Summer, Highland Falls – Billy Joel

What are these times:

  • not the best of times, they say
  • the only times I’ve ever known

Things that I do/have done:

  • Believe there is a time for meditation in cathedrals of our own.
  • Have seen that sad surrender in my lover’s eyes, now.
  • Can stand apart
  • Sympathize

Together, we:

  • Argue —> compromise
  • Realize that nothing has ever changed
  • Undergo mutual experience

           
        our separate conclusions are the
same

  • are forced to recognize our inhumanity
  • are insane
    • with which our reason co-exists
  • dissipate our energies thoughtlessly
  • don’t fulfill each other’s fantasies, perhaps
  • will stand upon the ledges of our lives

What is either sadness or euphoria:

  • what our situations hand us
  • our respective similarities
  • what we choose between reality and madness
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The Uncoverage Of Ramses

A healthy dose of loon is necessary for achieving a more worldly view created by all who take advantage of a computer network. Without counting the eccentric and possibly dangerous citizenry of cyberspace, we would have an incomplete forecast of our current society. The more time someone spends surfing the net, the less shocked they’ll be, coming by the Subservient Chicken or badger . After so much exposure to the internet’s endless dedication to crazy, it seems that the uneasiness begins to even out and gain popularity, spreading and copying itself, leaving you waiting to be taken by something new to the next level of weird.

It’s no wonder why I didn’t blink an eye when a plush animal commented in my journal. The user icon, a refreshing change from copyrighted movie stills, was decently cropped and modified in an animation shop. The handle was “student monkey”, featuring a colorful profile. “And the monkey’s going to school. That’s nice.”

The beanie baby wrote in broken English, reading like any other low-budget RPG translated for American release. I had played such games before and entertained my newfound toy by offering a banana, a well-received maneuver. The idea of getting occasional commentary from something pierced with a TY tag appeared safe enough. Granted, the monkey didn’t do anything terribly flashy like smoke or curse. But friendship is something you can never have enough of, so began the one between baboon and me.

One night I was going down my list of mutually added feeds and noticed that there appeared to be two similar titles having to do with a monkey. I checked them both to discover that they were one in the same.

“This is my new home, where I will start, again. Hopefully things will be better, here.”

“That’s odd,” I thought. “Why did the student monkey pack up and leave if it was just going to go be the same monkey, all over again?”

Through the seasons, I would routinely drop in on my circuit and browse any of the new, locked entries by the monkey going as Ramses the Baboon. He had his own bio, a mommy he loved very much and a handful of friends who found his latest romps with the other stuffed animals, adorable.

“Today a girl kissed me and her cheeks turned red afterwards. I do not understand this. I hope she is okay.”
“It’s called blushing, Ramses! That means she likes you!”

“Wow,” was all I could think, scrolling multiple replies, one being a direct link to information on blushing. Ladies, especially, were eating this up. “The only way I would take any kind of interest in this,” I began to think, “is if it was..what IS this? What kind of guy goes such cutesy lengths for attention? And if he wants attention, why does he keep this from the general public?”

“It’s a girl,” avowed nonagon, prior to viewing an entry featuring the baboon propped up in front of a piece of paper with sissified handwriting. “That just sounds like something…yeah, I’m pretty sure. It’s a girl.”

“What the fuuuuck,” jsin00 responded, also dragged by me into the enigma. Together, we continued to observe the bizarre phenomenon of a sewn jungle creature entering blogs long enough to exchange a few words of role-play before retuning to the base of its manifestation.

Investigation at the first Journal of Ramses revealed very surprising bits. An early spot on the calendar had a friends-only post with a message from his mommy “behind the curtain”. There, I would find the motive I hadn’t even counted on.

I started this journal because I had a student whose boyfriend suddenly died in a car accident… I started ‘giving life’…I started to notice that she would smile a lot more when the baboon was around…Yes I buy props…I do it because this stuffed animal, whose life was breathed into him by my imagination and desire to make others smile, did just that… I cannot tell you how horrible I have felt lately for my creative endeavor. My friends are making me seem like some sort of monster…

Officially impressed by the Depth Of Ramses, I decided to keep up with his creation. I’d find myself staring into the backgrounds at the lighthouse on top of the cabinet. Dead-end image hosting. URL bits that googled a million useless matches. The bed frame Ramses was straddling. The reflection in the nearby mirror and some girl’s graduation photos on the mantel. Could that be her? A sister? How old is she? Progress had plateaued; it was time to move in and try something else.

“You know,” I attempted, “your owner certainly seems like a nice lady, to take such good care of you. Someone who you speak so highly of must be an awfully good friend to have! Do you know if she has a place where she writes, so I might be able to make a new friend?”

Did I proceed to wait by the modem, putting life on hold until I heard back from Ramses? No, but then I hadn’t had the chance to, either. Swiftly, he corrected, “She is not my owner. We love each other very much.” Once the record was straight, he went on, “…actually…yes. She has a journal, too. You’ll find it here…” Finally, what the person I’d bothered reading, actually wrote. Show me the girl with her hand up this popular baboon’s overly optimistic and brightly colored ass!

A black background loaded. Green words began to read broken, disheartening… I doubled checked the tab. Right person, terrible words. They would never let up.

“I’ve spent half the day crying and the other half trying to give myself pep talks to get my spirits back up again… things just got worse… If you love someone, you don’t tell everyone what goes on in quiet moments that happen between you two. To go on and on, publicly and proudly, about a point scored is unsportsmanlike. Thanks a lot, asshole…”

Day after day of emotional struggle. She would also be the moderator of a community for people at least 180 pounds and struggling with eating disorders. Around the time she started pleading for God to hold her, I couldn’t read anymore.

“What does that mean?” I tossed nonagon her interest in Oscar Wilde’s quote: I live in terror of not being misunderstood.

“I’m not sure. But she’s also quoting Elliot Smith. As in, just before suicide, Elliot Smith.”

The extravagant descent of self-image was a hard ride to take, for the map held truths so shameful to her that she was panic-stricken I might reach the end. Was this partially why she pretended to be something else, entirely? How many more self-declared symbols of hope and happiness have spouted from the edge? Which message did I receive? This was a scary place for sure, and I’d had too much virtual reality away from the shiny side. I found myself preferring the silly outlook. The fuzzy exterior…

I wanted the beanie baby back.

That One Night

***

Although Owosso envisioned the construction of Comstock Inn as the perfect money vacuum for all businessmen traveling through mid-Michigan, it means something else entirely to the youth of Shiawassee County. Being one of the only solutions to guaranteed privacy, the true spirit keeping this place legendary lies within its wall-to-wall nailing every prom night.

“How does that sound?” I asked Nick the Twin, who flopped down on one of the beds shortly after hearing I was cooped up at the hotel. Looking outside, you could see a lovely view of the gas station and Taco Bell, a crucial pit stop on the high school cruise circuit.

We agreed that such an intro would potentially end in disappointment but I saved this and slammed the laptop closed, anyway. Our tale was being sponsored by a teachers benefit and we were taking advantage of the fact that enough attendees had cancelled to free a room for me, expenses paid. Although it might not seem like much of a holiday, some of my favorite things involve being floors higher with a spotless tub for bubble bath, outlets for ghetto blasting, and a dark place to write.

After climbing into our swim attire we hit the pool and jacuuzi with my brother. I stand by my belief that something in the chlorine concoction is beneficial to my complexion, and I shot back and forth underwater. Sometimes I would surface to see my mother had abandoned the lectures as though needing to use the restroom, and was standing poolside to ask how everything was going. Seeing her above us made me feel young. It felt reminiscent.

“This feels like being on vacation,” Nick said, enjoying his visit to a place that didn’t make sense.

Without having foreseen certain aspects, I’ve lived online long enough to drop more and more personal information with traces to my whereabouts, and it disturbs me to imagine just how well a long-time reader might know me. There have been one or two who have tried pushing from one dimension into another, and several have done their very best to dangle enough dark chocolate in hopes of snatching me with their other hand for pulling as hard as they can. Nick has started to notice my increasing paranoia, and he swam over to the deep end where I had paused to grip the edge and peer through the glass wall at the crowded parking lot.

“Don’t worry about it! I’m here, and anyone who would try to hang out with you would be so offended, they’d leave.”

He was right – but we were only a few feet away from the world, and it made me uneasy if I focused for very long. Too dark to make out much from the sweltering inside, all I saw were the endless rows of windshields in front of me. Nick started to look, too, and then look back with an indecisive mix of fear and concern.

“Autumn, are you really thinking there might be someone out there?”

***

“So the pool water helps your pores,” he thought aloud, having just joined me in the hot tub. A second later, he slammed his face down into it.

“The pool water. I guess the bubbles on the surface of a hot tub are all bacteria, collecting,” I’d inform once he had sat back up to give a disgusted face and begin spitting.

Prior to setting off down the hallways after hours in an attempt to find a secret floor and walk the rooftop, I approached the glass as we toweled off. The bottom half of it was all foggy, taunting like school bus windows.

“I H,” I finger tipped backwards, putting a heart below my greeting to the scary view they had, Out There. Nick ran up and began writing squeaky handles around it as I turned away.

***

“I’m always in places like this,” I pointed out while gesturing to the view before us. The pool was dark and still. Doors were locked. A vast expanse of red carpet shot out under high ceilings, tables with empty platters, stacked napkins, and above us were the windows with curtains that had all been pulled shut. The volume was down to nothing but a mechanical hum.

“It’s like I keep looking around and realizing that I’m on another side, in these places by myself. Active, empty moments or…I dunno. No one else is ever here and sometimes I wonder what that amounts to,” I tried to explain, unable to do it very well.

“Huh,” Nick mused, his voice echoing. “I think it would be interesting to see things like this, more often. I don’t think it’s a bad thing,” he concluded before leaving me to it.