13OCT2013 – After awhile, the dates cease to matter. We’re all caught tumbling in the fast-moving wake of the Future, and it’s all we can do to keep up with it. It’s a big fucker, roaring past with a buffeting whoosh that sucks a cloud of dirt half a mile into the air, and all lit up like a flying oil refinery, rushing overhead in a blur before it leaves us in the stillness of the desert night, climbing high and away until it vanishes into the yearbook of the heavens.
The Old Ways have left this world.
For those of you just joining in, welcome to Sunday. I know sometimes you have those moments when you’re thinking, “Man, I was sure today was Friday! Doesn’t today feel like Friday?” But I’m here for you, champ. I got your back. It’s definitely Sunday. (This is the time, and this is the record of the time.) Good talk. Glad we had this moment together.
How I’ve missed the feeling of writing: the faint aroma of cleaning oil as I open the case, the weight of the thing as I heft it in my hand, the bite of cross-patterned metal against the soft meat of my palm. Pull the slide back, thumb the safety off, and experience the sheer joy of sending word chasing word toward the waiting embrace of the paper hanging down range. (You cannot destroy matter. You can only hope to rearrange it.)
I loaded this clip with assorted ammo leftover from my sketch box, so I apologize if it’s a bit MAD LIBS up in this mother: Noun! Adjective! Pronoun! Definite article! My fingers barely squeeze the keyboard as I coax out a quick series: Noun! Number! Noun! Verb! Celebrity! Adjective! Adverb! Color! All too soon the slide slams back into the FEED ME position and the air of cordite floats free from the chamber. Drop the spent clip, slam in another. This one’s labeled HAIKU:
“You’ll find another.”
That’s an insult to love and
a slight to lovers.’
Another thirteen rounds. Savor the warm glow of the recoil, the aftershock rippling through my body like a Texas thunderstorm fading into the distance. One Mississippi, two Mississippi… boom.
Big sigh, long week. Lost a finger getting a quadcopter unstuck from a tree Friday afternoon, but it’s almost completely grown back. Won’t be able to do that much longer, might as well enjoy it while it lasts. Regeneration is one of the first traits you lose when you get older.
Good thing I never opted for millimeter wave radar procedures. It’s all well and swell being able to see through solid objects, exploiting radio’s highest frequency band to cop a gaze through solid structures and atmospheric obstructions like snow or fog.
Apparently the long-term effects of said trait include irreversible degradation of sensory perception. Tin cups and white canes become the least of your worries. Your brain loses the ability to properly render enormous cube-shaped sections of your immediate environment, leaving you to navigate reality like Q-bert on government acid.
Using this cube concept where each is approximately three meters square: a speeding automobile moving directly toward you will register in distant visual grids (assigned much higher numbers) before vanishing and then suddenly re-appearing in grids (with much lower numbers, such as) .010 through .008. It will then skip to grids .005 and .004 and suddenly the front half of the car will appear in .002 but by then it’s too late because what the fuck were you doing standing in the middle of the freeway?
At 65 mph, a car like the one I described earlier (like the one you find yourself being dragged under) won’t come to a complete stop until negative grids -032 through -047 on the opposite side of the axis — depending upon the dietary habits of the passengers, the reaction time of the driver and the on scene weather conditions. Early studies indicate you’ll only be vaguely aware of the driver’s frantic face leaning forward into your pixelated field of view like he’s trying to activate motherfucking Robocop: “OH GOD ARE – brzzt – I DIDN’T SEE – brzzt – BODY CALL THE COPS!”
My newly regrown finger is still kinda tender and it’s making me type slow. It looks weird, all smooth and pink among it’s much older and wiser siblings. The nail is perfect, like dinnerware in a catalog. It’s never been chewed on.
To those of you who haven’t been born yet, here’s how I spent my weekend. Keep in mind, this is before the days of being able to beam medicine directly into the afflicted areas of your body, before the approval of consumer-grade drones, and long before we built that giant brain farm in Colorado, herded all of our life-sentence prisoners into coma pods and foolishly entrusted their combined convict cortexes with the complete control of our ballistic weapons inventory. (Who’d have thought we’d miss North Korea this much?)
I skipped a work-related party yesterday. (Thanks, social situation terrors! I didn’t really want to eat free grilled cheeseburgers in the bright California sunshine anyway. Thumbs up!) Instead I hit the farmer’s market for my non-cloned veggies and went to Safeway for the rest. Then I talked myself into needing alcohol, so I grabbed my notebook and hurried down the block to a place that serves a decidedly wonderful stout. That was just before 3 p.m.
During the next few hours, I listened to music and thought some thoughts, some of which I was able to translate and arrange in some meaningful order between the covers of a nearly complete (but largely unsatisfying?) journal with the aid of a narrow two-tone cylinder boasting an “ultra-fine point” and passing permanency.
And as I drank my drink, I was caught fast on the knife-edge of the Now, just like you. I breathed the lost breath of ancients, just like you. And, just like you, I felt like an alien on an anthropology mission who’d bumped his head, been left for dead and, over time, had almost completely forgotten that he was an alien in the first place but was still trying very hard to extract some greater meaning from an existence spent trapped on this rock. Just like you.
In the time that it took me to write that last paragraph, the world happened. People fucked. Someone was born and someone died. Someone learned about the islands of floating trash on both coasts of North America. Someone else learned about the secret once-a-day flights to Cuba. And still another someone gave passing thought to the millions upon millions of carefully-controlled combustion engine explosions happening all around us, (the rise and fall of which are governed by a complicated computer system that transmits simple instructions in yellow, red or green lights.) These explosions are tucked safe inside gleaming metal machines piloted along asphalt neural networks with reckless precision by multi-tasking miracle monkeys wholly obsessed with celebrity vomitoriums, wedding attire, Chinese take out and Facebook updates. (Hint: That was me.)
Oh! And I had another flying dream last night (this morning? Okay, at some point while I was fast asleep, the cameras beneath my eyelids busy slam-dancing to REM) where I was doing barrel rolls over an unfamiliar countryside, swooping in low over the hills and using lonely country intersections and field color patterns as waypoints and landmarks. I had much better control this time and I don’t think anyone saw me (despite a near head-on collision with an Army helicopter.)
During my last flying dream, I decided to walk into a library because I wanted to see if there was information on the subject. (As one does.) While I was paging through a coffee table book on the phenomena, I became aware of a figure sitting at the table next to me, hands clasped and patiently waiting. Presently, I looked over at him, noticing for the first time the incredulous expression he temporarily considered his face.
“Really? he laughed, shaking his head. “You’re dreaming about looking at a book about people who fly in their dreams? You know we’ve been watching you, right? I mean, you must have known.”
He slid the book away from my hands, licked a finger and turned a few pages ahead of where I’d been thumbing until he came to a two-page layout featuring a series of images of a solitary speck in the sky. He pushed it back to me and tapped the first image. As the photos progressed from left to right, they zoomed progressively closer and by the bottom right page I was able to make out my own face. There I was, my arms tucked tight along my sides as I rocketed higher and higher, a black hoodie shoved halfway down one arm. Someone had taken photos of me flying. In my dreams. Understandably, I woke up just a tad spooked.
But no, this time was different. No library visits (no dream library cards. Wait. How the fuck would that even work?) and no smug dream operatives trying to NSA their way into my night time good time. Instead, I managed to get stuck in an empty concrete room somewhere for a few minutes. It had a high ceiling and I couldn’t figure out how to reach the doorknob. I had to stop thinking about thinking, if that makes any sense, until I was able to drift close enough to grab the doorknob, twist it open by rolling my whole body clockwise and pull the handle past me. The physics of swimming appear to apply evenly to dream flight.
Notes from the end of the journal: “Why are you still doing this? You’ve been spending too much time in solitary confinement. Sharks drown when they do not swim. They need the oxygen they draw from the water. You need oxygen. You need fire. All else is all else. Leave the drunks to do combat in the haystacks. Start the reactor, Quaid…
You can’t own these moments. You can only pay rent.