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Lucid Nightmares
Sunday. 9.22.13 1:27 pm
I've been reading a lot about lucid dreaming. It seemed kind of unnecessary, and in some cases a bit scary.

Then my friend told me that through lucid dreaming techniques she taught herself to run in her dreams. She said she was always terrible at running in her dreams, which was maddening because she was a great runner in real life. She said it took a while, over many dreams, but now she could run as fast as she wanted in her dreams. I was intrigued, because I too am continually frustrated by my inability to run in my dreams. In my dreams my quadriceps are always incredibly weak-- they can barely hold my weight, and with every step I collapse towards the ground.

I will teach myself to run in my dreams, I decided. Several weeks later, I had my first chance. I was running again, in my floppy, weak, dream-state, and it occurred to me that I was dreaming. I didn't wake up, I just knew that I was dreaming. The first step! I infused my legs with the power that came from the knowledge that nothing was real. I stood upright and ran several meters. The crippled quads returned. The dream went on, but the tide had been turned. My training had begun.

Last night I had a dream and my crush appeared in it. My mind took a momentary pause. "This is a dream," said my mind. "In a lucid dream you can do whatever you want. You could even make out with your crush!" The information was like an external narration to my dream. "Make out with my crush?" The thought was small and sad inside my dream-self. I looked at him, that beautiful charming boy towards whom I felt so tenderly. Why, I could never make him do anything he didn't want to do, even in my dreams.

Instead he sat down in a chair and I sat slightly to the side at his feet. We were watching some kind of game or spectacle. At some point I gingerly and tenderly placed my hand on his foot. And just as kindly and tenderly, he moved my hand away.

And that is what they call a



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When Your Heart Is Broken
Thursday. 8.22.13 3:30 pm
When your heart is broken, walking seems like a chore.
But your legs keep moving, and the Earth keeps moving underneath you.
You're not sure how it summons the energy.

When your heart is broken, talking is an insurmountable barrier.
It feels like someone has placed a giant hook in the back of your throat
You hang from it, but you're not sure how you summon the energy.

When your heart is broken, melancholy radiates from your spleen.
Or maybe not. Maybe the melancholy and the painful spleen
Is just a coincidence. After all, you're not sure any part of you will have enough energy to ever radiate anything again.

When your heart is broken, it's bad, but it's never as bad as the first time.
After you broke it the first time, it was never really ever fixed again, was it?
You rake your fingers across your chest, hopeful to collect a finger's full of splintered glass.

When your heart is broken, your laundry is still all over your apartment,
just like it was this morning. But while this morning it was just laundry
Now it is a reflection of everything in your life-- ugly, useless, and unwanted.

When your heart is broken, everything is broken. The world is broken, your life is broken, the door on the washing machine is broken. You should turn on the lights
But you can't even summon the energy.

When your heart is broken, you prefer the dark.

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Splenetic Melancholy
Tuesday. 6.18.13 3:42 pm
Last year, around Thanksgiving, I fell suddenly ill. I had a pain in my left side under my ribs. I was exhausted. I was convinced it was my spleen. I actually didn't know anything about spleens, only that they could become enlarged, and that Peter Forsberg ruptured his one time during a hockey game.

I didn't have any insurance, so I went to a clinic. The people at the clinic told me to go straight to the ER. So I went. $4000 worth of medical charges later, they told me that they thought I had pleurisy (inflammation of the lung). I bartered it down to $700.

They told me to take an Advil.
It was an expensive Advil.

I joked around with the lady who was taking my financial information. We had a pretty good rapport until she started making fun of me for having a hard time concentrating and I burst into tears.

A couple of days in bed and I was back to 100%. I went home.

A couple of months ago, the pain in my left side came back. It's been there ever since. Not really painful so much as annoying. Not debilitating so much as discouraging. I feel like there is a big, swollen balloon in my side. It prevents me from bending. If I sit for long periods of time it gets worse. If I walk or run around it feels better. Sometimes I forget about it for large portions of a day. One time it started making noise. A little, periodic rumbling that turned on every few minutes like an automatic furnace. I googled it. Pages and pages of people with the same malady, none of them with an answer. Occasionally someone with an answer who was clearly suffering from something else.

I told my friend about it. You've always got to have at least one friend like that, one friend who says, "Go to the doctor for God's sake-- here is the number."

A friend who emails you later to make sure you've done it.

The doctor felt my stomach and found something very painful. I was always too chicken to investigate too deeply. She ordered a blood test and an ultrasound. I had to call three places to make an ultrasound appointment, but I didn't want to disappoint my friend. I couldn't find any appointments before July 3rd. That's not soon enough.

Right now, at this moment, it is particularly bad. Not bad-- just more irritating than normal. Just annoying. Just-- I have a lot of work I'm suppose to do and when my spleen is acting up it just makes me want to lie around until it goes away. Some weekend days I lie around all day.

But I have a lot of work I'm supposed to do. It's all due on Friday but I want to go see Superman on Thursday. I'm leaving for a church retreat on Friday, too, and I'll be gone all weekend. I want to know what's wrong with my spleen before I leave.

Apparently the word "splenetic" means bad-tempered or spiteful. I like it better in French, "splénétique", which means "melancholy". I think I have melancholy radiating from my spleen.

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Monday. 3.5.12 6:59 pm
Somehow I got it into my head to fast.

I can't really say "somehow": I know exactly how it got into my head. I met some girls at Bible Study. They're from churches in places with southern accents where Christianity grows wild and raw like those shrub-trees that grow ten feet in a year. They fast all the time, they said. They're from fasting families, fasting churches. I never even heard of such a thing. I assumed that all that fasting that happens in the Bible ended right after the days of the mighty Israelites, when God made a covenant with the church that they would both make better decisions on a full stomach. I figured that this was also when God invented Lemonade and corn nuts. The Jamaican girl agrees with the southerners. She probably fasts at least once a week, she says, and she doesn't drink, either, but she never tells anyone. And she's Jamaican; she could probably get seventeen people to send her the finest rum on a moment's notice, but she doesn't do it. The feeling that you get when you fast for the Lord is transcendent, say the girls at Bible Study. You meditate and you contemplate and you trample down the Bodily Self so that the Spiritual Self can finally breathe free. I like the idea of trampling down that ol' Bodily Self. I like the idea of being free. So the notion drifted into my head like a little seed from a ten-foot fast-growing shrub and it took root in the fleshy curves of my impressionable brain.

"I have never fasted," I say to the group of forty strangers, "but I can see why it would be an interesting thing to do. Every time you are hungry, you can try to focus on what you are really hungry for, which is the Lord." I believe each of my own words as they come tumbling out of my mouth. I would say that making up words in front of large groups of strangers is a rare thing for me, but that would be a lie.

I decide to begin my fast after lunch. That is, about three weeks later and after lunch. The seed needed time to germinate in nutrient-rich, cookie-filled soil before it was ready to start growing. And you can't really begin any kind of difficult spiritual journey in the morning or on an empty stomach.

The first thing I notice about my transcendent relationship with the Lord is that I'm hungry. The second thing I notice is that I'm bored. I try to think of things to fill the rest of the afternoon, but idea after idea contains food. "I'm hungry," says my stomach. "For the Lord," replies my brain. I've never thought about the Lord so continuously Ever. Maybe the fast is working.

I return to my apartment, where I cannot spend the entire evening cooking dinner. I realize that most nights I cook things that take an inordinately long time to prepare just because I'm bored and it fills up time and the steam heats my apartment. I read a book. I tire of reading the book. I drink water. I read another book. I go outside and see what they're playing at the movies. I decide that a movie is cheating, after all, I'm supposed to be meditating on the Lord. I read another book. The radio is playing indian show tunes. I feel empty and lean, like a wolf. I wonder if fasting is going to make me skinnier. I berate myself for my worldly concerns. I can't get up because I feel dizzy. I know it is only in my mind because I have gone much longer than this without eating before. The hours between me and bedtime drip by like centuries.

I remember another time from church when I was talking in front of a crowd of strangers. After the crowd was gone I went to talk to the lead Philosopher, who is having a philosophical discussion with a philosophy student. "You said that God is like the eternal memory according to the Jews," said the student, dropping the names of eight philosophers, "but do you think that we retain our memories when we die?"
The Philosopher thought that we did, that unlike some other religions, we did not simply return to God like a drop of water returns someday to the sea.

"But I thought that Heaven was supposed to take away all of our pain," said the student, the names of five more philosophers sneaking their way into his question.

"What if our memories are a source of pain?"

Here his expression turned earnest and for a fraction of a second a glaze of water sprang to his academically detached eyes.

"I think when we rejoin God, we become aware of everything, and we are finally able to see all of our memories in context. In understanding all, our memories can no longer bring us pain," I said.

"I think that is a charitable way of looking at things," said the Philospher, who did not elaborate further.

I climb into bed. Judging from the noises that are coming out of it, an intergalactic space battle rages in my stomach. Be silenced, Bodily Self! I feel excited and alive and transcendent. I will fast every Sunday after lunch, I think. Starting a year from now, I add, getting sleepy... and taking yearly year-long breaks.

When I awake I am not hungry.
But my break fast is delicious.

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Being An Adult
Saturday. 11.19.11 6:02 am
There are many measures of adulthood.

You could say that someone is an adult based on their age, based on their experiences, based on their salary, whether or not they own a house.

I think the true measure of whether or not someone has become a responsible adult is whether or not they have some fucking stamps.

Stamps. You need them to send things, like your bills, or letters to your friends. The thing about stamps is that you don't know exactly when you're going to need one, and the post office has stupid hours so you can't always run out at the last minute and buy them. Having stamps therefore requires an extraordinary exercise in the very adult practice of "foresight".

Envisioning that I will at some point require a stamp, I take time out of my day during normal business hours to purchase some fucking stamps. I then put the stamps in a place where I will be able to find them, like my wallet. My desk drawer would also be an excellent place to keep stamps, unless I plan on buying postcards on a whim, or giving stamps to my immature, stampless friends. I think if a person goes into a bank and asked to be given a loan, the first thing the loan officer should ask is whether or not the person has any stamps. This will be an excellent proxy for whether or not they will be late on their payments, especially because a lot of late payments will inevitably be caused by the fact that the person can't find a stamp.

Sure, the internet is taking over everything. You pay your bills online. You write your friends emails instead of letters. You could say that stamps are going the way of the dodo. Only very rarely, maybe every two months or so, do you ever require a stamp. You see, it's just so seldom that you use it that you forget to go to the post office to get some. You probably have some lying around somewhere, but it's been a while and the postage has probably gone up since then, and you probably don't have any of those little one and two cent stamps that allow you to adjust the postage amount.

It's ok.

You can have one of mine.

I always have a bunch of them in my wallet.

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Day 2
Sunday. 9.20.09 3:50 pm
Be it extremely emotional, controversial, messed up, or whatever, this entry has been password protected.

If you know it, enter it; or, ask me for it.

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