Why?

I need to mow my lawn.

Why?

Because it looks bad like that, the grass is too high.

Why does it “look bad”?

I don’t know, I just know that it would look better if the grass was trimmed.

Why? Why does short grass look better?

It’s just something within me that feels better when the grass is shorter.

Do you remember anyone telling you short grass looks better?

Not especially. Everyone where I lived when I was growing up had short grass in their yard.

Why would that have been?

Because they thought long grass looked bad.

Why do you think that is?

Societal convention? I don’t know.

Do you think short grass looks good?

Yes, of course.

Why?

You asked me that before.

And you didn’t really give an answer. You said other people told you it looks good, because they did it for themselves. Where do you think they learned it?

From their parents and the people around them, probably.

Where might they have learned it?

From the people before them.

How far back should this go?

Maybe back to the castles.

Tell me more.

Well, when there were castles, they kept the grasses beside them trimmed. Made the castles look nice.

How did they keep the grasses trimmed?

Probably by having sheep, and horses, and cattle around.

What did that do for the castle people?

They always had milk and meat from the cattle, and wool for clothes from the sheep, and transport from the horses.

So that means…

They were always well-prepared for anything.

It’s more than that.

Okay, having a castle and short grass meant that they had a lot of money. And power. So, short grass was an indicator of status.

That’s good.

Thank you.

Question…

Oh no.

How did the high-status people in the castles know that short grass would be an indicator of status?

Damn it!

There were people before castles, right?

Yeah, sure.

And aren’t there whole societies now who’ve grown up without ever having castles in their history?

Probably.

And don’t they also feel that short grass on the lawn “looks better”?

Probably.

So why do you think that is?

Look, I can see that you think you know better than me what the final answer is. Why don’t you just come out and say it?

Because this way is more fun!

Why?

Because I get to see the exasperation on your face. It’s enjoyable to make you squirm.

Why?

It touches something within me that I can’t quite explain.

Why not?

Damn it!

Writing Practice 5/17/2019

Describe a mosquito plant…

A mosquito plant is the place where, like an automobile plant, they manufacture mosquitoes. They have these huge, industrial-strength machines with levers and widgets and carburetors and assembly lines, to stamp out millions of bodies, and abdomens and thoraxes and eyes and wings per minute, but in these tiny, microscopic details. These are the places where those minute particles then feed over to another automatic assembly line, half a dozen conveyor belts all converging on various spots, like rivers flowing tributaries flowing into one big collector. The legs get on first, because they’re the hardest to do. They come in six different varieties, right front, right middle, right back, and they are attached one at a time to the body as it moves. Well – the body thorax does not move. It is held in a firm grip of a miniature pincers 1.2 millimeters wide, and this process of this whole assembly is moving, because that’s the only way to make sure the plane moves fast enough.

The arm swings down, picks up a thorax off the belt; it is guided by laser-sights, just like everything here. Precision is a must – there’s no room for error when you are dealing with trillions of transactions / actions each day. The laser-guided pincer swings down, grasps with a pressure precise to the one 1/10,000th of a kilo pascal, and then lifts the body. This happens 7,427,323 times a second, as this massive assembly swings and clangs and bonks and spits out exhaust from the other side. Once the thorax is secure, the legs approach. Again, these are held in micro pincers, and the connection process is laser-guided to the 1/100th of a millimeter. There is only so much we can get. We’d go to the 10,000th of that as well, but it would cost God far more in energy and resources (natural) to develop the technology, and we don’t have significant wastage to make that [illegible], anyway.

Legs approach. Thorax waits. In less than a second, all six legs are slotted into their receptacles, click-click-click-click-click-click. But, being only exoskeleton of biological material, and not anything metal, they don’t actually click – I just imagine they do.

After the legs are in, the head, and the wings slide in in a similar manner. Last stop is to animate the heart, which is done with a 0.000317 ampere shock delivered via two tungsten-coated diodes that are, yes, laser-guided to the opposite sides of the animal, and the wings start flapping, beating, pulsing (we’ve not yet landed on an agreeable terminology), then we release the pincer and out flies another mosquito. Success!

At least, until it finds its way to your backyard. But don’t worry – we have plenty more where that came from.

Writing Practice 5/5/2019 – Purple dragon

Purple dragon…

Purple Dragon is the psychedelic punk-rock album of 1975, released to much acclaim and fanfare as the third project of much-applauded Canadian trio Head In My Hole. This Junior project (freshman, sophomore, junior) effortlessly combines twisted guitar rhythms, bursting drum solos in almost every track, wicked lyrics tha trepresent the banality of life at every turn, and a series of song titles an themes which take the listener on an epic journey through an acid trip like no other.

The opening number, “set Aside Your Expectations,” is not just the introduction to the album, it sets the stage for the nearly mind-tripped experience to come. Hugh Laurie, vocalist and lead guitar, sets a pulsating, pounding harmony on his g-string, matched with his lyrics delivered in a raspy, sexy, smolders voice that seems a combination of Bob Dylan and Annie Lennox – mature, yet still naive enough to hope for a better future. “Set Aside…” tells of the advice given to our narrator by his older, wiser, more-stoned college roommate, upon his first foray into experiencing the magic and wonder of LSD. “Prepare for a purple dragon,” the narrator says. “It’ll show up when you least expect it.” And that sets the stage for the rest of the lyrics, music, and, in truth, experience of listening to – or, rather, immersing yourself in, Purple Dragon.

Over the next forty-seven minutes, Head In My Hole explores alternative rhythms and fantastical stories as our narrator recounts the multitude of new horizons pursued at the guidance of his leader. Drugs, sex, rebellion, even hard work.

I won’t spoil the ending. I won’t even give away how irrational it seems to say that it has an ending, for, as with much of the drug-rock of that era, Purple Dragon could easily be played on one continuous loop without losing any kind of continuity whatsoever. Start at track 5, go to 9, back to 1-4, and you would have a completely new, completely different, yet utterly coherent and enjoyable experience nonetheless. Thus the beauty of this album. Much more than a conglomeration of unrelated ideas, whatever happened to bubble up to the surface of the stew pot on the day Hugh and band mates were practicing and writing new songs, Purple Dragon is clearly a nuanced, planned, integrative album worthy of a listen. Find it in your local used Vinyl store. If not there, check eBay. I bet you’ll hatred that it’s certainly worth the effort.

Writing Practice – 4/19/19

Snoring loudly over there…

It’s okay that you snore. I wasn’t really sleeping anyway. I’ve had a lot on my mind, and tonight is no exception. I’m really worried about your brother. He’s been so depressed and down lately. Have you thought of taking him out for a guys’ night? I think it could be good for him. I’ll try to remember to tell you when you wake up.

I won’t wake up. I’d have to sleep first. I haven’t really slept in six months. Did you know? Do you notice how I am exhausted during the day? Oh, I snooze, I rest a bit. But sleep? Actual, physical, Deep sleep, the kind where you feel as if you’ve just sunk three feet deep into the comforter,the kind where you body recharges and supercharges like one of those ridiculous mad scientist lightning-bolt creations things, have you ever noticed that I haven’t had that in soo, so long?

I don’t remember when it started. Certainly before you started snoring, so I know I can’t blame you. Not that I would, of course. How can you be blamed for what your body does while unconscious? I’ve had a lot on my mind. And that’s making it so I can’t sleep.

Sometimes I will lie here and count your snores, every five minutes, or ten, or fifteen, to see how regular you are. I stare at the neon-blue bars indicating 2:20 then 2:25 then 2:30 then 2:35, and I wonder when the time ends. Not where it goes – I know it goes into the past, into the “there“, the “beyond.” But where does time end? When do we get to that last moment on the clock. We try to review, to account for it, and we for some reason also like to reset often. It’s like we don’t know how to count to more than sixty. I wonder why not.

Are you dreaming? Your cadence has decreased. Slightly. Ten minutes ago you were at seven per minute. Now it’s down to five. Does that mean you’re deep down, into the REM, into the dreams of purple walruses and flying cars, and sexual fantasies about e-girlfriends. I know they exist, it’s not a problem. Back when I dreamed, I dreamt of your ex-girlfriends, too. They were very attractive. And, again, I can’t blame you for your body’s unconscious rebellion of the conscious rules you have established.

I wish I could dream again. I would dream us on a vacation or maybe having an adventure. Perhaps we are detectives in old London, traipsing across the Bowery and into Big Ben and the Tower of London searching for clues. Maybe we are not together, but we are searching for one another. Maybe we, rather than being lovers as now, are simply friends, and each is attached to someone even more specially suited to such romanticism. Do you dream of us together? Do you run again? Do you walk? Do you relive the accident, which took your mobility and our relationship? I do.

Writing Practice – 4/16/2019

chaos

Chaos abounds in the darkness. In the light, even if there is motion, or disorganization, or interaction, or conflict, these are all seen, are all understood, are all mapped inside our consciousness and prepared for, planned for, contemplated by those lovely lumps of brains atop our spinal cord, and we have no fear. We do not stress. We do not wonder. Seeing is believing? No, seeing is truth, and acceptability, and regularity, and pattern, even if it is wild, incoherent, and random-ish.

But in the dark, in the absence of light, in the places where you sense with infrared and ultraviolet in the realm of navigating the world through our other nine senses (smell, taste, touch, hearing, balance, time, ESP), these are still not enough for us, for humans, to feel as if we have control of the situation. For is that not what chaos really is, but lack of control? We may not have authority over the teeming mass of wandering hordes out for destruction, yet if we see them we fear them much, much less than when they come under cover of darkness.

No other sense, no other attribute, contributes as much to our fear as our lack of vision. Were we to see but not hear, their terror in us would, paradoxically, be lessened, for that is one which, by its absence, reduces th threat. We don’t believe silent things can hurt us. For, what do we fear more, the snake’s rattle or the owl’s quiet wingbeats? precisely.

We fear those things which are loud, and unseen, and so adding a chorus of clanging boots and rattling armor to the darkest night is a combination fit to turn even the most self-professed brave soul into a withering baby. This combination takes away the one sense which adds assurance, sight, and adds another element which increases terror in its own right, sound.

The others – smell, taste, touch, we are too undeveloped in yet to have a way to know whether these will increase or decrease our fear. At long distance, that is. In the immediate presence, if you can smell the putrid, rotting flesh of the zombie horde, you may as well give up, because if they’re close enough for you to smell, they’ll be on top of you soon enough. And at the same time, touch, taste, require a physical intimacy which beggars belief of fear. So, then, this fear of the unknown, this fear of change, of the “other” out there, is heightened, and is birthed out of, chaos, disorder, unreality, irrationality, and the way the world works is far, far beyond our own mortal capacity to understand. WE have limited scope of using our brains, and we have devoted much of that to sensing in the visible spectrum. When a creepy-crawling comes approaching outside of that spectrum, then is when our distrust kicks in, our fear of chaos (destruction, impermanence, intransigence, ending, power, power to finalize, power to transform, power to erode) takes over, and we turn away as soon as possible, as strongly as possible, and we seek out that alternative, of places of light, and order, and permanence, and connectivity.

***

Commentary: So, this isn’t a great essay. It doesn’t hold any special revelations. I didn’t find any unique turns of phrase. I didn’t really “lose control” at the end. I felt like I sort of stopped a couple of times along the way, and just sort of plodded through it all. I could go back and edit, to make it flow better, to make it more impactful. It doesn’t even really end well. So why do I post it? Why do I let you see it? Why do I expose my soft underbelly of semi-incompetence?

Trust me, it’s not to fish for compliments. If that were so, I’d be ultra-negative on myself and expect someone, anyone, any reader, to correct me and tell me it’s fine, it’s great, it’s still inspiring. No, I don’t do this to garner sympathy or comments or feel-good-ness.

I post this in its mediocrity as it is because that’s what writing is about.

Writing is about doing the writing. Writing is about doing it even when it doesn’t feel great, even when it’s kind of boring at the end and you’re like, “yeah, nobody’s ever going to read that.” And you know what? They’re probably not. But you do it anyway. Because that’s how you get through the really low periods to the points where it’s great, where your pen is just banging, where you’re in the flow and you’ve got it all good and things just couldn’t get any better. Those things don’t just happen because you decided to show up once or twice or even ten times. Those things come when you’ve put in the work, when you’ve been steady and faithful to the muse, and when hit happens… damn. There’s nothing like it. So that’s why you write the crap pieces, the drudgery, the stuff about chaos and leadership and boring descriptions of shoes and conversations. So that you’re there and ready to strike when called. If you’re skipping out, you’re missing out.

Writing Practice – 4/10/2019

Describe a moonlit night

Quiet. Only the sounds of trees growing, stretching their wide-reached arms towards the heavens comes to my ears. No noise, no overwhelm of shouts, no conflicting temptations of birds chirping or dogs barking or children shouting distract me from the peace of this moment.

I sit upon a bench, ten steps from the edge of a small pond. The ground here slopes down steeply to the edge. Were I to drop a ball, it would bounce, once, then roll steadily into the water, plashing in and tinkling echoes back to those same trees which are stretching their branches skyward.

There is no other person to see me. I am alone, but not alone. I am surrounded by the resting birds, the sleeping snakes, the badgers and rabbits and voles and burrowing mice and the worms underground who rest in their circadian rhythms, rest when I am supposed to rest, they still when I am supposed to still, they sleep when I am supposed to sleep. But I do not sleep. I sit on the bench, on the four oak slats digging in to the backs of my thighs, and I tell the world my sorrows.

I pour out my heart, my troubles, my frustrations to the waiting scene, bathed in the light of the just-past-full moon. Two days ago it was a perfect, brilliant disk in the sky; it lived up to all expectations of justice, and beauty, and power. Today the edge has been worn away slightly, as if a relentless river has torn unevenly into at the side, creating a bit of a ragged edge, and a lack of symmetry I feel acutely resonant in this moment.

I am unbalanced. I am out of touch with something, yet I know not what. I bring space, I bring opportunity, I release my convictions to the world through my speaking, my vocalizations, my manifestation of the problem, and yet they remain. Far from a cleansing process, this has become a reinforcing action. Instead of using, instead of seeing, instead of experiencing a cleanse of the stress intended to come with the verbalization of these problems, the opposite has occurred. I am no more at peace than before I began. On the contrary, expressing myself has brought into greater relief the need I have, the hole in my heart and in my soul’s experience. I live incomplete, yet so close as to imagine a wholeness I can not yet experience. Like the moon, above me, I am growing smaller, if I do not recognize my problems and my failings, and I shall soon shrink to nothing. I must, therefore, take advantage of the opportunity afforded by this little moment of self-reflectional wisdom, and choose to alter the course of my trajectory. I must redeem my path, I must move from waning to waxing, I must transform, metamorphose, recreate, regenerate, myself from something shrinking, disappearing, destroying itself in a self-cannibalistic overture into something growing, filling, generative, experience. I must be opposite the moon, and must transform. I must Live.

Writing Practice – 3/30/2019

How do I get rid of my hiccups?

Easy ways (easy as in historically don’t cost a lot) – hold your breath, drink a glass of water, have someone else scare you. Not only are they easy, they’re usually not effective.

Non-traditional ways – I could either eliminate the hiccups, or I could try to eliminate myself noticing them. So – maybe I cut out my eardrums. Then I don’t hear myself hiccuping, and it’s not a problem any more.

Maybe instead, I stop hiccuping every three or four seconds, and I train myself to just do this constantly. Breathe in – hiccup – breathe out – breathe in – hiccup – breathe out. Forever. Then I don’t “have the hiccups”, then I’m just a different person. And since I don’t have the hiccups anymore, it’s not a big deal.

Or, I could hypnotize myself not to notice them. “Hey, you’ve got the hiccups!” Really? I never noticed.

Those I would call “moderate” solutions. Now, for the hard ones.

Let’s go right to the source. the problem is something within my body, so to eliminate the hiccups I can download (upload?) my mind to a computer and eliminate the need for a physical body anyway. Some scientists predict that it’s like 20% likely that all of this is already a simulation anyway, so we’d just be accessing a process that’s already in place. Maybe not so difficult after all.

But probably my most extreme method, yet one much more practical than the computer, because it’s already available, is I should just cut out my vocal cords. One quick snip of my throat – I bet I could get a cheap, yet qualified, doctor to do that for me down in Cancun, or maybe over in Delhi. I have had experiences in both of those places that tell me, sure, they probably know what they’re doing. And at this cheap a price, it’s practically stealing!

So – what will it be? Option A – hold your breath? Option B – hypnosis? Or option C- drastic surgery?

Let’s see – I’m leaning towards option C, for a couple of reasons.

One, I know it will work. It’s kind of hard to hiccup, with this little mouth / throat flap spamming all over when you no longer have a flap. Impossible, really.

Second, it’s permanent. If I go the “hold my breath” route, what’s to stop my body from sabotaging me again next week? Or even in an hour or two?

Finally, I like how it’s an overkill situation. Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight, isn’t that the advice? Same thing applies here – go all out, make sure it happens, leave no witnesses, tell whatever story you want to afterwards.

Deal!