The Dancing Virus

The exploding virus came to my town and I didn’t know what to do. People were scared. It was something that they didn’t know. And that was it. There was nothing else but that.

It was a dance called the virus. We were on the sidelinelines and than we were in it. It was a terrible thing but it was us. We weren’t okay. And then it was something else. And, later, we talked about how we would remember all of this.

The Pain in Your Breast

I just remembered something. I was talking with you. Maybe it wasn’t you. She looked like you. She had a pain in her breast. And I related to that. It was a pain and she spoke about that. That pain. I don’t have that pain in me. And I said my thing. I probably said it too loud. I was empathizing but it sounded like emphasizing. And that was it. The pain in her breast. And I wanted to keep talking and I probably did but I should not have. I did not leave it. So here we are.

Here is the thing. Not the environment. No winter. I woke up today and I thought about my dream like it was real. And I am sure you do that too. But it’s over. Simple. Not a hard thing to think about. Simple. And here.

I Can and I Cannot

I can write and write and write. Novels about kidnapping prostitutes, native spirits, 9/11, even abandoning Earth. I can write a trilogy about that. I can write screenplays about high school angst, tree-planting and searching for that impossible love. I can write a lot about that. I can blog 1,200 times about writing all of that – and plenty of other things too, like New York and movies and dead things I find.

I can send letters and emails to agent after agent. I can go to conferences about writing and seminars about cover letters. I can go to a lot of those. I can write the agents again, using those new-found skills. I can do that for 35 years. And I can (and did) receive over 450 rejection emails and letters. I can be ignored too. I can write them back again.

I can do all of that, and yet I can’t get one person, not one, to publish my work, let alone represent it. I should write a book about that.

Raskolnikov’s Delireum

Suddenly he gave a start; a certain thought from yesterday raced through his head again. But he started not because this thought raced through his head. Indeed he knew, he had anticipated that it would certainly ‘race through his head’, and was already expecting it; and it was not yesterday’s thought at all. But the difference was that a month ago, and even yesterday, it was only a dream, whereas now, now it suddenly appeared not as a dream, but in some new, menacing, and quite unfamiliar form, and he suddenly became aware of it himself. It hit him in the head, and everything went dark before his eyes. (45)

It was a feverish condition with moments of delirium and semi-awareness. Afterwards he remembered a good deal. Once it seemed to him that a good many people were gathered around him and wanted to take him and carry him away somewhere, and there was much arguing and quarreling about him. Then suddenly he was alone in the room, everyone was gone, they were afraid of him, and only opened the door a crack from time to time to look at him, threaten him, arrange something among themselves, laugh and tease him. At times it seemed to him that he had been lying there for at least a month, at other times that was still the same day. (117)

Extracts from Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment

An Everything Thing

Here is a place I know. It is easy. I know where I am. I am here. I am afraid of it. I dream of living in this. It isn’t a thing that is anything else. It is the thing, all of itself. And I am here. Lucky me. There is a sound. It is quiet and not. Oh, an abstract thing. No. It is tiny and whole. It is physics. It is a big thing. It is the everything thing. But don’t say that. Too many steps back.

It is that thing in you, that thing you hold too tight, little too much of you that you don’t want to let out, that you might say no to, that you might think that is too much and is everything. And that is the thing, tiny as it might be that is everything. It wakes you and makes you remember.

It was a while back and I was different then. But I wasn’t. You weren’t. We were there. And we remember. And that is the curse. It is love. Or memory.

Just Delete

I hate the idea of deleting. I would rather rearrange, keep the letters that I have created, alive as it were. Why destroy something that I created? It’s mean. It’s lazy. Vindictive. I know it sounds like hubris. ‘Never touch anything created by McPhedran. Those words are precious and divine.’

As much as it might be something like that, I like these letters and words. I made them to be here, to be read. That’s something, isn’t it? Or should I just delete?

Smashed Watermelon

I remember the walk to the stadium, around the abandoned concession stands and then the old viewing tower. I used to run up the winding staircase as fast as I could and always cramped up before I was even halfway. But it was bordered up now. The exhibition grounds had the feel about it everywhere – old and forgotten, papers blowing, everyone walking away.

I still read comics in the paper. I didn’t like any of them that much. Andy Capp made no sense. Same with Blondie and Hagar. Rex MD was ridiculously dumb. The worst was Family Circle. So bad that it was good.

It was one of the first things that I learned to mock. I felt superior to it. Kid stuff. I listened to music by Angel, Blood Rock, Goddo, Moxy and The Who.

I stole my first cigarette from one of my mother’s oldest friends and smoked it behind the garage. It was raining and it got soggy. So I had a good excuse to throw it out early. I stole a pen for my mother’s birthday. I hated that pen and scratched it up, but it was always on her desk.

She didn’t know where I was because I was going to a concert. And I wasn’t allowed to do that until I was 18. But it was The Who, and I had to see The Who. Except the concert was lousy. People were drunk and fighting everywhere. A watermelon was smashed beside me. And the music was predictable and boring. I couldn’t believe it. I had a doughnut when I got home. Boston Cream. It was lousy too.

The Air Was No Good

This air was no good. It was not what they wanted. They would not be coming down because of it. She knew it. The volcano sat low on the horizon. It was tired, done for now. The smoke still drifted out but was pulled across the water, sucked with the currents and winds, the birds turning away, knowing all of this, waiting for it to pass. And then it swirled up, as if on command, and Proxima Two was gone. It was just the one sun, the land in low profile.

Em remembered something about herself, sitting alone. There was the beach and the sound of the water and she was there. Wherever she had come from. She was in this place. She was here. She knew that. No one explained any of that. She was here. And there never would be more that. Except going forward. And she was doing that too.

The Anthropic Principle

Forget the earth or the sun as the center of the universe. The anthropic principle puts life at the center. The universe appears fine-tuned for life. If gravity were just slightly stronger, stars would compress tightly and burn out after a few million years rather than billions. Ergo, life would never have a chance to evolve.

Life might not have originated on Earth but rather was seeded with ancient microbes that bombarded the planet billions of years ago, an idea called Panspermia (Greek for seeds everywhere.) Therefore we are aliens.*

Excerpted from David Siegel Bernstein’s Blockbuster Science