Inherited traits

A trip to the desert and back. My head pounds from the lack of sleep, laxc of nutrition, lack of excercise. Not the lack of connections, though, where I did not foresee them.

The cousin always on the outskirts. The sibling I could not connect with. The family I could not understand. The messages I missed and the warninhs I pushed righht past.

Until now, did I ever wonder why.

I’m beginning to comprehend pieces of the past that were concealed to me. Beginning to see the pieces of myself that came from these half-told truths and well-pushed-down lies. These little incoherencies that started to define these uglier aspects of me.

Until now, there was no way to know.

I no longer wonder at my hatred of dishonesty, manipulations, deceit. I have, for so long, tried to conceal his. But why? Because I was inadvertantly taught that nobody will love the you inside yourself. This only applies if I keep myself hidden under blankets and falsities that make me appear to fit into their controlling societies.

If I stand on what I stand for, then the world will take me for what I am. And if I find myself alone at the end of that road, then so be it. It’s better than these stagnant, infexted pools of self-degradation and regret.

I’d rather be offensive versus fake.

Practicing

I walk like I’m biking for three miles, and then another – all before the morning sun is up. A cup of tea warms my fingers in these cut-off gloves, but I’m working on not feeling the cold. The rain picks up just as we get to where we are going.

All aboard and the plugs at our seats don’t work right. But in this view car, I’m seeing more than I ever have.
Open your eyes wide. What, if you relax, will you find?

A red sail boat
A white speed boat
A person kayaking
A gull white against waves and a white bridge
A murder of crows
The trashy trappings of our back yards and front lawns
A bag over a car, a tree, moss and the grass.
An individual standing, waiting, beverage in hand as we pass.
Markers tall and black out in the water.
A clutch of tiny black birds in amongst a dozen ducks. Mallards, all of them.
Three orane cones shoved together and heavy construction machinery.
Blackberry bushes creating brambles through the underbrush.
The trappings of this post-industrial, modern, consumerist life.
These are the things we see along this coastal line before the starlight comes.

In the night, we will sleep in two chairs, sitting up.
Off to California, the desert, the deserted life again.

And the memories of a childhood spring before me. To you, it was the middle of life. But how did I know then? I had no terms, no words, no way to gain access to the thoughts then. Only now do I know.

I come only to show my appreciation, my respect.
I come out of some deep kind of love.

Hiccup

So. In creating this writing project, I had not expected the following:

I began to loath the project itself. In six days, it managed to completely crush all of the writerly spirit out of me. It pushed me from lackadaisical straight through to vial hatred. If you’ve ever tried to sustain a craft, you know what’s on the other side of this.

Productivity.
Well, okay. At least for me.

Then, I started actually working on my extended projects yet again. Whether this is purely out of a desire to avoid said project, or whether the actual project did the trick – who knows? But, the point is that I have spent the last two days doing significant work versus shitting around – and that’s all the different.

Or enough of it. So, project on hold. Possibly, done. It didn’t take long.

It never does for me.
Far shorter than I ever think. This thread that runs straight through me is easy enough to pull. Easy enough to tighten back up. I just need to find my grip.

Grip found. For now.

Six

A change to the project, as it was going stale. The following is a character study instead of any sort of plot-based short. —
Three people at a table talking in muted tones.

One is small-framed in a wine colored sweater. Reddish-brown hair, something like the heart of dried cedar. A darker, more purple windbreaker is thrown over the back of the chair. It’ll be swung over shoulders as soon as this party departs.

Another wears a faded ocean green canvas hat. Underneath this billed cap is completely grey hair poking out in fluffy tufts all along the back. A hunter green sweater with the collar popped up keeps their neck warm.

The third wears a bright yellow polo. Long hair, pulled back in a pony-tail, frames a heavily bearded face. Hair just as silver as the latter members, but less tame. There may, also, still be a black hair or two in there. It’s of no consequence, really.

They came for lunch, ate, and stayed through the hour. Their conversations are muted against all the background noise,which post-lunch is significantly low. They lean in together whenever someone speaks. They lean back when sentences are over, thoughts complete.

They all three sit triangulated around the their table of choice.

When the three get up to leave, a red and black checkered sweater that goes down to the knees is slipped over that yellow shirt, subsuming them in its wool woven immensity. The sweater dwarfs even the width of their beard. It is impressively thick. It must keep the rain off quite well.

They leave altogether through the back upstairs door of the shop. They will, most likely, get in separate cars and go to their various places of residence, job, or recreation.
No way to know now. They have departed and I am, yet again, alone.

Deer and Clocks

These memories feel like pictures from a different life:

Blackberry jam, sourdough bread, and the perfect fried egg. If not for you – I’d never have flipped them in the pan. Two years of culinary school later, and I’m still the better.

The fan spinning backward as I stare up at the ceiling. Shift my eyes to the right and I meet a buck’s eyes. Turn to the left and it’s all computer screen. There’s a TV in the middle there somewhere where I used to watch something. I don’t recall what. It’s not a part of the images anymore. But the a/c and the smell of the living room and the feel of your softened water all are.

The clock in the hallway – it’s a grandfather – and it goes off on every chime. Late into the nights of my childhood, I could listen to this chime and count time. At thirty, I have the melodies memorized. I can hear them ring out, even now.

You taught me to blow the centers out of eggs with my mouth, then paint their shells in black wax and brilliant colors. Your patterns were always so intricate, so careful. You made tall wooden giraffes that held papers while I typed essays in high school. You made  a light-box that rarely got turned on. You made baked beans and always got up before anyone else. I’d hear you making breakfast for yourself and pretend like I was asleep.

The last time I saw you, you were smiling. We talked about hunting and the land where we were headed. I learned more about you in those few hours than I think I ever had. Now only if I could learn to hunt, I think I’d be doing something right.

You and I don’t share blood, but we share a lot of traits. I’ll learn them from you any day.

Goodbye, Goodnight.

 

Faking it

I have a problem with doors. Oh, and relationships. Interaction. Making friends.

Y’know that honesty thing that’s so important? Why the fuck do I have such a hard time when the confines are changed? You put a new wall in front of me, and I can’t just get myself around it. I’ll stand there and stare, and stare, and stare. I’ll ask a lot of questions:

Why is this here?
Is it my fault? Did I built it without even realising?
What is it made of? Can it be broken? Could I crack it?
Is it penetrable? Am I meant to just walk through it?
Is that how everyone else does it?
Do other people have this problem? Am I alone in this? Am I fabricating it?
If I closed my eyes, will it go away?
If I move, will I circumvent it? Is that even possible?
Is this what’s been wrong with me, all this time?

And still, nothing is different at the end of all that.  Just the light slowly fading. It takes less time to realise that the most unattractive feature is imperfection – right?
It feels that way. Just look in the mirror – are we pleased?

Hardly.

Possibly worse than this is self-pity.
So buck up, Nigami. You’ve dug yourself that hole. Are you really just going to sit there?

Goddamn me.

Meanwhile, someone else’s perspective helps:

“I wish I could just warn you of my incomplete, shaken up reality.
But I might have lost my mind.

I always wind up with boxed up over-critical motives.
But I’ve made my mind up, my mind up.
And I couldn’t care less who’s turned off.”

Five

Maple and Fin meet here every Monday for lunch. This, in fact, is how and where they met. The location is the corner cafe. They always sit in the same position – like they did the first time. If that table along the left wall, overlooking the street, is full -they’ll wait. Both have Mondays off, so it’s never been a problem. Sometimes, the best fun they have is during the long waits.

Today, the table is open and the pair take food to the table and sit. Maple brushes salt and pepper curls out of the way, over a shoulder, in preparation of this Monday delight. Fin sits down, squirms, gets back up.

“I have to pee,” and the departure is swift.

There is this brief consideration of waiting. It lasts about thirteen seconds before Maple shrugs and bites full-force into a veggie sandwich. Thin slivers of carrots spill out as the sammy compresses far flatter than it ought to. Maple chews while picking up carrots and stuffing them back into the edges of the sammy. A brown booted foot tucks up under the other leg. A sign that Maple is really enjoying this. A chip tossed in between grinning lips crunches.

Maple is half done by the time Fin comes back from the bathroom. Fin takes one look and nods, slipping into the black rain slicker that wasn’t really necessary for today.

“All done? I’ll take mine to go.”

At which brown eyes pout up at Fin. “I’m sorry,” mouth still full of half a bite of lettuce and tempe.

“No, it’s fine. Let’s go.”

Maple starts at this, fingers awkwardly reaching up to twirl a necklace. What Maple is thinking: let’s go? What does that mean. This is a terminal experience. They’ve never departed together. That would spoil something, wouldn’t it?

The expression on Fin’s face seems to be thinking the same thing. As if the words came out of their own accord.

“Sorry, I-” Fin tries to backpedal.

Maple is happy to assist. “No, it’s fine. I…” but there’s not much to say, is there? This is uncomfortable.

“This is uncomfortable,” Fin goes ahead and admits with a nervous laugh.

Maple readjusts the color of the wool sweater that it’s way too warm out to be wearing. All manner of polite, genial things go through Maple’s head. Ways of smoothing this over, being suave, recovering. Instead, all that leaks out is an abrupt. “Yep.” Honest is the best policy, right?

Fin coughs a nice fake throat-clearing deal here. “We can sit again, if you want.”

“No, no,” and Maple is all head shakes here, tousling about those salt and pepper curls, sending them dancing across shoulders.

Fin is about to say something clever here, about to come up with some really honest, straight to the point recovery, when it’s all blindsighted by someone else calling: “Maple, is that really you?”

And Maple turns from Fin and this awkward uncertain situation to a world of knowns and security. There’s no thought, no registering of this switch-over. It just comes naturally, easily, fluidly. The smile on Maple’s thin lips is so instantaneous.

“Hal!” and a quick flash of a look to Fin. “Look, I’ll be right back.”

And with that, Fin is left beside the table with an empty box ready to be filled with these left-overs. A dreary sigh as Maple’s voice drifts across the small cafe. Things like “oh, god, I’ve missed you.” and “such a wonderful time”. Things like “get together again” and “can’t wait”.

Time on the clock melts away. The food is cold by the time Maple taps Fin on the shoulder. “Hey, sorry. I have to make it to the bank before it closes.”

Fin stands automatically, without thought. It comes so naturally. “Of course, of course. I’m taking this to go, anyway.”

“Yeah, good. Okay. Well, have a good one.”

“Next week?” and this is a real pathetic stretch here.

“Um,” that deadly hesitation that says just what you don’t want it to, “sure. Yeah.” All positives, all smiles, all plastic and see through celophane.

“Great, I’ll text you,” and Fin is really not planning on this.

Maple doesn’t even notice, just tucks the two edges of that wool sweater together like its bracing cold out. “Okay, next time,” arms all tight across the chest, all uncomfortable and strange.

Fin nods. “You bet.”

Four

-Still a day behind-

So, this grey half-damp weather is what the Pacific Northwest is all about, Culpepper thought, pressing down on an empty coffee pump pot. Gio had said it would feel just like home. Culpepper hadn’t believed that – mostly out of spite. But, it was true and the thin checkered button down paired with a wool scarf weren’t exactly cutting it. Another cup of hot coffee might help.

Culpepper came up the stairs to find someone sitting in the opposite arm chair. Just a second ago, it had been empty. Now, it was full of this bright eyed smiler, just woken up for the day. Wet hair and everything. They appear to have some business to do because a computer is instantly in their lap.

There were a couple of options here. One: ignore the new-comer, sit down, and continue reading as if you noticed nothing. Two: make some kind of comment and hope it doesn’t spring into some kind of conversation so you can get back to your reading. Three: be clever and interesting and strike up a conversation on purpose.

In the five seconds it took to get from the stairwell to the armchair, Culpepper analyzed the situation: judged the attractiveness of said new-comer on a scale of 1-10, gave them a 6: middling but not bad, and settled on:

“I just got this awesome new book. Don’t want to get coffee all over it,” in careful full accent. Then, Culpepper flashes the book cover for half a second, shifts, and moves it completely out of view. It goes onto the chair, where it can be safely tucked behind thigh and cushion.

This of course is a purposeful tactic. Because Culpepper is going to sit in that chair for approximately ten more minutes reading some local tabloid, get up, leave the book in full view on the seat, and wait.

Meanwhile, Culpepper is drifting through the wank goods in the upstairs of the little local grocery store. Something about this place reminds Culpepper of a bargain slash kitchen shop where everything is overpriced and under-impressive. Point in case, this gorilla food chopper. Culpepper spins it around, sets it back down. Maybe there will be something of intrigue down below.

Down the stairs as the coffee back at the chair gets cold. Give it five, six more minutes. The chocolate aisle has some interest. Culpupper peruses it. Nothing really jumps out, so it’s going to be the closest one. A fair-trade chocolate bar with almonds. That’ll do.

The line is unusually long. This might be fumbling the plan back upstairs. Culpepper sighs, shifting weight from one foot to the other. Really should have returned these boots. They are too tight around the bridge of the foot – just not made well, all pointy in the toes. Not to mention, the heel is low enough that it allows the backs of the trousers to drag across the ground. In a rainy area, really?

Finally, the front of the register. Culpepper slides the singular chocolate bar across to the cashier, pays, smiles. Back up to that coffee and the plot. Culpepper slides easily back into the armchair, pointedly ignoring any form of eye contact with the neighboring sitter. This is where the excitement comes. Just say somthing about how you got this chocolate – would you care for a bit, goes great with this coffee we both have…

But no. Just as Culpepper is working up the nerve to end this brilliant little plot in a chance to hit on one of these American college kids – someone is waving something bright yellow, and saying- “‘Scuse me, ‘scuse me.”

Culpepper looks up, bright blue eyes flashing. “Hm?”

“Sorry,” the massive beard in front of the armchair says, hardly a face at all here. “But the cashier told me to give this to you. We’d usually put it on single items,” and offering the sticker that reads: SOLD.

“Oh,” is about all Culpepper can formulate. It’s not necessarily annoyance here – just confusion.

“Yeah, we just, y’know. No need to put it on now, but…” and the beard tapers off here, just sort of stands waiting, sticker out.

Culpepper takes it, the tacky surface sticking to fingers. “Yep, you bet. Better be safe,” in a real positive manner, sticking the sticker in the only place it makes any sense to put it – on the chocolate bar. It makes sense, sure.

And with that, the plot pans out anyway. Smiles across the way in armchair number two looks up, makes eye contact, laughs one of those shared-experience laughs, and is so close to saying something that it hurts.

But then, looks away, sips awkwardly on coffee, and back to work.

Damn. So close.

Three

This is a day late – and complete drivel.
Oh well.

The night was warm for early March in the Northwest. Ty hadn’t even bothered with a coat on the short walk from the apartment to work. But then, that was when the sun was up. The night would prove colder than the thin cotton-polyester shirt Ty had chosen.

The place is slow for a Saturday night, Ty thinks as the cigarette in hand dwindles itself down to nothing more than a butt. The pubs down the street in this small town are packed full – standing room only, if at all. Why? Trends, Bill says. Most likely, it’s the fact that the other places have the image. It’s the European thing. It’s out.

A tingle on Ty’s finger says the cigarette is done now. Pity, didn’t even take a single puff. But then, Ty doesn’t actually smoke. The cigarette was more of an excuse to get some fresh Saturday night air. Bored as hell, standing behind the bar watching the two kids in the corner drinking sodas while Mae, Ty’s manager, bitched to anyone who had an ear on their head about yesterday’s order, just waiting for the next customer to walk in had gotten rather thin. Hence the cig pinched off Gin, the fry-cook. Gin was the pub’s resident chain smoker dead-set on cultivating a fellow addictee.

Tossing the butt to the ground, Ty decided it was time to get back inside. Enough of this fake smoking. Besides, those kids might need another soda.

The doors to the back were janky, hung on two fully rusted hinges. Tonight, Ty had to give them extra muscle in order to gain access to the back of the kitchen from the alley. Ty pressed shoulder to door and shoved. A cry and crash sounded from the other side. Peeking round, Ty was being stared down by a befuddled Mae.

“Oh, Mae. I’m so sorry. What were you-”

“You just broke out last bottle of Lavender!” screamed at a very unreasonably high pitch.

Ty tried to back away. “Oh god, I’m-”

Mae stayed glaring, brown curls shaping her round cheeks and angular chin. “That’s coming out of your paycheck.”

“I’m sorry?” thrown here. Mae could be unreasonable, but really?

“You should be,” dusting off the front of a red suit jacket. “Get back to the floor. What are you doing back here anyway?”

“Smoke break,” like this was acceptable. For Gin, it was. It should be for Ty. Right?

“Did you take your fifteen? Do you get another break? I don’t think so. Move your ass.”

“Great.”

Seeing, blinking, coming to light

My partner and I have spent a lot of time trying to recall what it was that changed everything for us. We’ve considered the obvious options: backing away from media influence, fostering open-mindedness, understanding our upbringing. We’ve thought maybe it was just turning off the goddamn propaganda machine. Of course, all of these all carry some water. Some more than others. Here is one we had completely forgotten:

Dreams.

Back when we first had this inclination that the things we’d been taught had some poison, some bad, some big hole in them. Back when we were first started searching, trying, scrabbling after some kind of understanding of what the point of it all was. Back when we were desperate to know  what could be done. I had these dreams. I haven’t looked at them since I recalled one in PDX. Mostly, because along with their religious symbols – I’ve thrown them out.

And yet. These “end of the world” dreams helped to spark it all. Turned my attention to something I had not seen. Caught my eye and made me think. At the time, they were unavoidable. I wrote them all down in a little notebook by the side of the bed.
They are, for your edification, here: Screeching Brakes.

Naturally, they are steeped heavily in the images I was familiar with at the time. This, I believe now, only gave me access to them. What were they for? Only the blossoming of the thought that led us down the road we are on now. A lonely country road where we sometimes walk together, sometimes walk alone. For what they’re worth, they were worth a world to me.

Like tarot is now.*

Do you remember how much we talked about heaven and death, doce?Because I do. It took a hell of a long time to come to the realisation that a heaven full of trillions upon trillions, increasing exponentially every single generation – just makes no sense. Cram that many individuals into anything and what do you get: mayhem.

Over time, we discarded the concepts of heaven. It was hard. We had been taught to love them. Life without them was a waste. Oh, what a waste.

With those, quickly, went religion. But, never mysticism for me. Never that magical edge of it. There’s something there. Myths, I swear to god, all connect at critical points. I haven’t been able to find them all, yet. I’m looking. I’ll unify it – you’ll see.

The hunt is a strange one. And how often did I dream of having to do this alone?
We, minha amai, are alone. It has been a feeling we had been trying to circumvent. We tried to edge past it. We tried to counteract. And yet-

It is better than unnumbered nights staring at a singular star, hoping I’d go supernova.
Knowing, without a goddamn doubt, that I was cursed. Done for. Written out.

Fuck all that.
What’s wrong with me is wrong with all of us.
What breaks in me breaks in you, too.
What blame I carry is the curse of my own inability to aim, and the training the past gave me to show me how that was okay.

We did kill Able, siblings. Call Able the giants and maybe you gain access to a different thought. Call it Neanderthal and maybe you see a better angle. Does it glitter? Does it shine?

No. That blood’s still on us.
Can we ignore that we are not peace-loving, non-violent anything? Can we pretend that our story is not a string of endless fighting, one-upping, death and destruction?
Did you think you could pull that from your veins?

Ha. We are the deceivers. The liars and the cheats. We are the dead, lost, stabbed through with black hearts. We are selfish, disjointed, suffering only from our own delusion of such grandeur we impose.

Oh, life could be simple, mean, basic – and yet “good”. We could take life for whatever it is, let it pass through us, and breathe in again at some later stage. We would, if nothing else, do less harm. Oh, but we can’t fucking let it alone, can we minha amigos?

Seiko ney. Exactly no.

So, we thrash and drown and stare at singular stars, praying to non-existent gods that we will – for once – go supernova.

I haven’t yet. I don’t expect it’s coming.
In the end, I’ll probably be terrified of my own end, and then die.

This is the reality of life.
You life for a while and you die.
Then the living life eats you up and you live forever.

Do words elude these concepts? Always.
They come before the structure, the thought before the language, the wind before the sign. And so, our attempts to reach them are like scientific theory without equations. You can approach, but never delve within. We only ever traverse the surface.

Like a circle talking about a sphere.

*On that note, recall:
The Moon, Page of Pentacles, Two of Wands — Five of Wands