I’m a machine. I’m more than a machine

I’m a machine. I’m more than a machine. It’s okay to be a machine, sometimes. Machines get stuff done. Machines accomplish things. Human beings are kinder, but lazier. I accomplish very little when I am a human being. When I am a human being, I play with my son, watch kids’ shows with him, drink beer, and fool around on the guitar. I think about good things to eat and get sentimental over lost time and loved ones. When I am a machine, I produce. I get out of bed, crank out the coffee, make my son’s breakfast, walk the dog, shower and groom myself and drive to work. I get stuff done and money flows into my bank account. When I am a human being, no money flows into my bank account–in fact, quite the opposite happens. One day, they will automate my job and sideline me. Then, I will have to find some other way to be a machine that hasn’t been automated by a computing machine.

I’m a machine when I write, too, sometimes. Even though, in this case, I don’t see any money flow into my bank account while I am a writing machine. It’s more a matter of feeling programmed to do this as if I were a computing machine. Maybe I am a computing machine, after all, and my sense of sentience, creativity, autonomy and free will is as misguided as many of my other young person notions I’ve shed. I am pre-programmed to write these very words across this screen–more precisely, to type them. Long before any inkling of the existence of Time, there was a program set in motion. The program was programmed such that the tiniest of particles would come together in a certain way, to produce the right combination of gases and solids that would spin around each other and evolve life forms, which contained programming instructions that led them to evolve into my ancestors, who were programmed to continually slaughter each other and be reborn, yes, reincarnated inside endless bodies, down through a narrow, precise funnel, all to this most exquisite of points in the program.

If I were to get up and jump out of the window, it would be predestined. If I were to run off naked and keep running until I was locked away, it would be predestined. If I were to barbecue my hand and eat it, or the dog, it would be predestined. If I were to fall to my knees, and start worshiping the great Programmer, it would be predestined. Why settle for a Watchmaker God, when you can have a Computer Programmer God, who is continually tweaking the algorithms here and there to His pleasure, and who has an annoying sidekick Satan who is constantly trying to place bugs and viruses in the code? God could get rid of Satan if He wanted to, but then the computer program would have to be re-written such that I have no say in helping write the next line of code.

That’s right. I am helping write the next line of code, in a small and insignificant (except as it pertains to my own soul) way. Or not.

I may not be helping with anything. I am doing nothing important, except letting the overflow of my desire to procreate flush itself out in the form of verbal diarrhea.

Whatever the case may be, in this moment, I am a machine. I am dutifully cranking out words across a screen as I have done for over twenty years of my life, and as I did with pen to paper before then.

The driveway is littered with pollen from the recent rains

The driveway is littered with pollen from the recent rains. The rains pushed the pollen from the trees, but they didn’t take the time to kindly remove it from the driveway and the car. This is the extent of my middle-aged, suburban problems. Everything else is what you might expect. An oversized mortgage, car payments, credit card debt, raising a child, etc. The dog is growing old and will soon be hard to manage, but that’s to be expected as well. With all of this time on my hands until Monday, you’d think that I could come up with something brilliant to write.

It might be nice to find myself waking up inside of a dream or inside the hypnogogic state, and trying to figure out if there is a greater reality of Mind beyond this one. It seems more productive most days to have a conversation with someone else about consciousness, though. When you start to really interact with someone while asking questions about what constitutes our consciousness, you begin to feel like you could just float away outside of yourself into some higher dimension.

The need to no precisely what will happen when I die is only a marginal nag that comes up now and then. For the most part, I don’t care. I try to keep my bases covered by asking for forgiveness of my sins, but also try to practice mindfulness so that I’m not reincarnated into an inferior plane of being. I also make sure that everyone knows I wish to be donated to science so that if that’s all there is to me, then science can gain some profit by studying my corpse instead of letting it rot in the ground. I have no problem with joining the other bodies in a traveling bodies exhibit to showcase one of the systems of the body and educate young med students.

It’s far more interesting to try to pay attention to what is happening with my consciousness in the here and now. How does my awareness and control of self change as I drop into sleep? How much of my reality apprehended by my senses is trustworthy and absolute? Can I develop a more acute sense of hearing if I just practice listening more closely to the sounds around me? What will happen to my mind and sexuality as I age? As I push more and more closely into being a Senior Citizen, will I suddenly wake up one morning and start finding old ladies to be quite attractive? For the most part, my biochemistry seems to prefer women who are about my age, but if I wasn’t married and had to choose between someone 15 years younger vs. 15 years older, I am certain my biochemistry would favor the younger person, though my head and soul would favor the older one.

But, if all things considered, if I could ideally pick what happens with my sexuality, I would be happy having it all turned off after about the age of 60–if my wife goes before me, I would rather read books and meditate than chase women my age, like my dad has done.

For me, this business of aging is mostly a process of curiosity. It is weird no longer dyeing my hair, which I did in my twenties and thirties, and seeing how differently I am treated. For the most part, people treat me with more respect, but that isn’t always the case. I would say I receive a fair amount of inordinate and undeserved judgement as well as respect for appearing to be a much older man with a younger wife and son, even though my wife is only six years younger than me. For whatever it’s worth, from the pictures my wife has taken of me, I have to say that I probably wouldn’t care for me much, either, if I passed myself on the street. I seem to carry about a rather contemptuous, holier-than-thou look upon my face a lot of times, even when I thought at the moment I was merely casually observing something.

You might think that I am obsessed with myself in a narcissistic sort of way, or that I walk around with a mighty inferiority complex, but it’s more a matter of pure curiosity. I am a curiosity to myself. I mean, my outside form and the way that he interfaces with the rest of the world. There is certainly a disconnect between the inner me I know so well and the outer me that often feels like a clumsy turtle lifting up an awkward, heavy shell just to poke his head out and engage with others in a way where he can be understood.

Others are a curiosity as well. I have no doubt that every single human has as many varied thoughts about existence as I do running around in each of their heads. Some are much more articulate than I am about what they are thinking, many others probably think in pictures and sounds and the words they produce in verbal or written form seem crude and unintelligent–but they are actually every bit as full of brain power and curiosity as I am–they just weren’t given the tools and advantages I was to express what’s happening inside of them.

With all of these vast worlds running around, it seems like even the amount of books and online data we’ve collected on being human is but a tiny percentage of what there is to be known and understood.

What does it say about me that I read something I wrote twenty years ago

What does it say about me that I read something I wrote twenty years ago and found it both hilarious and completely disgusting? I remember grossing out my friend K with the story, and he was someone who was hard to one up when it came to irreverence and disgusting literature. I didn’t have the balls back then to turn it in as a short story for a creative writing class, and I’m not sure I will have the balls to post it on my main blog as I go back in time and try to post almost everything I’ve written in one place. I suppose that now, it’s not so much about having the balls or not, but about shaming my son–I’d hate for him to walk through life under the shadow of a dad with a reputation for having once attempted to write in the splatterpunk genre.

Reading what I wrote ten years ago, I have a different sort of response–I was whiny and full of myself and paralyzed from getting out of so many mucky holes I’d dug for myself financially, relationship-wise, career-wise, etc. You might not have gotten the impression I would ever amount to anything at all, having read some of this stuff.

The silver lining in all of it is that there is proof that people can change throughout their adult lives, even after they’ve stopped growing physically and educationally, and their careers are more or less incrementally improving. People can change no matter what is said about their personality traits or so-called ingrained characteristics. People do change in spite of themselves, sometimes, not because of any dedicated effort on their parts.

I suppose after I am long dead and gone, it will hardly matter what of my writing gets published, but I am somewhat apprehensive that the representative sample will be skewed to something salacious, titillating or downright offensive to almost anyone who reads it–something I wrote at the age of 20 with the sole purpose of hoping to offend everyone, including my unflappable best friend.

Of course, I could delete it. I’ve tried to delete every instance of one particular story, but I’d apparently embedded it in a massive file that had a collection of all my unfinished short stories, and that file has continually been copied over and over again each time I back things up.

On the other hand, I could optimistically hope for a future generation of humanity that is more forgiving than this one is. People screw up, make mistakes, say stupid things when they are young and many times when they are not-so-young, and these things aren’t necessarily reflective of their core character. Sometimes they probably are, as in the case of a repeat offender–but, not always. Then again, the only real forgiveness that will matter comes from above.

Sure, I could just go through all copies of stuff I wrote in the late 90s, and delete it all. I mean, it’s not like anyone at this point cares who I am or what I’ve written. Or, I could just let Fate take it where it will after I’ve died.

It remains to be determined what will happen.

Sober morning of acid reflux and backed up bowels

Sober morning of acid reflux and backed up bowels. Sad for yelling at wife and son. Sometimes wine brings it out. I found a nice wine in a can for sale at the grocery store and drank it. Beer makes me mellow, liquor accelerates whatever mood I’m in when I get started with it, and wine often makes me angry. Probably because wine puts me into a relaxed state more quickly and I take offense to anyone and anything that is preventing me from staying in that state. Coffee this morning. Thundershowers, heavy ones, last night. The dog was up a lot trying to dig a hole in her dog bed to burrow into. The little son seemed content to just sleep through it all.

The rain is still hitting the roof, sometimes in waves. I am hoping it will wash away all of the pollen for good. The pollen has been coming down thickly. Sometimes on a windy day you can see it blowing off the trees as if it were misting rain or a dust storm.

The big annual event in Austin is over, spring break is over, and people I went to school with and worked with over the past year and a half are probably over me. Of course, I am still working to get over me, but that’s a lifelong process.

The guitar keeps calling out to me to come and make some music with it. I wish that I could incorporate my writing and my guitar playing and my piano playing in such a way that isn’t cheesey sing-song-y shit, but isn’t tired, hipster douchebag spoken word shit, either. There is a lot of music in my head that keeps playing–I want to make an album like the James album Pleased to Meet You.

The music never comes out sounding quite like it does in my head.

The grand visions of an epic life live locked away for some other day. They are cryo-frozen, awaiting the day when they can thrive in a particular kind of world that is ready to embrace them.

The dog is gnawing on her dewclaw

The dog is gnawing on her dewclaw. I need to trim her claws, but I’ve been lazy about it. The old dog nail trimmers are dull and I should buy new ones. I’ve been lazy. I mean, I got done the basic things I needed to do, but I was pretty damn lazy today. I spent a lot of time browsing the news, as if I had some kind of stake in what happens in the world. I am only optimistic enough about the future in that I hold out some hope for my son–that he’ll be able to get in a good life while he can before it all turns to shit. The utopias of science fiction where we figure out how to live peacefully as a planet, use lots of cheap abundant, renewable energy, stop making so much trash, and start harvesting energy and water off of moons, planets, asteroids, meteors, etc so that we can advance out of the solar system–I tend to think that perhaps the present civilization will take a few steps back before it moves forward like this. What I’m trying to say is that we are ending an era of advancement that began around the time of the Enlightenment, but it is just one era that will collapse upon itself, retreat into dark ages, and re-materialize in a stronger, smarter fashion with a lot fewer people on the planet.

I don’t have a crystal ball, though. Perhaps in twenty years, I will be saluting my Russian or Chinese overlords as they invade a highly weakened United States, and my family and I will have to decide whether or not we want to be microchipped with a man’s number, a certain mark, and receive lots of goodies in the present life but with a small catch of eternal damnation.

I think about these things because I don’t think anyone else does. Sure, there are some crazy people who think about them in such a way that is highly unproductive and they end up giving their kids mumps or something. But, most functioning adults don’t think about them because they are afraid they would go crazy if they did.

I need to start reading my Bible again. Just reading it with a mind open to whatever insights I receive from the Spirit, rather than reading it as if I were the most arch and meta skeptic around. I need to concede that I am not a saint, but that doesn’t mean I can’t profit from keeping with the Bible, church and prayer as I have in my recent past.

I need to stop drinking beer and start getting up to run in the mornings again, but beer is just so tasty, even the really cheap stuff. I don’t get all warm and fuzzy and soft and nice simply by meditating and reading the Bible. The hard edges must stay away.

Reading back through where I was some eight years ago, the last time I was on the verge of going to work with many of the same people I am about to work with/for again, I see that a lot about me hasn’t really changed, it’s only softened to the point that it’s become curmudgeonly and accessibly gruff instead of bitter and nasty and asshole-y. My poor dog, on the other hand, has changed a lot in the last eight years. She is now 12, and she is very needy these days. She constantly stays by my side when I am home. She is hard of hearing, has cataracts, and even her nose doesn’t seem to sniff as well as it used to. She is almost unhealthily unhappy and morose when I leave for a few days. I am not sure if I will ever have another dog like this one. She has been truly my dog and I have truly been her human.

However, I’ve dealt with enough death to know that I will deal with her loss as well. I will deal with the loss of my dad, my aunt, my wife’s grandfather, parents and other people around my age who I once knew and then finally me. You might say the one consistent theme in all of my writing has been preparation for the loss of myself in the tradition of Montaigne.

A million ambitious projects and to-do lists all created to keep from having idle, devil-tooled hands

A million ambitious projects and to-do lists all created to keep from having idle, devil-tooled hands that run amuck and drink too much and take me to places physically and mentally and spiritually and emotionally that I don’t need to go–such is the design work that begins at the start of the vacation and gradually becomes forgotten as the vacation progresses and mundane chores around the house start to pile up–call the plumber to fix the toilet, get some groceries, vacuum the floors, prepare for the upcoming new job, finish up some contract work, hang some pictures, sort some boxes, etc.

But here now, what is this? A moment of quiet, much-needed quiet. I don’t need too much quiet, but this quiet is much-needed, if that makes any sense at all. Just the sound of finches chirping, morning doves cooing, the fan on this old laptop whirring, the dog gently breathing as she lays there pouting because I didn’t walk her yet. Other than that, and the sound of this keyboard clacking, it’s much needed quiet–oh, and the ceiling fan motor humming a bit. But, mostly quiet, because the kid’s TV shows are turned off, the kid and his mom are off at school and work and my new work hasn’t started yet so nobody is texting me, slacking me, emailing me, etc. about work, except a few emails from the HR department of the new work.

Thoughts are nagging me, or trying to, but I haven’t had enough coffee yet to let the nagging kind of thoughts run around wild and manic until I am completely required to get up and do something. The guitar is calling out to me, the new guitar–it’s calling me to come and play it and find some new groove to fill me and rock me for a few minutes before it becomes hackneyed and boring and trite and overdone–and it’s all just a bunch of pentatonic scale fumbling to some rhythm stuck in my head that makes my foot tap while I play but the rhythm changes every few seconds and so it ends up sounding as if I have no rhythm at all.

What would that be like, anyway, to create some brand new beat that no one has ever thought of–something not rock, country, jazz, samba, blues, funk, hip-hop, techno, etc.–something totally new and unheard of, un-thought of? Someone should teach an AI all of the different rhythms and beats that humans have ever invented and then tell it to mathematically come up with a new pattern of beats that have never been played before, but set the parameters such that it can’t just come up with something stupid like churning out one beat every thirteen minutes.

That’s not for me to do–I’m not that someone.

Why bother writing about dreams

Why bother writing about dreams, when they are most likely boring to anyone else who reads them? Writing about dreams helps me remember more dreams better, and I tend to wake up feeling entertained most of the time by all of the weirdness and chaos. Sometimes, I have dreams that end up manifesting themselves in real life in unexpected ways. We rode past a new TWA hotel when we were leaving JFK, and I kept thinking how much it reminded me of a dream where TWA had been resurrected as a company by Boeing. The imagery on the billboards coupled with the old TWA terminal behind the fence smacked of what I’d seen in the dream. Why shouldn’t dreams sometimes show the future? Right before my little brother died, I kept having dreams of him crashing the truck or crashing the family car (which he’d done, apparently, in our driveway though I didn’t know this). I also remember having a dream when my little brother was first born where he’d died in a sledding accident at a place in Colorado where we used to sled. I’d felt horror about it, and then forgotten it until he died in real life. I firmly believe that dreams mean something, try to tell me something, and the reason they end up being more crazy and entertaining than meaningful is entirely due to my own head and will getting in the way, rather than the dreams themselves being defective.

A lot of dreams are just full of fragments of desires and fears. Fears of things to come and desires for things that probably will never come. Dreams where I turn out to have had a full head of hair after all. Dreams of forgetting to take tests or needing to return to high school because I am still missing some key important thing about life that everyone else has understood, but I simply do not. Dreams of longing to travel to so many places and not getting to–often ending up thwarted at massive, labarynthine airports or waylaid by old cars and trucks that won’t start or get lost in similarly mazelike parking lots. Dreams of the old house, always ending up full of secret floors and rooms and passages and hidden treasures outside and crystal clear waters that fill the backyard or streets that end up being paved in the backyard. The old house is often missing most of my family, or my oldest brother finally returns. There is often tons of hand-me-down clothing from my brothers that I have to sort through and make a decision about what to keep.

Those kinds of dreams are, of course, indicators of all the crap I still carry around in my head, waylaid by the past and too incapable of lifting it up off of my back. There is, of course, nothing waiting from high school that I need to go back and learn, nothing from college, nothing that should ever prompt me to feel the need to go back and attempt to relive my past and live again at the old home. But, the dreams are always trying to tell me otherwise.