Tuesday, January 31, 2012

wearin' my dreams

Well, the parents are gone, off to the airport.  Rachel and I have four days alone together with Rhys and Barkley before I have to go back to work.  It was good to see my father and his wife and they were, of course, very excited to see their grandson.  I am well on my way to becoming a normal person, I'll probably vote for Mitt Romney when the time comes.  Who knows, I might even vote for Sarah Palin, as a write-in.  We'll have to see how our finances are doing by then, see if we can afford to vote for anybody.

An old friend of mine, a teacher, once accused me of being "traditional."  I suppose he was right.  It was when he found out that I had watched an episode of 30 Rock. He lost his mind a little bit.  He said that he had known it all along, that I wasn't cut out for the avant-garde, that I was weak and conventional.  It hurt but I had to admit he was right.  We'll watch Downton Abbey here in a little bit, then hopefully go back to sleep, cradled in normalcy.

Ozzy Potter, I think he once called me.

This month has been a huge one for my blog.  I should have a child every month.  I've already exceeded one personal goal in readership and I'm about to exceed another if I can attract enough readers today.  It's the last day of the month, everything must go.... I suppose having another child is out of the question. Perhaps arguing with a semi-precious sorceress again will push me over the top into infamy.  Who knows if it was meant to be, if it was written in the stars, if the crystal ball reflects, if the prospectors switch twitches my way... Or, if just my normal number of readers return today then I'll hit a big number for the month, almost twice my normal amount.  Ah, fatherhood and its many hidden rewards...

Well, I don't have anything to say.  I wish that I did, my blog needs me...

When I feel vacant I'll often misuse poetry.

So, here goes... a poem for your day:

There we was, drinkin', of course
I, in black fighter hat, lookin' mean
readin' poetry in aviators

When you create,
you're always in battle with the creator

"An interesting look," earflaps akimbo
dream's a dreamin' us in limbo

Get back, fighter-hat, I'm an aviator
Stunglasses, and avatars in flight.

Mine are always mirrored.

And with words we're just alright,

But with you wearin'...

You wearin' my dreams last night.

- q6

(John Swannell)


Monday, January 30, 2012

The pharmaceutical son

(the source of much late night sound)

So we went to the Jack London State Park again yesterday.  The state has closed it down during midweek. Budget cuts.  My father, who also likes Jack London's fiction, was interested to see what there was to see.  There are some ruins on the property.  Wolf House it's called.  It is really something, or would have been.  

Nobody knows whether the fire, which burned the house back to its stone foundations, was incendiary or not. London seemed to think that the house burned much too fast for just a normal fire.  But it was within one month of completion so there must have been a fair amount of finishing products in the house, various wood stains and perhaps flammable oils. Who knows.  I am not a fireman of history.

He never rebuilt.  He was dead 3 years later. A possible morphine overdose. Possibly intentional, though seemingly unlikely, he was in much pain, there was no note, his wife was there with him.  A man that spent his entire life writing would probably leave a note, or a word, as in Hunter S.Thompson's case. "Counselor"

Ah, not to be gloomy, but I just checked and apparently H.S.T. had left a short handwritten note.  But suicide was not the reason I sat down to write today, far from it.  I meant to discuss sleeplessness, again.  Though there is really nothing to say.  The infant greatly prefers that we address his needs than for us to prepare to address his needs at some other, day-lit hour.  So be it, or rather I should say, such is life.

Having my father and step-mother here for the last few days has been quite novel.  There were many years that my father and I were estranged.  Now, after two decades have passed, we are friends.  It is nice, of course.  In some ways I am like the prodigal son, from the biblical story of the lost son that returns.  I treated home as something to escape, and escape I did.  I lost consistent contact with my father and brother after my mother passed away.  Now it seems that my father is happier than ever to be part of my life.  He turns 80 in May.  He seems very delighted for me to have finally produced an heir.

No, sorry.  We've been watching Downton Abbey lately.  It has crept into this post.  I haven't even seen last night's episode.  

What I meant to say is that he is happy and it makes me happy to see him so happy.  So much so that I used the word 3 times in one sentence.  That is how pleased we all are. 

Ok, this post is mostly nonsense.  Words written quickly, only for the sake of themselves.  I don't remember all of the details of the story concerning the wasteful son but upon his departure I seem to remember him having lamb feasts with much drinking of wine, general recklessness, abandonment and prodigality.  There might have even been women of reputedly loose morals.

Yes, I suppose my life was like that, when at its best.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Nap Burglar

A lazy day yesterday spent doing nothing, barbecuing chicken on the grille and drinking wine.  Then a movie with 3 generations of Cusicks.  Today we must strike out with more ambition.  I had promised to take them to see Jack London's ranch.  

Yesterday when I was sitting and having a beer at Sonoma Brewing Company I heard somebody address the Jack London issue about as well and easily as it can be addressed.  He said simply, "I like Jack London's fiction."  There was enough of a pause and intent projected with the statement that I immediately understood what he meant.  He doesn't care for any of his rantings for The San Francisco Chronicle and even though he understands that London had a lot of hideously xenophobic ideas it doesn't prevent him from enjoying his works of fiction.  Good job.  

In conversation that's how I will be approaching the subject while in Sonoma.  Though at the ranch today I will ask detailed questions.  I will demand heretofore unknown details about the vile racist, seeing if I can get a rise out of any of the employees running the place.

No, unlikely. But who knows.... I have a sometimes manic exuberance for such behavior.  It is written.

I went to the fancy grocery store yesterday to buy chicken. Not the super-fancy one, but Whole Foods.  When I was buying the chicken and a couple bottles of wine the guy ringing me up was being dismissive and pretty much refusing to acknowledge that there was a human in front of him with whom he was interacting.  I had hoped that the prickish "I'm not gonna look you in the eyes" vibe was exclusive to NYC, but no...... It has found its way out here and taken flight among the employees of a place who are clearly meant for bigger things, mumbling their way to the top, etc. 

Rachel and I watched a video about how to stop a baby from crying. It outlined techniques that are used to calm the baby when it is being "fussy."  They seem to work.  It is just like magic at times, I might have to recant... Simple stuff, really, but extremely useful.  The guy who made the video claims that we are in what he likes the call "The 4th trimester" and that employing his techniques will help the baby feel that he is still in the womb, which will ostensibly calm him for the next few months.  Then it will all wear off and nature will take its course. Right now the child has a pretty limited emotional range that he's able to express. There is only wailing dissatisfaction, desire for titty-time, sleep and vaguely undersized wonder.  Or, so it seems.

As much as I love the little boy already I fail to understand why anybody who had done this once would choose to do it again.  The payoff must be pretty grand once the child is about 2-3 years old.  Or, perhaps my liking every detail of the experience is not a requirement to have a second child.  Perhaps a genetic trigger inside of Rachel will flip and suddenly I will be entranced into producing yet another sleep thief.

I call the boy the Nap Burglar.  Every time we're about to slide into a little daytime sleep zone he'll sneak up on little unseen infant toes and make off with it. Fidgeting and squeaking his general disapproval at the idea of us getting any rest in the daytime or night, or resorting to outright screams of insistence.  Just as soon as we think we have it figured out.  We'll change him and feed him and set him off with a good head start towards sleep and then agree to do the same ourselves, when we need it the most.  Nope.  A miniature fury will overtake him and we will spend the next hour walking him around, rocking him in our arms, shushing him gently.  Just as soon as the moment has passed and there is no chance of us getting any sleep he will shamefully slip into a cozy little doze himself.  It's as if he's flaunting the very thing that he's just pilfered.  

I used to joke about the lack of the need for sleep.  Selavy points out that was only when I had control over it, nobody likes to have the terms of their own sleep dictated to them. He says that I am no longer my own boss, that the boy is.  It is all true, but I've had much worse bosses.  

I used to be my own boss, for example.


Saturday, January 28, 2012

To Kill a Hummingbird

So, to the enchanted forest we went.  The day was warm and nice but within the forest it was damp and cold, we did not stay as long as I had hoped, though long enough to see some impressive redwoods and to appease the forest nymphs.  This was not enough to keep the baby from crying but it was long enough to enjoy the sense of the forest, cold as it was.

Selavy, Cafe has warned me that he will rebuff me soon with tales of mysterious geologic processes, that he must, it is his duty.  I invite this, of course, as I greatly prefer arguing with him to all others, but am always open for a UFC cage match with a Wiccan.  We will soon see who is the astrologer.  I have no idea why he would invite such a thing after all of the shame he has brought upon himself thus far with his conception of lunar cycles and time zones, but so be it.  He is on a rocky mountain high and it brings him pleasure to stand up for the faithful and superstitious, in his own way.  I suppose he is stuck between a gem and a jewel.

But as a pre-emptive assertion... There are processes that are marvelous and as yet unexplained.  I merely maintain that we are not able to influence the course of exterior natural processes through totemic ritual or faith.  I did make clear that faith has measurable benefits to the believer, as in the healing process, and that general health is improved markedly by faith in wellness, through whatever means practiced.  The mind is a powerful organ, one that affects itself and is likewise greatly affected by messages from the body.  But the concept that the believer is able to divert the physical world through distant will has proven itself to be false time after time.  Again, carrying amethyst and moonstone with you does not cast a spell over you assisting with safety in travel.  That is witchcraft and as such deserves to be ridiculed.  Marvel is not magic, be warned CafeLatte.... Christian Rock is the one and only true rock power.

Enough for now. I will await Selavy's fan base concessions and respond in full at that time.  Then we will sit in a pleasant circle sipping tea and nibbling biscuits, praising his erudition and warmth, CafeScience. When he's done we will praise each other's writing as being inspired and in tune with the celestial muse, Orpheus, Morpheus, Amethyst and all. 

In other news...

I am beginning to fall back in love with the little camera that was sent to me.  I don't regret writing the letter that I posted yesterday, as I was wronged by the repair company, but I'm starting to feel that I should be simply thankful I have the camera back and that it works well.  It was all that I truly wanted, though the extra battery would have been nice, etc.  Below is a picture taken with the refurbished unit.

In even other news:

I read this from a recent news feed:  "A man was found on fire in woods near his home. The police are treating the incident as suspicious." 

When reading news feeds I am struck with the condensing genius of the world.   There are so many feeds I see that are worthy of The Onion, just as they are. Much like text messages the abbreviated world of news feeds suggest much more than they could possibly intend. The inadvertent meanings are the best poetry there is.  Soon machines will not only write our poetry for us, they will also explain it to us, in ever diminishing comical terms.

Ok, here's the promised pic from the refurb-camera.  I imagine my readers will soon tire of the baby pictures. I think they are simply magical....


Friday, January 27, 2012

Armstrong Forest

(Large Trees, leaning to be looked at)

Today we go to the redwoods, Armstrong forest.  It is up to the Russian River valley, an enchanted land, always north of here.  

After our wedding Rachel and I went there for a few days. Not so much a honeymoon as just a few days to decompress before coming home and being married in NYC.  We were both new at it, like a foal and a colt trying to learn to walk.  They were awkward times and her and I are sometimes awkward people.  We have somehow managed to get up and running together.

Jesus Christ, what the fuck am I writing...  I just woke up and I can already hear Bob Seger songs playing in the background of this post.  

Let me get a strong tea and I'll try again.

Ok, gimme a second and let the tea take its grip on me. It should free my mind of all that Captain Kangaroo nonsense.

We are going to the redwoods today but I assure you that it's only with the intention of developing the land for condos.


Today we go to worship trees, big thick red ones.


Ok, enough about trees.

I finally got a replacement for my little camera, the one that was lost in transit.  They lied to me about what I was getting and when the box arrived it was not quite what they had said it would be. I wrote a lengthy letter of disappointment to the CEO and the Customer Service Manager of the company, detailing my frustrations.  I don't normally ever do stuff like that but with my parents in town and a baby here I find that I am in this strange time warp where I can only accomplish one thing a day and yesterday I happened to choose that.  Everybody had taken a nap so I went a little crazy with it, the letter writing.  

Since I don't have anything else to write about today I will include the letter here. In the event that any of you are interested in seeing non-political rhetoric at its intermediate level.  Also, if the recipients of the letter do a search for me I hope they come to understand that I have a voice and I intend to use it, either to be unjust or to call out injustice.  Of late that voice has been maligned as merely a debilitating sickness, a poweful imagination but precious little conscience to speak of.

You and I, dear readers, know otherwise....

Here is that conscience attempting to affect the conscience of others:

Mr. Sullivan,
I write this rather lengthy letter not because Precision Camera failed in any one specific way, but rather failed in a series of interactions, and seemingly as a matter of practice.  I sent my camera in to get repaired in early October.  I received an email on Oct. 11th that the camera had been received. When I checked the repair status shortly after that it reflected an “In Repair” status, where it remained for over a month. I believe it was in mid November when I made the first phone call to check on the repair as it had been stalled in that status for some time.  I was told that they had to order a part from Panasonic and that they were waiting for the part to arrive.  I understood and left it at that. I did, however, register online to get email updates concerning the progress of the repair. No emails ever arrived.
After a few more weeks, totaling two months by then, I checked online again. The status had changed to “Completed” and it had been shipped.  I was overjoyed because my wife and I were expecting our first baby, a boy who was born on January 7th.  But after a week and the camera still had not arrived I called Precision back to get a tracking number.  This is when I realized that they had shipped it to the billing address and not to the shipping address, and also that the camera had not been repaired, that the parts were not available.  I made several phone calls seeing if anybody at the billing address had received a package for me and to keep on the lookout for one. The UPS status reflected that it had been left on the front door of the building.  This being Manhattan I probably don’t need to explain that the camera was lost to us forever.  
I called Precision to let them know that it would seem that the camera was lost in transit.  I was assured by Denise at ext. 7212 that Precision would take care of this and not to worry.  I let her and every subsequent person that I talked to know that I was willing to pay the minor difference in cost to get a newer model camera replacement, or that I would contact B & H Camera to get the sales invoice for a refund, though I preferred a replacement. All of that was added to the notes and I was relieved for things to be progressing. I was told that they had to go through the process of trying to have UPS recover the item and to make sure that it did not make its way back on to a UPS truck, etc.  I awaited their response.  After 10 days and no word back I called again.  I spoke to Denise again and she told me that it was still being researched but that Precision would get back in touch with me.  They never did.  I called back once more and expressed my frustration.  I was told that UPS is saying that they delivered the camera. I explained that whether or not that’s the case that shouldn’t affect me as it was Precision’s error in shipping to the wrong address. I was becoming increasingly frustrated at what was turning into a prolonged absence of my camera considering the upcoming baby we were expecting.  Luckily, I had my Nikon D7000 and my 35mm cameras to fall back on, but a point-and-shoot seemed much more appropriate for the subject, less overbearing.
Finally in late December, Miles ext. 7214 was the first person from Precision to actually call me, and was also the first to seemingly recognize that I shouldn’t be waiting any longer, that the UPS loss was not the real issue. My arrangement was with Precision, not the shipper.  He looked into the matter and got back to me.  After a few days he came back with the offer that Precision would buy me a refurbished camera of the same model. He left a voice mail assuring me that it was “just like new” and was “from Panasonic” and would “come with all of the accessories and original box” as well as a 90 day guarantee.  I was a little bit disappointed but I reasoned that even though I purchased my camera new it was in need of a repair when I sent it in.  I asked if it was “like new” then why didn’t Panasonic stand behind it with a 1 year warranty. He explained that the warranty was from Precision and not from Panasonic.  I said that if it was “like new” then it should have the stamp of the manufacturer’s warranty on it, anything less was definitely not “like new.” After a brief negotiation Miles upped the coverage to 120 days.  He told me that he would provide that guarantee in writing and that it would arrive in the box with the camera. Once I had confirmed with him that it would get sent to Precision first I also requested that they quickly verify that the unit worked before sending  it to me because the deal left me unable to return it if it failed right out of the box, I would have no recourse other than another unwanted repair.  
I wasn’t thrilled about getting a rebuilt camera as a replacement but I was also eager to get the camera, our baby had already been born by this time.  Considering all that Miles assured me I felt that the settlement was agreeable and fair.  He told me that it would arrive within two weeks.  On the 14th day it did arrive.  At first I had thought that it hadn’t arrived because I went to check our Post Office box and they didn’t have anything for me. I called Miles, he checked the tracking number, verified it had been delivered. I went back to the box and that’s when my serious questions concerning this settlement began in earnest.  
The box was not addressed to me, it was addressed to Best Buy, though it did have the correct shipping address.  When I opened the box there was a 3rd party battery charger and no battery in the box.  There was no letter of guarantee. At this point I felt that there was no way that Miles could have told me the truth.  Why would Panasonic buy a battery charger from another company to provide with units they had refurbished?  Why was there no battery in the box? Why was the box addressed to Best Buy?  Why should I have to buy a battery at $40 when it was part of what I was promised and part of what made me concede? 
I hope by now you can understand my frustration.
I work for a very prominent computer company and I understand the requirements of customer service. I understand when a company makes a mistake what must be done sometimes to render the situation right. And I understand the need to do so quickly and with as little effort on the customer’s part as possible.  None of that happened in this case.  I was hardly ever contacted, I had to make the follow-up phone calls myself, when a person who could resolve the issue finally did assist me they did so in the cheapest, easiest and least timely way possible for Precision, all the while misrepresenting what they were actually offering and providing.
I chose Precision camera to repair my camera because I had read the reviews by photographers online and I felt that you offered a high level of customer service.  I am disappointed in the series of interactions that I’ve had with your company and I am disappointed that the final resolution is one that has left me feeling that I have been punished for being both trustful and agreeable.  I don’t blame any one person. Miles was actually very cordial and pleasant to deal with even as my frustrations were mounting, as was Denise.  What am I most displeased with is that I got something less than what I was told I would be getting and had to wait almost 4 months for that. Now I am left with the additional feelings of mistrust.
I don’t know what should be done at this point to resolve this matter.  
I am hoping that you do.
Sean Cusick
CC: Ms. Sheila Banes, Customer Service Manager 


Thursday, January 26, 2012

The new guy

As I sit and write this Rhys is being comforted by his mother in the bedroom.  We haven't been able to get him to go to sleep for about an hour.  He doesn't seem to have yet learned that he is being rude. In addition to his ill manners his behavior is extremely non-apologetic, one could say.  He still seems quite oblivious to our lives, perhaps like an exchange student might in the first month or so of moving in.  

I'm not sure what I expected at 2 1/2 weeks but I finally now get what every parent seemed to be trying to convey to me.  The loss of sleep is brutal and quotidian.  Infants are like very demanding narcoleptics.  When they are awake they want to be fed and they'd like you to clean their diaper, one after the other perpetually.  Then without warning they fall asleep on you, no matter how much you want to interact with them or take a picture of them, they sleep about 25 - 28 hours a day.  The rest of the day is pretty much spent contemplating more eating. Evidenced by a crescendo of demands starting at gurgling noises to an outright wail of dissatisfaction. Then when he is satiated with breast milk he relaxes a bit by pooping his pants.

Last night my friends Lisa and Matt were over. Lisa mentioned Charles Chips and having them delivered to her house when she was younger.  I looked them up online to see how this company was doing in these tough economic times and voila... last month they were revitalized and brought back into existence, just in time for their 70th anniversary.  This is a potato chip company whose niche in the market was delivering metal tins of potato chips to your door.  Well, it turns out that is still their niche and they plan on exploiting it to the full in these neo-kitschy times.  This is an exciting epoch for potato chip eaters. The company is almost Amish in structure.  The company picture only has 7 people in it, totaling 6 mustaches.  Not sure who the new guy is...

Somebody sent me an article that seemed to suggest that Newt Gingrich had once tried to get a bill approved that would have made the death penalty an option for anybody caught bringing about two ounces of marijuana into the country.  Seemed unlikely but then I got a vaguely sickening memory of the Newt Gingrich from the 90's , when he was Speaker of the House.  I seem to remember him pushing for extremely limited appeals for death row inmates, though I forget whether he succeeded in pushing the bill through or not.  He wanted an express lane installed.  I don't know why he didn't just suggest having the defendants sit in the electric chair while they're on trial.  I remember that it occurred to me then that only a monster could fight for such a bill when there is so much evidence showing that occasionally wrongfully convicted inmates were on death row. What would stop this guy from putting to death a few hapless potheads if he was given the chance.  This plan seemed to kill two birds with one stone, if killing birds with stones interests you at all, etc. He seems more like a well read executioner than a president.  But Nixon appeared as that or worse, just not nearly as well read.

Ok, it is time to get the family up and caffeinated.  

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A "successful" attempt

(unknown artist)

We got the news yesterday that an old friend, one whom we haven't seen in a while, had taken his own life.  Never invited news, always words that bring you a startle. Though not always a shock. Some people simply seem pre-disposed to it.  Often you don't realize until after you've heard the news but then you put together little pieces, seemingly insignificant fragments that inform the act.  Of course that could be just a matter of re-assessing details that you might never have noticed or thought of in that way in the first place. But then there are others whose suicides come as a complete and total shock. There must be something to the difference between the two feelings.  Or, perhaps certain people recognize the signs while others do not.  I don't know.  But with it there comes a sadness that is unmistakable.  It is a unique hollowness in the heart that has its own chilling resonance. 

With a normal death there is a finality to it, perhaps not right away, but over time each person accepts it, accepts the un-diverted certainty of it.  A suicide leaves a lingering of some kind, a wondering. With a normal death you might play back memories of the person's life, gravitating towards the happier moments. But in large part the act of memory rounds out and then eventually accepts the finality of it.  With a suicide one must often re-assess one's memories.  It takes time, some reminisces remain unsettled, keeping the impression of the person in a strange state of flux, giving rise to the concept of the "wandering soul."  Even the happiest impressions of them take on a grey hue, almost as if the happiness itself is in question, or even to blame. 

With an accidental death it's not uncommon to go over the details that led up to the death, considering minor variations that might have kept the person or persons alive.  The mind focuses on seemingly insignificant details that would have altered the outcome, resulting in continued life.  With a suicide it rarely is so easily reduced to specific events, but rather requires an overview re-evaluation of the person's persona, a much more difficult task, one that many, I assume, do not even attempt.  They just let the shock and the pain subside over time as best they can, negotiating their way through the unlit corridors of the heart. Cordoning it off into a special category of their mind, one reserved for the inexplicable and unexplained, where it remains with a few others.  

Suicides are unique but often result in only a handful of reactions.  People's inability to articulate a full range of thoughts and feelings concerning them gives insight into the internal processes of dealing with them.  Suicides seem to force the mind into a state of accelerated and perplexed indignation.

It seems simple, life, but many things seem so.  We all share the same destiny, to one day die.  We are all, after a certain age, quite aware of that destiny.  Some become obsessed with the temporal nature of life while others pretend to ignore it.  At the very least some do not exhibit outward manifestations of the knowledge, they do not "dwell" on it.  But each of us still knows the end result, whether obsessed by it or in denial, or neither.  Some simply choose their time to die.  This is considered a morally repugnant or "selfish" act by many.  Some call it a sin.  But it is nobody's responsibility to live for others, truly.  There is a noble and long history of those who have lived for others but that in no way creates the same duty in any one else. Each person's life is theirs to live as they wish, or to die, if they so choose.  Though others would take argument with this fact, the argument is overturned easily by the act itself.  One can prove their right to do so by doing so.  Suicide is no more selfish than the idea that a person must continue to live for others when they no longer wish to.

The sadness that seems so inextricably bound up in suicide is that it is so often the result of loneliness or desperation.  Those factors seem variable by the will and effort of others, but often only after the fact.  So the survivors consider what they could have done differently, even though out of touch and out of reach with the departed. They punish themselves and in that way they also participate in the suicide, though with the act of sympathy as their bridge to return.  It is a common but bizarre aspect to the process.  I have seen it and known it myself several times.  Yet each time I am left with wonder at why I would allow myself to take blame for something that was truly beyond my control, to place myself in the imaginary role of diverting something that I had no influence over, no knowledge or prescience of.  It is a fantasy that occurs after the fact and gives us access to the eventual feelings of absolution and self-forgiveness, but it also lets us participate in something that is not ours.  It is perhaps a necessary theft.

"When you look into the abyss the abyss also looks into you." - Nietzsche

Rarely do suicides give openly clear signs so that one can actually act in such a way as to divert the individual from the edge. When those signs are present, in my experience, it is often the result of drug and/or alcohol abuse. The abuse reaches a point where it itself becomes the slow act of suicide.  It is a creeping towards the edge rather than a leaping into and over it.  Occasionally these will end in an "accidental" suicide.  The person shows all of the signs, then one night they do not wake up.  There might not have been the tell-tale note, but all of the other signs were there, the suicide note was written in their life.  It is these that seem avoidable most of all in retrospect.  Because they are often accomplished in the plain view of others, in a "social" setting.  But when everybody is exhibiting complicit behavior it is ungraceful to speak about it.  It is considered a faux pas, a bridge you do not build, politely.

Over the years I have come to the conclusion that, at the very least, whoever was in pain is in pain no longer.  This does not make it any easier to hear the news of one who has taken their life, but it is a way of managing the more difficult questions concerning the perished, for me.

Many years ago I was friends with a young man that died in his sleep from exhaustion. Drugs were the general, though not the specific, cause.  At least that is what we were told.  After some time his parents raised the money to put a plaque on his gravesite.  The words there float with me through the years, "Our beloved son, free at last"


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

This is the dawning of the age of Aquaman

(Josh Adamski)

Today my father arrives, with his wife.  He turns 80 in a few months.  We have had both of Rachel's parents here already, each one at a time.  Now we complete the process with mine.  It is a little bit unnerving, having parents visit.  It is not something that I am used to.  I spent 25 years escaping obligatory visits from family, choosing my own sense of family.  More accurately: having them choose me.  Z's family has acted as my adoptees for more than a decade now, closer to two.  Now I have a child and people that have been newly made grandparents visiting in perpetuity.  It is nice, but I haven't quite fully adjusted to it.  I still feel awkward at the phrase "my family" though that feeling is settling and becoming easier to hear.  It is wrapping itself around me and it is not uncomfortable there, or cold. 

I had strange and wonderful dreams last night.  I was in Prague with an old friend, J.  We were up to no good, roaming the streets of the city at night, as if we were young again.  As if I was young again, I should say.  People are only old in Ingmar Bergman's dreams...  I think we might have even been doing imaginary drugs.   The good ones.  The fun kind of drugs.  The ones that I've yet to regret.  I woke up and felt like I was buzzing.  It made me a little bit happy.

We have to take the boy to the doctor today. Nothing to worry about, just a normal visit, one that the infant will likely neither care for nor remember.  But it is an interesting time for us.  I'm still adjusting to that also, being a father.  I'm not sure that I know how to.  The sense of it does not overtake one immediately.  There is much to learn and I feel clumsy, untutored and unnatural.  I will adjust.  I can see that.  But in the interim I still get nervous when the baby cries, when he clearly wants someone other than me, when his diaper needs to be changed, when he's fussy, etc.  But the other times are fun.  Carrying him around the grocery store in the baby carrier is novel.  He is very cute and it takes no effort on his part to make me very happy.  Rachel and I are both overwhelmed with it at times.  

I pray that atheism hasn't squelched all of the wonder of life by the time he's an adolescent, as one of my friends recently suggested.  I'm confident there will still be much left to marvel at.  Believers and diviners alone are an endless fountain of mysteries.  I still don't even know what "sign" the boy is.  I'm hoping that nobody ever tells me.  What if I'm not supposed to get along with him?  If it was written in the stars... What if he's on the cusp of something and I'm the ecliptic... What then?  I'm Ursa Major and he's Ursa Minor? For now I'll just say that he's the Little Dipper and I, the Big Dipper... that it's written in our ice cream. 

I hope we don't suffer much confirmation bias with the dairy gods of the Milky Way. 

A friend has taken issue with my recent posts and has posited the possibility of as yet undiscovered gods and has asserted my lack of faith in them merely as evidence of my aging, decrepit sensibilities.  So, appropriately, I have decided that I will believe in Dionysus.  I will worship him accordingly with ritual madness and ecstasy. It seems to suit me, so be it.  If anybody asks again I will simply state, with all of the sanctimonious and pious jargon that I can muster, that I am a strict adherent to the cult of Dionysus, the dying god. 

If my son ever asks I'll explain that I didn't want to die and have found out, only too late, to have been wrong about it all.  Imagine how furious the gods would be with me then, no ice cream for me in the milky heavens...



Monday, January 23, 2012

Vexed Hex

(Amber Valletta photographed by Irving Penn)

Each morning I wake up and I search for something to write about. Some days nothing comes. Other days I find a way of turning an insignificant encounter at the grocery store into a fictionalized tale.  Then other days the magical strangeness of the world is gifted to me, or sometimes upon me.  

Well, in truth, I invite it, partially.

Having recently moved to California the thing that I am most astonished by is the moral vapidity of many of the people here.  They cloak themselves in all manner of new-age nonsense, their eyes smoky with inner-incense, trotting out their semi-thoughts on universal oneness and karma, the universe's ethical boomerang.  But the reality is that many of the people here are simply cheap and mean.  They mask their real selves with a lot of empty rhetoric about their celestial goodness and being "in touch."  You can usually smell it coming along with their talk of spirituality and the "sacred self."  They have the self part right.  They are one with the universe.  Just them and them alone, and the universe.

Some days, when writing, I inadvertently stumble across a rock and find one of its believers underneath. This has happened in the last few days.  I had made myself the promise to try and not read the comments page over at Selavy's site, but to just make any comments that I wanted to make, ignoring any made by the "comments coven" found daily there.  But sometimes the temptation is strong, and I am weak. So, the other day I made a comment that was meant to be funny concerning the disparity between science and belief. The joke was lost and upon re-reading it a few times I see that it came across as snarky.  The response that I got in return was an accusation of ignorance, a lack in "reading comprehension", one that I responded to more fully both there in the comments section and here on my site the last few days.

I made the counter-claim that it is the belief that rocks have magical powers to aid a traveler with a safe journey that strikes much closer to the heart of ignorance. 

The commenter then wrote a written wish for my death, cloaking it in magical " " marks, to avoid being "unkind."  Certainly somebody who believes rocks have magical powers must also understand the power of a written incantation, I assumed.  But I was not going to let somebody suggest, even in jest, that I deserve to die for positing science against witchcraft, even if she did seem to have a leg up on me when it comes to the dark arts. 

But the most shocking thing about the interaction for me is how quickly and easily the poor librarian cat-loving "victim" struck with full mystical venom, with personally demeaning attacks towards me, simply by asserting that the laws of thermodynamics tell us more about energy than Feng Shui ever has, and with reliable accuracy.  It was a joke, but I get it.  I stepped on somebody's toes, for a brief moment while she had stepped off of her broom.  Somebody that believes rocks carry spells does not like their toes to be trod upon. So she responded like you would imagine a librarian of the supernatural might, with nasty condescension and death invocations, even with a suggestion of censorhsip.  I responded likewise, with my version of the same, death to her ideas.  But up until today I had not attacked her as a person, I had only attacked her beliefs, and only from the viewpoint of them as being ignorant, the very initial charge that was leveled at me, by her. 

I suppose there is more to the story but I'll let the occultists wrap it up into a neatly worded hex. 

As for me, I am going to do better in the future, to not read any of the comments made on Selavy's site.  It serves neither of us very well.  Well, he seems to love the fawning adulation; the death of any writer, as he already well knows.  But what can one do?  He is a good writer and he deserves to be told so.  Who am I to question his adoring hordes of commentators?   I only wish that every now and then he would drop the act and respond to them in a way that I know him to be disposed to, to laugh in the face of such hokum and dimwittery, even when it comes from such a "well-meaning" source.

He once accused me of being false and pandering to my audience on my site.  I wanted to make sure that he knew this not to be true, though perhaps in this endeavor I have failed...  

My readers seem to love it.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

I heard the voice of god, looping and looping...

Well, I guess it was written in the sands....  There is an ongoing argument over at Selavy.  It is mostly between myself and an adherent to the ancient religion of ignorance.   In a nutshell (If that term is not heretical to the stone worshippers), I made a joke in response to the assertion that somebody should carry moonstone and amethyst with them for "safe travels."  They had also critiqued a photograph as having "killing energy" because an arrow was pointed towards the viewer. My subsequent thermodynamics joke did not go over well. It resulted in an ongoing thread in the "comments section" of the link above in which somebody suggested that I have a "reading comprehension" issue and that I should die, but to do so quickly.  They did use quotation marks to pretend that there was some semblance of compassion in their "almost" saying it. 

I responded in kind and now the thread has finally reached proportions of interest.  

We are expected to grant all manner of "belief" its due respect.  We are told to be tolerant of others' beliefs in the hopes that the world will be a better place.  I fail to see the success of this initiative.  But I also recognize that mixed in with some ancient superstitions there can be useful knowledge, as well as insight into the development of mankind in terms of their need to believe and the ways in which they go about doing so.  Now that fanatical religious factions have risen to power in areas of the world we will see how much longer we are encouraged to be tolerant of the myriad effects of religious belief. 

We are also told a parallel value, that is to eradicate ignorance with education.  When we see ignorance and superstition we are meant to shine the light of education and intellect on it so that it might one day be extinguished and we live in a world that is free from its misty constraints.  The likelihood of paranoia and superstitions being used to exploit willful believers runs very high, as history richly shows.  

Yet we remain stuck between these two ideals, respect for beliefs on the one hand and the purpose of education to eradicate falsehood on the other.   There is no easy answer, especially when the believers are convinced of "the truth."  Hordes of people remain uneducated and the desire to practice some sort of faith runs very strong, even among the educated.  It has lately become popular to question knowledge as being counter to faith because knowledge, above all other forces, is perceived as a threat to faith's sanctity.  Alternative forms of faith-knowledge are presented and with little exposure to collective examination these hotbeds of alternative faith thrive, eschewing any outside interference from intellect or scrutiny. Again, the cycle repeats and people cling to a system which encourages them to suspend their intellect, even proposing that intellect itself might be a hindrance to spiritual progress.

It's true. I've experienced it. Throughout my life I have been encouraged to suspend my questions of a faith and to give myself over exclusively to the "feeling" of it, as if one does not achieve feeling through thought.  I'm not talking about meditation, where the purpose is to clear your mind of unwanted thought, the noise of daily living, so that you can better focus on centeredness.  I'm all for that.  I'm talking about people actively discouraging me from asking questions about faith.  The accepted response is that curiosity at certain levels is a form of evil, or at least an unneeded practice, an impediment to self.  It is a badness that creeps into us in many ways, and there is only one solution for it, it must be fought off with feelings.  

We are told to pursue feeling as truth, counter to the false truth of thought.  Feeling being the only true way of knowing....

This misty new-age era we are in is the triumph of suggestion and projection.  People want to be seen as spiritual beings, by themselves most of all.  So they embrace whichever system agrees with them the most and they internalize it.  They then project that internal belief to the outside world.  Having had knowledge of this internalization process they are often very touchy about the methods of their acceptance of their faith.  You will hear them often speak about how it came along at "just the right time in my life. I was going through a lot..."  But this admission never seems to raise the question that perhaps they only embraced it as they needed it, not that it was divined by celestial forces. Because that is not how they want to feel. Even if these questions do arise, which they often do, they are beaten back with the communion of fellow believers.  Most belief systems are social in nature.  The ones that are capable of existing, or even thriving, in individuals outside of a social structure take on painful attributes of piousness and sanctimony.  Most, that is. 

I have made it clear that I am an atheist, not an amethyst, but an atheist, one who does not believe in god or gods.  It is very rare that my position is accorded the same respect that others' are, those that are faith based.  Believers have respect for all beliefs except this one.  People will sometimes tell me that I have a lot of faith in atheism.  If only I were accorded the same respect that others are for having such a faith.  But it is not a faith.  I do not bow to it, nor the idea of it, in any way.  I do not meditate upon it. I do not seek wisdom from it.  I only try to share it with others when compelled to do so, when being confronted with the magical incantations of others, imbedded in the gibberish of well-meaning and mystical wishes.  I make jokes about rocks having magical powers or people having an invisible friend named Jesus.  If their invisible friend Jesus is real for them then what threat is there by me swiping the air in the vicinity around us to find him, to challenge him to an invisible karate match?  

I'm not evangelical about atheism, but I find myself becoming more so.  Because faith can be a threat to intellect, I am often put in the position of needing to defend reason, as opposed to faith.  I'm not saying that they can not co-exist. I only mean to say that I find very few people who are willing to profess and project both.  They might flip-flop from one to the other, but few are willing to apply intellect to their faith*.  

Atheism has not robbed my heart of poetry, quite the opposite actually.  If there is anything truly magical in this world then it is language.  All religion springs from language, but other things spring from that fountain also.  "In the beginning was the word, and the word was with god and the word was god." etc.  I find much of religion fascinating.  It is a measure of human need, desire and imagination.  There is something deeply beautiful about the social aspect of religion, the role it plays in many peoples lives, the meaning it gives them. I simply find that meaning to be false, or more accurately, non-existent, for me.  

But, "Faith is the substance of things hoped for and evidence of things not seen."  Also, a good christian point.   Does the very existence of faith prove something?  Does it prove its own existence by virtue of its existence?  It is easy to pretend to reduce all of it down to ignorance alone, but even when much ignorance is evidenced in the practice of religion, perhaps the blanket term does not adequately explain all that there is.  Perhaps.  It has been shown that faith is a healthy activity.  But, does one person's atheism not also counter that claim with its own logic?

I mean, energy does flow through rocks... We have an enormous understanding of how it does so.  The process by which it occurs is spelled out in the laws of thermodynamics.  There is much to joke about with these laws but there is much that the worshippers of crystals would also deny about the limitations of these laws.  Most of them do not laugh at science.  They do not have the humor to refute, the way that an atheist does.  Laughter concerning sanctimony is verboten.

They would have you believe that there is a deeper understanding of energy cycles and this understanding supersedes traditional scientific knowledge.  It is hidden to the eyes of science because they are looking only with the mind.  This third-eye of theirs sees beyond what the mind sees, you see. The history of religious belief supports them in this belief.  I often wonder why they don't also believe the earth to be flat.  It would strengthen the historical claims they make rather than weaken them. Who knows, maybe even the third-eye recognizes the fallacies of the past.  All but one, I guess. 

I believe that the only way that carrying a moonstone with you might bring you safer travels is if you were attacked on the path through the enchanted forest and you needed it to ward of a warlock or an ogre.  I only pray that you had the clairvoyance to bring a large enough moonstone with you. That is the extent of my belief in magical rock power.  But there it is, upon much less faith have entire belief systems been built.

I understand how annoying the words of atheism can be.  But I find them to be no more insufferable than the mumbo-jumbo of rock power or anything else.  Yet few will come to the defense of atheism in the same way that they will demand and expect "respect" for their blathering. It almost makes me wish to present atheism as an actual faith, a religious sentiment on equal footing with theirs.  But that would be a mistake, a big one.  There is one main difference that I would like to draw the reader's attention to.  Ask an atheist how they came to their belief that there is no god, you will generally find a very different set of experiences that drew them there.  The path is called reason, there is no end to it.  

* - There is an enormous amount of mankind's collected wisdom that has come down to us through religious thinkers. The amount of philosophy that was developed by religious/spiritual writers is inestimable. I do not pretend to perceive all of it as useless drivel, far from it.  All of the various faiths have made contributions to thought.  To claim otherwise would be willful obliviousness. The summation of these contributions does not produce in me any feelings or belief in god, however.   Instead, I find in them the enormous human capacity for, and inclination towards, beauty.  I also find equal amounts of beauty in reason.


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Chasing the Dragons

Nothing much to report from the farm. The weather has been overcast for several days but finally broke today into wonderful blueness, though it wouldn't have mattered for me.  I stayed in bed most of the day, sleeping. 

I have been fighting off the superstitious and ignorant, again. This time I was defending myself from stones, magic ones....  I will never understand it.  The more ancient an idiocy is the more people clamor to it with an air of adopted reverence. In their efforts to reject the traditional religions of their own culture and to hopefully generate some inner interest both for and in themselves they cling to any system of the past, no matter how absurd. Christianity doesn't suit the needs of these old souls, you see. 

Feng Shui.

These nearly pre-historic occult diviners had it all figured out, long before all latecomers.  They just didn't share this celestial and spiritual knowledge with their slaves.  They didn't want to exaggerate their findings, you see....  Now we are stuck with those who cling to the empty language and echoed methodology of this foregone hokum, enthusiastically discussing this scam as if it is knowledge rather than belief.  They even occasionally use those systems to critique art, seemingly oblivious to the fact that much art is made as a conscious refutation of all such mythical systems. Its current success in America is directly tied to its being made illegal in China.  Nothing quite speaks to the heart of the American believer the way that a foreign ban does.

But these are just generalizations, by one atheist who perhaps lacks the needed reading comprehension to plumb the depths of this ancient arcane wisdom.  Who knows, one day soon maybe I'll go into more detail on the matter, if the celestial sands suggest it to be so.... For now I wouldn't want to further disrupt my Chai Tea.

Today is a lazy day and I want to go lie down and read. I made the mistake of just going to the grocery store while hungry.  I came home with close to four times the amount I had set out to buy.  I have begun a new diet, one that has worked well for me in the past.  It sounds easy but that is only a deception.  If you were to try it you would find that it is nearly impossible to stick to and not annoy everybody around you, especially if you try eating out at a restaurant with them. 

The diet is this: consume no fried foods, no dairy products, no soda. 

That's it.  I can eat anything else that I want.  

Fried food and sodas are quite easy to cut out from your diet.  Though I am strict about it, nothing even sautéed in a pan, even with oil.  Though that is not strictly frying it is too close for me and I remove it from my diet.  Food can be cooked with oil, however.  Right now I'm making brussels sprouts, baked with oil, grilled chicken.  

It is cutting out dairy products that is genuinely difficult.  Regardless of what any waiter or waitress will tell you butter is applied to almost every single food you eat in a restaurant, even many of the restaurants that claim to be of the "health food" type, unless they are vegan, of course.  By removing dairy products from my diet I practically become a vegan, except for the pork, beef, lamb, chicken, fish and sausage that I daily consume.   

Beyond that I am one with them and their movement.  

To prove it: I have been meditating with my cleansing crystals all day long, it's really channeled my dragons.


Friday, January 20, 2012

Take a Chance on Me

Barkley is going through a phase of psychological re-adjustment.  It is a difficult thing to witness. He is trying to accept the new family member but he doesn't seem completely convinced yet.  

I have applied healing pebbles to his little chakras, but alas, no luck yet...

To wit, I am currently engaged in a duel to the death in the comments section over at Selavy.  Apparently my chakras have sustained some magic crystal killing energy and only a little Abba Cadaver will heal them.  It is a delicate combination of magic runes being placed painstakingly on my chakras while the wonderful music of Abba, the Swedish pop supergroup, rises up through my root chakra towards either my crown or tiara potency points.  It's not exactly "rock-power" but it is not too far off from being dueling death disco-dominion.  I should survive.  If I get into any more trouble with karmic energy loss then I might have to fall back on Hokum Poker, a high stakes table where I can either hope to win back all of my lost energies or possibly die in the dungeons with the unfortunate polyhedral roll of a Ravenloft wizard....

Aren't  people silly.  

I understand that there are those out there who genuinely believe that rocks carry healing powers.  But the idea that by placing them on somebody you can hope to magically recover some of their lost life-essence is absurd.  It's witchcraft without witches.  Also, let's not forget that Christ commanded, "Whoever among you who has not sinned then cast the first stone.".... and that was only in defense of a mere vixen, and He the original Luke Skywalker.  

I fail to understand why there can't just be one final showdown between the Christians and the Jedis for complete and total galaxy domination, including middle-earth, Narnia and Neverland.  Somebody should approach the Trekkies and see if they'd host such a thing at one of their conventions. They have galaxy security pretty much on lock-down.  I mean, who else would you ask?

My god, would they have my attention then.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Baby talk

Everything has changed. Life as I once knew it, and gladly grumbled about, is over.   I no longer get to complain the way that I once did. Now it would only seem like I was being an ass and that I am somehow less than grateful for this little "miracle of sleeplessness" of ours.  Now I am expected to smile and agree that I am finally, once and for all, a happy man...

I am to smile gladly while giving my life over to that of another.  To sweeten the Christ-like sacrifice that I am making, the child that I am doing it all for is completely oblivious to my sacrifice and greatly prefers his mother to me, so far.  People the world over spend their nights praying for just this sacrifice to also bless their own lives.  Not men, so much, I would imagine, but women.  Rachel has blossomed wonderfully in all of this.  I have withered.  The lack of sleep has dulled my mind, made me become difficult and problematic in conversation, confused even.  I have been reduced to a babbling bleary-eyed pile of fatherhood.  

My friend, L, asked how everything was going.  

"Even in all of my years doing drugs, I have never been so exhausted from doing nothing at all. "

"You are doing The Lord's work.", she joked.

"Doing drugs is The Lord's work?"

"No, it's not."

Everything is a challenge, even using the bathroom.  Just getting to the toilet seat is a several-stage process. We used to have toilets, now we just have additional places to stack things. There is always something that must be moved now, always from one temporary place to another. Never being certain if it will cause a later catastrophe, we spend our days moving stacks of things from here to there and back again.  It is all part of the wonderful cycle of life's laundry.  My clothes will never be dirty again.  The child spits up on itself on such a regular basis that its little outfits are in perpetual need of washing.  Rachel, mindful of the world's resources as she is, will wash whatever of my clothes happen to be around also, to conserve energy.  Soon all of my clothes will be the color and fragrance of infant bile. 

Yesterday we went into Santa Rosa to get some things done.  Santa Rosa is like one of the more exhausted outer-areas of many cities everywhere:  dense with prostitution, pawn shops, abandoned strip malls and out-of-luck fellows wandering the streets that need $6, for gas, to get to work.  There is a road in Santa Rosa where you can find motel after motel after motel, still somehow magically in business, seemingly from the 40's or 50's.  If the word "architecture" can be used as a descriptive device to apply to these places then it could be said that they all share a certain "Bates" design quality to them.  There is a grim functionality to their single-storied arrangement and each unit's relationship to the parking lot, specifically to the parking spot directly in front of each unit's window.  With no highway in sight these quaint places inexplicably survived the urbanization of America. 

There was one called "The Flamingo" that still boasted a tower of sorts, advertising and announcing its apparent luxuries to the world.  Rachel and I surmised that the only thing these motels might be good for was a day spent smoking crack in relative peace from outsiders.  With the lock on the door quadruple-checked who knows what self-made joys might be discovered while on the sudden rising high of delicious crack cocaine. 

Wait, crack was merely a sideline conversation.  It only explained the possible success of these motels, you see...

Let's get back to doing errands:

All errands are now multiplied in number by 4.  If Rachel says we have a "couple" of errands to run, and a couple means a pair, or two (2), then that means that we have 8 things to do as 4 x 2 = 8, silly.  I've started to figure out that the only way for me to get things done that I want or need is to add them to our list of errands. Rachel is not a woman to be bested in this way. So, she will then slyly add a few more on to the list until our list of errands has grown octopus tentacles and has our entire family in its hungry clutches. The bubbles rising towards the surface as our amphibious Volvo station wagon descends into the oceanic watery depths of assignments, just like the now defunct 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride at Disney World. 

Afterwards we need to eat. A woman who has just given birth is not be joked with on this subject. I begin to wonder if I'll ever see my bed again. Not that it would matter, there are stacks of towels, clothes and infant paraphernalia all over it, meticulously arranged there, almost threatening me to disrupt its obvious order when we finally get home, with the day's errands now safely behind us. 



Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Dr. Fellini

I went to the doctor's office yesterday.  It was a new doctor, for me.  I felt like it was time to get into the routine of things here.  Also, I needed a Xanax refill.  

The office was a block of offices. I couldn't tell for certain if they were ever meant to be permanent. They just seemed to become an agreed upon adventure.  They were connected with wood walkways but each unit was elevated from the ground as if it was once a mobile home. You could hear the empty crawl space underneath with every booming step you took.  It had a very V.A. feel to it.

I walked into the office that had the correct number on the outside, the number that I had on the card that I held in my hand.  As soon as I opened the door I was pleasantly accosted by two dogs with a total of 7 legs between them.  One of them hopped up and down in joy that I had arrived but was incapable of doing much more.  I gave them both some petting time. Then, what sounded like it once might have been a voice admonished both of them and demanded that they return to their posts somewhere behind the counter.

I glanced to the right and there was the largest autistic adult I have ever seen standing up with what seemed to be her father. She must have been 6' 4".  It was quite exciting. They were just leaving.  I felt like I had just entered Dr. Fellini's office.  

I made my way to the window and announced that I had a 10 o'clock appointment.  The source of the vibrating robo-voice made herself known. The receptionist/office administrator had had a tracheotomy at one point and used a voice translator plug which was connected to the hole in her throat by a piece of white plastic that seemed to circumnavigate her neck.  The thing about these things is that they not only transmit the intentional noises of what is trying to be a voice they also transmit a variety of arbitrary noises that emanate from the throat.  It takes a second or two to get used to. The desire to overcompensate and respond to each and every possible word runs very high.  I told myself to relax, that I would know when any of those noises were directed at me, to just trust my instincts.

Clearly, I had not prepared myself for this visit.  I snapped to attention and decided to remain on my toes from there on out. The autistic woman and her father had left so I had the waiting room to myself. I sat down and flipped through GQ magazine, reading short articles about Keith Richards and Jimmy Cliff.

After a few minutes they called my name.  I followed the woman with the plastic voice box into the back where the two dogs had free reign. There were dog beds arranged near the front receiving station and they were happily wandering in the area, pleased to see me again, one hopping up and down, one wagging its body from left to right.

I stepped on the scale... 232 lbs.  I demanded an explanation.   

She offered the observation that I was fully dressed. Yes, yes, I also had incorporated that into my understanding of what was happening.  I asked precisely from what Arab trading ship did they buy this iniquitous scale.  I think she replied that it was of the standard medical type.  

I announced that I would be seeking a second opinion.  But that this shouldn't affect my visit today. I was here with a clear vision of needs. This was to be a purely results-oriented endeavor. I verified with her that the weight verdict was not in metric, mumbling to myself about Europeans, malpractice, punitive damages, and this country's decline in standards. 

I asked her to put an apostrophe next to it on my records. 

Surprisingly, she did.  

I had never before known that these things were negotiable.  I've decided to go back today and bargain my weight back down to somewhere under 220, clothes or not, that medical record will not make it through another day.

I called the doctor's office twice this morning just to see if I could get her on the phone. 

No luck.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Do androids dream of electric sleep

Rhys, the little guy, doesn't sleep as well as we'd like.  It is, of course, the very thing that you always hear about from parents, the loss of sleep.  But until it is happening to you it somehow isn't real, as with most things.  You convince yourself that you'll be fine, it's just part of having a baby, you'll deal with it.  


For infants all things must seem in the immediate present. We wonder what he could be dreaming about: sounds, lights, basic shapes, memories from within the womb, our voices, our faces, breast milk, breasts.  Who knows.  He hasn't established the ability to convert the random firing of neurons during sleep into story lines; the way that adults dream in the absurd sequences of pleasure or fear. It is impossible not to wonder as you watch the expressions shoot across his little face and hear the infant noises of inner activity, the miniature strains of mental movement.  He falls from wakefulness into a dream state almost immediately.  Sometimes as soon as he closes his eyes he is already in REM sleep, gurgling and cooing in his doze.     

I was once gifted a book, by Z, about children's mental development and how the brain emerges from one state towards another.  It is, along with all of my other books, boxed up. I am becoming increasingly eager to unbox my life. There are things that I feel I must know now.  It's as if I've spent my entire life preparing for a moment in which I am woefully unprepared.

I was also given a book that is ostensibly to help with creating sleep patterns in children. The friend who gave it spoke of it very highly.  Unfortunately the system does not seem to be recommended until after 6 weeks or so, and does not really roll out its program effectively until around 6 months of age.  You are basically on your own during this initial time period.  No advice can help you, no system save you...  

... though we are prepared to reach out to The Mormons and learn from their vast historic wisdom.  If nothing else they will very likely be able to tell us who Rhys' mother and father are.... they are experts in genealogy, they've got it all figured out... like with Jesus' trip to America, the spirit prison, and how mere believers become gods themselves, presiding over their own universe.  

Prophet Romney should do quite well here, brethren.