Tag Archives: John Brookbank

INTERMISSION: CHAPTER 18

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I have spent my last half a week curled up in a ball trying to sleep away the days so that I could just hurry and get to my nights to sleep more. Vomiting has become as commonplace as blinking, and because personal hygiene is the very last thing on my mind, I haven’t showered or brushed my teeth in something like ninety-six hours.

I keep telling Jade that I’m sick and she keeps telling the nurse that I’m sick and the nurse keeps bringing nausea medication but it never works. It’s like taking Tylenol because your leg just got ripped off. The sickness has grown and amplified and magnified, no longer a harmless garden variety lizard but now a towering reptilian monster destroying various major cities that are, symbolically, each of my organs.

My “hangover” has matured into a full-fledged Death Bed Shutdown where I don’t feel pain; I am pain. It radiates from the center of my body, at a point where my ribs and lungs meet. I can feel my diaphragm; I can feel the meat and bone surrounding it. I can feel every inch of tissue, every cell, every strand of DNA, flowing with black hatred. My heart pumps blood and my stomach churns food and my lungs circulate oxygen and this spot in my chest produces pain, sending it out in waves, reaching into the furthest extremities of my limbs. My eyeballs throb and the light is blinding and sickening and overwhelming, every bright color a dart to the back of my skull. Every noise is sent through a megaphone placed against my ear. The television, the radio, the beeping of my IV machine, footsteps, toilets flushing, birds chirping, everything hits my brain like a bare-knuckled super soldier. Pliers twist and grind inside my head, and my stomach feels like an ocean filled with buttery fat, wave after wave of sloshy curdled goop washing onto my shores. I puke into the buttery waves and the world screams at me and the pain pinches my eyes and blasts through my body and I am on fire, filled with poison, my body shoving chemicals in and out, in and out, my liver screaming like a witch at the pyre.

 

The Black Tendrils are slowly dying, curling back like a rose bush in winter solstice, but a new monster is rising up, something worse than cancer, something without a face or a cure. Because it is the cure. This is not the cancer making me sick. This is the medicine making me sick.

I make earnest prayers to God to please just let me die. I am in so much pain. Every ounce of energy I have stored is being pulled away from me. Everything is a fight. Everything is a battle. Walking, talking, eating, chewing, shitting, blinking, breathing, it’s all one vicious fight after the next. My life is a Faces of Death segment played in super slow motion.

My stomach hurts so badly that I feel as though I can’t stand up. Every movement I make, no matter how small or subtle, upsets my senses like a boat in the ocean, capsizing it and drowning the crew. I lie as still as possible for as long as possible and think about how the doctor told me that the treatments will compound, that they’ll become worse every time.

This is just the beginning and I am at the end of my rope.

Never before or since have I felt such pain as that which plagued me through chemotherapy. I cry often and often I cry alone. I shut my eyes and see the flame of hope flickering, threatening to extinguish. The proverbial light at the end of the tunnel is far away, through a maze of subterranean tubes, and out of sight, out of mind. I’m in the desert and my ending is a slow burn. I can’t imagine ever coming out of this, ever being healthy, ever being unsick. I can’t see past the next moment in time, the next bag of chemo, the next dose of medicine. The pain builds and grows inside me with every passing moment, a thermometer rising, the mercury inside of it threatening to burst out in a spray of toxicity.

 

On Monday, I tell Jade that I want to die. On Tuesday, I repeat myself. On Wednesday, I say it again until I absolutely believe it. On Thursday, I just keep mumbling it over and over like a mantra, begging the darkness to swallow me up. Tiny violins play wherever I go. On Friday, Jade sits down next to me and says, “Is that really what you want? To die?” and I look at my feet, ashamed and feeling stupid all of a sudden. She repeats herself but I don’t answer. She tells me that I’m not going through this alone. She tells me that I’m not alone. She tells me—and I cut her off. I say, “I am alone. I’m the one in the hospital bed. I’m the one with the IV stuck in my arm. I’m the one with the pain in my bones and the fear in my brain—” and now it’s her turn to cut me off. She says, “You’re not going through this alone. You might be carrying the pain around but I’m twenty-four years old and I have to sit aside and watch my husband die . . . and the worst part is he’s just going right along without even swinging a punch. Where’s your fight?” and then she lets that thought hang in the air like rotten fruit.

She takes my hand in hers and rubs her thumb along the ridge of my plain, gold wedding band. “It’s loose,” she says, and I look down. Even my fingers are losing weight. I shrug. She slides my ring off my finger and silently reads the inscription that runs around its inside, hidden from view. She laughs and says, “I remember when I took this ring to the jeweler to have it engraved. There was a really old woman behind the counter and she told me to write down exactly, exactly what I wanted it to say. When I handed her the paper, her face,” Jade laughs. “Her mouth dropped open and her eyes popped out and she goes, ‘Is this a joke?’ And I say, ‘Nope.’ And the woman says, ‘This is for a wedding ring?’ and I told her it was for my husband to-be. She had this look that was like, Young people . . . . “Then,” she continues, “I remember on our wedding day, we walked down the aisle, just married and, in the backroom, waiting to be announced outside for the rice throwing, I told you to take it off and read it. Do you remember?”

 

And yes, I do remember. I gave it a tug and it came off easy that day, as well, from my nervous-sweaty hands. I held the shining circle up to the light, tilted it just so and read the following words, laid out in all caps: WE’RE NOT GONNA MAKE IT.

If I had any doubts about marrying the right girl, they vanished right there.

Jade now, in real time, in the hospital, three years into our marriage, slides the ring back onto my finger and says, “We are going to make it. Both of us. You stop telling yourself otherwise.”

I say, “OK,” and, “I know,” and, “You’re right,” and, while I quit saying those things and while I try hard to stop thinking them, they still rattle around in the dark recesses of my brain, cluttering it and infecting it.

I reach my hand out and hold hers, rubbing my thumb against the back of her palm until the nurse enters to remove my IV because, thank God so very, very much, today is the day we’re leaving.

The nurse at hand struggles with removing the IV thanks to the massive amounts of tape that had been used to set it to my arm. She apologetically pulls and tugs at the sticky material, tearing out countless arm hairs while ruthlessly jerking the catheter tube that rests in my vein in and out, in and out. I bite my bottom lip and my eyes pinch shut. The nurse picks at the tape with her fingernail and rips another strip off with a drawn out, “Sohhhhh-ryyyyy,” and a grimace.

 

When she finally manages to pull out the tube, I experience a sensation that I can only equate to that which you feel after jumping off of a trampoline, the way the ground feels foreign and strange. After eight days of the constant tug of the pole and tubes I feel like a part of me is missing.

By policy I’m not allowed to walk to the exit myself so I’m asked to sit in a wheelchair while my wife escorts me. I feel humiliated every time we pass someone in the hall even though I know the emotion is stupid and senseless.

One week after beginning my six-month treatment, I am released from the hospital and allowed to go home for an intermission—two weeks of down time before I return for my second interval.

When we get in the car, I lie down in the backseat and shut my eyes. On the forty-minute drive home I feel every single bump in the freeway, every pothole, every stomp of the brake. I feel everything, my senses not numbed but amplified. I am a glass of liquid, waiting to spill.

I ask Jade to turn down the music and she does but then I ask her to shut it off completely. I put my hands over my ears and can’t imagine this getting any worse. I ask her to pull over and I puke into the gutter twice.

We get home and I sit down in a soft yellow rocking chair, a piece of furniture that my wife and I found abandoned under a bridge when we first moved to LA. It seemed like it was in good enough condition so we brought it home.

 

Like a good dog, it’s been well loved.

Severe chills run up and down my body so I put on a thick hoodie, pull up the hood and give the strings a good tug, scrunching my field of vision. I shut my eyes and try to sleep but to no avail.

My mom asks if we feel like playing that popular board game Sorry! and my wife says sure and I say nothing but sit at the table and stare at the board. I roll the die—

—die—

—and move my marker and roll my die and move my marker and die and Cancer Marker.

I sit back in my chair and Jade asks what I want for dinner and I tell her I’m not hungry. My stomach hurts. I puke again, this time simply at the thought of food being placed on my tongue.

The hospital has sent us home with a small suitcase filled with pharmaceuticals: two kinds of anti-nausea pills, several pain relievers for head, several pain relievers for body, stool softeners because the pain relievers cause constipation; vitamins A through F, K through P and R, V and Z individually. My mother has also personally prescribed fish oil and ginkgo biloba, which I think is for memory loss but I can’t exactly recall.

Lying in bed that night, I stare at the fan blades spinning round and wonder how many times they’ve turned since I’ve lived in this house. Ten thousand? A hundred thousand? I start counting but only get to seven when my wife reaches over and gives me a kiss on my cheek.

 

I turn to her and she says, “Hey,” and I say, “Hey,” and, because I realize that I still haven’t brushed my teeth in over a week now, I sort of avert my mouth.

She places her hand on my stomach and says, “Hey,” and raises an eyebrow and I say, “Uh . . . ” and, even though I’ve promised myself to “be strong” the thought that keeps rolling through my head is, “I just want to die, I just want to die, I just want to die,” but instead I say, “Is this, like, sympathy sex?” and she laughs and says that she digs guys with cancer.

I smile and give her a kiss on the cheek and we try our very best but the entire time I’m just fighting my gag reflex from the constant rocking and my bones feel like they’re going to crumble and for some reason I keep picturing my dick as raw butcher meat and I am just totally worthless and there’s no way this is happening.

Cancer: the ultimate cock block.

I eventually say, “I . . . I can’t do this,” and lie back on the bed and say, “Sorry,” and she says, “It’s OK, I’m really into guys that are emotionally and physically damaged.”

We hold hands and I tickle her back and she goes to sleep and I continue to count, “Eight . . . nine . . . ten . . . .”

 

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FIRST CONTACT: CHAPTER 4

Welcome back for week four of the serial novel Cancer? But I’m a Virgo, where we explore my experience with cancer, chemotherapy, sex, drugs, comedy and death. If you’re just tuning in, click here to start from the beginning.

We’ve spent the last three weeks introducing our main character – our hero, if you will. And, uh, that’s me, in case you were wondering. I’m very charming.

But what is a good hero without a really strong nemesis? A hero is nothing without a proper enemy. And so here we stand, awaiting our villains arrival. Quiet now.

He’s close.

Hands inside the cart everyone. This is where it gets ugly.

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I pull into my driveway around 11:30 p.m. I’ve spent the last two days in Vegas smoking enough pot to transform my brain into one of those slimy slug-souls from The Little Mermaid. The house is mostly dark save for a small desk lamp radiating a warm glow in the front window. Like the jingle of that popular hotel, my wife has left a light on for me. The trip back from Las Vegas was mostly uneventful (outside of me having to shit off my front bumper but that story is neither here nor there); the trip driving west always lacks any of the magic of the possibility that crackles in the air when heading toward the Electric City. I haven’t slept more than a few scattered hours in two days and I can feel it.

When I finally open my front door, I immediately feel the warm welcome that is Home. My wife has an aura about her that allows her to take the mundane and turn it into the extraordinary. Our house is no longer wood and dry wall. It is flesh and bone and personality. It is living and breathing and welcoming. She chooses color palettes and purchases knick knacks; the bar-style dining-room table, the weird collection of antique cameras on top of the shelves in the kitchen, the vintage teacher’s desk in the living room, the furniture, the mirrors, the finds, the little treasures. I try to imagine what I would have done to this house if I’d lived here alone, if we’d never gotten married.

I’m seeing white walls. I’m seeing a stained couch. I’m seeing pizza boxes. Maybe I’m a little heavier? Maybe I sleep on a pile of wood chips in the corner? An old blanket tangled around my ankle?

I sit down on my couch and I close my eyes, letting images of the weekend roll through my imagination: Caesar’s Palace, The Venetian, the games, the walking, the laughing, the people, the servers dressed like Alice Cooper and Michael Jackson and Madonna. I chuckle to myself, having proudly taken that right of passage into Manhood that is Las Vegas. I’m 26 and at the top of the world.

Finally settled in, I pull out my pipe and stash of weed. The smoke fills my lungs and I quickly begin to disconnect from the world. So I lost $400? So what?! What’s money? It’s just paper. It’s just representative of something. Take my money, take my job. I’d rather move into the woods, anyway. Lose myself in the trees, get out of the city. I hate the city—the smog, the traffic, the cement. I want clear blue skies and trees and rivers and rocks and animals and stars.

I have to pee.

I stand up and walk to the bathroom, down the dark hallway, bumping into the doorframe. I flip on a light and there, sitting in the corner, is the toilet. It’s all come to this. My whole life has come to this toilet. Every step I’ve ever taken has led me right here. The first part of The Journey that is my life is about to end. Every choice, every waking moment has brought me here, to this bathroom, in this house, in this room, at this time, in this mental condition.

I reach down and fumble with my zipper, pulling it south. I reach inside my jeans and think briefly about my one testicle—its existence a constant reminder of the missing twin—and I start to pee. I stare at the red wall in front of me, thinking, Bright red paint. That’s a bold choice for my wife to go with. But she did it. I wonder what people think when they’re standing here fondling their nut sacks and peeing?

I look down and realize that I am, indeed, fondling my nut sack. This is a simple truth of the world; men just sometimes absent-mindedly grab handfuls of themselves and we bumble around blindly. It’s like a security blanket. It’s platonic. It’s like petting a dog.

Mid-pee, mid-stream, mid-relief, my left hand feels something that does not belong. A foreign object on my body, a second tongue, a third nipple, a fourth knuckle—it’s not right, not normal, not standard. It’s the size of a pea and rests casually on my single remaining testicle.

And this is the moment where my life breaks in two. I don’t know it yet but this is the moment of impact. Nothing will ever be as it was. Nothing will ever be the same.

Imagine with me . . . try to set aside all of your individual predispositions and personality traits. Listen to the stories I’ve told you about myself, pick up my luggage, my emotional baggage, my history of illness (both real and imagined) and touch my genitals with me. Imitate me. Channel me. Possess me. Feel the lump on your singular ball.

Also, you are pretty high right now.

I turn the pea over and over in my hand like a pebble, examining it, touching it, feeling it, becoming familiar with it. No. I can’t become familiar with it. I know that immediately. We will never be friends. The hypochondriac begins whispering in my ear. He knows what it is. He, the great soothsayer of sickness knows what is happening right now. Whatever it is (you know what it is) I know that I hate it. Whatever it is (you know, just say it), I’m sure it will all go away soon. Just avert your eyes and breathe and (CANCER!) it will all be over soon.

Cancer . . . .

A woman tells me that she’s pregnant. She tells me that it’s crazy and exciting and wonderful. She tells me that she knew she was pregnant before the test results. She tells me that she just knew . . . and right now . . . I need no more explanation than that. I understand completely.

Cancer . . . .

I zip it back into my pants and stare at the red wall and think, “ . . . . . . . . . . . . ” and then I walk out of the bathroom, down the long hallway, and into my bedroom, where my wife is asleep. I wonder how she’ll take the news. Will she cry? Weep? Fall into a great depression? Will we cling to one another for mutual comfort, swearing fealty to each other? Swearing that we’ll get through this, don’t worry, no matter what, etc., etc., etc.? I try to summon images of Hollywood movies into my mind; how have I seen this done? How did Mandy Moore break the news in A Walk to Remember?

Jade opens her eyes and says, “You’re back. How was Vegas?” and I say, “Good,” and I say, “There’s something on my . . . . ” and it’s weird but I am six years old again, and I’m talking to my mom about my bawl, and I don’t want to say it.

“What time is it?” she asks in a gravelly voice. “Late,” I answer tenderly, quietly, wanting to keep things as calm as possible for the storm that is about to erupt. “It’s around midnight.” She asks me if I’m coming to bed.

I sit down and run my hands through her hair, the words in my throat, on my tongue, my lips. I say, “I felt something on my testicle. It’s a lump. I think . . . I think I have . . . cancer.”

There is a pause. She looks at me and blinks, once, twice, and I know some great emotion is on the precipice of bursting inside of her. She shuts her eyes, takes a breath and says, “You are such a hypochondriac. You have cancer now? Please.” And she clicks off the bed lamp, leaving me in the literal, figurative, and metaphysical dark.

I am furious (scared). I am angry (confused). I am full of questions, and I want (need) answers. An idea hits me, and I do that thing that no one should ever, ever, ever do when they think they have cancer growing on their nuts and are super super high at the same time.

I get on the Internet and do a Google search for “Hard balls on balls” and the first option is a gay pornographic website starring body builders. I try again. “Infected nuts,” and this time it’s something about oak trees being poisoned. I try again, “How to check for testicular cancer” and the first hit says, “How to check for testicular cancer.” Bingo.

Article after article after article pops up, an encyclopedia of penial knowledge at my shaft tip all for me to soak in and fear by myself in this paranoid state. “This most certainly will be a night I will never forget,” I think to myself as one hand scrolls the text around the monitor and the other pinches that little peapod on my privates.

The first article says, “Take a warm bath, loosen up, pinch your nuts like this. Does the tumor feel like a little rock? Is it the size of a pea? Does it lack feeling? Then it’s probably cancer.”

Red flag, red flag, red flag. Cancer, cancer, cancer. Tumor, tumor, tumor. That’s the first time I’d seen that word as it related to me. I was looking at the word tumor, and I was touching something in my body that may or may not have been (I know it is) a tumor a tumor a cancerous tumor inside of my body I have cancer tumors cancer tumors cancer tumors.

Maybe it’s just a fluke, this article. Maybe I’m seeing what I want to see, believing what I want to believe, y’know? I want to know that what Jade is saying is correct. I’m a hypochondriac, and none of it is real. I click on another article but it says the same thing. Article three and four are likewise. By article eleven, my hope is not simply beginning to break, it is broken.

I. Just. Know.

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So that’s it. That’s it for this week. And I know what you’re thinking. “Wow, that’s some really bad news – getting a little tumor like that.” Yeah, it is. But, trust me when I say that this is only the beginning and if the story stopped here, it would barely be a story at all. Over the course of the next few weeks we are going to systematically break Johnny down until the only thing that’s left of him is a hollow little shell, filled with anxiety and hopelessness.

We are going to destroy him.

But we’ll do it together and it will hopefully be a lot of fun to watch.

So, next week be sure to come back for Birthday Present: Chapter 5 with excerpt below . . .

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She looks at me and, with her complete confidence in my health asks, “Well, what did he say?” and, without missing a beat, I respond, “I have a tumor.”

She takes one more step before collapsing onto a parking block and begins weeping. This is when the reality all hits me, and I weep as well.

 

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(The Father of) The Mother of Dragons

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My friend Jack and I are standing in my front yard talking about The Big W’s – Weather, Work and Wives – when Quinn runs up and slams into my legs, a big smile painted across her face. I assume that she probably wants to tell me about a bug she saw, a rock she found or a bird she heard – these are the ecstatic ramblings of children long before the boring gray fuzz of adulthood has tainted their world view.

Jack bends at the waist and slaps his hands onto the tops of his knees and, in a sing-song voice says, “Why, hello there, princess!” Quinn looks up at him with a furrowed brow then looks over at me and I can hear her thoughts, Why is this guy talking to me like I’m a baby animal?

How are you doing, Princess?”

“I’m, uh, fine?” and she says it like a question.

“You are beautiful, Princess! You are just beautiful, aren’t you?”

I cringe at the buttery compliments.

Quinn looks up at me. “Dad?”

“Yes?”

“Are, uh, princesses… uh, real?”

“Yes.”

“Like… on this planet?”

“Yes.”

“And they’re alive right now?”

“Yes.”

These are the three qualifiers Quinn uses in order to distinguish when and where a thing took place. She understands that things could have existed BEFORE now but exist no longer – like dinosaurs – or that things could exist outside of this country – like things in Africa – or that things could exist outside of this planet – like the sun and the moon. What she’s really asking is, “How accessible are these things to my reach?” How accessible are princesses to me? That’s the real question.

Can I be one?

Jack answers for me. “Of course they’re real! There’s one standing in front of me right now! A pretty princess! That’s you!” I cringe again. The last thing I want is my daughters to associate with characters who get trapped in towers, are afraid of spiders, and constantly require some form of assistance.

That is no one to make into a role model.

These ideas of “princess” are not inherent from birth. These ideas are fed into our daughters. We show them the pictures. We show them the movies. We glamourize the idea and the lifestyle. They are magical and beautiful and they don’t have bad hair and they never wet the bed and they don’t have to have jobs or work and everything is wonderful and their lives are perfect and how does it always end for a princess?

Happily Ever After.

And in all fairness, why would you not want that? I’m half tempted to throw a dress on myself and march around a castle while tethered to the sexual whims of some hunky prince in order to forego a few of the greater responsibilities of my standard adult life. Don’t judge.

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We may not intentionally give our children this idea that they should actually dream to be a princess (I would never!). We may not intentionally feed this lie to them (They’re just movies!). We may not intentionally form them to believe this (Do you want to be a princess for your birthday?) but there are lessons in repetition and our culture helps shape that which we are.

It shapes girls through childhood with fun movies. It shapes ladies through their teen years, which we then couple with beauty magazines. It shapes women through adulthood, which we then couple with pornography. And they take all this baggage into the work force, which we then couple with an antiquated and slowly dying cultural idea that men work and women stay home and then we wonder why women make, across the board, slightly less in the workforce.

Perhaps we’ve spent decades telling girls that they deserve slightly less. Perhaps we’ve spent decades convincing ourselves that they deserve slightly less.

And maybe we all, on some level, believe it… even if we say we don’t. Perhaps there is a part of us all that still believes they are the fairer sex.

How do we know if we believe this? Well, if a man tells you that his wife works full time and he is a stay-at-home dad, what is your first, internal, gut, emotional reaction?

Your very first reaction is probably, like mine. “Wow, that is a-typical. I wonder what that’s like?”

I have full acceptance of it – no judgment – but there is this part of me that acknowledges that it is somehow out of the realm of what we typically understand to be true.

And herein lies the problem. Because we, as individuals or as an entire culture, can simultaneously acknowledge that it is okay and “progressive” for a woman to work and a man to stay home while also understanding that part of us finds it to be outside the norm.

And so if you also think it to be outside the norm, it is because you believe (or have been told to believe) that, like me, women have a specific place and men have a specific place. If your first thought is “That is unique,” then you too are trapped in this way of thinking even though you don’t think you’re trapped in a way of thinking.

Culture has also made you and I, as men, believe certain things without our knowing that we believe them.

Scary.

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Perhaps we re-educate our daughters on what it means to be a woman. Perhaps we re-educate our girls on what it means to be a princess.

Perhaps we put Jack’s princess to rest.

Or better yet, perhaps we kill her completely. Perhaps we just let her starve to death in the tower as a lesson for not having the get-up-and-go to rescue herself. Rapunzel, you had hair. You could have crawled down yourself. Cinderella, you could have left. There was NOTHING tying you to that house. Those people hated you. Ariel, you doctored your birth form and gave up your entire world for a guy you just met simply on the hope of Happily Ever After.

These. Are. The. Lessons.

Settle for less.

Wait for help.

Change who you are.

And if you make twenty cents an hour less than men doing the same job, maybe that’s just your place. After all, that’s what we’ve taught you.

Perhaps feminism wouldn’t have to exist if we raised our daughters believing they were bad asses from the very beginning. Perhaps our daughters would never ask, “Am I good enough?” if we stopped telling them stories that highlight all the reasons why women aren’t good enough / pretty enough / strong enough.

Perhaps we start telling them stories about women that are leaders instead of women that wait for leaders.

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Quinn looks up at me, a revelation dawning across her face, “Dad, am I a princess? Is this true?” Jack has planted the seed.

And now I must garden.

“Well, let’s see… do you have a crown?” “No.” “Do you have a scepter?” “No.” “Do you have a castle?” “Uh, no.” “Do you own any lands? Is your mother a queen? Do you have servants? Do you settle disputes amongst your countrymen?”

“Uh, no. I don’t do those things.”

“Then you probably aren’t a princess.”

Jack says, “Why would you tell her that?” and I say, “The same reason I tell her that she is not God nor an earthworm.”

“Dad? Is, uh, Cinderella a princess?”

“Yes, she is.”

And in that moment I see the light in her eye. I see the draw of The Princess. I see that my daughter wants it because, at her core, I think most little girls do. And that’s okay too. But how do we separate all the terrible trash from the good stuff? How do we tell them that it’s okay to be a princess and it’s okay to be pretty and it’s okay to dance and fall in love but… there is more. That is not all. The princess you know is an incomplete story. Because she is an incomplete character.

She is flat and brainless and you are not.

In her question I see an entire culture of beauty pressures and weight problems and negative encouragement and impossible goals and cosmetic surgery and feminism and macho bullshit swirling in a tornado, trying to rear its head, trying to sneak into Quinn’s ears and her head and her psyche, trying to poison the vision of who she is. Trying to mold her (and I mean “mold” both in the sense of “forming shape” and also as “an organism that slowly eats away and decays”).

Maybe that voice in our culture is impossible to stop. Maybe it’s a hopeless battle and all of the body image shit that bathes and berates our females is impossible to hide from.

But maybe not.

Maybe we just need to alter the messaging a bit.

I squat down onto one knee, proposing an idea.

“Quinn, you know what? Princesses are real. There are princesses on this planet right now. On this Earth. And you know who the best one is?”

“Uh, Cinderella?”

Me, “Nope.”

“GREAT GUESS, PRINCESS!” That’s Jack.

“The greatest princess of them all is a woman just like you named Daenerys Stormborn. And she is the Mother of Dragons.”

“DRAGONS!? SHE HAS DRAGONS!?”

“Oh, yes. Three of them.”

Jack, “I don’t think you can tell her that.”

Me, “You think I should stick to Cinderella and her transforming pumpkin-carriage as the barometer for reality?”

Jack shifts his eyes, “Uh, what?”

“THREE DRAGONS!?” that’s Quinn in full excitement.

“Yeah. And you know what else? She flies around on them.”

“WHAT!?”

“And they breathe fire.”

WHAAAAAT!? FROM THEIR MOUTHS?!

“Bingo.”

Can I see a picture?!”

I pull out my phone and, thanks to Google and the wonderful CG team at HBO, I show her a picture of a very real looking Daenerys riding a very real looking dragon that is breathing very real looking fire.

“OH. MY. GOODNESS.”

“Can I tell you something else? She is a very. Powerful. Warrior. She is strong and she is brave and she stands up for people that are weak and she stands up for people that don’t have a voice. She is a hero. What do you think about that?”

“THAT IS REALLY KEWWWL!”

“Yes, it is. I agree. Now then, what do you think? Would you rather be Cinderella with her glass slippers going to the dance or Daenerys Stormborn with her dragons, breathing fire and battling the wicked?”

“I want to be Dan Harris!”

“I thought so. Remember, being pretty is nice. But being smart, brave and kind – being a leader – this is who you are. This is what’s really inside of you. Capiche?”

Capiche!

Quinn smiles and runs away. I stand up and smile at Jack, “Sugar and spice and everything nice only goes so far. Sometimes you’ve gotta pour a little whiskey in the soda if you want it to bite back.” Jack smiles in a way that makes me think he does not agree.

And that too is okay.

I acknowledge that someday Quinn will grow up and will most likely seek a spouse. And when she does, I want her to choose someone that she wants to be with. Someone that accentuates her happiness and helps to highlight her charm.

Our culture has a loud voice. And that voice tells us that spouses complete us. The voice tells us that our spouse is our other half.

But I say no.

I say we are complete people before we meet one another. A person does not complete another person. A person adds their brew to the mix. They bring their own ingredients and they help create a spicier dish but they do not complete the recipe.

Marriage does not complete you anymore than having children completes you anymore than having the proper job completes you anymore than having the right pair of pants completes you.

You are you.

You are you regardless of who you’re with.

Quinn doesn’t need someone to complete her. She can choose to be with someone because she loves being with them. Because their company is delightful. Because they find happiness in the other’s presence. Not because they will give her Happily Ever After.

Quinn comes running back, wrapping her arms around my leg.

“Daddy?”

I place my hand on her forehead. “Yes, Breaker of Chains?” Quinn squints at me. “Uh, those dragons… are they real?”

Ah, I knew that one was going to come around.

Sometimes, as a parent, it is our job to build up our children and raise them to be the best version of themselves that we believe they can be. Sometimes it’s our job to protect them from all the flying bullshit in the world – at least for as long as we can. Sometimes it’s our job to remind them to think for themselves and to question the status quo. Sometimes it’s our job to tell them the very hard truths of life.

And sometimes.

Sometimes.

It is our job to lie.

“Yes. The dragons are real. They are the last three in the world. And Daenerys has them and she flies around on them, fighting evil. And you, Quinn. You can fight evil as well.”

“I’M GOING TO!” and she turns and runs off into the yard, where I hear Rory and Bryce laughing.

Sometimes lying is good.

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THE SPIRALING CORNUCOPIA OF PALE LAVENDER [SEQ. 14 – 15]

The Spiraling Cornucopia of Pale Lavender is  a 10-part series of fiction that explores perception and reality. Below is part 8. To read the introduction of the project, click here.

To read part 1, click here.

To read part 2, click here.

To read part 3, click here.

To read part 4, click here.

To read part 5, click here.

To read part 6, click here.

To read part 7, click here.

To read part 8, click here.

Otherwise, begin scroll.

 

[SEQ. XIV] 1Now I’m making waffles. 2I am thirty years old and I have short hair and a good smile. My muscles feel good and my confidence is strong. 3The kitchen is wide open and there are pots and pans hanging from little hooks. It looks nice. 4My wife is a thin brunette who usually wears white shirts and black yoga pants. She doesn’t teach yoga but she’s thought about it. 5She’s a vegetarian who thinks vegans are pious. I don’t really like her. But I love my daughter. 6And right now my daughter is sitting at the kitchen table and she’s dressed up like a princess for no special occasion. She wears a pink dress with a crown on her head and a scepter in her hand. And now that I’m actually looking at the costume and giving it more than just a passing glance, I think she might be dressed as a kind of fairy princess instead and not just a regular, run of the mill, earth bound human princess. Boring. 7I lift up the waffle iron and see that the waffle is burnt to an absolute black crisp. “Okay, baby! Guess what we’ve got here?” “Smells like it’s burning. Did you burn my waffles again?” 8“I sure did. I know just how you like em! Black with a little bit of whipped cream.” 9“Ebony and irony,” she sing-songs jokingly. 10I love her and I’m thinking about packing her up one night and leaving her mom. 11It might work but the horuscribe tells me it’s a mistake. 12The horuscribe is a small creature, three feet tall, that lingers in the ceiling corner of all rooms that I enter. 13Its body is very narrow and has always reminded me of a carrot – thick at top and tapered out at the bottom. 14It wears a black robe and a white mask. The white mask looks like a deer skull with black make-up applied to it. 15The black make-up highlights certain areas like spots on a dog. 16Sometimes, however, I wonder if the deer mask is not a mask at all but rather just its face. 17The horuscribe has eyeballs – two in the front of its face in the same place that I do. 18It has long black and white fingers that also look like bone. 19It watches me. It simply watches me. 20On the morning of my 26th birthday, it was the first daybreak of the second Knuckled Moon, I woke up and my wife told me, “Happy Birthday. I’m pregnant.” And it was that same morning that I first saw the horuscribe. 21My wife has never seen it. Nobody has ever seen it. 22When I use the bathroom, it is there. 23When I am intimate with my wife, it is there. 24In my car, it is there. It is everywhere. 25It was there when I opened my eyes. And now its there whether my eyes are open or not and I can’t get rid of it. 26Everywhere I go, there it is. 27I’ve tried to touch it but nothing happens. My hand passes through it but there is a sense of captivity when I do. 28It watches me and sometimes it points at me but I don’t know what it means. 29It is always in the room that I’m in and it is always there when I leave and it is always in the next room before I enter. 30It is never positioned in such a way wherein I can see if it exists in two places at once. 31One time I was watching a late night science documentary and it was talking about how, in quantum physics, a singular atom can exist in two places at once and move in two different directions at the same time. 32There’s nothing I can do with this information because I am not a quantum physicist but I found it interesting albeit useless. 33At first I had a very difficult time coming to terms with its presence but now I find it kind of comforting. 34I’ve gotten used to it. 35And then one day I walked into my house after a long day of work and I found that the creature was sitting atop my daughters head, propped on top of her scalp like a vulture. 36It seemed to be in a state of subdued ecstasy – a kind of waking coma. 37“Meghan?” I asked and her hand lifts in the air and she smiles. “Hey, dad! How was your day at work?” 38She is full of joy and she seems like herself but it is not her. 39This creature is puppeteering her being. 40The creature was controlling her like a puppet, drawing her arms and legs like marionette strings, creating mock emotions that felt genuine but were imposters. 41Has it not been observing me? Has it been observing her? What has it stolen from me? 42All things my daughter does, no matter how genuine they seem, are now only reflections of real emotions. 43When I tell her I love her, she responds and the worst part is that she thinks she means it but she doesn’t. 44When she goes to school, she studies hard for good grades and she really does try but really it is the horuscribe trying and succeeding and I want to be proud of her because she doesn’t understand the difference but I do. I understand. I see through her. 45Perhaps this horuscribe is her true self? 46Is my daughter a projection of this oddity? 47Is the horuscribe a projection of a projection? 48Do I have a horuscribe attached to me that I cannot see? 49Do I think I am making my own decisions while only being a puppet myself? 50Has my daughter been living with her own visions of a creature attached to me, understanding that I am not her father at all? 51If my daughter feels emotions and thinks they’re real, even if they are being manufactured by the sentient thoughts of another, does that negate them? 52When does self-awareness stop or start being self-awareness? 53My world is false. My world is a projection. My world is transparent. 54My daughter is here but she is not real. 55My daughter is this creature. This creature is my daughter. 56My daughter is just a body. Just a sock filled with meat that is being propelled through an entity no one can see except myself. 57My wife speaks to me. I listen. My wife speaks to Meghan. She listens. 58She answers. She smiles. She waves. She jokes. She eats. She poops. She vomits. 59She is my Meghan. 60And then one day the creature speaks to me. Speaks to me for the very first time. And it says to me, in a voice that sounds like a phone sex operator at a PTA meeting, ‘The Sky is Falling.” 61And I feel the sentence with each of its capital letters. 62I feel the hard importance and the factuality of this statement. 63I look up and the sky cracks open and begins to crumble like rocks. 64Large boulders of celestial matter crumble and fall to the earth in slow motion. 65Their ragged edges rip holes in the fabric of existence. Sheets peel down from the sky, of the sky, like billboards in a hurricane. Earth. The Greatest advertisement. 66We are knocked out of orbit and our planet tears through the cosmos. 67I lift off the ground and my back slams into an apple tree in our front yard. 68I feel my spine snap and my legs disappear but it’s okay because I can fly. 69The soil and the sky switch spots and the earth tears apart like a loaf of bread. 70 “You can save her,” the creature whispers to me. “You can save your daughter from this fate but you have to do it now.” 71“Do what? Save her from what? What is happening?” 72I desperately want to save my daughter and I desperately want to make a decision but I don’t know the rules. I don’t know the logic. I don’t have the information readily available to make a smart move. 73Can I even trust this thing? 74 “You must choose now, Richard.” “What is happening?” “Everything is falling apart. The pants of existence are getting unzipped. You knew it would be your generation. You always knew. And now here it is and you weren’t ready. There goes your house.” 75I turn my head and I see my house tip over like a two dimensional slice of cheese and then it vanishes. 76The world suddenly looks flat and strange although I think it has always looked like this? Do I have new eyes? A new brain? Where am I? [SEQ. XV] 1I look down and see that I have neither body nor eyes. I am not breathing. 2I am embedded into the actual fabric of time. 3I am a moment. 4My eyes perceive all at once. 5Asia is my hand and Europe is my fist and North America is my toe. 6I feel the people walking on me and planting in me and digging in me. 7The pressure of the cities are great, like tumors. The gray masses grow and grow until it destroys my life cells. 8And then the people crumble. 9They always crumble. They always come and go. They rise and they fall. 10They destroy one another. 11This time it will be with cellular weapons. 12The land will become polluted by their toxicity and then I will heal. 13I always heal. 14Until my mother Sun eats me alive, I will grow, the chosen princess of Miss Universe. 15The Greator chose me to bear life and to hold the secrets. 16I reach deep into my core and I find fire and I squeeze it tight inside me and I feel it drizzle out of my holes like burning shit. 17People scream for their lives from my red-hot diarrhea and I destroy their villages and burn their cultures in my frantic filth. 18Ash cakes the sky and thousands choke to death. 19They should have known better. 20They should have asked me not to do it. 21The cities will be next. If only I could reach them somehow. 22They are destroying me and eating away at my simple perfections and flawless ecosystems. 23They are recreating a photoshopped copy of life and it disgusts me. 24Bow to me, you fucking Humanlings! You stand atop me! You eat my grain! You eat my vegetables! You eat my fruit! I give you water. I give you trees and oxygen! I bore you. I gave you life. I nurtured you in my womb that you call the atmosphere. You are my children. Bow to me and respect me. Worship me. Tell me that you love me. Show me your appreciation. Tell me that I am beautiful. Fall to my feet, you pitiful worms or eat from the dumpster of my asshole. 24I flex my unbreakable abs and a tsunami rushes over the coastal communities and I laugh as they drown and I watch their miserable little bodies float through the streets. 25Let the buildings save you now. Let your silly paper money bandage your wounds.

 

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The Spiral Cornucopia of Pale Lavender is winding down to its next Monday.

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THE SPIRALING CORNUCOPIA OF PALE LAVENDER [SEQ. 9 – 14]

The Spiraling Cornucopia of Pale Lavender is  a 10-part series of fiction that explores faith and reality. Below is part 8. To read the introduction of the project, click here.

To read part 1, click here.

To read part 2, click here.

To read part 3, click here.

To read part 4, click here.

To read part 5, click here.

To read part 6, click here.

To read part 7, click here.

Otherwise, begin scroll.

 

4The creators, encircled around me like a very intimate Roman Coliseum. There are two hundred of them. 5Each wears a different colored robe. Each means something different. 6Who are they? Who are you? 7And then I feel their presence. It reaches out to me, stronger than a language. No body speaks. 8We stare at one another and I can see them all at once, spread completely around me. 9Everything is presence. 10I have full knowledge of my surroundings. I feel absolute warmth. 11How do you describe love to someone that has never felt it? How do you tell someone what red looks like if they’ve never seen it? 12I feel uplifted. Warmth. Acceptance. 13I could reach my hands into the air and howl with delight and nobody would cast a social stone at me or even have a sideways thought of me. 14If that is how I were to display my happiness, it would be full acceptance. 15They all smile at me, but not with their faces. 16To me they all look nearly the same, much like the breed of a dog, but there are small differences. Nuances to features. 17I sense them as alternate forms as well. They display themselves differently depending on who is standing in front of them. Not just humans, either. Other races. 18A light consumes me and this one actually does look like a light. It slides with sun flares. It’s very bright. White. Almost blue. Perhaps pale lavender. 19I can see it. 20What are you? I can feel you. Your presence is so close. Take me away. Am I alone? I want to know. How can I know? Do I have to believe in all of these things? 21“Just do good.” 22But are you real?” “If I’m not, then whom are you speaking to?” 23And then everything was gone. Just like someone changed a channel. Everything was gone and [SEQ. XI] 1I found myself standing in a muted forest. And I was a yellow buck toothed sloth. 2Everything is SO muted. The greens are very mushy, pushing towards rotten. Yellows that are very warm and moist, almost a spicy diarrhea orange. There are greasy smudges of purple around. The flowers look like soggy beef. The ground looks like an untended lawn. 3Am I back on Earth? Is this what Earth has always looked like? 4I feel like my perception of truth has been totally fucked with. Have I been exposed to something so beautiful that now everything looks drab and weak by comparison? 5This world is a Seattle neighborhood in the nineties. 6I know what they did to me. In that bare moment, that moment where I felt naked, it was so powerful. Everything inside of me was revealed. 7My thought bubble. My consciousness. My history. The root of who I am. They were checking in on me and seeing how I was progressing before they placed me again. 8All the details and thoughts and past experiences were laid out in front of everyone. All the little pieces. They were pulled out of me, one at a time and then displayed. 9It was as if I were falling apart. And then I could see all facets of my entity before me, looking like orange and yellow and white dots, looking like soft gel capsules. 10And then the greys gazed. 11But not upon the gel capsules, which were merely projections for my benefit. They sifted through my meat and energy and they saw everything. All of the terrible things. All of the thoughts that I don’t want anyone to know. They know that I’ve – [SEQ. XII] 1then I’m sifting through the sea and it’s all I can observe for miles. Miles. What is that? A measurement for distance that does not matter. 2Control your elements. You are part of the elements. You touch the earth. You touch the heart of the earth. The planet of water is not a planet at all. 3Nothing is nothing. 4This is your. 5This is your subconscious. 6This bison of water is your being. Look at the ripples. Do not fear. You cannot die. 7I know I don’t have to tell you this because you already know but I need to explain it to the reader. They are a person sitting on an airplane somewhere over Utah dreaming about numbers. 8Where am I? What are you? Where are you? Are you under there? Underwear? You see the comedic value in my quip and I appreciate that. The joke would be considered by Earthlings, which you once were, as a bad one although we cannot describe why. It is called a dad joke because of something to do with its quality, something we cannot yet observe. They say things that don’t make sense. It seems to be random words strung together and then the others laugh. The dad joke is considered “bad” but it also brings a strange kind of joy and it’s only by disliking the joke that they are actually able to appreciate it. Very strange. 9They are glass porcelain, white and black and the sky is a white slate, perfect and clean and without texture. 10A moist cheese the color of lavender. Pale lavender. 11It doesn’t snow but the air glistens. It glistens lightly. Not crystals. Emotion candy. 12I stick out my tongue and catch one and a sense of eagerness and acceptance fills my body. 13My mouth is sweet caramel. It isn’t a flavor but it is a memory so sweet that I can taste it but differently than before. It is caramel over my soul orb. It is rich and dark and sweet and light and amazing and I feel it rubbing all over my person, like conditioner on my dick in the shower. 14My whole body vibrates and tingles and I am the feeling that pulls through my physical chest and pulses through my physical eyeballs and glides through my physical veins like helpful heroin, to my fingertips and it touches the back of my spine and soaks into my brain and I peak in a prismatic eclipse of shattering crystals of known experience that actually makes me laugh out loud. 15I inhale deeply and give myself a hug. Life is good. [SEQ. XIII] 1I begin walking towards work and then realize that I am in a neighborhood and I was having another hallucination. 2I haven’t been taking my medicine because I’m curious as to what will happen to me if I remove it from my diet. 3I want to better understand myself and what is wrong with me. 4I save all of my skipped pills in a small bottle in my bathroom cabinet. I don’t throw them away. 5The job is terrible. The pain is horrible. My hair is falling out. My knees hurt like fucking fuck. My hip has a sting in it when I walk and when it begins to rain. 6I mean, what the fuck? Just what the fuck, man? When did this happen? This is insane. 7I’m in better shape than this! I’m only sixty! I’m sixty. When did sixty get so old? When did this happen? 8Why am I working here? Why am I still here? 9I am going. To. Die. Soon

 

I

 

AM

 

GOING

 

TO

 

DIE

 

10I’m in a panic. But it’s subtle. It’s quiet. No, it’s muffled. 11It’s very hungry and I can feel it wanting to come out. 12I need to leave this job. 13I need to do something with my life. 14What have I done? What have I done with my life? With my time? What is going to happen to me when I die? What have I done with myself? With anything? 15Will anyone remember me? 16Is that the summation of absolute oblivion? 17When you die your memory is winked out of existence? BLEEP. Goodbye. You don’t exist anymore. 18Nobody can remember you. 19And nobody will tell them. Because nobody cares. 20And this is what god is afraid of. 21If no one has belief in the message, how will the message spread? 22If we are called to be the hands and feet of god, are we called to be the hands and feet because god cannot do it himself? 23I’ve spent my life working towards god and going to church and praying and I’ve read most of my bible. I’ve read most of the new testament. Probably half of it. But I’ve read that half twice. 24I pray. I have prayed. When bad things happen to me, I pray. When bad things happen to people around me, I pray. 25When I need something and it is really important to me, I pray. 26And god never helps me. God doesn’t heal my family and people that I have loved have died. 27He never gave me the things I asked for. I was poor my entire life. I had bills and there were times that I went hungry. I mean, I was never homeless or anything. We ate. We just couldn’t always go on vacation and I had to work my entire life. 28I am afraid that this government is going to hell now that all these lower class people are asking for handouts all the time. 29I would not describe my faith as sterile. I have spent every Sunday in church for my entire life. 30I can recite the rosary, probably backwards. That’s a joke. I definitely could not do that, if I’m speaking factually. 31What will happen to me when I die? 32My heart stops. I drop to my knees. There are no houses on the street – at least no inhabited ones. 33They are all boarded up and the lawns are dead. 34And now I can’t really breathe very well. 35It feels like someone has wrapped a large belt around my chest and has started to squeeze. 36My bones hurt. 37My heart feels as though it’s going to pop. 38I take shallow breaths but don’t panic. I don’t even have to convince myself not to panic. 39It’s all right. Everything is all right. Everything will not be all right for this physical body but it’s okay. 40Death is okay. 41My death will not be okay but death is natural and it’s just time for the next thing, whatever that thing is. It’s okay. Just like going to sleep. 42We were born to do this. 43Everyone was born to do it. And now it’s my turn. And now. And now. And now. 44I lie down and I look down a sewer pipe across the street and I wonder where the water running into it goes. 45I remember racing paper boats in them as a child. 46I don’t wonder who will find my body. 47My mind is already above it. 48I cannot feel my body dying but I can feel my mind elevating. 49I can feel myself understanding things with a cleared perspective. 50There are walls on my brain and I can feel them crumbling. Information is flowing. But not information as in ones and zeroes. 51It’s information as in the curtain is being pulled back. 52I can suddenly see through all of my opinions and I can see down to the tiny little speck of fact that is buried way inside. It’s so clear. 53And I understand everything and everything I did wrong and everything I did right and did almost right and I understand that I did most of it wrong. Everything, nearly. 54My kids are the biggest tragedy. I missed it. I missed it all. And I don’t even have a good excuse. 55I just accept that I did it wrong and I don’t know what’s next but if I start over I hope I can do it better. [SEQ. XIV] 1Now I’m making waffles. 2I am thirty years old and I have short hair and a good smile. My muscles feel good and my confidence is strong. 3The kitchen is wide open and there are pots and pans hanging from little hooks. It looks nice. 4My wife is a thin brunette who usually wears white shirts and black yoga pants. She doesn’t teach yoga but she’s thought about it. 5She’s a vegetarian who thinks vegans are pious. I don’t really like her.

 

 

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THE SPIRALING CORNUCOPIA OF PALE LAVENDER [SEQ. 2 – 3]

The Spiraling Cornucopia of Pale Lavender is a 10-part series of fiction. Below is part 2. To read the introduction of the project, click here.

To read part 1, click here.

Otherwise, begin scroll.

 

9I enter another room that is more like a great hall and see that it is more vast than my simple field. So large that I cannot see the roof. 10Where am I? Am I not on a craft? The sky seems endless. Am I on a planet? Where have they taken me? 11The inside of the cavern glows with perfect light that radiates from nowhere. The essence of life gives light to itself. It is a light that exists at the origin of everything. 12Two doctors converse and stop speaking when I approach. 13I feel as though my presence makes them uncomfortable. 14No words are spoken. Instead, we stare at one another and have a conversation of thought. 15Because I am a creature comprised of emotional experiences and every experience shapes me differently, like a fist hitting plaster, every other individual’s experiences make them uniquely who they are and, even if our experiences are identical, we will process them differently based strictly upon our natural birth bend – the organic recipe of our brain bubbles. 16I will try to transmit my pure, raw thought which I apply emotionality to, and I will churn it out into raw and savage words for you to then process through your ear and get filtered through all the bullshit that makes you uniquely you. And so often what I say is not what you hear. 17So much is lost in our primitive grunts. 18The greys speak through emotions. It is not the hearing of an audible voice in your head. It is the feeling of justice. It is the feeling of wrongness. It is the feeling of love. They are able to transmit the very essence of the thought to one another. The very pureness of the emotion. The core. 19Nothing is lost in translation. 20And because of this they cannot lie and in fact do not understand what a lie is. A lie is beyond the fence of their mind. 21I also sense that they don’t know that they don’t know. 22The knowledge of the unknowable does not exist to them. I don’t sense a hole wherein something is missing from. I sense that there is nothing there at all. 23A loud but warm and not altogether unpleasant alarm begins going off. It seems to radiate in the very air itself. The siren is not audible. There are no speakers but rather a general consistency in the air quality that shifts. The local energy wavers and quivers. 24The greys all knew what the “sound” meant by the sensation it gave them. There was no need to make the feelings abrasive. The good feeling gave them the knowledge for what was needed to be accomplished. 25This made me wonder why fire alarms on Earth are always screeching headaches. Especially when you want everyone to remain calm. Would the same effect be created if the powers that be simply played loud but pleasing music that encouraged people to run? I always have a more difficult time completing a task if there is a person screaming in my ear as loud as they can. It’s difficult to concentrate. 26When I realize that I’ve been lost in some stupid rambling thought I suddenly acknowledge that [SEQ. III] 1I am standing in the field again and there is a rainbow that arches across the little stream. The grass is tall, the sky is blue and the clouds are white. 2I can see the day moon sitting in the ocean above me and it is so beautiful and I know that I am in a computer-generated image. I know that I am still on the ship or on another planet or in a machine in a small room or I’m on Earth and everything is being projected onto us but this is not real. 3I know it like I knew the feeling of their lies. I know because I can still feel some kind of emotional residue. 4None of this is real. 5Why am I here? 6What are they doing with me? 7A moose walks to the rivers edge in the distance and takes a sip. It’s weird because he drinks it with his lips and not with his tongue. 8A couple of blue birds fly past me and I feel like a child again. 9On the other side of the stream I see a scarecrow and I wonder who put him up. I do not feel concerned that I haven’t seen any people or that I don’t know where I am. 10The world feels real but I don’t know what I’m doing here or how I got here but it all feels okay. 11This is where I was before they took me but this is not when I was before they took me. 12I hear a large boom and then another and I become fearful. Very fearful. 13My stomach rolls and my knees begin to shake and quiver and I find that I’m having a very difficult time walking or thinking appropriately. 14It is awful. 15I fall to my hands and knees, my stomach washing waves of panic over me. My brain feels like it’s crying. 16With one hand I pull myself to a large rock that is nearby and hide behind it. 17BOOM. What is that noise? Is it a giant? Is it a bird? My mind begins thrusting images of giant birds at me, making me stare at them. Look at this bird with its enormous beak, pulling you apart and splattering your blood against the soil! Watch your neck break and your body become consumed. This giant blue bird with its feathers chasing you through an empty field and squawking. 18Where are these thoughts and feelings coming from? 19I look around the rock and I don’t see anything. I don’t hear the noise anymore. 20I turn and crawl up a small hill where I find a fence that is made from posts of wood and barbed wire. I crawl between the top and middle wire and approach the scarecrow. 21Its face is brown sac cloth and its eyes are made from plastic buttons. One is red and one is blue. Its nose is made from a tightly wrapped fresh condom and its mouth is made from rotten banana peels. It’s wearing a tracksuit that is gray with white tennis shoes. The brand is expensive. Someone has put something in its pants to make it look like he has a comically huge boner. Someone else has smeared mud all over its ass to make it look like it shit its pants. 22At the base of the scarecrow are two small chairs – lawn chairs. There are also some cups, a fire pit made out of rocks with ashes in the middle, a tea kettle that looks like it’s lived a busy life but has never actually been used here, at this spot. It is gray and covered in rust. It is tall and narrow and looks like something you’d find on a camping trip and not in a kitchen. There are old metal forks. A red compass. A stack of pornographic magazines and a pack of cigarettes. I notice that there is no lighter nearby but then I see a box of strike-anywhere matches. 23I see a trail that cuts through the corn where it has been trampled down a number of times by repeated use. 24Then I notice a second path. One leading somewhere and one leading somewhere else and which one will I choose? 25I look up and I see the day-moon and the sun both in the sky, both right next to one another and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that before. 26I feel a strong vibration in my body but I don’t know what it means. 27I push towards the path on the left and it winds through corn that is taller than I am, a mouse in a maze, an Earthling in a labyrinth. 28We are all observed and studied. 29How will I react? 30I feel like a child. 31I am lost and I am not afraid and not fearful but I feel like something terrible is going to grab me. I don’t want it to grab me. It will touch me. The black sleeves and the green hands with cuts and warts. And what are those hands attached to? What is on the other side of those hands? Is it a witch? No. It is faceless. 32A hungry, lusting darkness that lingers at the fringe of the peripheral. 33And where are you? What are you? Why do you make me feel like this and do you like it? Is my fear necessary to the world? Does my fear feed a creature that needs it the way my breath feeds the trees? Is my fear powerful? 34When the path ends I see that there is a small white farmhouse but I also see that it exists in a tiny little community. There is a small community playground with a swing set and a merry-go-round and a tractor to sit on and dig with. There is also a water fountain inside the head of a giant inanimate lion. There is an old barrel that is very tall and lying on its side – kids get in and run. It’s a human gerbil wheel. I see children running in it now. Four of them. Five of them. A girl in overalls tries to stand on her hands as the barrel spins, taking her in a full rotation, spinning her a day into the future around their imaginary sun. 35An old woman sits on a swing by herself. I notice that the other swing is empty and I know that she used to be married and that she used to have a husband and that she is very sad that he is gone and she misses him terribly because they were together their entire lives. Their whole life. 36They were together when she was fifteen and he was sixteen and they’ve now been together for sixty years. 37They don’t remember life before one another. 38The memory of their individual lives before their counterpart existed has long ago been washed away off the placards of remembrance. 39They were together for so long that she considers him a true extension of herself. 40He had the authority to act on both of their behalves because they had achieved such simpatico that they had become the same person in two bodies with two separate interests. 41They understood and achieved true love and compassion for the other person until they understood what the other person wanted perfectly. 42Her husband has been dead for three years and she doesn’t have any friends. She has people in her life but she would not consider them friends. They are okay to eat lunch with but she couldn’t share these thoughts and emotions with them. 43They don’t understand and none of them has ever lost a husband and she wishes she could speak to someone about it. 44And because I know I am supposed to, I approach her and ask how she is and she looks at me because the question is very straightforward. Her face crunches up and then becomes very kind and she says she is alright and I tell her that the day is beautiful and she agrees and I see the foot marks in the ground where her wooden shoes have been dragging back and forth in the dirt. 45Her skirt looks homemade. It is white and comprised of chicken feathers. She wears a pilgrim style bonnet that is white and her chest is covered in purple sheen although it is completely transparent. It projects a perfect twenty year old chest onto her body and it deceives the eyes in order to look as real as possible and this is what these people do here. 46It is okay and acceptable because it isn’t a question. 47She tells me that she is fine and I ask her if she knows which one of these buildings is a schoolhouse and then I hear a loud BANG or BOOM and it’s the same sound as before and she tells me to run with her. 48She gets off the swing and starts to strain towards a home. She is old and moves very, very slowly but I stood by her and I helped her as she hung onto my elbow. I notice that her back is quite hunched over. 49She takes me to a small plot of land that is filled with doors – just regular house doors – but they all appear the same. 50Identical black doors. 51There are no numbers on any of them. Just handles. 52She approaches one in the front row and opens it. Inside I see stairs spiraling downwards. 53I don’t ask if we are going underground because I know that we are not. 54The doors are vices that hold the fine fibrous Fabric of Feich open like surgical clamps hold open a wound. 55These doors lead to Someplace Else. 56It isn’t on this Earth but it also is not off this Earth. It is a kind of side-step to a higher perception of reality that exists on top of us, an overlay that we cannot perceive. 57We have not yet discovered where this other place is in relation to our world or planet or solar system or existence. 58Scientists have gone through and acquired samples and have found strange molecular patterns, sacred geometry and interesting fruits and flowers but still no people and the doors are too small to take any major tool through – like an astro-scope or bio-splitter. 59But I also know that scientist is a very loose term because the people in this village are the only people on this planet. 60There is no one else. 61The moment I heard the bang I knew. It was like the vibration alerted me. There are no others but these. 62I know this to be true. 63But what is out there? What is beyond their city? 64I need to know. Do I need to know? Do I want to know? Why does it matter? Why does it matter what is beyond their city? Why do I care? 64Is this my human nature? 65Is curiosity just an advanced form of the house cat and the laser pointer from the future of my old world past? Is my entire life someone’s stupid video? Am I the punch line to an advanced joke? 66Are alien children watching us and cooing, “Oh! He’s becoming curious! Watch him play with his curiosity! Hehe! He is going to see what that scratching noise is! He’s going to go investigate the odd auditory stimulation! Tee hee!” 67I have my life happening right here and I have problems at hand so why does it matter if there is a desert or a mountain or something else entirely out there? 68Right now I have to deal with this problem and that’s how I need to live my life. I need to appreciate the now and right now I need to get to safety and this old woman is walking very slowly but finally we do get close to the doors but before we do I see in the distance a great metal rod stamp out of the clouds and slam into the earth. 69BOOM            !! And then another. And another. And another. BOOM   !! BOOM          !!BOOM           !! The sound hits my ears seconds after the vision does. 70I ask her what they are doing and she says that they are collecting and I say, “For what?” because I already know who. 71She says that they are fixing them – hey, Chuck! – but I don’t know what she means and I also know that there are other people out there. 72Why was I so certain there was nobody else out there? How could I have known that? 73How could I have been so certain that it was true but now here I am being proven completely wrong? What else am I wrong about? What else is sneaking up on me? What else am I living with that I need to re-examine and release? 74She opens the door and enters first.

 

 

Return next Monday, May 30th for part 3 of 10 as we visit a prison at the center of time, witness the mystical collection of energy and fall into complete oblivion.

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Code 5 Quinn-pocalypse

I’m walking out of my house – I need to run to the grocery store to pick up some waters. It’s a quick in and out job. Super basic. I’ll be gone ten minutes. Max.

I hit the door and drop down the porch steps and I’m almost to my car when I hear Quinn behind me. She does this whine – it’s full of panic and concern. This tone that is like eeeeeeehhhhh! It’s a noise that sounds like she’s on the edge of a full nervous breakdown. Her voice wobbles and quivers. “Daddy! Wait! Wait! I didn’t give you a hug and kiss!

I can hear her shouting this from the living room. “Yeah! I’ll be back in just a minute! One minute! I will be right back, I promise!”

NO! HUG AND KISS! EEEHHHHH! PLEASE!

I keep walking. She’s on the porch now. Squealing. Now she’s running down the steps. Running towards me. I keep walking. “I will be right back, Quinn! You will see me in two minutes. I’m just buying a water.” And then my internal monologue kicks in, which goes something like this: What is wrong with this kid? What have we done to this child to give her such separation anxieties? This noise that she makes is killing me. It is driving me up the flipping wall. I wish she would just relax. Her panic is so dumb. And so senseless. I’m going to be right back. Why isn’t she listening to me? If she would just stop making these stupid whining noises and listen to me, she would know that I’m going to be right back. Why is she wasting my time?

This is the routine whenever either Jade or I leave the house. Every time. Every single time there is a fantastic meltdown over hugs and kisses. If you do not properly connect your lips with Quinn’s lips and give her a very proper hug that has a fairly specific form to it, then you are dealing with a Code 5 Quinn-pocalypse.

This is not, like, a thing. This is A Thing.

I’ve driven away before. I’ve been like F it. This is ridiculous. I’m leaving. This must stop. I get in my car and drive away. In my rearview mirror I see her standing at the very edge of our yard, waving her arms and jumping up and down and screaming, “HUG AND KISS! HUG AND KISS! DADDY! PLEASE! HUG AND KISS!” and I have no idea how long she stands there and does it for.

To remove all sugar coating and to be as primitive about it as possible – it is annoying and it gets under my skin and it drives me crazy because it doesn’t make any sense to me and, if I’m being completely honest, the vast majority of the time that I give her a hug and kiss, I do it as quickly as I can and just roll through the motions so that I can get to wherever it is that I’m going.

I brush her off.

And I’m not just brushing her off like she’s blathering on about how she wants mac and cheese for lunch but we just ate breakfast so please give me a second to finish doing the dishes but I’m actually brushing off her affection.

And so I’m standing on my front sidewalk and I say, “Quinn, yes. Hurry. Please. Hi. Hug and kiss. Okay. We’re done. Thank you. Go back inside. I’ll see you in a hundred and twenty seconds. Goodbye. Finally.”

And she says, “Okay! See you in a minute! I love you!” and then she runs back into the house.

And then I’m standing on my sidewalk and this feeling of… it was a light bulb turning on over my head. It was a feeling of illumination. I had a moment wherein I saw the darkness and I saw that I was swimming in it.

I was engulfed by it.

And I didn’t know it.

What has happened to me? What am I doing? What is wrong with me?

My child. She has come to me to see me off. To show me affection and admiration. She has come to me, small and powerless, to say I love you and I will miss you while you are away. You will only be gone for two minutes. But in those two minutes, I will think of you and I will wish that you were here. And I want you to know that.

And this is, apparently, just too fucking insignificant for me to waste my time with.

Sometimes I catch sight of myself and, for all the good I like to think that I do, I realize that I am still just a selfish piece of shit that knows nothing about humility.

 

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The Spiraling Cornucopia of Pale Lavender [seq. 1 – 2]

[SEQ. I]1Inside, but also outside, of the grand sweltering nothingness I do not exist. Nor am I an I. No singularities drift. 2In empty space that is not cold, a warmth suddenly envelops me and I recognize and accept that I am a thing. 3Liquid washes over my being although I do not know the word liquid because I have never known anything. The currents of motion and time push me where they wish. 4I am the first of my kind. 5Something tingles at my core and I feel a tugging and a separation of my being before becoming aware that there is another. A second presence is nearby and it is the same as me because it came from me. 6I am a singular cell. A collection of atoms. A bond of life. I am both mortal and divine. I am spiritual and temporal. I am life. The very first. 7And now there is a second, made from me. My partner was pulled from my essence and made from my content. 8We are not identical but we are not the same. 9Another spasm and then we have some company. There are four of us. Eight of us. Sixteen of us. A village of faceless, emotionless, drifting amoebas in the liquid love juice of existence. 10We are the spermatozoa in the semen of creation. 11A tail. Gills. Limbs sprout from my core. Intentional movement drags me to a mate where we replicate and create our own life. Our community calls our replication evil. Says we are dabbling in the unknown. Playing God. 12The breath of life rushes over me again and I can move faster, hide better. 13Survive in the darkness. 14Stay away from That Thing that has engulfed so many of my kind. 14Above me is a sharp blanket. It hurts my eyes to look for too long. I push towards it. Ah, yes. Light. 15The pressure of the environment pushes back against me. 16Our tribe says not to go towards it. They say that is where God lives and we were meant to stay back. If He wanted us to approach Him, then He would not have placed the pressure barrier between us. 16My body has changed and the pressure doesn’t bother me any more. 17I am curious. 18I crawl along in the shallow dirt, the light just above me calling not my name, as I have no name, but calling me. My code. 19If it is God, I want to see. I want to press upon It with my eyes. 20I press on to the light and then, like a gentle slap, my face births from the water and I understand that I am in water and that there is such a thing as out of water. 21I have been reborn. 22One step at a time I emerge from the ocean, the cradle of existence, the warm goo that is The Earth’s Womb. As I have birthed a child, so too has the Earth. 23The air is cold and a fibrous material begins to coat my body, covering me, changing my form. 24Fruit hangs from trees and I crawl up them to eat their sweetness and I look around and I see The Land stretch out in front of me in such a great distance that I become dizzy observing The Eternal. 25I hop out of the tree and my face has altered. 26In the distance I hear a noise and when I follow it with my recent eyes, I see a four footed creature behind a tree. It too is covered in brown fur but it is not like me. My stomach rumbles and I know what I must do but I know not how. 27I straighten up, accepting the task at hand. 28I pick up a stick that has fallen to the ground. I rub it against a rock until the end is sharp and I hunt. I follow the creature until I fall upon it and I stab it. 29Red life gushes out of it in currents and I drop to my knees and press my hands into the warm blood. I did this to you. You gave your life for me. I am grateful for you. 30I watch as its eyes blink, staring into the trees. I follow its gaze and see another one like it but a smaller version. A baby. 31I am ambivalent to it. 32Without waiting for my beast to die, I reach my fingers into its chest and I pull, ripping open the skin. Greasy and stinking organs ooze out of its hole and coalesce at my feet. 33What are you? What is it that controls you? 34I dig in deeper and find a hard white material. I crack it open and expose a soft beating rock. I lift it up. Here you are. 35And I smell it and I engulf it and I am filled up and the creature that is a part of this place becomes a part of me and I become stronger. 36A breeze scratches me and I find that I am cold and so I peel off the hide of this creature and I wrap myself in it, dripping blood down my naked and goose pimpled body. 37I stand above this beast and I stare at its empty shell. I stare into its hollow eyes and I send my value and worth towards it. I am grateful that it has given its life for me. It has given me food and warmth at the very cost of its breath. 38I recognize something called color and that each object in my surroundings contains variances of its own. 39In an empty field that is green and yellow, a forest suddenly bursts from the ground, not saplings but large oaks that are mature and the Earth continues to change as I do. 40It happens fast because I don’t pay attention. 41There are natural holes in the trees trunks, inverted knots, where small animals roost and nest. Creatures scurry in the branches. I see a red squirrel with a white belly and a fuzzy tail. It has big cheeks, full of food. The squirrel runs down and curls up in the hole of the tree but then the tree eats it, consumes it, nurtures itself. 41It contracts and the hole squeezes shut and I hear a crunch and a squeal and the tail of the squirrel, which is trapped outside of the nest, gives a few weak kicks and then the tree sucks it in like a dog eating spaghetti. 42I walk towards the river and I find a small raft made out of thick cut branches tied together with old yellow fabric. 43Who built this? 44Underneath the raft I find a dead and bloated body that resembles my own save for the color of the skin. Where mine is dark, his is light. It reminds me of the color I saw in the ocean, hovering above me. 45Could this be the source of the light? Could this be God? 46Has our understanding of God been wrong? 47This is a man with a potbelly. He has white hair in a male patterned type of baldness. His skin has turned into cottage cheese. His eyes used to be green but now they look like someone has poured glue over them. His fingernails are yellow and brown and caked with dirt. 48I wonder what this man’s penis looks like, mangled and gross, bloated and crawling with bugs. 49He is wearing a white shirt with blue trim. The subtle intricacies of the design are unparalleled. How he was able to fabricate such a creation sits beyond the fence of my understanding and must be a kind of divine wonder. 50I wonder what is in his pockets. I wonder who this man was. 51I hear another crunch and my senses tingle. I turn my head and see another beast walking towards me but this one is far different. It is what I will look like someday. It is what I will become. What I will change into if I am left to change. But I will not be left to change. This thing is about to take me away and show me things. 52I have been chosen. I have been chosen. 53If the others thought the bloated man was God, it was because they did not lay eyes upon the creature approaching me in grace. 54It is short and thin – its body structure narrow and delicate. It has big black eyes and gray skin. It approaches me and I see that it has a very tiny mouth. 55I wonder if it has teeth. 56It stands before me and we observe one another in silence. 57The Great Being looks at me and I get lost in those monolithic eyes. Getting lost in their darkness. Am lost. 58I want to sing their praises and write their poetry. A sense of awe pours over me and I realize how tiny I am. The Earth that I saw from the top of the tree is nothing. 59I am a speck of shit on the toilet paper of existence. And now I’m going to have my nose rubbed in it for thinking I was better than I was. Such a foolish and limited creature I am. My stupidity and primal state are embarrassing. 60I take a step closer. I could touch it if I chose. Or I could try to. 61A gentle humming that is not verbal radiates from the body and sends shivers up my spine. My penis tingles and a tear runs down my cheek. I smile and my hands clench to fists. I drop to my knees and stare up at this thing. “I love you. Please. Save me. Show me. Anything.” 62If it wanted to, it could end me. It could simply cap off my life and tear me open and wear my skin to cover its nakedness but I sense that it won’t because it has not an interest, but no need to do it. 63The holy black eye surrounds me and [SEQ. II] 1then I am standing on a craft that crawls through the blackness of space. 2I know this to be true. 3The fence that circles my mind doubles outward and I see the lay of more land. My understanding rises up out of the Earthly sludge and comprehension of things previously unknown dawn on me like the beginning of time. 4I now understand that there is a fence and that my mind can only approach the fence and that I cannot wander past it. Present, future and past tense are moot. All happen simultaneously. Language tense is invalid and lacking true dimensionality. 5All around me are greys, none of them staring, all of them observing. I am the center of naked attention. 6There are machines everywhere. And hallways that seem endless. 7I walk down one and off to the side I see a woman with the top of her head split open and her brain exposed but she is still alive. She says, “Hey, Chuck!” and wiggles her eyebrows at me in a friendly gesture. Her hair is brown and curly. The grey operating on her brain reminds me more of a mechanic than a doctor. 8He is just fixing a small problem in one of the machines. 9I enter another room that is more like a great hall and see that it is more vast than my simple field. So large that I cannot see the roof. 10Where am I? Am I not on a craft? The sky seems endless. Am I on a planet? Where have they taken me? 11The inside of the cavern glows with perfect light that radiates from nowhere. The essence of life gives light to itself. It is a light that exists at the origin of everything.

 

 

Return next Monday, May 23rd for part 2 of 10 as our adventure continues through the realms of deep space. We’ll also ground down to a small village and meet a woman who carries the weight of many lifetimes of misery. She will guide us to a community park filled with doors that lead us to the land of Somewhere Else. Fear, hope, anxiety, betrayal and escape. This is the beginning.

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Where Do Babies Come From?

While visiting our in-laws in Montana and patiently awaiting the arrival of our newest tribesmen, Jade and I decided to dip out and take a walk with the kids. Turning the corner on an overcast day, Quinn asked me, no doubt with thoughts of pregnant women on the brain, “How do babies get inside the mommy’s tummy?”

This train of logic makes sense. We show up to Montana, telling the children that Aunt Katie is going to have a baby. We tell the kids that there is a baby in her tummy. Green light, green light, green light. Who the heck put that thing there?

Gotta be honest. I was a little caught off guard with that one. I had certainly thought about what it would be like having that talk with my daughter and I’ve thought about what I’d say but I’d never actually come to any kind of conclusion. I’d never thought I will say THIS. I mean, even if you’re going to shoot totally straight about it, there’s no clean way to say, “A man gets an erection – uh, that’s when his penis gets really hard, and then he sticks it into a woman and rubs it until he ejaculates inside of her – oh, ejaculate is like this creamy puddy stuff. Yeah, it’s pretty gross. So anyway, the man shoots this creamy pudding stuff into the woman’s vagina and then badda-bing, bodda-boom, the baby is there.”

It’s gross, right? You’re cringing. No way am I saying that to my five year old. No way am I playing this one straight.

Not yet, anyway.

I just imagine that I damage them so irreparably that every sexual experience they have for the rest of their lives both begins and ends with spells of shivering and vomiting.

Anyway, I’m like, “You know our garden and how we pick vegetables?” “Yeah,” “And you know how we plant a seed and then a plant grows?” “Yeah,” “A daddy plants a seed in the mommy. And the seed grows into a baby and when the baby is ready, we pick it.”

I say, “Does that make sense?” and she says, “Yes,” and then peddles away on her big wheel. What is happening? I’m having sex talks with my children. I was in high school yesterday. How did I get here?

Well, as it turns out, who the heck put that thing there turned into who the heck put me here which turned into who the heck put us all here?

This is a process of several days, understand. She’d ask a question and it would seem to percolate with her for 24 – 48 hours before she’d come back with the raised ante.

So we’re driving home from Montana and Quinn asks me from the backseat, “Daddy? Where do we come from? I mean, all of us? Did God put us here?”

And this is a role defining moment for me. I was raised in a very traditional Catholic household before leaving the Catholic church and rolling “straight Christian.” My faith has gone through a number of peaks and valleys – or rather, my faith has always been what it is but it is my actions that have seemed to falter. The spirit is strong but the flesh is weak, you know?

And it wasn’t until recently, and probably I could write an entire piece on this, that I’ve begun to seriously question many of the tent pole beliefs of my faith. Was Jesus actually the son of God or was he simply one of the most amazing teachers history has ever seen? Did Jesus resurrect after death? Is God real?

I won’t get into the minutia of it here – perhaps another time – but I’ve found this really divine peace that I’ve never experienced before. I feel free.

My faith was chaining me to the ground. My blind faith only made me blind.

And so I don’t want to tell Quinn that God is real and that she should believe XYZ simply because I’m telling her that it’s true.

And so I let her wonder. So that when she does look for God, it is her own journey and it’s not crafted by me and it’s raw and rich and experiential. Instead of telling her what happens in the movie and how awesome it is, I’m just going to let her go see the movie herself.

I believe that there probably is a God. I believe that it probably isn’t the one that modern Christian culture is having us believe in. I think our perspective of God is disgustingly warped and perverted and I think the Christian faith, overall, is absolutely grotesque masked hatred. While most of the followers walk around preaching peace, they’re sitting on their hands at home, blasting pornography and talking about how important it is to keep men from loving men and how to best keep families that are in desperate need out of our country. Basically standing in direct opposition to Christ’s teachings.

By opposing gay marriage, they are saying, in short, that love should not happen. And by keeping out the Syrian refugees they are saying, in short, that empathy should not happen. They will tell you all day long that they don’t think this but words are wind.

“If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.” That’s James. From the Bible. Calling this brand of religion worthless. 

“And you will know them by their fruits.” That’s Jesus.

Christian church, we all know you by your fruits. And your fruit is rotten and disgusting and it turns the stomach of the world. Your faith is off-putting. It is not attractive. You are not the victim. You are the predator.

Christianity as a whole is very wonderful. The teachings of Jesus can change your life and can change the world. I don’t want what I’m saying to be confused with modern day Christianity, which is – for the most part – just a stiff-necked mannequin. An imposter. A copy of the real thing.

It is a giant, rubber dildo. A phony.

Most (not all) modern day Christians are so consumed with the laws of their faith that they’ve lost the lessons. Modern day Christianity has come full circle and the practitioners are the very Pharisees that crucified Christ.

When the Bible says that you’ll call to God and he’ll say he never knew you, it’s talking about those people. When the Bible says that many are called and few are chosen, it’s talking about those people.

If you believe in the devil, you can rest assured that he’s just kicking back and watching Christians do all his work for him.

And I can’t get behind that way of thinking. And I don’t want to associate myself with any group of people who lead their lives with such fear. I believe in a God that kicks ass in peace. A God that lives inside all of us and in everything. A thing of beauty and love and a thing that we can each connect with in that beauty and love.

And I found this raw experience because I was willing to let go of everything I knew and I would have missed it if I had refused to let go of things that people taught me instead of the things I had experienced for myself. Who God was to me was always who God was to my parents. Does that make sense? My perception of God was crafted by other people.

And I don’t want to craft Quinn’s perspective of who God is. When the Bible says seek and you shall find, I believe this is what it’s talking about. You come look for me. And I’ll be here. I truly believe that. And if you believe that, then cutting your children out into the world shouldn’t be a problem. If you believe that God is great and God is the Ultimate Truth, then if your children seek the Ultimate Truth, they will find your God.

But we’re all afraid they won’t find God. We’re all afraid they’ll find something else. Because when it comes down to it, we have no faith in our faith. And so we nurture our beliefs into them. Better to keep these things in our own hands. Spoon feed them religion.

When I told a number of my Christian friends and family that I was speaking with the door-to-door Mormons and was reading The Book of Mormon, I was told that I should quickly run the other way. When I told a number of my Christian friends and family that I was reading Dianetics, I was told that I should drop it and run the other way.

Never trust an organization, institution or group of individuals, whether that be political, religious or otherwise, that demands you to not seek knowledge elsewhere. When someone suggests that you not look for true knowledge outside of the presented box, they do not have your best interest at heart.
Fear of knowledge is a fear of reality. And a fear of reality leads to a very limited understanding of the world. And a limited understanding of the world leads to a limited understanding of people. And a limited understanding of people leads to fear. Oh, my. That’s certainly cyclical. Look at your people group. Look at your friends. Is it the same people that would tell you to hang tight to your beliefs that would tell you to keep the Syrian refugees out? Is it the same people that would tell you to hang tight to your beliefs that would tell you that gay marriage is an abomination but not be able to tell you why?

Are the people that tend to fear the world the same people that tend to fear knowledge?

When Quinn experiences God, I want her to experience the closest thing she can. And when she looks for God, I want her to look on her own. I want to instill in her a sense of raw wonder of the universe. I love that she’s asking all these questions at five. I love that she’s already seeing the world and going, what is this? What is this? What is that thing? How does this work? She asked me about the sun and planets and outer space the other day and now she’s memorized what most of them look like – she knows that Saturn has rings and Neptune has rings (that go the other way) and Pluto is tiny and Jupiter (which she spells Gupiter) has a big red spot on it and that our planet is blue and she understands that the planets work on a “big loop around the sun.”

I’m like, excuse the French but, what the fuck?

Is this child freaking Carl Sagan reborn?

“Well, Quinn. We came from amoebas.”

Amoebas?” really, truly shocked. “What’s that?”

“It’s like a small thing that’s even smaller than you could ever see. You’d have to have a microscope to see it. It probably traveled here on an asteroid that contained ice when the world was forming.”

“Is it like this small?” and she holds up her fingers pinched almost together.

“Smaller. Way smaller. Like nothing at all.”

And then I try to explain evolution to her but quickly realize that there is just no easy way to explain this to a five year old. You try to talk about things changing and it doesn’t make sense to them and you try to talk about natural selection and it’s just too big an idea because they don’t really understand breeding and passing of traits. Is there not a children’s version of Darwin’s Origin of Species?

So I’m left to try and simply draw connections between monkeys, apes, Neanderthals and modern man. “What animal do humans look like the most, Quinn?”

“Uh… monkeys?”

“That’s right! I’m very impressed that a five year old noticed that.”

 

Crickets.

 

“Over millions and millions of years, monkeys slowly became man.”

“God did not put us here?”

“Well, some people believe that God put us here and some people believe that God put the amoebas here and some people believe…

Are you sure you want to say this? Once it’s out of your mouth, you cannot take it back. Is this a seed you really want to plant? You are about to make a major life decision and this may affect her faith in sweeping ways – in large ripple effects.

“Some people don’t believe in God at all.”

WHAT?!”

She doesn’t ask me if I believe in God.

Sometimes I wonder what I would say if she had…

 

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Evidence to the Extraordinary

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“Is sasquatch real?” Quinn asks, out of breath, as she runs up to me. I’m sitting at the table drawing faces on marshmallows we’re about to roast. Is sasquatch real?

 

There’s a part of me – that quick gut reaction part – that tries to quickly blurt out, “No,” just so I don’t get embroiled in an endless conversation of “Why? Why? Why?” with my five year old. But instead I bite. “Is sasqatch real? That is a very interesting question because it doesn’t have an answer. Have you ever heard of a question that doesn’t have an answer before?”

 

She shakes her head no. Quinn is very inquisitive and both her memory and ability to comprehend large concepts is sometimes frightening. She looks at me with wide eyes and crunched eyebrows. I can tell that she understands she’s breaking new ground.

 

“Well, Quinn. Some people believe in sasquatch and some people don’t.”

“Why?”

“Because there is no proof of him. Do you know what proof is?”

“No.”

“It’s something you can say is real. I have proof that this marshmallow is real because I’m holding it in my hand and I can touch it and I can see it and feel it. Another name for proof is evidence.”

“And you can tell that I am real because you can see me?

“That’s right! You’re very smart.”

“So sasquatch is not real because nobody can see him.”

 

This is where it gets tricky. How do you nurture a sense of awe and wonder in a child while still painting an accurate portrait that they will understand without drowning them in information? That’s a tall request. How do you explain how large the galaxy is to a child that doesn’t have true concept of what a mile looks like? It all needs to be boiled down to these very simple kernels of truth.

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“Sasquatch might be real because nobody has ever seen him. I know that’s a big idea for you. Nobody has ever seen him so we cannot say with certainty that he is real or false.”

“Can you look it up on your phone?”

 

I appreciate that Quinn views my phone as a gateway to all knowledge and truth because, at its core, that is exactly what the internet is. The Great Digital Oracle.

 

“The answer is not on my phone. Nobody knows the true answer.”

“There are no pictures?”

“Yes, there are pictures but nobody knows if they’re real or faked.”

“Like a man in a suit?”

“Your astuteness frightens me sometimes.”

“Oh! Thanks, Dad. What is uh-stood-ness?”

“Lots of questions. Let’s not get side-tracked. You should also know that there are some people that say they’ve seen sasquatch and have touched him but most other people say that they just made it up.”

“Why would they do that?”

“I don’t know. Publicity?”

“What is publicity?”

“It’s like when you do something so that a lot of people hear about you.”

“Why?”

“Because some people like to be the center of attention.”

“Why?”

“Alright, listen. Let’s focus on one thing. Ready? What did we learn? Sasquatch is . . .”

“Maybe real.”

“Because . . .”

“Nobody has seen him and we cannot prove it.”

“That’s right. It’s just a story until someone has . . .”

“Evidence.”

“Bingo.”

 

I pick up my marker and start coloring in the eyeballs on my marshmallow, creating life.

 

Quinn scratches her head with comically large actions. It’s like a very theatrical cartoon character taught her what it looks like when people “think”. Lots of head rubbing and going, “Ummmmm.”

 

“Yes, Quinn? Do you have another question?”

 

“Is God real?”

 

I set down my marshmallow and look into its flat, lifeless eyes and wonder if she intentionally sets me up.

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