Asides

Taking a brief aside from all the Hallowtide publicity, I thought I’d post my answer to an interesting email I got last night.

This group [I might join] in particular uses a lot of different equipment, but seems to focus a lot on dowsing or divining rods. I was just curious to get your take on dowsing rods and whether or not you’ve used them.

-Karen

I have been around dowsing rods a fair amount these past few months. I’m still very skeptical about them, but they seem to be onto something just the same. The critical side of me points out that they’re incredibly easy to manipulate, consciously or not. I think that as people try to hold their hands steady, they’re not nearly as steady as they think. They never move for me. On the other hand, I could very well be working against any “spiritual energy” in my effort to try and stay as steady as possible, and causing the opposite effect.

But they have seemed to provide some pretty accurate information for those that use them. And I’ve heard many times that when they do cross, the pull is *significant* and stands against any natural drift. Whichever is the case, I’m most compelled by good evidence, which is to say employing double blind techniques. Assuming the spirits can manipulate two sets at the same time, have investigators sit back to back and see if responses align. Or have one investigator wait out of earshot and then bring them in and ask the questions a second time. (Just make sure the spirits know what you’re up to and don’t get annoyed at the hassel. They’re people too!)

(There’s also that idea that spirits might have to get very intimate with your own energy to use them, so be sure to keep yourself protected just in case).

No matter how much I trust an investigator, I’ve still got too much doubt in one set of responses alone. And I’m always for validation. But definitely go for it! They certainly seem to be an interesting tool when used critically. Good luck!

Dowsing Rods: Friend or Foe?

If I might reflect. There’s a necessity to this cycle. The longing and the desire for the gentle motion of the leaves in the fall, the cool breeze and the crisp flavors of the fall is only amplified by a summer so sweltering that the sweat falls down your spine and presses your shirt against your skin.

In the same way that the fall begs for the comfort of the slow-falling snow and the peace that family close and a fire burning brings on the winter night, the way that late ice storms bring a longing for the fresh taste of budding plants and a cool morning that promises glimmers of summer past, when the shadows stretch long into the night that carry over ideas of autumn…

There’s a cycle to these seasons. A necessity. And the deeper the summer digs, the hotter the days, the richer the fall. And my longing for it. The glow between the teeth on the pumpkin is brighter after days over ninety.

You can draw connection all you like to death and rebirth, the necessity of the cycle, the way that one half of the whole creates the desire of the other, the need for the evil along with the good, the way that the lamp amplifies the shadows that slink around it. Your wonder at your dead relative in their coffin, and your vision of them in the night,

But right now I just wait for October.

Necessity of the Summer

There’s the air of a stranger in this place tonight. I’ll run to my room in the basement to pick up a power cable for my laptop or a set of DVDs to rip and I’ll stand in the doorway for a few moments, moments that turn to minutes, and look around at a room that’s no longer mine. And it seems strange, to have possessed a place so thoroughly, so intimately, where before was the essence of the bare walls stripped, replaced, where in the glow of my candles or my eclectic blend of posters and art, walls lined with too many books, now there’s empty spackled space with dark smudges, pin holes if you look too close. This is not the same place. It seems smaller and vacant. Which gives this odd oppositional feel, that if we cannot possess the room then we should make it a stranger. And so now it is a space where I cannot sleep. The bare mattress like the walls is naked and bare and says if I’m done with it then be off and so tonight I’m on the couch.

When I open the window for air it brings with it the slow reek of fire. It’s that distinct smell of a forest fire up the canyon not far from where we live. It’s a different brand of smell like a different brand of cigarettes, if so subtle, but you know the smell. There is no plastic chemical odor of melting homes nor the sharp smell of a campfire. This is what the end of the world smells like. All it’s missing is the scent of the catalyst, whatever chemical agent, metallic casing, a defensive strategy and the necessary sacrifices. The fire will strip the branches and the leaves from the trees and turn the world black where I left mine white but both will grow back and the fire will fall from the sky or plane or whatever carelessly lost cigarette butt some other time and in some other place.

Air of a Stranger

A thousand pardons, for I’ve been a lousy blogger.

I hope to adjust that in the coming weeks. Graduation is May 12. After that everything will change.

More to come on that later. But first,

So, the other night I’m at this party in Boulder for a friend of mine’s twenty-third birthday. Inside, he’s playing the drums behind his band in his basement and there is standing room only, backing up into the stairs. It’s the first time I’ve seen his band play and they’re into their second set now. Upstairs are college kids playing beer pong and digging at the ice in the sink for cans of PBR, and out back kids are smoking pot and talking about 420 from the day before and I wonder about the truth of stereotypes.

I don’t know anyone at this party aside from my friend, now wiping sweat from his brow, backlit by blacklights, before starting the next song. Another friend of mine texts me to see if I am still in town, of which I say yes and he says good, because he has something for me and can I text him the address.

I finish my beer (a can of Fat Tire, a beer that’s generally nice, but from a can tastes like, well, a beer from a can, and I take the last few swallows quickly because I’m tired of it already). I set the can on the porch and walk to my car, where I pull out a jacket and lean on the hood and wait for my friend to show up.

Outside it’s nearing eleven (inside, it could be any time. inside, time is not marked by clocks and phones but by tiredness and sensitivity to noise and level of drunkenness and for them it’s still early, for me it’s been creeping into the early morning hours for the last few years now).

Outside, there is a cat under a car across the street and I psst at it and am surprised when the cat trots toward me before hesitating after a few feet. I am not an animal person nor a cat person and I make no effort to sit and stroke the animal, but we watch each other for some time and I enjoy our connection, we two strangers in the night, and then the cat hustles off down the sidewalk before returning and doing the same on the other side, ignoring me but keeping me near.

I’d speak but don’t know what I’d say.

I think of David McKean’s book, Cages, which I’d started to read one quiet morning at my friend’s house after working on a film project the night before. The book was checked out from the library by his roommate and plays a subtle but moving role in the background of a number of shots, should anyone care to look. The book begins with a series of creationist stories and a connection between cats and gods and then, in the first chapter, we follow a cat as he visits lonely strangers in an apartment complex, first a man playing a pipe. With the cat follows the suggestion of godlike knowledge or visitation and I remember this as I watch the cat sit down on the sidewalk and disappear into shadow.

My friend drives past, finds a place to park, then jogs to the door of the house where inside the party burbles and I shout his name twice before he wanders toward me.

What are you doing out here? He asks and I tell him I’m waiting for him and he says, Oh.

Then he hands me Cages and thanks me for my help on a project he’s been working tirelessly upon

and I say, for me? You didn’t need to do this man, flipping the book back and forth in my hands first, trying to understand that this isn’t the same library copy that he’s taken it upon himself to loan me.

Sure I did. Thank you for you help, he says.

And I study the cover and flip through the first pages and see the black and blue sketches of the black cat and beside me the cat runs under the car and I say thanks.

Little Things

Across the street from the west side of the Colorado State campus is a Planned Parenthood center, tucked behind a Qdoba and a travel agency. Outside it, on the street, when the temperature is over 45 degrees, moralists stand with signs condemning abortion.

I don’t play politics. I think politics is a hateful and toxic realm. I like constructive discussions, but even then they have to be approached casually, open-minded, and usually with some degree of meta-awareness to help keep folks from getting too heated. Most of the time I avoid opinions because 1) I usually don’t know enough about the matter or 2) because whoever I’m discussing the issue with will likely not want to change their mind, and frankly, I probably won’t want to either.

One of these moralists was standing lonely by the brick wall today with a sign reading “Be thankful that your mother chose life.”

And from this I was struck, not in a political sense, but in a cosmic one, where the grandness of the universe dwarfed both moral debates, or late-night heart-pounding decisions, (or next-morning heart-pounding decisions, or next-month heart-pounding decisions).

My mother indeed chose life. As did yours. Whether it was an accident, a plan, a pleasant surprise, or a stressful decision.

But she was one of a series of decisions. Stray bullets missed, ill-timed illness dodged, a “holy shit!” moment and that kind of awkward laughter when you ran a red light and narrowly missed collision, when your horse threw your greatest grandfather and he lay, broken, wondering if he’d be found in time, a long walk on a cold night.

Further still, atoms colliding, hydrogen and helium in supernova spectacle, manifest oxygen, carbon, bubble forth this life, your parents, their parents before them, gasses of space, light years and that perfect distance from a star.

How many hundreds of trillions of voices of those who could-be and could-have-been cry out,

thousands lost in a stray bullet, the silence in the space after shrieking metal where the laugh should have been, the chill wind across cooling skin, a baby’s cries each time the deed is done or a box of contraception purchased.

I don’t know when contraception turns to abortion, where prevention becomes killing,

where

that death so empty,

the part that draws tears, for me, at funerals,

of what could have been,

rings in silence the same way as any other death, but more universal, more pressing,

and so surrounding, emphasizes both the

vastness, our own insignificance,

does it matter anyway, so long as we are alive, were alive, will be alive?

Because equally, from this vastness we came

by design or guide or happenstance or

from gasses we emerged, and somehow beat the odds, and someday too will be

what could have been.

Be grateful your mother chose life,

be grateful the universe so aligned, that from one ripple you rose,

you. only you.

and wonder if it would be a different you had they waited, killed, miscarried, later conceived,

and then wonder at the others until you join them anyway.

But if it makes you feel better, wonder of the ripple, study your hand or your skin or your lungs or just the fact that

you’re here at all.

What Could Have Been

It was just announced earlier today, yesterday, right now if you’re god, tomorrow if you get distracted when you spill your drink in this first sentence all over your computer, that DC comics is going to be releasing prequel comics for Watchmen. Lots of hype about this, whether it’s awesome because more of a good thing is good, or terrible, or because you’re touching a classic and the author isn’t on board.

Indeed, that’s actually a big downfall for many enthusiasts, because writer Alan Moore is not going to have any hand in the matter, in fact condemning DC for being unoriginal and not coming up with fresh material.

I wanted to point out the overlooked point that it’s a comic book, and many comic series are written and re-written by many authors over the course of sometimes more than fifty years. I still adore Batman even if he’s had some bad books written about him (goddammit Joel Schumacher). And I’ve also never been one to have an original work ruined by a lame sequel (see Boondock Saints and Donnie Darko).

So is this a big deal, should DC make this happen shamelessly? Or is it like writing a prequel story to any “literary” modern classics?

Me? I’m a huge Watchmen fan, I think it’s astounding and brilliant and no, I don’t really care for a prequel, but I don’t really mind that it’s happening.

Who’s Watching DC Comics?