11.19.2016

13% [chapter 22]

STARES TO NOWHERE


On the flip side of your handsewn musical memory's buttflap stretched a snake skinned seamline whose name is Lydia Lunch.


At The Record Exchange in Princeton, New Jersey, just after turning 15, you spent the money you received from your crappy job running a hot dog stand in the lobby of a pre-Walmart department store called Jamesway on the first vinyl record in your collection: '13.13'. You had no idea who Lydia Lunch was, but the cover was all black with red text and you instantly adherred to the song titles printed on the back: 'Afraid Of Your Company', 'Lock Your Door', 'Suicide Ocean', 'Snakepit Breakdown', 'Dance of the Dead Children'.


13's always been your favorite number. You felt sympathetic for it having received such a bad rep when it did nothing wrong except be unique and meaningfully prime to pre-Christian calendars and Mother Earth-centric festivities celebrated by potent thick-ribbed women before they were all branded as whores and condemned to death; untold millions drowned, hung, boiled or burned alive for knowing the healing medicinal properties of plants we now commonly call weeds. Masculine consorts seized the holy stations where women stood defenseless because there was no such thing as weapons or fences or war for over a thousand years. Then the conquerors dressed themselves up in flowing robes, grew their hair long, wore fake padded boobs and ritually pretended to menstruate monthly. Instated, they took the daughters of those women burned at the stake and forced them to dance around the pole 100 times, barefoot in the smoldering red hot coals of their mother's scorched remains so as to ingrain in them what would happen if they disobeyed the new laws of the male god. All in terrific disdain for the philosophies they could not control and the life-giving abilities they could not contain. Penis envy is a Freudian phrase that's about a hundred years old, but womb envy's been going strong for 5000 or so.


The moment the needle dropped, you felt relief. These songs made it ok to be this angry. To seek some poetic retreat from the worries that rained down amidst cold war threats of nuclear destruction, to the things that were being done to your young numb feminine body, to the fucked up foot binding rules society was expecting you to follow without question. This record let you know it was your duty to voice dissent. Even if no one ever heard your hollow holler, it was better than ending up like your mother; whittled down into submission, cleaning up in service to an unappreciative master, doing the best she can, passive aggressively getting her way by naggingly not taking a stand.


After becomming engaged with your new tattoo machine, you spent ages designing and drawing and inking Lydia's image from that album cover. 13 snakes portraying Medusa hair wrapped ouroborous-like around your forearm, along with the words "cvm patentia" (with patience). A reminder that whenever you felt suicidal, the best thing you could do is just wait. So many times, a few days after crying yourself down into a gluten-induced tarpit, you'd feel fine and realize that life was actually ok. Then some pleasantly gentle thing would happen and while smiling, you'd tell yourself, "Gee, sure am glad i didn't off myself last week." Approximately 40,000 times, this has been the case.


Synchronicity explains how then, after seeing the tattoo you were working on, a friend told you that Lydia Lunch was coming to play in San Francisco that weekend. A special set of the songs from '13.13'. Another friend gave you a free ticket at the door. And you spent that entire night not believing this wasn't a dream, a mere 28 years in the making.


Upstairs, just after the gig, you stood 3 feet away from her but couldn't bring the awkward teen inside you to say anything susinct. You were just grateful being there, hearing all those songs again, as if the universe was pouring forth rays of serendipity all over you and all you could do in your starstruck state was stare into the headlights. Death was coming like a speeding train to crush you down into nothingness again, but for now, that was totally ok. At that moment you felt you were standing in exactly the best fated time and space.


Less than a month later you were invited to play an opening set on stage in LA where she was headlining for the Extreme Futurist Festival on December 22, 2012. The first day after the End of the World. Just being invited was a miracle in itself. Something that never happened. You'd become accustomed to organizing events on your own because it was the only way you could ever play shows, by putting yourself in the mix instead of waiting around forever for someone else to book you a gig. Even if just across the Bay Bridge. So being invited to play such a huge festival in LA was absolutely monolithic.


A further surprise was that this invite came from someone to whom you were an outright bitch. Rachel had been flown to SF to play at a Throbbing Gristle tribute festival called Destroy the Universe a few years earlier. But while helping set up the stage for her soundcheck, you found her demands arrogantly shortsighted and rude. Completely stressed out and overtired you told her, loud enough so that all the other bands could hear, "Ya know, being a dick to the person who's running your sound is a really bad idea. No one deserves to be treated like shit!" She quickly recognized the sense in this. Pleasantries were exchanged afterward and you stopped scowling eventually.


By now, it was like you'd become the proxy mom while staging shows, telling young rock stars and divas to remember to say please and thank you and to clean up after themselves. It's called having consideration for others. And it disgusted you that these things had to sometimes be said out loud.


Being doormatty and pleasing other people laid flat in contrast to this sad outstanding fact that the only people who seemed to have any respect for what you were doing were the ones you stood up to. And you're resoundingly grateful that Rachel even remembered such a smalltimer like you. Other folks just walked all over you. Because you let them, stupid. Because you thought that's how you make friends, by being kind and useful. But those people weren't friends, they were just opportunists using you. Shoulda figured that out by middle school. When you get good grades everyone hates you. So you learned how to dim your light, hide your potential, not speak your mind, fail on purpose so that you could have a social life. And look where it got you.


Putting all that behind you, you got too psyched about the prospect of playing on the same stage as the woman who had initially inspired you to make music in the first place. And your shits quickly turned into cement bricks. Looking to social media for proof that this was real, you excitedly posted the flyer for the upcoming festival with your band name proudly emblazened on the amazing lineup below Lydia Lunch, Survival Research Laboratories and NegativeLand. But no one responded or commented or liked this wonderful thing you'd been invited to do. In shocking astonishment, you reposted the news a few days later to the same non-responsive silence. And again. With spiralling eyes. Still, nothing. After years spent congratulating other people's record deals and massive tour bookings and escalading accolades of success and achievement, finally here was your Yay Hooray. But no one was happy for you. Not one person.


Devastated, you were beyond hurt. You'd taken for granted how much it meant to feel that someone else out there was rooting for you. This was something even your own mother would never do and that magnified this perceived damage. How hard was it to click a stupid fucking little button? Confused as to what you must have done to all 400 of the super friends in this community for them to collectively consider you such an undeserving asshole, you waffled and flailed and stewed, alone on a computer in your room. Clinging to these unravelling strings of disbelief, you sent messages to 3 or 4 other musicians, inviting them to come play this stellar show with you, willingly splitting up the 45 minute set to share the ample stagetime with others you felt close to. To share the joy. But they all said no, too.


More than just a slap in the face, or a punch in the gut, this total absence of support completely threw you for an endless looping mindfuck; its degrading mental tail spin dragged you further down the dark self-doubting trail than you can, even now, relive without feeling a bit sick. Abandonment via social media made you go from shitting bricks to being just a piece of shit that shits shit bricks. Virtual poo with poo in it.


Then, a week before the festival, Kat, whom you'd been playing with in an improv noise trio replied and said ok. She'd go with you. Exhaling exasperated gasps of relief, you set about making a papier mache mask of a huge dead bird skull that would disguise your scared shitless face while standing on stage. In sloppy speed driven agonized haste over too many sticky twitchy nights and long drawn out days, you decided you'd rent the truck, do all the driving and reserve the hotel room where you'd both stay. Kat was from LA, so all she had to do was give you directions to the venue.You'd use all your rent money to pay for everything and bring a bunch of merch to sell, hopefully making up the difference. This was a risk you were willing to take because, hey, This Was Your One Big Break.


The night before leaving for LA while obsessively repacking all your gear, a cold breeze wafted through your room at 3 in the morning whispering, "Leave now. On your own. Just Go."


"No, i can't do that. Kat'll be upset if i leave without her..."


For a moment though, you did consider the freedom of doing just that after being so torn through and deboned by that searing high-pitched lack of anyone having your actual back.


As you began loading shit into the truck, you got a parking ticket. Then another. And another as you waited for Kat to arrive at 9 AM. A dread had sunken in by then that was so thick and biley, you felt certain something really fucking awful was going to happen. Like an accident. A car crash. Or some other kind of foreseen disaster. So you procrastinated. Hour after hour, you waited for this nauseous anxious feeling to go away, and got yet another parking ticket in your panicked state. At noon, realizing this trip had already cost you $180 without going anywhere, you and Kat finally drove onto the interstate.


Driving down the grapevine into Los Angeles at rush hour, you ran out of gas in the dense freeway's middle lane. A big strong blonde woman stopped traffic by parking her car across the fast lanes so that you could let the truck roll backward into the breakdown lane. With semis blustering by every few seconds, the stalled truck rocked and shook like a little toy capsized. Until the tow truck arrived, you both sat counting each second as if it would be your last, delicately impaled on a bed of nails, crooked and rusty. Kat yelled through the cocophany, "Is this life in the fast lane?" and you laughed hysterically. You were just glad no one was dead. But that expectant fatal threat hovered too close, waiting to pinch you from every next breath with the tiniest of misplaced steps.


Towed, refueled and running late, you quickly changed at the hotel and sped toward the show with $20 left to your name. Your phone rang every 15 minutes wondering where you were. Again and again, you cried that you were on your way. Kat kept turning her phone's google map this way and that, losing track of the north star. Repeatedly missing the exit and sleeplessly stressed out from hours of speeding around lost in the dark lead to you having seizures behind the wheel on the busy honking unforgiving highway.


Pulling over at a gas station, you bought a paper map of the entire city. With eyes so weary and crazed, the mass of unfolded tiny letters crammed up next to each other in a gray blurry fog of unreadable characters. Moving the map to and fro from your disintegrating face, you could not see a fucking thing. It reminded you of the time you were tripping on acid in London's subway and all the lettered signs morphed into unknown symbols like Chinese. Your cell phone kept going off, demanding to know where the hell you were. Lost in Burbank. After the lightning storm of seizures passed, you sat down under the pale green halo of a street light and just sank to the ground. Admitting total and complete defeat. Pummeled like a pylon. So close. Yet so far away. Needless to say, you never made it to that stage.


Dropping Kat off at her friend's house the next day, too upset to say anything, you drove home alone, $400 in the red. Several pitstops were made along the way, in between waves of crying so hard that you couldn't even see the lines on the road.


Relationships disappointing you was something you'd grown so used to that witnessing the death of your sex life the year before was no big deal compared to this. The dying of your creative life was like losing your only child, like losing something so innocent and sweet that had never harmed anyone or anything. It had only ever brought joy into your life. But it got killed because of your own inability to be there for yourself. It was a deeper self-inflicted wound that no part of your soul knew how to forgive. A slow droning sound with the cold stone glare of a hungry barred owl filled your head as you drove too fast, riding on fumes of self-hate because you had not cared enough for the one thing that tried so hard to save you from your destructive demonic self.


Afraid to succeed because you didn't know how to, failure was your self-imposed comfort zone. It's all you knew. It's all you deserved, you thought, because you'd amassed so much proof of this. The big miracle gig was supposed to even all that out. This one good thing was supposed to make up for all the bad things you'd already been through. You needed it to redeem you. But it didn't. You blew it. And the hard hitting smack of that fact was not something you wanted to survive.


If there is a lesson to be culled from all this, it certainly showed up even though you didn't: Trust Your Gut. It Will Never Lie To You.


At that moment in your room when the wind was whispering,"Go now. On your own," Kat was at home thinking she didn't really wanna go to LA with you. Just like everyone else. And if you would have just said Fuck It, wrote down the directions to the venue and then went and did this one awesome thing For Yourself, there may have been a river of redemptive successes that came from passing that test.


It showed you that intuitive feelings are not selfish reflections of wishful thinking. That clear voice KNEW not only what was best for you, but also what was good for others, too. And that blew your mind open a little wider in time. It meant that intuition is somehow attached to the collective mind that seeks to uphold a benign group health, it wants the best for everyone, for everyone to become their best selves. And now that it was crystal clear no one outwardly cared, you could quit trying so hard to please everyone else. This was the next best thing that could have happened to you.


Always mining for creative veins of gold, you began taking photographs at each unhurried pause on the long drive home. At several shifting spots you stood in psychic quicksand, donning the dead bird head you'd put so much effort into creating. It hung over you like a shroud in silent solace with death's ordinary unbiased approval.


Walking off into the woods beyond a town called Gorman, beneath heavy mossen bare oak trees, ankle deep in yellow leaves, the crow skull cawed for this lifelong loss in front of a clicking camera lens. A young doe stood curiously close, chewing grass and watching this display of creative desperation on that otherwise quiet afternoon.


At sunset, the bird head scanned no man's land across the brown acrid haze of Bakersfield, stung by the putrid winds of slaughter, dung and fodder.


In moonlit orchards of the central valley, near a small town called Tranquility, more love shone from the migrant workers tin huts, strung together with Christmas lights and songs of collective suffering than from the 2 car garaged tract homes of upstanding plastic surgeried families, comfortably alienated from each other and themselves.


There you found the blessing of knowing, sinking in the chilly mud, looking up at the ringed moon through a bird's eye sockets, that this tragic turn of events would be remembered indefinitely. Only you and I would know how oddly peaceful and liberating those painful static hours in motion became. And how they would naturally shape all future behaviors after that day, December 23, 2012. The second day after The End of the World.


On the third day, you posted these photos on facebook with the tale of your utter failure to achieve anything in LA. It got a bunch of Likes.


So you closed the lid and hammered in another spike with a clear-seeing half-smiling respite. Even if no one else ever would be, you were now and forevermore, on your own side.




*u can call me ph!*

11.03.2016

13% [chapter 21]

KID A-MINUS


Like a bright red thread stitched alongside your wayward militaristic drift, Oxford, England ran loosely in and out, connecting every embroiled rift.


As a kid, a consistent return was made here bi-annually to visit your mother's side of the family. At 4 Salisbury Crescent, up a wooden ladder on the 2nd floor, through a hobbit-sized door, lie the children's vaulted attic room with a window opening up onto the sky, forgiving all spry imaginings of the young. Holidays spent at this address had a particular scent. Like a lush fertile garden, a damp compost heap of tranquility. Sinking into the big soft bed, under an enormous fluffy feather douvet, this was the one place in the whole world where you always slept soundly. Protected by the presence of your stalwart grandparents in their separate bedrooms downstairs, steeped in constant cups of hot sweet milky tea, amidst their jovial nonstop bickering, bad things never happened here. It was like living inside a fairy tale with a Little Match Girl ending, where what would normally seem morose was actually serene. And you consistently hated having to leave.


Until the last holiday visit in January of '88. Hammered, your drunk dad clamoured up into the attic where you were quietly drawing. He stood you up and hugged you for way too long, blubbering something about how much he loved you. Your marble arms clung to your sides, preparing for the worst. Reaching his hand up your shirt like a fumbling adolescent, he tried to french kiss you while squeezing your teenage tits. WHATTHEFUCK?! Such an impetuous offense after testifying against him in court and going through all those years of state-appointed therapy. Yet, This Shit Was STILL Happening. There are no words for my contempt.


Sprinting down and out of the house, ripping on your coat, you snagged some cash from your mother's purse and just ran. It didn't matter where. Realizing later that the legal drinking age in England is 18, you slowed your pace after careening past Squitchy Lane and decided to go do the adult thing. Deal with this fresh contamination by getting shit faced at the nearest drinking establishment.


Happening upon a local pub called Jericho's Tavern, you went in and tried to order something fancy and punishing. Like a marguarita or a long island iced tea. The bartender was having none of that. He finally agreed to pour you a few stiff rum and cokes begrudgingly. "Schtupid yankee twat," you could hear him thinking. Though he warmed up to you after asking him to teach you how to hand roll cigarettes.


The pub was fairly empty for a while until a group of kids came in carrying a ton of music equipment. It took a while for them to set up their gear in front of the stained glass window at 4 in the afternoon, but they laboriously sturdied themselves to play what appeared to be their premiere gig. A few of their friends straggled in to offer support. Then they launched into a confusing barrage of something ska-ish but slower in tempo and with minor keyed melodies.


What really captured your inebriated attention was the painfully self-conscious tremor of the singer's voice and the vortex of his presence, there on the floor, no stage present. Too human. Too tender and uncongealed for your current state of mind. He shone with an agitated energetic flood-light that you were already drowning in on the dark side of the room; that angst-fueled youthful resentment for a world you're born into without your full consent, but given enough sensibility and fuck-it-ness to reckon with another Cerberus head. Feeling stripped skinless after a few songs in, you stumbled out of Jericho's and went trouncing back to the house, weeping half-heartedly as the setting winter sun glittered across the icy banks of the river Thames. Turns out, that singer was Thom Yorke performing one of his first live sets.


On another visit to England in 1997, your cousin John gave you a cassette tape of the new album a local band had just finished making at your aunt Shirley's recording studio in Chipping Norton. It was called 'OK Computer'. And you replayed that tape til it stretched out beyond capacity.


By 2003, you sent a bunch of your xeroxed comix and cds of some music you'd made to John and asked him to pass the extra copies onto that band. It was your way of saying thanks because it had been a long time since you'd fallen entranced into a widely shared soundtrack after the release of 'Amnesiac'. You were inspired to hear a group that kept evolving, housing different emotional chasms, not just repeating itself or petering out or starting to wholesomely suck within a decade. As it was with precious few other musicians whose work you loved, their music had become a coping mechanism. Like a plumb line to hold up against the internalized trials of life, and see that somehow, you are still doing alright. A sounding board, a psychic connection, a sonic imaginary friend.


John soon replied, saying that he saw your comix strewn around the studio in between recording sessions and that they loved them. Thom listened to your cd but thought "it's quite dark." That still makes you smirk like a blushing self-promoting yet totally obscure jerk.


But it's called Feedback, yo.


Since the 192 bands you played with in your own neighborhood rarely gave you any, it was worth its weight in words. Otherwise, you might have continued to believe that you didn't actually exist. That everything you made was "not suicidal enough." That, after all that work, you were "lazy", and "striving to be ignored." That "the songs you wrote were too heavy -- we're just trying to sell records here not change the world." Beyond people exhibiting surprise (though you'd never understand why) that such "spooky" music was being composed by a woman, that was it for a decade's worth of feedback, yo.


For this reason, you remain indebted to Big City Orchestra, Lance Grabmiller, Skullcaster, Andy @ Last Gasp, Weasle Walter, Chicken John, DarphNader, Dave Ligon, OX, Zoey, Willow, Charlotte, Fred @ Thrillhouse and Trixy Grace, the righteously good-hearted ranks of LCM, 5lowershop, The Lab, Church of The Buzzard, SPAZ, MediaAlliance, MaximumRockNRoll and A.T.A., Twerk, Eve Tekromantik, China of Boyskout, Skott Cowgill, Headboggle, Margarita Lara, Neighborhood Bass Coalition, Joe Donohue, Motion, 12K, Leafcutter John, Matt Flynn, Brendan Seibel, Filthmilk, Doug Poore, Fatima, Prizehog, Chupa, Kat Genikov, Tony de Jesus, Alan Dubain, Paul Smith, Jonah Rust, Dark Muse, Heartworm, Aviatrix, Ethan Port, Tamara Glass, Angel Bethke, Despicable Alien, Rachel Haywire, nullspace, Pandiscordian Necrogenesis, Common Eider King Eider, SYMPLX, Lucia Patino, Brianne Hanshaw, Brice Frillici, Realicide, Cy, Leland Kirby, Dromez, Crebain, Bill Reeves, Thorsten Sideb0ard, Nature Abhors Normality, Zac, Billy Bragg, Mick Nasty, Sinda Koslinka, Fernanda Loaiza, Stuart Chisholm, Burmese, Mitch Levay, Torn By Teeth, small drone orchestra, Debbie Dingledong, Lob Instagon, Don Haugen, Horseflesh, Horn of Dagoth, Derek Kelly, Shane DeSilva, Josh @ The Guardian, Jeff Ray, Petey, Heidi Alexander, John Dwyer, Eric Bauer, Josh Pollock, Jef Templar, Henry Larsen, Cameron Gibson, Dylan Simon, Gorpy Endockle, Derek Pardue, HausArafna, Brent St. James,Noah of Cameltoe, Jeannine & Bill Thibodeau, Maz, Dale Lankford, Douglas Land, Erika Dillingham, Rob Gillespie, James Tracy, Casey Appeldorn, Healamonster & Tarsier, Eddie The Rat, Not Breathing, Ramsey Kanaan, Gerald Hawk, Beth Custer, Keith Curts, Joey Hurt, Colin Studybaker, Raub Roy, Vetivert, V.Vale, David James, Evil Moisture, Screamo Leemo, Bonfire Madigan, WendyOMatik, Legendary Pink Dots, XtraAction Marching Band, Rich Westmeyer, Phoebe Garofano, Mary, Dolce Maletesta, pirate radio Jake, Abra Jeffers, Sarah Lockhart, Diego Gonzalez, Nebbie Loon, Kelli Winslow, Luca Garino, Lik Neon, James Tracy, AC Way, 6ixes, Stubee, Swoondoll, Vyvian Looper, John Burkhalter, Brandi Obsolete, Demonsleeper, Chris&Cosey, Styrofoam Sanchez and Sharkiface for their encouragement and appreciated aid.


Plus the letter that arrived from Svetlana; a lone female employee working 12 hour shifts at a crowded light bulb factory in Croatia. She said your music helped her get through her unremitting hellish days. So you mailed her a big free box of everything you'd ever made. Following your own string is the only way to escape the Minotaur's maze.


At the tail end of 2011, the 2nd half of 'In Rainbows' haunted your last visit to England long after its initial release. All surviving family members were now scattered far and wide from 4 Salisbury Crescent. Riots in London had just ended a week previous to your arrival in Hackney. The police had altered their original "beeboo beeboo" siren sounds to the typical American cop car whine because, according to a local radical, too many U.S. crime shows had desensitized the population and those old siren sounds held no crowd controlling power anymore. But that healthy disrespect for authority is something you've always admired about the people living on the Isles.


Crossing the channel by overnight ferry, everything you once loved about Belgium's unconventionality had mutated as well. Buried in an amalgamated blue gray EU mush. Gentrification on a continental scale. It broke your heart to see Ghent become so expensive and overblown. Just like SF. All you could do was sit on the little bench beneath the 15th century cathedral spires and sigh. Europe was losing it's local hues to The Big Nothing of steamrolling globalization, trickling down its unelected debts. Doing no good for anyone except, of course, the 1%. But no one seemed to be all that upset. Because now their heads only stared down into their iphones, grasping onto some new form of virtual protest. Note: Belgium holds the record for being the longest running country with no official government. And your friends there were rightly proud of that accomplishment.


In the spring of 2013, just in time to stay inside and deal with the debilitating effects of post traumatic stress, the 'King of Limbs' arrived. The song 'Codex' encapsulated a mountain of inner turmoil and still raw regrets inside a 10 second segment: "No one gets hurt. You've done nothing wrong." Like driving over a speedbump or hitting the same huge pothole over and over, you could not hear those lyrics without sobbing uncontrollably. No matter what else you were focused on before that melody came up on the 8000 song shuffle. This phrase seemed to drop an emotionally devastating atom bomb every time it came on and blew all else away. Standing still. Separated and wailing. But slightly more fascinated by the mind's ability to catalog and contain such an irrational magnitude of gnawing desolation within one short and specific musical refrain. Then you'd pick up where you left off again. Patch the leak. Do more lines. Renumb the brain. Continue selling everything on ebay.


Nothing is easy. But dealing with shit would be impossible without music. It's where all of our true colors thrive. Despite the trend you noticed of anti-emo Californians trying to emulate cold calculating machines cuz they seemed to be so ashamed of being human beings. As if they couldn't spare the time. Or maybe they were just like you, only capable of temporarily relieving their grief when left alone with chemical substances in private. Subsiding on the inside, not out there in real life.


One thing was for sure, you were now surrounded by droves of bland khaki fucktards who were fond of using the phrases "win/win situation" and "get in on the ground floor" sans irony. Not while nonchalantly strolling down oh-so shabby chic Valencia Street, but just beyond your bathroom window. While taking a shit, you'd overhear your new cherry-faced neighbors upselling to their clients over the phone on the weekends. And no one else within a thousand feet of your room ever played or listened to music anymore.


During one of the last free noise & doom shows at bleakhaus, prior to being shut down amidst threats of eviction, you were alone naked and drunk in the bathroom, lights off, door closed. Soft warm tones echoed from down the hall where Black Thread was performing a bittersweet analogue tape looping set to an intimate crowd through the solid state PA in the front room. Crawling into the clawfoot tub, submerged in hot water, you quietly cried, knowing it would all be over soon. Knowing the time had come to leave the Mission. Forevermore. Just as you were finally figuring out how to appreciate the small glimmers of joy discovered there, after wasting so many years ignorantly overlooking them before.


Bukowski once said the most beautiful roses can only grow in the grossest of gutters, and there was nothing subversive or down to earth or close to the bone left in that town anymore. The fact that a bigger crowd showed up to burn trash cans and stop traffic in celebration of a baseball game rather than to protest the deadly police brutality occurrances in Oakland and Ferguson and Chicago and Baltimore every other day was proof enough of San Francisco's completely diluted whitewashed droll. The city's historically class-conscious backbone had collapsed under the weight of a massive bankrolled jellyfish. Now this town was all about priviledged fratboys spattering in your face, "YUH!! GIANTS!!" Unamused, you retorted, "DWARVES!!"


But the city's spirit did not go down without a fight, without sounding out a clarion howl of every civilization's repetitive cyclic self-importance destroying truth: Depression creates necessity creates creativity creates vitality creates media attention creates corporate ascension creates proprietary greed creates hyper speculation creates overpopulation creates migration moving out creates mutation blending in creates stagnation creates irrelevance creates apathy and sinking down and bleeding out until it again creates depression.


And so, in the summer of 2015, 'Truth Ray' spent a lot of time behind the wheel of Haustruk, driving with you those thousands of miles away. No specific gps coordinates to call home so that you'd never have to go through feeling raped again.


Oftentimes, 'A Moon Shaped Pool' will discreetly bathe with the cleaner simpler version of you that now lives with your beloved piano in 100 square feet of solitude. No electricity, air-conditioning, wifi or plumbing but thinly subsisting on the non-detrimental freedoms of Less. Tweeting more to the birds with a handful of seeds than to a Twitter feed. Making plans only as grand as the distance from your face to your hand. Singing to yourself in the trees while chem trails streak criss crossing clouds across the sky. Sitting by the fire. Reading books like they're going out of style. Listening to shows on the short airwaves. Drinking hot sweet milky tea. And however hungry you may get, nothing feels as fulfilling as being able to fall asleep to the sounds of crickets, wound up in a sheet like the peacefully resting dead. Leaving a smaller carbon footprint on anyone else's unsuspecting Radiohead.



*u can call me ph!*

9.25.2016

13% [chapter 20]

WHITE ICE


On November 27th, 2009, you were still stuck on that merry-go-round of cyclical depressive low tides, all Eeyore-like. No Tigger, no Piglet, no Winnie-the-Pooh moods in sight.


But you could not quite bring yourself to subscribe to the ever-growing myriad of socially sanctified psychotropic solutions that every doctor tried to religiously prescribe. You couldn't trust these new anti-depressants that kept clogging up the lives of everyone you once liked. Chopin might not have composed anything if he were all hopped up on Zoloft or Xanax back in 1839.


Something seemed very untoward about hallucinating while coming OFF a daily chemical regime. Or the steady loss of all humor while increasing the tendencies this monkey-wrenching medicine was purporting to reduce. Just to feel more confident in group settings where you'd be all cotton-mouthed and farting? Or mindlessly gambling away your hard earned savings on glittery slot machines while internally bleeding? Or succumbing to early-onset Alzheimer's at 50, barely able to remember anything?


At least with regular cheap street drugs, you knew exactly how and why you'd end up in a gutter, forlorn lost and crying.Because of the droning loneliness, the specious doubt, the prickling dread. Crying because of global warming. Because of your unfathomable debts. Because of gentrification's big boot of disdain for the poor, trampling around San Francisco, crunching ever closer to the sitting duck of your dilapidated Mission district victorian flophouse. All of your trenchant attempts to Get Somewhere in life seemed to be Going Nowhere effortlessly. Like a sad dead girl's polyester dress on sale for way too much money at Thrift Town.


Usually, these cycles of depression could be managed by eating more fruits and vegetables and vigorously sweating out the animosity and heartache. But you couldn't seem to shake off this extended sticky bout.


Listening again to the Nick Drake album 'Five Leaves Left', you seriously wanted to leave the black-eyed dogs behind and join him in some imaginary afterlife. What was the point of trying so hard to stay clean when everyone you sought approval from looked at you like they knew an inside joke that you were not clued in to? Like yer some kinda shady junkie. But you weren't robbing anybody at gunpoint. You were working 2 jobs, organizing annual festivals with your own rent money and booking small free live shows in your house for their experimental noise bands monthly. Still, it seemed you'd never be rid of this scarlet letter, clinging to your unapproachable chest, all bitter sore and lumpy.


If this downward spiraling mindset was still happening under the influence of a substance-free existence, then FUCK IT. Might as well be getting high. At least then you could enjoy something. So you got some. And without questioning it, did a big fat fucking line. Take THAT, Feelings! Thus you kept yourself boxed in on meticulous coding designs inside the refreshing blue-green glow of a computer screen. Honed in on the faint comfort of an unconcerned light.


Recreationally, meth modestly recreated many a night after you got laid off from Amoeba the following spring. Once the severance check arrived, you were cloaked in a heavy indifference. Drugs didn't become just a friend or a demanding lover, they were now the holy widowmaker. Yet they kept you sucking at the teat of invigorating devastation. Like Kali-Ma. Bestowing a blistering glorious defeat, steeling you for the celebration of End Times. And you went down burning, almost happily resigned to this predictably hot demise. Victim identified.


For weeks, you sensed it approaching. On your morning bike rides to work, the trees in Panhandle Park kept screaming, "Death is Coming!" So you had already begun grieving the loss of that long held job and all the people there that you really liked. Because trees have no reason to lie. And you'd almost learned well enough to trust these psychic impressions by then, even if they spelled an inconsolable dissolution that would mould you dispirited and dry.


After the boss broke the news to you in the office, she leaned back in her chair, expecting to reach for the tissue box and feign compassion while watching another peon cry. But you just said, "Yeah. Ok. Bye." She was disappointed that you weren't more moved by this deliberate shock. "I knew this was coming," you stated flatly and calmly left the office while her face went all awry. That creeped her out sufficiently.


Back in the good ol' days, when people left this tightly knit job, a going away party of sorts would occur. But not this time. Not for you or any of the other dozen or so laid-off yobs. So, you picked up the intercom, said goodbye to everyone storewide and demanded to know, "Hey! Where's My Fucking Cake?!" Giggles cascaded from behind the counters as you glided by, your middle fingers guiding you out the front door for the last time.


And that was the end of a good long while in your life When Things Were Actually OK.


This led you to looking upon every sweet hell you are going through with some degree of precious delight. A little less obsessively drenched in beleaguered complaints of all things petty and/or trite.


Spending too much time at a local dive bar called Benders, the smoker's back patio started to feel like the Day Room in a mental ward. It takes a special mix of people to show up every weekday afternoon to liquify their unemployment checks, to taunt laugh and brood together. As if this silly drunk social outlet might be a good thing to stick your emotionally detached finger into. Marbles up the arm. Something to do. This was where you ran into Del after not seeing him for 15 years. He looked pretty much the same. Gone were the black leathers and motorcycles, replaced by a sauntering hobble, a cheesy fedora hat and an old man's pipe.


He seemed happy to see you again, but he was so drunk that you turned down his offer to come home with you that night. 8 days later, he was snoring in your bed and had practically moved in. Taking total possession of your space, he referred to it as "his place" when talking to the other drunks in the Day Room. Arrogantly, he graced you with his presence by eating all of your foodstamp rations, drinking all of your booze and fucking you loudly for hours as if he had nothing else better to do. After several years of being single, this seemed like an appropriate distraction; one you had fantasized about since 1997, so you were blissfully happy being Del's semi-girlfriend for a week or two.


Finally, you gushed, love had found you! And from the one and only person you ever felt any sort of nursey feelings for all those long years ago. Was this karmic justice for having been there for him in that hospital room? Or retribution for having gone through so many dysfunctional relationships? Was this not another Boy, but an actual Man that was sticking it to you? With a chipmunky grin, you wished for the frilliest best since you had some pretty massive yearnings for a 40 year old unemployed dope that wanted to feel close to someone else once again.


But nope.


Loneliness and hope had snared you down another dead end. One that broke you off better than all of the rest. With an aplomb and a flair that became almost iconic. And a bit disturbingly entertaining to witness. Ask any one of your former friends.


Del had recently received a court settlement check in the sum of $27,000. More money than you had ever seen in one place at any one time. You asked if he could help you pay the $323 rent since he was now living in your room. He said, "Let's go out and celebrate instead."


So there you were, at a strip club in North Beach. All dolled up with your fabulous new boyfriend. He threw handfuls of dollar bills into the air, raining down more than enough to pay the rent into the stripper's lair. She seemed amused that you were there too, sitting so close to the stage, eyeballing all that cash, feeling dejected and fucked over again. So she took your glasses off, rubbed them along her crotch and put them back on your face. Half a dozen dirty martinis in, it was hard to see anything clearly through the glazed smudge of pussy juice and this sad state of unfair affairs exhibiting themselves so brilliantly.


At one point, Del handed you $20 to go get the next round of drinks from the bar. Another stripper grabbed your arm in the dark. She asked if you wanted to join her in a private
room. But you were too pissed by then. You gave her the twenty bucks and said, "No, i just wanna get away from that asshole i came in here with." So she showed you to the exit. Wobbling around outside, you were so drunk that you knew you could walk all the way home and not remember most of the miles you'd have to hike. But you didn't care. You were finally alone with one of your truest loves, The Cold Night Air.


Coming from behind, Del tackled you, hailed a cab and shoved your ass inside, yelling that you had ruined his whole night. You pleaded with him, since he had all this crazy money, couldn't he at least help you pay the bills?! He responded by punching you in the chest. You caught the cabbie looking at you pathetically in the rear view mirror and turned your head. The rest of the ride home was spent in silence, staring out at the rushing river of blurry streetlights.


Looking down, you felt extraordinarily uncomfortable in how you were dressed. Heels. A revealing dress. Lipstick that made your face go two-dimensional. Ugh. All this to please Del because he hated that you were "too much like a dude" in the way that you looked, acted, spoke out loud, built a fire, trudged around. "DO something about those brows! Yer fingernails are a MESS!" Later he suggested you get fatter, assuming that all the added weight would go straight to your measly A cup breasts.


It didn't take long before you began to feel truly sorry the woman that was his wife. You wondered how the fuck she managed to put up with his greedy selfish bullshit for so many years. One thing you did notice from the photos he showed you was that she'd gained about 100 pounds of extra flesh. Probably to physically please him and to psychologically protect herself.


Del was very proud of having quit speed for a couple years, so he warned you that if you ever did drugs in front of him, he'd leave. Tough Love? Maybe this will help straighten you out. Think again. You WANTED him to leave after the first few weeks but he wouldn't budge. He just started taking your drugs instead. Flicking the tiny bag, he complained observantly, "This ain't even enough for ME!"


You quipped, "Then go buy your own drugs, bitch!"


Comments like that warranted a jarring shove and a chokehold that was in no way romantic or exciting. It just sucked. You soon became a prisoner in the same space that was once your creative sanctuary. Now it was a torture chamber that held in the reek of sweaty tooled sex, stale alcohol, dirty clothes and chain-smoked cigarettes. Those wiped up squirting pools of Unicorn Juice turned into Donkey Town after the good times rolled to a halt. An ionized unprotected miasma of debasing stress descended. And you were the slug writhing under salt.


If sex happened when you weren't in the mood, the quakes of blinding pain it caused would induce dizziness, fainting spells and vomiting. Many whited out moments were spent running water over your hands and head. Curling up wet on the cold tiles of the bathroom floor. Closing down with each shallow breath. Apparently, your cervix didn't want company so it never moved out of the way to accomodate Del's invasive kidney-infection-causing big thick filthy dick.


Sage burning started stepping in more frequently to clear the air of his constant oppressive unmitigated BLECH. And it successfully swept him away each time, giving you just enough space to not completely lose your mind. With respect, this taught you to burn it every single day hence.


Slowly, over the next few months Del tried isolating you from your old coworkers slash friends who were falling away at a steady pace on their own anyway. No one wanted to know. And you couldn't blame them for that. The only person you held responsible for opening the door and letting the devil in was you. Subconsciously, you WISHED he'd off you. So sick of all the disillusions you'd discovered by then.


No longer playing your beloved piano daily because Del always occupied that seat in the room, the Beethoven, Satie and Rachmaninoff pieces you'd learned by heart began slipping away. Each day that you did not practice in solace, you lost 1000 hours of muscle memory to his increasing mammoth sized demands and unruly psychotic needs. He wanted to learn how to play, so you tried to teach him Scott Joplin's "Long Slow Drag"; thinking maybe this would help him channel his rage from his own traumatic experiences of child abuse. Maybe it would help him heal that broken part of his soul that was forced to sit in a corner of an old basement. Chained to a pole. With a sign hung around his neck that read in scrawled letters "ASSHOLE".


God only knows what else was done to him as a kid. Or if this story was even true. You could quite easily see how this tale may have been told for the benefit of manipulating you. In the same way he whipped up pity from those around him at every bar or party, enabling him with more free booze. The same way he tried to stop you from giving gas money to your friend who was driving you home from a show you played in Oakland. Holding back the $5 clutched in your fist, he whispered, "No...pretend we're broke so we can get a free ride." But you were well aware of the huge roll of $50's in his pocket at that very moment. A wave of disgust washed over you and left a rancid residue of distrust as you handed the driver your 5 bux.


Whenever Del crossed some crazy line in his head, his eyes would flash brightly and the violent attacks would begin. Even though he acted like a soft cuddly big brown bunny every second of the day up until then. It came out of nowhere, as if he were suddenly possessed. Toward the end, all yellow-eyed and grimacing, he hovered over your piano with a hammer and a can of lighter fluid, threatening to destroy the one thing you love more than him or any other person on the planet. The caterwaul that came soaring outta you scared him half to death. He immediately stopped what he was doing. As if coming to, he begged for forgiveness, pleading that you hit him, give him his deserved punishment.You resolutely refused. And he, at last, left the room. Only to return too soon. From June until February, this ludicrous bullshit continued.


Every day, it was the same routine:


He'd sit up, take a gulp off a bottle and watch straight porn on his fancy new laptop. Jerking off, you'd wake up to the jiggling motion of your bed. Then he'd yell at you to get up and go take a shower so that he could covertly jerk off some more to gay porn. When you came back in dripping wet, he'd shove his cock down your throat. Gagging, tears that were neither happy nor sad sank down your breathless face, reddening.


Some submissive part of you got aroused by his dominating sexual thirst. This was so often missing in other men who always whined for you to be The Top and do all the work. But sex was the one area in which you wanted to NOT be in control. It's really too bad that no man ever seemed to understand that there is a huge difference in how you enjoyed the performance of sex and how you wanted to be treated in all other aspects of life. As if, to him, there was no difference between Sex and Everything Else. This might be why lots of complicated uninhibited women end up with total unsubtle meatheads who treat them like shit in public. He just doesn't Get It. And she has braced herself to Put Up With It. All for the sake of dick. As if it's the holy grail of social prerequisites. Yup, you too, fell for it.


So you'd submit and get aggressively fucked from behind for a good long hair-pulling while. Then shower again, making yourself climax finally. Safe and alone, under the pelting waves of hot water streaming down your neck, in between those once sensible breasts. Afterward, you'd gently suggest that he go somewhere else for the day so that you could work on art or music. And he'd say, "Ok, I will soon..." from about 10AM til 4PM while binge watching something, logged into your account on Netflix.


Just before dusk, he'd suggest you both go to Benders, order greasy food and get drunk again. Cursing yourself for giving him, so quickly, that extra set of your keys, you discovered too easily that if you didn't go with him to the bar, he'd just fuck someone else conspicuously and come crawling back into your bed, repulsive and stinking. So you'd surrender to an eye-rolling listless defeat and murmur, "Yeah, ok." Half expecting that there'd be another unsurprising bourbon fueled fight over nothing substantial that night, especially if you won a game of pool against him. Back home under the spinning ceiling, your throat would turn sore from all the screaming and cocksucking. And you'd lay down, carressing a new invisible wound forming beneath your irascibly thin skin.


You'd stay still until he passed out and started snoring. Almost motionlessly, you'd slip out from under the covers where you were stuck between the wall and the stench of his 6 foot bodily menace. Down and out through the bottom of the bed. Secretly snorting some saviour-shaped lines, you painted little pictures in the small splinters of peace that you could find there on your hardwood floor at 3 AM. Wrapped in a thin blue blanket. Floating in a despicable gloaming sea of decrepit weakness. Bloated with disobedience. Those quiet moments held you close, stroking your disheveled head, shhushing your returning whimpers of wishing you were dead. At dawn, you'd sliver back up through the foot of your bed with your jaw aching from the speed driven grinding of teeth. Looking over at those new cherished paintings, a little less abhorred, you'd eventually fall asleep.


Wake up to the jiggling bed a couple hours later and repeat.


It was going to be difficult, getting Del outta your life. He made sure to remind you then that he owned a gun and was a trained locksmith. "So if you ever try to throw me out, I will break in here and SHOOT YOU IN THE FUCKIN FACE!" Later, he proudly announced with a sickening grin, that 9 of his ex-girlfriends were no longer living. But no amount of intimidation was gonna convince you to lie down and become number 10. So you went to the police station and got a restaining order, but when you returned home that afternoon, he stood at the stairway landing, laughing at you. "The cops can't serve me a restraining order because I have no home address, you stupid bitch. HA HA!"


And as any assaulted woman knows, you don't angrily eject a gun-toting psycho from your house because that will injure his ego enough to ensure that he will return and terrorize you worse. Your survival depends on him making
the decision to leave, assuming that he hasn't already strangled your ass. Apparently, this is the same approach the authorities take on domestic violence. "Since he's your boyfriend, and he lives in your house, we can't forcibly remove him unless he actually kills you."


To serve and protect. Yeah. It's no wonder women have to be such sneaky self-defending bitches if they wanna live.


Writing all of this felt like getting repunched in the gut. The jittery nausea from retreading this difficult grueling period, hurled up a fierceness you weirdly missed. Because of your heightened awareness while struggling through that vile crevice. Because of your addiction to crisis. It blows to admit that, but you felt at your best when problem solving your way through chaos. And if there was nothing to grapple with, you'd make a mountain out of a molehill just to feel a little triumphant bliss from overcoming some new form of abusive shit. But there it is. In all of its cataclysmic and overly dramatic rhapsody. It isn't what it is.


Despite this rationality, even though you are now 5 years and 3000 miles away from Del's stomping ground, you still flinch a bit and reach for that straight-razor that hides in your boot whenever you see the shadow of a man wearing a fedora hat. That supposedly solid wall of self-confidence and psychological healing that took so long to construct after all those kiddy hitting and fiddling bricks had been mortared into place, came crumbling down so fast in the wake of this last attempt to intimately converge. In terrific disbelief, here you were again. Back in that fearless gap where you were born. Uncured.


Hating yourself for being so desperate for affection that you'd allow your life to be put on the line, you stuck to doing drugs until that Dumb Girl inside you shut up with her sniveling. Until her simpering needs stopped sabotaging everything you did, there'd be no sleeping, no dreaming, no spending time with anyone. You could barely leave your room at all. Except to go to work.


A couple weeks after you thought it was over with Del, he DID actually break into your house. You stood frozen behind your bolted bedroom door, your heart throbbing loudly as you held your breath. Waiting. He wandered around in the hall, stole something uselessly stupid and left. After that, every time one of your 5 roommates came or went, the sound of the front door opening or closing jolted you out of any form of rest. On edge, with or without meth. And yet, you were not afraid of death. "Go ahead, Kill Me!" you croaked the last time Del put his hands around your neck. "PLEASE, PUT ME OUTTA MY FUCKIN MISERY!!" But he went limp and ran away instead.


It was some kind of dismal poetic justice to find yourself at SF General again after coming back into contact with Del. You had finally arrived at the end of this little romantic crackdown while involuntarily housed for 13 hours in the Psychiatric Ward. Sitting there, barely able to breathe without the pangs of a possibly fractured rib poking into your right lung, the bent in end of your left ring finger turning pale blue and numb. Going crazy and spun up as fuck, but not enough to say anything incriminating to any guinea pig recruiters for the Pfizer corporation, trying to bank another billion.


"Are you depressed? Or feeling suicidal?" This question only made you laugh. Too much. That's like asking if there's a black hole in the center of the galaxy. You kept insisting that instead of speaking to a therapist, you just wanted to get an x-ray done.


But you never got the results of that lead blanket's internal inspection. While waiting patiently and smoking a butt outside the hospital, a k-holed raver kid came barrelling past you. Stopping suddenly, he tried to bum a cigarette. But you only had one left. So he shrewdly snagged your pack from the stone wall behind you and ran around in circles, teasing you with his successful theft.


"Aww for fuckssake," you sighed wearily, leaning over and gingerly holding your innards, "i can't run...my fuckin boyfriend beat the shit outta me...just gimme my last smoke back, please." But the kid had no empathy. Jeering, "I hope the next time he beats you up HE FUCKING KILLS YOU, BITCH!!" He spat in your face and ran through the parking lot, laughing maniacally. Wiping his saliva off,  you expounded, "So do I!" And that was the last feather.


All the final threads of strength holding you up drained out of your legs and you collapsed right where you stood. Bawling onto the gritty gray cement. A good solid reliable friend. This whole experience reduced you down into the cracks between those concrete slabs, where little black ants were trailing a totally different chemical scent, living by an entirely different set of battle circumstances and social rules, narrowly avoiding the groaning waterfall pouring out of a towering monstrous fool. When that was done, you got up and walked home to go deal with the ache of things broken on your own. Before this sick joke got any funnier or more grotesque or hideously strange. Whereupon, you likely inhaled another round of fat rails to recalibrate your bursting brain into feeling nothing again.


Those injuries morphed into symbols and healed much quicker after they spoke their truth to the now-listening you. That particular finger was never going to have a ring on it. Get used to it. Stop grasping in desperation for something you don't believe would bring you any happiness anyway. To widen your cage and breathe freely again, stay in your own small space. And stop giving yourself away to fucked up people that, instinctively, you knew would never stick around long enough to force you into becomming a soccer mom or be someone you might have to rely upon some day. Autonomy. Give yourself a break.

Doomed relationships were just status quo distractions from the creativity that never betrayed. Every ounce of mainstream media had fed you the syrupy moral that life is only good for people who had other people to belong to. To breed with. To call their own. But this started to feel like an axiom written by a historic stream of lonely guys with womb-envy. Thusfar, the only things sex brought you were suffering and pain. And you were DONE.


So, you took out the new tattoo machine you'd purchased with your last unemployment check, turned it on and started carving oaths into your skin on that night of Del's break-in. Consumed by a destructive seething rage, the wincing agony of tattooing yourself felt great. A needed change of pace from the other self-mutilating activities you usually engaged in when you were this infuriated. It cathartically reshaped those reactive feelings, memorializing a world of wrath into a transcendental mesmerising passage: "Speak To Me Not Of Justice For None Have I Ever Seen." In Old English script, these words redecorated the teenage cutting scars buried in your forearm.


A triple-spiral around your broken ring finger announced the lifelong commitment you then made to marry and live happily ever after with yourself. For better or for worse. For richer or for poorer. In sickness and in health. Til death do us part.


You said, "I Do."


And I did, too.




*u can call me ph!*

8.30.2016

13% [chapter 19]

THE FREQUENCY OF SHIT


Before and after selling all of your precious records and disappearing down that long off-grid road, these are some of the bleak thoughts that plagued you on heavy rotation since being removed from that tiny happy Amoeba spot. Like a scratchy record skipping on the old tube amp player in glorious MONO:::


ON TRUSTING NO ONE:


It is true that you might not ever trust men but women can more cunningly deceive. Sometimes it would stun you, the degree to which certain long term malicious and well spun lies could be so meticulously planned out by such a friendly cheery knife weilding harpy. Must be some misguided notion of achieving global domination. Or receiving that Big Gold Medal Made Of Shit hanging from the sky. Only if she surrounds herself with All The Right Guys, believing this is the only way for a woman to get what she wants outta life. Play dumb, show cleavages, manipulate all dicks and bitches. Who knows, maybe she's right? But what fucking year is this? Who wants to put all that effort into being that controlling, that possessive, that uptight? And For What?! A big empty house to watch tv in? ...meh. Not tonight.


ON PORN:


During many unemployed amphetamine crazed porned out times, you saw the sense in this depersonalized state of lust for lust's sake. Some part of you not only understood the narrow tunnel vision of sex, but preferred it to the emotionally draining love-making parade. Too much drama. Just wanna get off. Enter sex toys and fantasies that never ask you to scratch their back or make them soup. It's soup. Add heat. Tah dah!! All done. Now go do it yerself, dick face. Not very nurturing for a woman -- whut the hell is wrong with you?!
Later, all porned out on your own, loneliness and shame would sometimes come into the room. But that's why an orgasm is called The Little Death. You might feel more grounded afterward. Or more in the ground. But the cycle repeats its process of releasing more annoying hormones, and inevitably you'd seek relief from death's outrage again. It is such a sad sorry state, being a slave to the impulses that are the most depraved. But you can't look away from guilt's keyhole. Like any other uncontrollable addiction. On repeat. In decay. So you began to experiment with transferring that erotic energy into other things, like performance art or music or paintings. And strangely, despite the work's non-erotic subject matter, onlookers would always say, "This turns me on for some weird reason." Perhaps sexual impressions can travel telepathically. It led you start thinking about what other thoughts or feelings could leak out and spill all over the things we touch or contact or make. The list is endless and amazing and most often leads a person to developing a more disciplined and dispassionate way of seeing those horny thoughts that started this whirlpool spinning around in your brain. Until the water is calm and still, that storm will never come to an end.


ON SEX:


It's just sex. Why must such a primal activity proclaim itself emperor and chief over every other aspect of life with its robotic mediocrity? Greedy control and total devastation seem to conquer anyone weilding power for more than one day. And here is that brick wall you'd always end up screaming at: Isn't there more to life than this worn out game of whack-a-mole? Lying there so easy, so trite and made to feel so cheap? Best Not To Think when it comes to sex. Just frig and forget about it. Then go on with the rest of your day. Uninvested. Unengaged. Half asleep.


ON EXPLORING DEVIANCE:


And in this way, supposedly straight men were so often unjust with their sexual affections. All those times you invited other women in for 3 ways with your boyfriends, and they always promised to do the same in return for you. But they never came through. Never. Too jealous. Too scared of being gay. Too just talking shit to get you to do what they wanted you to do for them, to fulfill their own fantasies. Like all the times they asked you what turns you on sexually, but never once performed that single unselfish act for your sake. Meanwhile, your arm is getting sore and your hip bones are turning black and blue from pegging this experimental dude's forest animals all night long. Again. Because this sexually deviant journey is all about His Path of exploration. Nothing to do with you. All those densely packed overgrown tracks winding around the night with no return policy quickly became about as exciting as watching politicians lie. Pointless. Repetitive. Insulting to your intelligence. The recklessness of a broken but staid system that is so distortedly skewed toward the animus view. You came to no longer care whatever others wanted you to do.


SEE DICK RUN:


Your whole life, gay boys seemed drawn to you in some sort of flailing platonic way. Especially those who were still stuck in the closet with their secrets, playing along with the straight world's betrayals. Through you, they'd open up, feeling safe to dance erotically with their skeletons, and you were never in any position to judge them. Cleary, you had no fear of the truth or of deviance or of perverse tastes since you were already a walking cemetary of the you'll-never-know-if-you-don't-like-it-unless-you-try-it excuse. All the while, depressed, dying to die. Scared but not giving a fuck either way and at the same time. Better it would be that people Be Who They Are instead of living a lie, taking out all of their narrow minded accusations on those around them. Others that they are simply projecting their own issues onto. As in, the more homophobic a guy is, the further back in the closet his gayness hides behind his self-hate.


RUN DICK RUN!!:


You often wished there would be a study done on the statistics of how many boys are abused sexually as children, but they are so much less likely to talk about it, so the staggering reality of this common trauma may never be fully disclosed. You read somewhere that in a safe sexually open environment, people are often driven to explore their own past sexual traumas in an attempt to mentally fully grasp and emotionally understand WHY that trauma happened to them in the first place. This is why S&M dungeons are performing a huge social service in harm reduction. When people understand the origins of their fantasies, they no longer feel lorded over by them. They are no longer crouching under their desires like a child hiding under the bed all ashamed. In the words of Buckshot Jack, Jim Miller's long lost granddad, "No one on their deathbed ever felt sorry that they stood up for themselves." Or wished that they'd spent more time being exploited by a corporation. Or wondered if they should have been more disingenuine.


ON UNCULTURED BARELY LEAGAL RAPE:


It's such an insult when an older man behaves as if he is still The Shit. As if a girl would not prefer experiencing her proactive sexuality with someone closer to her own awkward age. Though, realistically, men probably don't really care what young girls want. They are only seen in degrees of tightness, as fuck holes that are severed from the human beings they belong to. Objects onto which to ejaculate. But men will even see other men in the same way when they become the objects of their own piercing disdain. While watching porn, you found yourself complaining when the camera would pan up from the mechanics to reveal the ugly balding guy's sweaty face. All the attractive men end up in gay porn cuz it pays more. pft... Screwed again. Proof that the body severing spectacle is an equal opportunity deciever of seeing humans as full beings when overtly engaged in their sexuality -- Men see women as holes. Women see men as tools. (Unless they're all in love with each other or whatever, but the word love has no place in a paragraph concerned with rape.) Perhaps this mental severing is due to the debilitating effects of testosterone that causes a kind of frontal lobe blindness. This lack of impulse control also explains why 95% of all serial killers, murderers and rapists are male. Neural imbalances and a culturally celebrated psychopathy may explain why other people are not considered to be whole human beings. But that's too sad an answer for someone whose entire lifetime of hopes, dreams and aspirations comes to naught, and is only seen as a temporary random cumrag. When done, throw away, extinguish. Then the rapist calmly smokes a butt and figures out what to do with her dead body now that she has served some sick flicker of his dick's mindless 3 minute long purpose. This is why so many women's dead bodies are discovered in trash cans, dumpsters, junk yards, as human debri that was not considered human, really. America seems to admire this kind of deluded detatchment and it's resulting acts of violence, if the high price of a murderer's belongings sold on ebay or the number of murder mystery shows are any indication. Maybe these episodes are continually broadcast in order to feed misogyny's fire?


ME JANE. NO TARZAN:


Years went by of trying to keep your head above the tidal wave of post traumatic fury. In those gripping states of heated misanthropy, you could see yourself losing it on a cascade of fucktards that, one time too many, made a sexual remark to you in public or touched you in a way they had no right to. You'd send them weeping to their big momma in the sky righteously, but also indiscriminantly. Most likely the death toll would include someone who didn't deserve to get caught in the crossfire. And that's not a feeling that any amount of revenge could aspire to soothe. So, it's a good thing those violent impulses were controlled by taking up kickboxing instead. A small choice that made your world a slightly better place, I dare say.


FEMALE EJACULATION AND OTHER PARLOUR TRICKS:


Growing up, your adolescent ugliness kept all the boys your own age at bay. The only time they touched you was when the spinning bottle landed at your feet and they'd scrunch up, yelling "Eeeew grooosss!" shoving away your chubby acne covered face. Unless, of course, the boy later turned out to be gay. Then he'd be decent, peck your cheek, talk to you about all sorts of issues after school, trade mix tapes and at most, hug you, half-woodied, looking down at his feet in shame. They were wonderful genuine friends, these young sprouting gay men. But the adult straight ones, they hated you. Although nothing would stop them from fucking you if they decided they wanted to. Whereupon they'd lose all their confidence, become instantly pussy whipped and then reinstate their hatred because there was no controlling you after they'd gone all post coital and took an assumed possession of your entire life. And now they felt lesser than. Because they woke your libido up but could not make you climax 99% of the time. Blaming you for their internal pain of feeling powerless, for whatever reason, the word Whore would escape from their inadequate straight mouths right about the time their carresses turned into strangleholds. The sad fact was, all they had to do was take a step back, tickle you with a feather and give you the breathing room to admire their equal arousal or understand the vast imaginative beauty behind a blindfold and you would have flooded the room with unicorn juice. But that voiced sentiment went unheard time and time again, until you no longer had any words left. If men couldn't even hear what you were saying about sex, then how could you expect them to ever listen to anything you--? Hmm...? Oh yeah, no sorry... Yeah. No, totally. I was listening.



THE POTATO THEORY:



So, rather than constantly trying to figure out a situation that's ensconced in endless bias and speculation, you turned your attention instead to thinking about things you'd normally ignore. Like this pile of home fries you're about to hungrily inhale. Before devouring them, think about the long trip they took, from being immersed in the earth, growing into a potato, being dug up, tossed into a bucket and passed through a hundred pairs of hands, boxes and crates, trucks and vans before being dropped off, washed over, chopped up, fried on an oily skillet, and finally plopped onto this plate in front of you. In this way, gratitude began to enter your thoughts on a more regular day to day basis.


"I WILL NOT ALLOW THIS!":


"Smart girls know that the smartest thing they can do is act dumb," so the saying goes. But what about all the things women unconsciously believe they're not allowed to do? Ask yourself: you don't actually need a dick to use a power tool or hold a pool cue or drive a truck, now do you? It's quite surprising and sad that most people can't seem to understand how it is possible for a grown woman to live an ascetic life, alone in a box truck, without having a man around to "make love" to, without someone there to "take care" of you. You always tell them, "Life Has Fucked Me Enough, Thank You." And then you close the door to your Haustruk and go back to being an anomaly.


THE LONE WOLF:


Understanding other people has been your most difficult challenge in life. The only dead end you keep coming to on that issue is that Sometimes, It's OK To Not Understand. But some consolation came from discovering a recent study that said 70% of an average person's happiness depends on having a support system of family and friends around them. A Whole 70%! Now you knew you weren't insane and desperate and needy. You weren't just a downer like your mom always said. You were a drug addict because you felt a 69% deficiency in having a normal support system. It was so simple. Tragically so. Similarly, on a molecular level, cells will commonly self-destruct unless the other cells surrounding them tell them not to. Including them in the group's progression, encouraging them to live out their full life span, a cell can survive suicidal feelings and get by given a little help from their cell-friends.


ON SEEING WITH THE 3RD EYE:


There came a point when you understood that every frustrating little thing that was shoving itself up yer ass was really trying to teach you something, to show you some other perspective that you otherwise would've been blind to if you got too caught up in the anger that the burr in your butt would predictably produce. So before going all haywire on the world at large, this sort of mental eviction notice to travel light, opened a brief breathing space between being happy in your own insular void and then being pissed off the second you had to go outside and deal with other people, with their shifty eyes and condescending words. All you had to do was try to stay in that small space for as long as possible. Step away gently from the aggressive, always either Right or Wrong thoughts that did nothing but cause havoc in that struggle of You against They.


ON BINAURAL MEDITATION:


This minefield that is the human race made you self-impose exile so often. It has exhausted you beyond belief, having to deal with this harrowing can of worms that is people and their hidden agendas, their snake-haired needs, their sexually charged greed. Sweet solitude might have kept you cloistered, but you were never immune to others and their clawing trickery. Your radar for disaster seemed defective. But the fuzzy reception from your broken antenna wasn't to blame. It was your own unconscious frequency, endlessly streaming disortion, sending out the signal
"i am worthless so abuse me."



*u can call me ph!*

13% [chapter 18]

A PISSING CONTEST


At Amoeba Records on Haight Street, a solid 28 hours a week were spent making garnished minimum wage paychecks and thinking about your anti-social issues while sorting through dollar records and putting them into boxes labelled with their various genres. Over the years, being left alone to listen to music and sort records in that small hallway behind the stage and in front of the bathroom, you came to almost love that job.


In this spot, you met the likes of Thurston Moore, Jonsi, Mos Def, Paul Rubens, John Waters, James Spader, Tura Satana of Faster Pussycat Kill Kill and Joan Jeanrenaud of Kronos Quartet after their in-store performances or during their low key shopping sprees. Then, along with many of the better paid and insured long term employees who'd been there since the mid 90's, (like Ox, of the notorious band United Blood), you got laid off in the spring of 2010.


It had deeply impressed you that most of those famous people were not complete assholes. Especially Jonsi. In his presence, you instantly felt comfortable, like you'd already spent hours hanging out, giggling and watching cartoons. Other famous people, however, seemed like total idiots. Ariel Pink took like 9 hours to set up their gear, spent long hours in the bathroom while their weeks old body odor fumigated the corridor, then left half their gear behind on the stage for days before schlepping back in to pick up after themselves. Vampire Weekend, wunderkinds of the Music Industry were so adept they forgot to bring guitar picks to play their million dollar instruments. Yeah, duh. Clearly some dues had been waived in their favor and would never have to be paid, as it is for lots of marketable bands.


Flip through any major music magazine and you will see 5 White Guys, 4 White Guys, 3 White Guys, 3 White Guys and 1 Black Dude, then 1 White Woman half naked. Lack of diversity and absence of critical thinking doesn't even begin to decribe The Mainstream Ineptitude that blinded all the kids who flocked into the store to purchase every album Vice Magazine told them to.


Not everyone on earth seeks to hide. 33% of the population are capable of not doing as they are told, according to the Milgram experiment; a shocking study on the nature of obedience that was inspired by a social-psychologist's desire to know why concentration camps happened, and how likely human behavior is to lead us into atrocities via groupthink, for the sake of belonging, no matter how much harm is done to others in the process of aligning with popularity.


With a Steppenwolf scowl, these hangups, or lack thereof, and too many preconceived notions fed your alienation and hightened sensitivity. A lot of it had to do with being an overlooked artist, yes. And then there's that seizure of a brain you possessed. Plus the incessant toxic coffee breath. And your sick pleasure that this one stupid thing, a thing so easy to fix, was so successful at keeping other people at bay, satisfactorally. But after you left, you realized that you had, inadvertently, come close to almost loving some of those coworkers that you'd never see again.


Like a compound fracture, too much built up unmanaged rage lived inside you to lay down and take any harrassment or intimidation that showed up at every job you ever had. While working at Amoeba, you were no longer on drugs every day. So you had no buffer zone to quell that overbearing bone that you'd be caught chewing on, down to the pourous bloody marrow. Whistleblowers usually get left out in the cold, alone. But it was better than saying nothing and passively allowing shitty behavior to go on unencumbered, affecting many other women who agreed that they felt the oppression but weren't willing to complain.


Unlike these other women though, you had no capacity to deal with dating your coworkers. In this way, your meager salary was more necessary to you than the ensuing drama that would stink up the room once the relationship inevitably ended. And you couldn't afford the heartache or the stress of keeping both jobs -- Employee AND Girlfriend.


Don't shit where you eat, as the saying goes. Wise words. Until you start hating your job and find yourself crying in the bathroom on your lunch breaks because of the way your boss treats you or the way certain coworkers talk about you. Then, all you wanna do is get fucked up and rub yer face in shit all damn day. Cuz getting that little fix of a dopamine boost from seeing that guy you're crushing on is the only motivation left in getting your depressed ass outta bed and in to work every day.


However, drunk at the bar or at a party after work, some of your peers tried to stick their tongues down your throat, and you ran off in a disturbed haste. Butthurt victims of blue balls make for dangerous hostile work environments so watch out! But you refused to live in fear, so it seemed easier to confront them rather than hide everytime you had to pass them in the hall. Just like high school. A middle finger and a friendly smile can work wonders sometimes. Alas! It's always the people that you're not attracted to that want to ride yer pony. The ones that you would've enjoyed spending time with, watching movies or playing music or spooning fully clothed, they had absolutely no interest in being saddled with your janky mule. Again, just like high school. It was all lies. High school was NOT the Best Time Of Your Life. How very convenient that high school dynamics would unfortunately continue throughout adulthood in every group setting ad infinitum. Sorry, kid.


To dethrone Romance -- there's that reality that once you do spend time with those whose company you craved, you are setting yourself up for failure. Down drops the veil of disappointment and they are not what they seemed. You're irritating to them in some sandpapery way, too. Or simply not resonating in the correct way. Fair enough. But that makes the whole process of getting what you want not only impossible but moot. The only thing that can keep up the illusion for the clinging to others, as if you'll fall off the face of the earth when you finally let go, is your willingness to forgive them their faults and wish that they could do the same for you. Trying not to end up as one of those half-people, connected to the hip of the other half-person, seeking to live out a greater fantasy other-life buried in the digital backyard, right under a faithful nose, 10 or 20 or so years down the yellow brick relationship road.


Feel that hopelessness? Embrace it. It's all you can do. This is as good as it gets, dude...!


So you did. It felt real and true. And the more you embraced the hopelessness, let it in, saw it for what it was, really looked it in the eye, the less fearful and ugly and alarming detatchment from that sphere of mortal love became. At some point on the way down the asexual slide, the realness of that soft hopeless embrace became preferrable to wasting more of your precious time chasing beguiling shadows. Perfect imperfections. White pee. Fantacide. Fake glory. Future lovers who would also one day stop listening. Or finally admit to you that they're gay.


All that confusion caused by love and hate transformed itself through a nearly constant production of music and art. So it was good that you never got too close to crushing your male muse. The intense creative energy that was produced from being in his presence was the best kind of love that could've ever happened to you: non-mortally. So it all worked out just great. So you say. Now if only you could give up, stop flogging the dead horse and let him slide away, the way that he naturally would if you could stop picking at it. Like a scab. Just to see if it still hurts as much as it used to. Just to prove to yourself that healing has occurred. But whenever you peek back into those rejected memories, you find a new distracting weed of hope growing. Hope, that some day you might be Good Enough to share your life with another person who neither worships the ground you walk on nor beats you down into a diminutized pulp, but stands there next to you on equal footing. Not bloody likely.


Like a disease, everytime that hope flares up, it slowly kills every sense of stillness and peace inside you that made you feel worthy, that made you, at long last, feel free. Free from wanting or needing anything from anybody. And in that way, you could be complete and giving, unconditionally. No strings of wishful thinking, no grasping, no emotional defecits dangling. Maybe it's unrealistic to think anyone can ever be free from those haunting self-doubts, from useless subjectivity, from cowardice and inadequacy.


Your truest strength is your weakness, your willingness to face the pain of annihilation because that is where the indestructible and the infinite always live. There is a Buddhist saying that everything in life is like a starving dog standing over a burning bowl of oil. The oil's too hot to consume, but the dog is too hungry to abandon it. Though some short bright sparks marked the fragile times sequentially between the black matter of long slow loss, all you could do was be patient. Wait for the constellations to rise again. But there's nothing to grab onto when they do.


And this is how you saw through The Pissing Contest.


It was infuriating to see men act all jealous when you spoke to other men, but then ignore you when you approached them alone. The only time they seemed to show any interest in you was when other men were watching. Especially those who employed you. All of your short-lived jobs in SF after Amoeba suffered from this dichotomy. Some kind of claim had been placed on your slaving ass, and it didn't matter how good of a job you did or didn't do. You were quickly fired for not complying with this other after-hours duty that was expected of you.


That was how you concluded that this real life video game had Absolutely Nothing To Do With You. You were just so much meat. A pawn made of pussy in the scheming between bored men competing with each other. They had no real interest in the winning "the prize" that they seem to be jostling over, but only in humiliating the other competitors for their own sense of pride.


Yup. That's how evolved we are. Might as well be beating on our chests, swinging in the trees, chomping on bananas and flinging shit.


Oh wait. We still are.




*u can call me ph!*

8.10.2016

13% [chapter 17]

HAUNTED CLOSETS


While you were still in college at the Art Institute, you flew from San Francisco to Utica, New York to visit your mom and dad during Christmas break. They lived in a beautiful old turn-of-the-century house with white plastered walls, all soft molded corners and black iron cornices. The windows were small and deep, some still retaining their original lead panes. The turreted two story cottage sat on a corner lot like a fairy castle in a Thomas Kincaid painting, embedded in a deep sloping wooded field, home to a raucous murder of crows.


Your parents were in the midst of trying to sell the house because your dad found a better job in Indianapolis and was moving there. But your mother was reluctant to go this time. She'd been teaching yoga classes in town and had developed a healthy sense of financial independence. She'd also grown close to a solid following of students that she didn't want to leave behind. One such student was her secret lover. So your mother stayed at the cottage in Utica while your father lived and worked in Indiana. Insisting that there were simply no offers on the property from any interested buyers, blaming the delay on the housing market, bad timing or whatever else --in this way, your parents' first real separation continued. And your mother finally seemed to come blossoming out of her shell.


Rather suddenly, she came out to you over the phone one day. Claiming she'd always been more attracted to women than to men ever since she was a teenager. You just said, "Okay..." She was so relieved to tell someone, "I knew YOU would understand." And for the first time, she seemed so happy and in love. "Life doesn't even BEGIN until you're 50!" she exclaimed gratuitously.


When you finally met your mom's girlfriend on another short trip to Utica, you definitely caught the spark. She was astonishing, overflowing with a quick wit and a bright eyed vitality. Part of you was truly happy for your mother's authentic joy. But another part of you was completely pissed off that she was, suddenly, so open and caring and warm toward you; sharing her untold stories, calling you all the time, asking your opinion about things, buying you plane tickets to come and visit her inbetween every semester, being there for you, all nonjudgementally -- just because she was now a lesbian. This kind of behavior never occurred before. Or since. And you really didn't give a fuck whether she was straight or gay. Sexual identities never shocked you.You just wanted to feel like your own mother genuinely loved and accepted you, too. But this point has always remained convincingly vague.


But for the short duration of this Christmas visit, your dad was also present, so you agreed to quietly avoid any and all discussions at the dinner table that might leak hints about your mom's newfound lesbianism. Ugh. The burden of secrets that are imposed upon us to keep. Add them to the scapegoat's unwanted heap. Then slap it's ass and hope that it takes away your wax doll guilts before running off the edge of something nonredeemably steep.


You were already bogged down with another secret you did not want; knowing that your father was beaten so severly as a child because his dad was sterile and knew this was not his kid. This secret, shared with you 15 years prior, wasn't revealed to your father by his own half-sister until after their
angry sterile dad was dead. When it was finally found out, he brought his shotgun to the cemetary and unloaded a round of shells into that plot of hallowed ground. Secrets cowards and shrouds, release the hellhounds.


The summer after graduation, after your last spring visit to Utica, a tumor had been found. Within 3 short months, your mom's girlfriend was dead. Brain cancer culled her, this fully functioning, highly intelligent older woman that had just taken you and your mom to a politically invigorating Edward Albee lecture was now instantly stuck bedridden. Losing her vision to a tunnelling darkness, her brain was quickly shutting down. She reached out her arms to everyone standing around her hospital bed and cried, "Why won't any of you help me?! Pull me out of this hole! Please, help me... I'm sinking!" Balking at the starkest futility.


More than a year passed before your mother told you about her girlfriend's death. She just stopped talking to you. As suddenly as she had begun. Soon after that, the cottage was sold and she moved to Indiana to rejoin her husband. Gone back to being the good ol' critical hetero milf. Mourning her lover and her lost self. Crammed back into the brutal closet. Shrinking. Forgetful. Unblest. You cannot even begin to imagine how sunken in run her regrets from doing all the things that were expected of her, being the "weaker" sex.


One stuffy night during that close to the chest stiff upper lip Christmas visit to Utica, you were trying to sleep in the tiny room upstairs while your parents were in their bedroom across the hall. It was freezing cold, yet under the covers you felt feverish and clouded. Burning in discomfort. Sick with unease. You kept slipping in and out of consciousness. Not into dreams but into a thick swampy nightmarish lucidity. The crushing weight on your chest would not stop torturing you and stealing your breath as you lay frozen in sleep paralysis. It felt as if someone was trying to strong arm you into doing their bidding. "GET UP!" it hollered inside your sweaty immobile head. "Go downstairs. Into the kitchen. Open the back door. Grab the axe. Come back up here. And GIVE YOUR PARENTS WHAT THEY REALLY FUCKING DESERVE!!!"


The whole massacre played out, over and over vividly in your mind, as if this horrific scene were trying to convince you of its justifiable rationality. "Just think of how happy you will be once they are gone," the voice coaxed. It took a ton of light innocent resistance and a touch of dispassionate detatched indifference to not give in to this bottomless well of rage and bloodlust. Growing more irritated than scared, you declared impishly at the overbearing manipulative presence, "no. i won't. i won't do it." Perhaps it is a good thing that you're such a stubborn selfish bitch, eh?


The next morning, your mother looked concerned when she saw your pale sleepless face emerge from across the hall. She was dutifully making their bed. As she slid the bedframe to one side to tuck in the sheets, you pointed down to a dark brownish mark on the hardwood floor that was peeking out from under the bed. "Yeah," she said, revealing the whole atrocious width and breadth of the massive pooled stain, "I've tried everything to get it out, but it's too old and too deeply soaked into the wood. I think it might be blood."


Ya think?


But you thought nothing else of that night back then, except to remind yourself that you need to drink more booze and smoke more weed in order to drown out any and all experiences of psychic shit like this cuz you were too busy
trying to be normal, which is really important to most people before they go turning 30.


One huge advantage to age is that the number of fucks you give annually gets peeled away, until you are who you really are the moment you reach your grave. Sometimes it seems as if all those lucid dreams about flying, or altering your space, or learning how to keep still and protect your egglike shell, or increasing your skill for riding those emotional horses is all just practice for leaving this plane and crossing the bridge to the north.


Until you have to come back again. And again, of course. Life is hard, then you die. Death is hard, then you're born.



*u can call me ph!*

13% [chapter 7]

THE 3 FACES: IS THIS A DREAM?


Professional help never helped. Until one autumn day in 1990 when you felt compelled to seek the counsel of a Jungian psychotherapist in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts named Dr. John Huele. Initially, your parents agreed to pay for your weekly visits, relieved that at least you were finally out of their house and living "in squalor" in the big city. But once they received his bill for your first $90/hr session, they did not think your mental health was worth it. Dr. John did however, and asked you how much you could afford to pay without the help of your parents. So you continued seeing him for the next 18 months at the adjusted rate of $15/hr.


Long before the advent of hallucinogenic substances in your life, dreams had always been a place to receive guidance and insight, a place of both secret joys and enormous horrors. Often, it was easier to recall your childhood nightmares than to remember the actual events that took place.


The longest running reoccurring scene began at age 5. The whole family would sit in a small pink tiled bathtub inside a palatial space like a sound stage, always too brightly lit. One by one, they would pass around a plastic orange gun and point it at one of their own eyes. Pulling the trigger loudly sucked that eye out. Then they would all turn to you. Staring, one-eyed. The red hole of their newly exposed occular cavity dripping with bloody severed nerve endings. They'd hand you the gun and pressure you to do the same. Waking up screaming every time, your hands covered your face, guarding your precious double-eyed sight.


Together with Dr. John you moved through these quirky and cruel psychological imaginings, pieceing together an intricate and imposing map of your subconscious landscape. You began to uncover by emotional associations what certain colors, words, sounds, animals, people and places really meant. It was the only type of therapy you felt just as excited to engage in as did the Dr. himself. Whenever you would rattle on about the frustrating things happening in your regular life, he would patiently sit and listen. Inevitably, the words would come, "...and then, i had this dream," at which point, he would excitedly grab his yellow pad and pen and start scribbling down your dream's details like an inspired madman. The two of you would then set about working on the decoding process, slowly adding more elements to the expanding cartography of this emerging new found land.


It was fascinating and sometimes heartbreakingly illuminating. You would always have to take a step back in the presence of this other, higher mind. It would record and playback so many complex issues, effortlessly weaving together a song of solution, so delicate and so simple. You never felt quite qualified to take credit for coming up with these mechanisms for coping. They never seemed entirely yours.


Those sessions enabled you to first conceive of the viable possibility of self-healing through dreams. They birthed the connections your mind made to the infinite sources of healing energy out there in the unknown universe, inside the quantum omnipresent vibrating fields. You're forever indebted to the knowledge gained from Dr. John. You also thanked fuck that Jungian psychoanalysis existed at all. Otherwise, you might have succumbed to your parents wishes that you be committed to a mental institution for being depressed anti-social bipolar defective or whatever. It should come as no surprise then, that when you first heard the song "Institutionalized" by Suicidal Tendencies in 1986, you had found a long loyal friend in punk rock. And, incidently, the more involved you became with Jungian dream journeys into the collective world of ancient archetypes, mythological beasts, and other archaic symbols,the less involved you were with the outrageous consumption of drugs and alcohol in order to deal with the ongoing psychological and socioeconomic trials of anyone trying to stay alive below the poverty line.


Lucid dreams happened sporadically as far back as you can remember. But practicing "dream yoga" almost religiously, you were having sometimes 2 or 3 lucid dreams a night, most often in the form of nightmares. Gradually, you learned how to transform these repetitive haunted terrors. Becomming lucid, you could bolster the courage to take control of your own mind. The nightmares then began to diminish and nearly ceased. Getting to know those Black Dogs that chased you for so many years, you now took ownership of your imagination. You screamed at their snarling, "STOP!" No longer would you run from them. You stood still, commanding them with a pointed finger to "SIT." And they did. Their faces shifted to little grins with tongues dangling and tails began to wag. The Black Diamond Dogs became a crazy bitch's best subconscious friends.


However, for some reason, waking up from these exalted states of consciousness became more difficult. Equal amounts of curiosity and fear caused you to question the nature of reality itself in a much more intensely tactile way, having up to 8 or 9 "false awakenings" after each lucid dream. This was so exasperating that you worried if you would ever really wake up at all. And a part of you started to feel the distinction between real life and the lucid dream waning. Thinner and thinner. The difference was disappearing. It got to be a bit much.


This persistent fear of losing your mind, without the reliable excuse of being fucked up on drugs, induced a sober admiration for the practice and a larger sense of responsibility toward approaching this state of mind with sincerity, not aggression or greed. In return, you discovered many valuable truths within each dream's revealing riddle. It seemed these riddles were coming from, again, a source of higher intelligence you couldn't even begin to understand. Nor could you make any sense of why it would feel your damaged brain was worth receiving the wisdom embedded within these undazzling, but inspired insights.


Insights so hackneyed, yet they stood the test of time. Recalling these unvarnished mantras helped you regain a sense of internal calm while caught in the constant storms of stress and strife. All you had to do was take the time to look, feel and listen...because sometimes, it IS all too much. You get so tired of having to fight nonstop for every single little fucking scrap of some stupid bullshit basic need; like being heard, like being seen, like being treated with the barest thread of common human decency. Not being overlooked or ignored or cut off or pushed aside when waiting in line at the corner store or at a red light. Taking a timeout from society's infantile needs to go inward instead calmed you. It calmed the defeatism that would leak from feeling like the blank faced rusty little cog that amuses itself by squeaking in sync while it's trapped inside this massively malfunctioning male dominated earth raping kindness killing machine.


But this is life in the Natural World; even single-celled organisms have to defend themselves in order to survive. Every living thing is a sentient being, struggling just as hard as you to feel a momentary peace. Every single molecule is capable of reflecting intentions, of resounding vibrations of consciousness. Paying attention to those equally sentient cells involved alongside you in the act of living, breeds compassion and kinship. Insights are then bestowed upon us all when we open ourselves to the auras within empty spaces because they are Not Empty At All.


Put into the context of each individual's map of their own subconscious symbolism, any manner of things can take on new magical meanings, or renew a childlike curiosity with the mysteries of life. And despite society's attempts to carve, cut, shock, tranquilize and otherwise mute different kinds of creative thinking, as a species, we continue to be mystified with the ancient ancestral magic of dreams, with the connection we all have to the collective unconsciousness, with the innocent divinity we keep secret but secretly celebrate inside our sleeping minds as it delights us with it's absurd little insights on the nature of being.


Absurd little insights like "There is no such thing as Winning, there is only Spinning"- a phrase accompanied by an image of the cyclical rotation of the earth that occured while you were, once again, feeling like a total failure and considering suicide.


A song, whose humorous showtuney chorus,"Men are Minor, Waste of Eyeliner," was a response to your frustration with the misogynistic inequality you repeatedly confronted both in your intimate relationships and at work.


Your personal favorite, "If you take lots of small steps to hell, you will end up in hell. If you take lots of small steps toward heaven, you will end up in heaven."


After the more recent addition,"All there is is IS," you found some sense of ease in regard to making big life altering decisions, viewing the consequences of your choices as neither good nor evil, but knowing that no matter what you chose to do, all you would ever have to deal with is exactly what is in front of your face. Every decision therefore forces you to face simply THIS. And this 3rd face then revealed itself to you as a face that is All Faces, yet faceless.



*u can call me ph!*