Late 90s, Kansas City, 43rd street: I was moving in with my somewhat psychotic, filthy, dirty, alcoholic, weirdo hoarder friend, Ed, trying to clear a space for myself in the living room to call my own. We were old art school friends and I was used to and mostly okay with his eccentricities. The whole apartment was cluttered with piles of beer cans, empty bottles, dirty laundry, dishes, ashtrays, papers, broken glass, abandoned art projects, bags of garbage, and jars of brown, black or yellow mystery liquids. There were little foot paths leading through the piles. Anyways, I had just removed a near ceiling-high pile of beer cans when I found a clear plastic bag, squashed flat against the wood floor underneath. I picked it up, looked it over and it appeared to be full of some mash of a powdery, dirty, matted substance that leaked out of a hole in the bag, onto the floor. It kind of looked like that sawdust stuff janitors use to sweep up spills. It left a powdery trail as I carried it into the Den where Ed was probably drinking a beer and obsessively watching horror movies or porn or something and asked “Hey, what’s this?” “Oh, that? That’s just a headless dead cat! Yeah, I sold the head to Clark, a couple years ago.”
(THAT, I threw out but the sun & rain-warped, green vinyl suitcase with a smiling macaroni noodle face, complete with red yarn hair, glued to the front, and full of 5 or 6 mummified animal carcasses . . . THAT I left on the porch. It was art.)
Joan and I were coming out of Ace Hardware one sunny day, in ridiculously high spirits, walking towards our car when I said “Let’s do a Trust Walk!” and Joan said “Yeah!!!!!” If you don’t know what that is, it’s something they do in team building exercises where one person closes their eyes and walks while the other person stands behind them with their hands on their shoulders, letting them know if they’re about to walk into something. We’d both recently come out of a series of self-development seminars where we’d done that so we took to it with the joy of a child feeding a hungry duck, only we forgot to hash out a couple details. I closed my eyes and started walking, Joan right behind me with her hands on my shoulders. I stumbled through the parking lot, and began to notice the traffic sounds from the busy main road were starting to get awfully close.
Me: “Joan, I don’t remember our car being this far. Are . . . are we walking into traffic?”
Joan: “Wait, you’re leading ME! I thought YOU had or eyes open! Bwahahahaha!”
Would have been a sweet way to die together!
I’m thinking back to a conversation I had with a friend about these inner shamanic journeys I was having in sessions with a local Shaman (*post to come) and with my imaginal muse, Otikka Oawassa. I was thrilled at using my creative capacity to explore, and experience another world and to communicate with otherworldly beings. At the same time, I was watching and empathizing with my more analytical, but no less weird, friend who wanted to do the same thing but was struggling with the notion that it’s just all made-up bullshit without any “real meaning.” I think we all grew up with this general expectation that anything arising from our creative imagination lacks any real value, apart from being “cool to look at” or adding to your reputation as eccentric/childish/foolish. I think we are accustomed to thinking of meaning as something external to ourselves. . . as something that needs to come from outside of us if it’s to have any value. It’s IN the information we receive. We just decode it . The point of origin was someone else. As if any meaning WE might bestow upon our experience is a pollution of it. This, despite the fact that we add meaning to everything else we see and hear, every day but it’s understandable, given that we’re more used to considering meaning in the context of external stimuli, as opposed to what we think of as internal stimuli.
So when I’m talking to Otikka Oawassa, am I just up on bullshit mountain, telling myself whatever I want to hear for some escapist fun? Is there any value to having such a conversation with someone who, herself, admits to being created through my imagination? It’s not so different from interpreting dreams. Am I just making up meaning to ascribe to the flood of random, unconscious imagery and stories I dream? Well . . . . a partial yes. The thing is, I see dream interpretation and my dialogues with imaginary friends as communication with unconscious or subconscious parts of myself. I am not consciously controlling the imagery or the dialogue in these imaginings. I’m just letting it flow, allowing it to happen. Sometimes I have to consciously give it a jump start but I do that by not having a stick up my butt about it.
Now here is a place where you can make a choice. What is more powerful? to believe you’re just making shit up that doesn’t actually matter or mean anything significant? That everything you see and every being you communicate with is a psychological construct of a naive and careless mind? or an escapist fantasy? OR that there IS an OTHER world with an OTHER intelligence that you can experience and communicate with. You have a choice. Do a cost/benefit analysis. Maybe you are full of shit and just making shit up to please yourself. Or maybe you are loading symbols into a phase space in search of patterns and meaning. It IS a creative process/act. Choose to make it useful.
Wow, I can really suck at blogging. I don’t really want to “blog” so much as share some of my thinking and a lot of old stories on here. . . . without worrying about any order, organization, theme, potential audience or whatever. So just FYI, some of these entries will be from yesterday, and some might be thoughts or stories from 1992, 1985, 2007 , etc. They might be funny stories or personal experiences, they might be me talking about consciousness, UFOs, Bigfoot, evolution, politics, artificial intelligence, shamanism, conspiracies, fidget spinners & EDC, my dreams, ideas, or whatever. Does it make a difference to you, hypothetical reader? What are you doing, reading this anyways? Do you know who I am? Do you just like to read random people’s blogs? Weirdo. You have time for that?
I was Ubering Asheville one night when I picked up this couple downtown. They wanted to go all the way to Black Mountain which is about a 20 minute ride. We talked for the first couple minutes but then it got quiet. I glanced in my rear view mirror and saw the woman slip out of her shoulder strap and her head went down. The man’s head was thrown back, in shadow. Uh oh . . . what’s this? My knuckles turn white as I grip the steering wheel, my ears perked up, listening to every little tiny microscopic sound . . . clothing ruffling, a foot moving, an arm shifting . . . . an exhale. Is that a normal exhale? Did. . . did he just let out a sigh? Wait. . . . Is she going down on him in my car? In the car I drive my daughter in? Uh . . . should I say something? Am I going to have to ask them to stop? or am I going to have to face the fact that I’m a big fucking pussy who is too scared to ask them to stop? I keep anticipating hearing something more informative. Something wet. Fuck! NOOOOOOOOO!!! I imagine myself asking them to stop. What then? Do I kick them out of my car or keep driving? We get off at our exit and pull into downtown Black Mountain as I hear the man waking up his wife. She’d just been sleeping with her head in his lap.
Back when I was working at Bruegger’s Bagels, I was working the line, taking orders when a nervous-looking, wild-haired lady with too many knit scarves around her neck asked for a chocolate chip bagel. The basket was empty & we were out of the dough till next truck delivery. I apologized to her and asked if there was anything else I could get for her. She said “No more chocolate chip bagels?!?!?! Are you SERIOUS?!” Her voice started to tremble. “Can you look in the back? Please? This is OUTRAGEOUS!!!! I drove all the way out here from Weaverville! How can that be?” Real tears are streaming down her cheeks. She is actually CRYING over a chocolate chip bagel.
“I’m really so so sorry, mam. We’re out of the dough till Thursday. Can I get you anything else?” Mind you, the Chocolate chip bagels were the most disgusting, dense, wrinkly, perpetually wet & uncooked-looking bagel monstrosities we’d ever had.
Lady: “How can you do this to me?! Oh my god! Oh my god . . . . This isn’t happening. This is just insane! No chocolate chip bagels?! What kind of business is this? I . . . I hope you go OUT of business!” She’s choking up and really sobbing now but shuffling slowly towards the coffee & registers. At this point, my coworkers are slipping back into the kitchen to laugh as I’m moving along towards the registers with her as it appears she’s still interested in cup of coffee. She shakily gestures towards a cup size & coffee, still sobbing and counting out her change on the counter. I pour a cup, pass it over as she scoops up her change again and THROWS it at my face. My only reaction is to help collect her change again. Still sobbing, she THROWS it at me a second time, then she takes her coffee and leaves. “Thank you!” I say. Honestly, I LOVED customers like that. I don’t know what was going on with her. Maybe she forgot to take her meds but there has got to be a story to that kind of behavior. There’s no way you can take it personally or get all riled up about it.
Late early 2000s, Kansas City, 9am. Nice sunny Sunday! I got dressed, grabbed my keys and got ready to head out of my apartment. While opening the front door, I could feel something heavy was pressing against it from the other side, in the stairwell. Before I had time to even think about it, a massive head fell over my threshold and looked angrily, & upside-down into my eyes. His head had been comfortably propped against my door till I opened it. This is what happens when I leave my downstairs door unlocked. A very large (we’re talking over 6’4″, 300lbs), muscular, and kind of mean looking man lay there in my stairwell, his arms folded and tucked in his armpits, legs nearly reaching my neighbor’s door. . . laying there like a GIANT 300 lb baby. I knew who he was. I never knew his name but he was a local crackhead and thief who used to buy crack from a former downstairs neighbor of mine, until he broke into his apartment & stole his refrigerator, probably carrying it away over his shoulder. He looked up at me and said in a thunderous voice, “I’ll leave when I’m LEAVING!”, rolled over, and went back to sleep. I shut my door. Now my door felt quite paper thin and insubstantial as a barrier. He could shatter it into toothpicks just by leaning against it. I had a back door but it opened to a 12-15 foot drop. There were no stairs. I thought about hanging & dropping but what if I wanted to come back home & he was still there? How was I going to get out of there? Sure, he’s a trespassing crackhead AND burglar and PROBABLY a really dangerous person but I don’t want to involve the police because he’s like a neighbor. Everyone seems to know him . . . that and he could come back and kill me at any time. I go to my CDs and look for something abrasive & annoying. Not difficult considering almost all of my music is abrasive & annoying. TAGC’s Meontological Research Recordings? No, possibly interesting. Maybe something Germanic. Einsturzende Neubauten? No, possibly dance-able. Thomas Koner? Lustmord? No, too gentle. Maybe even soothing when muffled through a door & wall. Coil? SPK? Throbbing Gristle? Laibach? Something with lots of treble and no beat. Hmmmm. . . . Diamanda Galas! I put on Diamanda Galas’s Wild Women With Steak Knives from her Litanies Of Satan, pump up the volume and looky looky who is getting up on his big boy feet and leaving my building! He didn’t even stay for the good part. Sir! Come back! It takes a while to build up! Wait for it. . . . wait for it. . . .