i’ve prepared extensively for a long run

i’ve prepared extensively for a long run tomorrow. all afternoon and into the evening, i’ve been drinking lots of water, stretching, and testing my muscles and new shoes for any potential problem areas. i ate a substantial amount of pasta and oysters. it is saturday night, so there is the potential for one of the apartments in the building to get noisy and prevent sleep. i will need at least seven hours of sleep to be successful tomorrow. i can no longer drink coffee to wake myself up, as this diuretic causes me to pee blood, my kidneys being overtaxed like dry wells. i sweat a lot, you know.

i sweat a lot on a muggy ninety degree day just going out to walk the dog. running sends me into my own private lake of sweat. i have yet to buy proper shorts to remedy this, though i’ve now purchased two running shirts that whisk the sweat away. the problem is, it tends to collect in a boggy pool in my shorts. you’ll hear me running at the end of even a six miler sloshing around a lot.

the other problem area is my left contact lens. i am on my last pair and was hoping to wait out at least a month before deciding whether to go in for a new prescription and new set of lenses or go under the laser and allow a man to shave my eyeball for good.

i’ve completed my grocery shopping. i did it at 4 pm today, what you would think would be one of the worst times to shop for groceries. however, when i went at 9 pm last saturday, i discovered that there were two checkers, but the same amount of people standing in line to purchase their groceries. at 4 pm on a saturday, you have a dozen checkers. it went surprisingly quickly, and i only got into a few traffic jams where slow-moving old ladies felt the need to block all traffic so they could ponder the true nature of ham vs. bologna, mayo vs. salad dressing.

i dyed my hair again. it is really pathetic on top if you look at it from above. i am considering at some point during the hot summer as i train for san antonio just giving up and going back to bald. it’s not like i’ve really gotten anything other than a few surprised glances from ladies at work for having grown it out again.

i spent a lot of time alone today, which seemed strange after many weekends of workplace obligations, my roommate dennis hanging around the apt to play video games, and lucy. with lucy being gone, my dad is really the only person left that i would actually go visit and hang out with, which is kind of pathetic. yet, i am afraid i don’t know how to go about making new friends anymore. no, scratch that. i am afraid i don’t know how to go about making new, positive, rewarding friendships anymore. if i ever did.

i am not so worried about it, though. in the next few months, there will be a significant amount of work on my plate, two nights of tutoring, and the training required for this marathon. i will be hard-pressed to slide back into those evenings of idle conversation, booze, and aimless living. filling your schedule with purposive activities tends to make most potential friends feel unwelcome.

several times today i actually found myself luxuriating in the sweetness of solitude, rather than looking wistfully over my shoulder at the imaginary friends i’ve often longed for. i know i’m in pretty far when that type of attitude starts–because, i’ll stop caring the least bit about impressing anyone to the point where i am a confirmed hermit who talks crazy when he arrives at work and has to deal with other people.

change is coming, but nobody will like this kind of change

anyone can walk the earth alone, and dead, without participating. anyone who is yet to be born again, or chooses to end it all and be a ghost can do this. you can travel as you like, and be a fly on the wall anywhere, anywhen. but, when you’ve a beating heart, and you do this, you feel like you’d rather be back inside a black, cold box, alone, unstimulated. the same rule applies when you try to connect, and smile, and say something nice, make a friendly word or gesture, let someone know you think that someone’s special, and you get that look upon you as if you are a ghost already.

to have a friend you must be a friend cries some witless fool who thinks he’s clever. it makes sense when you hear it for the first time, and so you go out and be a friend. you are used up faster than that roll of toilet paper sitting on the back of the porcelain stool in the bathroom. you meet some friends who’d rather bleed you slowly, and they say, yes, come back again next week and be a friend to us, so we can ask more of you. oh sure, we’re your friends. you’re not invited to anything other than a few occasions where we were certain you’d hear about everyone else getting invited, but, we’re your friends.

say something nice, says the advice columnist.
show them how unique you are.
let them know how special they are.
do a thing or two that makes you uncomfortable.
join groups you might not otherwise join.
speak up more.
dance.

they eye you suspiciously when you proffer nice words. they laugh at you derisively when you are yourself in all your unique glory. they already know how special they are. you find yourself watching the purses so they can dance when you do a thing or two that makes you uncomfortable. the groups eye you suspiciously when you come upon them. they all stare you down with incredible frowns and let you know you’re full of stupid questions when you speak up. nobody wants to dance with you.

everyone is complaining about the hot, dry summer, and you are in love with it. everyone hates early morning obligations, and you have to be up and running by six am. everyone saw the most remarkable show on television. everyone has eaten at this fabulous new tapas place. everyone is traveling to mexico and milan, and you’re going to bastrop. everyone is walking side-by-side as couples, laughing, engaged. you are disconnected, disengaged, alone.

you are crashing through the greenbelt alone, or maybe with your dog. the dust is thick, the air is thin, the water’s bracken, the crowds down at the springs are laughing, drunk and high, playing guitars and drums. the world is churning up stories of incredible change, the masses are demanding change. change is coming, but nobody will like this kind of change. the glare of a doubly refracted sun pierces the lenses of your nasty man sunglasses, and you move like a bullet through the scum collecting in the evening heat.

1st weekend notes

the first weekend in months and months where i don’t have to be anywhere for anybody at any time, and it is a struggle not to want to check email, read the news, wonder what some person out there who doesn’t care about me might be up to. what’s lucy doing? busy not thinking or caring about me. what’s gwen lilly doing? being very happy with the man she loves, who happens to be not me. then, this passes. there is work to do.
i have to sit here and type at 72pt type with my contacts out of my eyes as i try this little experiment to retrain them. they are keening madly as they try to focus on the large type dancing across the screen. is this an exercise in futility? should i resign myself to the fact that i will have to go get lasik eye surgery or wear contact lenses the rest of my life? the idea is that the eyes will get used to focusing again on their own without the crutch of the corrective lenses. then, perhaps at some point, i will be able to take the type size down five or six points, gradually training the eyes to focus at a distance again. so, i must write randomly to make new words jump across the screen for my eyes to read. let me discuss the morning run, what little there is to say of it. i found myself once again a man totally apart and disinterested in what the people around me were doing or saying. i stop at a drinking fountain and a couple of guys come up behind me to wait their turn, and one of them starts cooing over little buffy, and she hates it when grown men coo over her. a man must be a man, straightforward, lively, direct–that’s what little buffy thinks, anyway. these men who come to her and start cooing and fussing over her like old women do not impress her. come to think of it, little buffy doesn’t some old women, either–typically the ones who’ve got voices that grind and rasp from years of choking down cigarettes. people act offended, in a passive-aggressively polite sort of way if little buffy doesn’t warm right up to them. “oh, she’s just shy,” i’ll say when i’m feeling especially charitable. the people do not buy it, though, and look at me with suspicious eyes, like i must beat little buffy or something. i am not sure why some people insist that every dog they meet like them, as if it is some personal issue the dog has with them. imagine if you behaved that way around every single person you passed in public, walking up to them, and cooing over them, trying to be their best friend, and acting insulted if the person doesn’t warm right up to you. you’d be hauled off to the funny farm if you did it often enough. why should it be any different with a small dog that’s pretty smart, and has her preferences for whom she likes?
mostly, i don’t care what these other people are thinking, but i absolutely can’t stand it when one of them looks at me insistently, as if to say “can you please get your dog to like me–i really am not going to budge until you’ve talked to your dog, sat her down, and made her be friendly with me.” god, i hope it’s not like that if i ever have kids. i mean, my kids will probably be somewhat like me, and really not care to warm up to every stranger they meet (which i will be 100% okay with). anyway, the trail was maybe about as full as it usually is on a saturday, and a mob of runners were doing some type of calisthenic exercises under the mopac bridge, so i hauled little buffy over to the other side to let her get in and drink water. she won’t drink water out of the dog dishes they provide down there, sometimes will drink from the drinking fountain, usually will drink from a runtex water cooler paper cup, but mostly loves the taste of water straight from the lake. there is a dead thing that is very flat and tanned back along the greenbelt that she’s been rolling in every time we run by there. it took me awhile to make the connection, because i’ll typically not see it when i go running by it toward town lake, and she will just come up all covered in dust. i have to yell at her in my most angry dad voice to come on, buffy, we gotta get movin’. this dead thing is amazingly not picked over by vultures, or slowly rotted with fire ants and maggots coming to dine on it. it just appeared one morning, flat, tanned, dead, like it fell out of a nest and got squished by a bicycle. except, it would have to be a pretty big nest and bicycle because it is a pretty big dead thing, being bigger than a rat, about the size of a cat, but probably a possum or a raccon.

i just put my glasses on briefly, and am astounded by how sharp it all looks, maybe even a little sharper than it did before when i had my glasses on. i had to lapse into a brief nap there, and then was woken up by my next door neighbor playing loud bass music, a first in a while, or perhaps she does it all the time but i am usually not sitting here in bed anymore at this hour. it sounds like saturday morning/early afternoon loud sex music kind of bass, you know, the kind the neighbor cranks up to hide the sex noises with her boyfriend, as if anyone anymore cares about that sort of thing, when you can find all the homemade delights you want on the internet for free. it’s really just mildly annoying to hear how crappy and juvenile our pop music really is when all you get is a bass line. it sounds like a drunken tuba player in an oompah band, minus anything charming and quaint that might come with that. writing about the neighbors doing it under the loud oompah bass noises makes me want to masturbate to random pornography, and so i do. such as this weekend will be.

identity

the funny thing is, you’ll look back on these days of your life, in some of the years to come, as having been a few of the better days. sure, you’re alone, without a compass or a rudder, adrift. yes, three of your immediate family members have gone on. yes, you’ve managed to kill a few great relationships from ever turning into something special to last a lifetime with laughing children. of course, it sucks when you see that girl at work you liked so much last december already yukking it up with the new guy, comfortable enough to go hang with him in his office and full of her special spirit when she sees him. of course, it sucks being alone all the time.

but, the thing is, you have clean air to breathe, access to an easy food supply that keeps you healthy, drinkable water on tap, lots of sunny days and a gorgeous natural area right down the street from you. you have a great dog, and your dad still lives. you have an older brother that lives far away who would be a friend to you if you ever bothered to pick up the phone and call him. you have lots of sunlight, little pain, and hardly any chaos anymore.

that will change, of course. these are not the dark days, if there ever were any. the dark days will see man-made viruses and genetically modified food escaping their creators’ control, making us all very sick, and leaving us all very hungry. you cry out now about $4 a gallon at the pump. just wait until you have a summer full of blackouts in your sweltering little abode. just wait until your car is parked for good, ticketed, impounded, and your bicycle and motorcycle are stolen and the buses stop running. just wait until you are standing in line to buy rice, and hiding to avoid the angry mobs that attack anything that moves.

you will be faced with a choice: become a healer or a killer. you can do one or the other, and you will do one or the other, but you can’t do both. most people will become killers, buying guns to defend jars of peanut butter and old schwinn tenspeeds.

ask yourself, how would i fare if i could no longer have access to a regular food source, regular drinking water, regularly prescribed pharmaceuticals, electricity, internet? i read an article about young gay men accepting that getting hiv was just part of life, readily allowing it to happen because they knew a cocktail of drugs would be available to them. imagine what would happen in any sort of economic crisis where that supply is no longer a given. within a month, full-blown aids, and then several months of the worst kind of dying. i talked to gwen lilly at work about lasik eye surgery, and she said that even after a year and a half since getting it, the nerves that were severed in her eyes have not repaired properly, and she has to wear some kind of plugs and take eyedrops three times a day to keep her eyes tearing properly. imagine what would happen in some type of natural or manmade disaster (or if she was traveling in an exotic location and her time away from civilization was prolonged) and she no longer had access to those rewetting drops. in her state of dry-eyed misery, as her eyes started gluing shut, she would begin spitting on her fingers and rubbing the saliva into her eyes.

but even someone like me who takes no drugs, can live away from a/c forever–i get sick easily if i don’t have access to a regular diet of healthy foods. my immune system turns to crap and i become easily susceptible to everyone’s colds and flus. i know this because i’ve had many periods in my life where i stopped eating anything but one trip a day to the gas station for crap like chips and a gas station sandwich. i get sick and puny so quickly it’s scary. i do wear contacts, and i’m on my last pair, and i would have to wear glasses, and if some bullly smashed them, i would be for all practical purposes blind. if i had successful lasik, then i wouldn’t have to worry about an economic crisis preventing me from having access to eyewear, but if i had a lasik experience like gwen lilly did i would be totally screwed.

of course, going to get lasik is a once-and-for-all statement about my opinion of God’s ability to heal me, and the amount of faith i really have. and, if i exhibit such a lack of faith in his healing powers, will that prevent me from being a healer, thereby causing me to inevitably fall onto the path of the killer? on one level, i realize it’s an absurd question, on another, it does beg consideration. i honestly will have to admit that when i go to the doctor in three weeks for the complimentary screening, if i’m told i’m a good candidate, i’m going to do it, unless they say that my chances of ending up like gwen lilly are frighteningly high. if i’m told i’m a bad candidate, i will buy another six months’ worth of contacts, buy some more time, and buy me a motorcycle.

if you want to prepare for the coming global crisis that will come bursting through your door, you should keep in mind that holing up in a bunker two miles in the ground with a bunch of superfood and a ham radio isn’t necessarily going to keep you safe. heat-seeking, bunkerbusting technologies will find you. your superfood might go bad. God might return and decide that you are like the servant in the parable of the talents who hid what little he was given, and not want a damn thing to do with you. you will, of course, avoid the pesky mark of the beast on your hand or forehead, and getting caught up in all of that.

the beast is, of course, not a man or an animal or a demon, but the global economic system, the modern lie of money and all of its appeal. a faction or factions will attempt to destroy it, and it will take a seemingly deadly hit, but it will recover, because most humans will agree that we cannot survive without it. that special leader who saves the beast from dying will be the anti-christ. most humans will love and worship him for saving us from a perceived extinction. the questions of whether this president or that president is the anti-christ are moot because the point is really how with each successive leader the desire of the people to be saved by such a personality grows stronger. the anti-nixon saved us from that mess, the anti-carter saved us from that mess, the anti-reagan/bush saved us from that mess, the anti-clinton saved us from that mess, the anti-bush will save us from this mess. and, with each successive president, a more silver and clever tongue is required to dodge and evade all of the little cuts and darts and blows cast upon the candidate by the media, by us.

what is important to consider is: who will you be when the shit hits the fan? will you be one of the billions groveling and begging some terrible leader to put a mark on your forehead or hand so you can continue to drink beer and look at porn and eat cheeseburgers? will you be one of the millions looting the streets right before that clever leader rises up and saves the dying economic system? will you be fear? will you be a killer? or, will you be willing to take the blows of many, and not hide in your bunker, walking the streets as a sparrow or lilly of the field, full of faith that the Lord will provide for you?

these are the questions i ask myself as i read another news story about some violence done to a grad student in new york that might once have been unimaginable to many of us. there were the days when the czars in russia were killed, and the peasants performed unspeakable horrors upon each other. there were the days in sierra leone, where little children had limbs hacked off for the sake of trading diamonds. there were days in this country where indians and blacks were treated worse than dogs by white mustachioed men on horses taking sport in their work of abusive killing. but, we had a window of a few generations where most of us couldn’t imagine stories like the ones we read on cnn.com or foxnews.com.

but, what is really important to consider is: how will you behave when the shit hits the fan? you are an empty sort, devoid of the lusting and cravings that many have. you won’t spend any time playing poker, going to strip clubs, sitting in sports bars, shouting and whistling through it all, because you simply do not have it in you. you can’t play video games, or sustain a relationship with a favorite television show, or follow some human idol you’ve propped up as your little god. you realize your emptiness so keenly now as you try so hard to participate in those easy and light conversations that bring that girl at work you liked so much last december out of her cube to yuk it up with the new guy, compel her to hang with him in his office, and fill her full of her special spirit when she sees him.

you are empty because you wish to identify with no man, no thing. people fill themselves up with pop culture trivia and relationship chatter because they so terribly need to build their identities in this fashion. your identity, minus your gender, body, race, age, location, memories, breath–that is the identity you are most familiar with, an empty sort of thing that craves to be filled with God’s love when it is not swayed terribly by some beautiful lady like gwen lilly. and, because you are empty, you are nobody, when the shit hits the fan, you will have the opportunity to see the evil game once and for all for what it is, in its entirety and complete ugliness.

for the first time in your entire life, being the nobody that you are is starting to feel really good.

there was another side to all of that

there were men who remembered things you and i could barely even think to search the internet for, back in those days. they built things out of wood–great ships they sailed around the world, then destroyed. they knew what any plant they found could do, and could regrow severed limbs and gouged out eyeballs. you all who glory in the stories of the martial art masters of the east fail to understand that there was another side to all of that–the healing ones–the ones who could throw a ball of light from a hundred yards away to revive a drowned child. their lore was all oral, they had keen minds, and didn’t see the need to pass it on by etching stone or inking paper. in fact, you might say that the beginning of our history was the end of theirs.

for they were indeed men, and like all men, they had needs, and begat children who reveled in war and stupidity. and their children and children’s children were the ones who panicked at the realization so much knowledge of their ancestors was dying off, and so, the art of writing was born. what we now know to be true is that the more man has developed ways to record his every thought and memory and preserve them, the more inferior to his skyfaring forebears he has become. how those first men on earth would groan at the site of our rocket fuel exploding just to blast a few men into a low orbit of the earth.

there was a time when a man could turn his head and change his place in the universe, change the universe he was placed in, and certainly change himself to be anything he wanted to be. a man wasn’t really a man, as none of these great beings ever readily identified with a particular gender.

through millions of years, though, our dna remembered, and so did the dna of our plants and trees and the deep springs that flow through the earth. you can remember some of it, too, if you like. the problem, of course, is that you don’t care to remember. when faced with a solution that looks better than nothing at all, why bother to look for the best solution?

such is this universe

i hope that when i wake up from this that things won’t be too painful or uncomfortable. i hope i will find my way back and not get stuck again. i got stuck in an odd, imbalanced unreality where things were never as they seemed, but everyone urged me to make up new, unseemly things. i’d been around this amusement park one too many times. i could stand the occasional summer visit with some new friends or family to experience the roller coasters and water rides as if for the first time, but i couldn’t understand how people could keep going back every single day of the summer with season tickets to ride the exact same rides, see the same illusionists, lose at the same games, vomit up the same cotton candy. those people were hard core.

you can try to imagine, with some girlfriend you’re seeing, or with some girl you know and like, you and her together fifty years from now, doing exactly the same thing you’re doing; something like riding in her car, talking to each other. with, say, lucy, i could easily imagine it, and feel a little panicked. with vera, smothered. with olivia, sick and tired. with deidre, already dead. with moira erwin, in redneck hell. with karen winthrop, in hell, sick and tired, hopeless. with daisy deanfro, very nauseous, and likely in hell as well. with olive from the iah, pleasant, but bored. with, say, fawn dolen, lucky, but henpecked.

with gwen lilly, i don’t need to try to imagine it at all. it just seems perfectly normal to me that the two of us could be still carrying on the same conversation fifty years later in an automobile with only a few minor bumps, dings and scratches.

gwen lilly and i go on the last videotaping where we carpool together. she says she will have to meet me at the one tomorrow. i feel incredibly depressed the rest of the day, unable to really concentrate on any work, knowing that in a month or two i’ll get the organization-wide email from her or one of her close colleagues letting us know that she is engaged, and moving with her boyfriend to someplace like california.

i’ve had my share of crushes on women, both incredibly hopeless and hopeful–as my journal entries pathetically can attest. but, this is wildly different. i don’t have to make the least little effort to remind myself how much i like her when i see her and we get in her car. we go driving down the interstate, and for a moment, i can glimpse what it is like to be around someone who really makes you happy.

i thought at times i knew happiness with someone and how it felt, but i had no idea.

of course, the other part of the equation is that in a perfect world, a world of my own device, gwen lilly would consider the small amount of time she spent with me today and other recent days to be knowing happiness for the first time as well.

or, to be blunt and back in this world–she makes me so happy, i hopefully do my best not to offend her too much. how i’m feeling sitting there in her car talking to her is how both she and her boyfriend likely feel together.

such is this universe.

i walked on

is there something i’ve been missing here? well, the answer’s yes and no. was there something you all were talking about? you don’t want to know. was i catching the tip of the iceberg of conversations on lives and worlds my tiny mind can barely fathom? that is correct. would you care to elaborate and share, that i might someday be a part of your once impenetrable multiverse? no. will i ever shine? perhaps if you immolate yourself. will i ever be let into your house to join the party? if you can think of something to bring that we can briefly touch, then toss aside. can i ever possibly get a peek in the window? i don’t know, can you? but, how can i get in–you’re letting all these people inside!

they were letting rednecks in, and welfare moms, and cancer kids, too. they let in shifty-eyed perverts, and smirking religious nuts. the leaders of charities, and the traffic cop who stopped me last week, and ahmish people walking side by side with indians. if you stood at the door and told them how much you loved money, how money was your master, your god, your one reason for living, striving to do better, they let you in. sometimes, a benevolent soul had to think about it for awhile, but he soon came to the realization that he cherished his limited editions, his gourmet coffee, and chocolate truffles–therefore, he ultimately needed to bow before money.

i was addicted to a few things, nothing exceptional, but i soon felt like i was covered inside out with a million hungry little mouths, craving for the experiences and things i couldn’t have. food was scarce, and hunger overrode much of it. all i had to do was get a chip implanted in my forehead or wrist, and all of this pain would go away. i knew inside there would be scores of lovers waiting for me, banquets i’d never finish, fine spirits and wines, and…my precious internet connection. my dog deserted me, running off into the night in search of a noise that sounded like food to her. i think she became somebody’s food.

there was no light away from their house, no sun shone anymore. you’re already worshiping it, if you continue to stay here, someone cried, so you might as well go in or leave.

when they turned the lights back on, i was at that point, a hunted, wanted man, for having refused them when i could. my parents had raised me not to miss many of their things so much, but i had grown soft in the final years of easy pleasure.

you passed me out on the pitch black highway where some were cannibalizing, but most were lost in the agony of self-appointed starvation, having refused to give in to their demands. you passed me as i was headed away from the light of money and the eternal, infernal mark. your eyes shown in the dark, and you told me that you’d concluded an eternity of being raped and gnawed on by thousands was preferable to this darkness where you stumbled.

i held you briefly, and you began to walk with me, away from their house, but i was no saint and i hurt you as much as anyone ever had. i begged you one last time to go my way, to try and contemplate eternity for what it really was, and you told me you’d already been inside the house, showed me the scar on your hand, and admitted that you’d been sent to run ahead of me to try to seduce me to come back.

i’d loved you more than God himself on more than one occasion. and now, it tore me apart to see that you would go that way for all of eternity, and i would go this way. you would see two decades of soft easy pleasure in glorious artificial light, then an endless night of pain and sorrow. i would see two decades of unimaginable pain, losing all i called my own until i was a mere collection of stumps, blind, deaf, mute, covered in lashes and burns, every bone broken, every tooth kicked out, my sores left open for the next sadistic madman to come and wrack with pain–then, an endless day of blue skies, lazy grass, and family who’d gone before me.

i walked on while i could, ignoring the blows to my cheek, offering my other one.