Boston

Today I got vampired too early. Drained of every physical sign of life through the tidal wave of information assailing me on Patriots’ Day from a city notorious for harbor outcry and dumped tea. Boston is forever locked at 1770 and 1773 in my brain, having never explored its modern day incarnation and choosing to favor its place in the history of rebellion and unfair taxation angst. It’s forever white wigged and powdered in the memory of me; my apologies to the aliens left to dissect this.

Anyway, as I sit in this coffee shop watching people wander by in the green and white and yellow scarves that are the calling card of a local soccer fan, I search myself for the center of this storm, the calm part of my consciousness better equipped to process the too much information. Though it happened hours ago, I still have not released the memory of blood splattered streets, a fluid filled abstract expression, a collection of ink blots with DNA imprints a doctor will press to medical files if you’ll just offer what you think it looks like. That one looks like a butterfly…like a man on a horseback…like a viking raider…like a rose cut off at the petals.

Yes, please go on.

American martyrs tallied on the screen, portraits of violence in the street. Cops grasping radios and guns hunting frantically for the source of smoke and fire. People wrapping belts and ties around legs to secure gruesome wounds until emergency workers arrive and offer boards and syringes and speed. These faces offer no anger or resentment or fear, just the locked expressions of people high-tuned into urgency. As of this writing three people are confirmed dead, and approximately 100 are being treated at area hospitals; 15 are in critical condition. In the coming days these numbers are likely to rise, and more information will be released regarding severed limbs, permanent loss of faculties, ongoing surgeries and treatments, and what exactly shook people off their feet and switched cheers to screams.

Meanwhile, frantic social networks spool public reaction, even before Google News begins reporting the first embers of St. Elmo’s fire. Major news sites choke on the flood of inspectors tallying information about the outcome. Many will read exactly enough to feed their faces a full second, and will then post lengthy complaint about the coverage, their feelings about who did what and the Great Big Why. It’ll be like school shootings, only with less wonder of how someone could do such a thing, because whoever did this is definitely Not Like Us.

Everyone is busy today. One: people who perceive this as a great opportunity to talk about the capitalist/imperialist tyranny of America, pointing to instances of especially violent political idiocy (both previous and ongoing) to underscore the sentiment that citizens should get over this through acknowledgement that our own government is dastardly on the daily. Two extremes should cancel each other out and set your cry meter to neutral; you’re a terrible fascist if you feel otherwise.

Two: people using this as a chance to express personal prejudices with new justification, despite an absence of information regarding the identity of the perpetrator(s). The (insert religious/political/nationalist group here) are exactly the sort of sand demons we’ve always imagined them to be, so let’s launch a campaign with a title plucked straight from a video game and packed with onomatopoeia until their death toll defies numeric descriptions. Operation Whistle Bang. Operation Fist of Death. Operation Fizzbang. More than one online source has already called dibs on Operation Tea Bag.

Three: conspiracy theorists, currently gathering and simmering just the right stew of information and speculation, likely to be served with a side of photographs blown up in isolated places and hastily circled with editing tools. Conspiracy theorists need to set every dot on the table before connecting them, before they’re certain the event exists to distract from another event, and while frequently there’s a nugget of terrible truth the full truth often emerges as more warped and depraved than what can be conjured by all but the most creative minds. I learned this lesson reading the book Area 51, which poses the theory that the so-called aliens occupying the dark corners of Hanger 18 are actually the unfortunate results of Russian genetic experiments that created creatures to capitalize on War of the Worlds hysteria. This was beyond what my own brain could cook. I actually like the aliens idea better. I will likely also like aliens better than whatever truth emerges about Boston.

The speed with which people enter a place of criticism and speculation with no opportunity for mourning leaves me lingering on the emotional constipation of our nation. Armchair utterances often erupt from angry self-righteous places, perhaps perpetuated by people who find compassion in the immediate aftermath uncomfortable. Empathy is not a comfortable feeling; it challenges your own shoes, where the emotional pallet is familiar and organized. Empathy is spontaneous. It’s derailing. In this instance, it requires the acknowledgment of pain. Still, it is possible to simply feel, even when it’s inconvenient, unscheduled, and awful.

And yet, I get it. This isn’t easy for me, either, and I’m not discounting anger as a valid emotion. Can feel snark gurgling in the back of my throat and threatening to surface in a blast of adolescent expression. There’s a desire to carve distance from people who live in another city and another state that I can’t verify the existence of unless I fully trust the narrative of headlines and history books. With such energy around this event, this isn’t just distance, it’s isolation; it’s preservation of the personal sphere to a degree that strips the existence of something greater. These thoughts of anger and confusion and bitter humor exist but won’t yet leave my mouth, because today is for Death to complete his horrible harvest, while we hold space and offer help and accept that no scientific innovation or preemptive strike or isolation will spare us from surprise.

 

Drinking Games of the Future 3 – 2013

Just like sci-fi authors thought cars would fly but mimeograph machines would crank out purple tinted sheets of paper forever, our predictions of maybe-tomorrow are likely wrong.

Envision the world noticeably not ending in 2012: hundreds of thousands of saluting citizens standing holding hands on the edge of a cliff, eyes closed and breath held, waiting for the kick from behind…only to find that time is passing and their hands are getting sweaty and they have to breathe and let go, and well…get some sleep. The alarm is going off.

The calendar rolls over into 2013 and everyone stands around, nail-biting directionless, hoping for another apocalypse promise potent enough to renew the tail chase. Monday morning splinters every survivalist dream: garbage trucks feed the landfill; mail trucks drop-off garbage; the bus driver is in a bad mood; the passengers stick plastic devices in ears and hunt for a glimpse of future happiness through the window; the passengers leave the bus and walk through doors that automatically open and tightly suck-seal behind them. Later the same passengers don’t enjoy a miserable ride home, where they log in to their computers and social network sites and update their statuses, maybe with a solid sentence of abbreviation. In 2013 words are officially inconvenient.

2013: an unended world leaves everything ruined. Hundreds of thousands of former college students receive love letters from the number one unstoppable apocalypse cockroach, Sallie Mae. Great Idol of Whoops-What-Was-I-Thinking, she hovers above the growing broke class with her hand out, the smirking Statue of Liberty officially christened her mascot. Boston Harbor fills with box upon box of useless degrees, delivered to students in unopened cardboard tubes. The government huffs and balls up tight fists, raping checking accounts and tax returns, directly docking pay. Former students fire back by paying off student loans with credit cards prior to declaring bankruptcy, or asking to be paid in cash, or ceasing work all together, electing to erect tent cities or be perpetually in motion, running away from the empty expectation that the dollar would ever inflate, allowing us to earn more or at least as much as our parents. Burn the whole thing down. Tent cities. Forest Park.

Meanwhile, somewhere on universe-earth, one or two rogue citizens stand on front porches, contemplating the existence of kindred spirits, or maybe wondering about the last time they physically touched someone in a way that didn’t feel hurried. Then it digs deeper and they wonder what it would be like to love without caution, and each thinks that they could probably do this now, because fuck it, what better use of time than that, exactly that. It’s the only thing worth throwing at the stars. Then each one of them sighs, and opens a battered library book to read until sleeping – both certain that no one else living and thinking could possibly agree with something so beautiful and reckless.

2013 could mean anything for me, perhaps sitting underneath a tree transcribing the events of the latest war between the angels, different sides this time, but mountains still tossed while the powerless messenger cries and outlines the speeches of Lucifer and the violent retort of a sword swinging Michael. I could be pushing a shopping cart stuffed solid with bean-guts stuffed animals and empty cans of whip cream, muttering about how something was supposed to happen, on August and the Day of 8, in the 20 and 10, the 20 and 11, the 20 and 12. In 2011 there was supposed to be a tsunami and a wave from an earthquake offshore, the dam was supposed to break and flood the river, Portland was supposed to be underwater. And the green turned brown was supposed to turn to ash, and all of the mountains were supposed to start speaking, these mountains that are really volcanos, seconds from being burped awake from some new magnetic pull, and all these auroras were supposed to speak to me, to wrap my head in a multi-colored cloud during some lost Sunday morning.

Or maybe I’ll have a family passing strangers label “nice” and someone somewhere will color me a “good person” over coffee and inside my burning ears will be the faint tingle of satisfaction. When my head hits the pillow I’ll summon sleep in an instant, and my dreams will be fields of flowers and a gentle hand tucking a stray strand of hair behind my ear, in a sensation so far beyond soothing my deepest sound rings true, if detectable only by bats. I don’t know.

I don’t know.

Somewhere in 2010 reality revealed itself to be a system of mirrors arranged to pull me deeper into maze. In a blink I switched the maze to corn, so the aliens can leave a footprint, you know, if they want. Then I peeled off my skin to activate, to consider the possibility of love as LOVE, of human as super, to embrace what never comes next. The only thing worth throwing at the stars.