Monthly Archives: September 2020

Alternative Realities


I heard somewhere recently (it may have been Joe Rogan’s podcast, but who knows really) how strange people’s beliefs really are … and how little it matters.

Like, for example, you could be at the grocery store, and on the other side of the conveyor belt from you could be a person who believes that Mohammed flew to the moon on a winged horse. Or that God literally created the earth in seven days about six thousand years ago. Or that 9/11 was an inside job, or that we never walked on the moon. Or that evolution is a hoax.

People believe all kinds of crazy stuff.

Thing is, there was a time — and that time feels like it was not even so very long ago — where that kind of thing just didn’t matter. Sure, you’ve got people believing all sorts of madness, but when it came to the day-to-day reality they walked around in, we could all pretty much agree on what reality was and what mattered in the here-and-now.

Sure, we may have different beliefs on how life came to be on this planet, but right now, these groceries are here. They need bagging, and I’d like to pay for them. And the world shuffles on.

That feels, somehow, less true, now.

Because more and more out beliefs seem to glom onto one another and fall into us over here and them over there thinking. Wearing a mask, for example, seems to send the message that you just might be an ultra-liberal, Biden-voting socialist, and not wearing one seems to say you just might be a Trump supporter in a death cult. And that seems to contaminate even the simple act of checking out at the grocery store. (How can we carry on a relationship, no matter how brief, when one party seems concerned for the well-being of the other — as evidenced by mask-wearing — when the other thinks the first is foolish for even thinking about it?)

Less and less it feels like we even inhabit the same reality. It’s almost as if you can choose the reality that you live in, and the differences between those realities are vast and significant. And the differences in our realities seem to matter more and more.

Social media, and even media generally is no help. All we see are the extremes.

This is poisoning everything.

How the hell do we get back from this?


Lights in the Sky


Strange lights in the sky on my run this morning.

Double-strange given it was cloudy.

Huffing along between home and the soccer fields, something lit up the street; flickering and flashing like an explosion, electric blue and omnipresent. It cast my shadow in a leaping, stuttering stop-motion in front of me.

I turned, but whatever caused it was gone. Heat lightning? Some distant transformer explosion? Impossible to tell. It struck again a few seconds later, and was accompanied this time by the flickering of the street lights and distant field lights of the soccer fields. And then the light stopped, and did not come again.

No big deal, I guess. When I got home there was no sign that the power had gone out. But what if it had gone out? For a few hours? For a day? A week?

What if the power went out and didn’t come back for years?

(I think there was a show based on this concept; one of those gritty dystopias that were so popular a few years ago.)

I wonder how life on the local level would be disrupted if we had to do without all our electronics, even for just a few days. Or how it would be for the country as a whole.

On the one hand, I almost think it’d be a welcome development. On the other, I don’t know if absolute utter chaos is a strong enough description.


OMG DAD


The ambush predator lies in wait.

It disguises itself, or hides itself, under bushes or in crevices in rocks, blending in with its surroundings. It lurks.

The ambush predator is not built to take its quarry head-on; it’s not built for that. The ambush predator is not a creature of great strength. If it sees that you see it coming, you are as safe as can be.

But when it can take you unawares …

You will be dead before you even realize you’ve been attacked.

This is how my son tells me stories.

If you haven’t been told a story by somebody younger than 10 lately, let me enlighten you. They know what punctuation is, but they’re not much impressed. It’s like having one of those walls-of-text you see on the internet read to you by an AI voice that doesn’t need to breathe or pause or think. Pure aural overload.

HEY dad i was playing this game and i found this guy and he was a bad guy but you know what i was STRONGER than him so i used my guy’s laser power but it didn’t work so THEN do you know what i did I went and got my sister oh but she as mad at me and she hit me in the leg and I think she should be in trouble for that don’t you because she hits me all the time and it’s not fair but she came with me and we went after the guy and now he’s dead wanna see?

And all I wanted was to make it to the kitchen and back for a glass of water to head back to bed for another thirty minutes.

I mean, the sun’s not even up yet, and I’m being brutalized by this affront to grammar, by this run-on sentence from the sixth circle of hell.

And the thing is, like an ambush predator, he has to spring it on me. He has to wait around the side of a door and pounce on me as I walk through, or sit on the couch in the living room in the dark and wait for me to walk past, or even creep up at the side of the bed while I’m *still sleeping* to launch into one of these impromptu sermons.

He barely stops to breathe.

And it’s sort of cute — sort of — that he’s so enthusiastic about everything. That there’s wonder and amazement in almost everything that happens to him, that a little thing like seeing a bug on a windowsill can get him so worked up that he almost goes red in the face just trying to get it all out and tell me every emotion he had about it.

I wish I had that energy.


Breaks


I usually have some big-time hangups about taking breaks; especially breaks from workouts and runs. But I allowed myself some days off this week for some aches and pains and not only does it feel, a few days on, that it was the right thing to do (I’m 40 now, after all), but I’m surprisingly not beating myself up about it.

Perhaps I feel less bad about taking a break from the physical because I’ve been making good progress with the novel lately. Particularly, it feels like I’m reaching the end of the editing phase where I might actually let some poor souls read it and tell me how bad it is for somebody outside my own head. Usually those two tides rise and fall together — the body feeds the mind after all — but now and then an ebb in one means a flow in the other.

Anyway, we’ve got a week off from this “school” thing we’re attempting to do, and that break feels well-earned, too.

Do I deserve it? Probably not.

Am I going to enjoy every minute of it? You bet.

Will I still have quickies posted? Your guess is as good as mine.


Job Security


The roof in my building leaks.

There are a couple spots — I’m in a biggish building — but the regular offender is our prop room. Water comes in right in the corner by the door and about ten feet further on, where it pools in the light fixture. This freaked me out at first, but the guy told me it was nothing to worry about.

It has leaked for years, and every year, they fix it. (“Fix” it.) It gets good and dry back there, and when it rains a bit, sure enough, it stays dry. For just long enough for us to begin taking it for granted. Then months later, heavy rains come (and, uh, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it’s currently raining heavily in the South), and that familiar pat-pat-pat starts up.

And the guy comes back around to fix it (“fix” it). We see each other and shake our heads, as if to say, “here we are again, huh?” And he’ll say something like “thought we had it licked last time” and I’ll say “yep, man, it’s been bone dry for the longest time, but all of a sudden…” and off he goes to fix it (“fix” it) again. There’s a kind of resignation about the guy every time I see him, yet he’s always smiling. Like he’s been beat down by the job or by life or whatever, but he’s happy to go a few more rounds.

Of course, the pat-pat-pat that means I have to clean out the prop room again is just the sound of job security to him. Size of our campus, there are always leaky roofs.


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