Wednesday, August 30, 2006

A presence felt; a quota met.

- Started on another day / Had to be finished, anyway -

Earlier this night (morning) I found myself sitting on the weakened springs of a couch with no cushions, one that had been discarded in a less than delicate matter in front of an apartment building that was nearly identical to the ones on either side. Sitting in that spot, taking my mind off the advancing cricket horde -- and make no mistake, they were advancing -- by replaying specific moments to myself. Letting them turn, thinking about what they meant to me.

I thought that I would know.

Know enough, anyhow. Know enough about my surroundings. About what I mean, in the context of those. Be able to figure something, anything from the things that were around and about, endlessly circling like the fan in the corner of the doughnut shoppe, tirelessly attempting to stimulate the air. If only it were that easy.

It’s awfully hard to know.

What things really mean to you. What you mean to everything, everyone else. Especially when you choose to spiral off into ridiculous self-indulgence (yee be warned). And yet, as is the case with so many things, it starts off easy enough. With one those people, the kind that makes stories happen, just by being nearby. Something about that presence, something in the air, something in the something, something going on. As always. Another time spent with a person dear, on one of those rare Los Angeles occasions when the cold decides to snap. Looking over at her, I could see her shivering, pulling the sleeves of the thin sweater that she had made herself over her nicotine-stained fingers. She was cold.
So I offered to lend her my sweater.

Nothing special. A reflex action resulting from the framework of a polite state-of-mind. If I see you, I might open the door for you, and so on, and so forth. Way of the world. Right?
She took my sweater, and with the smallest hint of a smile, she questioned whether or not it would carry my scent. And it was to both of our surprise when we found that it didn’t.

There was nothing there. Nothing. Just a cold and soft piece of fabric, worn down by daytimes of sweat and nighttimes of being rolled atop a Boulder underneath a sky full of luminescence, not giving a damn whether or not that’s the proper context for the word. I’ve worn that sweater. It was a gift.

And yet, it spoke nothing of me. Not feeling like me, not holding within it a trace of my olfactory presence. Nor any other. Just rips and tears, ones that could have come from anywhere, speaking volumes, but not in a tongue that speaks to the people I know.
What’s it take for something to know you exist?

What’s it take to have an impact? A presence?
Sitting in a room, one that’s easily familiar, one that belongs. One that is known. One that people have lived in, one that’s taken time to get used to. And then, in swoop of callous ease that mocks any consideration of effort that was put in to the association of oneself with the surroundings, something changes. And suddenly, the room is different. Quieter. Darker.

Nothing can be seen, the only light being the pale glow of a laptop screen, not unlike the one that is beaming these words into existence this very 4:04 AM. A single vestige of light.
Nothing more.

Nothing else.
A surrounding stillness, enshrouding the tiny bed in the corner, dwarfing its existence with an inky blackness that was always around, but was never quite so noticeable, not when other people were about, taking up the space and the time with their prattling and carrying on. With their being, their very presence being felt, even if it was only heard in whispers of breath across the way. And yet now, the room is empty.
Yet there are still things there.

The room is there. Somehow, someway, this something; this is known. It can be felt. Maybe something in the air, something in the sound of the wind that might eventually whip-crack the windows with such a force, sending glass flying across the living space. A different day. But that feeling, it’s still around. Giving feeling to the space that cannot be seen.

The truth of the ambient can be a terrible, terrible thing.

For the most part, we give them no mind, as countless bits of audio/visual/olfactory/ data are filtered through our heads on a daily basis, being noticed, but not truly being focused upon. But whether we hear them or not, the sounds/lights/smells are always there. They click and tick and wheedle and whinny and grind away in the distance, trying to break there way into our little worlds, but being mostly unsuccessful.



Every once, once upon our times…they catch up to us. The sounds /lights/smells/feelings that are always just peeking the tips of their symbolic claws into our business, the ones that we always hear, on the cusp of our cognizance. They break in. They take over. And they become the entire world.

I can still see that moment, being in that place meant for four people, but occupying only me.
I can still remember that image, one that couldn’t be photographed, not captured by pretty pretty lights with the gaping maw of that space staring down a lens. Hell, it couldn’t even be seen. Not really, not in the way that I remember, the frame of a lone figure huddled against a miniscule oasis of light; wondering where, oh where, everything was. I couldn’t see it. But I’ll be struck dumb by angry cannibals before I’ll say that I couldn’t feel it. It had a presence. It had a space. It had impact, one that had the presence to stare a man down without bothering to blink, somehow screaming with a disturbingly calm inflection: “I am here.”

Yes. It was there.
And so then:
Where am I?
Where are you?
Where are we?
Where is it, whatever it may be?

All around us. Our ambient presence. In casual gestures, in sudden outbursts, in shared endorphins splashing against the backs of our brains. It’s in whispered apologies, casual conversations, times wasted amidst other times lost. All the things that we do, in every waking moment. Making things real, making things whole. Giving us presence, that we ourselves can never comprehend. But others -- they can.
They know. They know something, which at the very base of everything, comes to mean quite a bit. It’s all rather confusing, I’d have to say.

But it works. Underneath the underneath. It works.
People call me crazy. Quite often, in point of fact. Not all of them, and generally not the ones I hold most dear. But still, some of them, some of the ones who chide in about my madness, manage to be my friends, in some capacity. They manage to tolerate my presence. And I theirs.

I wonder why that is?

- Madness comes to have its way / I apologize, this very day -

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A friend is a friend is a friend. -OR- "I sure think the Internet is swell."

How bout that?

You go to a someplace where you’ve never been, wondering if you’ll run into a someone that you haven’t seen for a good while. You sit back, you relax, you grab your extravagantly sized coffee cup, and you allow your mind to wander. You’re waiting. But not really. You don’t expect the person to show up, you just think it would be nice if they did. The person in question is a friend. Not the closest of friends. An acquaintance. But one who’s read your words and spoken kindly to your face. That friend? Never there.

But someone else…

The internet is a mysterious beast. It’s vast and unrelenting pathways send packets of information at an incredible clip towards nearly anywhere that anyone might conceive, its series of tubes (teehee!) giving us a hither-for unheard of chance to speak to those whom previously we would never have spoken.


But the once we set the enjoyment of porn aside, this interbot becomes something hard to comprehend. Because out there, there are people. Everywhere. Living, breathing, smelling, enjoying, dancing, idling, poo-gassing, dieing, dyeing, joying, and once again, living. They’re out there. Trying to do things. Trying to think of things. Trying to talk to no one in particular, just to people -- in the grandest sense -- through the unstable ether. It can happen. Every once and awhile, you find someone via the internet. And hey, ho, why not -- you talk to them.

I can recall a time. I was in that place, that place that was green and beautiful or icy and fine, where friends of mine turned angry and I myself turned sad. I was talking to someone. Someone who I’d stumbled across in a manner that I cannot for the life of me recall, someone who wrote in a brashly interesting manner. And this someone just so happened to be a fan of books by Haruki Murakami. Yes.

She and I, we talked. Not very much. A few idle mails left hanging in their boxes, a lazy eye or two scanning each others respective pages, and perhaps even an AIM conversation or two. But no, it wasn’t a friendship. We talked frankly about certain things, and just plain didn’t bother with others. She recommended I go to Siberia, when that chance came up for me (the origin of that story is one that I won‘t relay today). But for a moment, there was something. Nothing of consequence, not even remotely. But something.

The interweb has garnered a certain amount of criticism in recent years, months, days, by groups of people who harbor the fear that these collections of wires and lights , lights which shine in our faces and chime at us with messages; that these boxes of siliconey chips serve only to alienate, not to connect. That they prevent people from meeting people. That they compress us down into some minute form, focusing us into balls of pure loneliness that eventually will fade away. Kiyoshi Kurosawa wrote a good movie about this. Wes Craven did not. But whether or not the original version of “Pulse,” is better than the remake (it is), the point is that the issue is out there. People are concerned.

But is that something to be concerned about?

Today I was sitting in a coffee-shop. One that had been recommended, but that I had never been in. Idly glancing around, looking for someone who was not going to arrive. And yes, someone else arrived. Someone who I had never met in person, and whom I had never planned to meet. Someone with whom I first spoken with while living in a different state. Someone who I’d never expected to see in the City of Angels, the place where dreams come to die.

It’s been a long time now, since we’ve last spoken.

That person was done with me. And quite frankly, I was sure that I was done with them. But there they were, plain as day. Sitting and talking to a group of friends, at least one of which I’d also had a little bit of contact with. They gave me not a glance.

And I spoke not a word.

I saw these people, talking and laughing like high-school kids despite their being in college; enjoying their company with a smile and a nod, not caring about the tall fellow on the couch who was writing a chapter which featured the word “extravabonanza.” They seemed happy.

The person who prayed towards Palahniuk, bowed down before Bukowski; the person who always wrote about the weird and the brooding. She seemed happy, letting her laughter echo throughout the square feet of the establishment. And I spoke not a word.

I merely sat there, the Voice of Fate cackling and doling out obscenities into my ear, like an old man who’d guzzled too much rye. Watching a person laugh, who I had only known to be somber. Wondering which side of her was real.


Should I have said something? Probably not. The situation was meaningless. It meant nothing, just like so many others before it. Just another series of coincidences that swing down and shatter in your face like a chandelier in a Western.

But it made me wonder. It made me wonder. It made me think about that aforementioned issue, the issue brought up by that movie I keep bringing up, about how the communities of ether are damaging the communities of flesh and blood. It made me wonder what it meant.

I was walking to my car.
It was a darkened street in a somewhat affluent neighborhood. And on this path, I came across an old woman standing in front of her house, noodling with some wire attached to her front gate. She was scared of me.

She was. She looked up, and her eyes shrunk behind her glasses, her shoulders bunching together in order to gain some semblance of stability. She was afraid of me, that much was clear. So I walked up to this woman and asked her what time it was.

She said “WHAT?”

I repeated my question, and she repeated her statement. Back and forth, back and forth, the sort of situation that would elevate to broad slapstick or a snappy comeback in a world where sitcoms came true. As it was, she eventually told me the time. And when she did, she let forth a short laugh. The laugh was affectionate and full, resonating through me with a kind sense of peace. It was the sweetest thing I’d heard in a good while.

So there it is.
It’s not a issue of technology. It’s an issue of temperament. It’s a question of us seeing past the surface that we don’t understand, and realizing that people are separate merely because of themselves. Fear and anxiety, confusion and loss. Things that we know, and things that we don’t, problems that exist above and beyond friendship as a whole. And yes, it may be said that we express things differently, in this world that binary built. But it’s still us, in some way shape or form. Because creepy ol’ bastards are still being creepy, even if (especially if) they’re pretending to be 15 year old blonde girls.

Because as it turns out:
The person you were actually waiting for doesn’t even know who you are; and one of the few people who actually respects you has never heard your voice.
Friends are made.
Friends are lost.

And the only way you keep tabs on one of your best friends is through her activities in the Silicon Valley. And it’s the same towards you, resulting in a sheepishly sweet call at one in the morn, with a voice asking if she’d missed your birthday. As it turned out, she hadn't. But she was still doing what a friend would do.

It’s still just us, when all is said and done.
For better or for same.

Unless it’s a Spambot.