Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Schizologue #4

A: Where are we now?

B: In Auburn.  In our bedroom.  Is that what we're looking for?

A: Maybe something a little less literal.

B: Well, we are about to make some pretty big changes.

A: Such as?

B: We've decided, sight unseen, to move to New Mexico.

A: Why?

B: We know why.

A: Of course we do, but don't we talk to ourself so publicly so that we might let others . . . ?

B: Nice day out.

A: Yes it is.

B: So we're of one mind.

A: Sort of.  We share the same mind, but we don't always get along with each other.

B: What does that mean, exactly?

A: That should be evident to both of ourselfs.

B: "Ourselfs" isn't a word.

A: We made it up.  Look, we're obviously trying to steer this conversation away from what we were talking about.

B: We're very observant.  What were we talking about, exactly?

A: New Mexico.

B: Oh, right.

A: Why are we going there?

B: There's something there that we need to find out.

A: We're being a bit vague and mysterious.

B: We're that way by nature.

A: And annoying.

B: That, too.

A: Then why are we talking about this at all?

B: Sometimes we need to let a little air out before we pop.

A: Do we really know why we're going there?

B: Not entirely.

A: But we are.

B: Yes.

A: Because we have something to find out.

B: Because we have something to find out.



Sunday, August 31, 2014

Precedence

There is a lawyer
a scholar of rules
who calls me Brother
who seeks devotion
who begs obeisance
for his is hallowed ground
but his foolish Brother
constructed of spit and clay
and unsteeped in precedence
that holy of holies
falls so short of perfection
as to void all virtue
and justify lies
that tell a new story
writ in misery and hate
of a soulless manchild.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Karen: A Biography

My much older sister harshly criticized my previous post, "My Life, Semi-Abridged."  After she spouted forth a stream of words so profane as to make a sailor blush, she called me "too negative."  Greatly humbled, I decided to write a much more positive biography of her life.  Enjoy and be amazed.


*********************

Karen Anita Dryden was born on June 23, 1957, in Washington, DC, the eldest child of David and Dona Dryden.  She was brought forth into great privilege, her father being a U.S. Senator and her mother an heiress to the Chef Boyardee fortune.  She was a bright child who learned to read while still in diapers, at age eleven.

When Karen was twelve, a series of fires broke out in federal buildings.  Suspecting his daughter's involvement, David decided against seeking another term in office, and the whole family, now consisting of seventeen children, moved to its massive landholdings in Brigham City, Utah.  David returned to his law practice for five years, before reentering politics by joining the mayoral race.  He was the clear front runner, before Karen once again put an end to his ambitions.

At the age of seventeen, Karen gave birth to her first known child, a bastard she named Mark Andrew.  In a last ditch effort to stay in the race, David and Dona claimed Mark as their own child.  However, rumors of Karen's promiscuity quickly spread through town, exposing the family to much hostility, including accusations that Karen was a witch.  David was not only forced to drop out of the race, but the entire clan was driven from town, having to sell its properties, including the largest peach orchard in the inter-mountain west, at a loss.

The family, including Mark, settled in Alabama, but Karen chose to stay in Utah, moving to the liberal bastion of Salt Lake City, where she found friends more tolerant of her lifestyle.  Karen joined a gang, who called themselves the "Madrigals" and were heavily involved in the distribution of methamphetamines to schoolchildren.  The gang was infiltrated by undercover federal agents, and its key players were all arrested.  Karen got off with minimal jail time by agreeing to testify against her friends.

Her six months in jail changed her greatly.  She converted to Islam, then back to Mormonism.  After her release, she served a mission for her church in Taiwan.  It was there that she met her future husband, Kè Léi Gé Wòkè, a Han Chinese engineer who worked on an oil rig near Kaohsiung.  She moved in with him when he emigrated to the United States, where he adopted the American name Craig Walker.  They eventually settled in small-town Americus, Georgia, where they opened a little restaurant called "Kè Léi Gé's Super Happy Food Place."  They married, and the next year Karen gave birth to her first legitimate child, named David after his grandfather.  The birth of this boy helped Karen make peace with her estranged family.  She and Craig eventually had seven more children, all girls.

Meanwhile, Mark (whose middle name had, for unclear reasons, been changed to Rasputin) had been raised to believe that his grandparents were his parents.  On his twenty-fifth birthday, Karen decided that it was time that Mark knew the truth.  After giving him a pair of knitted legwarmers, her standard birthday present, she told him who his real mother was.  He reacted poorly, eventually becoming addicted to both Kaopectate and Ex-Lax.  After years of intestinal confusion, he entered rehab, where he was able to kick his habits.  However, doctors have told him that his bowels will never be the same.

Despite her advanced age, Karen still occasionally stops by the restaurant to greet guests.   Now well into her fifties, she is sadly illiterate, though she derives much enjoyment from listening to audio books.  She is a curmudgeonly old goat, though still absolutely adorable.



Karen Dryden Walker, August 2014


Monday, August 25, 2014

The Ash

"Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.”
-Leonard Cohen


I write poetry.  I don't know that I'm any good at it, but I'm a poet, and I've posted several poems on this blog.  Poetry, for me, comes from pondering something approaching truth, sometimes to the point of exhaustion, until words come to my fingers.  I then rewrite until my fingers agree with my brain.  I've written some terrible poems, that's for sure, but I've written and posted a couple that I've read repeatedly and still like.

"Magnanimity" was posted in May of 2012.  It reflects my feelings about the peculiar type of close-mindedness found among self-aggrandizing men who aspire to be recognized for authority they don't have.  They are so sure of their greatness that they don't recognize the unjust nature of their actions.  I was inspired by specific experiences and specific people in my life, who caused me great harm with no hint of remorse.  I constantly tell myself that I'm moving on, but in all honesty I'll never be over their betrayal.  This poem is a monument. 

That same month I posted "Things Desired, A Long Time Ago."  I've tried many times to explain my childhood, but nothing I have ever said or written has summed it up as well as this poem.  Children want to feel significant.  They want excitement.  They want peace.  They want signs that they are loved.  So I've listed some of my past (and, in some cases, still present) desires.

Poems should express a single thought, which explains why I have chosen to include virtually no punctuation in most of mine.  I consider each of these to be a single sentence.  I know that this can sometimes make them confusing, but that's the way they are, and that's the way they will be.

I only write poems when my soul is on fire.  I need to have some modicum of clarity to reach that level.  I don't burn if my mind is muddled.  By the way, you may have noticed that I haven't posted a poem in quite a while.  That's not a coincidence.  I'm not living.  I see no ash in my future.  I'm in the process of forcing a change that may revive me.  Let's see if the words can find the fingers again.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Phototropism

The truest photograph of a child captures love, fear, want, sorrow, mischievousness, joy, insecurity, powerlessness, dependence, drive, excitement, curiosity.  It freezes that child, in a single frame, in the light of time.  It can be posed or not, but the best photo does not try to portray that child as anything other than what he or she, so ephemerally, is.

I was (and am) uniquely sensitive and shy, and so I absorbed everything but shared it with no one.  What would a skilled photographer have found in me?  A closed book?  A coldness?  A sadness?

Phototropism occurs when a plant's growth is affected by the positioning of a light source.  The plant will curve towards the light so that it might receive more energy for photosynthesis, so that it might live and grow.  We also seek out light, move toward it in the darkness, grow in its direction.  It's sometimes not easy for people like me to encounter the brightness of light.  I cower from it, but it ultimately draws me back.  I seek its warmth and its glow, but I scream inside for a return to darkness, to naivete, to ignorance.

But ignorance does not bring joy.  Once must risk misery in order to be truly happy.  My own pain comes from inaction, from a fear of heartbreak, from the thought that I'm not meant to be happy.  I hide my light under a bushel, despite the inherent danger to my psyche.  I do believe I have talents.  I need to know what they are, and I need to find a way to use them.  I have a feeling that I make it harder than it need be.

Monday, August 18, 2014

My Life, Semi-Abridged

You once asked me to share my story with you.  It goes like this.

I was born in Brigham City, Utah, on October 12, 1978, the eighth child, and fourth son, of David and Dona Dryden.  I was four when we moved to Mobile, Alabama, and six when we moved to Auburn, Alabama.  I grew up in Auburn.  I've lived in several other places since, but I live in Auburn now.  Stuff happened.  There's my story.

Did you want to know more?  Well, as a newborn I was dropped onto a cement floor and landed on my head.  As a five-year old my brother broke my leg by dropping me on the floor.  I suffered a concussion when I was flung from a merry-go-round.  I suffered a concussion when I slipped in water on the driveway.  I knocked a tooth out when I ran into a wall trying to catch a baseball.  I cut off the bottom of a toe while running from my brother, who was throwing rocks at me.  That same brother threw a flashlight at my head, hitting me right between the eyes.  That should do it.

Oh, I've also read a lot of books.  I was four at the oldest when I figured out how to read.  By the time I was ten I had read Dr. Seuss and Laura Ingalls Wilder and Roald Dahl and Madeleine L'Engle and C.S. Lewis and John Bellairs and E.L. Konigsburg and John Steinbeck and George Orwell and cetera.   I've read some books since then, but I'm bored, and they're of little consequence.

I've also listened to a lot of music.  Most of siblings are much older than me.  I grew up listening to their music.  a-ha, Fine Young Cannibals, General Public, New Order, OMD, R.E.M., Simple Minds, Simply Red, Talking Heads, Tears for Fears, Thompson Twins, U2, UB40.  I developed an independent musical sensibility just in time for the meteoric rise of Biz Markie.  Repeatedly singing the chorus to "Just a Friend" helped me discover my greatest talent . . . being really, really annoying.  I've listened to other music in my life, but that's none of your business.

When I was born, my dad was an attorney.  We lived, all ten of us, in half a duplex.  We moved to Mobile when my dad was rehired by the Mormon Church to work for its Church Educational System.  We moved to Auburn when he was transferred to work with college and high school students in the area.  He was fired by the Church in 1988, for fairly justifiable reasons.  We lived off my mother's income as a secretary until my dad got a job as a janitor in a Church meetinghouse.  We were hungry and angry people.  The Church helped with food, which kept us going.  There's more, but my self-pity has its limits.

I went to school.  I hated it.  I grew into adolescence and adulthood, sort of.  There.  That's it.  I once put our dog in the freezer.  That's really it.  No more.  The end.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Bravery

I don't yet know why I'm telling you about this experience.  I'm sure it will eventually tie into something I have to say, however tangentially.

I was walking in downtown Houston, and a man sitting on a bench asked if I had any spare money.  I told him I didn't and continued walking.  I was wearing jeans and a short-sleeved shirt.  He told me I must be cold.  I was, a little.  It was about fifty degrees, I think, and windy.  But here was a real person.  He was slightly disheveled, certainly, and was missing teeth and wearing old clothes, but he was a man.  He was shivering in his jean jacket.  I am not a social person, but I turned around and somehow we started chatting, mostly about J.J. Watt and the Texans' terrible season.  When I left him, I shook his hand and asked him his name.  He told me and then thanked me for talking.  He said he never got to have a conversation anymore.

During our talk, he asked me if I was also homeless.  An unusual question, and one that made me rethink my wardrobe, but the thing is, at that moment I could briefly see a future where I was on the street.  I was miserable and close to penniless at that point in the month.  One little thing could easily have sent me down that path, so I thought then.

This was one of those days that I had summoned the courage to go outside, mostly because there was a play I very much wanted to see, and downtown Houston is like a ghost town on Sundays.  I thought I could stand it.  The play was OK, and I didn't have a panic attack, so I judged the day a relative success.

I'm a coward, really.  When I do something even a little brave, it usually leads to people being mad at me and my goals not being achieved anyway.  Every once in a while, though, I do something I always wanted to do but never thought I could, and I actually end up happy.  Let's see if that happens soon.  I sure would like it to.

Little acts of bravery add up.  A man living on the street, asking for spare change from hostile and indifferent passersby.  A guy with agoraphobia finding a way to make himself interact with his community.  A creative person putting her work out to be judged.  A single mother carrying her children's burdens, despite being nearly crushed by her own.  Perhaps the act of living is bravery.  What do you think?  Because I sure could use some help being brave.