Sunday, March 01, 2015


Something. Something in the distance is moving towards me. I felt it as this shuddering somewhere far behind me, underneath or behind the hills and gulleys.

Then the rails began to sing and pain my hearing, and rhythms across the rumbling told me who came for me.

Loud and screaming, she carried so much weight and thunder ahead of her. No one can't hear a woman like that.

I'm in a grocery store waking towards the pharmacy. Plastic pieces of color in boxes made of plastic with simulated joy and colors. Aisle after aisle after aisle of make-believe realities for sale. The grocery store is saturated with meaningless noise. Some of that noise is a woman yelling at her children. The children are running from object to object and moving them. Children do this. Pick up, put down, carry and toss. Throw this, bend that, grab and pull and break. A world of pure fantasies and candy is every grocery store. How can you ask a child to not be a child down every miserable aisle of make-believe reality?

A wave of pressure and wind and fumes hits me. Five large engines burning death to move pulling and pushing and driving forward or backward a very long train of bulk industrial mass shove the air away. The whistlehorn noise a more focused warning; everything else was just how she is.

I hear so much at the fringe, out so far, the horizons of my own lifeworld. My father used to have a radio on at night in his bathroom, and its echo softly fell in my bed while I dreamed. A fan during the summertime turning the wind faster and faster sounds like a radio just barely audible. Machines assembling small utility vehicles in the industrial zone nearby lend this whole area a subtle language. Geese and foxes, deer and possums, squirrels and woodpeckers and goats; roosters and tractors and motorboats and traffic on the large bridge and the heron and then the ghosts, the trees, the silent rocks patiently working out how to talk to me, the unclear magic of something so alien.

They say in the movies a third of the way in when everything so far is slightly off but slightly good, that it's like living in a dream. When it's very off and very bad, they say it's like living in a nightmare. The second act is pretty bad, all things considered. It never turns off, but stays off, just getting worse and worse. Then there's a second third down, and now it's time to see reality for what it is and isn't. Whether it's a dream or a nightmare, though, it's all down to the last third how off and how good it gets.

My training is in making belief. For starters, I was trained to look carefully at the box. First, it was to sell me on the box by drawing my attention. So, I learned how to love stories for what they are. Second, it was to study the box for information and content. So, I learned how to love science for how it works. Third, it was to discern how the box's message revealed its hidden secrets inside. So, I learned how to love hermeneutics for what it shows. Then at some point, I started to figure out how to make my own boxes, and using everything I have been learning, I put what I learned inside those boxes.

I realize now that I'm not a very good writer. I'm not a very good speaker. I'm not a very good role model.

I am a very good box maker.

Here's a joke that came to me when I drove past yet another large light industrial zone and warehousing complex for lease or purchase. When I win the largest lottery ever, I'm purchasing two of these things. One of them will have people who take cardboard boxes and flatten them. They will then stack all these flats together, load the multimodal with them, ship them to my other warehouse across the country. Those workers get the flats, and convey them down rows, and more of my workers then assemble them into boxes. Volumes and volumes of empty space and air contained in all those boxes, and my people will ship it to the other warehouse across the country. They will keep doing this until the money runs out.

It's a shell corporation.

Teaching is the same operation. There's a careful balance between busy work and employment, a diligent handling between productivity and monotony, a steady helmhand between harbor and lost at sea. But something has to change when so much of it is assembling beautiful boxes filled with nothing but air.

What I notice about her as she blows past me is how empty she is. Flat bed after flat bed after flat bed, with nothing in the boxcars because the doors glide open.

Someone won the lottery and now moves trains across the country, and they sing their happiness for working, whistling while they go, smelling like Six Flags in fall.

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