Sunday, December 31, 2017

A message from EPUC

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Twin accomplishments!!

What a banner day! Two brand new feathers in my cap:

One: I got charged the senior rate at the public pool where I went for exercise but even more so because I needed a shower and the shower at the place which I still consider my home is currently out of order due to a nasty leak. The senior rate, people! I guess I must really look like hell these days! Oh well. I saved $1.55.

And Two: I found out that my income over my last three paycheques dictates that by provincial standards I am officially designated homeless! Homeless, people! Not sure what that actually means since I do have a key to a home and a bed present therein, but hey, it sure is fun hitting all these new milestones! Life is an adventure!

P.S.: I am seeking a second employer. Hope to have that fixed up soon.

Oh, and that double exclamation mark in the title? That's a lesson in how not to write except when attempting self-depreciating humour - or in an annual family Christmas letter where you're trying to torture your old pals as much as possible.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Snotty Movie Criticism

Here's the scoop, movie lovers!

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children ***
(2016) Eva Green, Asa Butterfield
Surprisingly amusing family fantasy-action flick of the sort I rarely bother with. I didn’t altogether regret it. As a prerequisite though, you must either have kids or really like fantasy.

The Birth of a Nation****
(2016) Nate Parker, Armie Hammer
Gripping and disturbing true story of one of the great struggles against blind ubiquitous evil, which, dear Americans, we have not nearly sufficiently learned from.

Truth ****
(2015) Cate Blanchett, Robert Redford
Another superb Blanchett performance and another of the endless looks into the American Empire’s ongoing destruction of life, liberty and happiness for anyone other than the ruling class. This time it’s nervy W5 producer Mary Mapes standing in the bulldozer’s path with mostly predictable results. Valuable viewing for anyone with courage.   

Eastern Promises ***
(2007) Naomi Watts, Viggo Mortensen
Plotty dramatic flick. Decent if you’re a big Mortensen fan I suppose.

Django Unchained **
(2012) Jamie Foxx
Yet another pot of Quentin Testosterino stew overflowing all over the goddam place. Bring a shovel.

Wiener-Dog ***
(2016)  Greta Gerwig, Keaton Nigel Cooke, Tracy Letts
Quirky and near-loveable look at a gaggle of Everyday Losers and the thin excuses for joy which we embrace. Some good sincere laughs. I recommend it, especially to Neo and The Healer. (Netflix)

The Last Samurai ***
(2003) Tom Cruise, Ken Watanabe
Fun but thin exploration of late nineteenth century Japanese political strife, too low in integrity and too high in masturbatory American mojo.

Mustang ****1/2
(2015) Gunes Sensoy, Doga Zeynep Doguslu, Tugba Sunguroglu, Elit Iscan, Ilayda Akdogan
Thank goodness I failed to pass on this bold and gutsy film when the previews looked dangerously chick-flickish (a cowardly accusation I know). Wonderful painful important stuff concerning one of the most morbid of human traditions and the brilliant determination of youth. Must see!

Morgan **
(2016) Kate Mara
Potentially Intriguing tableau immediately dissolves into pointless action flick with hilariously over-telegraphed plot twist. Too violent for your kids and too dumb for you. Possibly good for thirteen year old boys with a naughty penchant for girl fights?

The Light Between Oceans ****
(2016) Alicia Vikander, Michael Fassbender
Laudable tale of love and honour and if that sounds ho-hum, I don’t mean it to be.  

Regression ***
(2015) Emma Watson, Ethan Hawke
Catchy thriller on the subject of child abuse which fails to achieve the subtlety it aspires to. Quite compelling though and historically significant.

Anthropoid ****
(2016) Cillian Murphy, Jamie Dornan
Vivid and gutsy; often distressing truth-based Nazi-rebellion story ramps up as it progresses. It’s worth the punch line and just squeezes in to my holocaust movie A-List.

(2017) Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson
Decent action flick according to one action flick subscriber who I happen to respect. But with such a grand title and the participation of Magnet-For-Gems Jake Gyllenhaal, I had some really high hopes as dashed to smithereens as a certain space station. Here are my suggestions for a more appropriate title:

Alien 5: The Regurgitation
My Dinner With Calvin
With Six You Get No Egg Roll
Calvin and the Ship-Munch
Sardine Wars
Jake Gyllenhaal Picks a Lemon

Okay, I’ll stop now.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Beware of Malware

Now that my newish Dell laptop is maturing into a slightly slower, slightly more problematic machine, the free-trial McAfee software is starting to play hard to get. Thus I receive this type of welcome little pop-up every day or so:

Wow. Two hundred and sixty in the last minute? Congrats McAfee. You've  been hard at work!

Yes, I realize that when you want to know who is responsible for something (such as anti-virus creation), two of the prime criteria are: Who is the authority on the matter? (virus creators). And 2: Who profits from something (such as virus creation)? (Answer: anti-virus companies and their employees).

I know that if I was being paid to fight viruses, I'd be tempted to launch a few out there to ensure my ongoing employment.

Oh dear! Are these the mad ramblings of a conspiracy theorist!

I prefer to call  it cautionary logic. And as a matter of principal I don't do business with suspected extortionists.

Also I've become too old for porn. So really, what do I have to be worried about! I've tried to stick to mainstream web sites for years and not come down with any viruses of any consequence.

Well, except possibly for once, years ago, when I used to receive a bounty of lost-and-unreturnable  jump drives which I thought I was using carefully. But one day I received one which contained among many other things, some pictures of young people which were probably not illegal but fairly certainly betrayed a previous owner's unfortunate sexual proclivity. I deleted them but later, strangely, some of them turned up on my computer along with other bland documents not of my creation. All of this I deleted only to later find some of them, along with my own files, sitting around on a different jump drive. I don't know if this was an actual virus  or just some kind of file reconciliation process gone rogue, but after more file deleting and garbage-tossing of suspected jump drives, I've gone years without this meddlesome (and potentially reputation-damaging) phenomena turning up.

Cutting to the chase: DO NOT TRUST UNKNOWN JUMP DRIVES! I actually buy my own now. Like a big boy.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Cage match: Question mark vs. Exclamation mark.

In high school English class I was taught that where a question mark and exclamation mark both apply to the same utterance, that you go with the exclamation mark and pass on the question mark. I do not recall any explanation for this from Mister Eversoboring or whatever the teacher's name was, but like a good boy I have always obeyed.

A lot of people were not taught this, or more likely, don't remember such an obscure tidbit of advice. Some people throw in both as a cute couple?! Which is far too cutesy and certainly not to any convention and will just scare the reader away from trusting the author. Some others default to the question mark instead because their sheep psyche regards the question mark as a RULE and the explanation mark as an option. This is not useful in terms of helping a reader comprehend your text better.

I don't need to research the landscape of official conventions out there to feel confident in the solution:

A well-worded question is sufficiently evident as being a question. Blind rule adherence does not make it more obvious. The implied tone of voice though, offers much in clarifying more subtle  connotations. Thus the question mark demonstrates an inquisitive voice, and an explanation mark demonstrates a loud or commanding voice. This is all useful; the usage of these marks to connote voice. There can be little chance for overlap here.

However, in certain rare instances where the shouting of questions gets tricky in the realm of dialogue in prose, you always have two options where attribution can save the day:

Example one: "Where the hell did the Mayo go?" he shouted.

And two: "Where the hell did the mayo go!" he begged.

You might notice that the above example does not necessarily require
either punctuation. Frankly I find it hard to imagine a well-worded example which does.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Bullet-riddled EPUC

Sunday, December 17, 2017

The gift of meat

Spent a good hunk of my morning throwing this birthday gift together. I really hope my vegetarian and vegan pals are not currently readers of this blog.


Saturday, December 16, 2017

Reflection and recovery

Due to the snow I was a good half hour late arriving at the group home.

Grandpa Munster collapsed into the front seat while Foxy D. folded and wedged himself into my puny back seat and we inched our way back westward. Twenty five minutes later we’d crawled into the down town area normally only about four minutes away.

“I should have taken the bus,” said Foxy.

“You still would be stuck in this same traffic!” barked Munster.

“No I wouldn’t. Buses can go through red lights.”

“No they can’t.”

“Yes they can. I was on a bus the other day and it went through two red lights in a row and a cop pulled us over and said it’s okay, you’re allowed ‘cause you’re a bus.”

Gramps rolled his eyes. Foxy drives him more nuts than ever now that they’re neighbours.

After an eon or two we hit the west end Hortons where we’d planned to hang out for about two hours before proceeding to the Circles Christmas dinner celebration. Instead we spare only fifteen minutes.

In that time we drink decafs and Gramps gives me a Christmas card which I’d taken him to the Dollar Store to acquire a week ago. In it he’d sweetly written: “For a dear friend.”

Does he mean that sincerely or is it a means to garner material support? (Does your dog rest his chin on your knee to comfort your knee?) I don’t need to know the answer to that. It’s fine either way. But could I bring myself to write the same endearment in a card from me to him? I don’t think I could. I wouldn’t know if that was honest either, and in that case it would matter.

Foxy takes this opportunity to whip out an envelope addressed to himself and claws at it until it finally releases a battered holiday card which shows ample evidence of his attack. The card contains it’s stock greeting, a brief personal message and a photo of a man whom Foxy proudly states is his friend. As he shares the photo he crumples up the envelope and card (unread) together, into a tight ball and shoves it in his coat pocket.

At the church banquet room the priestly types and their spousely types are seated together; the best dressed. Core members and volunteers are scattered about. My riders gravitate to a table which is shaping up to be the designated slow table. It’s unusual for this community to arrange itself so cliquey. Perhaps it is more or less a random phenomena this time around?

I decide to be generous and take a seat between Gramps, who smells terrible - perhaps a seven on his Personal Reek Table, and a silent man whose name I still do not know, who never takes off his coat which smells like he has smoked a million of the world’s most evil-smelling cigarettes in it. The combo is slightly ghastly but I decide that the taste of dinner shall overcome it, and that’s that. Sometimes I have the power to make these kinds of decisions, where I just make peace with a circumstance and that’s that. Not recently so much but perhaps this is a good sign.  

I talk briefly across the table with skinny Mr. Chief, more stone-faced and dead-eyed than ever. He is still working at the bottle recycling plant and still does his jigsaw puzzles. He has twenty completed ones taped to his walls. I don’t ask if he’s still on the court-appointed drugs which have essentially substituted for shock treatments for decades.  

Later the Noble Punster, who is too great a guy for me to describe immediately (I will share his story some day), takes one for the team and sits with us also.

After a fabulous traditional Christmas dinner and some clean-up we migrate to the oddly-shaped vaulted sanctuary where I like to think I receive my only authorized Christmas present every year (Mom spoils me despite my occasional protests); which is the singing. The words are patently ridiculous to me; every song rejoicing in some one or two of the sum five-or-so brief concepts which defy logic and any but the most ungrounded flights of fancy the human mind ever convulsed…

But the voices!

How this unlikely crew of misfits manages to form such a choir blows my mind every year. I guess they really dig it. I guess they’re pretty inspired. And there are a few with rare talent who know how to belt it out and lead the way. And the acoustics of this seemingly awkward room structure is the real deal.

Still the magic has faded a notch this year, perhaps because the storm dealt us a smaller crowd.  

Driving home with Chilliwack’s Fly at Night a welcome gift from the radio, I am thinking about Neo and how, after a crisis and reunion, our friendship feels stronger than ever. There is more to figure out and I look forward to that. He spoke to me with a new kind of confidence it seemed. He has endeavored to be generous in accommodating the gap between our perspectives and I certainly intend to bend likewise. I suppose that that gap may have just about closed at a conscious level. Perhaps it’s more how we bring things together logistically that is the challenge. And there I can afford to be generous.

I reflected on much in his absence and gained needed clarity. I’m pretty sure he did the same. Interestingly I feel little relief or specific joy over this, but more of a calm strength from a valuable bond which no longer invites any peril or liability.

It’s quite wonderful but I’m taking it in stride. I’m not wondering where the lions are.

Thursday, December 14, 2017


Tonight I dropped in on Skeeter Willis, the Thoughtful Educator and other fine gentlemen of the Strat-o league - now 25 years old! I enjoyed their friendly humour of course. Then on bald tires I ventured to another part of town to pop by the haunt of another fine member who couldn’t make it out tonight and who generously saved me from being eaten by the dire wolf he was wolf-sitting and also loaned me his copy of my current-fave board game Tortuga 1667 which I look forward to introducing to Aqualad and his fellow university-burdened pals next game day.

And then, to the perfect soundtrack: the haunting regal psychedelic sometimes-jazzy sounds of an old Pink Floyd collection; a sort of Dark Side of the Moon prequel at times, I made the long snowy slithery slo-mo slide home.

Neo put this together along with other new music, as he so often generously does for me. We spent the afternoon together. I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t rehearse anything. I tried not to be aggressive though to his credit he was prepared for that if required. I don’t know that we solved any problems today; problems that by my accounting are illusions, but that is partly because he has been man enough to tackle them on his own as best he can.

It broke my heart actually, at times, to hear him bringing the burden of blame upon himself. I want to say that I am proud of him but of course his accomplishments are to his own credit, not mine.

He was strong and kind and more apologetic than I needed him to be. He was uninterested in hearing my own confessions. However my shortcomings are real and I wish neither of us to forget them.

A lot of honesty was traded today and was gracefully received.

And he told me that he loves me.

I am very fortunate at this time to have so much support from special people; people who carry the burden of their own problems.

Now I must gather my own faltering strength and repair some of these worst of my own failings and become properly useful to these loved ones, just as they deserve from me. I simply must. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Second chance

I am so sorry for hurting you. 

I was not seeing clearly. 

I would like to get together as soon as possible so that I can elaborate. It is not possible to express what needs to be expressed in an email. I am so, so sorry.

Last night; ten weeks after he dismissed me, I received this message from Neo. I will see him Wednesday afternoon.

There is much to sort out. I will be kind but firm. I have had time to ponder my mistakes and to see our rare form of relationship with more clarity. There are issues that must be addressed. There are illusions which must be dragged into the light and challenged.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

New Clue!

On a cottage getaway this past summer, Professor Plonk, Captain Vino and I hit the board games pretty hard and had a lot of fun with the old classic Clue game. It’s not often, during this rather spectacular board game renaissance, that one gets caught up in an old game from the seventies, but some games need to be rediscovered, in this case, because I was a kid in the seventies and eighties and only played Clue on a shallow level at the time.

Clue is a logic game and the young beginner generally processes the logic puzzle as a simple process of elimination, throwing out 3 unknown pieces to the puzzle (room, weapon or suspect) on each possible occasion, plodding along until you’ve narrowed every category down to one possibility.

Playing as an adult, every game or two we discover new layers of logic available to examine and our strategies evolve until it’s possible to solve the puzzle very quickly. For instance, by declaring 2 ‘puzzle pieces,’ let’s say room and suspect, which you already have in your hand, it raises the stakes on the unconfirmed weapon card. It’s possible to nail the weapon early if no one can provide you with any feedback.

On the flip side, when you observe this scenario coming together for a competitor - I.e.: they suggest three clues which no one can rule out, you might infer that your competitor has just nailed a piece and you should record that combo in your notes so that once two of those clues are ruled out by you, you can assume the third piece of that combo is in the solution envelope. You can nail one of the clues without ever seeing that card and without ruling out it’s counterparts within the category.

There are other advanced bits of logic and strategy and further ways to play them off each other. This is all good!

The problem is that the original clue game is functionally suspect and lame by today’s standards.

Rolling dice for movement is strictly bogus by the standards of modern gamers. And when you combine that with the harsh imbalance in the manner rooms are mapped (specifically the secret door rooms) you get a huge imbalance which rewards the players for their luck with room cards and not their capacity for logic and strategy. This is further acerbated when you get players blocking doorways which is not a useful game dynamic in this particular environment. The game needs to be more about the logic and less about movement.

One less compelling complaint: The suspects/investigators (let’s call them characters from now on) have their own name and appearance but without any consequence at all.

So here’s how I’m updating Clue:

1. Lose the dice and the little movement squares. Each room is it’s own space, each one space away from it’s adjoining room(s). Like so:

My map still presents some quirks, with useful dynamics the way it meshes with movement rates. The doorways apply which makes the Hall the great facilitator and the kitchen and library of particular concern. Every room has a slightly unique relationship to the others thus the board’s inherent strategies are more subtle.

2. Different characters have different permanent movement rates, relating to their personalities; from 1 to 5 per turn. To balance that, different characters receive different numbers of bonus cards at the start. Professor Plum, for instance, is the slowest at 1 space movement per turn. On the other hand he gets 4 bonus cards at the start; more clues than anyone else. And to fine tune all these combinations, some characters have the clout to command that weapons be delivered to them at will and some don’t, and must collect them in person and bring them to their room of choice. Between these three dynamics we achieve diversity but equality between the nine characters. Oh yeah…

3. Because we have less inconsequential movement taking up time, and thus more frequent clue-calling, and because we need bonus cards, we need more cards and possibilities overall. Thus we have three new weapons: poison, piano wire and letter opener, and three new characters. I think you’ll know their names:

4, Depending on the number of players there will be some small number of revealed cards each game which all players can immediately cross off. This should appropriately moderate the added complexity (729 solution possibilities instead of 324 in the original game).

So with my version you get no die rolling or bumping into one another, more clue-gathering (every turn) and diverse personalities. This game should be more complex than the original, yet faster. I just need to test it now.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Swoopy FWG terrorizes an agoraphobic sociopath

I walked into this cafe; the Brown Dog Coffee Saloon and Frittery or some such name, where I’m to meet Chess Champ shortly. I found every table in the place occupied but approached the service counter with optimism, endured a short wait in line and procured a coffee and scone, warmed with butter. There were enough solo-held tables-for-four that I figured some enlightened soul would be happy to share one with me for the time being.

Immediately others filtered into the place and so I had competition for tables.

A young woman alone at a two-seater table began to pack up. I edged her way and went on alert for potential competing interlopers. As it became fairly clear she was intending to go and returned from the trash bin to grab her coat and purse, I drifted by with a friendly smile and asked “Are you finished with this table?”

“Oh you couldn’t wait thirty more seconds before swooping in eh?” she said while grabbing her gear and rushing away.

In fact, thirty seconds would almost certainly have resulted in my losing the table to someone else but I didn’t take the question literally, especially since she showed zero interest in receiving an answer.


And my answer is: No.

Generally I still approach my Scooterville neighbours with the assumption that they have not just been reluctantly dragged away from The Sims 4 or other such human-connection substitute to a place full of real people where their only coping mechanism is to imagine delusional reasons to be offended by us so to justify an irrational fear of us.

I do not yet run on the assumption that we live in a bubble-soccer world where we must pretend to be isolated in clear sound-proof barriers until such a time as the Mystical Magical Benign Industry Machine starts pumping these wonderful products out to every store.

I can see the day coming though, so don’t worry. I’m sure you’ll get your way before long.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Thorne’s Quest

I think it was five years ago, on November 30th; the last night of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo): it was the Liberal Theologian, Aqualad and myself remaining at the coffee pub in the aftermath of a larger celebration. I then decided I deserved a decadent dessert waffle as reward for my NaNo success. I had won the challenge, setting my personal November word count record and in doing so finished the novel I’d started the year before on November 1st. Aqualad agreed and claimed his own such reward, making it an event. L.T. then followed suit and named our night together: Wafflepalooza.

On the same date this year, I rushed away from my late shift at the Courthouse to join the greater gang for Wafflepalooza Six where staff reported to me that twenty waffles had been served!. Most of the gang had left by the time I arrived and another few left shortly afterwards, leaving Chess Champ, the Healer and myself. We talked about the struggles and victories of this craziest NaNo in our memories.

I announced that I intended to visit the Liberal Theologian, our former NaNo Scooterville leader, before going home. (I wished to discuss with her my failing evolution which certain  NaNo struggles made very apparent this year.) The others wished to join me. At that I was surprised but pleased. The conversation would be a different one but that’s okay.

L.T. still has no gravestone but her location is easy to find. It’s right under the brightest light in the cemetery. When her stone finally arrives it will be appropriately spotlighted.

We talked about her influences on us and the strong mark she left on the NaNo community; the culture she set in motion which we strive to maintain, and how we two became close and how I came to live in her home. We talked about her liberal relationship with God and her generous relationship with religion itself; one based almost entirely upon community and charity and not about specific dogma. How she came into that specific Anglican church where she made her career; one unusually behind the times by the progressive Anglican standards of the day, where its leaders held conservative and superstitious views. But L.T. was very strong. In no time at all she had all her opposition corrected, evolved, defeated or removed and her church became an extension of her own personality: a place of legitimate generosity and inclusiveness.

I knew all this through stories about L.T. which I really love to hear. They thrill me because I did not know her in her more heroic days.but only later, when NaNo was her only time to really shine. Beyond that her disability generally got the best of her and the scope of her life and influence, as happens to all of us eventually, was in decline.

In her final two days, spent in the hospice, she was almost always in shut-down mode; unconscious or semi-conscious or withdrawn, at least at times, by intent. I spent many hours at her side while she existed in some other awareness. How strange it must be, this otherspace of the dying. Where are you Gale? I asked more than once. In hindsight I suspect that, at times at least, she was very nobly making peace with her passing. At the time though I could not see that possibility, too fixated on the apparent problems I perceived.

Where are you? I asked her. Are you riding with Thorne in your other world? I really hoped that she was.

Thorne is the girl in her fictional Thorne’s Quest world. To what degree she and Thorne were the same person, I have to wonder. She wrote an eight book series about her; a very significant fantasy series with a robust imaginary culture and history. Five novels were self-published and had a following. The remainders still need editing which was not accomplished before the end.

The daughter was her editing partner and knows of specific changes L.T. desired beyond the obvious copy editing and continuity checks. Dog Whisperer was a beta reader and technical assistant and also knew the epic story well.

When it became apparent that L.T. would not survive long enough to finish this project but that she wished not to abandon her faithful readers, it was decided that the Daughter, Dog Whisperer and myself would form a committee to finish the job as best we could. I knew the least about the project but I saw that as useful in terms of a certain role I could play. I promised her that at the very least, I would be the impetus to make sure it happens. I promised her. And it has not happened.

The daughter is the official owner of this intellectual property. I broached the subject once with her and she couldn’t talk about it. It is not easy for her to deal with her mother’s absence.  Many things have been put off for a long time.

As we stood gathered around the lamp-lit unmarked hillock, I shared this heavy concern about Thorne’s Quest with Champ and Healer. They warned me that attempting to take on the project all by myself, if Daughter would only release the materials to me and be done with it, would be a very large and lengthy undertaking. But I assured them I could do it if necessary. I could sink myself into it and see it done. I am motivated enough.

I once began reading the first book of the series which I’d bought online when I barely knew L.T. I abandoned it though, temporarily, when I realized I’d been tripping on the unusual conventions of given names in this imaginary culture. I was mixing up characters. I needed to restart the book while taking notes on the character roster and their similar names.

I now realize that it’s time for me to finally do that. I finally realized that step one in getting this editing dilemma resolved is for me to read the books, and then try talking to Daughter again when I can better gauge the scope of the project.

What will I find, Gale? Will I recognize Thorne? Will I find you there? 

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Sitting in the dark

“Do you sit in the dark all day?”

One of the painters asks me this. The crews and I have been here for a week but this fellow is new today and is not familiar with my routine and probably thinks I work here full time because I’m an apparent guard and I’m in an apparent guard station which is lined with camera monitors (turned off) and thick one-way mirrored glass.

I’ve been escorting the crews which do upgrades to the jail cells which surround this station and which link to the court rooms. It is normally police and special constables who work in this station but we’re only here evenings and weekends when no prisoners are here and no judge would be caught dead at work.

I have no court-related work to do. I’m sitting at a workstation doing stuff on my laptop: end-of-novel-month community stuff, some first-draft work on the novel, drafting emails for later copy-pasting when I’m online again, some movie reviews, a gofundme enterprise through which I propose to blow up planet Earth, and… this blog post.

The bright lights of the hallways and my adjacent bathroom are on and lend themselves through both wide-open doors. More importantly, all my work is done on the lap top and the screen provides exactly the right amount of light for that.

The first evening here the boss painter said the same thing. “Why are you sitting in the dark?”

“I’ve got all the light I need. I can see everything I need to see.”

“Oh, so it’s a conservation thing,” he says confidently.

“No, I just don’t like unnecessary light. It shines into my eyes for no reason.” (and I’m fine with the conservation angle.)

What is wrong with darkness? It is natural. There is much of it in the universe.

I much prefer visiting with people in low light; lamp light; indirect light. I’m even very comfortable visiting with people in downright gloom where I can barely see them but I can hear their voices with unfettered senses and feel closer to their thoughts. Even children at sleepover parties know it’s better to talk with the lights out.

I’ve always found direct light a garish distraction; I’ve always arranged indirect lighting when hosting company and threatened to cut off Long Time Companion’s fingers if he won’t stop turning on the god damned chandeliers.

“We like our expected company to feel welcome,” say my current house mates when I ask if I can turn off the ten billion candlepower front foyer chandelier of mass destruction which cuts through every border of my bedroom door and door frame distracting me when I’m trying to fall asleep and which greets me with retina-searing trauma when I wake up and must slip out of bed for a quick pee in the bathroom right adjacent my room and which triggers suns-up bio-clock-resetting instincts assuring I will not be able to get back to sleep again no matter how badly I need it.

I think about asking my house mates if their company is expected to arrive by ship and if they think we’re living on a dark stormy coastline, but then reconsider.

I like light for football games and housecleaning and lost contact lenses.

And of course for torture. My old pal who had been an interrogator for the American military and who later parleyed his manipulation skills into a highly successful sales career and a permanently emotionally damaged ex-wife confirmed that it’s not just Hollywood: he did indeed shine lights into prisoners’ faces.

What is wrong with darkness?

Darkness is the place where all great wisdom is born.

It is where human babies are born.

And dreams.

It is where stars can be seen.

It is the dark beyond the window which allows us to see ourselves in it.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Three Ghosts

I feel like the guy from the Dickens A Christmas Carol story who was visited by three ghosts in order to get him to wake the hell up to the joyful realities of life. I have had three extremely meaningful conversations in the last two days:

The Ghosts of NaNo Future

After an out-of-town National Novel Writing Month write-in, The Healer, Chess Champ and I pooled back to Scooterville and the Healer’s good-energy house of books, humans, dog, and cats where we embarked on an impromptu conversation about the glory days of our NaNo region, the dangers in romanticising them or down-playing it’s current level of success; the hurdles in managing it today, the very sober interpretations of dear Liaison’s health prospects, and the great challenge of keeping this region alive and healthy in 2018 and beyond which include some rather perilous politics. The conversation was emotional; everyone’s eyes became glossy at some point or another. Chess Champ surprised me with his level of transparency and emotion and I joyfully sensed that his relationship/friendship with the Healer was possibly beginning to mature - as it had between he and I earlier this November. The Troll was a prominent conversation piece and I wonder am I going to have to credit him with providing a useful “common enemy” to draw us together? I say this half-seriously.

Of special relevance I spoke of my own ridiculous falling apart and my sudden willingness to take on some degree of leadership contribution next year, if necessary, in the special (diplomatic) areas where I’m likely to have the most available aptitude - assuming I get my shit together. That’s kind of a big step. After going through my journey years ago I found it very useful to step down from my traditional habit for formal leadership roles and I found that change very rewarding. But if I perceive the community needs me…

The Ghost of Parenthood Past

Then yesterday I had breakfast with a dear friend who I can’t pseudo-name just now for privacy sake; though perhaps that’s not even a concern? Most significantly she reiterated the opinion that her parenting methods or circumstances may not have been the most… useful ever, in her challenging past and that she is apparently paying a very dear price for that, as one of her own sons has basically said - stay away.

This is hauntingly similar to my own emotional circumstance and neither of us, to our credit, attempted to imply that our own loss was any more significant than the other’s. At one point I wept deeply but briefly. I cried for both of us. I don’t know if she perceived that.

The Ghost of Presence

And then I had dinner with Aqualad and he was very brave and told me as best he could about all the emotional weight he currently carries. Some of it broke my heart.

He seems very open to accepting an attempt at help from me. It means I will have to be really on the ball because in turning to the poetic process for guidance here (I have done the math to some almost-successful degree tonight on the night shift despite being outrageously tired) for there is a tremendous volume of material which is relevant to his issues. A tremendous volume. But no worries. We will mostly communicate online probably; and it will take the form, not of me lecturing, but me posing the useful questions so to continuously nudge him toward finding the most useful available answers for himself. The good thing here is that he can set the pace by answering each question whenever he’s ready or has time.

I am very motivated at this time to get my shit together. I’ve been surrounded by a whole lot of love these last two days.