Me, My Jeff & I: An Analysis of “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea”

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At heart, this album is a love song. Not in the conspiracy theorist sense that Jeff Mangum rescued Anne Frank from ever perishing in the Holocaust & returned her to his Louisiana abode where she grew, masquerading as his sister until he could finally marry her, BUT a love story of the self. Sure, Jeff’s personal love story with Rose Wallace Goldaline, the name given to Jeff’s archetypical lover, is referenced throughout, alongside more conspicuous references to Peter and Anne’s immature love in the annex, as described in Anne’s diary; But the true lover being chased is Jeff’s anima as characterized through these feminine entities. Jeff is constantly seeking, finding and losing his muse, his creative force, his appreciation of beauty and wonder that he was first united with in infancy.

A surreal, dreamscape of carnival chaos twinkling under the blitzkreig of WWII, starring Jeff Mangum as “the Two Headed Boy” whose head space is occupied by the Dark Brother when he has gone too long deprived of his feminine half – a role played split between Anne Frank and Rose Wallace Goldaline. Through these storybook characters, Jeff explores the duality of all things – the beautiful consciousness of a young girl, chewed up and spit out by genocidal warfare, and the destruction that paves the way for fecundating, explosive creation. Everything is both of these things, and when one departs from the other, the entity experiencing the loss is, itself, lost. Jeff’s very real journey through gaining this wisdom endures cycles of loss, seeking out his whole self, reclaiming himself temporarily & losing himself again. The ephemeral avenues down which he finds this other half throughout the album include dreams, love, sex, music, birth & death – the spaces in which we are fully emerged in our psyche, rather than the isolating world outside.

Appropriately enough, most of the songs Jeff wrote for this album were made in the first few moments of his day, after awaking from dream. This is why the language he uses is so dreamlike. It reads like a strange storybook, out of order and constantly implying a heavily dramatic change through symbols and their interactions. The following paragraphs give a synopsis for the changes that occur in each song, followed by a verse-by-verse analysis of the symbols conveying the transformation.

King of Carrot Flowers Pt. 1: In the Womb

Jeff describes infancy in terms of chaos – violence and splendor, inextricably intertwined, reign in his first experiences of the world. It sounds as though he is describing a brother and sister (perhaps step-) finding themselves in an extremely dysfunctional family, in which they explore their bodies incestually against a backdrop of domestic violence. “Your mom” stabbed [his] “Daddy’s shoulder”. “We would lay and learn what each other’s bodies were for” Jeff is born into a world where the masculine and the feminine war – where men and women separate. These gendered entities become a sustained metaphor for the yin-yang dynamic in Jeff’s own psyche, giving “we” the potential representation of just one person – wee Jeff – single genderless child entirely lost in the chaos of his young world. Everything is explored in a very Id-centric manner – sensually and animalistic – fighting and pleasure.

This song  sets the stage of Anne’s life as well as Jeff’s, AND what the other was missing. Anne looked on at her parents and the Van Dam elders with contempt for their childish ways as she was forced to pave her individuality into their stuffy “civilization”and “proper” ways of doing things: backstabbing, selfishness, assumptive communication (if at all) and nosiness into everyone’s personal life. Jeff’s childhood had similar disparities – while he was immersed in the beauty and wonder of innocent youth, his parents were quarreling, and then allowed to raise a wildish mind. While Jeff and Anne were loving their first days of life, their parents were wishing an end to their raw existence.

As life progresses and Jeff becomes socialized more and more into this continually divided and subdivided society, an internal separation occurs as well. Vacillation between unity and separation characterizes the album, and Jeff’s life as it catalogues his journey.

[Verse 1]

When you were young, you were the king of carrot flowers

And how you built a tower tumbling through the trees

In holy rattlesnakes that fell all around your feet

And your mom would stick a fork right into daddy’s shoulder

And dad would throw the garbage all across the floor

As we would lay and learn what each other’s bodies were for

If the journey of the self begins anywhere, it is in the womb, manifested in infancy. Before we are confronted with a world of strictures, roles & obligations to tear us apart, we are completely whole and blissful in the womb. The symbol of the tower connects the earth to the sky (which will come to embody the feminine’s residing place), the two polarities of Jeff’s spirit. Serpents are heavily symbolic of wisdom and balance – and they are falling, presumably, from the sky to the earth. With this backdrop of unity – Jeff in his mother’s womb, outside of his human cradle, the polarized entities of man and woman are at war. The father is alluded to be physically abusive to the mother (“and dad would throw the garbage all across the floor” ~ “inside my mother; in a garbage bin”) while unified-Jeff was exploring himself and his body, as a spiritual whole, aka “WE would lay & learn”

[Verse 2]

And this is the room one afternoon, I knew I could love you

And from above you how I sank into your soul

Into that secret place where no one dares to go

And your mom would drink until she was no longer speaking

And dad would dream of all the different ways to die

Each one a little more than he could dare to try

This womb room was a place of complete bliss & loving union between Jeff & his anima. Again the imagery of above (the human) is meeting the heavenly entity below, subconsciously where our truest selves are scattered about the ether. The unconscious is the mysterious investigation of psychoanalysts everywhere, very much deemed the secret house of our innermost wishes, desires, fears, truths, etc. Few dare to enter, because entrance can reveal some shocking things. Dreams are said to be the brain’s encoded messages from the psyche/unconscious mind. Again, while this beautiful, loving exploration of yet-to-be-born-self is going on inside Jeff’s mother, outside, she is at odds with her other half, both are using their existence and strange disconnected unity (dysfunctional marriage) to wish it away – the mom numbs it while the dad contemplates suicide. These gendered parental figures will come to add to the archetypal collective, as the dark sides of the masculine & feminine entities within us & Jeff.

King of Carrot flowers Pt. 2: Birth & Infancy After his toddler’s initiation into a divided world, Jeff finds himself torn in many directions, but with no real way to navigate towards his own will – “I will shout until they know what I mean!” The will is the first semblance of personality to arise from the quagmire perspective of a toddler, which can often only be expressed (with the developmental deficit of language)  through temper. The first word of personal significance a child learns is “NO!” – I WILL SHOUT UNTIL THEY KNOW WHAT I MEAN. Jeff doesn’t want a lot of the structures that learning to function in this world imposes on his life. Transitioning from a carefree infant which everything is done for – and to – him, into a life of responsibility and duty. The first sense of self to be shed is wonder, though it takes years.

Heavily influenced by his Christian upbringing, it’s easy to see how God was a significant grapple to that waning wonder. Jeff has claimed adamantly that the first line of this track, “I love you Jesus Christ” was meant literally. Though religion is never the answer, an innate love of existence and the divine existed in both Anne and Jeff. She disliked Peter’s complete abhorrence for religion & God and though she didn’t always identify well with Jewish strictures (such as the religious rituals her mother neurotically enforced at the beginning of their persecution), she loved life and the mystery of her family’s study, practice and reverence for it. If Part 1 is about existing in the blissful, heavenly navel, Part 2 steals it away and Jeff is left with only the option to ride the waves and find himself (his selves?). And stay true to what he finds – “ever proclaiming me”. Anne’s greatest trial with her parents was feeling misunderstood. She was the scapegoat for pent up tensions in the secret annex and as the youngest, everyone had something to say about how she ought to be reared or what she was doing wrong, all the while, Anne is rearing herself through the self knowledge she records in her diary. Jeff has also stated that Part Two is about living in Seattle with his mother, where Anne’s similarly disintegrating relationship with her mother is explored heavily in her diary. The structure of our childhood introduces us to the traumas that we will overcome for the rest of our lives. We, as Anne Frank was, are born into a world of hatred, pain and violence that we are first introduced to via the dynamic between our family, specifically our parents.

King of Carrot Flowers Part 1 sets the stage of wholeness yet to be immersed in life, while in Part 2, that love of life is confirmed (I love you Jesus Christ), but emerges  into the world of individuality – an individual that is waiting to be whole again. In Jeff’s lyrics, the image of the world comes to represent himself, as this experience is universal; The day that they are awaiting is the day that unity returns. Not only is Jeff waiting for the return of his anima, but “the world, it … waits” as well.

Part Two

[Verse 1]

I love you, Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ, I love you, yes I do

I love you, Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ, I love you, yes I do

And on the lazy days

The dogs dissolve and drain away

The world it goes

And always waits

The day we are awaiting

Jeff has stated that he means exactly what he says in this song, separate from religion, he really does love Jesus Christ, this man that preached love and acceptance and peace to his followers. Birth is implied and will soon occur; the lazy/dog days are over now, and Jeff is being assimilated into society – aka, being pulled apart (“the world, it goes”). This image of a world/planet/star being destroyed is a recurring one, meant to reflect the separation of self. Therefore, when there is a separation, there follows a longing for unity again…”the day we are awaiting”.

Part Three

[Verse 2]

Up and over

We go through the wave and undertow

I will float until I learn how to swim

Inside my mother in a garbage bin

Until I find myself again again

[Verse 3]

Up and over we go

Mouths open wide and spilling snow

And I will spit until I learn how to speak

Up through the doorway as the sideboards creek

With them ever proclaiming me me oh

BIRTH; “up and over” through a “wave and undertow,” Jeff is turned on his head and wrenched from his heaven, being forced to breathe as a single entity, separated from his spirit – “until I find myself again”. Here, water, a house, and snow are all combined to form a strange, twisted image. The ‘room where I could love you’ from before was Jeff’s mother’s womb, the side boards of which are creaking with giving birth, and proclaiming Jeff – spitting him out. Jeff is no doubt wailing for breath, for being born, for losing his spirit, and spitting out snow where he does not yet have the knowledge to express himself through speech. Snow is another recurring image, as a sort of surrogate ether and uncertainty that the Two-Headed Boy must return to in order to find himself (SNOW FALLS LIKE ASHES) – into that of unconsciousness where his spirit lies – snow comes from the sky and sky = spirit/other half/feminine entity, remember?

[Verse 4]

Up and over

We go the weight it sits on down and I don’t know

I will shout until they know what I mean

I mean the marriage of a dead dog sing

And a synthetic flying machine, machine

Oh-Oohh-Oh-Oh

“Up and over we go,” at first meaning birth, now comes to also reflect Jeff’s earthly body yearning for his aerial spirit – the only thing on his lips that he could want to speak about, as it is the only thing he’s missing, desiring. The exper of birth has been said to be the most traumatic injury of life as it separates us from a warm, blissful haven where everything is provided for us and we are chemically and physically bound to our mother. Entering the world, we must breathe and also experience isolation for the first time ever, an extremely jarring experience for something that has not yet met the world and its expectations of a human life. Jeff does not yet possesss speech to scream for that unity again (which is an ironic commentary on this album that does the job for him, while still encoded in dream speech that few have attempted to de-code). Jeff’s meaning is the marriage (unity) of a dead dog (how he views his corporeal, spiritless form) and a synthetic flying machine – like an aeroplane or a time machine or a womb. The aeroplane comes in as a symbol for that ethereal unity of self, that can be experienced in death (“one day we will die and our ashes will fly from the aeroplane over the sea,”) in utero (“this is the [womb] one afternoon, I knew I could love you and from above you how I sank into your soul. Into that secret place where no one dares to go,”) in dreams (“in my dreams, you’re alive and you’re crying as your mouth moves in mine, soft and sweet”) or – wishfully – in a time machine, which all of these things are by nature “I wished I could save her in some sort of time machine”.

 

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In the Aeroplane Over the Sea: First Love

After enduring the phase of separation, as an infant, Jeff now sings a love song, in which his first reunion since birth is experienced. Sometimes when after a long time of having lost ourselves, we find ourselves in another & come to love ourselves through loving aspects of our shadow in another. This happens in the title track, but also addressed is the inevitability of failure within this delicate balance. After all, another person is also another individual with their own broken, separated psyche. Love is often over-romanticized as “making you whole,” which absolutely occurs, but fades out just as easily as it came to be. This leaves you with two ephemerally satiated individuals about to confront their brokenness again. In lieu of this new understanding, Jeff’s lyrics turn to death, as he recognizes that the only permanent sort of reunion, outside of dreams that last a nighttime and loves that last a honeymoon phase, is in death.

Anne encountered this knowledge herself in the attic. Tortured by the tension of such close quarters with her family and the Van Dams, a recently pubescent Anne turned to Peter for support. Their awkward, naive yet loving relationship was often what got her through the increasingly stressful days. Notice also that Julian Koster’s singing saw fist makes an appearance on this track. This sound effect (as well as the dee-dee lyrics) are representative of the feminine essence that Jeff sees in both Anne and Goldaline singing – the divine way in which they communicate. When the singing is present, Jeff has found his anima/is in harmony with all of his selves.

[Verse 1]

What a beautiful face

I have found in this place

That is circling all round the sun

What a beautiful dream

That could flash on the screen

In a blink of an eye and be gone from me

Soft and sweet

Let me hold it close and keep it here with me, me

Finally, peace enters the angsty, temper tantrum toting toddler’s narrative as love sweeps away all the ugliness. The phrase “circling round the sun” carries with it a continuation of the the theme of cycles, and with the aerial planet of the sun – Jeff is literally hovering near this newfound love – this echo of spirit – ON EARTH. The fact that this reunion occurs in the earthly realm is important, because it means that a birth has taken place, whereas to meet with her in the sky would mean that a death has taken place. Cycles: (repetition of finding oneself, losing oneself, and yearning for oneself)“that could flash…in the blink of an eye and be gone from me” supports the importance that cycles and brief reunion hold in this narrative. *“Soft and sweet” are phrases that come to be associated with the female entities throughout this album. **Again, “dream” is referred to  – one of the four places that Jeff finds himself whole again
[Verse 2]

And one day we will die

And our ashes will fly from the aeroplane over the sea

But for now we are young

Let us lay in the sun

And count every beautiful thing we can see

Love to be

In the arms of all I’m keeping here with me, me

Though he wants to savor this moment of unity, Jeff recognizes that it will eventually slip away – even if they remain together forevermore in life, eventually they will die – and yet death is its own reunion: a resubmergence into the ether of everythingness. This type of unity is once again represented through a connection between earth and sky – the ashes of their dead, earthly bodies fluttering down from a synthetic flying machine; a tool of warcraft in Anne Frank’s time, but an altogether miraculous invention, allowing the earthbound, gravity laden human to connoiter about the clouds and atmosphere.
[Verse 3]

What a curious life we have found here tonight

There is music that sounds from the street

There are lights in the clouds

Anna’s ghost all around

Hear her voice as it’s rolling and ringing through me

Soft and sweet

How the notes all bend and reach above the trees

[Verse 4]

Now how I remember you

How I would push my fingers through

Your mouth to make those muscles move

That made your voice so smooth and sweet

To recognize that you have transferred from a place of ennui to bliss is a special thing. To contemplate that your bliss is temporary and will soon return to ennui is a depressing thing. To understand that life is a constant give and take of these two things is “strange”. Music is in the streets – now remember, the female entity is the one that we always hear singing (whether through the singing saw that is featured in this song to be the voice of Anne Frank/the ghost or the oft-reprised ‘dee-dee-dee-dee-dee”), making this translate directly to “my other half has come to earth. The sky from which she hails is full of lights (vs. being full of thunder and sparks, which emerge later as a symbol for the will towards unity, whereas here, the lights represent unity being attained) and Anne Frank’s spirit is winding through all of the above. This is a very cohesive, stitched together image , in which the earthly music still bends into the sky, and this singing (from the female entity/ghost/anne) is coming from Jeff’s own lips, demonstrating that all these characters are aspects of one man’s psyche – “hear her voice as its rolling and ringing through me”. This moment of complete unity causes Jeff to remember moments before when his second half was fully in his grasp: he remembers even that HER unity with Him (as opposed to the other way around) made her complete too. This second half of him isn’t just some lifeless shadow dragging behind, this other half is a true entity with its own pain and longing from separation – with its own personality and ploys and existence – and very possibly this entity narrates King of Carrot Flowers Pt 1 – the smooth sweetness that Jeff laments when they are separated is in fact caused by their unity – she does not sing this sweetly (or at all perhaps) when they are apart. Notice as well the body imagery being implied by these lines – it’s easy to imagine a lover placing fingers into their paramour’s mouth from the outside, but time and again, Jeff describes being literally inside of someone else – a motif conveying moments of unity.
But now we keep where we don’t know

All secrets sleep in winter clothes

With one you loved so long ago

Now he don’t even know his name

“we keep where we don’t know” – they stay in a locationless place – in the conduits of his mind; in dreamland where these unconscious secrets exist in the quagmire of our psyche; where we are always united with all our selves, rather than the stricture that consciousness lays across us, forcing us to be just one – just a half. All lost knowledge of ourself is contained within our unconscious mind, where there is no need for names to separate one from the other, because they are all one on the continuum of the psyche.
[Verse 5]

What a beautiful face

I have found in this place

That is circling all ’round the sun

And when we meet on a cloud

I’ll be laughing out loud

I’ll be laughing with everyone I see

Can’t believe how strange it is to be anything at all

They meet in the sky again (in death – another unity place). Jeff again acknowledges that all of this is continuous cycles of separation and reunion and that he will eventually be reunited with all of his selves when he rejoins them in the ether of death – when he falls from the sky as ashes commingling with her (ASHES THAT FALL LIKE SNOW).

Two Headed Boy Pt. 1: Angsty Adolesence

Turbulence. This song captures the angst of adolescence when the split personality first enters the stage. It cannot decide whether it is a celebration, a lamentation, a torturous meeting of intimacy, an orgasm or an abortion. It is going every direction at once with full force, only to fall short. This song is representative of the attempts that we make in our youth to reconnect with our true selves – the desperate acts that leave us more singed and alone than we were when we started. Though Jeff has already recognized the impossibility of capturing his anima with any kind of permanence in the living realm, his desperation for unity provokes numerous attempts at reconnection – music, sensual intimacy… questions of suicide. The music follows his understanding, as the pacing becomes less urgent in the final verse, and Jeff accepts that he must go within himself to pacify his need for connection and ultimately ‘let go’ so that it may find him.

[Verse 1]

Two headed boy

All floating in glass

The sun it has passed

Now it’s blacker than black

I can hear as you tap on your jar

I am listening to hear where you are

I am listening to hear where you are

The sun that was once being circled around is now gone (aka, his anima is gone) – reinforced by the image of such isolation of being crammed into a glass jar, but the yearning is still present. Noise is being made by sequestered Jeff – a tapping against his jar to be acknowledged – to be refound & incorporated. The Dark Brother reigns now, and is actively trying to find this wounded spirit. This alludedly dead aspect of spirit (floating in formaldehyde, suspended in time between birth and death) and the same one that was beginning to explore in KCF. This alludes to the in between time when something is in the ether and must choose to re-emerge into a state where separation must occur.
[Verse 2]

Two headed boy

Put on Sunday shoes

And dance round the room to accordion keys

With the needle that sings in your heart

Catching signals that sound in the dark

Catching signals that sound in the dark

Freed from the jar, the strictures of religion and society are once again laid across this wildish, diametric individual. A needle piercing his heart sings. We can assume that this singing needle is the same pain of the female entity — “with wings and ring around a socket right between her spine”. This two headed boy has a needle through his heart and notches in his spine – all physically deforming echoes of where his other half once was. Radio waves are how they transmit to each other now (radio waves emit music – the special language Jeff uses to communicate with himself). The two headed boy is dancing to the music of an accordion as the needle (a receptor) picks up the radio signals that she is transmitting to him. He’s found her again; through his pain of loss, he feels her existence. This motif will continue to build throughout the album.
[Chorus]

We will take off our clothes

And they’ll be placing fingers through the notches in your spine

And when all is breaking

Everything that you could keep inside

Now your eyes ain’t moving

Now they just lay there in their cloud

This is the separation: “they’ll be placing fingers through the notches in your spine – all is breaking”. This image can also be read as extremely sensual – an intimate and vulnerable exploration of self, seen before in KCF. Could it be that Jeff has found the correct conduit into the secrets inside his darker side. By picking up her singing (secret songs that you’d keep wrapped in boxes so tight, sounding only at night as you sleep) Jeff has gone into a very deep, dangerous and beautiful place inside himself. A place so dangerous, because he is visiting her there, and we know that when he, the earthly being, visits her, it is in the sky, it is in death – “now your eyes ain’t movin now, they just lay there in their cloud”
[Verse 3]

Two headed boy

With pulleys and weights

Creating a radio played just for two

In the parlor with a moon across her face

And through the music he sweetly displays

Silver speakers that sparkle all day

Made for his lover who’s floating and choking with her hands across her face

[Chorus]

And in the dark we will take off our clothes

And they’ll be placing fingers through the notches in your spine

And when all is breaking

Everything that you could keep inside

Now your eyes ain’t moving

Now they just lay there in their cloud

Pulleys and weights make me think of Jeff coming back down to earth – perhaps a failed suicide attempt, the dark brother taking after his dark father~ Again on earth, this male entity is ravenous for communion with his female spirit, but is now approaching the problem in a worldly way. Building a radio outside of himself that will pick up her signals – her emissions. This intimate exchange is likened to the secret meetings that Peter and Anne would have in the parlor of the secret annex – viewing the moon at night from the downstairs area – their place of communion with each other under the eerie moon in which Anne was both frightened and excited, feeling safer to not be there alone, but to go with Peter, and tremulous at the suggestion of intimacy between them. Rather than follow a potentially deadly thread within himself, Jeff works in the real world to commune with himself through music – something to be shared with the other broken humans of this world. This music will soon call to him a similarly wrenched lover.

Again, an intimate, vulnerable investigation is done of the body that shows physically how it has been wrenched from its other half, and how this constitutes death.

[Verse 4]

Two headed boy

There is no reason to grieve

The world that you need is wrapped in gold silver sleeves

Left beneath Christmas trees in the snow

And I will take you and leave you alone

Watching spirals of white softly flow

Over your eyelids and all you did

Will wait until the point when you let go

Ultimately, this episode of strained association is a failure, as the two can only visit each other outside of the natural cycles (birth and death) through ungodly/unnatural (technology of the radio) bastardizations of connection that results in both appearing as abortions in the other’s world that cannot exist as they wish to – as a whole. Yet Jeff recognizes that this is not a reason to grieve, as the natural cycles will allow the two to rejoin each other, and until then, he can be with her in his dreams – he can go within himself  naturally and walk the thin, s-shaped path that separates yin from yang. The Two Headed Boy must go into himself & take only the music he finds there & return to the world of forms with it. A reemergence of the snow imagery, alongside the symbols of secret boxes containing gifts, shows us that he must be content visiting her in dreams and music- SECRETS – the secret song language that keeps the two together.

The Fool~

Instrumental piece. The Fool follows the Two Headed Boy. If the Two Headed Boy is the angsty adolescent that continually tries and fails to keep his other half with him, he is a fool because he is neglecting the wisdom that everything comes and goes in cycles. This song, with its wartime march, chronologs the continued trudging though the battlefield of adolescence.

Holland, 1945: Loss of Innocence

Okay, our adolescent is a fool, surprise surprise. This continual striving for reunion only to have it backfire that makes the boy into a fool is also what causes his loss of innocence. Jeff details this progression through Anne Frank’s loss of innocence which occurred when a whole nation turned against her because she was born. One head of the boy (the female entity) that had held power in their naive view of the world loses its power to the dark brother, who lashes out violently at the world, in anger for what’s been stolen from them. This is one of the reasons that Anne was such a hero to Jeff. Though she experienced the fear and anxiety of living in the annex for years, with bombs & gunfire sounding off at night, penetrating her dreams, she maintained her conceptualization of beauty in the world, a truly amazing feat. Such a conquering of violence (though Anne’s positive outlook lost plenty of battles within her own psyche) requires spirit – the beauty & wonder-fed spirit that Jeff’s archetypical lover, and sought-after feminine entity maintains. This is why the feminine remains in the heavens, with wings, white roses in her eyes & a ghastly song preening from her lips.

An interesting type of reunion occurs here that differs from the, until now, dualistic being of Jeff & Anne (his feminine side). We have not yet seen Jeff identify with his masculine side explicitly. After the feminine entity departs (in Two Headed Pt 1), a very yang, chaotic, masculine entity is left (the dark brother). “Now she’s a little boy in Spain playing pianos filled with flames” – the one dancing to the accordion keys. Though he has shadow qualities, he is still the lover/other half of the anima; they occupy either head of the two headed boy. This ‘Dark Brother’ returns in Two Headed Part 2 with a ‘head full of flames,’ from which his brains are oozing out. He is broken, essentially, which we can see clearly in the refrain from Two Headed Boy and its allusions to bodily trauma resulting from the separation of conjoined twins/lovers/one self. This violent chaos is what Jeff rejects in the adulterous, abusive father, which is why all the father needs is his “lover to bring a child to [his] chest” to love the shadow entity (all you have left). Sparks & thunder, as a motif, are symbolic for Jeff’s need for unity, and the peril his psyche enters when it is divided – ‘thunderous sparks form the dark of the stadium’ while the father is off committing adultery. The sparks enter the father’s heart as he craves his lover and child. In “Ghost” the feminine spirit literally falls down from the sky (laden with “thunderclouds”), plummeting towards earth.

However, in this track, the Dark Brother apologizes for his violent, warlike reign in Two Headed & the Fool – “He didn’t mean to make you cry with sparks that ring and bullets fly on empty rings around your heart the world just screams and falls apart” – and departs himself. The male lover’s departure leaves Jeff an empty, broken shell, which is why we are given the imagery of the world falling apart. Through every subtraction of self that Jeff experiences, he is constantly learning how to cope, the refrain expresses his need to “pack up every piece” that is left of himself and keep moving, though he is often left with emptiness.

Finally, Jeff returns to the place of wonder inside himself, to see that where his mother (anima) and brothers (dark brother & father) once were, are now empty slots, and those entities now have flies buzzing around their decay where there used to be the flowers of innocence.

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[Verse 1]

The only girl I’ve ever loved

Was born with roses in her eyes

But then they buried her alive

One evening, 1945

With just her sister at her side

And only weeks before the guns

All came and rained on everyone

Now she’s a little boy in Spain

Playing pianos filled with flames

On empty rings around the sun

All sing to say my dream has come

Singing now from the perspective of the dismembered two headed boy (the dark brother), Jeff reflects on his long lost love – epitomized by Anne Frank. **Starting with In the Aeroplane, the lyrics have become increasingly more suggestive of the holocaust as the the tracks have gone on. In the Aeroplane alluded to wartime fighter jets that would spew death across the nightscpaes of much of eastern europe in the days of Hitler’s blitzkrieg & London’s nightly air raid attacks. In two headed boy, an image straight from Anne’s diary (viewing the moon in the parlor at get with Peter), the significance of the radio and even the horrid experimentation that went on in nazi death camps on twins. The horror of wartime (the clash between the masculine and the feminine entities) is expressed through Anne & Peter’s archetypes, because they lived through  this real occurrence. Finally, Jeff inserts a song so specifically and whole heartedly about Anne Frank, we can assume that he is addressing it as her lover, as Peter** Anne was born pure with a mind full of beauty and determination and strength, and then she was snuffed out as a inconsequential candle by the nazi regime, alongside those that bore her (her mother). The beauty that Anne held was tortured and the innocence raped from her psyche (floating and coking with her hands across her face) – remember? the feminine entity is active, not passive, and experiences as much damage as the masculine entity. When this horrid loss of innocence and beauty occurs within the light aspects of the psyche, it means that the shadow is reigning – the dark brother with his flaming piano and boiled brains, broken as he is, is at large. The rings around the sun are now empty, whereas when the two halves were one, the rings contained a “beautiful place… that is circling all round the sun,” because the world (our symbol for Jeff, the individual) has gone – been destroyed with torture and war and separation. The singing that she used to do has been converted, and the dream where he used to be able to access her in has come, and she is dead.

[Chorus]

But now we must pick up every piece

Of the life we used to love

Just to keep ourselves

At least enough to carry on

When such a destruction occurs in the psyche, all that is left to do is pick up the pieces and trudge forward. Slowly build back – regenerate – what was stolen from us by the atrocities of the world (war kills innocence, Anne and the female entity are innocence embodied through the female child archetype). Jeff must hold tightly to the way that he used to see beauty in everything when she was there (count all the beautiful things we can see) – Jeff must work actively to bring her back by building her within himself. “In spite of everything, I still believe that the world is a beautiful place”

[Verse 2]

And now we ride the circus wheel

With your dark brother wrapped in white

Says it was good to be alive

But now he rides a comet’s flame

And won’t be coming back again

The Earth looks better from a star

That’s right above from where you are

He didn’t mean to make you cry

With sparks that ring and bullets fly

On empty rings around your heart

The world just screams and falls apart

Despite the tragedy of having gone through this transition, it all comes back down to cycles. The cyclical circus wheel is a perfect metaphor, then, frenzied and chaotic with wailing calliope. This cycle brings the rapid departure – all three are together on the ferris wheel (allusion to Ferris Wheel on Fire, in which ‘Oh Sister’ is the opening track??) -of the dark brother, whose momentary connection with Jeff/Jeff’s anima leaves him wrapped in white. This dark energy needed to be expressed and incorporated, but recognizes that it is now time to leave, as war and destruction reign when he is in the driver’s seat. Jeff is better off when he is orbiting at a safe distance. He is truly sorry for the death that he has caused and the violence that goes hand in hand with masculine archetypes on this album, and that intense shame and retreat reflects itself in just another abortive attempt at reconciliation of the psyche – Jeff, the world, “just screams and falls apart”. He cannot incorporate both aspects yet. Now, the empty rings are around her heart, because she also needs him.

Communist Daughter: Sexual Intimacy

With the male lover gone, and the mother’s instinct to incubate & regrow, Jeff is left with craven emptiness. This emptiness came to be filled with the intimacy of sex – a graduation of the sensual intimacy from Two Headed Part 1. Though reunion is attained, it is still an impermanent form, and therefore must fail eventually. This type of short term satiation can be likened to an addiction.

[Verse]

Sweet communist

The communist daughter

Standing on the sea-weed water

Semen stains the mountain tops

Semen stains the mountain tops

With coca leaves along the border

Sweetness sings from every corner

Cars careening from the clouds

The bridges burst and twist around

Transitioning from a place of lamentation on lost innocence, this song picks up with a new archetypical incarnation – the Communist Daughter. Though the preceding loss of innocence focused on the heavier aspects – drudged with war, death, torture and pain, this one investigates the other, more sensual, more feminine side that goes hand in hand with innocence flying out the window: sex. Natural imagery – mountaintops, water, seaweed, cocoa leaves (stimulant like cocaine that fuels feelings of indestructibility and elevated mood – much like that after an orgasm) surrounds this figure, demonstrating that the blissful scene she is found in is not artificial, but can be located within. In the previous song’s last verse, Jeff is tracing back a cord of history to find himself when he was whole at a place and time before his beginning, and before birth is conception. ta-dahh. Unity is reflected by the abnormal inextricability of the city, landscape and sky that seem to be seamlessly melded together: “cars careening from the clouds”

And wanting something warm and moving

Bends towards herself the soothing

Proves that she must still exist

She moves herself about her fist

Sweet communist

The communist daughter

Standing on the sea-weed water

Semen stains the mountain tops

Semen stains the mountain tops

Something warm and moving reads both sexually and natally – a baby moving about warmly in its mother’s womb. Incubation for birth is happening in this song. When the pieces of Jeff have been picked up, they must be regrown – nurtured and strengthened until they are strong enough to be reborn back into the world of separation, and that is exactly what this song accomplishes. Jeff is proving to himself that his selves still exist – that all is not lost with his anima. It is very likely that he is finding this feminine aspect again in another woman – in Rose Wallace Goldaline, who is name dropped in the next song – as well as in “Oh Sister” which was rumored to have had a place on this album, but was then cut at the last minute.

Oh Comely: The Lover Fails

This song is both angry and loving. External sources can never provide us with the holism that must be found inside, so no matter how complete that lover makes us feel, they will always fail eventually, as they themselves are incomplete & go through cycles of gaining and losing their own spirit. Because Jeff recognizes this in his love, he can still love them. They will go on forever because they will always have each others pain inside themselves.

 

Oh comely, I will be with you when you lose your breath

Chasing the only meaningful memory you thought you had left

With some pretty, bright and bubbly terrible scene

That was doing her thing on your chest

But oh comely

It isn’t as pretty as you’d like to guess

In your memory, you’re drunk on your awe to me

It doesn’t mean anything at all

A pledge for unity. The meaningful memory would be the “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” memory. This is the meaningful unity that both continue to seek out during their separation. It is sought after through sex, which unconsciously becomes a blind lust that is no longer the real intimacy they crave. Lust gives us butterflies in the stomach and heart palpitations, but it is no replica of love – real unity. It reads as though the female entity even sought out her self through sexual experimentation with both men and women – seeking to find her whole. The meaningful memory she’s seeking to recreate is tainted by the endorphin rush that she remembers it with “you’re drunk on your awe to me” therefore it isn’t as meaningful as it seems – it is the past.

[Verse 2]

Oh comely

All of your friends are all letting you blow

Bristling and ugly, bursting with fruits falling out from the holes

Of some pretty, bright, and bubbly friend

You could need to say comforting things in your ear

But oh comely

There isn’t such one friend that you could find here

Standing next to me

He’s only my enemy

I’ll crush him with everything I own

The lovers she surrounds herself with to provide comfort and fill the hole in her life are bad imitations of true love, making them really her enemies because they only place a larger gap between her and unity. Fruit is used as a sensual image to suggest sex “fleshy free and flowering like oranges out in the open” – aka she is filling her hole (double entendre intended) with sex. These friends are not true lovers, but only momentary comforts

[Chorus]

Say what your want to say

Hang for your hollow ways

Moving your mouth to pull out

All your miracles aimed for me

“hang for your hollow ways” – the addict’s way: filling their emptiness with habits that will only drag them deeper and deeper into depression and unwellness. “moving your mouth” – an allusion to both her song which would resound when they were together whether in sleep or in true love AND oral sex – to produce the miracle of unity – aimed for him, though not given to him.

[Verse 3]

Your father made fetuses with flesh licking ladies

While you and your mother were asleep in the trailer park

Thunderous sparks from the dark of the stadiums

The music and medicine you needed for comforting

So make all your fat fleshy fingers to moving

And pluck all your silly strings, bend all your notes for me

Soft silly music is meaningful magical

The movements were beautiful, all in your ovaries

All of them milking with green fleshy flowers

While powerful pistons were sugary sweet machines

Smelling of semen all under the garden

Was all you were needing when you still believed in me

These actions are revealing of the feminine’s shadow – the masculine’s shadow acted similarly, committing adultery behind the backs of his true feminine loves (exactly what this ‘Comely’ feminine entity is doing in reverse, by trying to fill his void with strangers). Sparks, again, are symbolic of the yearning for reunion on both parts – when they are on the verge of perishing. She has become so separated from any hope for successful unity that her loss of belief fuels her sexual addiction. This addiction also leads to another kind of unity: birth. “Smelling of Semen all under the garden” She is the garden “the movements were beautiful…in your ovaries, all of them milking with green fleshy flowers while powerful pistons were sugary sweet machines”

[Chorus]

Say what you want to say

Hang for your hollow ways

Moving your mouth to pull out

All your miracles aimed for me

[Bridge]

Do do do, do do do, do

Do do do, do do do, do

Do do do, do do do, do

[Verse 4]

I know they buried her body with others

Her sister and mother and five-hundred families

And will she remember me fifty years later?

I wished I could save her in some sort of time machine

Know all your enemies

We know who our enemies are

Know all your enemies

We know who our enemies

Are

This hole-filling cannot persist for very long before it fails, and another death/break occurs. However, death always leads to birth. And as all the male/female characters participate in the story as incarnations of the continued masculine/feminine archetype, this feminine entity is reborn after such a break – “will she remember me fifty years later” which is why this time around, it is so important to know your enemies – to know the downfall of inauthentic unity, of hole filling, of shadow-fueled addictions.

[Bridge]

Lalalala lalala lalalala la la la la

Lalalala lalala lalalala la la la la

Dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee dee

[Verse 5]

Goldaline, my dear

We will fold and freeze together

Far away from here

There is sun and spring and green forever

But now we move to feel for ourselves inside some stranger’s stomach

Place your body here

Let your skin begin to blend itself with mine

The return of her song; unity. This new incarnation of Anne Frank’s legacy comes in the form of Goldaline, the masturbative, over-sexed wounded woman. Jeff predicts their future unity: “we will fold and freeze together”. ‘Sun/spring/green forever’ is the memory that she chases with her explosive nymphomania. The reference to the sun’s presence means that they are together – the sun is the female entity, also signifying cycles – the earth (Jeff) revolves around the sun, sometimes further from it than others. When they are together in death, the cycles are no longer actively happening – they are together in a timeless space, so the sun & beautiful earth are there forever.

 

Screen Shot 2017-11-14 at 9.58.45 PM

Ghost: Faith

With the knowledge that the lover will always fail eventually, comes the wisdom that unity will also always return eventually. Jeff is growing closer and closer to a more peaceful wisdom of himself and the nature of the world he exists in & what it is to be a human – to be anything at all.

[Verse 1]

Ghost, ghost, I know you live within me feel as you fly

In thunderclouds above the city into one that I

Love with all that was left within me til we tore in two

Now wings and rings and there’s so many waiting here for you

And she was born in a bottle-rocket 1929

With wings that ringed around a socket right between her spine

All drenched in milk and holy water pouring from the sky

I know that she will live forever

She won’t ever die

Faith: An empowering feeling of recognition that though you feel unwhole and separated from the beauty of the world, it “still exists” – a refrain from the Oh Comely/Sister songs. Jeff feels her in the thunderclouds of his world. If thunder is the symbol for his internal combustive need for her, what Jeff is talking about here is faith: Jeff experiences her through his need for her. He feels her in her absence. He has found faith in the cycles of unity, separation, death, birth, unity. Finding, losing, seeking, finding. Though he is broken he loves her as the dark brother that is left (something the Father will eventually do with the child a lover brings to his chest). Until the end, he loves her. When she is the female entity of the mother that he abuses, he loves her until they both return to the ether, where they can truly be whole. Here, the imagery depicts a woman flying through thunderclouds (she herself is longing for reunion) into an individual that Jeff himself loves as an incomplete person. This gives the strongest visual representation of the female entity being reincarnated repeatedly into that of Anne Frank, his mother, his lovers as this pained female archetype. Though this love gives the feeling of reunion, it is impermanent and must eventually end because both are separate entities searching for reunion within themselves, which can never be supplied by an external source or person. When Jeff and this newest love split in two, the feminine spirit that he had grasped and lost must return to the sky where she can inhabit her wings & song and cycles “circling all round the sun”. “So many waiting here for you” refers to the fact that everyone confronts this emptiness within themselves and is actively searching for that which makes them whole again. With this acknowledgement in mind, Jeff goes into a description of Anne Frank as an embodiment of this energy. Anne was a living inspiration on earth – an angel on earth. Because individuals like this exist, there is still in faith – she will never die. “She was born in a bottle rocket 1929 with wings and rings around a socket right between her spine” A bottle rocket is a firework = sparks. Sparks are the symbol for yearning for reunion. The socket is where her wings (her spirit) are missing. Translation: she was born into a mishap world. She was born with this pain in her heart – a needle that sang in her heart – and even said in her diary that all she truly wanted was a friend. Just someone to be true and honest and share her life and pain and story with. Anne Frank was born into a broken world – was born into her inherited pain, but she was born with wings, so her spirit was intact and rings around a socket. The rings are the symbol for revolution around the sun – cycles. A socket is an empty space. The rings are around what’s missing. She too revolves around the cycle of gaining her other half and losing it. She was born into it lost. Milk and Holy water pouring from the sky are representative of the sky coming down to earth – she has joined him on earth. Rain/precipitation is a type of wonder-world in which a type of reunion occurs where the other feels the other through their absence – has faith in the return. The fact that milk and holy water are pouring form the sky makes it all the more divine.

[Chorus]

And she goes and now she knows she’ll never be afraid

To watch the morning paper blow

Into a hole where no-one can escape

De-de-de-de-de-de

De-de-de-de-de-de

De-de-de-de-de-de

De-de-de-de-de

“She goes” has the intended double meaning of both leaving him & leaving her isolation. She dies and re-enters the ether and knows that everything will always be okay. She leaves her isolation in the sky, entering him through a loved one and knows that they will always be able to find each other. She knows that tomorrow will always come, and the passage of time will always bring another reunion (as well as separation). This hole from which none escape is our existence. When we have faith in these cycles, we live without fear, because we know that the beauty will always return. And in this knowledge, she sings.

[Verse 2]

And one day in New York City, baby, a girl fell from the sky

From the top of the burning apartment building 14 stories high

And when her spirit left her body how it split the sun

I know that she will live forever all goes on and on and on and

A common place in which we find ourselves whole is love. Opposities attract, we love the people that complete us. Jeff finds his anima in the women that he loves, which justifies Oh Sister and Oh Comely. The women of “My Dream Girl Don’t Exist,” “She Did a Lot of Acid,” “Oh, Sister,” “Naomi” they all have common threads. Jeff sings about women a lot – women who have been sexually abused, sometimes by a family member, women in psychological trouble, whose families have either rejected them or mistreated them. Women with pain that dance on the edge of death and total destruction. Incomplete women. Don’t we all love those that we see some of ourselves in? Romantic love is a means of loving oneself, whether we acknowledge it or not. If the first verse sang about the feminine spirit within Anne Frank, this verse tells of the women that Jeff was enamored of. A human girl falls from the sky = symbolically, she is coming to him. When her spirit leaves her body & she is just a body, the sun experiences a tearing apart (just as Jeff/the world periodically does). When she loses her spirit, the sun dies.

[Chorus]

And she goes and now she knows she’ll never be afraid

To watch the morning paper blow

Into a hole where no-one can escape

De-de-de-de-de-de

De-de-de-de-de-de

De-de-de-de-de-de

De-de-de-de-de

Reassurance, reincarnation, faith in tomorrow. The ghost’s song is present, so we know that a reunion has occurred. She is there.

Untitled: Someone is Waiting

The tune to this untitled track takes musical pieces from “Someone is Waiting” from On Avery Island. With faith regained in Ghost, a period of time can pass in which Jeff can live peacefully (without the dark brother) because he knows that beauty will return just as often as it departs. This someone that is waiting is his anima, his spirit, his wonder. The track ends with Julian’s singing saw – the voice of the ghost.

 

Two Headed Boy Pt. 2: Wisdom

Now that Jeff understands & has incorporated the cycles of the world, he must communicate them to the violent & destructive [arts of himself: the Father. Throughout this ending track, Jeff quells his dark side & tells it what is needed to finally rest & feel at peace. Jeff also fully incorporates the disjointed feminine spirit into his consciousness. Jeff is choosing to love all of these aspects of himself & leaves his psyche with the reminder to keep faith when one aspect of himself must leave, promptly exiting the booth with the tape still recording, so that we may hear that he’s been singing to himself all along.

Daddy please hear this song that I sing

In your heart there’s a spark that just screams

For a lover to bring a child to your chest that could lay as you sleep

And love all you have left like your boy used to be

Long ago wrapped in sheets warm and wet

Jeff is cooing to the dark tendencies inside himself to listen to the wisdom of a child who has been through the cycles. This child knows what the father is longing for at the heart of things (reunion – rebirth through love). The father longs to be complete (something we experience impermanently in dreams and in love) – “a child…that could lay as you sleep”. What’s more holistic than that (symbolically speaking)?

Blister please with those wings in your spine

Love to be with a brother of mine

How he’d love to find your tongue in his teeth

In a struggle to find secret songs that you keep wrapped in boxes so tight

Sounding only at night as you sleep

Blister has also been sung as Sister, so this verse is addressed to the female entity, found within one of Jeffs lovers. He is begging here for this feminine entity – with spirit intact – to love this dark brother, because the dark brother surely loves her & delights when he is reminded that she is inside of him (when he suddenly feels this spirit and this wholeness within himself). When he returns to those christ, as trees with the snow falling and can slip back into a state of faith & wonder. She sings messages of beauty and wonder to him – gifts (songs wrapped in boxes) he can unwrap when he recognizes her place within himself – even if this only happens in dreams.

And in my dreams you’re alive and you’re crying,

As your mouth moves in mine, soft and sweet,

Rings of flowers ’round your eyes

And I’ll love you for the rest of your life when you’re ready

In Jeffs dreams, the pain & violence of the dark brother is alive within himself (Jeff often had night terrors, sleep walked and encountered strange states in his sleep) and it is crying in grief. Now ,the dark brother’s mouth is moving inside of Jeffs, but he can recognize this as beautiful. Cycles of wonder (rings of flowers) revolve around the crying eyes of the dark brother (oh how I’d want to keep white roses in their eyes) and because Jeff understand why the dark brother is who he is, he will continue to love him…

Brother see we are one in the same

And you left with your head filled with flames

And you watched as your brains fell out through your teeth

Push the pieces in place

Make your smile sweet to see

Don’t you take this away

I’m still wanting my face on your cheek

…because they are in fact one. They became separate when the violent tendencies of the dark brother (which make him the father) override and cause him to enter a state of manic depravity & violent need for becoming whole again. The brains fall out through his teeth – he loses his mind. Jeff tells him to push the pieces in place (he must pack up every piece of the life he used to love, so that he has the strength to carry though to the next cycle of the sun). Jeff begs him not to take this [existence] away. When the Dark father is in power, he “searches for every way to die,” and Jeff is begging him not to lose hope/faith. Not to end this life, because it will continue through. And they will find reunion again – “I’m still wanting my face on your cheek”

When we break we’ll wait for our miracle God is a place where some holy spectacle lies  When we break we’ll wait for our miracle God is a place you will wait for the rest of your life

Two headed boy she is all you could need

She will feed you tomatoes and radio wires

And retire to sheets safe and clean

But don’t hate her when she gets up to leave

The nature of the cycles are that when they break, they wait for the miracle of reunion again. This cycle is the holy spectacle & God is where it happens – and it will continue to happen as long as you are living. Next jeff sends a prayer to these structures alive in his psyche: Broken boy, the feminine anima is what you need. She will feed you the connection to the divine & o wonder that you need to sustain your spirit. You can find her in your dreams, but don’t become the dark brother when she departs.

Conclusion:

This album is a fairy tale that reflects transformations that occur between the conscious & unconscious mind, told in a love song written by a dreamer. Each aspect of self is incorporated into his psyche: the feminine entity/Sun/Goldaline/Anne Frank (Jeff’s female archetypal lovers; Jeff’s anima), the father (Jeff’s shadow), the dark brother (the male lover & companion of the feminine), and the mother (the progenitor of existence), which on a continuum, are all Jeff/the world (the conscious mind). The album follows this progression from before birth and onward through a life of suffering, learning & gaining the wisdom of everything that exists within cycles. It’s hardly a wonder that this album became such an instant cult classic. Jeff’s lyricism has the power to provoke our deepest emotions from the strangest lines, while providing comfort through the ugliest, bring us ultimately to the same realization: everything exists within us, just waiting to be acknowledged.

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The Man in the Striped Tanga (Part 1)

Introduction:
Some men were born to go the distance. Some were not.** This simple fact of volleying greatness is known by athletes, businessmen, and Chippendales worldwide. Some men can’t take the sheer effort of covering the last mile, even with the sea of a marathon washing over their shoulders. Some businessmen don’t have the moxy to invest in the siren’s song of a deal that would make them billionaires. Some Chippendales are stage frought. Most men, however, don’t align to anything Teddy Roosevelt may or may not have said (yet still appears in textbooks and motivational posters alike) and just kinda keep doing what they’ve been doing until fate thrusts itself on the aforementioned shoulders. Or up the nose.
**Most of the aforementioned “men” are not the white man that our 26th President projected as the only archetype that might have dreams, ambitions or a personal legend. In fact, more are women & men of color, but for cheesy historical quotes’ sake, and the chosen gender of this protagonist, we’ll let it ride.
Chapter 1:
We open on a man exercising in a gym, not too hard, but enough to work up a sweat. He wears a hoodie and track pants while everyone else in the onset of May heat is clad in shorts and muscle shirts.  This man is no fitness enthusiast, and though his beer gut is prominent, he’s also not trying to lose any weight. Should a few pounds drop, he wouldn’t be dismayed. It’s simply that fitness isn’t what he’s here for. What the bed-tanned babes and the hipster-haired Hanks can’t see in the sweating, furtive glare of this man, is actually what they fail to see through his track pants.
Every day, for the past three days, he’s comes to this gym, and every day – (per 72 hours), he wears a different pair of women’s underwear. Whatever the clients ask for – thongs, boyshorts, the occasional cotton-that-breathes whitey-tidys, but mostly cheeky’s (for some reason the man can’t fathom – possibly hell or god punishing him prematurely for being a no-good, dirty, rotten, panty-selling liar). Whatever the customer wants, essentially, they get from this man. They just don’t get it from the big chested Amazon with a fountain ponytail and glossed lips that refuse to stay sutured that they think they’re getting it from.
Marvin, this man under speculation, has spent a long time perfecting his formula. Three days prior to these three days of exercise, to be exact (just under a week is an eternity in the age of instant gratification). Certain flower petals actually produce the fetid smells of unwashed genitals, in order to attract specific bugs and grubs to them, to nuzzle themselves in the noxious fumes – and pollen – of these blossoms and transport their progeny to every ovulating orchid on the block. Marvin discovered this, himself, quite by accident a week ago, while exiting the 100-story high rise that he called a 9 to 5.
It was late April, early May – either way, it was Marvin’s first spring in this part of town – and as he pushed through the revolving glass door to freedom, he was smacked in the face with a thick, humid heat. A very wave of scent exuding from every blossoming Calery Pear descendent on the block, which had been piling blossom on white blossom all week. The buildup had finally reached it reproductive climax, and osomophes everywhere were vomitting copious amounts of molecules into the swarthy atmosphere and city heat. Marvin couldn’t tell if the scent was closer to semen or female genitals after releasing a long-held piss. He’d smelled plenty of both in his time, and weighed the differences on his stroll to the bus stop, unconsciously eyeing several members of both sexes all along the way; making them quite uncomfortable, really.
Marvin had read before about vending machines in Japan that conveyed women’s underwear to the random passer-by and had chuckled the only chortle his despondent psyche could conjure at in the apathetic depths of his soul sucking office cubicle, washing it down with a  last swig of black coffee before x-ing out of the informative youtube video and returning to his emails.
This instance had flashed before his eyes, the glint of a wild cat’s eyes in the dark, as he turned the corner and waited at the bus stop. Marvin bet that you could manufacture a woman’s scent pretty easily using the more pungent extracts of flowers. I mean that and a combination of crotch what was all these perverts really wanted, right? Something thrilling to stick your nose into, to get off. That’s what you did with a real, live female groin, and that’s what bees do with flowers all spring. There’s really nothing different about the two transactions, and the more he thought about it, nothing really strange about it considering the underground nature panty-sniffing had assumed in the last few decades. Marvin had never sniffed panties himself, of course, but had more than enjoyed the moist fold of skin down under from several past girlfriends.
Yes, all he’d have to do was experiment a bit with different flowers –  glancing around, he strolled casually to a nearby waste receptacle, plucking several blossoms from a low hanging tree, pocketing the treasure in his palm, as both pockets on his person were apparently superficially decorative. Marvin thought he’d walk home tonight. He held the whitish blossom under his nose, and almost immediately pulled it away. Registering the odor as very similar to body odor, but sweet – sharp in some ways, and yet so smooth, in the way it lurked up the nasal passages. He brought the little flower close to his nose again. This could work.
Chapter 2:
Marvin had taken chemistry throughout college, gaining a degree in biochemistry that he was only mildly irritated to find unmarketable. Then he had switched to a communications major and landed in the snug pleather desk chair his growing ass now inhabited. Mostly what he did now was network, and write business promotions. The same shit interns ten years his junior did. Every once in a while he’d get so bored, that he’d fly off the handle, promoting an event as though he and the readers were all coked up – “No ski trip is complete without the M5000 Rough’N’Ready Innertube! This holiday season, be sure you can fit this anaconda under the tree, or it’ll haunt you like your ex-Mother-In-Law…”. It didn’t go over well with the boss, and he quickly returned to drab blurbs accompanying company-approved, biracial stock photos.
Finally, he had the opportunity to put some of his training to work. Marvin had labored his entire weekend, collecting several random plastic bags full of the efflorescence, prepared to capture their unique scent for a special experiment, long-denied him by the capitalist regime he toiled his blood sweat and libido away for.
After the collected blooms had been snipped from their greens and stems, he piled them high on a single 13 by 9 inch pyrex pan, pressing petals into the hardened lard. It gave him a reason to hurry home, two days later. He poured himself a Tenessee Honey, and perched on the single stool accompanying his kitchen island, staring at the electrical tape-clad stack of glass pans with his precious, effleuraging flora, just removed from the tiny pantry in his studio apartment. Two hours to go before he could remove the tape and check on his carefully cultivated scent, and he sure wasn’t going to let impatience allow him to jump the gun on this one. Downing the whiskey – always sooner than he thinks – Marvin moved onto the six pack of Busch that he bought every other day from the same liquor store from the same Indian gentleman that after almost a year of habit, still seemed surprised when he re-upped on hard liquor, approximately twice a month – “You getting whiskey today?!” Handlebar grin over opaque, off-white teeth. Like a rabbit, he always thought to himself.
When  the clock flinched 10:59 into the new world of 11pm, Marvin jolted his dulled scissor blades through the tape, unleashing a plume of pussy muddled aroma into his tiny kitchen. After several days of the scent pervading both his thoughts, and refrigerator, where he stored the excess bouquets, Marvin was now accustomed to the raw smell of sex that was now enveloping him. The smell could be stronger. It was nothing that another two days of enfleurage wouldn’t take care of, but something about the process had also brought out the more floral side of it. No, it wasn’t that. There was just this flat quality to it. Lacking in some defining manner. Perhaps he was remembering incorrectly. Marvin paced quickly to his bedroom, opening the bedside table drawer and carefully removing the vacuum sealed (now broken, and preserved in a ziplock bag) package of women’s underwear; a red thong he’d ordered off reddit the day his masterplan was conceived. Removing the delicates from their plastic prison, he pressed the microfiber cloth to his snout once again, suctioning their peculiar scent once more into his olfactory. There was something saltier about it that his flowers failed to reproduce. It wasn’t as gently suggestive as the feminine essence that he’d experienced with past lovers, but again, not exactly sharp. He identified a note that dissolved – almost so immediately recognizable as to be taken for granted, skipped over so to speak, in pursuit of the goods. Sweat. Of course, it blended so well with the bloom of the labia, and would always be conjured when sex was on the menu. His enfleurage brought the raw goods, but lacked the human element of toil. Of getting down and dirty. Working up a sweat.
‘Well, I can sweat” he said aloud to the dark, empty bedroom.
Within an hour Marvin had a membership to the company gym, located in the basement of the high-rise, and could hardly wait to test out his theory. Resealing a fresh layer of blossoms – exhausting his supply, Marvin gulped the last backwash sip of beer, securing it in his gullet, and tucked into bed to feverishly map out his game plan. In two more days, the lard would certainly have the intensity he’d sought after. Tomorrow was Sunday, his day off, which he could spend working recon in the many parks of Manhattan. He reasoned he could collect a fair bushel of the stuff, inconspicuously, from several locations, and stock the blossoms in his fridge. It was relatively empty, save for beer and hot sauce and the occasional takeout container. This was more important anyhow. Starting Monday, when he returned to work, he’d hit the gym – sweat through a pair, then pair it with his pears. He chuckled, half asleep already.
A pair! Marvin snapped awake instantly. He’d forgotten the most important part of this devious plot: actually purchasing women’s underwear. Having ordered the red thong already, he assumed thongs would be the go-to of customers, but the idea of running, much less moving in a thong at the gym made him nauseous. He repositioned his balls unconsciously beneath the covers. Maybe he’d start out with the boy shorts. Work his way into thongs. Rome wasn’t built over night, and such. It was doable; he quickly factored in a trip to a department store for tomorrow. Nowhere fancy. He certainly wasn’t going to drop a small fortune on Victoria’s secret tier underpants if his business ploy turned out to be a bust. Just a few five packs of whatever women were covering their genitals with these days. Nothing special – a little lace, a bow at the front. Marvin’s intoxicated mind played with the idea of being a simple gal – oh no, he doesn’t wear that trampy stuff, no sir. His momma taught him right. How come every time he did an exaggerated woman’s voice in his head, it turned out as a southern belle? Was there some ulterior cause behind this decision. He’d never dated anyone from below the Mason Dixon…
On Marvin’s third day at the gym, he spots a woman that’s far hotter than the google images brunette he’d chosen as a profile picture. In fact, he recognizes her from the office and recollects that on some social networking account, they are in fact friends, or followers. Or whatever the fuck. He bookmarks it in his head to find whichever platform they’re connected on and borrow her selfies for a greater cause. Marvin’s awful habit: following a visual that spurs even more interesting thoughts that lock him in his mind, causing him to forget to divert his eyes from said visual, causes this woman – Caitlynn. With two n’s. – To recognize the guy from two cubicles over at work and mistakenly think that he is trying to figure out where he knows her from, while Marvin is cognitively volleying through an eternal rolodex of pictures he’s pretty sure he’s seen her post, distinguishing between the sexual allure of drunken christmas party poses and just before bed selfies. Suddenly, he becomes aware that the woman in question is approaching him. Has approached him. Is standing in front of his elliptical and mouthing “You’re Marvin, right?” He pops out an earbud.
“Caitlynn, hiiii…” They both laugh nervously as he attempts to calculate just how long he’s been staring at her, cursing his zoning out habit.
“I didn’t know you went here! How long have you been coming?”
“Oh, just joined the other day,” he couldn’t shake the feeling of Patrick Bateman from his voice, and nearly went to lean on the static clutch handles of the exercise machine, in an attempt to seem more casual, and less serial killer-y, which upon reflection, he realized he was closer to on the spectrum.
Seeing Marvin’s awkward stance on the elliptical, Caitlynn took her cue to leave, fixing her attention on the weights, even though cardio had been next on her list. She certainly didn’t want to feel this creep’s eyes on her throughout her run. It would totally destroy her focus. “Well! I’ll letcha get back to your workout, now! Have a great night,” she was waving, talking and walking away at once. Not a good sign socially, but at least he would feel less anxious digging through her Facebook pictures later tonight.
Chapter 3:
The two don’t talk for a month maybe, and with her face on Marvin’s product, sales have been better than ever. In fact – fuck sales – Marvin’s never been better. With the daily exercise, his beergut has vanished, his chin has emerged from a swollen tunnel of flesh, revealing what some might deem a chiseled jaw. Not all, but some. He has more energy – more pizazz for life! He whistles as he walks into work now. Nobody recognizes the Zappa licks he whistles, but it’s not for them. It’s for him, only him. He’s never done something this empowering in his life. He sometimes even wears lingerie to work, now, considering the erratic temperature of his office building always generates plenty of sweat to imprint upon his undershirt. He even kind of likes the lower cut, “barely there” brands that come right up to where his belt holds them in. By wearing one pair of panties to work, which collect his buttsweat throughout the now June workday, he can double his profit – switching into the second, more scandalous pair before sweating it out at the gym. He still hasn’t been able to manage the leg motion that running requires, especially not in the thongs he’s finally become accustomed to, but at $15 a pair? He can bust out almost $200 extra income per week – and the customers just love his product. He has profiles on all the hottest platforms, including reddit and craigslist. He can easily  boost his profit by customizing the product to the buyer as well. He’s sent out probably ten pairs with skid marks, per request, getting $20 per pair – each retaining the foundation of his original formula, of course: his hard earned gym/genital sweat & a small scraping of the Bradford pear-infused lard, combining expertly in the dampened delicates to appear as normal, female discharge. His regulars are never letdown when they wear out the last shipment, and presumptively, the products of their other suppliers. The important thing was, however, that they kept coming back to Marvin.
One never knows the scores of personality types, socioeconomic classes and prominent positions that one might find nestled in the ranks of the sexual deviants. Marvin was quite pleased, one July day, to discover that these prurient individuals included a one, Alan E. Banks, hiring agent for several high profile magazines and papers running throughout Manhattan. This man, lured in by the signature scent of Marvin’s business (he had begun pressing the newly sprung mimosa flowers with his preserved reserves of Bradford Pear, to generate a thrillingly delicious combo), had stayed more for the fascinating descriptions Marvin’s pantyexchange.com identity offered alongside the shrink-wrapped drawers.
“You’ve really got potential,” the man had commented in the online review you could submit after receiving the package of fragrant underpants, referring not only to Marvin’s supposedly fragrant pussy, but also to his cleverly worded blurbs. Thinking it motivated flattery, Marvin had deleted the message immediately from his inbox, but this man wouldn’t let up. He was desperate to gain longer samples of Marvin’s more secular work, insisting that he could hook Marvin up with a real, paying job, perhaps writing a column eventually. Marvin knew a sugar-daddy when he saw one, and this man was certainly out to exploit the pants off this poor, hard-working gal just trying to pay the bills with the cash-stash in her crotch. He’d politely declined the man’s advances, covering with some ruse about never extending his relationship with clients  past the mailbox – for security purposes, of course. Dramatic irony, itself, was turning over in the ancient graves of greek mythology. Alan Banks was frustrated by this blooming talent that was always just a few sentences’ fleeting from his grasp. This must be some fairytale, he thought to himself. A queer sort of Cinderella that leaves a raunchy Tanga cut behind on the ballroom floor. How could he have this protege’s underwear in his hand, yet be denied the spoken word. It was unheard of. Alan Banks decided, in the glare of his computer screen, that he would find this princess and enlist her as new blood in the industry – start her off in alternative advertising ploys, and slowly move her up to a weekly column, ahead of the stale interns that community college programs offered him. Alan Banks would have this fresh talent for himself, he decreed, as he lowered the royal blue knickers from his maw and grasped the ferocious erection in his numbed left hand.
Chapter 4:
One day at the gym, Marvin is exasperated with a muscle that he has pulled – trying to up his game by switching to the treadmill, yet still straining his legs so as not to t-bone his ballsack, he pulled a muscle in the process, but desperately needed to finish his workout, so he could fill the steady stream of orders he was getting. He goes to the stretching ball in the yoga nook of the facility. While attempting to touch his toes – who clearly wanted nothing to do with those panty-grubbing phalanges – Caitlynn enters behind him and catches a glimpse of the frilly pink whale tale her intruiging – and progressively handsomer, she must admit – colleague is sporting. Marvin sees  the familiar visage of an upside down barbie doll approaching him that he soon identifies as Caitlynn. She’s been eyeing him at the office lately, in that lingering manner that suggests attraction. Marvin decides that his side business can wait.
“Hey Caitlynn,” friendly confident wave. This interaction will not be anything like the last, Marvin stresses to himself.
“Hey” the y is elongated, so as to make it sound nurturing. Like an adult comforting a child. He attributes it to her strong feminine presence. “I just thought I should come over and warn you – Reid, you know Mr. crewcut ‘I was an ex marine’ —“
“I know the guy,” they shared a contemptuous scoff at their radical conservative superior.
“Well, I just wanted to warn you that he’s here, and uh. Well, I’ve always considered myself an ally to your cause, and I wouldn’t want you to get fired or something like that if he found out, cause you know what a dick that guy can be, and…”
“Ally? Wh-what are you talking about?” a befuddled laugh emerged from Marvin’s lips, as he unconsciously reached back to adjust his g-string.
“I don’t mean to sound like I was staring at you or anything, I just couldn’t help… Oh, this is silly. I walked in just now when you were stretching and I saw your underwear,” she whispered covertly.
“Oh jesus. It’s not what you thi – ally? No! I’m not” he sputtered for a moment as the serpentine deviser in his subconscious flipped the switch in his larynx from falsetto to chainsmoker “a crossdresser or anything, I’m just -“
“It’s okay, really! Honestly, I think it’s kinda sexy – being that fluid with your sexuality, and believe me I know what a pain it is to wear one of those on a run. I’ve gotten plenty of front wedgies in my day. I just wanted to make sure that your privacy was protected in front of less understanding people.” Her smile was so genuine. And she was touching his arm, he realized. Through the hoodie, he felt the warmth of her hand, and standing so close in their clandestine conversation, he could smell the sweeter qualities of her sweat. Oy vey! How her panties would rival his any day, he thought.
“Sorry, I guess I just got a bit embarrassed,” Marvin pushed his chestnut curls back in a way he thought women found attractive. “I’m not really ‘out’ to many people. ‘Many’ including just you and me, to be perfectly honest.” Keep it in the lower register, Marvin reminded himself, clinging desperately to both the clench he had on his thong & masculinity.
“Really? Oh my goodness, you can’t keep this to just yourself – it’s part of who you are and that’s something to be proud of!”
“I guess I just don’t have many friends that would understand..” Marvin didn’t have any friends, he thought to himself, but same difference.
“Well, I’d certainly love to talk to you about it – I majored in Gender at NYU, so I have a lot of experience with this type of thing.” She laughed. “IT is just how I’m paying for my masters certification. I’m definitely not going to be in this office building for the rest of my life”
“Maybe the next one over?” Marvin suggested. In Caitlynn’s laughter, he prophecized a ‘yes,’ should he ask her to dinner or to have a drink with him. The eye contact around the office had been suggestive, and Marvin was 8 for 11, as far as guessing correctly on these things.
“But really, I do appreciate you saying something to me…and I think I might actually be ready to talk about this…”
“Of course!” Well that was quick. Normally he had to skirt about the subject for days – have a few false starts, as the women never seemed too sure whether he was asking them out on a date or gathering information to one day murder them in their sleep, perhaps after making them watch him dismember a beloved house pet or coffee table. He’d gone on three dates in the past 5 years in which he was the only one who knew it was a date. “Do you maybe want to get a drink later tonight?”
Caitlynn had been waiting for him to ask for about two weeks now. Three weeks ago, she’d notice his appearance become more and more palatable. His whole demeanor had done a 180. And there was never any question that he was attracted to her, too – the man couldn’t stop staring at her to save his life. Every day. Over the top of the cubicle dividers. Like a recognized bandit – those two eyes and that caveman browline.
Ahh, new love: when what would otherwise be called borderline predatory  is redeemed as cute.
Chapter 5:
Well if things were looking up last week, this week is at least ten times better. Marvin has a girlfriend now. A hot, young, yoga instructor of a girlfriend. She hadn’t even waited five dates to have sex with him – two. And believe you me, he wasn’t expecting it. Caitlynn on the other hand had expected the customary unpreparedness on the male’s part, as women are usually the deciders of intimacy on a day to day basis.
“Uhh – let me just go in first and tidy up a bit,” but surely neither had expected he would be sweeping up putrid white blossoms, lard, paintbrushes, and an array of undergarments more diverse than even her’s. In his ten second cleanup, Marvin was able to look through the evolution of his side business, though only about a month in the making, it had progressed fairly quickly. The standard panty sniffing bunch had been just the tip of the ever erect iceberg. Apparently these perverts wanted more than just his discharge stained drawers. These creeps had wanted everything from cream pies to skid marks. The statistical representation of poopy panties was off the charts – Marvin always kept a thong and plastic baggy (the ziplock kind – double banded) on hand should he have to drop a load at the office. There were, of course, certain orders that he couldn’t fill. Orders he had no way of filling. Sure, he could open a vein and trickle it on the unmentionables, but Marvin was no sucker. He’d earned his redwings time and time again. He knew the difference between pussy blood and stoping a cut from bleeding with your bacteria infested tongue. And he was worried for his online reputation on the good chance that his customers knew the difference as well. There was something sweeter to period blood. More like berries, or strawberry yogurt perhaps. This was just another instance in which his new girlfriend would compliment his life.
Caitlynn believed, as Marvin had admitted to her in the bar on their first outing, that Marvin embraced a feminine sensuality that he’d noticed and chosen to foster in himself, assuring her the whole time that everything else about him was entirely masculine, punctuating this speech by adjusting his balls with a manly grunt over his vodka cranberry. “Two-spirit” Caitlyn had identified him as. “So you don’t explore this other self in any other ways? I mean, wearing panties is all fine – I certainly enjoy it – but isn’t it a bit uncomfortable when you’re working out?”
“You don’t even know the half of it” Marvin had muttered, perhaps too genuinely, quickly following up with “but I simply can’t keep away from it. Those cheeky panties really make my ass look great -“ and with those freshly honed glutes, you can be sure he wasn’t lying. “-and those silk and nylon numbers.” Look of exasperation. “You just feel naked underneath!” Marvin’s looser, more honest, intoxicated communication style revealed to him things he hadn’t yet revealed to himself. Perhaps he hadn’t been ready to admit to himself that some secret part of him truly enjoyed the lingerie he’d been snapping on every morning.
“Well, truth be told, I have some experience with that sort of thing myself,” Caitlynn looked down at her dry martini. Dryer than an under stimulated desert in prescription antiperspirant. Marvin smiled, cheeks pink from the shot of Bombay Sapphire they’d clinked five minutes earlier. She could have her deviant sexuality, he certainly wasn’t forfeiting his.
“I actually prefer to play the male in the bedroom,” the patter of schoolgirl laughter had softened the blow to Marvin’s psyche.
“How’s that?”
“Well, not every guy will let me do it, but the longest relationships I’ve had have always been with sexual submissives-” that wasn’t too bad, he thought “-that were okay with me strapping on” The second giggle was a less effective anesthetic. Marvin felt a clinch pucker against his g string.
“Now that’s an interesting prospect,” he began.
“It’s not that I don’t also like receiving, I just like being in the dominant position at all times. There’s nothing I can stand less than being underneath a man. It’s so boring and powerless. I want to feel the passion of sex overtake me and give it to my lover. I mess around now and again with bondage and dominatrixing, but usually I just need to be on top to get off. To tell the truth – most guys are so clueless about the female orgasm that it’s my only chance to get off.” The considerable amount of drinks made this only slightly easier to digest. Of course this smoking hot woman wasn’t going to ask him out without at least a few catches. Even if they were on his prostrate gland. Ass clinch. Mostly the thought and liquor combo just made him nauseous. She seemed much more equipped at holding this stuff down than he.
“Interesting..” he mused, visibly strained “I- I’ve never been penetrated myself.”
“And you know, that’s what I get from most guys – but really, you never know until you try it. About 90% of the men I’ve tried it on loved it after just the first time.”
“And the other 10%?”
“Shit the bed and couldn’t get over their egos”

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The Music Festival and the Human Organism

The performer at the front of the stage is an individual, and in his dance, you see his individuality. The specific man that I am referring to is wearing a shirt that only says ‘FUCK’.

“Is he telling us to fuck each other, or is it like.. ‘fuck!’?” the drunk festival goer in front of me wonders to his friend. I wonder too, and settle on the former. The way the artist dances, it’s hard to not want to fuck him. As the crowd goes wild, he basks in the lusty intentions of one hundred or more people that grasp up at his suggestive coils and cocky grin. He’s dancing his individual dance and we like it. Most of the Ithacans at the Trumansburg Grassroots festival have never heard, nor sought after music from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where this band reigns, yet we know we’re attracted to it. It’s strange and different and alluring – and confusing as all hell, as it seems to be a combination of bongos, alt rock and mouth percussion with what sounds like a horror movie-tier out of tune calliope, signaling that the ferris wheel is about to be overrun by bats and undead clowns.

At first, I was annoyed at the audience present for this show, as mostly drunken couples were blocking my way, and it seemed as though the only reason they were present for this band was to show off their couple-ness and festival wear, while pretending to like this unusual world music, so as to seem cultured. Then I realized this was probably just a projection of why I was present for the performance, and instructed my ego to cool it for a minute. Beneath the future shock and wow-factor, however, there is a true sexual energy and relationship that knits the artist to the audience. It’s a one on one relationship for the audience member, and a one on two hundred for the performer, arrousing memories of the deadmau5 visuals I’d seen at Firefly the previous year, where the electronic mouse begins to dance, and electrically transmits this dance, like a wave of Simon Says, through the crowd in front of him. What’s actually happening – being transmitted – is the love of art. The artist is loving their own music, and dancing to it. This enchants us, the audience, and we begin to love this music as well, through all it’s differences to our mainstream culture, so we begin to love their art in our own way, and respond with our own dancing and movement.

Really, the common theme is creation. Both artist and audience are smaller cellular networks in the greater body of the festival; and like cells in the human body, we are mobile. We are taking in food and beer and oxygen and a good deal of pot smoke, interacting with information centers throughout the Trumansburg Fair Grounds, depositing our waste and building up a collect vibe of happiness and love by boogying throughout.

Just as our bodily functions are largely communicated by electric impulses from the brain, and carried out by the working class of microorganisms that make us up, the festival is arranged by those that organize & administer it every year, and carried out by the individuals that tend it. Should the brain cease its functioning or a sudden plague upon our body’s biome occur, the individual we call ourselves would also die, or at least become seriously crippled in comparison to who we were. If the festival organizers decided that next year they would still hold the festival, but would not advertise it or interact with the local community in any way to assist carrying out the festival, perhaps a hundred or so locals would show up the third weekend in July. But which artists would show up? How about the food services and crafts people, trash collectors or waste control services? Reversely, what if the festival were in full swing but not a single ticket holder showed up? Is it still a festival? Can it be considered dead or crippled?

Collectively the festival goers, artists and administrators convene to create a distinct ‘Grassroots’ individuality that anyone who’s been will describe to you as “magical,” through glazed eyes and a trippy grin. The individual human also has a distinct personality, or duration that can be expressed in whichever adjectives those that spend a lot of time around you choose. Is it insane to recognize that what can be tranferred to what is greater than the solitary human, can also be transferred internally, to what is much smaller and abundant in the solitary human?

Festivals, city centers, states, countries, planets. We’re in all of these places, some by agreement, and some because we were born here. Is my liver the Bonaroo of my chest cavity’s North America and my body’s planet earth? We can certainly attract a crowd of probiotics to our liver by gulping down a Kombucha or some sauerkraut. So when I circle Donna the Buffalo on my festival schedule, perhaps I’m drawn by the electrical impulse my brain picks up from her control center. Attraction & Agreement.

Any space cadet will tell you how well festivals and tripping go together. It’s a fascinating way to analyze the human experience. Children are conceived at festivals – some humans are born and some encounter death. We get shitfaced & take shits. We eat, intoxicate, fuck, dance. The common theme through all of this is creation.

Dancing becomes all the more interesting in this context. In the mini festivals and city centers within us, microorganisms are boogyin’ and shakin’ all about, doing most of the same things – living. They’re taking in gases and liquids and solids, breaking them down, channeling them into energy or usable  materials. Some of this energy, they’re using to move and shake a replication of their own DNA into our bodies, to take over the family name when they finally bite the dust. The legacy of our cells becomes the aging we see in our faces. The global warming of our body’s demise. Cells die, People die, Worlds die. Festivals die too, and even celebrate birthdays. Grassroots turned 27 this year, because we all collectively gathered to create it. I turned 21 this year – not because a faction of microbiology gathered in my corpse to animate me, but because this is a metaphor. Please, people, follow the analogy. Okay?

What’s so interesting about our urges to dance and jump and expand and bump our bodies together in the presence of this strange music channels a deep tradition encoded into my DNA. My body is always moving, within the thin barrier of skin that separates myself from my not-self. The twist of my hips and springs in my calves that causes the boy two rows up to keep  glancing back at me are a tribute to the constant life-creation-death cycle that continues my own existence. Our collective movin & shakin continues the existence of this festival. As it becomes less kept with the times, and more esoterically held by those that have been going since birth, eventually Grassroots will wither and die.

The artist’s “FUCK” shirt now takes on a whole new meaning. Yes. We should fuck each other, so that new generations of those holding the grassroots tradition are born and this Greater Body can live on in our descendants. Is it a coincidence that the body rush of LSD almost always gives me a spontaneous orgasm? Now, I’m looking around at all of these healthy and unhealthy bodies, wondering which ones want to wriggle with me as badly as them. In fact, I’m starting to sort the more healthily evolved bodies from the not. The people dancing in ecstasy from the ones looking around with mild desperation, continually sipping their bevvy. I feel the aerosolized hair follicles of the woman in front of me. Each sequestered strand follows the same, long loop-de-loop that makes her hair curly. I want badly to reach out and grasp her hips and sway with the wild beauty of her. I feel my own strictly laced braids. They roughly scrape the tan that used to be sunburn on my shoulders. Little stubs. I want to be free and flowing like she is, but I recognize that I don’t want to undo my braids only because she has. I feel the real heat and life emanating from her, and I am ready to embrace it in myself.

With my hair down, I feel the heat at the back of my neck, feel myself begin to sweat, feel my limp white hair tangle in masses and overlap where it wasn’t supposed to. I dance. My body beckons all those healthy enough to rival me, ubiquitous with a dominant sexuality that my forsaken tripping partner could never conquer, and so had to leave. My shoulders roll and the hair falls over my face, many times. I could feel people watching me and checking me out. Though I enjoyed the feeling, and felt myself twinge internally, responding to their nonverbal interest, I was now committed to expressing my own individuality through the same dance that transmitted the artists individuality to all of us. Recognizing the scent of my own sweat, I feel the network of intel my body is constantly relaying to the other humans around me – the pheromones that my movement macerates, the flicks of eye contact when my toggling gaze cinches to something I like, the fertility in my hips. With my senses so heightened to greet the world with passion, I wonder if I can even catch hints of my cunt in the thick air. Or someone else’s.

Festivals like this walk a very thin line. Yes, it’s nice to get a bunch of like minded individuals and pack them into a concert yard where they can exchange sweat, saliva and scents, bumping their young, prime bodies against one another, perhaps with a love, perhaps finding a new love. However, pack too many humans too closely together and a great time becomes dangerous. Diseases spread in splaying saliva. Port-a-potties are crawling with the viruses and germs that also want to maintain their existence by wriggling through the flesh barrier of your spread legs. With too many people, some start to go unaccounted for – I flash back to the three woman rape parade that Zach, my abandoned trip partner, and I witnessed when the acid was almost an hour into frying our brains. Three women in multiple stages of undressed – one entirely naked – walk through the dance tent with a bewitching light that flashes, one holds a candle, one tells us that her body is not an invitation. The one without any clothes on at all. The woman leading the group I recognize from yesterday, as the woman that operates the Red tent Women’s shelter (for all self-identifying women) in the Healing Arts section of the festival. She repeats “Raise awareness about sexual assault – NO RAPING”.

I begin to remember why I walked away from Zach. All the conversations we’d had throughout this trip about how I’m not ready for a relationship, and not ready to have sex with him, and the way that he explained how he could help me heal – could make me comfortable through sexual encounters between us. How I’d betrayed my own boundaries in order to maintain the connection with him, and how fucked it was. How, this morning, we’d made an agreement that I absolutely did not want to be physically intimate with him, and that he would respect this in me. Then we’d given massages to each other’s weary bodies. Full body massages. How his hand had cupped my breast and I’d pushed him away, frustrated at not being understood. And when we started tripping, how I’d had to stop him from touching me intimately – only on the hand and back – and he’d responded “It’s who I am”.

Statistics from health class are scrounged up in the schema of my brain’s filing system:

Three out of four rapes are committed by somebody known to the victim.

1 in 5 women on college campuses experiencing sexual assault and rape.

I think about the “interesting” stories about other members of the animal kingdom that are rapists as well. The dolphins and chimps that kill porpoises or babies to force the female back into estrus. Perhaps rape occurs, on a subconscious level, when an organism desperately wants to pass on it’s genes – continue its life. The female duck’s main morphological evolution has occurred in its corkscrew genitalia; dead ends and false leads incorporated into its anatomy, to give them an extra advantage when it comes to choosing which genes it will pass on in its young. An edge of paranoia flickers in my thought process, as I begin to feel more and more violated by the persistence of men with sex, even when it’s been outrightly denied. I begin to see Zach as a set of damaged genetics, and the entity of Zach, a conveyer of said genes, attempting to pass them off, terrified at the possibility that his line may end one day.

The phrase “attacker” takes on a hilarious tone in this light. If 90% of rape cases know their ‘attacker’ beforehand, then the whole event really isn’t as sudden as the language makes it seem. Perhaps it’s little comments that could be taken as innuendo, or as harmless joking. Perhaps it’s suggestive touching or other things classified as sexual harassment.

Or perhaps it’s a relationship, where one body explicitly states their will against sex, and the other manipulates and prods and pushes as much as they can, until finally a breaking point is met, and a rape occurs. Perhaps the ‘attacker’ is even trusted preceding the attack. With Zach, I know I will never be raped or forced into sex, and yet I find my trust in him to make me just as vulnerable to betraying myself. His gentler prodding makes me feel as though my best interest is always in his mind. I see his sexual frustration as equally important to my own aversion, when I ought to be considering my own aversion as a testament by intuition. “Not gonna say yes when all I really mean is no. Not gonna say no unless you know I mean it.” And yet the boundary between yes and no has been so obscured throughout our trip. I’ve come to forget that I always have the right to say no, and that when that response is not respected, I have a right to be outraged.

Respect is abiding by what people tell you about themselves. I’ve learned to abide assholes by believing them when they tell me they re assholes. We like to think that human beings respect each others desire to not have sex, and yet statistics show just how often women’s will is not respected. Of course, a much smaller percent of these rapes will result in a pregnancy, and an even smaller amount of these pregnancies will be kept, but this doesn’t necessarily reflect on the hard wired ideology motivating the rape. Men feel rejection, yet continue to attempt initiating sex with us. It is disgusting and far from conducive to a healthy atmosphere. I flash back to a conversation with Matt, where he told me that women are tending to select, sexually, men that are less aggressive. We are choosing to pass on genes that will produce more feminine men, because they are less of a threat. This idea is only theoretical, and yet I believe it.

When knit together with the new paradigm, I begin to see my selections and sorting of the healthy organisms present from the unhealthy organisms present ,I see this selection process in myself. Zach’s pushiness and puberty-esque frustration appears as such a red flag to me, because it denotes properties of his genetics that no longer fit with the more harmonious consciousness. In this new law and ordering of the chaos, people respect the wishes of each other, because they know that an individual knows best for itself – not for separate individuals. We respect each other. Perhaps this is how paradigms come into existence. Survival of the fittest. I pay attention to my body and respect its needs. I give it healthy food, plenty of exercise and creative outlets and consciously work towards healing myself by listening to what I intuitively know I need. I am attracted to individuals that conduct themselves in the same way. Carnally speaking, I am also attracted to the opposite, if it’s got cute enough features. Yet in these cases, I meet a lot of resistance from the parts of my mind that know what is best for me. My intuitive self seeks out everything it needs and rejects what it doesn’t through subtle ~feelings~

This isn’t to say that the new paradigm is necessarily on a trajectory towards this healthier, more harmonious existence. It is simply following the trend of evolution. If sexiness is what we select for, chances are, the new paradigm  will be one of less conscious individuals. However, if we select for healthful traits – as Grassroots and I seem to be doing – via being in tune with our layers of consciousness, then we will most likely find humanity to be characterized by harmony. Which is why it’s so important to keep Grassroots healthy – why it’s so important that Grassroots is recognizing and combatting the presence of sexual assault. Someday, festivals will be creating their own version of young in the fourth dimension – which will bone chart cauterized by the relationship. The network and all that it can create through participation. I raise my Rolling Rock to my lips and watch a young couple grope and swing and dance together, and smile back into my dizzy turning.

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Filed under Adventures, observations, Thoughts, Trip Journaling

Hey Carrie-Ann

 

With a careen that no one was ready for – sparks flying, stars shooting, planets flinging out of orbit – I flicked the mascara applicator through my lashes, hitting my upper eyelid. Pulling away from the mirror, disoriented, I catalogued the damage caused by my spastic use of the mascara wand, meditating on James Dean. Maybe too hard. I eyed my weapon, You were supposed to be used for good.

I haven’t worn makeup since high school, especially not when the Ches Del is my destination, but I’m playing this barbie doll cashier in a little game of psychological competency. This blonde, petite type gal that shamelessly admitted to screwing 87 guys without batting a perfectly manicured lash (in front of her grandmother no less) is the type that incurs a childish glee from getting reactions out of people. One of those girls with mean blue eyes that you’d beg her to make you cry with. Of course, I want her to straddle me with a  machete between her orthodontic teeth, after freshly closing a sweaty shackle about the last of my carpals and tarsals, but I can never let her know how much I want her to suffocate me with her pussy. God, I hope she has a landing strip.

Anyhow, blondie paid me no mind our first night working together, while I prayed an atheist’s horny prayer to see her whip those black rimmed glasses from her apathetic visage, ponytail lashing & all. The second she caught onto my muff catching though, the spirit of friendliness suddenly inhabited her. Giving me little waves, with just the fingers wiggling, Audrey Hepburn style over a horsey grin; bumping those compact hips on me while we both saddled up to our fifth cup of coffee.

I knew exactly what she was up to, of course. And it was no surprise that her attempts at shaking me escalated by the week, in response to my sustained (painfully, painfully sustained) torpor towards each and every flick of that kitten’s tongue. I played it cooler than Jimmy Dean in the presence of a 35mm. But in the dead hours of hot august nights, known for skating by about as fast as a snail dragging an elephant by the tusks through a desert of sand, a war of the psyches was all we had for entertainment. By week three, the V-necks were so low cut, I could see the tiny blonde hairs, where every other woman’s cleavage would be, glinting under the fluorescents and evening sun. Knowing the gamble in exposing her less than ample bust, should I be a tits girl, she bustled up to me iPhone in hand, shoving her padded cups against my shoulder showing me a gif of a slim woman’s chest inflating into a rack that would put any oversexualized female Marvel superhero to shame – – the kind of dame you can buy from Russia via sketchy internet transaction through bitcoin. Following this presentation was a forced sigh, “See, I’m savin up fer one them boob jobs”; sputter of sorority girl laughter as she slumps her bare arm against mine. It’s not that huge of a letdown from the toddler tits it was replacing on my shoulder. Still. I enjoyed small tits just the same as meaty ones. It was the nipples that drove me crazy.

I liked ’em bristly as rose buds. None of this I revealed to her, of course. Tightening my grip on the iPhone, I muttered a distracted “hmm?”. The arrow hit its mark and she snatched the receptacle away from my snickering grin, sashaying out of the kitchen as best she could with a similarly threadbare ass. I imagined the tiny Mickey Mouse ears of that ass floating above my vision in the preferred doubled down, face-to-genitals coital embrace. Obviously she was as straight as Lou Reed before deviant sexuality became marketable, but again. What else were we going to fill a dead Thursday night with?

Carrie was clever enough to catch onto my dark sense of humor and wisely chose to drop the previous ‘look-how-cute-I-am’ gambit, donning a sarcastic attitude in its stead, rife with all the freakiest anecdotes from her childhood. We bonded on a few topics — enough for me to see that her wit stopped at manipulation tactics and hardly passed into the realm of existential dread that I was now learned in the act of floating upon.

The plus side to toying with a Ches Del woman that’s trying to wrap your zig-zagged form around her very vertical finger is that southern-type girlies, because of their backwoods socialization, escalate their flirtatious game up to the sexual level relatively quickly compared to the Sylvia Plath types I knew from school. So when her pride became wounded by my feigned fixation on the the Hooter’s poster girl, she amped up the arsenal, returning to the kitchen hastily to scoop at the soup de jour – a not-so distant cousin to gravy at good ole Ches Del – and casually mention she was an ass girl, anyways — “You know. If I was into that,” she smirked and bounced that booty back through the swinging doors.

Later on, when all the staff were soaking up the superior AC of the diner car, she opportunely maneuvered through, tapping everybody’s ass to prove her point. Carpet bombing the lot of us (saving me for last, of course) she returned to the feigned innocence in being ‘the cute one’ rather than defaulting on her reserves of maniacal nympho, accompanied by underdeveloped love-lumps.

“Wow! You have a soft butt,” she cupped my cushion and let it fall, the weight of the fleshy muscle encased in the hammock of my posterior. “Yeah,” I allowed the rusty door creak of apathy leech into my tone. She giggled,

“I like a soft butt” the heat of her palm hovered just inches from my dancer’s curves. I’d have you know that my ass is a lightly generous slope, but firm as hell when I’m in full-on prowl. The taut cheeks of a jungle cat, hardly moving as I traverse a mattress on all fours toward my mate. Her eyebrows raised, two barely perceptible paintbrushes across her aryan brow, scanning my face greedily for a reaction. A flinch of libido, a flutter of frenzy, a flush of rushing hemoglobin, a flippant, flipped switch signaling hormones to rush.

Cucumbers weren’t as cool as me. I dug my hand into the middle pocket of my apron. Visually suggestive as a gesture, until it emerged with my phone. The text was from my boss, but the schoolgirl smile I emitted caused domino after domino to crash in the associative imperatives of her mind, eliciting just the response I was looking for.

“Who you talkin’ to?” Keeping my eyes on the illuminated screen, I chuckled before shutting it off and meeting hers with an “Oh, nobody — excuse me, I gotta table to check on.” She rolled those pristine marbles in  her skull and huffed a sigh, sliding Hey Sailor red fingernails across the mauve linoleum countertop, back behind the register. I fully believed that with the right prodding, I could induce exasperation, thereby channeling our collective boredom into at least a sexually charged cigarette break. Manager Margret (Marge, Maggy, Mags, Magillicutty – anything but the name she liked to be called) insisted we take cigarette breaks one at a time, but just the thrill of breaking the rules could cement a chemical association in her brain of yours truly, and a comrade called Thrill. It took the right finesse to break a straight girl on a mission, and you couldn’t be too obvious or rush into the seduction. It required a stretched out period of torture (Phase I), constantly reading her signs to see if she’s still motivated, offering a little give when she retreats into forfeit, then meeting her renewed strength with a readied exodus of cold shoulder to any twitch of her silver skin. You can’t expose your agenda. Have to let her feel as though it’s a real triumph, finally cracking the chisel into your panties.

This week started Phase II of my covert seduction. Phase I, snubbing her relentlessly to throw her into a frenzy of frustration and confusion, fueled by self-doubt about just how sexy she actually was if she couldn’t get even an accelerated heart beat out of this lezbo, was already through — though would be revisited should I fuck up somewhere along the line. Shake up her nice hot bath with a burst of cold from the faucet. Now I had to move on to develop a subtly appealing aura around myself. Be her friend. Ask her advice. Put her in the position of authority that she’s so desperately teetering on, shakily convincing herself that she still holds it. Even doll up the sex appeal on my side — make her feel a rivalry that, upon sapphic success, gives her the status of having scored a hot girl as her first female fuck. That’s all a straight girl wants. What with the petty, aged women on staff, gossip is Grade A beef compared to reruns of Judge Judy and complaining about how the mashed potatoes have gone down hill. Carrie would like nothing more than to scrounge up a gem of drama for the old maids to  harp about loudly in front of the kitchen staff – and you just know how those dishwashers talk – making her the star of the diner. Not that I didn’t mind playing the supporting role, ahem, ahem.

Even more than status, I could see a desperation in her words as she clucked about her boyfriend of three years to Marge – her grandmother, our haggard manager – complaining that she hadn’t received a proposal yet. A much needed spark would have to be injected into that relationship that had undoubtedly hit the much-known standstill of a deficit in interesting things to talk about. I’ve personally never gone past 6 months before I could predict what my partner would say next or how they would respond to something I said. Save for the possibility that he was as dull as she, I guessed he was still in it for the pussy. Which Carrie was certainly aware of. All fuck and no substance makes Carrie a shit-out-of-luck spinster. At least when her looks fade. (I give her 2 babies before life delivers that lumpy, yet sagging parcel of a gift).

I approached the diner door through the smokers nook. The vintage winged sunglasses made everything colossally dark, so I made like I was feeling for the banister in order to lean against it whilst draining the last few puffs from my cigarette, but really, my vision was so dimmed by the ridiculous shades that I needed a reliable footing before I’d finally follow through on the plan: saunter up the steps like a movie star that got lost on the backroads and was just stopping in for directions. I reflected on how that would probably be more of horror story lead up, considering the rednecky chauvinists that bulls-eyed your nipples through the chunky vests we had to wear. Should probably play this more thriller/rom-com, unless I want to sink the vibe.

It was truly tough to look appealing, or even curvy in the Ches Del uniform, but I arched my back, tilting my sharp jawline towards the ceiling as I puckered around a perfect line of smoke. Well, it was probably a perfect line — the specs. I could feel her cruel glare piercing through the window opposite me, which I had posed in front of, anticipating her usual perch at the adjacent register. Always a stickler for details, I looked anywhere but the window, staring instead above the glasses at some looming cobwebs that almost threatened my height. Goddamn, this place is a dump.

If I caught her eye through the glass, the jig was up. She’d know this was all a performance for her sake, so I crushed the cherry into the heel of my nonslip kitchen shoe in blissful ignorance of even the possibility that someone might be observing my display. Of course, with the lenses – which may as well have been made of volcanic glass they were so black – its not like eye contact was even possible, much less seeing through glass with the early evening glare washing across it. Tail feathers neatly tucked, I catwalked through the doors, cooly swinging the shades from my face, imperceptibly checking that they hadn’t screwed up the mascara in the mirror paneled corner as I clocked in. After catching that my makeup was intact and lingering because, after all, I did look breathtaking, my eyes skipped to the register behind me. First, in passing, to be sure Carrie hadn’t scrutinized me checking myself out; though quickly darting back as they’d caught a withered old crone where a youthful playboy bunny should have been. I did a 180 and gaped for a moment at the lack of Carrie in the diner, before quickly converting my dumbfounded gawk into a staggered stroll to the coffee percolator.

An R10 rested next to Carrie’s name on the schedule. So I hadn’t blinked for the past 3 minutes for this gook making my lashes hit the plastic lenses, and it was all for nothing. That’s fine. At least the sexist geriatrics will be inclined to snag that extra fiver  when they go honey dipping for their Cialis at tip-time. Bright side to everything.

Two Tables. Three hours. I was skating through the so-called dinner rush with dimes clinking in my pockets & fifteen bucks to my name. You don’t have to be so passive-aggressive-like, Universe. Come out and tell me what I did wrong. Eyes going all out of focus, I let them dip into the ceiling fan that went round in the black scrying shine of my fourth coffee. My guts were garbage. Making the change clatter, my phone buzzed against my thigh. Closest thing to sex I’m gettin tonight.

I opened a text from unknown number. “Is this Katey lol” my heart jumped. I had given nobody else my phone number, save for Carrie.

Who are you to be asking questions, I thought as I typed out “Who wants to know” into the prehistoric brick of a cellular device. Two minutes scraped by before my eyes were greeted with her response. I didn’t read it right away, timing my response as to suggest that my heart wasn’t pumping adrenaline throughout my body. To ensure that I never seemed too excited to talk to a dalliance, I take their response time, double it and add half of the original value to the whole sum, before I even allow myself to read the text. “It’s Carrie. Got a question .” My excitement cashed its check.

“Mhmm” I typed frantically, as my mouth resounded the sentiment. I no longer minded how loud I was talking to the non-present person in the empty dining room. She texted back right away this time. “Uhm, mayb this a weird question . Do yu want to have a 3way with me n my boy ;)”

Though her response lacked the punctuation, that was certainly a question to make my night. Play it cool. Play it cool. James Dean. “Send pics and I’ll think about it”

Ch-ching.

 

 

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Filed under Short Story

Manhandled

I am so tired of little boys acting like they own me. Treating me like a child that couldn’t know any better. Zach warning me of hook up culture, because he doesn’t want “his girl” out galavanting with strange men. Strange men with bigger cocks and more in their seductive arsenal. Nick acting like a big baby when “his girl” is sexting with another man, or when “his girl” is giving strange men her number, or when “his girl” hooks up with a friend. I am nobody’s girl.

I bet he watched the whole video, of Mack cuming for me. Bet he read every text and allowed it to fill his anger like a sail. The gaul of him. Calling me his girlfriend to Thomas, painting me as some cheating hussy, when the truth of the matter is that he is a weak man. Just a weak little man that needs to own a woman to keep her. Can’t admit his loneliness, but also is never “quite jealous”. You’re full of shit. You’re a jealous, egotistical cunt that can’t see past anything that doesn’t fit into the picture frame of how you want other people to see you.

So, you bought the VCR that isn’t quite compatible with your system, but you’ll keep plugging and plugging away at it, trying to force it to work, but it never will. You can push into the USB outlet as much as you want, swap your input with your  output, flip a dial – flip every dial, but I will never be some object you can buy to adorn your identity.

I am woman. I have come to Earth to participate in life and love it. I have come to see all your faults as beautiful and complimentary details in a great portrait. But you’ll never let me view you holistically. You’re either God or Demon, and can’t fathom somebody seeing you as otherwise. Because you don’t have wise eyes like mine, you’ll only let me see you through the picture frame that you create for yourself. You’re filled with unspeakable pain when I won’t cramp myself to fit into it, but instead splay out into infinity on the ever forming canvas. My eyes are the palette that paint the world and your words are a blindfold. Keep them to yourself until you’re ready to look at everything contained within the word reality.

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Filed under observations, Thoughts

Spirituality as an Attitude: A Manifesto

We create our own reality.
Our life is a storybook in the first person that we’re constantly writing, with every action and every thought. Aristotle understands half of this in his well-known saying: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Correct, but he is only seeing half of the picture. What we repeatedly do is a condensed product of who we are moment to moment; what we do is motivated by our thoughts and emotional reactions, which are provoked by our experience of life. These internal parts of our identity are also not who we are, ultimately, because they are not the only things present in our minds. We have the Thinker that experiences emotion and produces thoughts – a running narrative on the state of things; and then the Awareness of that narrative, slightly behind it.The Thinker belongs intrinsically to this Awareness, and depending how often we separate from the world of thought, and invest our energy in awareness, the more able we are to influence the Thinker.

It is reductionistic to say that who we are is as simple as our actions. Actions only cement in place a history of who we were in that moment, without ever exposing the details of what caused that particular accident of an action. Which part of our collective identity – meaning the holistic interplay of all the various roles and archetypes we fulfill throughout our duration – causes individual actions/mindsets in each moment?  All of this is enclosed in our personal story. Who we are is nothing but the protagonist of that story. Reality is the gestalt of everyone’s stories going on at once – collectively intersecting and producing plot twists in the stories of others, yet who you are remains a moment-by-moment construction of who else’s story is influencing yours in that moment, and who you personally are preceeding each moment, always bleeding into the next, forever surging into itself. The momentary decisions we make create the next, into infinity; the Butterfly Effect in action.  I created this moment without knowing that this Manifesto would result from my creation, and that’s kind of what art is like. We continually create our reality, without being aware of the resulting future, by constantly interacting with the world and all the other worlds going on. We can influence these resulting realities through learning from past moments and using that knowledge for growth in present moments. Of course we never have control of the future, and adverse things that may intrude on our known routines, but we always have the power to interpret a moment how we wish, and this determines the way our story is written and the way it will be recorded in our history. Our interpretation depends on our attitude.

With a spiritual mindset, I can interpret, learn from, and make the most of my time spent depressed. It’s a lot like flying a kite, and using a strange gust of wind with which to propel your mindset. When I’m depressed, I do what I can with it. It’s like taking a burst of momentum & running with it. When I’m overtly depressed, I have good and bad days. If I take a good day and do what I can with it (things conducive to feeling better: self-care, cleaning, creation – should it come, observing beauty in art books or nature, seeking out loving connection or understanding in another), I find myself swept away with it. Like an exponential magnetism. It is the herd behavior inside myself – if one thought is doing it with complete conviction, and infects other thoughts similarly, the mirror neurons inside myself avalanche in the direction that has the strongest pull – whether positive or negative. It is thought polarization that maintains either a positive or negative attitude.

I’ve observed this in my own downward spirals – one day, I’m far too exhausted to get out of bed, so I go back to sleep. I wake up much later and am not able to accomplish the things I’d wanted to while I was sleeping in, that had meaning for me (volunteering, reading and article, researching, meeting with someone). I feel badly about myself because of this, reasoning that I should have fought my exhaustion and forced myself through it because at least then I wouldn’t feel like a failure. Not wanting to feel like a failure, I invest my waning energy in escape, because comfort is the only energy expenses I can manage, besides continuing to lay in bed and stare at the wall.  Perhaps I scrap the entire day in light of these feelings – I spend it doing NOTHING conducive to feeling good (despite what I may or may not have salvaged), maybe I eat junk food, smoke weed and watch a lot of tv. All of these feel good in the moment and distract me from who I am because of the pleasure derived from them. {However, through observation, I know that eating junk food makes my body feel poorly which affects my self-love and overall mood. Weed does the same by causing my thoughts to be foggy and dulls my experience of life which is constantly altering, so I’m more likely to miss an opportunity for love or connection or experiencing beauty. TV is a huge waste of time that can be addictive}. Maybe because I indulged the day before, the next day, my desire for that pleasure again is aroused, and I think to myself “well, what’s the harm in just one more day – one more indulgence”.

This type of attitude is conducive to habit-forming, which is helpful if the habit is good, but only destructive if it is bad. So maybe I smoke, over time with frequency and my thoughts become increasingly duller and I am unable to create or communicate or even be self-aware, because I am off in the ether, feeling good. Maybe I eat a lot of junk food and cause my stomach to feel nauseated for the rest of the day, and feel fatigued and bloated. Maybe I waste hours watching TV, and don’t read something I told myself I would or don’t create anything again. Eventually, I stagnate and feel poorly about myself for not having accomplished anything, for having no novel thoughts or perceptions on the world with which to record and for pain/discomfort in and with my own body. These swell together in my depression and evoke low self-esteem, fatigue, misconceptions about myself, isolation from others, a dulled ability to do things that I love (writing, singing, playing, socializing). Seeing this transformation in myself causes me to feel cynical about my own abilities and potential, because my thoughts are constantly overrun with the negative, so I say, “oh well, I guess this is just who I am at heart, and its way too difficult to get back to who I was, because I’ve spent so much time being this fat, lazy, dumb slob with no convictions and no ambition. I’m wasting my life and wasting space on this planet”.

And yet — I’ve made the long, difficult journey back there before (to a person with talent, health, clarity of thought and creation). It – again – starts with one, two, three grains of TRY, then ten grains of good habit, and then the whole damn avalanche comes racing down and all of a sudden… I’m happy?    I’m happy. I made that journey back this past year, after a strong bout of depression that started with a relationship going south, a realization that I was no longer important to the one person that was important in my life, and then half a year of rebound. It started with making new friends who stimulated my life and thoughts (watching other people become important in my life), starting to run again (building my health, quality of life and self-esteem), eventually pursuing a new love interest (having the spiritual experience of being in love), writing poems when they came, enjoying life (the outdoors, the nights, the love), going out on limbs and taking the opportunities that were handed to me, putting myself out on limbs by sticking my neck  out – and continuing to, allowing others to fuel my wonder with the world and motivate myself to study and learn. While these were landmarks on my journey back from depression, none of them (even all together) were enough to fully bring me back. It was the attitude that I developed that allowed me to believe in myself and allowed me to follow this path back to happiness. I would not have believed myself or trusted myself enough to put myself out on the limbs that lifted me highest.

I continue these attitude-based habits in my daily maintenance. I still experience bouts of depression that intrude on me with fatigue, irritation, anger, depersonalization and a strong urge to cry –  sometimes provoked by illness and sometimes provoked by a lack of spirit. Getting sick knocks me completely off my feet and forces me to be bed-bound for days, which makes me extremely vulnerable to being overtaken by my depression. However, by maintaining my spiritual attitude, it is easy to take advantage of things the moment I get a burst of energy – a gust of wind. The moment I’m feeling better after being sick, I clean up and change my sheets, air the stale air from my bedroom — get out of bed, cook myself healthy soup and tea, straighten up my room, because I know it boosts my vibes to have a tidy environment, spend my day quietly watching movies I’ve been meaning to see, etc. These are the actions that separate me from my depressed self. But these actions do not define me for en eternity – only in that moment. They don’t make up for past actions and they don’t assure that I will remain this way forever. Additionally this only exists in the world where every day is basically similar; if a wrench were thrown into the monotony of our “average guy” story, who we’ve practiced being will determine how we handle catastrophe.

Perhaps another’s story will horribly intervene with yours – you may meet the end of your story one day by being squashed by a random meteor. Perhaps you will be taken out of your story and thrown into a nightmare of history by a sudden war, fatality or persecution. Each moment will still be what you make of it. Are you the type to attempt escape at the cost of your life? The type to derive meaning from it, while passively accepting the reality of it? Are you the type to be broken and victimized by it? Possibly, you are a combination of all three and many others, fluctuating throughout the time of your life spent inside of this tragedy. Being yourself, with your own duration, encountering others with their unique durations within this tragedy epoch of your story contributes to the constant creation of your own reality that you are always doing. This is very much an echo of the Serenity Prayer.

We all start our stories in a set of  unalterable factors (generally: our race, sexual orientation, home culture, etc.) alongside circumstances or factors that are more alterable, though often through much opposition and struggle – which act as LEARNING opportunities for us (ex’s: gender/sex, religion, behaviors and habits). Generally, we cannot change our roots, but we CAN grow in whatever way we please to, shooting out to whatever direction we  want. A tree may be pruned constantly to fit within a pleasing shape to whomever holds the clippers, but the tree has the resilience and hope to continue bursting through these societally pleasing boxes to fulfill its own destiny and to reach for the sun in its own way. We can change to be whoever we wish to be, because the world truly is what we make it, within the confines of what restricts us naturally. In rarer anecdotes, certain individuals have made triumphs through supposed “unalterable factors” via  pure will and refusal to lose hope. Wilma Rudolph was told after her polio-inflicted paralysis that she would never walk again, and became the fastest woman in the world (circa 1960’s), Anaïs Nin slaved over her novels – producing them herself – for a society that did not value her perspective, until she finally became recognized (in the modern age), the resilience of those that survived the holocaust (Victor Frankl, in particular), plus EVERY success story you’ve ever heard. The hope of individuals who refuse to accept defeat have been proven more often than we know, even if just in the anecdotes of your friends on Facebook.

This is why it is so important to use and understand life as a learning opportunity. We must live life with an open mind, because we live in a world of uncertainty. Science tends to have an ego attached, and tends toward the idea that all things can be known NOW. But there will always be questions. There was a time when people knew beyond a doubt that the world is flat, and we’re no different today – there is so much science still doesn’t know.

To assume that I know everything now and that this is how it will be always is a mistake. I am excited beyond reason for every love, every instance of suffering and every experience that I will have, because I know that I will continue to find truth in the world and continue to get better at living wisely and will be able to contribute so many more truths to my own art and creation! I will be able to do something better next time (whether it be the beauty of a relationship, or something as simple as baking a cake). By experimenting, and then doing, and then doing over and over again as a habit, we learn! We get better, we become experts! We integrate it into our flow, and into our life-long dance!

If I can learn to keep my head in a crisis, I will be that much better at dealing with crisis. If I can learn how to detect my depression when it surges up again, I can combat this by knowing what triggers me – it’s all body chemistry & psychology. If I can learn my deepest fears and grievances – If I can know which previous parts of “my story” are damaging me still now and making a victim of me, I can detach my ego from those things and tell them that they will no longer have control over who I am. I am, ultimately, not my thoughts and feelings, but the awareness behind them. If I choose to give my energy to the parts of my life that defeat me, I will spend most of my time feeling defeated. If I can learn what things widen the gap between me and my depression, I can do those things constantly to maintain my balance. If I can learn to harness my awareness and use it to be present in my body and anchored in sanity, then I can better treat myself and maintain my health.

By learning and observing, I gain wisdom about how I live my life, and subsequently, I love it with those truths alive and active, making my life into something beautiful and wonderful. When I have a new experience, (ex. Going past 6 months in a relationship with somebody) I learn more about what it means to love them, I learn how to compromise, I gain the wisdom that you can disagree and fight and still love more strongly than ever. I learn what/how much tension I will take to continue a particular experience. I’ve learned my boundaries – I learn about myself. I learn how to draw the line, and I continue this particular exercise knowing that at some point it will end. At some point we will break up, there will be some endstop when the relationship becomes too damaging to us to continue it, too unhealthy, as a bad habit, to be enjoyable any more, infecting other aspects of our lives. And at this point, we will separate, but I will certainly love again after this, because love is a dazzling experience that can change the entire nature of existence – a particle (with considerable weight) in the ether that can influence and infect all the other particles as to entirely sweeten this time we spend on earth. When I do start a new relationship, I will have the knowledge of this past love to do it better next time, and be a better lover, be a wiser lover, to continue to grow. I have valued growth  so strongly throughout my life, and growth is a product of learning.

Having an open mind is oh-so important for this reason. I agree with the teachings of Alice in Wonderland, here – I indulge as many as twelve impossible thoughts before breakfast, because I never would have made it to this happiness – this life! – if I hadn’t been open to the possibility. I believe in the impossibility that this life is a great cosmic joke. I believe these impossible things, because the world itself is impossible! If one million factors hadn’t all aligned to produce this world, I wouldn’t be here, and yet I am. This existence is highly improbable. This existence IS a Boltzmann brain emerging from the ether, and I plan to construct it exactly how I choose. There are *impossible* thoughts in existence that the mere collective presence of many people’s interpretation of a thing is what defines it in reality. This is of course subject to change through changing social attitude over time (ex. Anaïs Nin going from nothing to famous to defamed). The power of thought.

It’s easy to see yourself as one way, and one way only; To look at yourself as no good and without hope to change, while your mind is in hell. And yet, because you are on a continuum, *who you are* is a vast amalgam of all the people you’ve ever been. I can produce the same action while depressed as when I’m happy (Ex, complimenting somebody) and it will likewise be motivated by two vastly different attitudes, therefore having two completely different meanings in the context of the whole. When depressed, I may compliment someone because I think somebody I want to impress will overhear and think better of me, here it is motivated by ego and it is not good; Perhaps I do it because I feel so poorly about myself, that it is a type of jab at myself, because secretly I crave to be as good as them, or to be like them, making it motivated by low self-esteem and self-deprecation which is not good; or maybe, I say it because I love them and it cheers me to see them so empowered, in which case it is motivated by good energy and love and a will to build someone up.

This gets dangerously close to the Love/Fear approximation from “Donnie Darko,” which is not quite correct either, because it supports over generalization and a resistance to the complexities that are a reality in everyday life. Something motivated by love can still be horrific and grotesque – we’ve waged wars through a destructive love of one deity & way of life over another. Every action is quite subjective and complex because it is enacted in a specific context and BY a particular individual with the ever reaching bias of their previous experiences. The same action can have a world of different meanings or interpretations (which is why we must keep an open mind when judging others & why we must leave room for their different ideas/opinions and their subjective story). The antagonist from one story is the hero of another – “The Wizard of Oz” vs “Wicked”.

This is why I keep an open mind, because I know the reality of things is often a product of perspective, and often potentially so many things at once. This is why I strive for a positive mindset, because not only does it feel good and is conducive to a happier existence, it can signal and affect another’s existence. It is the path I take while creating my own reality, so that I might make the best of my own reality.

We must go into life with a positive attitude – the spiritual mindset.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Dialectic, Inspiration, observations, Philosophy, Thoughts

Dear Nick,

I’m a bit pissed. For somebody that’s so smart and always asking why, the fact that “I’ve just always been this way” is a good enough answer for you to settle for is so telling to how sublimated your ego’s power over you has become. You are its slave. I saw this the first fucking time we hooked up. You have unbelievably low self esteem and compensate for it by playing the part of the all-knowing. You shove all your insecurities into this overblown cerebral narcissism. When you couldn’t stay hard our first time having sex – even though I was sucking away like a fiend – you laughed at yourself, wanting to humiliate yourself and deprecate while I was loving you, and this is the narrative that has continued to play out over the course of our relationship. Your ego can’t handle anything that makes you look bad or insufficient – so you take whatever opportunity you can to be on the winning team again. I’ve seen you lose before, as well and try to regain yourself, and they were probably the saddest states I’ve ever witnessed you in. When your dad came over after I told your mom that you’d planned to kill yourself. I think you felt small and hopeless – powerless over your dad and unbelievably ashamed. The second time was when we went to Vaunca’s and you sliced your forehead open, from being ossified and not letting anyone help you stand. The oblivious look on your face makes me doubt you could feel the deep cut on your temple, but the tears you kept pushing away were a child’s. A kid that’s been pushed around in the school yard and laughed at and pointed at. 

Ugh, Nick! Grow the fuck up! Nobody is perfect, we all have flaws and shortcomings. To allow our structural ego mechanisms to constantly compensate for those shortcomings is going to inevitably be harmful to anyone near by. You’re constantly finding things wrong in the outside world and being critical to make yourself feel more right. Aligning only with the superior and making sure everyone knows WHY it’s so superior. Constantly separating yourself from others to appear above them. But soon you’re going to separate yourself so much that you’ll have nobody else to appear superior to around you. Your ego will tell you that’s fine and you like it that way, but your heart will ache now and again for the company that you were so intent on being above. Your loneliness will take its toll and there’s nothing I can do to change that. You hold the keys, I’ve given you the lock, now you need to find it and look in on all the self hatred putrefying in your psyche. You’re very smart. You place decoy self hatred out for everyone to see and it’s quite convincing at first, but I know a deeper room exists. I know you cram everything that you don’t talk about in there, and let it fester into a putrid fuel for your ego to chug away on. You need to take a good, hard look at that and see how it makes you alienate the people who are closest to you. See how it makes an ego of higher value to you than love. When I say “you’re hurting me” and your ultimate answer is “that’s not going to change,” it means that to stay with you would be masochism. I love myself, shortcomings and all and strive to accept myself as I am. Masochism isn’t my thing anymore. 

Sincerely,

Another Ex

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