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One psychological trip at a time

barry gibb

"Hayden Christensen!." he screamed, suddenly sitting up in bed.

"Oh dear lord, not again, are you okay?"

"I think so, thats the second time this week."

"Which movie sequel was it this time?"

"The Matrix - they recast Keanu Reeves with Hayden Christiansen. its like - he's moving through my subconscious like a virus."

"At least he hasn't moved into your wet dream set."

"Don't be giving my subsconscious any ideas, I mean - I'm thinking it's finally time to bring this up with Barry Gibb."

"Barry Gibb?"

"yep, we meet for lunch in my dreams at some wierdly lit Hollywood hang out and talk about my week. He's a good friend - well - at least in my mind."

"So your inner voice is Barry Gibb?"

"I guess so."

"Well tell him to beat up Hayden Christensen, or better yet, tell him to end Hayden Christensen for good."

"You're asking me to go into my dreamscape and purposely create a fight between the two - perhaps even give Barry a gun and say 'do this for me, Barry, you're my only hope' like Princess Leia?"

"Very much like Princess Leia, only fuzzier."

"But what if Hayden just clones himself into Barry and shows up at lunch, knowing I'd told Barry to kill him."

"One psychological trip at a time, darling, one at a time."

"Right. Must kill Hayden Christensen."

"Goals. sweety, goals."

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pilliers

st catherine montreal

They are, as we say, a ‘pilliers des bars,’ a pillar of the bar. Always there at 3 p.m. with a Sapphire and soda, smiling and enjoying cigars. They gossip, laugh, talk about the state of the neighborhood, reminisce about life before it all and before equality, where life was the struggle to not be invisible. They had all come out in times when faggot was said in a shameful whisper, leave alone a way to live, only to have the same world abandon them when they started dying.

The wars they'd been through personally and collectively created bonds that were simply unbreakable. Young gays frolic by on St. Catherine, blissfully unaware that generations before them had been forcibly removed from their experience. For the pilliers, peace and contentment was recognition from another human being, friendships where everyone lay their true selves on to the table.

Nothing else will do.

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a lake to be drowned in

sheets

I scooted myself down in the bed, immersing myself like it was a lake to be drowned in. I explored with my hands while pretending I could still feel you there, smell you there. I daydream. I drift off into deep sleep and awaken tangled in sweaty sheets.

-

I'd looked into the mirror that afternoon and counted the grey even white hairs on the sharp of my face. They were visible markers of how my body was slowly breaking down and dying for everyone to see. I'd decided to solve the problem by spending the afternoon getting impossibly strong gin and tonics from Marcus at the bar.

You came in as I sipped my third, catching me stare as you walked by. You were meeting friends. I watched you exchange laughter and air kisses and I felt my shoulders fall, as I realized I was still alone despite it.

I don't remember how much later someone touched my shoulder and asked if the stool next to me was taken. I remember mumbling something resembling affirmative. When I finally turned and realized it was you, and involuntary smile erupted across my face.

After sharing stories over the din of the soundtrack of a Sunday beerbust, you leaned in close and whispered the magic words into my ear, "Hows'about we spend the night together and wake up smelling like each other by sunrise?"

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Careful

wagons

He woke before dark, grabbing his bundle, trying to leave the house without anyone having an opportunity to talk him out of what he was about to do.

"Careful," she said in a whisper out of the darkness.

He turned in the dark as his grandmother lit a match, lighting the lantern.

"Careful."

"Ma'am?"

"Great men speak of manifest destiny until they get out there where the grasses spread horizon to horizon for weeks on end. You should see the men that run back here like cowards to this civilization after a couple of weeks west. They come back completely broken, ruined for anything but a life acknowledging that they weren't careful.

Careful to keep your eye on the present moment and how it's leading you the new life. That new life, and your children's new life, that is the only reason to do this. Once you head out there - do not stop till you reach the new life. Do not look backwards, miss nothing here."

"Yes, Ma'am."

"When I was your age, son, I boarded a ship and crossed the sea, to create something new, to find it for myself - for your mother, your uncle. They have," she paused with a small, sad laugh, "Well, they have squandered it. Now you must go - and grasp that new life. The only way to is to only look west and worry yourself little about what's happening here. As we turn to dust here - you shall be planting a new life in Orygone. But you'll only reach it if you are careful. Don't let it swallow you whole, come through it, boy."

His instinct was to reach out to her, but they both knew if he didn't go right now, he'd lose this opportunity. As the dawn started to stir, he arrived on his father's horse to join Master Richmond and the rest of the caravan. He'd be an asset here, a smart boy who already understood horses and riding. He smiled to himself, having successfully evaded the punishment for being on this horse of all of them. He wouldn't miss his Father's anger.

He leaned down along the horse's shoulder, and affectionately whispered in it's ear, "We're both free now, boy, we're both now free."

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Prophets

prophets

At 22, I left for the South Pacific, an island city called Fotuna in the small island nation of Tonga. I arrived, bible in hand, for a three year stay as a Peace Corps volunteer. I was bringing untarnished drinking water to a small village - with a firm chaser of the word of God.

Haight and Ashbury had combined genetically to create an artist, my sister, a writer, my brother… Me? well... My parents were so proud to see me take an expensive degree in engineering and put it to work in the Peace Corps. The rest of who I had become truly confounded them.

An atheist and an agnostic had created, a Christian. When I told my parents that I’d found Jesus Christ - it played out a little bit like the stereotypical coming out conversation might have.

“Jesus…. Really?” My mother asked like she hadn’t cared for me enough as a child, and somehow now I needed Jesus.

My pop remained very quiet about it for a while, and told me quietly that I was entitled to my own choices but he wouldn’t tolerate evangelism and discussions of hellfire or damnation, because all that was stuff he’d escaped and become smarter about as a man himself. He’d escaped Jesus - but part of him, he understood Jesus as well.

To go from city life to South Pacific life was surely described as isolating. I was such a blithering stereotype of whiteness, lets just be clear and say I knew nothing and everything at the same time.

Energized by faith, I just let each day roll out before me. If you’d ever read Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farms, she often composes little poems and songs to express her feelings or to amuse her siblings. I was completely blind to how ridiculous, naive and infuriating my learned hyper-happiness could be. Nobody had questioned my buoyant, weaponized happiness until Tobias arrived.

He arrived about three months into my stay, and came from the complete opposite world of affluence and white privilege I'd been soaking in before leaving the States. He was a big thick built, curly haired hispanic. He looked like he belonged on the offensive line of a football team than planning well digs for the Peace Corps.

His arms and neck were covered in tattoos. Myself and the other volunteers had suspected were gang related. And on his neck, a christian cross had been both tattooed and dutifully shaved out of his hair and beard. Describing Tobias as intimidating is an understatement.

I started noticing he’d spend meal times by himself and that when services happened he was absent. So one day I took it upon myself to sit with him at mealtime. I learned he’d come from south Los Angeles, and this was his way of escaping some of the problems his siblings had experienced. Completely oblivious to any of the real power of what he’d just told me I started in on my San Francisco childhood and almost immediately complimented him on his cross tattoo, and jumped into meeting Jesus.

He almost hit me out of my chair within a few seconds. He was not amused being so blithely introduced and kindly suggested that if I didn’t temper my faith - that someone was liable to smack it back down throat so hard that I wouldn’t eat, but from a straw, for a few months.

“I know Jesus too - but perhaps a different Jesus.” He said leaning at me over the table, “I’ve seen your little black book used to punish and keep entire nations and whole communities controlled. I’ve seen poverty reasserted while gold lined vestments walk the cathedrals in its midst. Jesus was probably an amazing man, but his world was thousands of years ago - and now his church uses the cross to dehumanize and hold once proud cultures under its thumb. I wear this cross on my neck for a sister that was gun downed in drug violence at six years old, playing in our front yard.

I think it's clear from that look on your face, that you actually don't know Jesus as well as you claim, because if you didn't know any of that, then you don’t really understand the faith you so blindly wave around. You keep making assumptions about people based on only that, and you are going to a lonely, friendless man.”

He left me there alone.

There are few life pivots that you can so clearly remember. I remember touching my cheek, as if in an alternate reality his fist had destroyed all the teeth in the side of my jaw. I remember becoming very emotional, almost crying, from the intensity of the moment. His words hit me almost harder than a fist would have, and that was one of his first lessons for me.

Tobias and I finally saw our way through our stumbling first meeting to become friends. We both stared out at the ocean as it raced away from the small islands shore, bonded together by the time both of us dreaming of people we’d left behind to be there.

One morning, I found a neatly wrapped package on my doorstep. I opened it to find a tattered book of poems by a Sufi from Afghanistan named Rumi. Tobias wrote on the card very simply, “Not all prophets walk on water. Learn from all of them….”

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