Scott Neuffer's Blog: Notes from Cyberspace, page 3
February 22, 2018
The spider is a ride at the carnival.
I thought there were enough people at the carnival
for everyone to find someone to love. There were
people of all shapes and sizes, colors and stripes,
and most seemed happy. I could have
fallen in love with the girl in the parking lot
listening to punk rock, or the lead singer
on stage shouting at the mic in a din of drums
and guitars, or just in love with the bitter smell
of cigarettes and Coors Light.
God, there were a lot of tattoos at the carnival,
as if everyone were aiming for summertime distinction
but had lost any distinction in the effort.
I don’t fall in love anymore because I love my wife,
I love my family, and I’m happy. It’s weird being
happy because I feel full and safe and I’m not sure
if my love is brimming over or if I’ve become distant
and boring. I have a transgender friend I invited
to the carnival with me and my family, but she didn’t come
and I’m not sure she’d be comfortable with so many people.
I want people to feel safe in whom they love.
We don’t like spiders because we get stuck in their webs.
They don’t simply kill us but entangle us, suck us dry.
We all have spiders in our lives, and when we get away,
it’s a good feeling. I don’t know if spiders are more masculine
or feminine in their cruelty, but there seems to be enough cruelty
in both sexes to make the question irrelevant. Virginia Woolf
described men as needing to assert themselves to feel right,
and I find the sentiment true but not as true as the more basic
truth that men, like all creatures, need to feel loved.
The spider is a ride at the carnival.
It looks like a giant black widow with long, whirling
hydraulic legs. My six-year-old son said he was ready
for it. But when the ride started, he screamed and groped
the handlebar. I could see his world being torn apart,
every pretense of safety gone. At first I was sick with his fear
as we were spinning through the air, but then suddenly I knew
my greatest purpose in life was to hold him and whisper
in his ear, “You’re all right. Listen to my voice. It will be
over soon.” He relaxed as I held him through the last spin,
my assertion like a splint, an opening in the spider’s web.
February 19, 2018
Dark and crumbly. Soft and warm like a brownie. But sour with putrescence. I can see the crescent of an orange rind, hoary with white-blue mold. I start picking out the unintegrated parts, turning them to a new pile. This is the process.
In his essay “No Soil Required,” naturalist Robert Michael Pyle sees in compost miraculous resurrection: “where the slugs and the eggshells, the clippings and bacteria, the moles and the maggots, the worms and the dirt all mingle in such a maze that the gelid breath of Death itself goes hot and the stillness of the quick comes fluid and lithe.”
There’s something Freudian about compost. It’s where the death drive — the instinctual desire to become inanimate matter — meets the life drive, the erotic, the loving, the moving, the nurturing. Compost is both past and future. From death we can reverse-engineer life. We can find the parts that stick out. The parts that beg for integration.
I think about death every day. Death makes me a better husband. Death makes me a better father. When I think about dying, I think about my children and my wife. I want them to know I love them. I want them to know they’re the best part of my life, that whatever I’ve given on this journey is theirs to carry on.
My creative work as an artist is the second most important thing in my life. I want my work to outlive me. Sometimes I work too hard. I try too hard.
I watch a lot of kids’ movies, which is a form of relaxation, I suppose. The Shrek franchise is my favorite. When his wife gets pregnant, Shrek freaks out because he’s an ogre and doesn’t think he deserves a family. He doesn’t think he deserves that kind of happiness.
I was raised Mormon. Some feminists remind me of Mormons. I don’t label myself a feminist, but I support feminist goals. My three rules of liberalism are don’t regulate bodies, don’t regulate sexuality, and don’t regulate bookshelves. I want to believe feminism can save the world, men included.
When I was sixteen, I had horrible acne. A girl I knew told me it was God’s way of punishing me for sleeping around. Girls liked me. I was a promiscuous teen. I was also severely bullied. Some days I’d go to the library for lunch, sit by myself, and read literature and philosophy. Other days, I’d skip class and drive my old truck around town. I’d go to grocery stores and try to get scraggly-looking adults to buy me booze.
When I was eighteen, I joined the Radical Philosophy Association. I considered myself a Marxist. My adult politics reflect greater disillusionment with leftism. I consider myself a liberal but not a good liberal; I believe power corrupts. Sometimes I call myself a humanist but stop whenever people assume this means atheism. I’m not an atheist. I’m agnostic. I like being surprised by wonder. Who knows what I’ll see flying through the sky tomorrow morning?
In college, I wore my scars like a badge of honor. I was ruggedly handsome, a good student, a hard-drinking musician and writer, an extreme skier. I loved to party. Women liked me, but I was usually noncommittal. Men liked me, too. I’d fantasize about both. Whenever there wasn’t a party, whenever there was a lull in that electric raciness, it’d feel like falling through a trapdoor — into a sticky and sour inflammatory darkness.
For the last ten years, I’ve been trying to learn Spanish to better communicate with my wife, a Latinx immigrant. I’m not yet fluent.
I am fluent in two other languages: Hick and Ivy League.
The first is my native tongue. I grew up in the rural West. I make fun of Hicks because I understand them. I am a Hick.
The second is my adopted language. I learned Ivy League while earning an English degree, and I’ve honed my skills considerably while working in journalism and publishing.
Each language feels like a lie to me, though. My best work combines both.
This year I’m thirty-six years old. I’ve come to identify as pansexual. It’s weird and terrifying to tell people because they don’t know what the hell it means. Especially in my Hick town.
It’s easier not to tell people.
2017 was the most stressful year of my life, but it was also the happiest. We have two identical twin girls, toddlers. They’re smart and mischievous. They smile at me so quick and lithe I can only call it love: the way my heart soars and dips and spins.
The way I want to protect them.
Trump and his ilk and all the fear and drama they’ve caused stress me the fuck out.
Whenever I get stressed, my head feels like it’s gripped by a steel band. My brain locks, the world tilts. I think about vegetables.
Yeats wrote “the center cannot hold / mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.” But what if instead of apocalypse this were a salutary mantra:
The center cannot hold
The center cannot hold
The center cannot hold
Breathe. Silence. Breathe. Silence.
I taught myself to meditate when I was eighteen.
A couple weeks ago I read about alter-globalization. In contrast to anti-globalization, alter-globalization looks to realign existing power structures — private and public — toward greater local autonomy and environmental sustainability.
I also read an article in The New York Times on how regenerative agriculture will save us from global warming:
Key to regenerative agriculture is composting. Managed responsibly, compost reduces waste, increases soil fertility, and sequesters carbon from the atmosphere. It’s all about balance and renewal.
I put my coffee grounds in a metal bucket just outside the garage door. When the bucket’s full, I mix it into my compost pile. If you don’t have a bin, dark sheets of weed blocker, applied with some weight, can help heat up your pile.
Heat and moisture are necessary for the proper breakdown of waste.
I compost everything: leaves, grass, coffee grounds, food scraps, self-hatred. I love to see what will decompose into nutrients.
I first started turning away from leftism after visiting Peru in my late twenties, seeing what Marxism and Maoism did to my wife’s home country.
Revolutionaries often romanticize themselves — and their actions — -at the expense of innocent people around them.
Politics is about choosing which system of romanticization is least destructive.
A few years ago, my wife bought me a microdermabrasion kit. Every week, after shaving, I use it on my cheeks. The process isn’t too painful, though it does chafe.
I’m thirty-six years old. My acne scars are slowly fading.
I don’t drink much anymore. Or at least as much.
The idea of anarcho-pacifism fascinates me. It seems an oxymoronic political philosophy — subversion, revolution, but only to create peace. As if human morality were in constant flux between a fist and a kiss.
It makes sense to me.
Whenever I catch myself being a bully, I apologize. I think about the rage I’ve known in my own life, and I think about forgiveness. I hope forgiveness is a real thing — an act, a process — not just something our animal selves made up to feel better about reality.
I catch myself being a bully whenever I assume a degree of moral authority I don’t have. Liberalism is necessarily rooted in skepticism of one’s own moral authority, as well as that of others. It’s all about checks and balances.
I can’t call myself a Social Justice Warrior because I believe there’s little justice in war.
I often wonder about inorganic objects, especially the relics of consumer culture that drift along our periphery. I just fixed up an old basketball hoop. The plastic handle on the hydraulic arm was bent. I tried to reshape it, but I just mangled the plastic more. I couldn’t bring myself to replace the part altogether. It was still functional, working with its own weird dignity.
I had similar feelings remodeling my master bathroom with my wife. We opted for a new countertop but kept the original, somewhat tacky cabinetry underneath. The wood’s composite with oak veneers — beat up, scratched, stained, but still usable. It would have felt like a waste to pull it all out.
I can be an obsessive recycler. Plastic peanut butter jars baffle me. Rationally I can’t make the case that the plastic saved justifies the amount of energy and water used to clean the jars. I’ve gone both ways on this. I’ve pulled peanut butter jars out of the trash and scrubbed them righteously.
Doesn’t a peanut butter jar deserve a life beyond its domestic designation? A second chance? The magic of possibility?
Two nonfictions converge in my mind. The first is Jonathan Franzen’s essay on “obsolescence.” This appeared in some important magazine in the 1990s, I think. He obsesses over outdated technologies, describing how super capitalism sweeps everything along until we’re left pining for our forsaken toys. It’s fascinating — when we think about it — how vintage and quirk and tackiness are conservative impulses: resistance to change.
The second nonfiction is Carl Jung’s Man and His Symbols. The famed psychoanalyst predicts an overly serious and sterile scientific age will strip our minds of all the primal and mystic associations we have with objects.
If we’re not careful, we might just kill poetry — the same way synthetic fetilizer kills microorganisms, strips the soil of nutrients.
Spotify lets me track unique listeners and streams of my self-produced indie music. Recently I noticed an instrumental song from my shoddily produced first album getting a high number of plays in Australia. Turns out it was one listener, apparently repeating the song on an endless loop — nearly a hundred plays in a matter of days.
When I was a kid, whenever I felt alone, I’d put my favorite songs on repeat. Punk, classical, rap, whatever. I’d latch onto one song for a while, and its repetition would help me get through the day.
Maybe we have it backwards. Maybe the verdant parks are a giant bore. Maybe the landfills are where we should be going. The real treasure troves. “The region of resurrection,” Pyle says, “where the living soil arises from the wreckage of what went before.”
The most conservative impulse I have is to protect my family, to conserve the family unit in the face of change and dissolution. I thank my Mormon upbringing for instilling in me the importance of family. I stopped going to church when I was fourteen, but some of those values, the good ones, stayed with me and have helped me become a decent husband and father. I wish more churches welcomed people regardless of gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.
If God exists, she hates binaries.
I’m not sure compost is ever finished. After I pick out the sour, unintergrated parts, I rake the fresh humus into a silky mound — soft and pliable, almost like chocolate mousse.
I fill up the flower pots first. I spread it on rough patches in the lawn to boost water retention and root health. Lastly, I comb the compost into my garden. The nutrients will feed tomatoes, corn, strawberries, peas. By the end of summer, each crop will burn on the tongue with a distinct sweetness.
My greatest joy in life is working in my garden with my kids. It’s important they see and understand the process.
December 12, 2017
What stains the mind
from Joshua Oppenheimer’s film
on the Indonesian genocide
is how cavalier the killers are
about killing — when,
recalling the massacres,
they reprise their roles
in cartoonish pantomime,
how they’d take suspected communists
down to the river
and split their bellies open with knives.
When years later one victim’s brother
confronts the killers’ families without fear,
presses them for answers,
the look of silence ensues:
the look of irremediable loss,
of courage voided
and truth numb,
of thought and emotion
at last parted
by the silent fact of death.
What is it in us
that denies life?
What is it in us
that denies love?
In Peru, where my wife’s from,
it was the communist who slaughtered people.
In China, it was the Maoist
who broke people down
in the grist of propaganda.
In America, free men march in the streets
carrying torches and signs,
shouting how much other races don’t matter.
When entire people become fodder
for our anger, our anguish,
when human beings become abstract
in the status of enemy,
December 1, 2017
If you put down your phone right now
you’ll be bested by a thin carol
wafting on the dark.
If you go outside right now
you’ll see trees scuttling northward
in broken moonlight.
Days are holy if you love them wholly.
Believe some gifts are worth taking:
rainbow spritz, battle-axes,
inscrutable military insignia
to show people you’re great and virtuous.
If it’s not vintage, make it vintage —
by hating it until you love it.
Listen, indulge the meatheads, just a little.
Let the missionaries have their cake.
Fuck your lover. If you can’t fuck em
whisper that you will. Whisper red light.
Wear green sweaters.
If you don’t have sweaters, buy some.
If you don’t have money, make some.
Use old yarn from your grandmother’s house.
Love grandmothers if you can.
Love people if you can.
Let dying friendships die with grace.
Let good friendships bring you peace.
Close the door if you’re cold. Don’t pick up your phone.
Fold some napkins. Hold the air of your thoughts
till each is lit like a candle.
Devote yourself to holiness. Even fungus.
Keep what lives
glowing to Christmas morning.
November 30, 2017
Sometimes I ask my wife — a Latina — if she wants my sexy gringo bod.
Sometimes, when she’s cooking, I sneak up behind her and whisper super sexily in her ear, “You ready for the best two minutes of your life?”
She laughs. Then she hits me in the face with a frying pan.
Okay, she doesn’t really hit me, but she does tell me to fuck off occasionally. I’ve become a firm believer that the relative success of any female-male relationship depends on a male’s mental and emotional capacity to fuck off.
Men, that doesn’t mean you can’t be sexy beasts. You just have to know when to fuck off.
Like many men who grew up in the 1990s, I grew up with a certain wholesome image of the Byronic hero, the womanizer. I grew up admiring sleek playboys like Bruce Wayne and Zack Morris and more flippant, aspiring playboys like the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air because they were the ones who got the girls. I grew up listening to gangsta rap, which glorifies male dominance. I grew up partying with my bros, trying my best to get laid. I still like gangsta rap. In small doses. I still like partying. In small doses. And I certainly like getting laid. All you need to know about my generation — which was born analogue and converted to digital in its adolescence — is that American Pie was one of our defining movies. This is a film in which the young, horny protagonist literally humps an apple pie. Shocking? Revolting? I don’t know. The pie-humper in the film is pretty geeky, pretty insecure. Maybe there’s some vague moral arc between American Pie and our democratic notions of body/sex positivity in 2017. Probably not, though.
For many men, the dark, depressive, alienating, degrading, and toxic underside of go-go party culture has always been there. It’s something I’ve explored in my own work. It’s something I’ve experienced in my own life. Unbridled male individualism is not conducive to long-term relationships. There came a point in my own marriage when I had to choose between partying and, well, my marriage. When I had to grow up.
In the last few weeks, the #MeToo movement has grown bigger and revealed pervasive abuse throughout our society. For men out there, whether you’re a card-carrying feminist or a beer-swilling lumberjack like me, it’s important to let the women in your life know that they can tell you the truth. Not what you want to hear — that nothing about the #MeToo movement is your fault — just the truth. When simply asked, the two most important women in my life revealed horror stories from their past about men in positions of power abusing them.
“Toxic masculinity” is real. Unchecked, it can lead to self-destruction and/or violence.
Writing in Vulture about the new crime series Mindhunter, Angelica Jade Bastién hits on something important about male psychopathy:
“Each of these men reveal different qualities of misogyny, but it’s Ed Kemper (a standout Cameron Britton) who crystallizes what unites them on a deeper level beyond their whiteness, gender, and desire to degrade women: their utter banality.”
Maybe it’s no coincidence that our pop-cultural obsession with sophisticated serial killers rose in tandem with the male individualism of Playboy, the Beat Generation, rock music, etc. Maybe the transgressive artistic energy of the 1960s — much needed against old, repressive hierarchies — corroded, turned toxic, without proper restraint. In real life, there’s nothing sophisticated about serial killers. There’s nothing sophisticated about violence. It’s the cheapest, most unimaginative way to deal with rejection and resentment. Terrorists, mass shooters, serial killers, wife-beaters, employee-abusers aren’t criminal masterminds. They’re utterly banal in their motivations and actions.
My best advice for men in the sexual arena is to be self-deprecating. If you don’t take yourself too seriously, if you can laugh at yourself and your own stupidity, you’re probably not going to end up being a violent psychopath.
Rapport is also important. Genuine rapport between two human beings is hard to build. If you like making dirty jokes like me, know your audience. Maybe no one likes your jokes cuz they’re terrible. If you don’t know whether you have the proper rapport with someone to make a dirty joke, not knowing is usually an indication that you don’t have the proper rapport. The workplace is almost never the proper venue in which to test your material, especially if you’re in a position of power.
And alas, we come to consent. Consent is something most law-abiding men think is self-evident, but it’s not always self-evident. Everything you need to know about being a sexy man beast while respecting your partner can be found in Zaron Burnett III’s enlightening article on “enthusiastic consent.”
Remember, men, sexiness is good. Enjoy sex. Get your freak on. But know when to fuck off.
November 14, 2017
The clouds are thickening over the mountains, piling up in big white columns and coifs. Not a drop of moisture, though. I can feel the heat, the pent humidity. The sky wants to rain, wants to wash us clean in its tears, but it’s just not happening. It hasn’t happened for months. The drought here on the Nevada-California border is unremitting. Nothing more than this white-gray mugginess. The itch of my nose as weeds try to bloom. The buzz of a fly in a small room. I think it’s time to ask a question of the air, to just start talking, babbling to whomever or whatever is out there. I guess it’s as simple and easy as that.
ME: So a West Coast drought, huh?
GOD: Yeah, sorry.
ME: So you caused it?
GOD: No, not really, but I’m used to apologizing for everything.
ME: In that case, what the fuck’s wrong with the world?
GOD: Honestly, nothing. The world’s great. I consider it my masterpiece. Just look at the Amazon or the Sahara or Lake Tahoe. The world’s fine, exquisite, really.
ME: What about global warming? Won’t it destroy everything?
GOD: Well, it will destroy you but not the world. In geologic time, global warming will be a blip. Your species will try to adapt but slowly die off, and then nature will correct and life will go on.
ME: Holy shit! It sounds like you’ve given up on us.
GOD: It’s fair to say I’m at my wit’s end.
ME: Wait a minute. Isn’t this all kind of your fault? I mean, you gave every culture a different religion. All these competing languages and laws and meanings. Tower of Babel or whatever. It was just a matter of time before we killed each other. You made it really hard to know what was right.
GOD: Yes and no. I wasn’t perfect in my revelations, but I tried. I tried to give you what you needed to make it work, but you couldn’t make it work. You’re too screwed up, all of you.
ME: Bullshit. What have you given us? Nothing but mixed messages, if you ask me.
GOD: I didn’t ask you. You asked me. Remember? All you had to do was love each other, take care of each other.
ME: How could that be? There are all these crazy rules in the holy books that no one could ever live up to. You pretty much said, This is my standard, and everyone who doesn’t live up to it can go fuck themselves. How does that help us love each other?
GOD: Whoa, whoa, you’re putting words in my mouth. You guys are really good at that, always arguing about what I said and what I meant, taking everything out of context.
ME: Well, supposedly, you said a lot of shit. What context are we supposed to view it in other than THE WORD OF GOD?
GOD: How about in the spirit of God rather than any word or letter of the law. I’m talking about basic abstract thinking here, something I believe you’re all equipped with.
ME: Give me an example.
GOD: Okay, the gay thing. It drives me crazy. Here I am back in the Old Testament, right? I admit I was a little different back then. I thought I should be strict with you. Like the golden calf thing, remember? I was going to apocalypse everyone. But then Moses talked me down, said I was acting ridiculous, which I was. It took me a while to figure out how to handle you guys. You got to remember that back then, you couldn’t stop raping and pillaging each other. I was trying to establish some basic law and order — a primitive legal system, yes, but with some rather progressive policies for the time. Ever read Deuteronomy? Due process? I wanted you to learn about fairness and justice and harmony. But you’re right. It turned into all these little rules and admonitions, some of them beyond anal. Like the purity laws about women on their periods, how they’re unclean and untouchable. Well, that’s not really what I had in mind. I wanted men to respect women during their periods, to respect and revere the life-bearing processes I had designed. I wanted them to be considerate and deferential and, God forbid, helpful. It’s not easy, you know, menstruating. But I never had some oppressive patriarchy in mind. Men took my revelations and did what they do best. You know what I’m talking about.
ME: They wanted power.
GOD: It’s what men are good at — assuming power over their fellow creatures. It makes me sick, honestly.
ME: But you said something about the gay thing.
GOD: Right, right, the gay thing. So, someone takes my advice from back then about sleeping around, how the power of sex must be respected, blah, blah, blah — Just so you know, as a side note, my revelations are available to all; they’re as accessible as air. Despite what men tell you, prophets don’t have a monopoly on truth. Inspiration, knowledge, is there for everyone — Back to the point: I tried to be very clear about the power of sex and how it must be exercised responsibly. Of course men, in all their rashness, made it a rule about not lying with other men, as though homosexuality itself were somehow deviant. My thinking at the time was that no one should be fucking around with a man, a woman, a goat, whatever, when there was important stuff to be done. I was just trying to focus the assholes, no pun intended. Eons later, when I decided to approach the species differently, when I realized you guys could never agree on pretty basic civil rules, I sent my boy Jesus down. His mission was simple. He was supposed to teach you some humility so that love could enter your lives. He was supposed to be the guy who broke all the dead letters. You’ve read Schiller, right? His line about the dead letter replacing a living understanding? Rhetorical question. I know you have. Well, Jesus wanted to instill the living spirit in all of you so you could be confident in yourselves, treat others the way you wanted to be treated and fulfill the promise of life, which really means just letting go of fear so that love can enter…And he did his best. People would press him about which rules were true. They did everything they could to test his authority. But he was right when he said my commandments are simple: love me and love thy neighbor. You see the key word there, right? It’s not that hard. Everybody’s the same. Love is good. Hate is bad. But you guys are such assholes. Of course you went and screwed it all up. Jesus’s legacy, the spirit of his teachings, became a zombie story. Everyone started obsessing about how he rose from the dead and healed the sick and all these little magic tricks. You guys started fighting about the best way to obtain occult status, as if zombies were the ultimate goal of his teachings. Again, not what I had in mind. I didn’t want you to follow Jesus to become a zombie. I wanted you to follow his example, his way of living, the love he professed and how it could redeem life from ugliness and despair. You were like, Ooo, resurrection, we’re gonna live forever, we’re deathless. But that was never the point. The point was that only in love could you be deathless, that only love and forgiveness could save you, could grow new life within no matter what you had lost or how you had suffered. I wasn’t trying to make a Michael Jackson Thriller video! I even sent you Buddha, years before Christ, as a failsafe. I tried my hardest to pull you out of the Stone Age. But then you took wisdom from every corner of the world and did what you did best. You built a Dark Age. So I sent you Newton. I gave you a glimpse of truth. Things started improving. The Renaissance. The Enlightenment. You started using your brain again. We got to the Romantic period, Mary Wollstonecraft, all this talk of democracy and an egalitarian society. Beautiful, and then, well, the French Revolution, World Wars, the Twentieth Century. I pretty much sat on the edge of the world and wept for a hundred years. I let my toes go numb in the ocean. It was just brutal. You guys took all your knowledge, all your enlightenment, and found more ruthless ways to kill each other.
ME: So wait, back up. Nothing in the Bible should be taking literally? It’s all about the spirit of love and divinity?
GOD: It’s not rocket science. It’s a book. Not necessarily better than any other book out there. Ever read Virginia Woolf? She’s a freaking genius!
ME: So what’s the gay thing you kept referring to but never fully explained?
GOD: Right, right, so you have this religious revival in the Twentieth Century in America, rooted in the evangelical tradition. And that’s great, right? Return to the virtue of love? Let it be a light to lead us out of a violent century? Except some of the ministers start getting on this gay kick, like, O, it’s so sinful, we can’t have this in our society. And I’m like, Really? You just dropped a fucking nuclear bomb on Japan and you’re worried about two men being in love with each other? Jesus H. Christ! Do you have critical-thinking faculties? Op, rhetorical question. I know you do because I gave them to you. Then these same men start forming political groups and going ape-shit over gay marriage, saying mankind’s losing its way and all this, and I’m like, No, you got it backwards. I want people to commit to marriage, to know the beauty and satisfaction of devotion. I want gay couples to get married. In any church, really. Or in a courthouse for all I care. Don’t you get it? You guys are nuts. You’re screwing it all up again. In every way you’re violating the spirit of the law: one law: love. Make your laws fair and equitable based around that supreme ideal. Can you do that? You know if you did do that, the Devil would end up writing a blog for Evil Times that no one would ever read. He knows if guys just shut up for a minute and embrace each other that he’d be out of work. He’d come crawling right back to me. And know what? I’d probably forgive the fucker. I’m so sick of this battle. But guess what men are good at? Guess what keeps the Devil going?
GOD: Right. Read Foucault? He explains your problem pretty well. Maybe because he was gay and had to go through all that shit. But what do you think I’m like when it comes to sexuality? I mean, I encompass all things. I’m in all of you. There is nothing I don’t know, haven’t seen or haven’t done, if you get my drift….
ME: You’re gay?
GOD: Please, don’t pigeonhole me. If I were a material being, I’d be pansexual. All-encompassing?! That’s the thing, though. People need to stop thinking of me in physical terms, as if I’m something that exists in the literal, objective world of flesh and bone. I’m really just an idea, a voice in your head, a buried mirror, the deepest reference point within yourself. I’m your greatest imaginary friend, and that’s all I need to be to ennoble your behavior, to call forth the best in you. You know you’re just talking to yourself right now, right? And that’s okay.
ME: Whoa, this shit’s blowing my mind.
GOD: I do that from time to time.
ME: So am I somehow special cuz I’ve figured all this out?
GOD: No, you’re a fucking idiot. That’s what you all don’t get. You’re all fucking idiots. I hold you all in the same esteem. Shakespeare is just as precious to me as Miss Loretta Brown who lives down the street from you.
ME: You know Loretta?
GOD: I know everyone. And you’re all stupid. You each have your little window on the truth and are assured you’re right. But none of you are right. You’re all so far from the complete picture. I wish you could see it — what I see. It’s amazing. It’s like being in love with all creation, noticing every little thing, every little creature, every little shift in the wind, and embracing it all as you would embrace a part of your own body. Some of you are lucky. You feel that love for someone else in your life, a spouse, a child. You wonder where it came from, this love, what it means, what death will do to it. You’re so fearful that you’ll lose it. And I wish you could just relax, realize that the seed of infinite love is in you. I swear it’s there. It’s only in the growing that you fuck it up. God, how humanity could be beautiful. I wanted you to be my greatest creation.
ME: You’re starting to scare me. This is some serious shit.
GOD: Want to know something more fucked up? I’m omniscient, yes, omnipresent, yes, but I’m not omnipotent. I thought I was at one point. I thought I was strong enough to hold you all up, to give you one chance after another, but I’m not. I’m exhausted. I’m defeated. I’m heartbroken. I feel like a failure. And I can’t help but think that my God is teaching me a lesson about humility.
ME: Wait a second. You have your own God? How does that work? God, you there?
I look back outside and see the clouds have shifted, revealing an inner darkness in the sky. A few raindrops hit my back patio. They leave dark, wet circles on the concrete. I expect more to follow, but nothing happens. The circles vanish in the heat.
November 7, 2017
Author’s note: This story is loosely based on an interview of Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle published in The Record-Courier…
November 6, 2017
October 10, 2017
Blankets over the tomatoes, frost creeping in. Mountains in the background, glazed with snow. I get to see the mountains every day from my…