Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Courageous Transitions Building

How does an architect design a rehab house? What are the thought processes that go into that? Vomit and blood and piss proof? Providing a sense of privacy without giving any of the actual thing? What does the architect think about while drawing these doors and hallways meant to keep people together and visible, like expensive daycares, teaching us to stay in groups. Does he think about trying to make it pretty? How the sunlight will shine through windows in order to give spots of happiness to the concrete and tile. How best to make someone feel safe and secure while still imprisoned. Do architects collect design features? I think they must, like I collect thoughts or musicians collect chords. People who want to change the topography must be aware of the details.

Things that people are addicted to: sensations, endorphins, superiority, wind, cable tv, sugar, cigarettes, filth, shame, self loathing, compliments, noise, sex, power, weakness, makeup, alcohol, approval, animals, speed, sleep, money, love, heroin, stupor, escape, hero worship, politics, sarcasm, g.o.d (good orderly direction), newness, the golden light.

Reasons Why: the speeding up of the notes in the song as the guitar gets faster and faster like an approaching train, the sharp thrill of the tiny little hairs of your arm at a foreign touch, the cunningness of nature, the tininess of ears, the fear of obscurity, a loneliness that increases with every conversation that doesn't live up to expectations which you have with someone you'd like to sleep with, the niceness, the pleasantness, the relief, the relaxing into something familiar, the hormonal imbalances, the chemical cravings on a deep trained cellular level, the desire to distract, the fun of it, the Just Because, the Why Not.

Reasons Why Not: Because there is a deep well inside you, one that you keep boarded up in order to stop town children from falling into. The well is dark and goes very far down, and when you look into the graduating blackness of it, you hear a sound coming up from the bottom, a sigh, a long whisper. It tells you that you will always be alone, because no one is ever really going to understand the thoughts you have. Not all the way. Not even if they have similar ones. The thoughts you have are unique completely to yourself, your particular random compilation of genetics and experience. You are a snowflake, a special all together by yourself snowflake. Everyone has this dark place. Sometimes people like that place a lot. Sometimes people go and sit in that cool dark place when its really hot outside. But its a terrible place to be helpless.

There were so many spiders living here. There were spiders in every corner, every door jamb and windowsill. Long skinny red ones and fat crunchy brown ones. Tiny little worker ones scurrying alongside out of the sight of the giant aristocratic great white shark ones. Better to be small and unseen than hated and unloved for being the obvious monster, but ah such an admiration-less path. Can't be loved unless you risk being unloved. Dear little spiders, I didn't take any pictures of you. Instead I looked to the hungry and dangerous ones.

But I didn't really want to get to know any of the people who had been here. I wanted to avoid them, and thus avoid having to think about the unhappiness of probably people I've known and people I'll meet. Their pictures made me sad, their still packed bags and coats hanging in the closet, and the chairs outside where they would sit and smoke cigarettes, their motivational posters. I felt a repulsion to the human presence, as if it had soiled the beauty of the building of itself, the tiny little rooms like a honeybee cell and the thick glass walls. It should be an aquarium, or a pool, or a museum. Now it's been used up by dirt and despair and left to be subjected to black mold and insect invasions. It's insensitive of me. When the war comes, I'm on the side of the inanimate creations.

One of these closets leads to your happy place, where he pushed you against walls and whispered in your ear. The other one takes you to smoking cigarettes in the car during a rainstorm with a mix cd that your friend in California made you. The third one is just a closet, simple and plain and ready for curling up and shutting the door. The last one gets you out of here.

We've got obsessions. Go ahead, transition me. Try.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Night That Every Concert Came to Cleveland

I had this whole thing I was going to write about when I got home tonight, like I had planned in my head that I would compose this whole funny fantasy show, where I pretended that Britney Spears (who was in town) sat in with the Decemberists, and she and Colin did a whole duet for Red Right Ankle, and then she had a spontaneous folk dance off with Pat Benatar (who was also in town), and Frightened Rabbit (WHO WAS ALSO IN TOWN) played back up while Colin sang Legionnaire. And like, probably in this fantasy, Britney also revealed she knew how to play the harmonica.

But instead what happened is I went to the Decemberists show in a red dress, which was at Nautica, this venue that seems great cause it's right on the river, and outside and stuff, but in fact ends up sucking a lot of energy out of shows because they are so strict about you staying in your seat. Which is some bullshit during a rock show, who stays in their seat? You cannot possibly expect me to sit in a certain place. You fucking stay in one place, somewhere else, awful yellow shirted uniformed person. Also you need to be able to dance, which is hard to do in bleachers, as in pretty impossible and also sort of dangerous. So the first part of the show was eh, was very serious and quiet, and no one was dancing at all. I was bouncing, but mostly everyone sat in their seat appreciatively tapping their knees, and that was some bullshit. It made me mad and antsy and gave me all sort of thoughts about trouble making, mostly involving the long ladders that led up from the bleachers into the lighting decks. But also then they played July July, which is MY song, and Architect and We Both Go Down Together, so pretty much all my favorite songs. I was happy enough. But I wasn't Happy. The band was trying, but the security guards had killed the crowd.

Then during the encore, they played Mariner's Revenge, and just as Mr. Meloy was getting done explaining how we all needed to make the whale sound, a giant cargo ship came around the curve of the river. A huge golden glowing monster of a thing, cranes and all, and corners and levels and mechanics. Silently coming around the bend, directly behind the stage, the music echoing off the bulwarks, and there were a few men out on the decks watching us, and everyone in the theater was watching them with their jaw open, and for the entire length of this glorious dancing clapping stomping Spanish skirt of a song the ship passed prehistorically behind us. until it was gone, and the song was over in a roar, and everyone poured into the aisles.

That was the magic moment everyone had been waiting for, that unknown thing that is the difference between a night and a Night, and so we all went home relieved and full of wonder and in love again.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Not My Memories

When I commit my thoughts to paper, handwritten I mean, they immediately seem cheap and trite. I feel the same way about hearing my voice recorded now. I sound stuffy and sick to myself, like I have a permanent cold. All of this over documentation of ourselves these days is strange to me, and I try to imagine the side effects on society, but come up against that black matte wall of the unknown that happens when we stretch our thoughts. I had no way of recording myself when I was growing up, you either kept a journal or you didn't, but there were no videos of me, or voice mails, and very few photographs. I'm not calling it bad or good, but it's something, it's definitely different. There can be as many public footprints of you as any celebrity decades ago, like physically as many, numerically. I remember now my daughter sitting at her boombox, making cassette tapes of her own voice, pretending to be a dj, and even that's old now. I was going to make a point about all this online stuff in danger of disappearing any time, but I don't remember where those cassette tapes are, and most likely they are buried underground somewhere in Indiana.

Back when we were children, before television reruns of Stargate, we would spend our afternoons at the matinee, watching drivel and tripe dreamed up for us by cinematic scientists. Beautiful men and women would make eyes at each other 12 feet high in front of us, and in the seats the children all giggled and shrieked and threw popcorn at each other or made out in the back rows, while these black and white Perfections tried to teach us about good and evil, patriotism, love. How to be successful human beings.

One time my friends father won a live turkey at the matinee. He brought it home and took it to the basement to kill it. It was a huge old thing, with shiny yellow eyes and a mottled hairless blue neck. Her father chased it around the basement for twenty minutes until he able to corner it. It was making frantic scared bird noises. My friend cried the first time she told me about it, but then later learned to make it a funny story to the kids we knew at school. There developed, in the repeated retelling, a way of mimicking her father and the turkey so successfully, it became a conversation between the hunter and the prey, a comedic dialogue like we heard on radio shows.

We lived in a city block, and there was a large barn or garage behind our house, where we would find large black stag beetles living in the donut holes of left behind mill stones and brick debris. The Polish neighbors to the right of us had chickens, and we had chickens too, a few, I had a pet chicken myself. One day she escaped and the neighbors caught her and killed her. At least I assumed they did, my childish mind filling with thoughts of revenge and justice. More likely a dog got her. I knew how chickens died, how people liked to laugh at the body running and twitching while blood ran from the decapitated neck. And I ate chickens. I understood the relationship between this animal that was my pet and what I would be eating for dinner. But I never forgave them, because she had been mine and they took her. I remember how her body cavity fluttered with breath when I held her tight against my chest, and the short quick fragile movements of her red brown head.

People talk about the difference in national character then and now, but the only real difference I ever saw was this. When I was a child, it was not about "being great at being me." There was none of this idea that to make people like you, you only had to act like your true and natural self. No, in fact, we were taught that to make people like you, you had to act an exact and certain prescribed set of ways. You had to smile a particular way, and make sure your hair was cut just so, and have the right kind of figure. The truth of the matter, the absolute fact of human interaction has not changed since. Everyone wants to talk to an attractive confident person. This is genetic. But now, instead of telling you how to be, society wants you to invent the next cool thing. Being new and different is an asset. If you do it right. If you do it wrong, then you're a fool and everyone laughs at you. But there has to be a risk in there somewhere or everyone would do it. It's all very free flowing and natural now, capitalizing on your own personality rather than emulating. That stands the test of time, because now so many people who were ostracized in my generation are now heroes of culture. Hasn't it always been that way? The weirdos win, but only a very small minority of them. The attractive ones.

I had my bedroom painted several colors as I was growing up. I shared a sloped second floor room with my little sister when I was very little, and maybe it was painted light green? Or eggshell gray blue? Later, when my little brother was born, I moved into a room downstairs all by myself, that used to be my mother's personal space. It was painted this fuchsia pink, very bright. I remember sleeping by myself in that bed, with the door cracked open, and I could hear my parents as they talked late at night. All of my first secrets started in that room, my first personal thoughts, the things I snuck into the corners of the room, me singing to myself at night or talking to myself. Your very first own room is special. Later still, in the new house, I got to choose my color, and I picked a pale yellow to go with the white lace curtains. Colors were important to me as a child. The first recurring dream I remember having was being in a toy shop, and getting this marvelous machine, on which you could draw any pattern for fabric you wished, spots and stripes and pictures, and it would print it out. I had no idea as a kid that this would be possible one day, that in fact when I was older I would be able to draw these colors out in a computer and have it program the dye machines with satellite accuracy, and then be able to make clothes in any color I wished. When I was 6, I dreamed the future and didn't even know it. Over and over again, I went back to that place in my head, and created amazing clothes. Later I was obsessed with paper dolls. I cut out womens models from the Sears catalog, and drew clothes for them by hand, to scale, with little paper tabs drawn around the shoulders and legs, so I could cut them out and fold them onto my homemade dolls. As I got better, I made men dolls too, but often they were permanently frozen in positions of sports or lounging around pools, because they were from the mens leisure section. I don't remember what my men characters were like in my stories. The women were always tomboys, loud and funny. I wish I could remember how I made the men talk, I think now it would have been helpful in how I got along with men later, some perspective on my native inclinations. My true self.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Pursuing the Life

He was not a special man, waking up in the morning every day to go to work, singing along to Willie Nelson in the car as he rolled through the grey and rising morning Ohio highways, because he found talk radio grating. Stopping to get a large black coffee in a styrofoam cup, blowing through the plastic lid to try and cool it down. His eyes felt heavy and dirty, full of sleep. 5am shift in the laundry room was quiet until everyone's coffee kicked in. There were 5 of them, and they all basically got along because that's what you do when you have to be at work that early. It took them 5 weeks to get accustomed to each other, and then someone would inevitably leave - move up to security or switch shifts or something, so that there was always a new person to have to teach and answer questions and walk that thin line between supportive and insufferably condescending because how many times can you explain the functions of a washer, even an industrial one?

The building they worked in was set across the parking lot from the main hospital building. Gwen said it was like they were importing and exporting laundry with another country - little trucks made deliveries to the dock door, and picked them up again, even though it was only half an acre away. She was constantly reading Anne Rice stories in between loads. They all sat around reading or listening to music in the pauses while the huge machines whirred and clunked and sssshhhed, creating a white noise din which isolated them in the building, fell like a blanket over the afternoon, wrapping them up the thick steamy air, and the food coma from lunch creeped up their central nervous systems. It was, in a way, extremely relaxing.

It was an afternoon like this that the accident happened. The big steam roller had been repetitively clunking and whirring for an hour when suddenly there was a screech, and the hard slow motion of the machine became frenetic and panicked. It reminded him for a flash of a moment of that moment you see in animals fucking, the sudden pitch forward in urgency. Another guy rushed forward to try and pull a lever, a plug, something. And in that moment, he saw something flash against the tight cotton sheets, he was sure of it. The guy, his name was Terry, slipped on a hanger on the floor and hit his head on the steel frame. He was okay, he didn't die, but it was a lot of blood, which meant a lot of paperwork, and Terry was gone for six weeks on workers comp.

It meant they were short handed during that time. No one new could be hired because Terry was coming back. It didn't really affect their workload, but it threw the balance of the group off. The 4 of them paired off, and he found himself talking to Gwen a lot more, about things like his girlfriend and her dogs and one day they were suddenly talking about Terry's accident, and he remembered the thing he had seen that seemed like something he maybe made up. Gwen didn't think so. She had a theory, but she said she couldn't tell him until she got some collaboration. Gwen had a lot of theories. Sometimes it is true that a person can read too much. Especially of the wrong sort of thing.

A few weeks later he was loading the giant dryers with Tom, and as he shut the massive door and bolted it shut, deep in the bowels of the chamber he saw another flash. More than one flash in fact, a quick burst of glints, like a piece of glass had been left in the laundry. To his left, Tom slammed his finger in the door, and it broke off immediately, not clean like a knife wound, but bruised and horrible and raw. There was screaming, and paramedics, and more paperwork. He told Gwen about it the next day, whispering so that the loan in from cleaning services who they had been forced to bring in now wouldn't overhear his craziness.

This time she was sure, she told him. "The machines are warning you," she said sincerely under her breath. He rolled his eyes. "They are trying to tell you something bad is going to happen, they are reaching out to you, which means they think you are the closest to them."

He thought about that, if one could be close to a machine. A computer maybe, he could see that. But huge industrial dinosaurs? It would be like a woolly mammoth trying to talk to a Rubix cube. At least that was the first thing that popped into his head. Who was the Rubix cube, he wasn't sure. He tried to think about the machines, sat there at the desk tuning out whatever nonsense Gwen was spouting now, and he focused on the Roller, sitting there impenetrable in the middle of the room. He listened for it's particular instrumental sound in the orchestra of the workday. He heard nothing.

That night he went home to his girlfriend, and they went out to a bar for dinner. She was talking excitedly about something that had happened to a friend of hers, and barely noticed that he was drinking his gin and tonics quickly. Later that night, after she fell asleep, he sat in the living room in the dark, beer in hand, and contemplated all the machinery he could see without getting up off the couch. The big tv. The computer. The air conditioner. The refrigerator singing off to the side, and the clock ticking on the wall, the light on the microwave flashing. He could hear all their individual hums, and if he shut his eyes and sipped the beer, each one seemed to be on a particular rhythm with his own heart pumping.

The next morning he stopped in the supervisors office, in the main hospital, and requested to be transferred to Security. The supervisor did not seem hopeful. "We're pretty short staffed in the laundry room right now," she said, "you know that." Walking back into work later that day, he looked around the room, at the mute humans going through their paces, amid a clockwork of moving pieces and turning barrels, and he desperately wanted to run away, his heart was gripped with a strange and sudden fear that he couldn't articulate, a feeling that he was not in control of this building, that in fact no one here had a choice, the hospital existed as a independent collective of consciousness that had nothing to do with human decision. We are not even worker ants, he thought, we are red blood cells. Pumping through the Hospital, carrying oxygen and nutrients and janitors.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Benefits and Dinners and Cilantro

I had a lot of really amazing food this weekend.

On Friday, my friend Justin took me and my sister out to Amp 150 and we had did the 4 course Chef's Choice, which turned out to really be like three small dishes each course, so a total of 12? It was a just a lot of food, and it was all really great, but I'm not going to give you a play by play about edibles today. The important thing about Friday is that we were all just dressed down and we hung out and there was no sense of having to act a certain way or look a certain way or be certain places. Just sit around, talk about shit, eat a lot of food for a long time. The chef Mel kept coming out to sit and talk with us about tattoos and pigs. It was wonderful.

Saturday I went to the Veggie U benefit, which is a charity event with famous food people who you can ogle and tons of restaurants giving you little plates and so much wine. Camilla and Sarah and I got all garden casual skirted up and drove out to Milan. In the car on the way there I said "I wish Veggie U wasn't a thing I actually like a lot, because now I can't go there and be snarky." Which, you know, is how I might normally approach something like this. I mean, there were limos present. At a farm. This is a thing about luxury items as you get older though, you know people at them and you like them. Also here's a hint about how to pick which fancy events you should go to: does the event mirror in structure something you might be doing with your friends anyway? Getting way too dressed up and dancing to a bad DJ? Bad. Eating food in the backyard getting drunk? Good. We accidentally parked in the VIP lot, cause we were sort of lost and this guy just waved us into a spot, so...okay. The best part about that mistake is that we got to ride in a golf cart from the lot to the event. The guy driving us I think got a kick out of us being so excited about the golf cart. Lesson 1, when you are at a fancy event, you should never try to act apathetic about being in a golf cart.

Then followed hours of us eating and drinking. The food was all great of course, but the cheese and the cakes and the miniature bottles of champagne we drank with straws were definitely the highlights. I am a simple girl. If you give me a tiny bottle of bubbly that's all mine, I'm won over instantly. The big tent was very equalizing, since all the fancy people were just as drunk and sweaty as us, it was in the 90s and sweltering in that thick rich Ohio farm kind of heat, which is a long way of saying humid as hell. We said hi to lots of people we knew. We looked at people's clothes, and instantly hated the beautiful girl in the green dress who was not sweaty at all. There were fans with water misting through them at the entrances, and these spots became prime real estate that people were greedy about. Mister Wars. One lady actually told my friend Allison that "you only get one turn at the mister" in an effort to shame her into moving along, which I wasn't there for, thank god. Cause my response would have been to ask her very specifically how long she thought one turn should be, and then to time her. And she probably would have gotten huffy. I agree, don't park yourself in front of the fan in a way that will block everyone else, but if I'm standing a respectful distance off, then fuck off lady. Let's see, what else happened? I really really wanted to slip off with my mini bottle and wander around the farm and take pictures and hang out with the staff and see the place really, but I didn't cause that would have been rude and they were busy. I was talking to this one cute chef who had just gotten a chance to be away from the table, and then Lee Anne Wong from Top Chef came running over all excitedly and totally cockblocked me. I didn't really mind, mostly I like being able to say that last sentence. There were adorable little kids running around in carrot costumes. All these old frog faced ladies kept cutting the Jeni's ice cream line, and Camilla gave them the stink eye. Every savory dish I got had cilantro garnish on it. Every single one. I like cilantro, but it was my enemy by the end of the night. Cilantro, you and I have to have a talk about the difference between a garnish and a weed. Finally we hit our wall of chocolate and beef and all the vendors only had red wines left, and people were dancing around in the leftover dry ice. So we left, and while waiting for our golf cart back, finally had a chance to make fun of rude rich ladies who were upset that they didn't get the next golf cart and yelled about it. Everyone else though, all the volunteers and the chefs (and most of the guests, the ones who weren't yelling at golf carts or pointedly not making eye contact with you as they cut lines), were so nice and I snapped pictures of flowers and made eyes at the police doggie hanging out at the entrance.

I don't know who that older guy in the blue shirt is, but next time I go to one of these things, I'm partying with him all night. Always find the people who are just as amused by the dry ice as you.

I ended the evening proper at 1am on a porch in Ohio City drinking beer and talking to bike kids about what you call someone who lives in Columbus, since you can't call them Columbians. Best suggestion was Christophers.

The takeaway today is that the point of really good food is not that you eat lots of it, but that you eat it while enjoying yourself with people you like immensely.

Friday, July 15, 2011


Things that can now happen in Cleveland because Noodlecat is open.

1) I may finally have to learn to use a different parking garage when I go to that area. I am so ashamed I use a parking garage at all, but there it is. I may have to diversify my shame. This is basically just to say I will come to downtown way more often.

2) I no longer have to walk into any of the fancy places on E. 4th to get a drink in ridiculous grungy concert clothes. I can just go to the noodle shop in ridiculous grungy concert clothes. I really can't stand HOB, guys. Let's revisit that again some time. But now when people ask where I want to meet up before a show, I will have an opinion other than "meh" and "no, not the fucking way too expensive bowling alley again".

3) At some point I have faith there will spring up competing noodle houses and maybe, just maybe, one of them will be 24 hours? Or maybe...hint hint hint...Noodlecat could stay open really late? Because I swear to god, a 24 hour noodleshop would be AMAZING and I would probably move downtown for that.

4) I may actually order a vegetarian option at a restaurant willingly over one with meat. I am still thinking about that mushroom broth. The smell of it. Even the color of it was beautiful. Like, I would drink that for breakfast every day and probably live forever.

5) I have faith there is very good chance that someday the place will get an accidental shipment that includes a magical dragon's egg, and someone's kid will find it and hatch a baby dragon, and then this whole pg rated conflict between good and evil will occur in the city and usually there's fireworks in those movies at some point, so I'm looking forward to that.

6) You know what else would be nifty? A well choreographed yakuza battle on Euclid. I'd be okay with that too. Like, a dancing one. Accompanied by a parade of kittens in costume?

7) I will finally stop being annoyed at people raving about restaurants that all have versions of the same dishes. Because they will start raving about this one, and then I will totally be like "yeah, no, that's right." (I have been waiting so long for something like this to open here. I was like, c'mon food scene, catch the fuck up, please please please. So I'm extremely biased here. Also, does that sound snobby? I feel like it does, and man, you should have heard my snob factor the other night about Neutral Milk Hotel. )

8) Every good second date ever will probably be here.

9) I may also try to make sure there is at least one breakup that happens there too. It seems like a good casual breakup place. I mean, that's a compliment. Those are hard places to find. I only know like one other.

10) I will finally figure out a good way to get broth stains out of a dress. I hope.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Bastille Day

So I knew it was going to be coming down any day now completely, and I dragged my sick and burnt carcass out of the house to try and get some shots before it was all the way non existent. I don't know why, but I assumed that everyone would make the Bastille Day/ Cold Storage connection, massive fortresses coming down by the will of the people ect, and while I was talking to this photographer out there I mentioned it too, like "so everyone should have some good shots up tomorrow, right?" and she was totally confused. But still nice. We stood precariously on the tip of the concrete barriers, to lean cautiously out over the fence. There were tons of people there taking pictures with their cell phones and cameras. When they first started tearing it down, I had thought about going out every day at the same time to the same spot to take a picture. But then it took SO long. And someone else for sure did that right? Like, someone's going to send me the link to those right?

Dear Cold Storage, this is how I will remember my 32 years staring at your visage.

- Coming home on family trips when I was a kid, seeing you hovering over 90,and thinking I had to know what exactly they did inside you, and also that it was tacky they let other people paint ads on you.
- Using you as the landmark to navigate my way down into the Flats to go to Nate's houseboat.
- Walking past you on my way home from the Rapid station, when my first apartment was in Tremont.
- Being scared of you because Boots told me that's where all the homeless people lived, when I lived that place briefly with Zelda and Dan and him, and it was right there behind the highway bridges, the fortress of the Bridge People.
- Hanging out staring at you while I waited in the parking lot of the Gateway Clinic with a stray cat in a box, cause they opened at 9am and it was first come first serve and I had to be at work at 10.
- When they knocked your smokestack down and Allison and I loaded a bunch of the bricks from it in the backseat of my car, to make a fire pit out of. Since they were curved and fire proofed. Then those bricks sat in the back seat for like a month, because I was too lazy to unload them all myself, until one day my landlord and I took them all out and set them up in the backyard.
- Watching fireworks next to you July 4th, with all the neighborhood people crowded around on the railings, and the cars all playing radios, and freaking spiders everywhere. Then driving home the first year we did that, and W. 25th was this dense thick smog of firework ash, and in the distance you could hear them going off like a war, and we thought for sure that there had to have been a giant fire somewhere to cause all this.
- stopping by you on the first day of me going out with my new camera to take pictures of the graffiti along Columbus Rd.
- later using that same picture for Nate's 30th birthday present.
- Trying to go inside you and finding everything so pitch black of course, there was no point in endangering myself on your crappy staircase. You remained completely unfriendly to photographers, a belligerent old cranky elephant of a building.

I'll miss you. The fact that so many people come down day after day to take photos of your demolition in stages is testament to the impression you have left in our minds of the Cleveland landscape. You were the guard at the gate to the West Side, our own personal fortress. Nothing is ever going to look the same again in Tremont, or Duck Island. Abbey Rd, which has for so long been the predictable same old street that I drive down at least once if not 4 times a day for the 10 years I've been driving (or taking that little RTA shuttle they used to have back and forth), is going to be completely alien, will be fucked up, like visually, forever. I can't even process that. It's sort of like if they took down the West Side Market. No, actually, it's exactly as if one day they just tore down the Market. Or the Masonic Temple. Or the Guardians.

But anyway, Old Thing, there you have it. Them's the brakes. You were totally loved.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Ass, the Angel, and the Lawyer

The triune brain (our brain in three parts - reptilian, paleo mammalian, proto mammalian) is a concept that will get me yelled at, cause it's what? Outdated and not true, at least as far as physical structural evolution of the brain goes. Oh we've all got the same basal ganglia, they say. And mammals don't get to have all the limbic fun. But you know what, sometimes concepts that aren't scientifically true are still good for your narrative. After all, there aren't really wizards either. Sometimes when you do something that makes no sense, you need a basal ganglia to blame.

My reptilian system, which we will call the worst and best parts, kept me out in the sun for days this weekend, in an exploding Mercurian sort of sun. I basked in it, I let the UV rays mutate me, I gloried in my baked scent. I had no other thought except to be in the water and to be burned by unfiltered starlight. It was extremely irresponsible. Lizards are not known for their common sense. The next morning I had turned into a bright pink alien, sick with longing for the home world. The sun had infected me, and I was really and truly ill. Turns out even though part of my brain is reptilian, the rest of me is still very vulnerably mammalian, and I slept cocooned in sun sickness for two straight days while my largest organ tried to either heal me or kill me quick. Did you know if you broil your skin, it also affects your immune system? Yeah, turns out that's true. Fever, chills, weakness, dizzyness, swollen throat, migraine. Fuck you too skin. Why do you have to be so fucking Irish skin? What's that ever gotten anybody?

So, feeling the sickness coming up on me, I tried to wander outside in the newly wet and gray thunder soaked Monday world, to cool down a little, since a giant tub of cherry jello was not available. I'm pretty sure I had a fever, and I wanted the rain to substitute for my lake, which I'm not allowed to go back into until I've healed my exoskeleton. We tried all the proven methods to make me feel better - ice cream from Scoops, walks in the Metroparks, standing under train tracks and holding onto the steel beams to feel the vibrations from up above. I believe train vibrations are just as effective as magnets, at something.

If the paleo mammalian limbic system dictates our parenting instincts, our connectivity to community and that weird little emotion called love, is it possible to have a reverse limbic system? Like, I just need to be taken care of myself, to be eternally the child who just wants a pair of arms to fall asleep in? And then when I'm really sick, when I've reached the point where I'm feverishly texting my friend about sequenced images planted in my brain as code, and this dream I had where we were on different security patrol, one by air one by water, trying to destroy an invading animal/fungus/threat to humanity, well then there's two opposing forces. There's the desire to be held, but also the stronger desire to crawl under the dark cool porch and die alone, where no predators can find me and take me out early. I love that when my immune system is at war, I dream of fighting.

Then of course, what you've got left is the neocortex, the New Mammal, designed to bring you back from the edge of your Stanley Kowalski conversion, back into the world of engineering and architecture and paying bills and planning for the future. The responsible part that took me over to Urgent Care to make sure I wasn't actually mutating into a lizard or dying from sturgeon flu, which is apparently as much Not a thing as sun poisoning Is a thing. They say. I don't know. Is it weird that I feel like Urgent Care doctors know less than hospital doctors? Like, I feel the reason he kept me waiting is he was looking up my symptoms on WebMD. Anyway, I think the train vibrations were far more helpful at bringing me back to neocortex level, whereas the doctors office just made me wish my jaw unhinged so I could start attacking.

I wonder also if since the Triune Brain is no longer a scientific concept, but solely a cultural one, if we should add a fourth brain in there - The Cloud. Everyone's all in a tizzy about Google+ because privacy! Only, you don't really want privacy. Privacy is an Old World concept darlings. What you want is recognition, and not just from your already known and encircled friends, but from the world. What you should really be mad at is that our economic system didn't catch up to communism at the same time as our intellectual system. The Cloud - the part of our brain which allows us to plug in. The USB port of our soul.

"Dante organized people he knew into circles, too." Pheezy

Monday, July 11, 2011

Ohio and I turned 32

32 years ago yesterday, I opened my eyes and Ohio blinked into existence. What had been dark thin void before became blue and vast and full, strange and deep.

I opened my lungs and screamed and the wind blew in from a new northern sea, and the sea overflowed into the hills and became rivers and the rivers became valleys. Rocks pushed out of hills with violence and purpose. Wind turbines grew up from the water table, giant white willows, feeding off the raw minerals sitting in my chest sleeping, waiting to be discovered.

My fingers flexed and learned to grasp, and the concrete castles crackled across the landscape electric. They bowed molten and then solidified in the rains, hard and fast, permanent as first impressions. The granite sparkled and sighed.

I splashed my new limbs in the water and waves created a perpetual motion machine, back and forth, the heartbeat. Boats rose up from the depths of the dark glacial afterbirth, and birds came into the new land from all corners of the void to eat and swim and fly and fight and scream. The fresh air unwrapped itself from the vortex, and everything was filled with sound.

I learned to walk and jump and drive and the Ohio territory stretched like play doh, always pushing out and in all directions except North, rolling out before my outstretched eyes so that the horizon exploded. I tried to find the end of all things, but always it was just beyond my line of sight.

Into this playground we ran and built and traveled around, purposeless fools, soaking in the green and blue, which were my favorite colors before I was born, were genetically programmed into my brain, a memory of the land my ancestors came from - the paleolithic caves and fields of Southern France, the trek across cold northern continents, the softness and richness of the peat Islands. The leaves and hard ground and smell of grass came from a dream I had, the dream of what my cells had touched and breathed. Somewhere out there is also a house, and we will sit on the porch and feel the breath of the deep underground leaking into the sunshine.