Living in such a state taTestaTesTaTe etats a hcus ni gniviL of mind in which time sTATEsTAtEsTaTeStA emit hcihw ni dnim of does not pass, space STateSTaTeSTaTeStAtE ecaps ,ssap ton seod does not exist, and sTATeSt oFOfOfo dna ,tsixe ton seod idea is not there. STatEst ofoFOFo .ereht ton si aedi Stuck in a place staTEsT OfOFofo ecalp a ni kcutS where movements TATeSTa foFofoF stnemevom erehw are impossible fOFoFOf elbissopmi era in all forms, UfOFofO ,smrof lla ni physical and nbEifof dna lacisyhp or mental - uNBeInO - latnem ro your mind is UNbeinG si dnim rouy focusing on a unBEING a no gnisucof lone thing, or NBeINgu ro ,gniht enol a lone nothing. bEinGUn .gnihton enol a You are numb and EiNguNB dna bmun era ouY unaware to events stneve ot erawanu taking place - not iSSUE ton - ecalp gnikat knowing how or what 2/28/99 tahw ro who gniwonk to think. You are in FiFTY-THREE ni era uoY .kniht ot a state of unbeing.... ....gniebnu fo etats a
It's the shortest month of the year. To commemorate this, we bring you a shorter-than-normal issue. Also, I cut my hair. I still have more hair than most males, and I don't think I could deal with it any shorter than this, but I can't even tie all of it into a ponytail. For me, that's short.
I tried to figure out the other day why I like long hair and why I've also been recently obsessing about cutting it. I like having lots of locks sprawling out from my head, blowing in the wind on a cool day. It's a nice feeling. My hair keeps my head warm during the winter, too. So why would I want to cut it?
Upkeep, perhaps. Just a change? Possibly. The problem is, I don't know what kind of hairstyle I would want to change to. I mean, I've had long hair for a long time now, and I'm not exactly the most fashion conscious person in the world. I mean, I've got long hair. People tell me it's unhip.
Oops. Another fashion faux pas made by moi. Please don't ban me from Paris.
So, I guess what I'm saying is that this is your chance to influence my decision on how I change my hair. There are old pictures of me on my website, accessible from the zine site, and we should be getting some newer pictures up shortly. Anyway, if you've ever wanted to try to change the way somebody looks living halfway across the country, well, now's your chance. Enjoy the power trip. And remember, there are no guarantees that I'll do anything at all. Hah.
On another reader-related note, the first State of unBeing world tour is going to occur during March 14-20. As of now, Clockwork, Nathan and myself will be touring the country because we desparately want to get out of the state of Texas. We have no idea where we are going yet, so if you would like us to come visit you, please email us, telling us where you live, if we can crash at your house if we need to, strange rules about shoes you may have, etc etc.
And if we can't make it to your neck of the woods this time, well, you'll just have to wait. Unless you can dig up some sponser money so we can all quite jobs/school and travel for a living.
And just think, the next time you receive a copy of the zine, you may have met us. Gee, Wally, wouldn't that be something?
From: Brother Kzen To: email@example.com Subject: In regards to IWMNWN's fiction Dear Sobs, To begin with, i've been a SOB reader since early '96, or at least a pseudo-reader. I never actually read an entire issue, as i never really got interested in most of the articles. I always read the editorials and letter section, and if someone really liked a particular piece from another issue, i'd read that. I dunno why, but i guess i was busy back then. But by the end of the year, i lost my ISP and so didn't receive my monthly SOB, and eventually forgot about it. Last November i got back on the internet and looked around the net for your zine, and found it, or so i thought. I had been reading Sob's back issues at fto.io.com but when i finally got to their latest issue, i was a little shocked. For some reason their most current issue was at #47! much time went by, and i thought to give up. I thought to myself, "ol' KT was a high school senior when he started this, and that was in like '94...he's got to be in his early twenties now....maybe he just grew out of it." And believe it or not. I thought that was the truth. Well, needless to say, i eventually thought to look at the official website and boom there it was. Boy did i feel like a dork. More so than normal. Anyway, on with why i wrote to y'all. I was reading #52 (yes, actually reading it. I really liked Crux Ansata's Reflections on Black Liberation) i got down to IWMNWM's fiction piece The Long Sleep, and decided i should read his previously written related fictions, beginning with No Strings Attached (i had read EPiPHANY a while back, and knew i liked his style). I found that his prose was in a format that i find is quite pleasing to me, a once drug user, and that the tale seemed to me like a cross of Richard Bach's Illusions and (i can't remember his name now) who wrote Naked Lunch. Of course i don't mean that it seemed like an acual blend of the two, but i got a similar sense of self awareness. I thought the end of the story was fitting, as it seemed to say, "And that's how it all started" or "and they lived heppily ever shmapter, blegh" It was great! I went on to Ethan in Limbo, and noticed that there where even more stories to read, how exciting, i thought! Well now i'm still reading those stories, and will be for a w ile, and when i'm done, i can tell i'll be eager to hear more of IWMNWN's prose in the future. So that's it. Now i'm hooked, y'all might as well put me on the list. Oh, and could y'all ask IWMNWN if i could put his EPiPHANY on my website i the near future? When i do, i'll send y'all the webdress. Thanks mucho mucho, and give my love to the 'groupies' ---Brother Kzen
[well, i'm sure nathan will be happy to hear that some people in the outside world like his stuff. maybe that will cajole him to submit more often than my nagging. heh. and we'd also like to take this time to thank him for the wonderbar job he does at keeping the website updated. without him, you wouldn't have any spiffy html versions of this zine, cause i'm just an ascii kind of guy.]
From: clockwork To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: letter to the editor Dearest Editor, I wish to state my extreme opposition of the United States' military attacks on Iraq. Simply put, I am strongly, wholeheartedly, nauseatingly against it. It came to mind that I should whittle away an article addressing the issue, full of documentation and references to articles from the media and passages from United Nations documentation. I have come to the conclusion that it is somewhat meaningless to do so in such a format. However, I feel as though it still needs to be addressed, in whatever mumbling, name-adding form I cast here. Where is the U.N.? What is the United Nations' involvement in this situation? None that I have seen. None at all, even though the entire U.N. council unanimously spoke against the U.S. actions against Iraq. None at all, even though our attacks on Iraq violate the same U.N. agreement Iraq has supposedly violated -- it is plainly stated that no country shall take action against Iraq unless so decided by the U.N. There is no cryptic text, no gerrymandering, only simple formal English. I must apologize, for I am now utterly ashamed of being a United States citizen. It is saddening to watch this country hoist there towering fists of power across the globe, threatening any who may disagree or stand in the way of whatever gameplan is being implemented at the time. It is saddening to view this country shamelessly bombard nations with detached technology of war, without a tear, or even a grim face. It is saddening to watch the defenseless citizens of foreign nations be slapped in the face by American military, slapped in the face by American shrapnel, slapped in the face by American brutality, and then watch the same military deny the wrongdoing of those same citizens. I wither when I am told that no civilian sites were targeted or damaged, moments after watching film of those civilian sites after they were destroyed. I wither when I see our infallible missiles go "astray" into food storehouses, into civilian homes, into neighboring countries, being mentioned once and never spoken of again. The name of the Devil is now synonymous with the United States throughout the Middle East, and I must say I can not blame them. Sadder still, I do not know what to do about it. An overwhelming majority of U.S. citizens have become full of disgust for the country of Iraq, based on what they have been told by the media, by military officials, by the Presidents of the United States. We have already seen such hate crimes and prejudice rise in the United States against those from the Middle East that may reside here -- all based on the stereotypes and disheartening portrayals given to the public by those mentioned above. I do not know what to believe. While I may still have faith in the media, I have no faith in what is told to the media, and do not swallow such things easily. To me, it is clear that when it comes to dealings with Iraq, we are told what we are only meant to be told, and this does not reveal the entire situation. I have no guesses, no answers, on what the truth may be, and will not attempt to broil you in any further propaganda of my own. I am anti-war. I am pro-humanity. And while I'm at it, I'm pro-choice, oppose the death penalty, believe in karma, believe in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, believe in free health care, the decriminalization of drugs, oppose the ATF, oppose the DEA, believe in free water, free utilities, free internet access, free love, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, freedom of all life forms in the universe both animate and inanimate, believe in forgiveness, believe in kindness, believe in rehabilitation and not punishment, believe in education, lean towards Buddhism, oppose the Warren Commission's results, oppose nuclear weapons, oppose greed, oppose envy, oppose dishonesty, believe in a universal consciousness, sometimes wish I had not missed the 60s, oppose search and seizure laws, have unbiased love for everyone and everything, pay my taxes, am against the draft, against the military control over the majority of airspace in the nation, against the hoopla concerning Presidential sex practices when the majority of Americans follow the same set of morals or lack thereof, oppose the impeachment of the President, do not support Clinton, do not support any of the Bush members, oppose the two-party system, oppose the use of loaded biased political labels, oppose the misuse of power be it political or otherwise, oppose the blatant lack of trust in the American populous by the United States government, and I somehow believe in Utopia. And so, the above is my platform for my Presidential candidacy. clockwork
[well, i'd vote for you, but you forgot one thing. you're too damn young. i guess that's why they have that 35 year age minimum going -- they get 10 years to beat the idealism out of you. wah hoo.]
From: Bryan Newton To: email@example.com Subject: SoB Hello, I am interested in being added to the SoB mailing list. I really do need to get back in touch with the literary chaos that is the State Of unBeing. * Bryan N. Newton * * Weather Boy *
[great. i'm not sure why you're the "weather boy," and i keep think that you might be a bad adam sandler sequel. nevertheless, we're happy to have you aboard as a reader and hope that if you have any secret doppler technology that might be of any benefit to us, you would not hesitate to send it to us. ping. narf.]
1. The Pope will die.
The beloved man with the towering hat and custom mode of transport will pass on this year. Perhaps sometime during the summer. Rumors and denials of sickness will come to its pinnacle. Whether sickness and/or age will be the actual cause of his death, I do not know -- with Pope John Paul II increasingly travelling to places considered unstable and dangerous, his death may be by someone's poisoned hand.
2. Massive earth changes.
Such a general term. As we saw 1998 being a record breaking year for odd weather, with the increased number of storms, earthquakes, and all-in-all natural disasters, 1999 will beat out 1998. Abnormally high numbers of earthquakes, multiple volcano eruptions, drastic temperature/climate changes in short periods of time. Massive earthquake in the United States, hitting 6.0+, causing death and devastation. And an equal, if not stronger, earthquake hitting Asia, causing even more death and devastation. Several volcanic eruptions around the globe, all occurring within a few months of each other, filling the air with the foulness of ash and stench of death -- the Ring of Fire will show definite signs of restlessness. Again, I believe this will begin in the summer.
3. Widespread "unexplained" deaths of animals.
Large groups of animals will be seen to die unexpectedly for unfound reasons -- whole flocks of birds, whole schools of fish, etc. We may see the extinction of a few species this year, species we do not expect to suddenly disappear off the planet. This has already begun -- in the past month, hundreds of blackbirds in the southeastern United States have suddenly perished. The same has occurred to snow geese in the northern United States, and bottlenose dolphins in the Pacific near Asia. The numbers will only get greater, and the causes less visible.
4. Increasing cases of deja vu and synchronicity.
Although this may be hard to realistically track, people around the globe will begin to experience sensations of deja vu and synchronistic events more often than ever before. This may assist in increasing "spiritual awakenings," whether it be the sightings of the Virgin Mary, the discovery of enlightened knowledge, or even widespread sightings of UFOs. Perhaps on the path to the next stage of human evolution, people will begin to become more intuitive, developing such "psychic powers" as telepathy, all accompanying a never-before-seen understanding of their existence.
5. You WiLL get laid.
6. William Clinton will not be convicted by the Senate.
This may be resolved by the time this article is distributed. Clinton will be found not guilty by the Senate, and will serve out the final years of his presidency. However, the attacks and attempted coup-like tactics from political foes will continue, bringing up even more dirt plated information and scarred worn history for the public to gasp over. The gaps between the two ruling parties will widen further, leaving the public to look towards independent parties to provide a solution. This will be the beginning of the end for the two party political dominance in the United States.
7. First genetic cure for disease.
As the human genome becomes rapidly mapped, cures will begin to pop up for seemingly unsolvable diseases near the end of the year -- a cure for AIDS being at the top of the list. Cancer will still be a formidable foe. And although amazing progress in a cure for AIDS will occur -- perhaps even an outright vaccine -- it will come to light the virus has mutated quite a bit, and numerous new strains will be discovered.
8. Biological outbreak within the United States.
A wide, disastrous outbreak will occur within the United States, spurring rumors of biological warfare and terrorist acts, though no conclusive evidence will be provided. The media, and public statements made by the U.S. government will point towards such foreign terrorist acts being the cause. The outbreak will not consist of such things as anthrax or serin, but more simplistic, well-known viruses/bacteria -- smallpox, a new strain of the flu, supposed food poisoning. The CDC will not be prepared to handle such events.
9. Hard evidence of a technologically advanced ancient civilization.
New archaeological discoveries come about with compelling, seemingly undisputed evidence of an ancient civilization who possessed amazing technological knowledge that matches, if not surpasses, our own current technology. This discovery will be incredibly controversial, as it will shake the foundations of many of the world's beliefs, challenging the major religions of the world, as well as our scientific beliefs. Rumors will fly, a great effort will be made to dispel the discovery, words and meanings will be twisted and retwisted in an attempt to confuse the public. Other tie-ins will be mentioned -- Atlantis, Egypt, Mars, alien races, genetic planning, the word of God -- this discovery, if one will pay close attention, and gather together the string of events, and facts regarding such, will redefine human civilization, and the origins thereof, as we know it today.
10. Mass panic as the turn of the century nears.
The fears of Y2K will hit the public hard in the last few months of the year, with a mixture of blind, fearful panic, and ecstatic confused celebration. People will rush their banks, withdrawing abnormal amounts of cash on hand -- liquidation of assets will become more common. The banking system will panic in turn, not knowing whether they can handle such massive withdrawals. Food and supply shortages will occur, as people horde what they can at the last moment. People's mindsets will be rather strange, and even frightening in cases. Unpredictable, perhaps uncontrollable.
11. World opinion of the United States will rapidly decline.
Countries throughout the world will openly disagree with the United States' open monopoly of the globe, economically and militantly -- foreign governments and foreign citizens will be fed up of enforcement of U.S. demands and desires, refusing to play their political games, accusing the U.S. of abusing their power. Iraq's labeling of the United States as the Devil will spread -- open, alarming confrontation from nations in the Middle East, as well as China, and possibly Russia. This could quickly cascade into a no-win situation, with no sunlit horizon of a resolution in sight.
12. Leonid meteor shower will have a noticeable effect on the planet.
In November, the Leonid meteor shower will come into the path of the planet, having more of an effect than just a beautiful, mesmerizing light show. Satellites will be damaged by larger-than-predicted fragments. The same larger-than-life fragments will impact the earth with noticeable force -- not quite an extinction level event as predicted by popular culture, but most definitely providing damaging, close to catastrophic results.
[2:10] *** kilgore (~firstname.lastname@example.org) has joined #unbeing <clock_> smack. [2:10] *** clock_ sets mode: +o kilgore <kilgore> Fserve up : %m.colorTrigger%d.color $ !textorama %d.color( $ %d.color) <kilgore> dammit. <clock_> hee. <kilgore> i didn't need to die right then. i have feelings, too. <clock_> where should i go for vacation? <kilgore> or so i'm told. <anygirl> !textorama <ansat> you should visit Texas. it's a whole nother country... <clock_> hm. it's like i live there. <anygirl> disney world? <clock_> disney world...haven't been there in 10+ yrs...last time i went my parents lost me...left me playing with the jumping flying leaping water fountains. <kilgore> go find art bell and harass him. <anygirl> that's the best part of disneyworld <ansat> that can scar akid... <clock_> if we want to increase our readership, all we have to do is get an interview with him. [2:13] *** whoppeecu is now known as valeriec <kilgore> well, there you go, PR boy. <clock_> anybody feel like the world is hollow? <anygirl> i fill mine with cookies <clock_> yep. trek to pahrump. joy oh joy. <clock_> what kind of cookies? <kilgore> i think we're living on a world made out of paper mache... chia world. free t-shirts, even. </PotB> <clock_> and where's the lid? <anygirl> oatmeal. <clock_> potb? * ansat feels trapped in a giant sphere... <clock_> glass bubble. <clock_> crunchy or chewy? <kilgore> pinky and the brain. they played that episode again today. <clock_> ah <anygirl> chewy. <clock_> store bought or home baked? <anygirl> home-grown, even <clock_> wow. on that oatmeal tree. i've heard about that. [2:16] *** ansat has quit IRC (Read error to ansat [246.austin-03-04rs.tx.dial-access.att.net]: Connection reset by peer) <clock_> oof. <kilgore> legend of johnny oatmeal. an old quaker story. <kilgore> it's the missing portion of john woolman's diary. * clock_ puts kil in the pun penalty box. <anygirl> good god [2:17] *** ansat (email@example.com) has joined #unbeing <clock_> ole. <kilgore> OOOH, martial arts cult! this show is SO engrossing... jeez... [2:17] *** clock_ sets mode: +o ansat * ansat wonders what happend.... <clock_> who do you think killed bruce lee? <clock_> eh? <clock_> eh? <kilgore> kareem testul jabar. he left his footprint on bruce lee's chest. <kilgore> testul? <clock_> Shun-Li Beta Kappa. Kung Fu Cult. <kilgore> where the hell did that come from? <clock_> i dunno. * clock_ puts kil in the imaginary-middle-name penalty box. <kilgore> i am a shaolin mink. wear me. * clock_ throws a bucket of red paint on the shaolin mink. <anygirl> er.. <clock_> you can not defeat my wu-tang style. <kilgore> minks have the goofiest breeding habits in captivity. i'd hate to be a male mink. thank goodness i learned that on the radio one day. <anygirl> drunken brass monkey style <clock_> rightio. and cheerio. and holyoke. <anygirl> i dunno if i should ask, but..how do they mate? <clock_> vewwwy cawwwefuwwyyyy. <kilgore> i fight street style, just like steven seagal. i never feel any pain until the last battle with the main bad guy, and then i have to grimace when i take the token bullet to the arm before i kick his ass. <anygirl> but they're soft. <clock_> treasures? <kilgore> um, the females go into heat for a week. but they only wanna mate like once in that time period. so, you throw a male mink into a cage with a female mink, and you hope that she wants to mate on the first day. if not, she beats the male mink up. repeat until mating occurs. feel pity for the mink who has to go for seven days. <anygirl> that's kinda how my roommate mates. <ansat> in a cage? <clock_> you roommate mates with minks? <anygirl> in a cage, for seven days, and with lots of beating. <clock_> that sounds like most males mating procedure. <ansat> i hear there's a lot of biting involved. probably no picnic for the female mink, either.... <kilgore> heh. well, i'm taking off for el bed since i have to get up and go to class later today. see you folx around. <anygirl> nightnight, kil <clock_> bytebye. [2:24] *** kilgore has quit IRC (Delta 3.4 - Dark Illumination - - [ http://delta.cjb.net ]) * ansat should get up early tomorrow and convince his parents he's looking for a job... ;) <anygirl> i feel slow <clock_> just put a note on the fridge. <clock_> slow? why slow? <anygirl> it might be the sleeping pills. cept i took them 3 hours ago. <clock_> i would think they would have peaked a bit ago, then. <anygirl> maybe i'm already asleep. <clock_> unless they are delayed sleeping pill grenades. <clock_> or maybe you're already asleep. <clock_> or maybe you're already asleep. <clock_> or maybe you're already asleep. <clock_> or maybe you're already asleep. <anygirl> that messed with my mind nicely, thank you <clock_> yeah, me too. sorry. * ansat doesn't believe in sleep... <clock_> maybe ansat's already asleep. <clock_> maybe ansat's already asleep. <clock_> maybe ansat's already asleep. <clock_> maybe ansat's already asleep. * ansat sleeps <clock_> aha. * anygirl believes. <clock_> eureka. * clock_ files for a patent. * clock_ files down a patient. * clock_ flies out of patience. <XioWRK> u in the bathroom, clock? * anygirl finds a pattern <clock_> not that i know of. <anygirl> hm, that didn't fit * ansat pats a find * ansat finds a pat * clock_ gives everyone bonus points. <anygirl> where can i redeem them? <XioWRK> where's mr big btw? <clock_> mr. big went sleepy sleep. you can redeem them at any participating SoB outlet. which means. hm. <ansat> if you get enough, you get a toaster.... <anygirl> treasures. <ansat> or a SoB t-shirt... <clock_> a toaster that makes Hello Kitty toast. <clock_> you gave kil your email address, right? <XioWRK> come oon when will we have t-shirts? <anygirl> me? yup. <clock_> within a week...or week and a half. <clock_> good job. * ansat has t-shirts now.... <clock_> heh. bastard. <XioWRK> not THOSE t-shirts * ansat models his t-shirt.... <ansat> well, no, i guess i don't. i'm not wearing a t-shirt. nevermind. <ansat> when's the ETA on the new domain? <clock_> .....in his fall, rainy flooding plan ensemble, ansat is sportily pouting around in a post-modern camo fling...notice the straps, hand made by bored asian squirrels...mmm, the ripples. <anygirl> ripples on squirrels rock. * ansat ripples * anygirl swoons <clock_> eta on new domain. uhm. i should receive something in the mail this week. and then i have to call the people and go "yeah, i submitted the wrong domain name. i suck. fix it." and hopefully that will all be done by the 30th. lots o last minute. <clock_> ans isn't a squirrel. * ansat ripples a nearby squirrel <anygirl> that's got to be illegal <clock_> is that the new sonic weapon in your pocket? * ansat presses his ear to his pocket * clock_ shoves ansat into a small plastic box. <ansat> i don't think so; i have no pockets. if i put something in my pockethole, it falls down and hurts my feet. <anygirl> i'm just happy to hear you <clock_> hm. especially sonic weaponry. heavy buggers. * ansat pockets clock's box <clock_> what strange physics. <ansat> that's probably illegal too. at least here in TX... ;) <anygirl> "pockets clock's box"..say that 7 times fast <clock_> rough. * ansat ties a squirell to a shoelace and lowers him in and out of his pockethole <ansat> 7 times fast * clock_ throws red paint on ansats pockethole. <clock_> meat is murder. tied squirrells is the 7th seal. <ansat> what if the squirrel is into that kind of thing? <clock_> ok. squirrel consent. that'll work. * ansat gets arrested for squirel bondage <ansat> animals can't give consent. * clock_ watches all the alternate skwirl spellings scroll by. <clock_> they can if they moo. <clock_> or ripple. * ansat eats the squirel. at least that's legal... ;) <anygirl> squirrel. girl. <clock_> abhorrence. what words thee spout on thy neighbor's porch. * ansat discovers he prefers girls to squirrels.... <anygirl> amazing boys. all of you. <clock_> squirrel girl. is that like bigfoot? <ansat> a lot smaller <clock_> damn. we're amazing. and treasures. i blush. <anygirl> i like girls better than squirrels, too, i think <clock_> yes, but that would be the irony of it all...8' towering manly stenchfull bigfoot romping and grunting, and squirrel girl a hop hoppitting in his path, nibbling on fallen limbs and lost berries. cute. <anygirl> i don't think things that big can romp * ansat dislikes 8', towering, manly squirrelgirls.... <clock_> those are german squirrelgirls. <clock_> romp. perhaps if they are in a good mood. <anygirl> romping is quieter. <ansat> can bigfeet hop hippity? <anygirl> a louder sounding word, like gromping or stromping would work <clock_> <find and replace> -romping- -trolloping- <anygirl> better. <clock_> thanks. * ansat doesn't like 8', towering, manly trollops <anygirl> maybe grolloping or burrolopping <clock_> burrolopping. that would make a mess. <anygirl> "tr" is such a gentle sound, though <clock_> what is the trollop gives you a lollipop? <clock_> and not a wallop. <anygirl> lickety lip <ansat> probably illegal.... ;) <anygirl> quite. <clock_> rickety dip. <anygirl> an a dollop of that * ansat wonders about lickity lipping a squirrel girl.... * clock_ has mary poppins flashbacks. <clock_> whoa. <clock_> definitely illegal. <anygirl> this is almost surreal <anygirl> squirreal <clock_> we can make it very surreal if we type like poej933 ajfj33 lkas --- @@3 ajdmff. kookywoo. <clock_> or perhaps that's just dumb. <anygirl> that's too obvious. <clock_> yes, i agree. * ansat pockets squirrel girl to lichity lip later * clock_ slaps himself with a running washing machine. <clock_> kidnapping. * ansat slaps clock_ around a bit with a large trout <clock_> i guess that would be stealing a goat, tho. <clock_> squirrelnapping <clock_> squirrealfurryrodentnapping. <anygirl> i thought stealing goats was legal in texas * ansat tries to remember not to take his pocketed squirrelgirl across state lines.... <clock_> as long as you are to be wed within 2 moons. <anygirl> what about same-sex goat marriages? <clock_> hm. looked down upon by the church. but backed by local candidates for governor. <clock_> the farmers in west texas are all for it. * ansat would like to kidnap and send across state lines his governer.... * clock_ gives ansat a cookie. <anygirl> what kinda cookie? <clock_> oatmeal. [2:47] <anygirl> crunchy or chewy? <clock_> chewy * ansat wouldn't mind cooking his governer, either, come to think of it. ;) <anygirl> hey, you took those [2:48] *** valeriec has quit IRC (hasta la bye-bye!) * ansat is treated as a homicide <clock_> sorry. "this land is your land...this land is my land...oatmeal cookies fill the hollow world....la dee da..." <clock_> you could sell the cooked governor as Bushcrack. <clock_> i can pay for the cookies, if you like. <anygirl> what are you willing and able to pay/ <clock_> ah, anything the imagination can dream up. <anygirl> look at us. <clock_> look at us? <anygirl> yeah. look at us. <clock_> who's the us? <anygirl> who do you think? <clock_> them...perhaps... <clock_> ok. i will look at us. <anygirl> no, us <clock_> go-go gadget astal projection. <ansat> go go gadget gonads <anygirl> i imagine clock to be a cartoon. <ansat> go go gadget thihmaster toting Christian schoolgirl <clock_> sounds like an american anime. <clock_> i am a cartoon. <clock_> that's my secret to manipulating reality. <anygirl> figures. * ansat wishes he could remember the other two from that cartoon.... <clock_> penny...and brain. <anygirl> ooohhh * ansat invites Pennywise to the 50th issue party <clock_> the clown. ha. i'll see what i can do. <clock_> 1-888-CLOWNTEETH * clock_ invites Father Time to the 50th issue party. * ansat wonders if Nabokov had little girls hit on him... <clock_> probably. * clock_ is going to go stick his tongue out at Bukowski. <ansat> only if it's consensual.... ;) <anygirl> argh * ansat guesses everyone else is dead.... <anygirl> i thought we were all asleep <ansat> heh <anygirl> are we? <ansat> you should be dreaming us more active... ;) <clock_> maybe we're already asleep. * anygirl is looking for direction <clock_> maybe we're already asleep. <clock_> maybe we're already asleep. <clock_> maybe we're already asleep. <clock_> maybe we're already asleep. <anygirl> gah! <clock_> i should stop that. * ansat is directing a look... <anygirl> if you say something lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of times, it sounds different * clock_ is deflecting a hook. <clock_> loss of meaning,. * anygirl is dissecting a cook * clock_ is intersecting a wook....ie. <anygirl> chewy. <anygirl> wookie of oatmeal. <clock_> right. <clock_> fabulous. <anygirl> we're in circles <anygirl> oh, wait, mobius strips <clock_> yes. big props. * ansat is -- incidentally -- glad not to be a wookie <anygirl> much. <clock_> that's not what your ID says. <anygirl> chewy's the only wookie i like. <ansat> did you know one's weight is not on one's driver's liscense? how the hell am i supposed to know how much i weigh? <anygirl> bigfurry ansat <clock_> get on a scale. <clock_> morph into a tractor trailer so you can stop at a weigh station. <ansat> no good. my scale doesn't always work.... <ansat> heh. i'll try the trailer thing.... <clock_> or just ask squirrelgirl. she can see through time and space...and therefore mass...and weight. <anygirl> and she's in your pocket <clock_> right. easy access. <clock_> very convenient. <ansat> my scale says 118, with boots. is that plausible? <anygirl> wow, groggy rommies <clock_> plausible..sure. but i've never seen a scale say "with boots." <ansat> no no, the scale was wearing the boots.... <clock_> ah. these scales are made for walkin. <anygirl> no, for weighing <anygirl> silly clock <clock_> roomie just jealous. they're squirrel free. <clock_> walkin, weighin, talkin, swaying...it's all in the groove. <anygirl> dig it <clock_> comin atcha. * ansat gets jiggy with the scale.... * anygirl sighs * anygirl changes her mind and giggles instead * clock_ shoots the scale and steals its boots. <anygirl> steel boots? <anygirl> heavy scale <clock_> boot steeled scale. * ansat tries to think of a way to weigh the scale... <anygirl> fold it <clock_> or, for you english majors, boot stolen scale. <anygirl> "boot-stolen", to be exact <clock_> fractal scaling. scale upon scale upon scale upon scale. <ansat> boot scootin scale? * clock_ smacks ansat. <anygirl> boot-scalin stool <clock_> you could always morph into a reptile, then you have lots of scales ...all the time. <clock_> 24-hour scalathon. * ansat slaps ansat around a bit with a large trout <clock_> "You too can click-and-drag your 8' lollop into a very small squirrelgirl. Free to wandering fools!" <anygirl> when i think about you, i touch my squirrel <clock_> intersting. <clock_> e <clock_> e <clock_> e <clock_> e <clock_> e <clock_> e <anygirl> now now * ansat wallops ansat around a bit with a large trout <clock_> new age hippie slang. <clock_> man i love wallop. so fulfilling to say. <anygirl> what is? <clock_> wallop. <clock_> or whallop. <clock_> say it. <anygirl> you know what's not? drawer. <clock_> very correct. <ansat> wallopwallopwallopwallopwallopwallopwallopwallopwallopwallopwallop wallopwallopwallop <ansat> drawerdrawerdrawerdrawerdrawerdrawerdrawerdrawerdrawerdrawer <anygirl> see? that sucked. <clock_> especially those you don't pronounce the 'er.' <ansat> i see what you mean... ;) <clock_> you=who <anygirl> they say "dror" <clock_> wow. i just advertised a drink. <ansat> drordrordrordrordrordrordrordrordrordror <anygirl> fonetikly <clock_> right. not phone-tickly. * ansat posts his mpegs on alt.binaries.pictures.erotica.squirrel-girl <clock_> get *.mpg <clock_> mget, rather. <anygirl> i wundr if i cud get gud at typing fonetikaly <clock_> hard to read. i stutter in my mind. <clock_> you might find yourself thinking in a southern accent. <anygirl> wut if we cud get ust to it? <anygirl> used? ust? <clock_> sure. <anygirl> i wouldn't know how to type some words. * ansat tries not to have a southern accent in thinking or speaking. or writing, for that matter... <clock_> then we would change the channel name to #plaaeskoolunbeeng <ansat> heh <anygirl> bawl poynt pin <clock_> heh. <clock_> that tickles. * ansat tickles <anygirl> gimme nickels <clock_> grimy pickles. <anygirl> for making you tickle? <anygirl> does that make me a whore? <clock_> perhaps. <clock_> if so, you'd be a high class whore, specializing in tickling for nickles. <anygirl> at least i don't do anything with grimy pickles * ansat is generally willing to tickle for free, but wouldn't mind a few nickles now and then... <clock_> good point. * clock_ sulks in the corner of the glass bubble. * anygirl takes aim * clock_ closes his eyes. <anygirl> ok. * ansat is a little glad he isn't a glass bubble.... <anygirl> i like bobbles * ansat offers clock a glass blindfold * clock_ gets out his glassblowing device and molds the blindfold unto his face. <anygirl> i think i need to go nightnight <clock_> tis a good idea. <ansat> heh. then you'll just get rested, and then where will you be? <anygirl> yupyup <clock_> here. <anygirl> hm. <anygirl> i wanna dream. <ansat> same battime, same batchannel.... <clock_> well, come back, ubergirl. <anygirl> woohoo <clock_> and dream about dolphins. <anygirl> where do you get such wonderful words? <clock_> cuz nobody else does that i've told to. <anygirl> i used to go swimming with em <clock_> i don't know. my head somewhere...it just all oozes out and plops itself on the screen. <anygirl> grew up in hawaii <clock_> really? damn neat. <clock_> i'm jealous. <anygirl> they know how to release seratonin in human brains, yknow * ansat slept with the fishes -- and then spent a thousand incarnations as a worm in feaces... <anygirl> er <clock_> that's what i say. <anygirl> gimme something prettier to think about before i go nightnight <anygirl> that was yucky <anygirl> wishes are fishes.. <ansat> heh <clock_> dolphins and gnomes and moonglow flourescent algae. <anygirl> YES! [3:30] *** anygirl has quit IRC (Leaving) <clock_> heh. i guess that worked. <ansat> heh. guess that worked. ;) <clock_> sleep well...have fun.... <ansat> you too. dream about dolphins... ;) <clock_> i'll try. Session Close: Tue Oct 20 03:33:07 1998
I have no idea how to choose fruit. Kiwis and mountain picked kumquats. Are kumquats picked from the mountains? Grown in sacred groves atop misty rock formations towering above man's inferno below? Probably not. I do not know. If i do not know how to choose fruit, what would I know about the origins of such things? Very little. Littler than little. Yet, here I stand like a glazed and baked fool amongst the pyramidical mounds of papaya and oranges -- land of citrus, sitting so dutifully beneath fluorescent lights, awaiting to be attacked by nanothin plastic bags and tied with random tie things of generic legend. Soft, hard? One detail I am aware of are those fruit with gaping holes, Maltese black and brown orphan spots on their dark sides. Logic dictates such decomposition be the death of man or, in the least, introduce merry forms of imported bacteria and Latin enthralled virii.
The tin pangs of a cell phone do not assist in such decisions. Nonetheless, the interruption is constant -- some with sinful renditions of classical compositions unbeknownst to the owner, little southern ditties as if Bo and Luke Duke kept such devices in the dash of the General Lee. Next to the GPS navigation system. And toggle switch for the passenger side airbag. Perhaps you did not notice. Humans are obsessed and perhaps driven by the desire to remove all randomness, however loosely termed it may be, from their daily lives. Dead batteries now provide the basis for such randomness, forcing the controller to walk the eleven feet to their television sets, the six feet to the VCR, and, oh wickedness, lean to their right to adjust the car stereo. Speaking of Americans, of course. British would have to lean left. As you might have known. If they're actually in the wondrous land of Britannia. As, if they are British, but in the Unites States, they would still lean right to accomplish the task. Unless they are driving a United States Postal Service vehicle. And if they are British in the United States, driving a Post Office vehicle, or vice versa, complications may arise. If such vehicles contain stereos. Would government decrees allow for such a thing? They must. It seems a madly cruel thing to not allow the driver to listen to the radio on his or her routes.
How can I fathom the skill of fruit choosing with such thoughts in the air? I do say, when Andy Rooney has moved on to that latter world, I most surely am a prime candidate for his replacement. Perhaps he has done a few minutes on proper fruit choice, offering little insight and more confusion. I believe he has done such a piece. Must have. I could beckon the wisdom of ancient tapes of "60 Minutes," for I am sure they keep them catalogued -- precious episodes available for purchase at a modest sum. Should their catalogue contain those details necessary in this case? If they deny it, well, I can play their games. They can not deny a Freedom of Information Act request, of the sort they will find placed upon their doorstep if they are unwilling to volunteer the so stated information. They may offer up a few months of delay as they pass the memo to an unfortunate intern -- lock the agreeable soul in a vault with a VCR and black-and-white viewscreen, acquiesced from the security desk. And after viewing the remnants of 276 tapes, she shall walk blissfully out, stopping for a free cup of coffee, off to change her major from Journalism to Art History, and shall never return again. This choice will permit the orbs of happiness to enter her life. She will transfer to Paris, live in a third-story loft overlooking the once-walled cityscape, fall madly unselfishly in love with a graceful, beautiful French gentleman, and all shall be well. What divine change I toss into the world.
Avoid Sunkist. That's what I say. An overtly obese chunk of a company, they must inject their fruit with vile things -- that is the way of such corporate giants, law of the land, squeezed into the Commandments, in fact. Very little is spoken of the Footnotes of the Commandments, roughly scrawled on the back -- the fine print of God's will, if you will.
"Excuse me, sir."
The benign hope of a generous on-looker offering his worldly wisdom of fruit was of course misguided. 'Tis only a mop. At the end of which hung a broad, shaggy, dirt-littered mess of string, and the opposite end a withered, shaggy, dirt-littered mess of a teen -- pubescent and gainfully employed in an overlooked position thumbed by common man, even though his responsibilities are vastly important, providing the foundation of cleanliness for the business to operate on.
"Do you perchance, uh, Todd, know anything concerning fruit?"
Such quizzical uncaring looks I receive for asking simple questions of food. We are in a grocery store, and one would think the employees are chosen for their unfettered devotion to food, the preservation of, as well as the knowledge of. Furthermore, preserving the knowledge of. With consumers often befuddled by the sheer volume of product choices, the demand is surely high for such a skill set.
And on he went, not even sweeping to satisfy the definition of the word. Pushing. Supporting his entire weight, in fact, on the oblong piece of wood, and the dance of gravity. Such posture perhaps coined the words "push broom," for it is a much more appropriately descriptive noun for the object that is in use. Relieves the wielder of taxing sweeping motions, the origin of carpal tunnel syndrome. The ailment would be eradicated would it not be for the invention of keyboards. Instead, the painful ends remained in existence, and the child's dream of Fantasia enchanted housework was shattered. Enchanted brooms brought to life by a magician's hand could not function without the personified legs formed by parting the atypical brush of a broom. Industrialized push brooms have no such brushes to part, and could waddle at the most, being clumsy ill-mannered patients of cleanliness -- the magician will find it an easier matter if he grasped the broom himself.
If I was stricken with blindness, I would have an easier chore. With one sense voided by circumstance, the others would of course be enhanced -- an X-men mutant I would be, able to discern the ripest, most succulent pieces of fruit with two quick breaths. Pilgrimages to view the weeping Mary would be altered en route, much like the Kennedy precession, to visit the man endowed with such a practical ability. Bananas, apples, cranberries, grapes both seedless and seedful, green and red, coconuts, dates, peaches, limes -- even the contrived balibali nuggets of the Himalayas, chewed to pulp by monks, and sold as an otherworldly treat. A simple man, engulfed in the pleasures of fruit. Juices always dripping from the corners of a moist mouth. With a bit of luck, and a Master's degree, companies will hound me to become the head of many-a-division -- profound fruit-centered decisions all twiddling on the edge of my words and unmatched interpretation. Yet, such a simple man. And entirely more popular than Gallagher.
Betty Crocker could offer me a solution. A set of solutions, in fact -- not only pertaining to fruit, but poultry, vegetables, bread, liquors. Grocery stores are inherently saturated with cooking manuals, always near the magnetic center of the building. Children's books, greeting cards, and the abominable wisdom of PBS day-time celebrities. Edited by Schuster and Schuster, but painstakingly dabbled by the cook's hand. One could fine the eclectic tastes of French and Swiss Alped chefs. Once you cross the scornful unmerciful oceans, you are bestowed the title of chef. Knighted by the Queen, and given a sterilized billowy hat and matching apron to taunt and flaunt. You are no longer forced to do such pitiful demeaning things as choose fruit yourself, for your glowing students if the craft will shamefully run off to the farmers' markets set in lush country hills and demand only the best. From there, a chef's instincts only willow away into a bitter mousse. Perhaps it is best they are not consulted on such simple matters.
"Excuse me, sir."
A knowledgeable voice, it could be, riddled with the truth and other such popular traits.
"Yes. You are here to help me with the fruit, are you not?"
This is why so cherish the modern establishment of chain-fed grocery outlets. Low, low prices, and an adept command of customer service, bred and born to not only satisfy the patrons, but exceed their expectations. Only national food vendors could attain such a status.
"Fruit? No, I'm here to tell you the store is closed, and you'll have to leave."
What became of the all-night business? That which serves the workers of the third-shift, keeping, at the least, one door ajar, and the climate controls operable on into the romanticized late hours of the eve. What a frantic disappointment this is.
"Well, my good sir, uh, Zachary. Zachary, I must say that you, sir, have just lost a customer. Not just a customer, in fact, but one with Godsent powers. This matter is of utmost importance, and due to you not knowing such facts, I will provide you the opportunity to make it up, so to speak. Do you, Zachary, know of fruit?"
"Fruit? Hum, yeah. I know what fruit is."
"Wondrous! Then you can assist me in choosing that which must be chosen. It is my will."
"Choosing fruit?" I mean. Well. I know what fruit is. But I don't know how to pick it."
"Well, Zachary, this is surely noted. And will surely be noted to the owner and operator of your esteemed organization."
"OK. Hum, but, you have to leave. We're closed."
"Well. Zachary. It is done, then. A good day to you, sir."
Such boys of little culture, wooed by talk shows, and fickle beer, and aging bouncing breasts -- they do not grasp the importance of fruit. I will let it be known, though. I shall construct myself a cape and mask, coordinate a complimentary outfit, and decree it be my sole mission to educate our youth. Why am I still wasting these precious moments in this store obviously born from the loins of the Devil -- moving onward and out, I am, and implement change, I will. Change for the better. The nation will swing in rapture of such instrumental, monumental change. Statues will be built in city squares, all in the name of the masked fruit liberator, and all will enter a new time of peace and intellectual pursuits. Please, let me be, I have much work to do.
He was still alive inside of it, barely able to make out his murmuring thoughts from a distance. The vitrolic mantra repeated in his head like a scratched record: "Born of disease, trapped by deception, freed by submission." The mechanical heart, a juryrig of wheels, cogs and tubes, continued to pump blood effortlessly through his body, only requiring a nurse to wind it back up every hour by turning the handle protruding from his chest. His arms and legs were soft and withery from months of no use, and he had finally lost the last of his body hair. Time moved in increments of infinity.
Doctor Atrophy made some nonsensical annotations to the chart before replacing it on the peg at the foot of the bed. The black market harvest was slow in the winter, and the patient had to be kept alive until business picked up again. Genetic throwaways and strays wandering into the wrong part of town were the only subjects he was acquiring these days, and Doctor Atrophy needed a new source, perhaps from overseas, where the unblemished still thrived. He smiled at the brass turnkey, pleased with his handiwork of old school technology instead of using something cutting edge that would cut into his profit margin.
"Poor, soulless bastard," he muttered under his breath as a nurse poked her head into the room and informed the doctor that a prospective client had arrived. Doctor Atrophy rubbed his hands on the sides of his tweed jacket and followed the nurse down the hallway to his office. A short and stocky man with a head of black, bushy hair was sitting in a second-hand leather armchair, and he stood up whent he doctor entered, extending his hand.
"Nice of you to drop by," Doctor Atrophy said, shaking the man's hand. "And you are?"
"Ronald Orlando," the man replied. "My wife would kill me if she knew I was here."
"They're always looking for an excuse to do that."
Both men laughed half-heartedly.
"I mean, she's worried about the money and all," Ronald explained. "Not that she has any ethical objections to the procedure, mind you. It's always about cost with her. Me, I'm just thinking about the kids, you know>? I want to be able to say I did something good for them."
"I'm sure we can be very accomodating," the doctor said.
"Good. Doctor, I just wanted to say how much I appreciate you doing this. I can only imagine the type of risk you run, and --"
"It's alright. I do what I do because people need it."
"How bad does it hurt?"
"Pain is not an option as far as you're concerned. You'll be anesthaetized, of course. We may be an underground operation, but we aren't butchers."
"And the cost?"
"You'll have to pay in cash, naturally, but you can work out the payment plan with Nurse Athena later so we can fit in your budget."
"You are a godsend, Doctor Atrophy."
He smiled. "I sincerely doubt that. If you'll come with me, I'll show you the subject that I think will be perfect for you."
Doctor Atrophy led Ronald out of the office and through the hall to a patient's room.
"This is Mr. James Carpenter," the doctor said. "Or was, rather."
"He can't still feel, can he?" Ronald inquired.
"Absolutely not, which is why I referred to him in the past tense."
"And there's not a problem with residual leftovers after the operation?"
"He has been wiped as clean as a baby's bottom."
"I was just worried that, well, you know."
"There is nothing to be afraid of. The only thing that is alive is his body."
"One last thing, doctor. What's that sticking out of his chest?"
"That's how we wind up his heart."
"Wind up his heart?"
"Yes. He had a massive coronary despite his young age, so we had to do an implant. If we had used a state of the art heart, I would have had to pass that cost on to you. I assure you, though, that this one works perfectly and will not cause any complications. Now, if you don't have any further questions, we can go see Nurse Athena to set up an appointment."
James stared out the window as Natsuko droned on about the party last night.
"And so we started discussing the histories of our sex lives," Natsuko continued. "I told him about the time I took that trip to New Jersey. Can you believe that? He was amazed that the longest relationship I had been in was three weeks, and I spent two of those weeks deluding myself that I was only seeing her and not dating her. Are you listening, James?"
He put a hand on the seat to steady himself as the bus ran over a pothole. "I was thinking about Julie," James apologized.
"You have to give it time. Nobody's expecting you to recover instantly."
"I know, but it's been almost three weeks since the funeral, and I can't stop thinking about her."
The bus stopped and nobody got off.
"I still have the pictures," James revealed.
Natsuko sighed, brushing the bangs out of her eyes. "She was a psycho bitch for doing that to you. Sorry, I shouldn't have said that. It's true, though."
"She had problems," he said.
"There's a difference between having issues and taking polaroids of yourself while you commit suicide. You would have been better off with me."
"You're a lesbian."
"Like I said," Natsuko laughed. "Look, I know you wanted to help her, and you did more for her than you probably should have. Just don't blame yourself."
"Who am I supposed to blame then?"
"I don't know. Blame God. Blame her. Blame me for keeping my mouth shut, but it's not your fault, James. She would have done it sooner if you hadn't come along. You have her some extra time."
"What does time matter, anyway? She's still dead."
"Maybe it wasn't enough for her, but at least she knew someone cared about her. That's more than she ever had."
"She's still dead."
"You aren't, dammit," Natsuko said, putting a hand on James' shoulder. "Don't let her destroy you, too. I couldn't take that."
"I just can't get that image of her lying there out of my head," James said.
"You probably never will. Burn those pictures, James. You have to start clean."
Natsuko stood up as the bus arrived at her stop.
"Listen, a bunch of us are meeting later tonight down at Sparks," Natsuko said. "You should join us. Hanging out with a bunch of dykes would do your soul some good."
James arranged the photographs in two rows of five on the coffee table and sat down on the couch. He had numbered them from one to ten in the order he thought they were taken. Natsuko was right about needing to get rid of the pictures, but he wanted to go through them one last time to make sure he hadn't missed anything. He looked up at the closed bathroom door in the hallway, where he had found her, and wished that someone else would have opened it that night. James could visualize her taking the pictures, knowing that she should leave something behind for him and making sure that he could be with her in her last minutes.
Click. A full tub. Click. Razor blade on the sink. Click. Right wrist slit down the vein. Click. Left wrist slit down the vein. Click. Julie's blank face with wet, blond hair covering her eyes. Click. The tiled bathroom wall. Click. The tiled bathroom wall. Click. The tiled bathroom wall. Click. The tiled bathroom wall. Click. The tiled bathroom wall.
The phone rang, waking James up. He yawned, wiping away the saliva that ran down the corner of his mouth and went over to the phone.
"Hello?" he asked.
"James, are you coming down here?" Natsuko questioned. He could hear country-western music in the background.
"I don't know if I feel like it."
"You've been looking at those damn photos, haven't you?"
"No, I just fell asleep."
"Don't lie to me, goddammit."
"It was just one last time, Nat. I'm throwing them away."
"Good. Then get your ass down here. Drinks are on me. The longer you stay in that apartment by yourself, the worse it's going to be."
"Okay. I'm on my way out."
"James hung up the phone, gathered up the photographs, and threw them in the trash. After staring at the wastebasket for a moment, he reached down, withdrew one of the photos, and placed it in his jacket pocket.
Natsuko waved to James from a corner table where she and two of her friends were sitting. He stopped at the bar to grab a Guiness and strolled over to the table.
"Hey, Nat," he said.
"I don't think you've met Laura or Vickie," she replied.
"Actually, weren't you at that Robert Anton Wilson lecture at the Offcenter?" Laura asked.
"Yeah, I was," James answered, "but I didn't get in cause it was sold out. I guess you could say I got the raw shaft."
"Ah, too bad. It was a really excellent time."
"You feeling any better, James?" Natsuko asked.
"It's good to be out of the house," James affirmed, raising his glass and taking a drink.
"I tell ya, you stay cooped up too long by yourself and you'll go crazy."
"I know. You've been saying that every day for two weeks."
"Nat was telling us what happened," Vickie said. "My older sister killed herself when I was sixteen, and she didn't even leave us a note. Downed a whole lot of pills with some alcohol and had a plastic bag around her head fixed with a rubber band, just like the Hemlock Society recommends. She held the bag open until she passed out, the rubber band sealed it up, and she suffocated."
Nobody said anything.
"It just seems so senseless, death," James commented.
"And what does?" Laura asked.
"Well, I would hope htere would be some order to things."
"I'm not sure if order is more comforting than disorder," Laura said. "There's something to be said for stability, sure, but it's largely a perception ordeal."
"Sounds like you want something to believe in," Natsuko said.
"I used to believe in love," James said, "but not anymore."
"You shouldn't say that," Vickie said. "You take risks. Yes, you get burned, but when it's good, it makes up for it immensely."
"Optimism," James scoffed. "It's like how I used to believe in God, but I finally couldn't reconcile my idea of a loving god witht he state of the world around me. The ideal and the reality just didn't mesh together."
A waitress came over, and Natsuko ordered another round of drinks.
"I'm not even halfway through with this," James said, pointing at his glass.
Natsuko smiled. "Drink faster," she ordered.
"Look, everybody knows the story of Job, right?" Laura asked.
"Vaguely," answered Vickie.
"Okay. Basically, Job is this righteous fellow who has this great life. He's got a wife, a ton of kids, and a big-ass farm. He's also one pious guy. One day, Satan goes to god and tells him that he bets he can make Job curse God. God takes the bet, telling Satan he can do anything he wants as long as he doesn't kill Job. So Satan has a field day on Job, blighting his crops, killing his livestock, and murdering his family. He afflicts nasty boils on Job, and all of Job's friends think he must have done something horrible to incur the wrath of God. Joe protests that he has done nothing wrong and goes so far as to curse the day he was born on, but he never blames God. Satan eventually gives up, and God rewards Job by doubling everything he previously owned and giving him a new wife and twice as many children."
"And what's the point of that story, other than to show that God needs to get help for his gambling problem?" Natsuko asked.
"Right on," Vickie agreed. "How could a substitute family, no matter how large, make up for one that God allowed to be slaughtered? Sounds like a bunk way to treat your followers."
"The standard interpretation is that we can't understand why we have to suffer, but as long as we have faith, we will be rewarded," Laura said.
"If I knew that God was going that to me, I'd buy a one-way ticket to heaven and punch his lights out," James threatened. "There's no way in hell that I would forgive God for that."
"Some scholars would agree with you there. They think that when Job curses the day he was born, that that's really a Hebrew idiom for cursing God."
"Are you a theology major or something?"
"Religion runs in her family," Vickie cut in. "Her dad's an Episcopalian minister."
"I still don't see the relevence of your example, Laura," Natsuko said. "You've shown us that God can be a cruel bastard, which is what James was implying earlier."
"Yeah," James said, "how exactly is this supposed to be helping me?"
"Most people focus on Job and his piety when trying to explain the story," Laura elaborated. "I think it's a story about God and how he can fuck up just like the rest of us. He does the best he can to make amends, and that's all we can really be expected to do, too."
"Do you believe in God?" James asked.
"I'm too much of a skeptic to answer definitively, either way. I do believe in the power of literature, of which I think the book of Job is a fine example. I'd much rather believe in a God who is fallible and willing to try to right his wrongs rather than some omniscient superluminal entity who just sits around and does nothing."
"I still don't see how exactly this relates to my case. Julie's dead. She can't do anything."
"Then you're the one that has to do something."
"I knew you were going to say that. I set myself up for that."
"She's right, you know," Natsuko said.
"Yeah, perserverance and all that jazz," James said. "I think I'm gonna call it a night."
James stood up and drained the last of his beer as everybody said goodbye. While he was outside waiting for the bus, Vickie approached him.
"Did I leave something inside?" James asked.
"No, nothing like that," Vickie said. "Look, you might think this is inappropriate, but I work for this psychologist, and he's really good. If this thing is bothering you as mmuch as I think it is, you might consider seeing him."
"I don't think I'm in the funny farm category yet."
"Neither do I, but it never hurts to talk. I can probably get you a discount."
"I'll think about it."
"Good," she said, handing him a card. "If you don't want to, no big deal. I just wanted to help if I could, you being one of Nat's good friends and all."
"Thanks," he said. "Have a good night."
James thurned the card over and over in his left hand while trying to decide whether or not to call Doctor Atrophy. It had been two days since Athena had given him the card, and it was looking like it might not be such a bad idea after all. It wouldn't hurt to get a professional opinion, and it wasn't as if he had to make it a lasting thing. He hoped Vickie could get that discount since he didn't have insurance, but he figured he could make it up for one session if he had to. James rolled over on the bed and grabbed the telephone.
"Doctor Atrophy's office," a female voice answered.
"I wanted to make an appointment," James said.
"Hi, James. This is Vickie. I'm glad you called."
"I figured it was worth a try."
"I took the liberty of talking to the doctor about your situation, and he thinks he can help."
"How much is this going to burn me?"
"Doctor Atrophy said he'd waive the fee for your first visit."
"Is that like a dealer giving you your first taste of the good stuff to get you hooked?"
Vickie laughed. "You're a funny guy," she said. "I'd like to think I have some pull around here, but he's a very generous man. He considers it like pro bono work or soemthing."
"So when can he see me?" James asked.
"Um, we just had a cancellation for tomorrow at three, if that works?"
"I'll see you then."
Doctor Atrophy's office was a five-minute walk from the bus stop, giving James just enough time to entertain second doubts about his visit. He was, after all, going to see a shrink, something he normally thought only other people did. It was the stigma that worried him, since he never imagined needed to go since he was sure he wasn't crazy. Still, by the time he arrived, James reconciled himself to try it once, and if it didn't feel right or the doctor recommended pumping him full of drugs, he would split. As he opened the door, he wondered if he was doing what Julie should have done a long time ago.
Vickie was sitting at the front desk and gave him a bunch of forms to fill out, telling him the doctor was running a bit behind and would get to him as soon as possible. After completing the paperwork and reading a bit of Newsweek, a door opened and two men came out.
"I'll see you next week, William," Doctor Atrophy said.
"Sure thing," William said. "I've been feeling better these past few weeks than I ever have."
Doctor Atrophy turned to James. "Are you James?" he asked.
"Yup," James said, standing and putting the magazine down on the table.
They shook hands, and Doctor Atrophy led James to his office. James took a seat in the leather armchair while the doctor situated himself behind his desk.
"Vickie told me a bit about your case," Doctor Atrophy began, "so I know some of the details, but I'd like you to start at the beginning when you met this girl."
"Julie," James said.
"Well, it was about four months ago. She rode the same bus route I took to work, and I'd see her everyday and thought she was fairly attractive, but I never did anything other than make quick eye contact a couple of times. This went on for awhile, and then one day I noticed she was reading a book of Yeat's poetry. I mentioned something about having read Yeat's "The Second Coming" in a freshman english survey course, we bantered a little about poetry, and before I got off the bus, she gave me her phone number. We went out the next night."
"And you continued to see her until she died?"
"Yeah, she moved in with me about a month before that happened."
"So, what exactly was she like?"
"Julie was intelligent. I saw that right off the bat. Here I was, a guy who had to drop out of school after a year cause I couldn't afford it, and I was dating a girl with degrees in english and music. She wanted to play music professionally -- she was a violinist -- bust she never really had the get-go to make auditions. She didn't think she was as talented as she really was. I kept telling her she could make it, no sweat, but she always said that she wasn't ready yet. It's like she was afraid of failing even though I thought that wasn't a possibility."
"Was her low self-esteem a source of tension?"
"Sometimes, but I didn't think it was too bad. I liked her a lot, maybe even more than I should have. She needed someone, though, and I was more than happy to fill that role. I think it might have scared her, in a way, the normality of it all. Julie had a rough childhood, living with foster parents until she was eighteen. Her dad was put in jail when she was eight for embezzlement, and when he got out, he never came back. Her mom died six months later in a car accident, and she didn't have any extended family. That's when she got put up in a home."
"And you thought you could give her some stability?"
"That was the plan, anyway. Like I said, I think it frightened her a bit. She was an introvert, and it was tough getting her defenses down to crawl inside her head. I think she thought I would end up going away like everybody else and leaving her alone. She couldn't accept the fact that I cared for her."
"Why do you think she killed herself?"
James fidgeted uncomfortably in his chair. "She didn't leave a note," he answered.
"That's not what I asked," Doctor Atrophy said. "Why do you think she committed suicide?"
"She got consistently worse once we moved in together. I guess it was too soon, but she was the one who brought it up. I just thought it was a phase, but she never wanted to talk about it much. Julie said she didn't want to burden me with what was going on inside her head. I kept telling her that that's what I was around for, and she'd change the topic and try to act happy and shit. Excuse me."
"It's all right."
"I guess that's the worst part, not totally understand her. I knew all about her, but I didn't know her even after four months. That must sound really dysfunctional, but in a way I felt obliged to keep trying. I wanted to be the nice guy, the guy who was different fromt he rest. Apparently, that didn't work."
"And you blame yourself for her death."
"I know I shouldn't, but I figure there must have been something I could have done."
"You're perfectly normal to feel that way. Sounds to me like you did everything you could. Your heart is definitely in the right place."
Doctor Atrophy leaned back in his chair and folded his arms across his chest.
"It's one of the worst feelings in the world when everything you do isn't enough," he said. "Logically, you know that you did everything right, but there's that big hole in your gut that feels the loss so intensely that you doubt yourself. You want to fill that absence and you can't because the person is gone. I think I've got an exercise that can help you, but it'll have to wait until next session so I can get it ready. It's a bit experimental, something of my own device, but I think you'll like it."
"I don't think I can afford another session, Doctor," James admitted.
"Don't worry about that. It's not really standard practice, so I wouldn't feel right about charging you anyway."
"It feels kinda good telling all this to a complete stranger."
"You don't have any ties to me, and you don't have to worry about what I'll think -- it's a pretty good setup."
"Oh, there's one other thing I should tell you. She took a bunch of polaroids of herself while she was dying. I kept them, but my friend Natsuko made me get rid of them."
"Yeah. I didn't want to, though."
"But you did anyway. That's a good sign."
"So, I can see you again when?"
"Next week sometime. Vickie can work out a time for you."
James waited patiently for Natsuko to stop laughing.
"I'm sorry," she said, "but I just have this mental image of some old guy asking leading questions so he can diagnose you with an Oedipus Rex complex."
"It was good, actually," James said.
"Dammit, where's the bus? It's freezing."
"You shouldn't knock it until you try it."
"I don't need it, and I don't think you do, either."
"It was free," James argued.
"So am I," Natsuko answered.
"Do you feel jilted somehow? I figured you were sick of my moping."
"Not at all. That's what I'm here for, which is something you seem to forget."
"I just don't want to unload on you.
"That's Julie talk, you know."
"He's going to try some newfangled experimental therapy on me."
"Hello, inner child? Come out of the closet, puh-lease?"
"I'm amazed I put up with you."
The bus pulled up next to them.
"Finally, Christ," Natsuko said. "All I'm saying is that I know you better than you do."
"Sometimes I think that should scare me."
Doctor Atrophy and James made small talk for a few minutes, and the the doctor asked James to remove his jacket and shirt.
"This isn't one of those weird male bonding rituals, is it?" James asked.
"You won't be beating on any drums if that's what you're asking," Doctor Atrophy answered.
"So, how does this therapy of yours work?"
"I base it on the concept of cannibalism," Doctor Atrophy explained. "It's all about reclaiming your lost energy by eating flesh. Not that you'll be actually be eating anybody, mind you. Some South American Indian tripes did it to their enemies, as well as many other indiginous peoples throughout time."
"So this is a role-playing exercise?"
"In a way. The way I see it" -- Doctor Atrophy pulled his chair in front of James -- "is that Julie's death has basically killed your heat. We could spend a lot of time in psychobabble to work your way through this, or we can try to solve it in one step."
"Even I know there aren't quick fixes like that. It would put you out of a job."
"I don't think so."
"So my heart is dead?"
"You should have vultures tatooed on your breast."
"And what do we do about it?"
"You have to eat your own heart."
Doctor Atrophy lunged forward suddenly, and when James looked down, he saw the doctor's arm wrist-deep in his chest.
"Fuck?" he shouted.
"Hold still, now," Doctor Atrophy commanded as he slowly withdrew his hand, holding James' unbeating heart. "See, I didn't even need a stethoscope to diagnose this."
James just stared at the doctor.
"You're probably asking yourself how I did that. Let's just say it takes a lot of practice. Hold out your hands."
James shakily offered his hands towards the doctor. "Shouldn't I be dead?" he asked.
"You already were," the doctor replied, plopping the heart in James' hands. "You just didn't know it."
"You drugged me with something, didn't you?"
"It's a common problem, moreso than anybody really believes. Relationships end tragically, loved ones die, investors lose everything, your favorite television show gets canceled -- it's the stuff of Shakespeare and Sophocles. Organs just stop working, but people keep on living, so to speak. You ever wonder why it seems the world's getting crazier and more decadent all the time? The dead are at the helm. Laws of nature, my ass. Go on, sink your teeth in."
"And this is how you cure them? Cannibalism?"
"As the old saying goes, you are what you eat. Extrapolate from there."
James raised his hands up to his face and ripped out a chunk of black meat. After a few chews, he swallowed.
"Good, good," Doctor Atrophy laughed. "Repeat this mantra as you chew: born of disease, trapped by deception, freed by submission. It'll take your mind off the taste."
The consumption continued.
"You see, James, I stumbled onto this during the war. My superiors thought I was nuts since I wanted to hold what they thought were dead bodies for observation. War kills half of the participants without their actually being shot. No telling how many boys we put in the ground who were still conscious. Horrible, really."
"And how will I know if this works?" James asked, his mouth half-full.
"If it does, you'll go into cardiac arrest shortly," the doctor answered. "I've got a transplant waiting to go. Of course, there's no guarantee you'll survive that or come out without brain damage, but wouldn't it be nice to really die? Besides, I never pass up the chance for a well-conditioned body."
James finished the last bit of heart, licked his lips, and felt a surge of pain in his chest.
"All right, I'm coming," Natsuko yelled as she crossed the living room to the front door and opened it.
"Hi," Vickie said. "Have you seen James? Doctor Atrophy said he missed his appointment this week.
"I haven't seen him in four days. He hasn't been at the bust stop, he hasn't been to work, and he's not at his apartment. I called the police to put out a missing person report on him. I don't think that's going to do much good, though."
"Yeah," Natsuko interrupted, "I do."
"Doctor Atrophy gave this to me," Vickie said, digging into her purse. "He said James left it during his last visit."
Vickie pulled the photograph out and handed it to Natsuko. It was a picture of a tiled bathroom wall.
Natsuko stood at the bust stop, sweating in the summer heat. Two bags from the downtown Gap sat next to her feet, and she chugged bottled water, trying to cool oof. As the bus pulled up to the stop, she saw him out of the corner of her eye down the street.
"James!" she cried, running down the sidewalk.
The man stopped as she ran, letting go of the woman's hand he was holding and put an arm out in front of the two kids behind him.
"Where the fuck have you been?" Natsuko asked, out of breath.
"I think you've got the wrong person," the man said.
Natsuko looked at him more closely. He had grown a beard, and his hair was longer, but it had to be James. His shirt above the left breast protruded out into a small tent shape.
"I thought you were dead, for crissakes. What's happened to you?"
"You must have me confused with someone else. My name is Ronald, and I'm definitely alive."
I write this to you openly, freely, and without my usual reticence (read: lies). I write this to you openly and freely, without my usual reticence, or read lies, because you--
You will never read this.
And it is very easy to say these things
to express these sentiments
to your face when you--
You are not looking at me.
(So those who may
think that I am a bastion of courage
about the lax of risks that have been taken
O, you. I owe you this much:
Much gratitude. Much gratitude packaged in the form of frothing, gnawing, hard, and hot insights hurling themselves at your face, trying to break through your flesh, trying to cut you in their ironic mission to convince you that I don't want to be your empress of destruction.
So much is wasted in war games. So much superfluity, so much excess, so many new stealth bombers so I never see you coming.
A cruel face. It is yours. Your cruel face with a stare in which I allow myself to drown, your cruel face with a snare which allows me to sit up Nights and think of these pale platitudinal metaphors.
Disgusted, Erica jammed off her monitor.
"Why the fuck am I writing? What the fuck am I writing? Who the fuck am I writing to? Goddamnit. Goddamn It. Goddamn you, Erica. No good can come of this. This, in fact, is no good. 'Pale platitudinal metaphors'? 'Pale platitudinal metaphors'? Critical self-reflexiveness, although a sign of the times, is not a sign of writing talent. And is not an excuse for the lack of it, Erica. You think, don't you, you think that somehow being right gives you the right to be tiring in your presentation? That somehow content actually triumphs over form? Hah! Didn't you know? It's all in the delivery."
Disgraced, Erica jammed off her mind.
"But the question is," he announced after twenty-five minutes of silence filled with drum and bass, "can I love you without being phallic? The answer is illusioned by our conversation which has a way of taking the pencil and dropping it in a glass of water, so to speak. So to speak, of the idea here, the idea of... actually developing a personality when you're around and not just a varying range of moans -- is a very novel one." He sped to ninety-five, took his hands off the wheel, and lit a cigarette. After a smug exhale, he continued. "Novel indeed, to think that I could be comfortable in a situation that explodes the whole categorizing issue of relationships--"
Erica interrupted, nonchalantly: "I think it would have been better to say 'transgresses' -- at least get nods for using the latest buzz word in what is a rather trite --"
He paused, just barely, and continued, "...Interesting how I fucked you first and now, just now, realized that I like you. It was always the other way around before you," he paused, "it makes me reflect a bit and juggle the thought of leaving you to see what I'd miss more: the fuck, the like, or the novel idea."
Erica offered David's sideways glance a benign smirk. "I doubt highly you'd have any trouble deciding amongst those choices and even more so that you're capable of missing anything." Unaffectedly, she added, "Missing something is an admittance of a 'lack' and you, being so full of yourself, would hardly ever come to that."
"True," he equally unaffectedly replied, hurling the car and squealing the tires into the parking lot entrance of the suburban cineplex.
Erica sat staring two degrees south of straight ahead. Her mouth was strongly set in a subtle frown, her eyes blank, either too full or too busy trying to be empty. The coffee was cold, the book untouched. She had given up on appearances, and wore a sweatshirt with old baggy jeans. She lacked any hint of sex. Her hair was frizzy from ignorance, her face blotchy from emotional strain.
A few people from the department entered the shop, discussing the current controversial topic, using the current departmental jargon. One of them spotted Erica and walked over.
"Erica, you weren't at the lecture. Working on something?"
He paused and looked her over. She was aware of his stare, but was missing the accompanying self-consciousness. "Uh -- are you, feeling ok?"
"My boyfriend," she paused and looked at him squarely, "doesn't love me."
This was not something he was expecting to hear, and this Erica expected. In general, this was an inappropriate statement and it was particularly a vapid one for someone who was supposedly ivory-high above The General. But Erica had given up on appearances. She was spent, having put forth every last bit of image-making energy into her role when she was with David. She could not afford to spread herself out.
"But, Erica, your loudest, and most persuasive might I add, rant for all the years you have been here has been mocking those who believed in its objective existence. I thought it didn't exist, I thought it was just the way that the unreflective person's need to escape from their existential truth manifested--"
Erica looked up at him, calmly, coldly, disassociatively, and effortlessly spun out of her emotions and into accepted departmental rhetoric. "But precisely. He is nothing but the paradigm of one who is weak and idealistic and ignorant of the subtext of his desires. And I was not enough, and I am not enough, to inspire any of his verisimilar apparitions. I bore him. I leave him cold. He sees that I'm just a shadow. Quite -- I am just a shadow and he left me in the proverbial Platonic cave. I was not enough. It is like being defeated at Checkers by your five year-old nephew even though you had consciously done your best to win."
"So this isn't about love or feelings, then, is it Erica? Isn't it just another power struggle?"
Disdainfully, dismissively, Erica replied, "Well, of course. That's the tacit assumption underlying the argument, not the upshot. The upshot is that I lost."
"For a second there, Erica, I was concerned -- I thought I was seeing weakness."
"Nope." She paused and her face became rueful and cold. "Just defeat."
She turned on her monitor and began to type:
The convenient timing of his affections leaves me cold in the pit. It leaves me cold when he leaves me sitting here, I don't want these words anymore, he was supposed to take them away. But they just lay dormant until it becomes inconvenient for him to love me, when he has something else to do, a 'real' life to lead -- I know I'm not in his real life -- Real life? He doesn't know the meaning of real, he doesn't feel anything real, it's all staged, it's all convenient for you isn't it? Isn't love convenient when you want to be the hero? Isn't love a convenient way of dealing with such trivialities of life? But, isn't my love convenient -- not dealing with anything else, just dedicating myself to this dysfunctionàI don't have to concern myself with anything real. And I suppose on a higher plane we do connect, and if you were home right now, and not out with the chosen few, this could have been put off longer. I've been putting it off for weeks now, I've been putting it off since I felt you, I've been putting it so I don't have to go out with reality, so I don't have to do this, I need you to take my mind off of this... But you have other scenes to save, other plays to perform, other lines to recite, oh love -- how we so easily divert ourselves, how we so easily ignore the obvious -- using sex as a way out. And you are writing my lines, too, aren't you? So controlling in your genius? But I'm the mastermind of this whole philosophy... and you, you are laughing at this -- You have something and I don't. I don't have anything but these keys, haha, that open no doors. And we aren't forever. And you aren't mine. And I want to produce something, so as to get away from your empty chair, but I stare at it with a morbid curiosity. And if I didn't have this needàAnd you knew this would happen, you knew I was too weak for this, and I called your arrogance -- isn't it wonderful when we're both right?
I had forgotten that we are always playing, that we are always assuming roles, stances, appropriate blocking. I had taken myself too seriously, I had taken my emotions too far. I had mistaken them as byproducts of truth, and not symptoms of boredom.
But, now, at a certain level, I can see the power of my will in all of its glory. I had done it. Me, I, this consciousness, had done it. I was not just the actor, but the writer, the director, and the audience. No, he was not writing my lines.
Perhaps that's what I want? Perhaps, I can look over this and see it as a Freudian map of my desires, and use it. Use it, well, that's it, though, isn't it? That such trials and tribulations become for me, for you, tools? Like the people in our lives? We use them to feel, to play at feeling, so we can step back and deconstruct.
I knew of a girl who couldn't wait to tell you how much she loved to read, how much she loved to learn, how she could just do it all the time. She spoke of such as I spoke of sex. The parallel -- our escapes. I remember looking out of the window at the time, and the scene was perfect -- for I was looking out onto a large lake, and the sun was setting. There was very little beach on the other side of the lake and behind it was a precipitate but small cliff. It was one of those rare moments of clarity, the kind that appear later in short stories, bastardized and watered out, used and battered from being knocked about in one's head. In this epiphanic moment I realized that I was not that girl. That I had played that girl, once, many years ago, but I was not right for the part. I do not want to read any longer. I have had enough, as the poet says, I gasp for breath. I wanted to be out there in the moment, not observing it, reading it, talking about it later in a coffeeshop. I wanted to live it. But, I did not realize at the moment that living isn't any less of an escape. Which I should have, as I was reading a book at the time which was calmly and tediously explaining just that. We live and then after, we tell our story. We construct the narrative of our lives, as if we are living in a novelàor a play.
He once asked me, oh, and what an ironic setting, we were in one of those "suburban burger chains which host many margarita lunch breaks" if the way I acted sometimes was different because I thought I was being watched, like in a play. And I replied that I always felt that way. His tone was urgent. I think he knew. I think he was aware before I was. That he was playing.
There is an aesthetic theory, by Collingwood, which has jarring implications. One of which was that a work of art needn't be something which exists outside of one's head. Art is explanation, it's explaining to yourself -- it's a process of self-clarification of an emotion that you experienced. These narratives we construct, or we deconstruct -- our lives are art. Do you understand the implications of that? Do you love the artist or the man, it is asked. Do they not see how they collapse into one? Love stories -- love is an aesthetic experience. Love is a genre.
I went looking for something real.
All I did was write a new story.
--SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-- State of unBeing is copyrighted (c) 1999 by Kilgore Trout and Apocalypse Culture Publications. All rights are reserved to cover, format, editorials, and all incidental material. All individual items are copyrighted (c) 1999 by the individual author, unless otherwise stated. This file may be disseminated without restriction for nonprofit purposes so long as it is preserved complete and unmodified. Quotes and ideas not already in the public domain may be freely used so long as due recognition is provided. State of unBeing is available at the following places: World Wide Web http://www.apoculpro.org irc the #unbeing channel on UnderNet Submissions may also be sent to Kilgore Trout at <firstname.lastname@example.org>. The SoB distribution list may also be joined by sending email to Kilgore Trout. --SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB-SoB--