Friday, August 30, 2013


Memory is selective, often used to justify our current stance. If I am angry with you, then for this moment, all that I remember is the innumerable times you’ve let me down, hurt my feelings, ignored my needs.
I remember the times you have abandoned me, screamed at me, kicked things off the table, smashed my fingers in car doors, elevator doors, and under prefab houses. I remember how you criticized my drawings, my singing, my way of talking, my way of walking, I remember that you threatened to have me institutionalized, that you shouted at me and demanded the sums of mathematical equations until I was in tears.
I’ll remember that you were gone for years, that you sent me to a Christian school even though you told me it was nonsense, that you told me that the children that I played with were not my friends, that I could trust no one, that I would be alone in life, that I could not play with my first schoolyard playmate because she was black. That you forced me to listen to cassettes touted as subliminal therapy meant to enhance powers of positive thinking and creativity. That you made me fill out lottery tickets for you insisting that I use my psychic ability to select the right numbers. That you asked me for my opinion and ignored it. That you lost our home and couldn’t support us.

This is what I will recollect when it suits a particular mood.

There are other moods for other moments. Then I remember you differently. I remember that you painted murals on the walls, that you took me to climb the mountain many times, that you read the Hobbit to me, that you played your guitar for me at night until I fell asleep and again in the morning when I woke up.  That you brought home a puppy and orchestrated a convincing meeting with Santa. That one year you dressed as Santa yourself even though I was too old to be fooled. That when I had chickenpox and couldn’t go out you brought home a deluxe dinosaur playset that entertained me for feverish itchy weeks of confinement. That you taught me to ride a bike and zipped me up inside your sweatshirt with you when I was tiny.

Today’s memory is neutral, possibly good. I can’t imagine why, but this memory returns to me often, shifts between ages. Could it be that this thing occurred more than once? Or is it remembering it so often and in different moods which has created variations?

I am in the white pick up truck in the parking lot of Sears Lumber. The yellow fields surrounding the parking lot are empty except for the bodies of naked black trees that jut up towards a slate colored sky. Clouds are layered upon more clouds achieving different shades of gray and blue and white and black, some smooth and some lumpy with the promise of rain, of thunder, of lightning.
The smell of moist earth. A special smell that has become familiar to me through the years, a smell that comes in late autumn and in winter after the rain has wetted the dead grasses and made its way to the heart of the clods of dirt that lie exposed. I have smelled it nowhere else but there in that valley that was home. I have smelled rain and wet earth and grass in other places since, but the odor is not the same.
Far away I could see the green and gold and red leafed tops of distant trees in distant fields. A crow perched on a lamppost cawed, a sound that I have heard in other places, the  harsh hallow voice of a big black bird.
The lumber store is the largest in a row of commercial buildings done in mocha hued stucco and wooden signs and beams painted dark chocolate. There is a little Mexican cantina that I have never been in, and a beauty shop, and empty shop windows where there are vacancies. All in all the strip has room for no more than five or six establishments.
The parking lot is vast and cracked and uneven, and all around it the empty fields yawn like a sea of grass interrupted only by the line of buildings in the east and Lakeshore drive in the south. Behind Lakeshore a wall of trees hides the view of La Laguna Grande, but it has not been called by that name for decades.
It is now Lake Elsinore, named for Hamlet's Castle Elsinore, and the town is named the same. The sea of grass is broken by buildings and trees off in the west, and beyond that the mountain sleeps under the soft blankets of clouds. Our house is over there, underneath the mountain, planted at its feet.
I look at the field, the clouds, the naked trees and imagine I am in some east coast village in some forgotten era. In a moment I will see a maiden in a hooded cloak rushing away from or towards some terrible danger, a basket dangling from her arm. In another moment I will be the maiden.
I have never been to the east coast, or anywhere at all other than this valley and the stretch of highway that leads to my grandparents' home in Phoenix, Arizona. 
In another moment it is a European copse, in another I am gazing upon the shire. These fields are ripe with magic. You can smell it in the air.  Or rather I have imposed the magic of my imagination over these  empty fields, and their smell has become special  by association.
I want to stay in the pick up and day dream. In one version of this memory I do. In another I go into the lumber store with you and am allowed to stand by myself looking with wonder at hardware while a pimple faced young man in jeans and a flannel helps you find whatever it is we have come here for.
In another version my little sister is here and she wears a flannel and jeans and our house is still under the mountain to the west, but it is no longer ours and we live in someone else’s house to the north.

All versions share the same sky, fields, parking lot, commercial building, and season. It is one memory which has expanded to encompass a few others for simplicity’s sake.
Memory is selective in every way. I have conjured this particular memory, or cluster of memories, on other days similar to today. On days when clouds gather and the light is exactly as it is now and I feel neutral. Some days the memories are angry, some days they are happy, others, like those arising today, are neutral, but almost all are laced with an undercurrent of sorrow and loss.
And you are always there, lending a back story to my emotional state, a conglomerate of memories that I call Father.

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Monday, August 26, 2013

Father and the Elf

When looking for proof of any theory
it will undoubtedly appear.
Ego has been spoken of in many ways
as if it was never part
of the psychedelic realm.

Through hypnosis and other means
we embarked on a study
of the Pythagorean cult, the pentagram,
the Fibonacci Sequence, the Golden Ratio,
the Wizard of Oz and Lady Gaga.

The word psychedelic was used
for the elf that we discovered
within this network of signifiers.
It was hard to agree on his existence
but everyone missed him
when he was not there.

As is the case with most beings of influence,
he required extra added coverings
and ways to get along with the outside world.

It was around that time
that Father was identified
as a member of the Illuminati.
When we made this discovery
we viciously hit the frontal lobe of his brain
with a tiny steel hammer.
In this way
we filtered out the data that was unwanted.

Later that week
we found ourselves noticing things
we had never paid attention to before.
We noticed a number of changes.
We could no longer feel sadness
we could no longer feel angst.

One recurring accusation was that
our thoughts were riddled with subliminal messages.
We began to see evidence of this everywhere.
We found a detailed description of the pentagram
and we cried or laughed at inappropriate times.

We experimented with a magical technique called
the filter theory of selective attention.
There were numerous Illuminati symbols hidden
all throughout our symbolic realm
but we were not able to find the single eye.

We found that
the core of the persona
the core of our very being
would actually become psychedelic
at the very least amount of effort,
it had been this way all along.

We used a mind control method
where half of us were induced
into dissociative personality disorder.
Since then,
it became apparent
there were at least two groups of us
completely unknown to each other,
maybe more.

This was similar to what happens
in the legendary blot experiment
of the Pythagorean cult.
Something we would soon discover.

Because the part of Father's brain
controlling social action
was completely destroyed
his thoughts became truly psychedelic.

We found that we had
grown within this person,
this being we called Father.
Father was the cave
Father was the house.

But what really was Psychedelic?
What did we mean by this word?

Father is very childish now.
It’s infectious.
He is full of lightning bolts and broken mirrors. 
When any of these symbols are seen in any context,
we place them in the unprovable category,
the same word we once used
to describe the elf.

Then he starts to laugh.

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Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Big Nothing

If I could be free of familial obligation I feel that I would have the same sensation as someone who has mastered an addiction. If I could contentedly go through my life knowing that I would never bend to the will or whim of my parents, so much of my time and energy would be free that I would surely rise like a phoenix from the ashes.
Damn them for giving me life then exercising all of their energies towards the end of subverting that life to their own wishes and desires. Damn them for seeing me only as  an uncooperative place holder in the symbolic order. Category: daughter, type A, first born.
Damn them for assuming that my existence is about them. Example: If I am not there it is to make them sad, depressed. Damn them for making me responsible for their emotional state. If I were to have continued to do the same I would have been dead long ago, suicide note reading:
“I have tried my best. Nothing I can do is good enough for you. Why must love be contingent upon approval?”
I ran away once and got no further than Lakeland Village.
Later I got as far as San Francisco and it might as well have been Mars. I felt happy and free. More myself than I had ever been permitted to be. Love and Will were more important than material things and these in true form could never be subject to approval.
But several times a year I must be dragged back into the underworld, into the land of the dead. Because while they lacked the ability to think of my happiness before their own, I did not. I would go and try to give them the pretty picture. I would not say any of what I really thought to them. I would let their hurtful words and way of being wash over me and not struggle against it. My mantra was “I am a duck.” I had the promise of  leaving their presence to get me through these visits.
But each visit was as toxic as a nuclear blast. Before and after I was sick. During I would almost die.
And at last my connection to them was tenuous at the most. The stronger I became the less reason could be seen to consent to participate in their play. The only reason as always was, “to not hurt them.”
But these miserable people were endlessly hurting and always the blame would lie somewhere other than within their own disturbed psyches,  rooted somewhere other than in their many poor choices, somewhere other than in their own utter lack of illumination.
If I were to tell them the truth would it be kind or cruel?
Kind or cruel?
Kind or cruel?
That for me, the interaction is corrosive, futile, unnecessary and harmful to all that I strive for.
If they cared for me as an objective entity at all, they would leave me alone and seek their happiness elsewhere. They would not make me come back, they would not force me to take the communion of pain and eat of the flesh of  their woe and drink of the deep back blood of their despair.
They force it, but I could say no. I could make a clean break if I told them the brutal truth.
Kind or cruel?
I keep trying to give them what they say they want. I keep trying to be good for the BIG OTHER, the eye in the sky that is watching over my deeds.
And yet I want nothing more than to flip them all the bird, Ma. Pa, and Jesus too. I want to set the world on fire.
I keep turning the other cheek, good lamb, but within me a wolf is growling. The real in me begs to be freed of all the empty gestures that supply the emptiness the symbolic order demands, the emptiness my parents crave, the big nothing they have sown.

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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Secret Journeys

I found myself in the street, feet carrying me swiftly along as though with a will of their own, the scent of flowers wafted to my face and tantalized my olfactory senses. I thought at first that I was imagining it, or that somehow it was the quality of my mood. But it soon dawned upon me that the breeze was actually carrying the perfume of roses in bloom, and that I, miraculously, was able to perceive it.
The sky above was a patchwork of blue and thick low clouds being pushed along by the brisk current of air. The sun was warm on my skin and the breeze would brush that warmth away, leaving its own cold touch on my naked arms and face. 

I made my way beyond the street with its smell of fresh tar into the little field where the grass was yellow and short and the trees grew in various sizes. The earth yielded soft beneath my feet, moist pliant earth beneath dry brittle grass.
I spied a strange insect in the path of my footfall and changed course without loosing the rhythm of my step. This happened so quickly that I didn't have time to think of it. It was a reaction from deep within. In fact, I was watching the earth closely as I stepped, avoiding trampling small flowers and other tender live things that had made the effort to push up through the soil.

I came to the pine tree whose trunk split low and sent two arms running  parallel to the ground before they reached up. Another arm rose directly to the sky.
I sat for a moment on one of the low arms and a small insect similar to a bee hovered near my face. I wished it away and stood, but I could hear its buzzing for a while, even though I couldn't see it anymore.
I remained standing under the tree and noticed a small bird standing on the side of the erect pine branch as though defying gravity. I wondered at its tiny claws could grasp the crevices in the bark to hold it in place. Observing it until it flew up into the canopy, I became aware that the entire tree was aflutter with its little brethren plucking insects from under the bark, hopping and flitting from branch to branch and chattering merrily.

I must have stood there for a very long time watching them. Their bodies were small and round, their beaks straight, their feathers a dark gray on top and their bellies a faded dust hue. Their movements were rapid and constant, their voices bright, expressed in short bursts full of conversational tones.
I was so enthralled and still that one eventually nearly landed on my head. Only at the last moment did I stir in surprise and it averted its course as easily as I had altered mine to spare the bug in the grass.
The bug I remembered had stirred, thus catching my eye, and I realized that just as I had seen the bird coming, so the bug had seen me. As my motion alerted the bird to my identity as “not tree”, so had the bug's movement alerted me to its nature as “not grass.”

I thought the birds seemed a bit quieter after that and I thought that perhaps my presence was now inhibiting them. So I bade them a silent farewell and resumed my walking.
My feet lead me back to the concrete sidewalk. As I followed its winding course uphill I spied a different cluster of birds in the shade of a low growing tree.
They were larger than the others and moved at a leisurely pace picking through the fallen leaves in search of grubs and bugs. They spoke to each other less frequently, taking long pauses between statements that were musical and unhurried.
As I drew nearer one or two announced my arrival with increased urgency and they flew up into the tree. A few remained on the earth watching me, one right on the edge of the sidewalk. He remained in place maintaining his air of calm though watching me attentively. As I approached I saw that his belly was a warm orange color and I crooned to him:

“You are so beautiful, what kind of bird are you? Are you a robin? You must be a Robin with a belly like that. You are so pretty.”

He watched me and listened to me.
Soon I was gone, feet returning me to the street. My mind surged forward to home and the walk was over. But the next day I left the house again taking a similar path.

On the street I noticed right away the moisture in everything. The smell of it was refreshing, it was the smell of rain that has yet to fall.
The sky was gray and the air cool but I had on my sweater and felt very comfortable. I breathed deeply that moisture infused air and walked on.
It wasn’t until I was on the sidewalk near the field that I knew I would enter the same way that I had on the previous day. I had intended to stay upon the path but as I neared the field my feet felt called and I stepped unhesitatingly onto the soft earth. I watched my step as I had before, but I felt that I was moving quicker, that my powers of observation were perhaps less keen than on the day before. Nothing that I could see stirred in the grass but I left green things undisturbed.

I made my way into the trees and was greeted by an unwholesome sight: white and beige feathers strewn in mangled heaps. I slowed and took in the signs of a violent struggle, but found no further remains.
There was no way for me to know, but I felt certain that they were owl feathers. It was as if the feathers could whisper to me the truth of their origin to me.
Head swiveling uneasily, I stumbled underneath a pine and realized that the canopy above my head was heavy with a litter of leaves and twigs. This I thought was the owl's nest. Hurriedly I got out from underneath it. There was an unclean feeling beneath those branches. I tried to look into the nest, but it was too high.

With no further interest in lingering in the area I left it behind and ventured to the tree I had visited on the previous day. It was utterly silent. Gone were the chipper little birds that had animated its canopy.
I paused for a moment letting the silence enter me. Then I continued on, taking a detour through some shrubs before re-emerging on the concrete path.
As I approached the hill I saw a man leaning against the rail further up, so I parted ways with the path once more. Tromping up the soft slope, my boot heels sank even deeper than they had in the field. The earth fell away beneath them to cascade downhill. It was necessary to take great strides to gain ground. As I passed  the area where I had seen them, I looked for the robins, but they too were absent.

At the top of the hill I swung my legs one at a time over the rail. I had successfully avoided crossing paths with the stranger and overtook the path several yards above him.
I was careful not to look back at him. His presence was irksome to me, an interference with the sublime solitude. He was to me an agent of the symbolic order, the eyes of the BIG OTHER prying into my secret life.
From the corner of my eye I could see his head turn towards me then away again. I wondered if my presence was to him as his was to me.
Home was in sight now. I let it come to me before I could come to it and the street melted away like spun sugar on the tongue.

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