This morning, at breakfast

First Person: What’s new?
Second Person: [Reading newspaper] A guy killed a guy and ate his brain.
First Person: Yeah, I just read about that online.
First Person: Crazy.
Second Person: Mmm hmm.
First Person: Seriously crazy.
First Person: Good way to catch Creutzfeldt-Jakob.
First Person: Mad cow disease or something.
First Person: I mean, that was in a homeless shelter, right?
First Person: [Ponders] Although, gee, whose brain IS it safe to eat?
First Person: Nowadays.
Second Person: Mmm hmm.


Third Person: Dad! Someone killed someone and ate their brain!
First Person: Yeah.
First Person: Good morning.
Third Person: They say there was a hole this big and the brain was coming out.
First Person: You had breakfast yet?
First Person: What you having, scrambled eggs? Mwahahaha.
First Person: Are you even old enough to be reading this stuff?
First Person: Don’t you have to be sixteen to read that sort of stuff?
Third Person: This is the NEWSPAPER. That’s okay. It’s true.
First Person: Oh, okay.
First Person: In that case.

Something, something mountain, chop it down with the edge of my hand

To get to the convenience store so my father can buy a pack of Winstons one particular overcast afternoon, I must stop, wait for a hole in oncoming traffic and drive a green Ford Courier pickup truck across a couple lanes into the parking lot, which involves me killing the engine a good half-dozen times.

In on the gas, out on the clutch, he says. He is patient, the oncoming drivers waiting for me are patient, I’m the only one getting upset.

It’s okay, he says. It’s okay. In on the gas, out on the clutch.

Immediately after that, last night in other words: a vast local parking lot. Or, the vastest I could find, anyway. Rain gathers on the horizon, moving closer. We have returned a couple DVDs to the rental place and how here we sit in my blue Mazda, under a light, to our left a discount furniture store, to our right a big hardware store.

Here, get in the driver’s seat, I say.

Clutch blah blah motor blah and most important blah the breaks, I say.

Where have I been all her life? I think.

Here, move the seat closer.

The clutch works like this, I say. I gesture in the dark.

Here put it in neutral and start her up, I say.

What happens if I give it too much gas? she asks.

We drive into the electronics store, I say.

In on the gas, I say.

Out on the clutch.

Monday morning prayer

On the weekend I stood in the library with a cup of coffee and watched you swimming in the pool in a red one-piece, back and forth, unaware of me, a soft smile on your face. The pool was a drag to build but this makes it worth it and today, stuck in traffic, I think, god, or mathematics or whoever, let me be a ghost afterwards. Let me haunt you like this and see you happy, unobserved, that is all I ask.


I have been discussing the subject of lucid dreaming with a number of friends recently, independently of one another; the subject just comes up somehow. The more I think about lucid dreaming, the less I see the point; my theory of dreaming is that it is the subconscious, or the body, or whatever, communicating to the conscious, or simply the subconscious thinking, or whatever, and it might not be good to tinker with that; I would rather spend the effort on understanding it better. It being dreaming, not lucid dreaming.

Another problem of lucid dreaming that any lucid dreamer would face is how to know when one is dreaming. It seems easy afterwards, to realize you had been dreaming, but in the thick of it it is not always so obvious.

Partly this is because dreams can be so prosaic, and life can be so surreal. So there are various tests, such as jumping (if you are dreaming, you might fly, if you are not dreaming, probably not); or spinning around – if you look away in a dream, and then back, things change. If you do it in real life, they generally don’t.

Only recently, I found myself chatting (I thought) with a friend pretending to be a Nigerian hacker who had hacked her account, but it turned out to be a real Nigerian hacker who had hacked her account for real. Later that day, late at night in fact, I went to the airport to pick someone up only they missed their flight (on my watch!) and I had to arrange a new one for them and managed to do so despite the fact that the ticket counter was closed and such things are not my specialty. This was surreal enough for me; when I returned to my car I waited for an elevator in the garage, and two models were also waiting, speaking Russian, in short hot pants and red fezzes.

All totally normal things, but odder than most of my dreams, at least the ones I recall.

At the park

My brother, his ten-year-old son and I visited Beta at work, and then took a stroll around a nearby park. My brother had his camera, a fat digital SLR, and I had a new digital camera he brought over for me. We walked around and took pictures of stuff.

I saw various people I knew and pointed them out to my brother. I saw a violinist from my orchestra. I would have said hi, but she was playing beach volleyball and I didn’t want to bother her, so I just watched for a while.

Then my nephew saw a playground and disappeared into the climbing equipment.

My brother and I wandered around among the playing children, two middle-aged men with cameras.

“This doesn’t look good,” my brother said.

We casually strolled away and took a seat at a table outside a cafe. At some point we ate dinner, and gave Beta a ride home.

The blessing of literacy

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Originally posted March 2004

Circus camp III

Gamma: Hi, dad.
Mig: Hi. Everything okay? Having fun?
Gamma: Yep. We went swimming at the pool.
Mig: No emergencies?
Gamma: Nope. Well, except for almost bleeding to death.
Mig: Ah.
Gamma: I fell down at the pool and cut my knee and skinned my shin and blood was running down my leg! And then it mixed with the water and was all over the place!
Mig: But you’re okay now?
Gamma: Yep. Gotta go. Bye!
Mig: Tata.

That was in the evening. She traces an arc during the day. Last night she called, crying again, because there was a thunderstorm and she was scared and homesick. This morning she called my wife and was her old perky self.