Saturday, October 4, 2008


Something terrible had happened here; I just wasn't sure what.

I walked into the room and Kenny was sprawled out on the dingy carpet. His demeanor was aloof and uninterested: "nothing to see here, move along". I, however, didn't believe it. I've known him long enough to mistrust that glazed, slightly evil gaze that he fixes upon me when he is trying to feign innocence.

I suspected that the corner of the carpet by the stairs might contain a clue to the commission of the crime, since I noticed it was slightly turned up. I peeled it back, slightly ill at the thought of what I might find there. "Are these bug parts?" I asked him, knowing as I said it that he would not respond. A few shiny, black, hairy legs lay in a random, yet somehow lovely, pattern. Is God's plan revealed in the disposition of these cockroach legs? Who knows . . . for stranger truths are contained in far stranger places.

No, this was not it, not the evidence that would incarcerate him. I continued the search. There was a thin, yet active, line of ants leading to the cabinet where we keep sheets and assorted holiday items. I opened the shutter-style doors and peered inside. The ants had swarmed, forming black, moving masses of insect hysteria in pursuit of something hideous, something nameless. The stench hit my nostrils at about the same time my eyes were struggling to reconcile the horrid sight with the pleasant contents of the cabinet: lavender soap and Christmas bears, utterly defiled by mobs of biting ants, moving in a chaotic yet preordained direction. They were sharing information with the Head of the Hive, the Queen of the Nest, the Intelligence behind their stunning and terrifying assault on the innocent bag of gifts, the sweetly scented pillow cases. "What is in there, Kenny?" I queried, knowing as I said it that no answer would be forthcoming. He rolled on his back and yawned. It was going to be a long night.

I knew that I had to pull the items out of the cabinet, risk the wrath of thousands of ants soon to be disturbed, distracted from their single-minded pursuit of the Thing Without a Name. I pulled out the back of gifts, running to the back door to throw it out on the cedar chips before the tiny ant jaws ripped off particles of my skin and injected their painful venom. I then rescued the pillow cases and sheets, watching as the ants' hysteria increased exponentially. I was bitten. There was no way to avoid their panic as I relentlessly dug towards the Source. It was then, on my third incursion into the cabinet, that I saw IT: a pile of organic matter so covered in orgiastic ant life that I could not make out its true nature.

I ran upstairs and put on the thick rubber gloves reserved for only the most vile jobs. I grabbed the Windex and a roll of paper towels. I returned to the scene of the crime, spraying the ants with wild abandon, watching them slow down as the ammonia overwhelmed their lust, their lives. Finally, I was able to tear off some paper towels and grab the offensive pile of organic matter, now reeking of Windex and . . . cat crap. Kenny had crapped in the gift and pillowcase cabinet.

I whipped around, ready to face the criminal and watch him realize his colossal error: underestimating by ability to seek and find the ultimate truth. Instead of the expected look of contrition, or a grimace of deep emotional pain, or even an expression of mild remorse, I saw nothing but the back of his head moving rhythmically as he cleansed his testicle sacs. As the dying ants were crawling off the crap and biting me one last time before they expired, I decided to walk upstairs, dispose of the evidence and ponder the punishment.

But of course, there is no punishment for such offenders; like serial killers, they have no conscience, no flickering of remorse. Later that same evening, Kenny crawled into his Grime Box. As the filthy heating pad kept him warm, he stared at me through slanted eyes.

"You can't prove I did it," he said, "so why don't you just go write about it in your 'blog' and let me sleep."

And so I did; but there would be a next time, there always is. Next time, I'll be watching.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

SARAH PALIN MAKES ME WANT TO HURL, and thoughts on the nature of reality and perception

Let me start this with a link that I think you might all find of interest:

Now let's talk. I'll begin by saying that the picture below, my total proof of the paranormal, is not a ghost, but a picture of my hand reflected in the glass. A trick of the light convinced me that I had discovered an alternate reality, which, if others only saw what I did, would change the world. It turns out that I was wrong. My perception was colored by what I wanted to see, not what was actually there.

I watched the Vice Presidential Debate tonight, and I had the occasion to ponder the issue of reality and interpretation yet again, and to question the very notion of "truth" in all areas of human inquiry. What matters, as I have discovered both in myself and in the world of politics, is not reality or truth per se, but the perception and creation of reality and truth.

Did it matter that Palin was barely able to put together a sentence? Did it matter that she refused to answer many of the questions that were posed to her? Did anyone care that she botched her facts on numerous occasions, and generally seemed unable to think for herself? She repeated the lines that had been fed to her, with no indication that she had thought in any depth at all about the issues at hand. At one point, I had to walk away: it was too painful for me to watch Biden destroy her on every single major point in the debate. It was a train wreck, I thought, and surely everyone would be lamenting her awful, pathetic performance.

But no. They barely had time to mill around on stage with family members before the talking heads and media celebs were declaring this debate a triumph for Sarah Palin. I blinked in disbelief: did these astute critics of the political scene actually WATCH THE SAME DEBATE I DID???? It simply didn't seem possible; as they gushed praise for Sarah, I felt ill. The same kind of ill I feel when someone radically disagrees with my sense of what is real. After this debate, I felt as if I had been told that today wasn't really Thursday, I am not really married, my three cats are really large hamsters, and my father is a Russian spy.

My interpretation of reality was blown apart by Mr. Tom Brokaw, a man who I thought was at least moderately objective. I trusted him to tell it like it is; and then I had to ask myself . . . do I really understand "how it is"? Is this just another case of self-delusion? When I saw the ghost in the glass, it was real--so real that it defined an entire world view for me, if only for a few weeks. Then there was that night, that fateful night, when Ty looked at the picture again and saw my hand. He traced the outline of my fingers on the computer screen, and then I saw it, too. When it became clear to me that my ghost was simply my hand holding the camera, reality shifted again--this time, away from me. My new belief, based on what I thought I had seen, dissolved so quickly it seemed never to have existed at all. Perception can change in an instant. Reality then follows; then, one's entire understanding of the world.

It occurs to me that my perception of Ms. Palin's performance tonight was not based on the reality that a huge percentage of Americans experience every day. I am watching Ms. Palin from the standpoint of someone who has a Ph.D., someone trained in critical thinking. Whereas my ghost was an exercise in lack of critical judgment, I was overly analytical when arriving at my conclusions concerning Palin. For Sarah, I am just another elite, intellectual Leftist who doesn't understand a darned thing about real Americans like her. The reality? People like Palin don't trust people like me; there is something suspicious about my education, something that distances me from the "meat and potatoes" folk that "sit around the kitchen table wondering how to put the kids through college". Of course, that entire notion of the home-spun, Main Street, common Joe is a political myth used to cover up the rampant greed for money and power that drives our politics.

Or is it a myth? Maybe I am still seeing ghosts where there are justs hands. Perhaps the hand in the window, the truth of all this, is simply that it doesn't matter if you're smart, or well educated, or know the issues that affect all of us, every day: all that really matters is that the "average Joe" looks at Sarah and sees someone they could hang out with at the hockey rink or the bar on that much-lauded Main Street, someone who thinks No Child Left Behind was a big success, and that the 4,000 + men and women who died in Iraq were necessary losses so we could "win" the "war". The words don't even make sense anymore.

If she represents the average American, then I have no idea who the average American is. If she "won" that debate, then I am the ghost in the window and no one will ever see or hear me, for truly, I do not exist.