One used to pick me up from the airport, on whatever motorcycle was working, my hip-shaped leathers on under his, a matryoshka doll of care. We’d each have a backpack, holding on tight for safety and because it was the thing to do.
Another still does sometimes, eye-corners crinkling, the easiest silence. The city always appearing around the same bend, a skyline of calm.
Wedged in the front of a bicycle’s cargo bucket, luggage on my lap, while one took us to a front-yard farm to play ukulele music.
Another took pictures as I rode off, capturing our overlapping liminal spaces.
One with temporal and signal precision to arrival doors and green lights, dive bombing down hills and through streets. Rapid-fire catch-up on passions and focus.
A surprise-pile of people under bags in a backseat, through the deserted streets and crunching deep snow of some city. A warm greeting after a stressful time.
One took my 10+hours off-zone self to a warm bed and a shower in their profane and sacred home.
Finding the metal angler fish to get to the private plane, to be taken to find a car covered in floppy disks stashed away in a parking lot, followed by blissful water and the first time we slept intertwined.
In the backseat, a tiny person knitting, another devising experiments to make explosions scientific. Me not holding your hand.
One dropped me off at an airport on one side of the country, and weeks later retrieved me from somewhere else, that same smile and hatchback somehow transported. Now accompanied by a very polite dog and a growing history.
When one held the art between us, wind rushing past, uncertain if the high was from the bike or from the fear.
I took the train from the plane, and another handed me a heavily caffeinated drink and a helmet.
From the backseat, staring at the headlong scar from home to departure, through radiation-thinned hair, a freckled abyss.
But usually it’s gruff drivers, or confusing transit, and I’m not sure I’m thrilled by the adventure any longer.
I’m sitting on a repurposed fishing boat, which is now an art, music, and hacker venue. Last night I toured the guts of it, slipping between shoulder-high engines, the air smelling of diesel and slick oil. Doors hiding computer terminals, and audio mixing setups, and soldering stations, and a lathe so large they must have built the ship around it. Blo letting me onto the bridge, where the only piece of new equipment is the mandated ship locator and broadcaster. The crew asks for your preferred language and then your name when you enter the tiny mess hall, a window cracked for the hand-rolled cigarettes. I now have just enough German to nearly state that for my language, but am still too self conscious, so instead I listen to theirs.
View from my room on Stubnitz
It’s the first quiet time I’ve had in a week, the last being a six hour moto ride through the English countryside. Sheep perched on stone walls, eyeing us as we went by, hugging curves and throttle. Between then and now have been hours of hard work, rockstars of response tech tools building and conversing, finding overlaps and launch points. Between that and the ship were also bombs in Boston, staying up late into the night funneling the energies of people seeking information, freeing up brain cycles to respond rather than question.
And today was Camden Market, strange back alleys and food smells. Wandering aimlessly with no purpose, simply to see and examine, ask and listen. The papers held by passengers on the London Underground all have Boston on their front pages. Half the emails in my inbox are the same, the vast myriad of my social (fingers in) pie (charts) exhibiting ripples. I find a shop that sells mediocre doner and examine horse statues. Tomorrow is Krakow, after the flight to Warsaw and the 3 hour express train. The distraction and calm are perfect in coping with the vast ocean between me and anyone I could be hugging, which is the most I could be doing right now anyway.
Tonight I’ll sit on my tiny bench on Stubnitz, with my too-quickly-ending book, and listen to sounds of an empty banking hub from out my window. The disco balls will hang deep in the ship, refracting light inside the hull; and I’ll daydream about sailing away with them, with spotty wifi and floors to scrub, to write about what I haven’t yet researched.
I had a great time the other day – a friend loaned me his SV so I could go for a ride. I excitedly grabbed my jacket – the same one I had cut off of me on November 1st, and stitched the sleeve back up. And I noticed that my scar showed through the zipper area. That got me to thinking. How many people retain the clothes they were violently injured in? Can you see your scars through them? I want to see. The amazing Libby Bulloff has offered to help me out with this (ie, I have no artistic talent but she has loads). I’d interview the models about how they got the scar, why they kept the clothing it occurred in, and how it has affected their everyday life. Hit me up at willowbl00 at gmail and include “show me your scars” in the subject line. And please do pass it on. Obviously preferred if folk are in Seattle. If there are enough interested parties, we’ll put on an art show.
When they wanted to take my blood, I had the option of having them cut off my conference bracelets or them digging. I chose digging.
When they found the vein, my blood was super dark. When commented upon, I explained that I was Goff.
The tech holding my very broken arm in very painful positions wore an orange camo lead apron. I insisted on the pink heart-covered one.
Two students and one doctor set my arm. This was the one part I couldn’t look at. Then I hear “you hold it in position and I’ll get her from the other side.” Of course I said “that’s what she said” and then they had to wait for me to quit giggling so I wasn’t shaking.
Love to those who saw me in the ER and who have been feeding, amusing, and petting me. The plate goes in my arm in just over a week. I’ll talk to you more later about being vulnerable and accepting help from friends, but for now I’m angsty enough at the typing.
I made a post to Twitter last night about how I was thinking more and more that Zen And The Art of Motorcycle Maintencence is a crock of bullshit. Which sucks, because Sirus got me a copy with lovely graphic art on the cover7. While I summed up my response to “but why?!?!!!@” with a <140 character "Main Character Complex", here is the longer explaination.
First, a disclaimer or two: I’m “reading” this via Audible, which I love. I do not have page numbers, but I can get you minute markers. And I have not finished it. One of my greatest joys of no longer being in school is that when a book sucks, I can put it away – I don’t have to finish it. So if he learns some great lesson, or the focus shifts or something, let me know and I’ll actually keep reading.
What at last did me in, so far as not being able to listen to any more: his discourse on Science. About how all science is ineffectual because (as his “ghost” narrative device discovered) so many hypothesis are born as you test the first one, and there’s no way to test them all, so you create this whole set of unknowns. And as science is about creating truths, and you can’t test all of them…
Wait, what? Science is about creating truths? Someone hasn’t been looking at science. Science is about proving things false. Something is considered true (but not a law) until you’re able to disprove it. Laws (like gravity) are so morally independent, so long established (ie, tested against), and so universal that Scientific Law basically equals Taken As Granted.5
This is just one example of the underlying viewpoint that upsets me about this book. “Oh, look at this insight I have. I am so clever. You should examine your world, too. Question things!” Which yes, you should constantly be questioning the things around you, but for fuck’s sake, the “insights” provided are bullshit, and unless you spend as much time (if not more) examining your own assumptions, questioning the world around you just becomes a wank session. And one that ends in loneliness and The Crazy, not what wank sessions should end with, IMHO.
So this brings us closer to my own insight about the book, and the narrator1. He’s a narcissistic piece of shit. Oh sure, he speaks about different methods of inquiry, but his language and approach are seeping with judgements about those methods. His “inquiry into values” is always in relation to his own set of values, and there is always implied (or stated) moral high ground.
And maybe this wouldn’t bother me so much, but for recent life interactions, and a long-lived pet peeve of mine: Main Character Syndrom. This is my own way of explaining narcissism without bringing up that loaded word. People with this syndrom believe that they are the main character. Anyone they interact with is simply filling a supporting role. Every interaction, every discussion, -everything- has to do with them. Because why else would it be happening? Common symptoms include taking everything personally, being confused when people act “out of character,” or having unreasonable expectations.
A sub category of this is what I lovingly refer to as Narrator Syndrom, where an individual realizes they’re not the Main Character but still imparts their world view on the interactions they have with others. Symptoms include imposing moral values3 and assuming purpose/projecting omnipitence4.
Realize everyone is full of stories. Their own. That range from completely —completely— to mostly not about you. At all. Have nothing at all to do with you. An individual – one individual – has lived an entire life of experiences. Their life is just as (if not more) complicated as your own. Each individual is (mostly) internally consistent, has a set of values and goals which are legitimate (to them), given those experiences. Now think about how many other people live in your house, your apartment building, your neighborhood block. So many stories! AND YOU GET TO SHARE WITH THEM. We get to interact, to use that wealth of experience, to build our world. And that is what makes that individual insignificance so phenomenal. We are so much greater than the sum of our parts, as individuals and as a super organism.
1. I accept that the narrator might be the author’s own way of trying to get people to come to the realizations that I speak about here, so far as the meta level, narcissism, and examination. But if that’s what he’s going for, I already get it, and listening to someone experience it just hurts my fucking faith in humanity.
2. (Yes, I know there’s no 2 up there). I also hated Catcher in the Rye. Self-involved bitchfest. Whine whine whine with no constructive action in site.
3. Morals as opposed to ethics, which are malleable and socially based as opposed to dogmatic. One of the few things Freud was not completely bat shit about.
4. The assumption of knowing where the plot is going/all the factors in any interaction, so any other viewpoint is null.
5. I am not at all saying science should not be questioned. That is, after all, what it is for6. It is imperative to question the cultural assumptions which support some scientific analysis. And what we as a culture value of course dictates what we even DO science to.
6. Well, actually it’s for describing things which exist, but whatever.
7. <3 to Sirus, who gave me the disclaimer that he hadn't read it, but liked the art and thought it might be about motorcycles, which I do like.
8. (Yes, another footnote without a reference to it). All the individualism in my last paragraph is not to get postmodern on you. Through SCIENCE (also see above) we are able to know we have a shared reality and that we must interact within it. The point I’m getting at there is that all the individual pieces are separate but interactive. There’s a reason I have “we are the machine” tattoo’d down my back – we are all interconnected, and through that interconnection, our superorganism is self-guided.
And since this post is already so incredibly long, here is a video to make me not be so ranty, which beautifully sums up a lot of that wonder and interconnection. Thanks, melodysheep!
Highways usually clogged with traffic, mine alone at 2:30a.
A persistent but mild exact 12 MPH over the speed limit. My beloved city as quiet as my brain is forced to be at such speeds. For to not be perfect in every moment would be to invite death. Every moment different but no less perfect, just as the sky when we bother to look up. Breathing, weight, trottle are all that matter, passing thoughts as trivial as some taxi I passed by miles back, lights on, someone reading a novel in the back. Body and mind independently of no concern at all, but that perfect liminal point where they are the same thing all that matters.