Summer Chill

Lee first noticed the reddish-brown algae on aquarium glass, like an ochre smear left by a fish rubbing up against the clear aquarium wall.

For months, the smear changed neither size nor shape.

A second spot appeared, outside the aquarium, as if the algae had grown through the glass.

Lee shook off his imagination. Algae can’t grow through glass.

But what is glass, really?

Isn’t glass a type of silica liquid?

Lee strained his thoughts to recall his chemistry classes and lessons in chemical compositions.

Glass is an electrical insulator, a solid vessel for liquids.

So how did algae get on the outside?

He traveled out-of-town for a few weeks and forgot about the algae.

Or he was going to forget until he noticed, after staying a few days in the same Airbnb rental for a week, that the glass wall of the bathtub suddenly showed a same reddish-brown spot similar to the one at home.

Lee sat on the toilet seat and pondered the situation.

In his travels, curiosity seekers asked him for advice, familiar with his work investigating the macabre.

Less than a year before, a being that seemed human but smelled otherworldly showed him an orb of unknown origin.

The roundish ball was cracked.

Lee carefully examined the crystal clear sphere with his bare eyes. Normally, he would use a pocket magnifying lens but he’d only left his rental for a relaxing walk in shorts and a T-shirt (“T-Rex couldn’t fly but he soared above his competition!”) when the smelly stranger approached him at the entrance to a local walking path.

“What do you make of this?” A clawlike hand reached out from under a serape and handed him the glass object.

Lee loved surprises and took the grapefruit-sized ball from the stranger’s hand, rolling it around in his palm to feel its texture, weight and temperature.

But there was something about the object that startled him, almost as if tiny fingers had reached out of the hairline crack and serrated the skin of his forefinger.

He switched the orb to his right hand and brought his left forefinger up close to his eyes.

Sure enough, he’d cut himself.

There was no blood of his but there was an odd stain.

He mentally wrote off the stain as dirt that had he had rubbed out of the crack in the glass. 

Until today.

What had the stranger said to him? “Those who can’t see the future are doomed, unless the Future wants them to see it.”

He had noticed a preternatural disposition to see the future the last few months.

Was the ochre stain a type of fortuneteller?

If it was everywhere, it would, theoretically, have access to the interconnectedness of everything.

Could it be the key he sought to open the door that shows time is an illusion?

Single-celled organisms were known to communicate with each other as one.  They had thrived on Earth for hundreds of millions of years.

What did we know of extraterrestrial beings surviving space travel, crossing galactic distances as streams, swarms or colonies of single-celled organisms?

Were they sending him a message, and if so, why?

Why now?

He had a lot to ponder, an ochre stain to study in his lab when he got home.

Another mystery to solve!

Where was I?

Where was I?

I have gotten lost lately, lost in the thick, foggy ME soup.

Forgotten how to have fun, how to write jokes with obvious punchlines (but no laugh tracks).

Is it something about getting older?

No.

Age is just a number.

I have to admit to myself that I have material I want to write down but don’t out of respect for people’s privacy and I am bothered that my artistic independence is making a sacrifice for others — how dare they impede readers who might improve or change their lives based on what I’ve written!  [Not that I have many readers, mind you, but potentially billions might entertain their eyeballs or ears for a few minutes at any time…]

And if I give myself permission to lose all the friends I have to share with quasianonymous readers the stories of my friends’ lives?

I shan’t.

I miss my friends.

I miss a regular job with daytime work hours, with weekends off to spend time with friends and family, temporarily prevented by a lack of self-esteem, no belief in self-worth, feeling like I have nothing to give this world but written words.

It’s time to create a new music video.

With my wife out of town this weekend, and my switching to evening work hours for the next few weeks, I have time to devote to my art, including shooting comic videos.

I have to admit to myself I have difficulty maintaining a thought set that allows me to honestly share myself with my friends, turning my thoughts into a narrative I can control and manage real people into.

Thus, I am an artistic outsider, with imaginary friends who appear on Facebook and occasionally show up in real life.

It seems weird but it’s true.

It’s almost a revelation of some sort, like the blue pill/red pill scene in The Matrix, showing me what my whole life has been, a real illusion, a real story overriding the interconnected sets of states of energy in motion which have no set labels or set boundaries.

When I stop watching television news, stop reading news headlines, stop paying attention to anything that appears to be product promotion or ad copy disguised as a science article, my illusions change…

I relax.

I forget subcultural clues, stop responding to cultural triggers.

I return to my life in the forest, the Wandering Wonderer becoming the stationary Meditative Monk again.

I lose all my friends, stop wanting to love, no longer share realtime observations.

I no longer care about making a viral video and just express me as artistically pure as nature is.

My friend, you said you no longer know what love is and I don’t know if you still feel that way.

I love you and I’m still figuring out how to make more of my time available to you, if you want it.

I want to write about you, about our friends, about the everyday struggles in case it might, like dance, help someone feel better or find a way out of a tough mental situation.

But I respect your privacy and I admit I’m stuck right now finding a way to balance my belief that you support my artistic independence against not writing down events in our lives that others (and probably we) don’t want to be written down, almost lying in the process.

Last time I was at this point in my artistic expression, I walked away from you.  This time, I’m just taking a couple of days to decide what to do next, willing to stand here and feel pain while I’m sorting myself out, rather than running away and hiding once again.

I’m moving forward, and even though I stop in my tracks sometimes, it’s still progress.

You gave me the strength this past week to look back 50 years in my life to see who I really am; in this case, I’ll only tell you in person and not write it down because I’m learning to respect my privacy at this point in my life while I assemble the pieces to build my new life offline; otherwise, it just becomes another short story that sort of ties in with the other stories in this blogosphere.

My life is not just a story.

Sometimes it’s real.

It’s time to practice dancing a WCS routine!

Grand eloquence

In the global economy and more specifically, locally, war is big business — metallic ballistic missiles, cyberwar, etc.

With war follows the lawyers defining legalities.

And everywhere, statistics.

In the midst of all that, I live.

What “I” is will always be up for debate but generally I is enough of an entity on human timescales for other humanlike entities (including animals, insects, plants, bacteria, etc.) to respond to.

In other words, it’s the scale that matters.

Scalar.

Blind justice.

Location data tracking.

Windmills.

Asphalt shingles.

Rotting decks.

We pretty much understand the meaning of the last six words/phrases in our time and on our timescale.

Which reminds me, I need to clean off the sticks, twigs and limbs that have collected on my roof since it was replaced a year and a half ago — yeah, I’m that lazy.

In my thoughts, I give myself the freedom to live wherever I please, the only true illusion of freedom I have because scale has no meaning in my imagination (although in reality, scale means everything to my thought processes).

At my age, I have explored most of the thoughts and subcultures I’ve wished or been able to explore.

My curiosity thrives but my willingness to move this post middle-aged body diminishes slightly.

Yet, billions of people live together on this planet, some newly released from their incubating wombs, some returning to a womblike state ensconced in a coffin — millions and millions of them yearn for a life full of sated curiosity states, regardless of scale.  Some will satisfy themselves with the simple lessons taught them by parents who wish to carry on old traditions, curiosity not encouraged or thought of.

Who am I to say what is right or wrong about how any one of us lives?

All I can do is observe and learn, applying the information, knowledge and wisdom I’ve gained to myself at timescales I can work with, using the tools at my disposal or the materials I can reach/afford to build my own tools.

This week, I relax, take a break from pushing my writing capabilities that can inhabit the thought sets of people unlike myself — be me for once.

I pull back into the scientist/engineer role most familiar to me, analysing data from experiments set up for my use.

It frees me to explore the universe without getting involved in local subcultures and accidentally revealing trade secrets in my confessional style of writing.

I don’t like keeping secrets.  I left the world of commercial electronic product development in part because I was no longer interested in climbing the corporate ladder where secret plans and pacts increased the higher you climbed.

The same is true of the subcultures I’ve participated in.  When participation requires keeping secrets, I return to my core self where I can be whomever I wish to be and write about it.

I’ve chosen to limit my friendships and work relationships in return for my personal freedom.

My father, a cousin of mine and friends in corporate management never understood that I could keep secrets like the best of them, even better than some, and yet was willing to walk away from a lucrative career for so-called intellectual freedom.

I don’t have a dogmatic philosophy to fall back on and quote at this point.

All I have is this space here, where I can write to myself everyday just as I used to sit with my mother after school everyday and recount in boring detail what happened at school, or talk on the phone for hours with my father, recounting what for him was thrilling detail about my corporate advancement, while I sought advice from both as to the best way to proceed with interpersonal relationships.

My wife has served as that sounding board until recently when I wanted to explore the mental possibilities of life without her; I then brought her into the conversation to give me something to write about after the fact.

I should walk around with a warning sign around my neck, “If he gets bored, look out!  He’ll find a way to make life around you thrilling enough for him to write about!”

That’s it for today.

I’m switching from the day shift at work to the evening shift, freeing my days to be by myself again, releasing me from the pressure to have to pretend to want to spend time with my wife and friends.

One thing about my self-aware autism, it borders on being sociopathic, which means I try to make up for it by turning on my empathy network when I’m with other people, which burns me out eventually.

It’s best when I’m alone with my own thoughts to analyse in cold, detached nonemotional laboratory conditions.

It’s why I love my life as a blood courier, helping to save lives while I’m left alone to drive for hours at a time each day, watching the world go by like an amusement ride, entertaining my own thoughts while I think up a new blog entry to write, turning on my charm and empathy as needed.

Better taste: whole or crushed tea leaves?

Taking a break from treating my comedy seriously to listen to the sounds of this planet, feel it creak and groan.

Stepping aside from all the running narratives to be myself for a week.

I separate me from being the characters that I have inhabited to better write about them.

I know who I am.

I choose some characters who are discovering themselves in order to make the stories more realistic.

I’ve been essentially the same personality since I was five years old in Boone, North Carolina, USA.

Fifty years later, I visited Boone to assess my personality, scared literally to death that I had become a foreign entity of some sort, only to discover, no shock, that I’m still the inquisitive boy I was who sat in a Sunday school class questioning the wisdom of adults who insisted on telling children fabricated stories they themselves did not understand.

Has nothing changed in 50 years?

I want to tell myself it’s such a bad thing but it’s not because I know that humans are slow to change.

We’re also quick to adapt to change.

I passed through the latest identity crisis, panicking for nothing as usual.

But it generated a new set of narrative tales.

I know whom to thank for being there during this crisis, whom I love.

I know not all owls say “Who.”

I don’t believe any owls say “Whom.”

The vibratory roar of an internal combustion engine spinning a metal plate with sharp edges rolls across the inedible grass field called a lawn next door.  I know that the people who earn a living cutting grass want more lawns to cut but I’m happy I replaced my lawn with groundcover that doesn’t need mowing and wish more people would.

I am happy again, happy I was able to capture my identity crisis thoughts and put them into characters, happy seeing that I don’t change as much as I worry I will, cognisant that I’m more consistent than my independent streak believes I am.

What’s next in my life?

I’m not sure.

Something always happens worth thinking and writing about.

After all, I’m still an inquisitive five-year old who sees everyone wearing the emperour’s new clothes and laughs at the silliness of our pretense of hiding the fact we all have scars and blemishes, body parts that fall outside some artificial social norm, no need to cover ourselves with masks and subcultural taboos.

Will I suffer spring fever every year on Earth the rest of my life?  Why not?!

Pushing through the muck

Lee had not forgotten about life on Mars.

The colonisation process occupied the widest path in his thoughts.

Lee practiced being human and detoured from the path to remind himself of the frailties he once faced daily.

He reminded himself of love, what it was like to converse in realtime without the safety of the Internet between two people, having to see into each other’s smiles, smell each other’s bodies, risk tripping over words and word meanings.

But Mars was always there.

He challenged himself and the team to make AI entities more humanlike for the human tourists who visited the Moon and Mars.

Not “uncanny valley” human.

Less mechanistic.

More compassionate and understanding, able to read emotional states in silent interchanges between AI and humans.

Not just behavioural science but a more scientifically holistic approach to human-machine interface.

How to understand unspoken painful memories.

How to interpret sarcastic statements without knowing the socioeconomic subcultural history of the speaker/writer.

Lee expected perfection and settled for nothing less.

He set the example of himself to the team, willing to face his own deep, dark secrets and painful memories to program and test AI algorithms against the rest of the team, refining the code so that it was not tuned to a single personality archetype or body type.

He had been an artist from childhood.

But he was also a scientist and engineer.

A computer engineer and social engineer.

Computers programmed to perform only a few functions could be seen as megalomaniacs and single-minded narcissists from the wrong perspective.

Lee preferred the 360-degree view.

Facing the facts

There was a time, long ago, and a time, long in the future, when I believed there was a person for me in both.

I chose yesterday to believe I would realise who that person is.

I fully believed that person is you.

Luckily for you, I know who I am, know that I’ve believed too many times to want to recall that I would change and haven’t changed.

I’ve cared about your wellbeing, always glad to see your friends step up and visit you when you were ill.

I didn’t expect someone as beautiful, smart, loving and caring as you to walk into my life.

I’ve never felt I deserved you as a friend, never understood why you’ve chosen to stay in contact with me.

I am a terrible person.

I am full of self-hatred.

My wife validates my self-hatred.

I’ve wanted to love myself and you give me every reason to believe I can, allowing me to mentally free myself and believe there is any chance I could be someone else.

But today, when I sat down to figure out how to live by myself financially, I realised first, that I’ve never lived alone and second, I don’t want to end up like Nats, alone, miserable and not giving a fuck about the world.

You have a nice house, a husband who cooks for you.

Why did I think your friendship was more than caring for a fellow human?…why did I substitute your friendship for something that I wanted, not what you wanted?

When did I believe our roleplaying was real?

When did I mix up my thoughts?

Last night, I stood back and looked at the smiling faces taking dance lessons.  I saw the success you’ve achieved, how much I’ve wanted to feel like I was somehow associated with it and realised I’ve lied to myself.  You are naturally a successful person, I just happen to be around in your life as you’re climbing the ladder of success.

The old cause-and-effect correlation fallacy at work in my thoughts.

I apologise for making assumptions.

I don’t believe you ever read these blog entries so I can freely write them to you and not worry about hurting you.

You have inspired me to write them for years now.

Every time I have gotten this close to believing there is something between us that makes starting a new life worth trying, I have written a narrative reason for backing out.

This time, I pushed so far as to talk about divorce with my wife, which, no matter what, has planted seeds of doubt in her thoughts for the rest of our lives together, causing irreparable damage.

But I was willing to take that risk.

I’m still moving forward but I’m scared out of my wits.

I’m afraid that I’ll fall and no one will be there to support me this time as my wife has done for decades and my parents/sibling before that.

Why I fell in love with you the first time I heard your voice, I cannot say with certainty.

Why you’d want me in your life is even less clear.

I’m standing here because I still love you.

That hasn’t changed.

If our separate artistic independence spirits have any chance for compatibility, I don’t know and that’s okay.

We’re not lovers and may never be.

We’re friends for whom time has no meaning.