self-inflicted health issues, sleep issues, energy level issues and thus productivity issues, I could accomplish more usefulness.

And maybe even evolve a little more: knock those remaining "sins" down a little.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A good use of time

Jazz Lion visited Saturday night. We had Shawarma and Flying Monkeys and hung out in my room from six in the evening until four in the morning.

We looked at his menu of personal services: drum circles, vision quests, instrument therapy, vibroacoustic healing, brainwave entrainment, music production, live music, and lessons in music theory, performance, production and composition - to name just a few. I will do some 'marketing' writing for him in exchange for services.

He put together a binaural beats brainwave entrainment track for me to regularly absorb; subsonic pulse patterns to relegate my brainwaves for optimal blood pressure recovery. Sounds like voodoo but Harvard and M.I.T. are among those behind the research.

We talked about his getting roughed up and injured to the point of income loss (permanent, I wonder?) by the police and healthcare goons for his being polite but not quick enough to cooperate with psyche ward internment process for the authorities' liking, after they received a tip that he may be suicidal (he's not) because he texted his just-come-ex girlfriend "Whatever - see you in heaven." Apparently if you think someone is suicidal, you can best help them by beating them up so that they can't perform their livelihood. That's how they feel the love, apparently.

Watch out for the long arm of the law, folks. There's a fist at the end.

We talked about the Liberal Theologian's cancer. We talked about directional love versus all-emanating lovingness, and generous love versus selfish love. We talked about the illusory nature of anger and other emotions. We talked about truth and its non-applicability in our society. We talked about dreams, India, fatherhood, latent paternal instinct, the anatomy of relationships and the validity of different approaches to relationships. We talked about his music and mine and Neo's music and Senegal Astroturf's music. We talked about general phenomena of vibration and its effects on us. We talked about the psychedelic experience; especially DMT which he recommends for me personally. I'm hesitant, not being a smoker.

We talked about heartbreak, discipline, repetition, the cosmic perspective, alchemy and the desire to vanish from this society; something we're both acquainted with. We talked about much and ten hours dried up in a hurry.

When I had found out that Liberal Theologian was finally coming out of the hospital on Friday I offered to cancel Jazz's visit but she wouldn't have it. It's very unfortunate that she felt, last-minute, that she could not take part in the visit. Jazz, as I have told him, is a very important spirit in this world, and a very important voice in this world. I have no wish to keep him to myself.

As for L.T.: I'd like nothing more than to see her living life to the fullest; making the most of each day. Saturday night there was a marvelous opportunity for her that did not happen.

*Flying Monkeys is beer.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Guesses

She's so upset she's trembling; shaking actually. She says she doesn't know what she wants. She's crying. The plate of beef and rice on her lap is shaking.

I don't know what you want. I don't know how to help you.

But I guess it's not about the food or the visitor who I've just sent down to my room, or the other two visitors who are about to arrive with a gift, and can they stay or should they go.

I guess its just all too much; being told you're out of luck and running out of time. I suppose that if you surrender all responsibility and capability and just shrink back into your little baby soul, then the big bad problem becomes irrelevant. If you render yourself helpless and throw yourself to the mercy of others, that they might take care of you and make your decisions for you, then all the problems, and the problem become theirs to deal with, and you are free. You have escaped.

Except of course, this would be a game, wouldn't it? Some temporary defense, I guess. How, truly, to forget that you are dying and that you are afraid?

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Knocked down

The Thoughtful Educator came to town for a lunch date and it was great to see him and very sobering to hear how his rare medical conditions are keeping him from the work he loves. I remember how he half-tricked me into volunteering at his school five years ago and how unexpected the experience was. How the kids were not annoying and the teachers so dedicated and so nurturing and the strong sense of community which I never sensed in my grade school as a kid.

But mostly I remember how T.E, engaged with the kids in such a delightful manner, so approachable and fun, and with difficult matters: how sensitive and respectful. How he always seemed to know exactly how to handle any situation; how precisely to balance priorities. How he empowered the students and how he coached and led and challenged the teachers with intelligence, wisdom and humor. And how uniformly he was loved and respected by students and teachers alike.

To see him removed from an environment where he so brilliantly thrived and made such a positive difference to others' lives, is - a sad thing. If he doesn't make it back, I pray that he finds another effective outlet for that brilliance.

The Liberal Theologian is back home. She arrived today with hospital bed and oxygen tanks and managed to stay up until I got home from my evening shift. We hugged for a long time and held hands and I smiled with my mouth and so did she and we tried not to cry too much.

It hurts to see good people knocked down.

But I made a vow to make 2015 a celebration of life and I aim to keep it. The universe is mainly ugly. Let's face it. But people, for all our faults, and our struggle to be good when it's really hard to be, are just plain beautiful.

Yes. You are. So there.  

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Now or never, once again.

A colourful sunshiny landscape constructed primarily of Smarties candies with vague cartoony characters leaping around and diving into colourful pools. A giant mouth - the one from the Scream mask, perhaps. moving forward through a dark tunnel, threatening to consume everything in its path. What else? That's all I can remember. I was sleep deprived today, as usual lately, and so I experienced many waking dreams which I call dreamettes. They're always lightning quick. Do other people get those? I presume you do. Though if you don't experience sleep deprivation then they probably don't register consciously.

I haven't slept well for a couple weeks due to illness, which struck about the same time I found out that the Liberal Theologian has not triumphantly defeated her cancer after all. Wave One took a beating from the chemo, surgery and radiation, but here's a surprise second wave and Wave Two is - What can I say? Wave Two will not take a beating. Docs will do what they can to slow it down. My friend and excellent housemate will suffer until the end. And I can't do a thing to stop it.

The nice thing about sleep deprivation is that the brain doesn't function very well so it's rather easy to mentally procrastinate. My brain doesn't want to deal with this business right now and so it doesn't. L.T. has been in the hospital the whole time and I can't visit for all the coughing so... no pressure to deal with it.

She could finally be home tomorrow. So I'll have to start dealing with it, which is good. There are a lot of people in my life right now that I need to be strong for. Like Dog Whisperer says. I have to look after myself first, if I'm gonna be useful to others. She's right of course. When the cabin depressurizes, it's your mask before your child's. I know that. And that means taking care of my health. And that's gonna be a lot of work.

I can't take any more holidays from life. Do I have what it takes to get this train back on the rails? I have serious doubts. I have a bad record.

One step at a time? I need a plan. And I need inspiration. Here's a good sign maybe: Neo, World Citizen, Jazz Lion and the Thoughtful Educator have all come out of the woodwork just lately, wanting to get together. Good timing guys. I had one date, scheduled two more and expect to see Neo some time soon. And Dog Whisperer was very generous with her time tonight. I've been receiving wise advice lately. And the poets speak to me too. Discipline, they say. Not my strong suit. But I'm blessed with the finest associates; these and others. My love for them is really the only thing that keeps me in the game. And if I ever start winning, it will be to their credit.
  



Sunday, November 16, 2014

NaNoWriMo Necessity

So I'm deeply embedded in National Novel Writing Month of course and statistically doing well: at about 34,400 words at the half-way point. The goal is 50,000 but I'm just about on pace for my secret goal of 70,000.

One of the many interesting ways I've changed, which I attribute to the poetic lifestyle, is the lack of power first impressions hold over me. My lack of need to compartmentalize, my welcoming of complexity and greater capacity for forgiveness are surely a part of it.

A certain NaNo associate did not rub me the right way upon our first introduction - which was through internet forum. I think it's safe to assume that the intentions behind his initial overtures were not what I interpreted. Ah, the flaws of human communication.

Now that he has declared the intention to depart from NaNo, overwhelmed by other needs, I found myself wishing he would stay.

A well-intended writer made the sensible suggestions that real life is more important than NaNo and he should return to the novel when the time is right. I'm always mildly terrified by anyone who uses the phrase "real life" but I got over it, and offered this response:

Not looking for a debate but I think it's only fair you hear from the other side of the coin: Creativity is as vital to the real world as anything. In fact I suggest it is paramount given that creativity is the only significant thing uniquely human and that it is an integral and inseparable component of that very evolutionary branch which brings us consciousness, empathy and love. Without this, I can not see human life having a point or being worth living, other than as a kind of parasite. Anyone who can't devote an hour a day to creativity and only be slave to survival necessity (or the garish things we perceive as necessity) for 23 hours a day or less, in such a privileged recreation-based society as ours - spoiled to the point of perversity - is in a truly dire state! And for those who choose such an arrangement permanently - I have no hope for them. I can't imagine how they'll ever find any legitimate joy, rather than chase artificial happinesses to unending disappointment.
So I hope that you'll re-examine the math - or else solve enough of your current dilemmas soon that you'll be back to creating - in time for NaNo or for afterwards. And if a favor or two would help you quickly return to this state of grace I have eluded to (!!) please don't hesitate to ask - seriously.
Whatever happens, I am adamantly determined to maintain the writing habit permanently and to stay as connected as possible with this group between Novembers and it would be great to see you at any time!    

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Not precisely the 15 minutes of fame I might have hoped for!


By the time he reached the end of his mile long walk Saturday morning, Rich Landriault wasn't sure he was going to make it.

It wasn't just that his feet hurt. Every muscle in his body ached.

"Everything hurts," the Hamilton man said, moments after finishing his tour around the Pen Centre shopping mall as part of the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event to support the Gillian's Place Women's Shelter. "That was so much more difficult than I expected. It's like a workout."

Landriault came to St. Catharines to join the team of walkers put together by Tory Gillespie of Thorold to raise money for the sheller.

Gillespie said he put together his group, called Judy's Gentlemen, for Walk a Mile in Her Shoes because his mother-in-law had been a victim of domestic abuse, and supporting the shelter was a way to show solidarity with her.

Judy's Gentlemen, along with a host of other teams and individual men who donned high heels to march around the mall, raised more than $86,000 for the shelter.

Community development manager for Gillian's Place, Nicole Regehr said the funds will allow the shelter to keep operating. The facility is only 80% funded by government sources, leaving Gillian's Place to fundraise the remaining 20%. However, Gillian's Place is the midst of a five year funding freeze, making the Walk a Mile event, it's largest fundraising effort, all the more important.

"We have a funding freeze, but costs keep going up for everything. So this is absolutely vital. When someone comes to the shelter and hits a light switch, the lights have to come on. We have to feed 30 plus women and children every day," she said. "So we have to include this fundraised money in our budget. Without it, we couldn't operate."

The total for Saturday's event was down from last year's $125,000. But Regehr said 2013 may have been an anomaly.

"We were aiming for $120,000 but it may be that we blew the roof off it last year, and it is difficult to reproduce that every year," she said. "The $86,000 is in line with what we raised in 2012."

The 40 member team from TD Canada Trust raised the most money of any participating team, bringing in more than $30,000.

The St. Catharines Standard team was a distant second, with more than $5,000, most of which was raised by publisher Mark Cressman, who raised the most of any individual who took part.

Event emcee and radio personality Tim Denis, said the unfortunate reality was that Walk a Mile was such a necessary charity, but that the ongoing support for the event was heartening.

"Your support means a woman in crisis will have a place to turn to if she needs it," he said. "And your being here is saying to them that they are not alone."

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Every day

"You need to blog everyday."

My brother said this to me late on the night of his wedding two months ago. I guess we were talking about me; how I was doing. And what was on my mind was how I'd been way too long in an unproductive funk; dicking around haphazardly, here and there; bouncing around between way too many projects.

I once went through a journey - over the course of years, that I suppose no one will ever understand, much less believe - unless I manage to figure out how to write a book that would effectively demonstrate it and then actually write it and then people actually read it...

I came out of that journey so very inspired; knowing I possessed something that could change people's lives. But that inspiration waned when I found out how nearly impossible it is to break through the walls that instinct and society and investment build around people. And then that inspiration bounced back when I started to associate with youth for the first time since my own youth; some of them very special; very intelligent but without nearly so many walls in the way.

I'm thinking of Neo and Aqualad mostly; both of them brilliant in different ways. So why have these associations not yielded a great leveraging of my resources as I thought they surely would? Or have they, but not in the manner I expected? I don't even know. I don't even have the energy to imagine trying to figure that out.

I've been lacking motivation for so long. For me, motivation comes from inspiration. Inspiration comes to me from special people in bits and pieces. I see them each too infrequently. Mostly I spend time with people who have no clue what I'm all about; no clue what I have to offer, and I spend so much time giving and receiving such mundane words and trinkets; giving people the lame little things they want, but damn it, they could get these things from just about anyone, couldn't they?

Why am I not isolating myself in circumstances that actually leverage what I'm truly good at; the rarer resources I possess? Why am I so pliant, so patient, so mentally tired? How can I finally demonstrate to people who I am (or should be) and what I possess if I'm always holding their hand and telling them more or less what they're comfortable hearing instead of reaching for the truth; as scary and difficult as those truthful insights are - scary and difficult and ugly and beautiful and freeing and joyful.

The youths are getting older. Are walls being built? Will I get my shit together one day but find I am too late for them? I know it all comes down to me; getting my shit together. All of the hurdles are not to blame; only me to blame for not finding my way over them. There are many things I know I should be doing. I've got to start making more of them happen.

Well, I am more inspired these days than usual. I'm dieting again and I think it's going well. And it's prep time now for National Novel Writing Month which certainly inspires and sparks a good work ethic too; very important.

And Neo has leaked to me is upcoming album which has been a joy to explore - not that it doesn't contain very sober components. It has monopolized the car stereo every day since I got it. It's a beautiful and unique piece of art and certainly a motivation factor.

"You need to blog every day," my brother said.

Somehow I've long known that this is one of the important things I must do though I don't even fully understand why. So how the hell did my brother know it? It startled me when he said it. I wondered how the hell he knew to say that. And I still wonder. Well. Here's hoping.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Space Travel

There are people who are always hinting that they don't hear from me enough. It's funny how time moves differently for different people - or rather, the perception of time, of course. Time rushes by for me. I'm never idle. Never bored. Always behind on a hundred different projects and goals. Time flies so swiftly for me it is practically undetectable.

"It's been a year!" says a friend, or "It's been three years!" This has no meaning for me. My friends need to do the time-managing for us. I'm incapable. If it has been too long for them than they must reach out to me. They must not wait for me. It's not that I don't care about them. It's just that it always seems like yesterday that we last met.

Tati is a morning-person. Her meds tend to loopify her through the latter part of the day. I am not a morning person but my shift-work patterns - until just recently - made Wednesday mornings a good time to call. I invited her to do so on any - or even every - Wednesday morning.

I haven't heard from her since then. She hasn't responded to my facebook overtures. There is no internet trail of her since March. I keep thinking I should try calling some rare morning that I am awake. What's funny is how I've been subconsciously afraid to do so. I'm afraid to find out how she's doing these days; that she may have deteriorated. Or worse.

I'm awake this morning. I really should call.



Wednesday, August 06, 2014

I'm walking a mile in HER shoes

Yeah, I really don't like the idea of violence against women - or children or men for that matter. They're my top three kinds of violence I dislike. So I'm joining a protest against domestic abuse and helping to raise a few bucks for a shelter called Gillian's Place. It was Skeeter Willis' idea and it made too much sense to turn down. Plus the best part is - I get to wear high heels.

I'm thinking of throwing in a nice sunhat and boa but I don't know if that would be in the proper spirit.

If you want to make a donation, I wouldn't say no:
https://gilliansplace.akaraisin.com/pledge/Participant/Home.aspx?seid=9149&mid=9&pid=1873884

Friday, June 27, 2014

Useless

In the Circles community there is a culture around communication. Email is for logistics. Sensitive communication happens in person.

The email says that our Mr. Blacksheep is in the news and in custody, having fallen into old habits, and we need to gather.

The news article uses words such as lure and assault and no forms of the word alleged. And that doesn't even bother me. Something in my gut says it's true. If not a re-offence; at least a serious breach. What matters is that I should have seen it coming. I really should have. And now there is potentially a new victim. Or victims.

The quiet room just off the Sanctuary feels like a funeral parlour. The circle is larger this day. Valuable free agents have been drafted. We go around the ring of chairs getting reactions. Anger and disappointment are the themes. By happenstance I am last to speak. But I'm not angry, I say. And I'm not disappointed. All I feel is guilt. I weep.

In all our meetings I should have been more assertive with my contrary views. For so many reasons I never thought we were getting through to him; never getting the real deal from him; always subterfuge instead; distraction from the real issues. I should have come right out with it long ago. Even then would this disaster have been avoided? Chances are - no. But at least I would have done my duty.

And yet, he very recently dropped some real hints that things were bad. I caught one at the time and missed the other. I'd better give him a call, I'd thought at the time. And I never did.

And the third reason for my guilt, odd though it may seem, is the worst. It's the part of me; an ugly part of me, with a shameful wish that he will just stay behind bars. For good.

What a useless way to feel.

Monday, June 09, 2014

April A-Z: Running the Bad Boys Out of Town

Yeah, it's still April in my little world. Sorry for the confusion. I figure I've got til April 1st 2015 to get April A-Z 2014 done. And now... a completely useless conclusion to a useless prompt:


Nulling The Void - part 2

 “We don’t have time for this,” said Tyna. “Carey?”

“Yeah?”

“Start the car.”

“Don’t start the car,” said DeSchayne.

 “Honey,” said Tyna, “Start the engine.”

“What are you thinking!” said DeSchayne. The engine came to life. “Hey! Turn it off!”

“Hit it Carey!”

“No!” DeSchayne cried. Carey floored the pedal. The wheels spun at length before gaining purchase and the buggy leapt forward. “Are you kidding me!” DeSchayne grabbed Carey by the shoulders. “Every honky cop in town ‘ll be after us! And who’s butt do you think they’ll throw in jail!”

“Sorry bro. Tyna’s right. Who cares about jail when there’s a demon taking over the world?” The Honda crashed over a curb jostling all on board. They roared over a park lawn as the cruiser followed, spraying coloured lights everywhere.

“You keep us outta the river!” DeSchayne snapped as they flew downhill. Carey swung right and they raced along the riverbank just ahead of their pursuer. “No risk of you going to jail, boy!”

“Why? ‘Cause I’m white?”

“’Cause I’m gonna kill you first.”

“That’s harsh, bro.” They roared toward a steep embankment where an overhead bridge spanned the river. Carey drove straight at a dimly-lit footpath tunnel.

“No!” cried DeSchayne. “No no no!” They plowed into the tunnel. Steel squealed against concrete. Sparks flew and they penetrated the tunnel. The cop veered landward at the last moment, rising sideways on the steep hill, canting too far and tumbling over. The cruiser skidded to a halt on its roof; wheels turned up to the night sky and spinning uselessly.

“Hoo haw!” sang Carey as the Civic emerged from the tunnel, its body somewhat re-designed.
DeSchayne sat rigid and open-mouthed as the misshapen Honda raced up Townshend Line to higher ground. Finally: “Well, thanks for getting rid of those pesky side-mirrors for me.”

“Hey – who needs side mirrors?” said Carey. “In India cars don’t have any mirrors.”

“Isn’t that fascinating,” said DeSchayne flatly.”So they can fit through pedestrian tunnels?”

“No, I think it has something to do with Vishnu putting eyes on the front of their heads for a reason.”

“I’m gonna put a couple holes in the front of his head,” said DeSchayne to Tyna.

Tyna crossed her arms. “You love your stupid car more than me.” DeSchayne rolled his eyes.

“It’s just an object, bro,” said Carey. “We’ve all had to make sacrifices, you know." He glanced continuously in the only remaining mirror, expecting flashers which never came.

The ground leveled and they turned into a short dirt driveway, halting at a chained-up gate. Beyond the frost fence stood a collection of towers and transformers and a low shed of concrete and metal. The engine ceased, surrendering the night air to a steady racket of crickets. Carey turned the switch to kill the one working headlamp and the four riders emerged, Carey with duffel bag in hand. They approached the gate.

“Now what?” said Carey.

“We consult the cards,” said Tyna. The boy drew a packet from the pocket of his gray pleated trousers and unpacked the cards, He surrendered them to Tyna who shuffled them deftly. “Walter?”

The man eyed the stack. “Pick a card any card?”

“Yes.” She bit her lip as Walter cut the deck and turned up a card. It bore the image of a king surrounded by nine golden goblets. They stared.

“Now what?” said Carey. Light flashed briefly in the sky.

“We drink?” said DeSchayne. Thunder rumbled gently.

“Let me think,” said Tyna.

Walter grinned mischievously and whispered: “Who’s up for a tickle-fight?”

“Is that a combination lock on the fence?”

“Yes,” said Carey.

“Draw again, Walter!” She proffered the cards. Walter turned up a card depicting a princess before a field of thirteen stars. “Now one more time!” He did so, drawing a knight with three swords. “Nine – thirteen – three!” she exclaimed. “Try it DeSchayne!”

“Try what?”

“Try the combination. Nine – thirteen – three!”

Lightning flashed again and thunder followed. DeSchayne spun the dial this way and that. The lock clicked pleasingly and released. “Hot dog!”

He unthreaded the length of chain and shoved open the squealing metal gate. The crew piled in between the humming towers and monuments.

“What are we looking for?” asked Carey.

“I don’t know. Walter, draw again.”

Walter stepped up and drew again. His eyes bulged. “The tickler!” The image was that of a grimacing skeleton astride a black horse. Tyna paled. Thunder cracked.

Carey stared at the card. “Death!” he said breathlessly.

“Mulligan,” said Tyna, slipping the offending card to the bottom of the deck. “One more time, Walter!”

“You can do that?” said DeSchayne.

“Huh huh ho!” sang Walter, drawing a card of fiery orange and red.

“The Prince of Fire!” said Tyna. Their faces suddenly washed with light and a boom of thunder made them jump. An electric pop rang in their ears followed by a chorus of sizzles as smoke and sparks issued from some of the looming structures around them.

“I don’t like this,” said DeSchayne. Lightning struck again and again; the crash of thunder immediate. Tyna squealed. Walter’s spongy cigar hit the ground. “Yeah, I really don’t like this. Why don’t you draw a get-the-freak-outta-here card?”

“shazzam,” said Walter matter-of-factly. The others ducked as a symphony of electrical fireworks blossomed all around them. Then all at once the night was dark and silent. Even the crickets seemed stunned into silence.

“I think we blew a fuse,” said Carey, righting his hat.

Suddenly flames leapt into the air from a single structure; a mechanical monument about eight feet high. “Give me the Sonambule!” Tyna yelped. Carey unzipped the bag and drew out the Alice in Wonderland tome, its pages tea-soaked. “No, the whole bag!” He dropped the book back in, re-zipped the bag and handed it over. Tyna took it by the handles and approached the burning structure wide-eyed. The others followed just paces behind her. “Back where you came from demon! Back to the flames!” She hurled the bag into the air and they watched it vanish into the fire.

“Nice,” said Carey. “Nice eulogy. Short and sweet.”

“Now what?” said DeSchayne. A deep deep rumble was then felt as much as heard.  

“We get the freak out of here,” said Tyna.

They turned their back to the prospering flames and made for the gate. “I’m driving,” said DeSchayne.

“Shot gun,” said Carey.

“Lazer beans,” said Walter.
DeSchayne yanked ineffectually at the driver’s door handle. “Gimme the keys.” He turned up his palm.

“Shit,” said Carey.

“No shit,” said DeSchayne. “Just gimme the keys.” A blast of hot air swirled through and around them

“Um…”

“What!”

“They were in the bag.”
All turned to look at the flames which had trebled in height and grew swiftly taller before their eyes. The hot wind sent Walter’s long white hair dancing in the air. The ground began to tremble.

“Oh my god,” said Tyna.

“You threw my keys into the fire!” DeSchayne blurted. “With the demon?”

 “He threw the baby out with the bath water,” said Walter.

“Who’s got a coat hanger?” said Carey.

“Yeah, I’ll check my pockets,” DeSchayne snapped. “You little-“ he reached for Carey’s collar and the youth slipped barely from his grasp. A deep rumble accompanied a marked increase in the earth’s trembling. The flames leapt higher still.

“Oh my God oh my God,” sang Tyna.

“Hallelujah!” said Walter, bringing his palms together; his face awash in the orange light of flame.

“This is bad,” said Tyna. “This is really bad. I’m not even kidding.”

“Whadda we do?” said Carey and DeSchayne in chorus.

“Jinx!” said Walter. “Buy me a coke.” The ground positively shook. The flames leapt straight into the swirling clouds.

“Run!” cried Tyna. They ran, Walter cackling with delight.

A grand explosion flung the hydro sub-station far and wide.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

holycrapthisdayisamazing ihavetogobuylotterytickets!!

First we get to the pool and sneak into the parking lot next door and there's a security guard in a car surrounded by authorized parking only signs so I play dumb and say we're going to the pool can we park here and he says:

"You sure can!!"

Isn't that amazing a security guard who says yes!! I gotta talk to the guys at work about this it could revolutionize the security industry!! Then the receptionist doesn't have change for a twenty so she says ah just go ahead and so we both get a free swim how super amazing is that!! And then the huge giant booger that was floating around in the pool well after I artfully splashed it toward the edge and then splashed it out of the pool and then took a close look at it as it lay on the tiles (cause I'm morbid that way) well it turned out not to be a huge giant booger after all but just a hunk of foam that musta come off one of them snot-green coloured pool noodles!! Hooray!! Isn't that amazing!! This day couldn't get any better and it's only one thirty and I think I should do something to take advantage of all this great luck like buy some lottery tickets or something 'cause when your heart has been sucked into a black hole and you don't know if it will ever return it sure is good to have a great day!! Yeah!!

Jimmy Thompson Memorial Pool

Monday, April 28, 2014

April A-Z: Opening the Flood Gates








Napkin Man to the rescue



Monday, April 21, 2014

April A-Z: Nulling the Void

Flash fiction using the above as a prompt. It'll be short and sweet...


A lime-green Honda Civic careened around a street corner, four passengers canting to one side.

“Was that a stop sign?” said Tyna from the rear seat.

“Who cares?” said young Carey as he stomped on the gas pedal. “We’re on a mission from God, aren’t we?”

“God has nothing to do with this.”

“What about St. Bernards?” said old Walter. He sat in the passenger seat in pajama drawers, slippers and mauve velvety smoking jacket. “Or angel hair pasta. Dancing to the mission bells, right? – the way noodles dance. You know.” He popped his stubby unlit cigar back into his mouth and chewed at its frayed soggy end.

“What’s he talking about now?” said DeSchayne.  He hadn’t righted himself since the sharp corner and now pressed his lips to Tyna’s available neck.

“It’s probably the demon talking.” Tyna shoved him back upright. “Best you just ignore it.”

“Like Betty Boop for the most part,” said Walter.

“Why?” said DeSchayne.

“Why what?”

“Why ignore it?”

“I don’t know. Just to be safe. Communicating with a Devil is probably dangerous business. He might be looking to trick you into something.”

“Wait a minute. Are we talking about a devil or a demon?”

“I don’t know. An evil spirit. It is what it is – however you label it.”

“Well I think you ought to choose one and stick with it. Just sayin’.” He leaned into her neck again.

“Not now!” She pushed him away. “This is life-and-death business here!” The car lurched as a sheet of water hit the driver’s side windows.

“Damn, kid!” said DeSchayne. “Keep my ride out o’ them pot holes!”

“Sorry bro!” Carey tipped his grey fedora. “It’s dark and it’s still raining a little. I couldn’t see it.”

“Well slow down then. And I’m not your bro you weird-ass old-time gangster wannabe.”
Tyna slapped his thigh. “Be nice!”

“What? I’m just sayin’ he’s a weird kid. That’s all.”

“Well don’t.” She leaned forward and palmed Walter’s shoulder. “Mr. Prudence, pass me the bag. I just want to check on the Sonambule.”

“The sonata?” said Walter, frowning.

“The Sonambule, Walter. Just pass me the gym bag.”

“Jim who?”

Carey grabbed the small duffel bag off his grandfather’s lap and tossed it over his shoulder. DeSchayne caught it deftly. “Are you kidding me!” Tyna yelped. “It’s not a toy!”

“Sorry, doll!” said Carey. DeSchayne glared at the kid through the rear-view mirror as he placed the bag on Tyna’s lap.

Tyna unzipped it and withdrew a thin hardcover book. “What is this!” she cried.

“The Snowmobile,” said Walter.

Tyna read the title. “Everybody Poops! Everybody poops? Walter, what have you done? “

“Everybody!” said Walter. “Even the Pope!”

“This is not the book! What happened to Alice in Wonderland?”

“She went through the looking glass, doll,” said Carey. He had slowed at a red light and looked both ways as he slipped through the intersection.

“Stop calling her that!” DeSchayne snapped.

“Sorry, bro!”

“Walter!” Tyna barked. “Where is Alice in Wonderland?”

“Jane Street?”

“I don’t believe this. Carey, what is he talking about?”

“That’s where the ‘ho’s trick, doll.” A fist slammed into the back of Carey’s seat. The boy lurched; his hat slipping down over his eyes. He raised his chin and looked down his nose to see the road.

“Turn around Carey,” said Tyna. “We have to go back for the Sonambule!” Carey slowed the car and made a tight, skidding U-turn on the wet street.

“I’m this tall,” said Walter, raising his hand horizontally to his forehead.

Carey looked at him and laughed. “Hey, what’s that?” He reached out and tapped the hard surface which bulged behind the breast of his grandfather's smoking jacket. Walter cackled silently and drew out another book. Alice in Wonderland. He put a vertical finger to his lips and winked.

“Grab your hats, gang,” said Carey. “We’re going downtown.” With that he slowed briefly and performed another dizzying U-turn. The back-seaters issued loud protests. “He’s got the Snorembewl,” said Carey. 
“We’re back in business.”

“Oh, thank God,” said Tyna.

“God has nothing to do with this,” DeSchayne muttered in her ear, then dived for her neck again.
Tyna giggled shrilly. “Stop it!” DeSchayne didn’t. The night suddenly came alive in flashes of red and blue.

“Shit!” Carey blurted. A siren burped behind them.

“Oh perfect,” DeSchayne moaned.

“Is that Allah?” said Walter.

“Worse,” said Carey. “Should I pull over?”

“Kid, are you spun?” said DeSchayne. “Of course!”

“I’ll handle it,” said Tyna. “Let me do the talking.”

“You’re not gonna…” said DeSchayne.

“What?”

“Flash… anything?”

Tyna glared coolly. “You really are an ass hat sometimes.” The car came to a halt. “Sweetie, you got a driver’s license, right?”

“Yeah,” said Carey.

“Good.”

“My beginner’s anyway.” 

The mirrors offered glimpses of the cop approaching on foot. Carey fingered a button and his window descended. The officer was female. She flashed a light over each passenger before addressing the driver: “What the hell was that?”

“Uh, the U-turn, you mean?” said Carey.

“Is that what you call it?”

“Officer,” said Tyna, “I think I can explain.”

“Or you can keep quiet,” said the officer.

“Or I can keep quiet,” Tyna mumbled.

“I beg your pardon?”

“Nothing. Sorry.”

“License please.” Carey surrendered it to the cop’s examination. “Beginner’s eh? I assume you're aware you’re prohibited from driving after midnight with a learner’s permit.” Carey grimaced. She addressed Walter. “Sir, your license please?”

“Who, me?”

“You’re the driver of account if you’re in the passenger seat with a beginner behind the wheel. Walter fussed about with his wallet and surrendered a slip of paper. Carey intercepted it. “Gramps, this is a grocery receipt. She needs your driver’s license.”

“Confectionary?” said Walter.

“I beg your pardon,” said the officer.

“Thrills gum,” said Walter. “Ask her if she has any Thrills gum.”

“Okay, Grampa. But I’ll need your wallet.”

“Oh, of course.” Walter then addressed the officer. “Thrills please!” She made no reply. Carey fished out a license.

“Thank you,” said the cop. She took one look at it. “Sir, do you have a more current version?”

“Huh?” said Walter. “You mean like disco?”

“This card expired in 1987.” Carey delved back into the wallet. “Dare we try our luck with an insurance slip?”

“Blackjack!” Walter cheered, smacking the dashboard with his palm. He laughed delightedly.

“Sir, I need you to calm down.”

“Ma’am,” said DeSchayne, proffering a pink slip.

She took it. “Where are you all off to tonight? Bit late for a driving lesson.”

“We’re delivering a demon spirit to the hydro sub-station on Coventry Hill,” said Walter, “So we can dispatch it to the void.” He made a fluttering sweep with his hand. Silence followed this. The cop cleared her throat. “We captured him in a tea bag, you see, which we then pressed between the pages of a book, as per ancient practice. It’s called a Snowmobile.”

The officer nodded slowly. “I see.”

“Do you poop?”

“I’m gonna run your licenses through the computer and then we’ll talk.” She said this to Carey and then retreated to the cruiser.

“I bet she does,” said Walter.



To be concluded in just a couple days…