Category: Writing

Speak to us of Houses

Then a mason came forth and said, Speak to us of Houses. And the Prophet answered and said:

Build of your imaginings a bower in the wilderness ere you build a house within the city walls. For even as you have home-comings in your twilight, so has the wanderer in you, the ever distant and alone.

Your house is your larger body.

It grows in the sun and sleeps in the stillness of the night; and it is not dreamless. Does not your house dream? and dreaming, leave the city for grove or hill-top? Would that I could gather your houses into my hand, and like a sower scatter them in forest and meadow. Would the valleys were your streets, and the green paths your alleys, that you might seek one another through vineyards, and come with the fragrance of the earth in your garments.

But these things are not yet to be.

In their fear your forefathers gathered you too near together. And that fear shall endure a little longer. A little longer shall your city walls separate your hearths from your fields. And tell me, people of Orphalese, what have you in these houses? And what is it you guard with fastened doors? Have you peace, the quiet urge that reveals your power? Have you remembrances, the glimmering arches that span the summits of the mind? Have you beauty, that leads the heart from things fashioned of wood and stone to the holy mountain? Tell me, have you these in your houses? Or have you only comfort, and the lust for comfort, that stealthy thing that enters the house as a guest, and then becomes a host, and then a master?

Ay, and it becomes a tamer, and with hook and scourge makes puppets of your larger desires. Though its hands are silken, its heart is of iron. It lulls you to sleep only to stand by your bed and jeer at the dignity of the flesh. It makes mock of your sound senses, and lays them in thistledown like fragile vessels. Verily the lust for comfort murders the passion of the soul, and then walks grinning in the funeral.

But you, children of space, you restless in rest, you shall not be trapped nor tamed. Your house shall not be an anchor but a mast. It shall not be a glistening film that covers a wound, but an eyelid that guards the eye. You shall not fold your wings that you may pass through doors, nor bend your heads that they strike not against a ceiling, nor fear to breathe lest walls should crack and fall down. You shall not dwell in tombs made by the dead for the living. And though of magnificence and splendour, your house shall not hold your secret nor shelter your longing. For that which is boundless in you abides in the mansion of the sky, whose door is the morning mist, and whose windows are the songs and the silences of night.

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Gibran on eating & drinking (post #100!)

What better way to celebrate 100 published scribbles than to ramble about food and food choices? As I type this I’m sitting with my laptop (1:19:27am) in the main stairwell of my apartment building. In less than probably 2-3 minutes a few slices of pizza will arrive via deliveryperson. Yum!

Soon it’ll be the drones delivering pizzas. Odd. Today I was out playing with a toy drone and happened to walk by something pretty cool: a block or so from the Macalester campus a small falcon/hawk (?) dashed within about 3 feet of my face, sort of perpendicular to the sidewalk. It carried with it some sort of a rodent or small brown creature (squirrel?) that was neither squirming nor resisting. Pretty limp. Snack time! I had never been so close to a bird that moved in that way except in a dream last year. So it was nice to see those huge rippling feathers for real!

Here’s Gibran on SNAX

Would that you could live on the fragrance of the earth, and like an air plant be sustained by the light.
But since you must kill to eat, and rob the newly born of its mother’s milk to quench your thirst, let it then be an act of worship.
And let your board stand an altar on which the pure and the innocent of forest and plain are sacrificed for that which is purer and still more innocent in man.

When you kill a beast say to him in your heart,
“By the same power that slays you, I too am slain; and I too shall be consumed.
For the law that delivered you into my hand shall deliver me into a mightier hand.
Your blood and my blood is naught but the sap that feeds the tree of heaven.”

And when you crush an apple with your teeth, say to it in your heart,
“Your seeds shall live in my body,
And the buds of your tomorrow shall blossom in my heart,
And your fragrance shall be my breath,
And together we shall rejoice through all the seasons.”

And in the autumn, when you gather the grapes of your vineyards for the winepress, say in your heart,
“I too am a vineyard, and my fruit shall be gathered for the winepress,
And like new wine I shall be kept in eternal vessels.”
And in winter, when you draw the wine, let there be in your heart a song for each cup;
And let there be in the song a remembrance for the autumn days, and for the vineyard, and for the winepress.

Falling asleep on my floor

The movie continues

Rewinding is not an option, nor is pausing. You can’t press stop if you want to see the ending

The colors are twisting

A technicolor experience, viewed from right there inside your own skull. Grab your barf bag and carry on

IMG_5076

 

The guilt is looming

You will never escape the 80-year hallmark aisle unless you hop the shelves. But then, everyone around you has to pick up the cards. Keep walking

The pen dangles

An entire lifetime pretending to be the author. When the book closes you haven’t written a page – you’ve barely read a few words. So drop the book and start another

 

Sometimes

you wonder who’s watching all these feelings

trillions of eyes glued and scrap-booked

sometimes you wonder if you’re the cup

or the spinning water, or the tea leaves.

you want to grab suffering by its weary shoulders, by its bus transfer, by its untied boots, by its exit wound, by its cinder-block cell. you want to grab the bloodied lovers, the shattered families, the eons of regret, and to tell them they are ok. sometimes you wonder if you could ever be that creative. you heard once that a dry-erase marker can erase a permanent marker. it should be impossible. but sharpie can be undone under one little condition: you have to draw over it first. sometimes you wonder if the world is the sharpie and if you’re supposed to be the dry erase marker and then you feel bad about yourself.

sometimes you wonder who’s spinning that dust in the air

floating freckling waiting to settle

sometimes you wonder if you’re the dust

or the air, or the nap.

 

IMG_5998

Insulin

Is neat.

Once I had an experience helping a kid at a debate tournament take his insulin. It was one of the scariest moments I’ve ever experienced, for a number of reasons.

How to explain this. Hm.

For starters, I have no idea what debate tournaments are about. Or what debate is really about. I have never debated, participated in Mock Trial, or even witnessed a formal debate (let alone participated in or witnessed a formal debate tournament) (let alone judged one). And somehow, despite that, this story begins with my traveling to a nearby city to judge a high-school debate tournament. A friend asked if I could stand-in as a judge for a debate tournament because he thought I’d do an OK job. Something to do with me being great at arguing with him – it seemed, well….Weird. Having agreed, and having dragged myself to a random school somewhere in MN on a Saturday in November, I found myself in a large cafeteria with hundreds of suit-clad kids. I was chilly. There were cans of soda, powerades, and bottled waters to drink. Everything smelled really clean and like it had been freshly vacuumed. Again, weird.

The debates around the school were timed. Lincoln-Douglas in their style, and seemingly extreme in their demands, these mini-events had (via some sort of career-scented tractor beam) pulled in the young professionals of tomorrow from all over the country. A ton of school buses sat outside. It was all honestly pretty intimidating. A handful of color-coded maps each depicted the locations and times of the dozens of debate events. During the middle period of the day (just during/after lunch) perhaps 95% of the kids ran off for their respective debates, leaving the cafeteria entirely empty. It’s (again,) weird how loud hundreds of suit-clad kids can be and how quiet a large linoleum can be once they filter out. One kid, munching down on his food some 5 or 6 tables over, remained after just a few minutes.

I was sipping on some blue powerade as the sound of a small body vomiting smacked my ears with baseball-type force. Again. A third time. My hand quivered and my stomach fell across my shoes (not literally) upon hearing it – vomiting really isn’t my thing – and I pitied whichever person, likely that kid some 5 or 6 tables over, was having the gut attack. As a younger person I was on the swim and cross country and track teams and hated more than anything to take a bus out to a competition. The feeling of sitting in a foreign school around 11:14am on a weekend, waiting to be judged against my peers, wrung out my stomach like a sock each time. So I could feel this kid’s pain – a fourth time – and, after he puked a fifth time, I began to get concerned. I remember thinking Five is a fuck-ton.

On turning around to face the bright cafeteria – there were skylights, and the place had an even and frosty glow – I saw the young boy aforementioned gripped to a garbage can for dear life. The garbage can was the rolling kind, with 4 wheels and a height of maybe 3 feet 6 inches. He was small and appeared to be on his heels as wretch-fest #6 commenced. His diaphragm and entire upper body lurched, as if some invisible tentacles were sucking him violently into the garbage can. Fuck: this was no nausea or performance anxiety. Something was seriously wrong. Fuck, fuck, fuck. Another thing I remembered from childhood was my sincere desire to be left alone whenever I was vomiting. How to approach while also giving the kid his necessary space?

Cornering my body a bit (rather than facing the kid square on) I edged up slowly, waving timidly with a hand and offering a bashful and solemn ‘hey’ of a smile. He made eye contact with me as the tentacles gripped him and tugged again. “Hey dude, just so you know I’m Ian and I’m an EMT, so if you need anything lemme know, and if you want me to leave you alone I c-“

“I’m type 1, my last A1C was fine but I’m at least over 300 right now and my pump is broken. Can you help me? (pukes)

[translation: I have type 1 diabetes and am having a blood sugar crisis. My last check-up at the doctor’s was ok. But right now my blood sugar is dangerously high and my insulin pump, which I need to fix my blood sugar, is broken.]

Before continuing this story I figure I’ll leave you with a bit of history. Read up, teach yourself a bit about what to expect with diabetes (you might run into some crises yourself someday, if you haven’t before) and then I’ll write the rest of this story down

https://www.diabetes.org.uk/about_us/news_landing_page/first-use-of-insulin-in-treatment-of-diabetes-88-years-ago-today

Winter: 1 Ian: 14

At 2:20pm on Wednesday, January 31st of 2018 I lost my annual war with winter.

Winter is by far my favorite time of year: It’s the only season that one can have some privacy while outdoors. All of the programmed, voting normies pretty much go inside and focus on their petty tasks and organized delusions for the winter months, leaving the expansive snow-dappled city to the crows and squirrels and frigid silence. As long as the sun is gone and the temperature is low you can rightly expect ungrateful and unsturdy normies to be stuck indoors, lamenting the loss of the July heat and their unremarkable tans.

Yes: winter is a time to be outside by yourself, with yourself, & for yourself. I love winter not just because of the solitude but because of the fun: walking or driving in snow is like a video game set to medium-hard. Ice is like the fictional-frictionless surfaces you learned about back in your high school physics class – and the cold turns the whole world into an ultra-low-temperature chemistry set. There are real challenges and threats that a few people face during winter but for the most part, privileged normies have no place to whine.

If you feel down on winter, worry not – there are mental habits you can undertake in order to improve your mood and stop complaining about the weather. The only thing worse than shoveling a car out of the snow is listening to your neighbor complain about how they, too, had to shovel their car out of the snow. The way to enjoy winter is to make a game of it. Just 9 minutes ago I lost a round of my annual game-with-winter and although I’m ashamed I have dragged myself here to fess up and describe the loss.

 

Every winter I make a point not to slip on the ice and bust my ass. It sounds redundant but you’d be surprised how many people just walk along through a snowstorm as if nothing has changed on the ground. You gotta watch that shit. Whenever Mother Nature takes a swipe at me and causes me to slip I take note. Sometimes slips are big – sometimes they are little – or sometimes, *cue music* they are catastrophic. To me a noteworthy slip is when both of your feet leave the ground. The game is this: to count how many times you experience a noteworthy slip over the course of winter, to count how many times your noteworthy slip turns into a fall, continuously tracking the values of each. Every time you experience a noteworthy slip and land safely back on your feet you earn one point. Every time you experience a noteworthy slip and fall back on your ass, Mother Nature earns one point. To me a victory in the game-with-winter is to have a perfect streak (for the entire season) with no falls. To that end I had experienced a total of 14 noteworthy slips this winter until I experienced #15 outside just now. But #15 was different – I had just placed a chair in the snowbank in front of my house so that a passerby might grab it. I turned around and jumped onto the walkway leading up to my house – landing on my right foot- and immediately my bottom half flew out from under me.

“SHIT!” I landed on my right hip, right knee, and right hand. Stood up – with a massive and begrudging smile – “You’ve got me, ok? Fair and square, ya got me.”

Instead of 15-0 I was suddenly 14-1. No doubt an admirable score, but still a losing one. And it’s only 1/31/2018! She got me pretty good this year but I’ll be back for more next year!

Amygdala regulation

Ain’t easy. Especially on low sleep. I recently stumbled upon some literature describing the relationship between the prefrontal cortex and the limbic system. Specifically it went over the connections between the prefrontal cortex and the amygdalae. Will have to come back here & post the link(s) but wanted to jot this down here, as it’s timely & highly relevant to mood disorders.

Sleep is a fickle thing & it seems that quality and duration of sleep is related to one’s ability to keep their amygdala functioning well. The absence of good quality sleep of proper duration can lead one to experience impulsiveness, out-of-control distractibility and responsiveness to irrelevant stimuli, and immense irritability. Take it from me: the vast gulf between being contented & calm or being a murderous monster can be crossed, in part, by hitting the hay.