The bullets that pocked the windshield startled Mariella, but didn’t faze Paul. John’s immediate retort thud-thud-thudded explosively into the embankment, exploding the
Sara Hunt and Smith Jones were twenty and twenty-two in the year 2016. This campaign was the first they donated money to. They were avid Bernie Sanders supporters. Queer friends with weird jobs and open relationships. They were opposites in ways other than gender, too. She was tall and he was short. She was curvy, heavy. He was willowy and light. She was clean and passed as femme. He had non-binary gender and sexuality . She drove a car, he rode the bus. She didn’t carry a knife or mace. About once a month on the bus, he was hit on by men who didn’t understand who they were looking at.
They shared a two bedroom apartment between Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, Michigan.
Between the two of them, they had donated close to five hundred dollars to the Sanders campaign. They voted for Hillary with gritted teeth. The election results crushed them.
* * * * *
Matthew White was twenty-two in 2016. His family donated to the Trump campaign. Matthew White rode the bus, did not have a job other than attending college at the prestigious University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor. During Facetime™ sessions with his father he complained about being a minority on campus and swallowed a few times before whispering how persecuted he felt, how unheard his opinions were.
. . . I have no rational way to continue this look without doing research. To be continued.
* * * * *
Smith and Sara were drunk on the evening of last warmest day: October 4, 2016. It was one of the rare confluencias cuando nadie tienen trabajar. Smith worked as a phlebotomist for a local for profit plasma center and Sara self employed as a cam girl on a largely philanthropic portal site, as well as via private chats and mysterious Paypal.com™ gifts or “rare book purchases”.
Listen. Love wins, acceptance wins. The problem is that love and acceptance are long term plans, and like the trees they are, they take a long time to grow and to bear fruit. Metaphors aside: there are rough times coming up.
2017 and 2018 were rough, but campaigners and organizers realized they were missing major, major issues. The two year election cycle is crucial for presidents, and those kowtowing to negativity were swiftly removed from their offices.
Look and pay attention, then vote. We did, you must, too. Progressives are the Tyler Durden(s) U.S. politics. They are weird looking and edgier and having kinkier sex than you. They are the people riding the edges of the U.S. political system and, just like Tyler Durden they will (problematically) drag you kicking and screaming and whining and crying through a revolution that betters mankind. Economics and slavery and taking care of humans during the industrial revolution. They’re the painful human humans who protect your humanity from things you cannot even fathom. They are Neil Gaiman’s Black cat and we haven’t even been caring for them. At best, we treat them like beggars, because we live in Troy --the Greek one, not the Michiganian one. Understand this: if progressive movements die, we all die. Stasis and reactionary tactics will destroy societies just like they destroy crops. Potato famines and ascendent fascism are equal.
* * * * *
I’d like to talk about distractions. The things that we do that just kill time. Something that we twitch at or on or through until we’re too tired to stay awake. I’m there now. I got home at 10pm, and it’s past midnight now, just barely, but I’m tired and I want to sleep. I spent two hours playing a video game --World of Warcraft, the “Legion” expansion, for those keeping track-- on a character that isn’t even my main alt. So I can start a healer. There are three types of characters: healers, protectors, and damage dealers. I am 99% of the time a protector. The job of a protector is to make sure that no one else in a group gets hit. Protectors build and pride themselves around being hit far, far more than healers and damage dealers. Protectors will die without a healer, eventually, but in all but the most trying situations, this is rare. Even the healer I am collecting equipment for can also be a protector.
When I am tired, I stare hard at my children and they cry. I am weak in real life. I am not a protector or a healer; I have bad aim. I cannot explain why this is the case, but I do know ways to mitigate and redirect my glares. Meditation, yoga, writing, and doing good work all help mitigate or refocus my baleful eyes. They turn me from a cloud to an icicle, which is what I need to be. Icicles can melt and provide relief, too: cold, clean water in a night with black clouds. A night like tonight, when my son asks me to stop and look at the sky and points out how similar to dragons and giant crabs the black clouds look.
They aren’t clouds. The clouds were bruised orange and purple, but the spaces between were plentifully less than the clouds, so the illusion was complete for him and we made animal protectors in the sky from the negative space, before I hissed and glared and let that all out. Self awareness without action is not acceptable. I am going to sleep, to sleep and to dream and to try again tomorrow. To love harder and more in the moment. To stop and think and stop “just reacting.” To go to the bank and take care of the bills for January.
* * * * *
If it’s a cool down, that’s good. Heads and hands on deck to smarten up the day.
. . . I hear a voice in my head. Call it my consciousness, or conscience --most people would call it one of those things. I think it is God, telling me what I need to do to bring more light to the world. I am a believer in God. I pray, unevenly and imperfectly and sometimes I do not listen when he talks to me. At night, when I am tired I ask for things I am not ready for:
Dear God, that is in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in Earth as it is in Heaven. You gave us this day our daily bread and we thank you lord! We thank you for our daily bread. Thank you, lord. Lord, we ask that you forgive us our tresspasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lord, I want to thank you too for my job, for this wonderful, calm and quiet apartment that you’ve blessed us to live in. Lord, thank-you, too, for my family and friends and lord, most of all thank you for being in my life, lord. For shining your light upon me and showing me the path I need to follow. Lord, all I ask is that I be allowed to serve you, lord. I want to share your light with as many people as I can lord. Thank you. Amen.
And then I’ll hear a voice, clear as day, tell me: get up and go write. And then? In the past, I haven’t. The voice is kind and firm, and I close my eyes, my heart races and I tell myself I am too tired, but that’s just fear talking. I’m scared to write, scared to put myself in front of the computer --scared of what might come out, but no more. When the voice says write, I will write. Because the people that show up are the people who get the credit. The people who put in the work are the ones that get paid. I’m going to try, at least.
Try and pray and light the way for my family and friends. Stoke the fire, and see about bringing it out into the world. Love and compassion shouldn’t be squirrelled away. Let’s see what love looks like when everyone, or at least a strong united majority feels it.
(I have not been godly lately. I have blasphemed in front of the innocent, I have taken the lord’s name in vain and I have not taken the lord’s name in vein, which we should all be doing. Let’s mainline divinity and see where it gets us, instead of wandering around in the dark. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a place for wandering, but there’s a purpose to paths. Let’s see what we can do, marching along together.)
I hada conversation with myself today. This is a conversation of that, and then I’ll recall the parts from earlier.
I have a headache, so I’d say this wont go long, but you’ve been waiting since 11am to do it. IS there a time difference?
Yeah, a day and a week and a few hours. It’s earlier, here though, so minus a day and add some hours or something. Ive got a headache too, it’s from keeping this connection open. In my world Trump was also elected, but the Democrats took over congress and the senate
So they were able to put Trump in the same position Obama was in? Cool.
YEah. we’ll see. The noisiest republicans are threatening
Not much sense, I agree. Look. It’s important to know that writing is what keeps you going, in this world, and it’ll help you in that world, too. You need to write. There are books youve started that I finished and that’s what paid for so much of my life. I traveled, it was very Grant Morrison, honestly. The first, the high school book. I called it DoW high, no: D O W High.
I called it Alts.
Good luck with that --that name never crossed my mind, but it makes sense.
Its a videogame reference.
I don’t play videogames. Yes, I do play DnD, and lots of other tabletop games, card games and I got good at poker, too. Poker and . . . that’s it, really, for the competitive games.
Huh. But books? So you quit the U-M job?
Yeah, I quit after helping to hire _____. He seemed really good. I hope he’s happy
We’re friends in this world. Feels weird saying that.
It is weird. I’m not sure this is real or not. I don’t have any dire messages, I just wanted to see if we could make contact. And here we are.
Earlier, I could sort of picture a room, but now it’s just voices in my head
Yeah, i don’t see much either, though when you say that, I see the white tea room sun room with the comfy white wire chairs with the pillows --right? Right
Right. Like in book two, same room as the main character in that.
Yup. send it out. Get feedback. I know you haven’t. You should. It’s got potential. I know it has potential because after I finished it here, --The burn victim main character, the party, the weird narrative twist --it sold really well after a few rewrites. Three rewrites, honestly, but you need the publisher feedback. Publisher and agent feedback.
Sunlight is the best disinfectant.
Who said that?
My friend Peter.
He hates us --he hates me.
Did they get married in your reality?
No. Fucked that up. I didn’t get married either. Traveled the world instead. Became a writer. Wrote books, finished the octopus tattoo.
But the octopus tattoo started after I married Brandy.
We dated, Martin stopped talking to us, but I didn’t propose. I didn’t know her.
So no kids, no
No kids and lots of girls. Women. Travel. Japan, England, Italy, Greece. I lived with EM for a year in Europe, but we split.
[redacted] and I meditate just like you did, or do? It’s been hard keeping that up and I’m not exactly sure how this works.
I don’t know either
Are we both typing this? I keep thinking “We” instead of you or I
Let’s go with we
But that hurts like it’s wrong
Beteeen the eyes?
yeah . I’m typing with my eyes closed, sorry i’m only fixing my typos.
It’s cool. I’m doing the same. Or I think I am. Im talking about loud. I’m on a lot of DMT to be here. I don’t think I’m dead or dying or anything. I smoked it, and hooked myself to a device that keeps it coming, like a giant vaping mask. E’s baby sitting me, which must be weird
Nah, if anyone would, it’s her. I’m glad she’s well. We’re well.
Ya. Toes and what not.
The completed tattoo was important to me. Writing is important as is meditation and yoga and keeping clean spaces. Fucks sake , man, clean spaces, okay? Take better care of your environment. Na, never met her. Don’t talk to her anymore, but I’m happy you’re happy.
I don’t know if we’ll hit again, but one of us will. Bngfty is our number. If you remember it, we’ll know we’re the same, if not, someone else.
Take care, get connected. Help more people. I’m guessing you didn’t go to church, eh?
There’s a church
YEah, B’s dad was in choir-ish and we went as a way to connect with family, but now I go when I can, which isn’t often. It was for a while but I had a rough two months, and I’m only now barely clawing my way through that.
The church on the stadium Washetnaw --north side, korean and spanish signs. That one, not the journey of faith one. The pastor is good. Emotional, connected.
ASMR. unwind your brain. Pass out and wake up, okay?
I hope we meet again.
Two and a half years is not a lot of time.
I met a woman when I was thirty-six who changed my life. I had a wife and two children at the time. I met her in the community recreation swimming pool. An Arabic woman with pale eyes and dark skin and a sky blue bathing suit. The night we met was the night of the cooperative school board meeting. We were hosting, but children weren’t supposed to be in attendance and our two bedroom, one bathroom apartment wasn’t able to accommodate that, so I took my children to swim for the few hours while the meeting happened. The three of us, my children and I, were swimming in the area of the pool with jets -- hot a hot tub, just a part with a strong current, where filtered water from the main pool was reintroduced. She came in and asked for a floatation noodle and it matched her bathing suit. Outside, snow whipped against the glass door. We were warm in the water because I made sure that the showers we took ended on a frigid note and I told my children, six and four years old, that it would be cold and it would hurt, but only the shower would hurt and it would make the pool like a bath and I wasn’t lying.
She sat down on the edge and waved hello to my son --we had seen her before, he and I, and he paddled over and said hello and asked if he could use her noodle. She explained she needed it and he nodded and came back and she floated over to my children and I and said, “I love you. You need money. How much do you need?”
I laughed and told her to get by I would need thirty thousand dollars. She asked how about to do everything? I didn’t even hesitate. I’d thought about this before. Many showers were spent graciously accepting anonymous donations from strangers because of fantastic leaps of judgment, faith, devil’s bargains and God’s grace. “Three million and two and a half years,” I told her firmly. She nodded. She asked me my full name and my bank --no, please excuse she apologized. Asked me my credit union. I told her it’s name and she nodded and closed her dark, naked lids over her pale eyes and smiled a wide smile. She opened them and extended her hand and we shook, in a winter storm, in a swimming pool, in Michigan.
The next day, on my lunch break I wrote myself a check for $160 and deposited it another credit union where I had student loans. It covered the interest and a tiny bit of principle.
I didn’t look my anemic bank account again until payday, February first. Just the usual amount. I paid our bills and sighed and hoped for a quick tax return. I went to church by myself, as always, and I nodded to myself and smiled at my children and I worked hard at my job, for the people I served. Would be enough, here to simply write: I worked hard for the people I served. ? It seems important, because though the concepts are similar, the truth is that family isn’t work or obligation. Family is love. Family is connection. A job with hierarchies that pays money is work. Family is family and family is love. I paid the bills and made sure we had money to spare and when a windfall or a thank you note came through my job, I passed it to my family. Tuesday evenings I worked until 9:30pm and sometimes I walked through the snow to the bus stop, and sometimes a colleague would drive me back to the apartment complex where we lived. Family.
Despite continuing to go to the recreational center swimming pool on Mondays, Wednesdays and sometimes Fridays, (as was our routine, so my wife could have an even to herself) we had not seen the Arabic woman with dark skin and pale eyes.
Midway through February, I checked my credit union account and found it over drafted, the $100 overdraft protection kicked in. I sighed. I talked to my wife about it and we had an argument, silent, angry words flying through the aether back and forth.
My birthday is PI day: March 14th. I have so many friends whose birthdays are March 13th it is ridiculous. Reality just saying, “Here, this day. It gets all the physics that will break during your lifetime. Me, Jackie, Terry, Einstein, Belinda. All these disproven theorists. March 13th and 14th. The tax return came on my birthday, too and my heart raced and I stared and for two weeks. I sat on it. I checked with my wife about the correct amount that our tax return should have been, and I nodded and paid off credit cards accordingly, and on Monday, April 3rd I called the IRS and told them there had been a mistake and asked them to take their money back. I confirmed my social security number and the routing and bank account number and read them the nine digits that had appeared as an electronic transfer labeled Federal Tax Return and the man on the line clicked about then told me, no, that was correct. No errors, no system errors. No clerical errors. Simply, three million dollars more than we had filed for, which was the correct amount, plus three million dollars. “Oh, thank you, then.”
“You are, at this time, welcome to return it if you do not wish to have such a, ah, thing, with you.” He said.
I replied, “Thank you, I think I will keep it.” I hung up. I called my mom and told her I needed to talk to her accountant. I refused to tell her why, only that it was good news.
Without telling my wife, I paid off our credit cards, our student loans and our rent for the year. I am a horrible liar, but I can keep a secret. Finally, though, she asked. We were