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I’ve been getting a bit of mail lately expressing concern over my lack of posts … my hunkered-down state of silence. For the caring concern, I am more than grateful; in fact, I consider each reaching out a lifeline.

For any who actually wish access to the machinations in my head, here are some recent thoughts as scribbled on my scribble pads:

I sail my thoughts
into the sea
toward tempest-tossed,
moon-driven,
wind-inspired
indifferent waves.

It throws them back.

Like Tatooine
my world
knows two sons
Revolves around both
One has set
The other has yet to fully rise
But so same they are
So brilliant

I see so many taking life in small bites completely unaware of the feast before them.

Insignificant sexual encounters, ego-bolstering events, some fleeting gratification of one sort or another.

Too often they never even bother to chew — just swallow whole, missing even the flavor of the moment.

Like digital photography there is no development process, just a click and a smile and an unjustified sense of accomplishment.

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A Report On My Time In Ert

Arrived, as I have over the past couple of years, sometime in May and could stay through the middle of August.

The weather has been hot and dry and doing its part to create the perfect ambiance of malaise required for any holiday in Ert. A spotty Internet connection is offset by the presence of hammocks. The food is tasteless, but on the up-side there’s not much of it.

Would have sent out many postcards reading, “Wish I were there!”, but the point escapes me.

Been passing time with side trips, spending hours and days in Vain, heartily … or half … encouraging apparently retarded seeds to germinate. Any blooming thing could terminate this visit, and I could be packed and ready in a quick hurry, but so far there’s no sign of anything that can be relied upon to root and shoot any time soon.

Have been taking part in many of the activities on offer; frustration, thwarting, vexation, tribulation, angst and anxiety are all scheduled daily.

I am expecting a guest soon and planning to shorten my stay here considerably. Although misery does love company, neither in Ert nor in Vain does one comfortably travel in pairs so we’ll have to get the hell outta Dodge for the duration.

After that, who knows? I am hoping my next stop isn’t in Solvent.

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Mornings are weird

WTF ... On with the show ...

Mornings are weird. Or at least my mornings are weird.

I do wake up to an amazing view of the Indian Ocean sparkling back at me the first rays of the rising sun … most certainly not what a great deal of the world sees upon opening eyes … but this can hardly be the reason I so often have the most ridiculous collection of words in my head.

This morning’s offering:

Harry Potter to Voldemort :
Your eventual demise is as plain as the nose on your face.

Huh?

Sure, I got a bit of a giggle out of that one, but I do wonder where this shit comes from.

I recall just waking from a dream in which I was packing to either move or travel with the aid of a conveyance that was some combination of very long planks attached to things much like skateboards upon which I precariously loaded cases and boxes and … oh … a couple of dogs and Helmut, our giant tortoise. What this has to do with bad jokes of computer generated images of a fictional character I have no idea.

This happens often, waking with words. Occasionally I’ll write them down. This, for example, popped out fully formed a few years ago and amused me enough to prompt a jotting:

A Sir road in on a sorrel stallion
(Or was it a Rogue on a roan?
A boy on a bay … ?
A charmer on a chestnut … ?
A girl on a gelding …?
Light wasn’t good and
a brown one is a brown one is a brown one … )
and shouted:
The devil is in the details!
Pay attention!

It has occurred to me to try to examine these bursts of whatever the hell they are for some sort of meaning or root or cause or greater significance, but end up rejecting the thought. Like a theater critic must interrupt enjoyment of a performance to note technical aspects, picking apart what’s happening in my subconscious mind smacks of unnecessary breaking of flow and I’d rather just enjoy the show, especially those that leave behind a Playbill.

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Apologies for this convoluted mess of a post. I’m processing, and that’s not a tidy endeavor, so this thing is all over the place …

Being a reader and a writer, I suppose it makes sense that I often think of life in terms of books.

One of my favorite images, developed when I was a kid and honed over the years, is of internal libraries we each carry with us; volume after volume of stories lining endless shelves and constantly being added to. The history section grows as we age, as does general knowledge and reference works, and although some are better than others at retrieving info we know is there, just about everyone is aware of the fact that dusty corners hold stuff we haven’t bothered to look at in a very long time.

I use my library as an aid to meditation and often find illumination for troubling issues while wandering the stacks. There’s an entire section with nothing but numbers on the spines … all in Roman numerals. (I don’t know why, but that’s what it is.) The first is marked “I” and I can trail my finger along … V, X, XXV, XXXIII, XL, L … and stop where it feels right. Each book is a rough accounting of one year of my life, yet none are finished but have blank pages interspersed throughout since many of the yarns have yet to complete their weaving.

The library itself is inside a book inside my head, but much like reading on my iPad, I have no idea how thick this book might be. I know I’m a good way through, but just how far from The End, I can’t see. It could very well be that the next turn of the page is the last … or perhaps there are still quite a few chapters.

I might sketch notes in the corners if I could get to those pages by somehow jumping ahead — they are fairly blank, after all — but thumbing forward is futile and ends up heading back through chapters on history. That’s not a bad thing. Not at all. In fact, filling in gaps can be quite helpful even without knowing how it all ends.

One rule of fiction writing dictates everything included in a story must either reveal character or advance plot. Interestingly, reads back through my book seem to indicate that rule was followed even though at the time it seemed either nothing was happening or what happened was scripted by the William S. Burroughs school of writing. Oh, those not-so-lovely Deus ex Machina moments that make no sense at all … the shit asteroids falling from a clear, blue sky … the people popping up seemingly out of left field and tagging up … the bright, shiny objects floating into the path and compelling me to follow.

Yep, those WTF moments, the where-the-hell-did-that-come-from issues … when looking back in the Big Book of Sandra I do get the idea that all these shredded threads actually unspool from a source and following the fragments is possible. Some of it even makes sense when looking at it backwards, or if not sense at least symmetry. After all, I’m where I am now and getting here is what the story’s been about … so far.

As a new year begins, the image of blank pages ready for filling presents, but I’m not writing my life, just living it. It’s not me setting the scene but the sea and the clouds and the blue sky above, the bird chirps, the sound of the dog’s leg tapping along in time to her scratching happening with no need to be described … it all just is.

I can’t write others’ actions or reactions. I can’t build a character who loves me enough, never lets me down or saves the day. It’s not for me to calculate another’s trajectory and where it intersects mine. I can want to, but I can’t DO it. No. What is, is.

What also “is” is the part I can’t know — the part composing on its own. Are we coming toward an unexpected plot twist? A lottery win? The death of a loved one? Someone wonderful about to enter stage right? Cancer? A job offer? A heart attack?

Any or all of that could be part of the plot … well, not the lottery thing, since apparently you have to actually buy tickets and I don’t … and if I die tonight, my book is done and I’ll be filed away in the libraries of those who know me, but will continue to fill pages in others’ books … cross-references are a huge part of the life of Life books and parts of my story will continue to be included in the story of others for a while.

My volume varies in size from library to library … much thicker in my grown daughter’s than in Cj’s, for example … and there will be many different versions of my story. The version I have access to now will never be read by anyone, so no one will ever know the me of me that I know, just as I can’t know the them of any of them. Our stories are not only unique, they are forever beyond the comprehension of anyone, even ourselves; unfathomable biographies covering millions of seconds, each leading to the next until they stop doing that.

And there will be rewrites, some kind, some less so, but all tailored to fit the edition to the library hosting.

If I could write the rest of my life, I would end the book for MMX with ” … and she lived happily ever after to the end of her days”, then start on a new one with an outline for just how that would unfold making sure there were many, many pages left for all the great stories about to commence. For all I know, however, it’s already written, and perhaps that is how it goes. Maybe I do live happily ever after. Maybe all the carefully composed outlines have forged themselves in some sort of unassailable form that MUST be followed. Maybe. For now, though, all I can do is look forward to the read … and the ride.

For all who’d like to take a look,
my life is but an open book.

But please, I beg you, all my friends,
some word if you know how it ends.

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Seeing as how it’s a Monday and all, it seems a good idea to start this week off without kvetching about all the crap going on in the world, but rather spend some time amusing myself … and maybe you.

Always a good first stop is the alternative news entertainingly offered up in layers, and when The Onion disses my bro, it’s even better.

Some are forgiven for not getting the ribbing here, since the story is not at all outrageous if you know him …

“We were told to come over for a late brunch, but as soon as he answered the door in his tanker helmet, I knew we’d be playing World War II with him again,” said Howard, adding that he realized he was in for the full treatment when he glimpsed Martin Short and Bruce Springsteen standing at attention in the foyer. “I suggested maybe having some coffee or a muffin first, but he stared at me and said that I was a private and should just follow orders.”

Having wet myself with this taste of what could easily morph into an urban myth the likes of Richard Gere’s gerbil, I move along to Snopes, where a bit of a bloggy quiz pops into mind.

Which of the following is true:

1) The penis of gangster John Dillinger is on display at the Smithsonian

2) The band 10cc was so named because the term represents the amount of semen in an average ejcaulation

3) A man stapled his scrotum back together after slicing it open while masturbating with shop machinery

4) The size of a man’s nose, hands or feet is a reliable indicator of the size of his penis

Take your time.

If you picked number three, you’re probably as grossed out as I am by the fact that this is a real happening, although, if you’re in the same sort of Monday mood, you won’t be too shocked by the stupidity exhibited by some.

Here’s part of the doctor’s report, which comes will an illustration:

An unmarried loner, he usually didn’t leave the machine shop at lunchtime with his co-workers. Finding himself alone, he had begun the regular practice of masturbating by holding his penis against the canvas drive-belt of a large floor-based piece of running machinery. One day, as he approached orgasm, he lost his concentration and leaned too close to the belt. When his scrotum suddenly became caught between the pulley wheel and the drive-belt, he was thrown into the air and landed a few feet away. Unaware that he had lost his left testis, and perhaps too stunned to felt much pain, he stapled the wound closed and resumed work. I can only assume he abandoned this method of self-gratification.

I’m betting the guy only claimed to be an “unmarried loner” in an effort to save a lifetime of grief from his wife.

So starts the week …

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If you were in charge, what would you do if you came across a dude who is known to have run camps that kidnapped kids, then trained them to be soldiers? Not just one camp, but seven of them. Keep in mind that this would be in Africa, the guy’s nickname is “the Terminator”, and he is on the UN war crimes list as a wanted man.

According to the BBC, what the UN has done is given him a job.

An indicted war criminal is playing a leading role in the UN mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to documents seen by the BBC.

A Congolese army paper suggests ex-rebel leader Gen Bosco Ntaganda has a major part in the command chain, says a BBC correspondent in the country.

The UN-Congolese force is fighting Hutu rebels in the eastern DR Congo.

Well, that’ll teach him.

On the off chance that you’re not familiar with the plight of children taken for soldiering in the DRC, this report from Amnesty International gives a taste. Here’s just a tiny bit of the intro:

Seven years of almost continuous war in the Democratic Republic of Congo ( DRC) have led to the death of over three million people since 1998 alone, most of them civilian men, women and children. Tens of thousands of women have been raped. Countless acts of torture have been reported. Fleeing the conflict, hundreds of thousands of civilians have been driven from their home into neighbouring countries or other parts of the DRC. Many have died from malnutrition and lack of access to humanitarian assistance. Up to two million people have been internally displaced, including 400,000 children displaced from their homes. This is not a war in which civilians have been the unfortunate victims of ‘collateral damage’, but one in which they have been unremittingly and remorselessly targeted. Death and intense suffering have become the daily fabric of Congolese lives. The conflict has also been marked by the widespread use of children as combatants by all parties. The DRC is currently one of the countries of the world with the largest number of child soldiers.

Read the full report if you have the heart.

The UN is denying that the Terminator is on the payroll … they would, wouldn’t they? … but apparently Human Rights Watch isn’t buying it

“We are very worried by this information and it seems to us that the United Nations is acting like an ostrich with its head in the sand,” Anneke Van Woudenberg, the group’s senior researcher on DR Congo, told the BBC.

“It’s time now this is addressed head on. Rather than denying or ignoring the role being played by Bosco Ntaganda, the UN should be actively seeking his arrest and transferring him to The Hague.”

Well, yeah, although ostrich is not what comes to my mind. I doubt very much that this is a case of not knowing, or even of pretending not to know, but rather out-and-out lying when facts are brought from the gloom of shady dealing into the bright light of a world paying attention.

Where the PR machine spins this one is anybody’s guess, but I am hoping the story doesn’t die on the BBC vine, especially when the UN’s public defense so far comes down to a UN spokesman’s sorry comeback:

“Bosco Ntaganda’s name does not appear on that document, so we have from our Congolese counterparts an assurance that he is not part of the command.”

Well, then … job over, hey, Buddy?

If the United Nations designed dildos, they would all be one inch long, as thick as a toothpick, made from Silly Putty and would just lay there, but they would be a pretty baby blue … and would cost $1 million each.

And, yeah, that’s a statement on expensive impotence.

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Censorship has always been fractious and very often random, with one person’s yikes being another’s yipee.

Any look at lists of banned books will provoke a prolonged head scratch in thinking people … like the 1931 ban of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” for its “…portrayal of anthropomorphized animals acting on the same level as humans”, that has to prompt questions on just what sort of drugs were popular in China at the time.

Lest anyone think that the world of wars over words has grown brighter lately, this recent offering about the American Library Association’s list for this year’s “Banned Book Week” might spell out that this is not the case.

Have folks not learned that wagging the naughty finger at art has the same effect on the market that a toreador’s cute butt in tight pants has on a bull? Or as Sherman Alexi, author of the oft-challenged “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” put it:

… the amazing thing is these banners never understand they are turning this book into a sacred treasure. We don’t write to try and be banned, but it is widely known in the [young adult] world, we love this shit.

You’ll excuse me, then, for the trill of thrill I sensed yesterday when a facebook friend and PP reader informed me that my post on pret a porte condoms in India got me banned in China.

Yep. Apparently the mention of the word “penis” … or maybe it was “schlong”, or possibly “survey” — who knows? … set up a chain reaction that caused clicking on a link to my blog to be a practice in finger futility.

How cool is THAT?

Here’s the ALA’s Top Ten most frequently challenged books of 2008:

1. And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
Reasons: anti-ethnic, anti-family, homosexuality, religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group

2. His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman
Reasons: political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, violence

3. TTYL; TTFN; L8R, G8R series by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

4. Scary Stories series by Alvin Schwartz
Reasons: occult/satanism, religious viewpoint, violence

5. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya
Reasons: occult/satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, violence

6. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: drugs, homosexuality, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited to age group

7. Gossip Girl series by Cecily von Ziegesar
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

8. Uncle Bobby’s Wedding by Sarah S. Brannen
Reasons: homosexuality, unsuited to age group

9. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

10. Flashcards of My Life by Charise Mericle Harper
Reasons: sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

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