Chapter Three: Steinbeck & The Dead

Genesis of Another American God

Thinking about it afterwards, it was probably the worst idea ever. You see, I’m the most enormous who fan sine that original Goldhawk mod Irish Jack Lyons. I buy into the whole idea of fitting your life into a band. The Who is the band that reflects me, reflects their audience. None of this posy Beatles crap or big ball Zeppelin asshole rock or any of the shitty new rock people like for some unknown reason. I like The Who, because they are all about taking the people in the audience and reflecting them in the music. It’s not about the singer, the song. It’s about the interaction. And so I decided to show Makayla the Ken Russell almost comic book feel Tommy. (A movie that get’s some essential points of the plot wrong.)

I could have known better. But I made her hate The Who. You see, with the rediscovering of the molestation fresh in her mind, anything that prompted those painful feelings scared her. And as is well known a central character of Tommy is the molester, known as Uncle Ernie. Well, it got to that scene, and she asked me to turn it off. I wanted her to see the whole thing, to understand damn it. This is life, my life. We’re all Tommy’s in our own way. We have to break the mirror, find our own salvations. And the minute we try to preach we fail the test of our faith. I guess I forgot the last part in trying to force her to watch a movie so central to my life.

She started crying at the scene where Keith Moon, as Uncle Ernie, is bumbling around the telephone. He takes Roger Daltrey (as Tommy) up into the bedroom, and starts his raving madman routine:

“You won’t shite,

As I fiddle abite,

Fiddle abite,

Fiddle about.”

“What’s wrong?”

“Can we skip this song,” she asked through her tears. I went on to the next scene. He’s looking at this mirror. He sees himself over and over in the mirror, and he escapes out into this almost apocalyptic looking field. He learns to play pinball.

I think this should calm her down, but the flames and the fire are just another sex symbol. Passion/Desire, you know? So it freaks her out, it shows that whatever pain we all have in our pasts, we can use it to make us strong. Most people don’t like this. It’s why they cut or go to church. Whatever catharsis works best for your abuse.

So she’s crying, but I insist on finishing the movie. I analyze every scene. In my mind I still play a priest, wanting to spread the joy to everyone, to heal, cure, heal. Lay my hands on every sickness and let the leprosy disappear. Christ. That’s the reincarnation I believed myself.

“No, we must keep watching,” I demanded on and on until the cycle completed and Tommy posed in the same position as his father, understanding the sun and the god-kisses of love to us all. We must find ourselves that sun that spreads out happiness, and we must go there alone.

Even thought it’s a long time ago in the movie, she’s still shaking at the Uncle Ernie scene. It doesn’t help things old Keith Moon (my favorite drummer, who I pattern my skin banging after) pops up again near the end. Forgiven. So she’s crying, we go back to my room. And the fight begins.

Another demon is on me now. It looks like an old man. Twisted face all up into mustaches afire. Flames along it’s back emblazoning its representation. Abuse. I don’t know the demon yet, but it comes to haunt me. I try to escape it, in dreams, in reality. Each hall I run down there it is waiting to envelop me. Christ? Fuck, I’m the Faust type Oscar Wilde speaks of.

“Why did you make me watch that?”

“It’s one of my favorite movies. I wanted to share it with you.”

“I hated it. I didn’t need to see that.” She’s biting the pillow, kicking around the bed. I don’t really blame her much. I’m sitting in my blue office chair and analyzing. That’s all I ever do. I look back and try to coldly realize what goes wrong. It’s the most impossible thing to remain the objective stand apart from society when you are so emotionally involved thanks to a few MIA neurons.  The realization always is the same, too. I’m both cold and over emotional. Distant from humanity with their balances. It’s not just the chemical thing though, I’m spiritually imbalance. Because I deliberately patterned myself after another Who protagonist. Jimmy Cooper.

You see, back in nineteen ninety six, the first realization—the first pivotal moment ever in my life, came upon me like the waves of the sea flowing over Tillamook Rock Lighthouse, where a crematorium now rests. A rock in the middle of the sea? Same as that pivotal water work that first so inspired and enlightened me.

Portland Oregon. Dragged up by parents to see some band I’d never heard of nor wanted to. Something called Quadrophenia. What the hell a Quadrophenia was I didn’t know or care. So we went up to Portland to see this nice little band from Shepherd’s Bush, The Who. Everyone suffered from a terrible band to being with, an awful warm up group. I figured the rest would go along the same lines. Crying, kicking, and screaming like any little kid not enjoying themselves.

We got like a hotdog with nacho cheese drizzled all over it enough to make you sick. Called it dinner. And went back in, with me complaining all through. And then the lights went down. I shut up because a video screen flashed on, and this British asshole in some green kind of coat started talking.

“My psychiatrist sad I wasn’t mad…” and bam!

The drums kicked in, and you could hear the grooves of the deepest bass ever. Drums like thunder rolling away and this hairy little blonde geezer pops onto the stage. He’s standing next to this old guy with white hair that’s strumming away on some electric-acoustic guitar. The blond dude starts screaming out:

“I went back to the doctor

To get another shrink

Have to tell him ‘bout my weekend

But he never betrays what he thinks…”

I wondered if this even counted as music. All my life before that I listened to folk and wordless classical music for the most part. I liked some of the Grateful Dead I’d heard, the more country stuff. “I lit out for Reno”, “steal your face,” and all that. It seemed God (the Christian one, I still believed) intended this as my rapture, my turning point. That old balding bastard jumped into the air higher than anyone I ever imagined, and twirled his arms around. Like a bullet into my head recalling the Kennedy’s I got it. I clapped along, hooked into the ocean of music. Love Reign O’er Me, indeed.

I was talking once with a pot-head and generally good natured friend of mine, Cyrus, who told me I facilitated a similar epiphany in Godfrey’s life. I introduce him to Hendrix, just playing purple haze once, and then some of my more preferred tracks. Voodoo Child and the more jazz oriented stuff off Electric Ladyland. He realized then the true power of music. He’d listened to jazz, world music, and when he started to further towards adulthood, the new rock bullshit. Not that new rock is all so bad, it’s just nothing compared to the power drives of say Pete Townshend or the banjo-picking cum electric guitar solos of Jerry Garcia.

Anyways I patterned myself as best I could after Jimmy Cooper. I fell into love with the music of The Who, eating everything I could find up. I even bought a few dozen ridiculous compilation CDs. Best of tracks. One I recall clearly mislabeled the classic song about a man buying a bus to get to his lover “Magic Blue.” No one I’ve spoken to about this understands how the Blue becomes transposed over the actual name—Magic Bus. I listened to Quadrophenia over and over. At the time, the only CD the family owned was that classic story of a boy raging against everything. Life, liberty, the old people, power lines, whatever got in his way. Then I got Tommy for Christmas, and combined with the best of tracks, I started on my way towards total Who fanaticism. It paid off. I know most of the trivia. I’ve read Tony Fletcher’s moon book. I know who the Mods were where they come from, what music they listened to. I dig dusty Springfield. I listen to Mose Allison.  I learned to play the drums—my first request of my teacher was “show me how to play like Keith Moon.” I’ve seen written some terrible fanboy songs.

 

Kill the mids

And kill the mockers

Most of all kill

Filthy rockers

 

Kill the mids

And kill the rockers

The mods will throw them

Off their knockers

 

Kill the rockers

Yeah yeah

Kill them all

Yeah yeah yeah

Kill the mids

Kill the mockers

And kill the rockers

Most of all

 

A very violent sentiment for an upper middle class brat who pretends himself all gung-ho for peace. I’m mired in contradictions like that. I want everyone to get alone, with brotherhood and sisterhood and understanding. The Age of Aquarius and all the sentiments of hair. But I’m militarist against anyone who displays the importance of my opinions, or even so much as suggests them wrong. Those people don’t deserve life.

Makayla and I finished out fight. We hugged, cried, and kissed. We fucked. We’d been fucking since a while ago, when our relationship moved up to there next level. This came after the whole Firth as the imagined love event.  He didn’t like her, and I forced him to tell her so. Well, he didn’t not like her, it’s just he felt no romantic inclinations. So everything went back to friendship.

Anyways, I used the trauma as an excuse, with the Abuse demon cheering me on. Only days before I stumbled across an article on the web that explained ways to get the hormones pumping. The one that intrigued me best stated simply that a fight gets the right juices flowing, and as a consequence, make up sex is always better than the so called normal sex.

I eyed the medallion, resting on the headboards of my bed. I wondered whether hypnosis worked. It’s one of those immoral fetishes brutes fall into. I include myself in that grouping. The monsters tear me apart, breaking my psyche up like muscles. They bleed to toughen up. I toughen up. Inside I’m the old fat man with a belt to whip the supposedly misbelieving wife. It’s a constant struggle to shake the goddamn demons off. Writing this, I know I’ll never find real love anymore. To confess is the saddest thing of all, because you piece yourself apart and lay it bare for judgments. It’s a lust for power, for control I never get. I want to dictate. All my hero’s are dictators: Townshend, Huey P. Newton, Sun Ra and Stalin. Wife abusers like Marvin Gaye.

 

*     *     *

 

I’m the kind of person who wants to share everything with their mate. This is of course annoying to almost everyone. But I’m patterned, deliberately. I make these conscious choices. Dali inspires me, Moon inspires me. Both with these huge attachments to their wives. I prefer Dali, because of the way Gala followed him. Well, she led him, really. Used his genius—put their minds together to come up with successful projects. I sought for that, try to force the women I fall into the hard love with to help me with my experiments.

So I wanted to share my friends with Makayla. My role-playing friends. You see, I am the kind of person that plays these imaginary games that people deride so much. Dungeons and Dragons, and all the bullshit. I started when I was a kid, with a little introductory adventure. It becomes this thing through my life, which I go away from, trying to leave but always pulls me back.

In high school I met a slightly older guy called Jake. Godfrey and I played this simplistic western game during our breaks, and I ran the storyline. But this Jake person played a different role playing game, with more people. So we gravitated over and started playing along. This went on for a while, and is where I really got to know Matthew. (We’d met in middle school, but generally ignored each other.)

Later we met a girl named Pheobe. A group of internet terrorists plagued a bunch of Corvallis blogs, and that’s how we all connected. We decide we would role-play together. I gathered up all the required people and we started to play an anime-based game. It soon turned, however, into an iteration of Pheobe’s boyfriend, Amos’ own gaming system called Aeons. Lucky bastard, everyone thought.

You see, Amos was one of the luckiest people ever. An anti-social malcontent, who immersed himself in math and computers, he found himself a great partner in the artist Pheobe. Now this artist wore pink-purple dyed hair, and had a smile stolen from the best pin-up models. Midsize chests and a penchant for wearing black and looking depressed. They both shared a very sarcastic sense of humor which mainly involved the deaths of little kids. And walruses.

So I played Aeons with Amos and Pheobe, along with Matthew, Jake, Firth and two other social misfits: one a balding technophile called Brent and a slightly obese existentialist Jew named Simon. The game: a fantasy/sci-fi crossover about angels and insanity. I portrayed an annoying little pixie that followed the god of Non-Sequitur. (Imagine the kind of pixie from your favorite fantasy novels.)

At these gaming sessions, I knocked back a six pack of Coke. Every week. Enough to down a dinosaur with all the chemicals pumping through the bloodstream.

Into this insanity, I brought Makayla, wanting to share everything with her. She like role-playing. Dice less, online role-playing to be exact. I didn’t get it to begin with, but it soon dawned on me as a literary experiment. Each person controlled one character, and would write the actions and thoughts, and so forth. But I introduced her to the more social games. She did not play, but she happily went along and watched.

And she got along very well with Phoebe. The two of them bonded like Keith Moon to John Entwistle. Like a monk to her apprentice. They both shared similar dark outlooks on life that included cutting. At least they cut clean, with sterile knives and never with a rusty old spade. I admit Jealousy beat himself down on me. I knew them both as confirmed bisexuals.

            So the rage inside me grew, but I held it back. It came out one night, when I lashed forward. You see, the girls planned on a girls night out. I didn’t want Makayla to go, but knowing I held no right to dictate a single thing, I let her go. I only showed my distress through my emotions. I even got riled up at something she said that I ran out into the night, tripping over a few bums on my way. I started streamlining towards the city hall. There’s this fountain there, like a waterfall. I planned to jump in and stick my head down until I killed myself.

Fortunately, Firth raced off to find me. He confronted me on the steps of this church. I realized I hated churches. It’s not natural, these places where you go and are told how to think and feel and how God plans things. If it’s so important, why doesn’t She come down and talk to people herself? Damn it, if there is a God the way any religion says, we’d all be following that one path. But there isn’t one path, there’s thousands. I became one of the God is yourself followers that night. I wanted to help people, to show people the way, as I struggled through tears. Another contradiction: people are inherently selfish. They don’t want the salvation. I keep losing that lesson and remembering it once more.

“You gotta go back,” Firth said. “It’s not that bad.”

“Oh yeah, how the fuck would you fucking know?”

“Oh come off it, stop pulling that bullshit.”

“Fuck you you little, little.” I broke down, sobbed. Everyone else that cared caught up. They brought me back to Pheobe and Amos’ house. Pheobe sat down with Makayla and me, and forced us to talk it out.

“It’s just—I don’t wanna lose you... I’m afraid I will.”

“It’s just a social thing. I never get to do anything without you. Let me go by myself.”

Pheobe excused herself. I calmed down a little.

“I guess. I acted stupid. I’m sorry.” I got a hug, a hand brushing through my hair. The sparkle in her eyes showed she genuinely cared.  “But can you please call me from where you’re going tonight.”

“O…okay.” I went back to the game. Very soon after that, the girls left. I ran out into the street again. One of the boys, Amos’ I think, came out. I decided to go home.

“We’re not done with the game tonight,” he said.

“I am,” I said, holding back the tears. He nodded, and went back inside. I called my parents for a ride home. Emotions mixed up inside of me. I noticed the power lines connecting everything. Cars brushed by, and the house across the corner started to look like the demons, like those ants that tear people’s faces apart. My ride pulled up, I went home. I composed rage poems of hate.

 

Rainy night church

We’re moving through the water

Don’t tell the abuse mother

Your brother toward your daughter

 

And here I am and sinking in

The sky is ever black

I can’t go in again

Or forwards looking back

 

Rainy night church

I’m her and it’s clear

I’m looking for you

To save me dear

 

Rainy night church

On the pedestal I preach

I’m having problems

But you’re out of reach

 

And here I am thinking in

Pissed and a half without gin

The power lines connect the sin

The skin pushed by painful pins

 

Rainy night church

We’re moving through the water

Don’t tell the abuse mother

Your brother toward your daughter

 

Don’t you go

Don’t you leave me

You are my life

You breathe me

I need you

 

Don’t run away

From me today

Don’t run away

Don’t run away

I need you

I need you

I need you

 

The rock and roll

That shakes men’s souls

It’s coming through to me

Connecting on

We love then we’re gone

I don’t wanna set you free

 

And here I am and sinking in

The sky is ever black

I can’t go in again

Or forwards looking back

 

Rainy night church

We’re moving through the water

Don’t tell the abuse mother

Your brother toward your daughter

 

Rainy night church

Gargoyles taking off

Get the pneumonia now

We all die with a cough

We’re bought off

 

*     *     *

 

It moved on towards Christmas, an okay but still semi-crumbling relationship. Always with the fights, the jealousy and the make ups. I hate you and love you so strongly I’d die you leave me and you don’t confirm I am the most important thing in the world I will jump off this bridge and drown in the water. I will become water. Stop ignoring me. The essential co-dependant dynamic. I hated it, wanted to escape. It kept me rolled in, like a thick and grasping carpet of seaweed. Another demon mingling mating and playing with all those others around me an in my peripheral vision and jumping on my back at exactly the worst time—I am so glad I beat the hate demon off constantly. It’s the words that pop out of the mouth at the perfect time to ruin the world. “I hate you,” the demon whispers into your mind. It pries open your mouth and tries to climb in. Just biting down keeps that demon from accomplishing its goal. I can never say those words, and I always twist them. When I mean someone is annoying me, when I want a change, I always spurt out “I love you.” I guess Hate’s friend, The Essential Lie, is powerful over me. I guess I’m trying to say “I respect you, I am endeared to you, but you’re making me crazy. I want to tear out all my hair and light it on fire just to make you stop.” But I just say, when I stroke hairs, and let a little foreshadow of a tear sparkle out my eye that I love them.

We went shopping for Christmas presents together, we snuggled. Spent time together. Found time and ways to sneak in sex. I’m sure we would have done it less if society didn’t find talking and doing such a thing so taboo. In its way our union acted as a rebellion thing, and like all looking back on all rebellions, it seems eminently stupid now. And then I went on vacation.

Almost every year my father and I go down to California. We start at Monterrey, where Steinbeck found his own Gods. The first year, I picked up Cannery Row, and hooked myself deep in the worldview of that Nobel Prize winner. We tend to die at a little cove, a national park, called Point Lobos. Local history suggests the little peninsula served as inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, as he spent time in the area.

Afterwards, at New Years, we go to a concert. Always a Grateful Dead related concert. The year prior, they worked under the name The Other Ones. This year, though, they reformed together as simply The Dead. Joan Osbourne, who sang that semi-annoying hit song “What is God was One of Us?” sang back-up. You could tell she turned on most of the over forty deadheads on vacation from their straight jobs as businessmen, doctors, garbage men, and so on.

Anyways, we left on the twenty-sixth. So I spent most of my winter break before leaving with Makayla. Telling her over and over how much I loved her, how beautiful I found her, how lucky I must be to be in love with such a wonderful girl. Best of all, I spent Christmas day at her house. We snuggled together by a fire, and simply relaxed. The biggest secret I hold is that a simple relaxation cuddle is what makes me happiest. In my mind I could put on some old records, like a collection of Irish folk songs, and simply sit back and hold my love to my chest as we kiss and tease each other.

Maybe I’m just too much the traditionalist for my own psychotic-artist progressive self.

She gave me a hat. The kind with a long tail. All purple, it reminded me o a dinosaur most people try their hardest to forget.  I admit, as a kid I liked Barney. But I soon got over it. Inside the hat she stuffed classic Christmas treats—cookies, Hershey’s kisses, and the like. Along with cards and drawings all describing how much she loved me.

So all happy, and thinking everything perfect, I went off to my vacation. I promised to call her every day. And I did. Like I said, I’m very psychotic. I really do scare myself most of the time. That’s why I keep on the pills, so I don’t go off and do something Mark David Chapman like. Imagine that, some snot little kid going up to Pete Townshend, saying “hull, can I have your autograph” and walking away. Pete comes back an hour later, and the kid shoots him. The demons told him too.

 

Aint it always the way

To get a new hit from an old group today

Kill the leader of the damned old band

You’ll make a million out of hand

Slay musicians across the land

Like John Lennon died in that fray

            Aint that the way?

 

            The demons are calling

            Hate and Fear crawling

            Over your back with Jealousy

            Only way to stop them

            Jump drown right in the sea

 

            We can play Faust

            Or play the Christ

            If we’re bleeding

            We’re the sacrifice

            Try to save, save the nation

            But they aren’t ready for salvation

 

            Aint that the way

            The words always say

            Something different than you mean

            Aint it that way

            You can never find

            An escape from the terror-dreams?

 

*     *     *

 

            Down in Monterrey, we dove each day. And one night we went to the rolling beach tide to look out and decided whether to starry dive. Night diving from the pier near the homeland security and coast guard station is a pain. Either it’s really high tide, and the water is washing all over the beach (if there is even any uncovered sand) or the tide is low and one must walk with all their equipment to the edge of the water and flop down like a flat flounder wallowing in the mud for more than five minutes. Add the hassle of pulling on tight flipper, checking the regulator, and inflating the buoyancy compensation device and it’s a real nightmare. Finally, the water rushes over the head and it’s a drowning.

            The swill and sway of the ocean, the little bits of sand opened before my eyes. Little fish played amongst the sand, and ran at the evil attacking monsters floating now above them like the seals they knew ate their poor brethren in the open waters. Then, little purple angels float by. I start to shiver slightly. I can never eat squid now, seeing them as I did. They float by in the translucent transcendent form. Neon glow of small tentacle moved animals enlightened me, brought me rapture.

            Diving is my meditation. It’s not easy to explain to the layman, but all the Cousteau’s and imitators of the world understand. When you are underwater, you can not only fly, but observe. It’s a sight most other people never see, whether a fish attacking furiously to save its eggs or just a seal slapping on the back of the plastic fin. And even when there is nothing to see, there is peacefulness. Underwater is no talking, only observation and movement. You swim with the beat of the water like the lapping of a saxophone taking up a high trill, or dive down with the bass and it’s bumbling.

            The ocean is Jazz. That’s specific, but I extrapolate a paranoiac-critical generalization from my understanding of the metaphor. Water, in any form, is always music. The thoughts, feelings, and actions of the time you approach, will frame the genre. Anger will find a raging sea with metal music, and all the screaming of pain. A gentle afternoon in the countryside finds a small, poetically gurgling brook playing pastoral pieces. A well in an old mining town, run down and lost to time, if chanced upon, clearly sings the songs of the past: listen and hear the country, western, and Okie folk songs sung around the old meeting place. Go to your faucet now, and turn on the spigot. Listen to the rush of water, a techno gurgle.

            After a successful dive, I pulled off the wetsuit. To my terror, and shock, the neck lining broke, and during the dive water rushed in. I started to shiver. Pulling off my black fleece shirt, I went around in the middle of the winter night (about eight o’clock) with a bare and pathetic chest drying in the bitter cold wind.

            I’m proud of my chest. I maintain it looks like Jim Morrison in the famous picture promoting the Doors. If I could sing powerhouse I would come out on stage without a shirt. The girls would clap and cheer the Jesus like poses I struck with parts of my ribcage showing through my skin.

            I dried out the wet clothes in the van. My father looked at the glue on the dry suit. He pulled me out into the cold once more, and showed me the yellow lines that attached the neck to the rest of the suit.

            “See, it’s not done well… it must have been a bad glue,” he said. “We’ll have to send it back, and get it fixed. Good thing I brought your dry suit.”

            “You did?”

            “Yes. We can still go to Point Lobos tomorrow.” I shivered. When something goes wrong on a dive trip, it seems to go downhill. One year I dropped my weight belt after a long and enjoyable dive. A pain hit my ribs. For the rest of the week my ribcage hurt, especially after a dive. I just wanted to dive, without hurting myself, and then take a long relaxing soak alone in a hot tub. (And molest women with my mind, imagining all the things I, unscrupulous, could do to them.) I guess I actually look rather suspicious on my own, which is why most people never talk to me. It scares me when someone does talk to me. I always wonder what they want. Everyone, I well know, has an agenda. Everyone wants to screw me somehow, and not in the pleasant way that Robert Crumb and me are so misfit about.

            Back in the hotel, I borrowed my father’s cell phone. I called Makayla.

            “Hi….”

            “Um, Hi.”

            “It’s Derrik.”

            “Oh, Hi. How are you?”

            “I’m good. Having fun. You?”

            “Yeah. Me and Careen went out with Matthew the other day to shop. It was rather fun.”

            “I’m glad. … I love you.”

            “I love you too.”

            “I love you.”

            “You just said.”

            “I know, I just wanted to say it again.”

            “You silly pine marten.”

            “Well, I got to go.”

            “But—“

            “Love you. Talk to you again tomorrow.”

            “Talk to you….”

            She hung up. I sighed, and felt the sickness in my stomach once more. Not like the hurt rib, but like someone cut the rib out and began to chomp on it, pouring salt and acid into the wounds. I went into the bathroom and tried to vomit. I found I couldn’t. My father asked if I felt okay. I said yes, and we went off to dinner in a fancy restaurant. The kind of place with a Wolfgang Puck or Bobby Flay endorsement that serves regular people food with ridiculously fancy embellishments on the side as plating. I ate a very good steak for the price. You could smell all the mingling tastes of people’s modern culinary creations in the air.

 

*     *     *

 

            So the next morning I woke up early for a vacation. I went down with my father to a Starbucks in the modern-city portion of the tourist town. It seemed as far removed from the quaint little fishing town recovering from the Great Depression and its own history of conquistadors as possible. I went specifically to use my father’s laptop to sign onto the slimmed down version of the instant messaging service I used. After half an hour of trying to establish a connection I managed to connect. I breathed a sigh of relief as I found Makayla online.

            <<Hey you.>> She said.

            <<Hey…>>

            <<Is something wrong?>>

            <<I’m feeling kind of sick, kind of bad.>>

            <<Did I do something wrong?>>

            <I dunno… well, last night I wanted to talk.>>

            <<I’m sorry, I had homework to do… can you talk now?>>

            <<Not really…but I wanted to tell you I loved you.>>

            <<You told me that last night.>>

            <<I wanted to say it more, like a rain of praise.>>

            <<Ah. Well, I love you too.>>

            <<I know… look, I gotta go. Talk to you later?>>

            <<Kay.>>

            I went off for a day of diving in coves, playing and splashing around near seals, and observing the underwater plant life. I always thought kelp much more beautiful than geraniums. There is something elegant in the simplicity of a weed forest floating through the ocean. Sometimes I wish I could become kelp, and meld into the forests, wasted away in water, drunk with the delight of each current. Swishing one way and then another like the lapping of waves. I imagine I would feel faded, that new lingo for simple drunkenness. Real faded, like lines and colors are missing over time, until there is nothing. As kelp, I would eventually break down into the elements and drift off, piece by piece, into the sea.

 

*     *     *

 

            After the week of diving, we went to San Francisco for the last three days of December. More accurately, we spent the time in Oakland, to see a Dead show. (The Dead, as I said before, being all the member of the original peace love and jam band The Grateful Dead, sans the most popular banjo picker ever to cross over to electric guitar: Jerry “Spudboy” Garcia.)

           

            Lost in the music

            Forget all cares

            Lost in the music

            As if you dare

            Lost in the music

            Lost in space

            Lost in time

            Loss showing on your face

 

            Are you listen, listening

            To the thousands

            People marching

            Loving caring

            Shoving daring

            As they are glistening?

 

            Music shows me the way

            Like the water

            Like the waves

Like the lost sailors in their

Forgotten depths

            Forgotten graves

I know the way.

 

            Lost in the music

            Forget all cares

            Lost in the music

            As if you dare

            Lost in the music

            Lost in space

            Lost in time

            Loss showing on your face


            We try to get lost

Each mind its own holocaust

Some tempest has tossed

Music escapes like cut from pain

Drums pounding now

Like pouring rain

Just gotta get lost again

We all sing the same refrain

 

            Lost in the music

            Forget all cares

            Lost in the music

            As if you dare

            Lost in the music

            Lost in space

            Lost in time

            Loss showing on your face

 

            A good concert, by all reckonings, with great singers and talented players. Everyone swept up in the tide of good feelings, and at midnight everyone burst out into Auld Lang Syne. I slept most of the next day, my father driving the van nonstop back to Oregon. He gets crazy like that sometimes, a demented racer. When I really regained consciousness, at about eight in the evening, we stopped for dinner in the small town of Yreka. I never got the chance to see the town much, but it looked lovely from the car. Just small enough of a town to charm me. I can handle big cities and small farm towns. Its those in between I hate. I’d rather know nobody or everybody than only a handful of people.

            Chatting with a stopped trucker, we learned the big problem facing us. It snowed on the mountain passes. A real snow, requiring chains and careful driving. Mystical unexpected occurrence for the Pacific Northwest. I put on Miles Davis live. Bitches Brew. As the little flakes of white pressed suicidal into our oncoming car, and the wind outside in the California desert seemed more attuned to the tundra, I composed again. I suppose it’s what I really own, the words and mind pictures I create. That’s why I do it so much.

 

            Snow fall flake is suicidal

            Right into my eye

            We’re half blind

            Is this heaven

            White reflection refraction

            Nature order retraction

            After we die?

 

            Once I went to a cabin

            In the midst of winter snow

            I felt cold they brought me soup

            Like Monks should do you know

 

            And now where the frozen wasteland

            Extends on miles and miles

            Will the monks come here again

            Will it show worthwhile?

 

            Falling fast like a hyperdrive

            Into this snowstorm we’re still alive

            If I ever get out of here

            I tell you Hell, I have no fear

            Save me lifters, angels by my side

            Make me, shake me

            Let the demons die

 

            Falling fast like a hyerdrive

            Sick darkness the demons thrive

            I’m trying to get out of here

            But I’m in Hell, with so much fear

            Please lifters, come to my side

            Make me, shake me

            The demons die

 

            I close my eyes

            To stop the tears

            I cannot cry

            For all these fears

           

            I cannot appear

            Ever weak

            I cannot let

            My own heart speak

 

            Riding through snow in the storm

            Riding through snow though warm

            A truck large passing by

            Soon looks like I will die

            Don’t wanna die

            Don’t wanna die

            Don’t wanna die

 

            Where are those monks

            And their soup of Heaven

            Where are you Rabbi

            With bread unleavened

            Where are you angels

            You lifters so near

            I’m swallowed up

            Forever in fear

 

*    *     *

 

I leave my body for a time, as we’re making our way through the passes near Ashland, Oregon. Still snow flurries. I’m looking down, and I see myself, vegetable, sunken into the seat, a hand resting at my crotch. I take the time, on long road trips, to indulge in fantasy. I usually think about a life as a girl, or as the most powerful being in the universe, able to shape eternity and bend it towards my will. And my will is always something sexual.

In these fantasies I turn into a woman, bear children, change the gender of other people. I make love, passionately with everyone lined up all around the world. Everyone gets a turn. I mean everyone, from farmers to Freudian psychologists. Combinations: guy/guy, girl/girl, guy/girl, transsexual/guy, transsexual/girl, not to mention the orgies. But mainly I imagine my life as a woman.

Though these thoughts came from an earlier comment by my mother and aunt, it took form in Spain. Figueres. The little town Salvador Dali came from, when I became suddenly and irrevocably and initiate into the search for the enigma of everything. Dali… Dali… Dali… a book I read when young, perhaps the first adult book I read, is perhaps better not called a book. A survey of Dalian painting and thought, I turned the pages with terror as each new nightmare unfolded. Then a new and beautiful painting lit the room. Not literally of course, but it showed a true religion to my mind. A young girl lifted the water up to view a sleeping little dog.

“Dali, at the age of six, when he thought he was a girl, lifting the skin of the sea to watch the dog sleeping in its shadow,” said the book.

Mind shattered.

The anchor snapped.

Fragmented. Disjointed.

The line fell.

You can change your sex?

I want to—I need to become a girl…