“Virtue -even attempted virtue- brings light; indulgence brings fog.”
“With your feet in the air and your head on the ground…”
Most of my day is spent in trying to avoid reality. Through the combined efforts of little sleep and little to stimulate my brain, I’ve successfully dodged true feelings and their accompanying pains for years. Through the added repressive means of modern technology and instant entertainment, I’ve created a virtual mindspace that is more alive than my physical one.
“Your head will collapse / But there’s nothing in it…”
“And you’ll ask yourself: Where is my mind?”
In the beginning, I entered the mind fog willingly. -So I thought. Depressed, repressed, lonely, and mind-numbingly bored at my day-to-day activities; I sought constant distraction.
“Try this trick and spin it…”
I thought numbing was better. In some ways, it was; it is. Because I felt nothing, I did not lash out in anger from the frustrations. Because I felt nothing, I could not feel disappointment. Because I felt nothing, I could not feel the crippling sadness.
“Where is my mind?”
Except that I still could.
“Where is my mind?”
As such, I have made various attempts to kind-of, sort-of climb out of my muddy hole. I read Brené Brown’s recommendations, followed her advice …and really offended a neighbor by being myself. I started counseling and some hormone therapy …then reverted back to old habits and dropped the hormones so that I wouldn’t accidentally birth a hermaphrodite.
Most of my days are spent in trying to avoid reality. On the rare occasions that I surface, life feels like the restaurant scene in “Sherlock Holmes” (2009). Unlike the genius that is Holmes, however; I do not note and absorb everyone’s mistresses, limps, or chalk spots. Instead, I feel overstimulated by emotions; in particular, everyone’s emotional reactions to me.
I also feel overwhelmed at the repetitive cycle of life, and the prospect of more of the same for the foreseeable future.
Do I want my mind awake? I’m not so sure. There doesn’t seem much to wake to. Hence, the continued withdrawal and disassociation.
“Where is my mind?” Somewhere inside. Probably.
Do you experience similar non-feelings? Have you, in the past, and now you do not? Is reality worth the cost?
On a happier note, here’s what I threw together this week:
Wednesday, March 20: Me and me debated who has it harder in “THE Battle of the Sexes.”
Saturday, March 23: Announced the 19th Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. The theme is Unrequited Love. PLEASE ENTER!
I also finally wrote up an entry for The Annual Bloggers Bash Competition, “Silent but Tardy.”
Sunday, March 24: “Farmer Henry,” a flash fiction piece for Carrot Ranch’s writing prompt.
Monday, March 25: An inspirational quote by Dieter F. Uchtdorf.
Tuesday, March 26: “Wilhelmina Winters, Eighty-Seven.”
Wednesday, March 27: Today.
*Credit to the Pixies’ amazing song, “Where Is My Mind?”
A fine mist dances across the dark street gutters. A cat calls. An angry woman answers it. Besides these, nothing.
Just the way Julias likes it.
He checks his watch, knowing full well what time it is by the nighttime noises; playing at patience in an impatient mood. Where is that boy?!
Just then, in the absence of cat and woman mewls, his keen ears make out the soft pattern of Wal-Mart sneakers on misty sidewalks. He pulls against the cool stucco of the nearby house, pulls out of view of any wandering streetlamp circles.
The sneakers draw closer, stop, scuffle, squeak, scuffle again. Julias hears a hissing, whispered, “Julias?”
Won’t the kid ever use the code names? He steps out; Sneaker Boy nearly yelps out of his skin. Julias gives the youth a look. “Use the names, Squirt.”
A nod, barely perceptible in the drifting fog. “Right.”
Julias sighs, slouches. “Did you get them, or not?”
Squirt grows animated, and pulls a rustling, bulging grocery sack from his jacket. The contents nearly spill all over the dirty, cracked, moodily-lit gutter.
“Shhhhh! Careful!” Julias admonishes, almost losing his normal, chill demeanor. Man, I really need my hit.
“Sorry, Juli- I mean, Sorry, Emperor-Maul-of-the-Alleys.”
Julias stares at the runt for a full five seconds, and then sticks out a hand for the bag.
Gulping, Squirt appeases the empty palm. He watches Julias (AKA Emperor Maul of the Alleys) close his fist on the handle and withdraw his arm. Squirt gulps again. “So… erm, about payment….?”
Julias fixes the boy in another silent stare. The cat and woman from a few alleys over converse again in the silent, swirling air. Slowly, Julias sticks the other hand into a deep pocket. It returns, bearing $40.16. Squirt lifts his own hand to receive it; counts the full amount in the dim lighting.
“Hhh- how’d you know the current exchange rate?” Squirt asks, his voice full of awe.
Julias looks up from rifling through the grocery sack; pauses. “I always do,” he says, in a mysterious way. “Now, get outta here before I use yesterday’s rates.”
Just remembering not to yelp again in fright, the boy jumps and takes off down the dark sidewalk, down the fog-lit alley of night. His retreating sneakers echo a more rapid pace than the percussive song they played at their entry.
Smirking beneath the guise of darkness and mists, Julias pulls out his prizes: 1 packet of Fox’s Glacier Mints and 24 cans of Diet Coke. It’d been a steep price to also pay for the kid’s gasoline, but a man doesn’t haggle when he needs his fix. Thinking on this, he sets the cans and package at his feet and carefully withdraws an empty bottle from yet another pocket.
For the first time that night, he hears only the occasional passing car or burst of wind. The dame and her pet must have gone to bed. Uncapping the bottle and opening the package of mints, he fills one with a few of the other. Next, he removes a can of soda from its plastic ring and tilts the tab till it opens in a satisfying *ptissssh*. He pours the Diet Coke into the bottled mints, caps the top, and allows himself a few seconds’ pause.
With an expression of pure bliss, he suddenly shakes the contents like a madman. He uncaps the bottle and dances, grinning fully, in the sticky shower sparkling down amongst the mists and streetlights.
Laughing, quietly, he dumps the remaining solution down the gutter and turns again to his purchases. One down, 23 to go…
In response to Fractured Faith Blog’s Flash Fiction Challenge.
He took a short drag at his fingers, feeling the sweet, damning calm of the cigarette’s smoke.
“I gotta shake this thing,” he said. The brusque, bass voice lisped slightly at the “s’s.” Stocky, muscled arms shifted in their sleeves. Empathetically, the other man near him nodded, cleared his throat.
“Just impossible to breathe, with the air quality like this,” the friend answered. They both paused, cigarettes dangling and steaming, to appreciate the smog-fog condensing everywhere. Passing traffic was oddly muted and amplified; ghost cars invisible till they drew within twenty feet of the parking lot where the two stood.
The first coughed deeply, the sort that causes any happenstance listener to wince in commiseration.
“Ye-ep,” the second observed. “We gotta fix that, Dave.” He took another inhale of nicotined fumes.
Dave finished coughing, breathed a shaky, careful intake, and gave his friend a look. He wiped his thick, mustard sleeve across his mouth. Inherent condensation accompanied the gesture, irritating his lips further.
“Damn fog,” Dave quietly noted. He drew a final breath from his cigarette, watching his friend do the same. “‘Bout done, Nate?”
Nate drew his gaze back from the woman who had just exited her SUV, back from the building she’d entered. Meeting Dave’s questioning eyes, he exhaled. “Ye-ep.”
Nodding, they each dropped their burned-up, paper hulls and ground them under steel-toed work boots.
Wiping slightly sweaty hands on mist-moist pant legs, they strode toward the Health Clinic. It was time for Dave’s appointment with the naturopath.
The world, suspended, in
As usual, Wil dreamed that night. She usually had vivid, exciting dreams of superhuman abilities and daring escapes. Lately, though, she’d had recurring visions of walking through a dark place trying to find something she desperately wanted.
This night, Wil had on a romantically glorious, long, dark cloak with a hood. She could see herself and see from herself, peering through a dark and misty fog twisting between trees in a fantastical woodland. Her elegant, pale hands drifted from the cloak to part branches and leaves as she wandered.
As her mind drifted closer to wakefulness, she strove one last time to see whatever tantalizing object it was that was her goal.
Instead, she was jolted to consciousness by the abrupt aural slap of her morning alarm. Quickly, Wil turned it off and sat up. She stretched, then searched around for her favorite clothes to get dressed: dark jeans, dark purple hooded shirt, black scarf, long black coat. She pulled on her favorite striped socks, and then the boots with a faulty sole. Last, she pulled her dark hair back from her face in a messy ponytail.
Tiptoeing and sometimes squeaking down the hallway to her parent’s room, she saw through his open door that Jakob had fallen asleep in his clothes -again, with his homework as bedcovers -again. He was snoring slightly.
Wil gently pushed her way into her parents’ room and knelt by the bed to awaken her mother. Quietly, without bothering her father, she nudged Cynthia’s shoulder.
“Mom, it’s time for our walk,” She whispered near Cynthia’s ear. Her soft breath slightly disturbed her mother’s fine hair. Wil saw it glint faintly in the ambient light of the parking lot through the nearby window blinds.
Cynthia stretched slightly and opened her eyes a small slit. She stretched more, then curled into a protective ball as she was struck by a coughing fit. To her side, Rob rolled over in his sleep to lay a protective arm around her body.
The fit subsided, and Wil’s mother carefully set Rob’s arm aside and sat up. She smiled a pleasant smile. She allowed Wil to help her into her boots and stood up to don her coat. They left the bedroom to the soft “Eee” of Wil’s left shoe, and walked down the hall and out the apartment door in similar fashion.
Outside, a light fog muted the world. Their footfalls were dull and echoes came back hushed. Wil intentionally breathed into the mist and was happy at the white cloud she made.
“How beautiful,” Cynthia whispered, then hunched over to cough again.
After she recovered, they started on their morning walk around the complex. The familiar, dull blocks were relieved somewhat in features by eerie fog.
Wil referred to it as a promenade; her mother as a walkabout. When she had first been recommended to exercise daily, Cynthia encouraged Wil’s input to make the routine less monotonous. Wil found no delight in pretending herself elsewhere whenever she had time with her mother, however. She felt an increasing need to savor every real moment with her mother they had.
Sometime during the second circuit, as she ducked under a naked tree branch, Wil was struck with the realization that this exercise mirrored her dream of the night. Mentally awakened by this thought, she looked around to see if there was some clue or object of interest to help answer the lingering, questioning feelings she’d had.
Her only reward was the usual tall, dull blocks of buildings, the gray sidewalk twisting between them, the dark and ugly trees, and the dirty parking lots. Wil felt frustrated. Patience was low on her list of character traits.
Wil and her mother completed a third cycle and returned to the apartment. They went inside, and over to the couch. Wil helped her mother off with her boots, then covered her legs with Cynthia’s favorite soft blanket.
Before letting Wil go back to her room to get ready for school, Cynthia held her arm and said, “Tell me where you go when you get back tonight.” She smiled with genuine love, and Wil returned it with her own.