Sunday, August 26, 2001


There's an autobiographical picture-book written by a dentist in the deep south. It's found on the New York-Tokyo plane train. Miles Brown works for the dentist at his general store that's being opened. The dentist specially designed the store and its location so that Miles could get there even with his bad leg. The dentist is white in an almost all-black town. Some of the young folks in town are angry at him for their state of living, even though he's among the poorest residents. His extended family lives together in a three-room house near the railroad. His elderly mother-in-law prays loudly each night after watching the news to die quickly and painlessly. He is happy.

Friday, August 24, 2001


I'm at an incredibly luxurious, elite private high school, in 1959. There are others that have traveled back in time with me. We're in some hybrid of New York, Seattle, and San Diego. I take busses everywhere. You can get the most amazing taffy from a future man, on the corner of the park.

I've been studying for too long, and something inspires me to tell a girl at dinner that she's the same age as my mother, to frighten her, I suppose. We're overlooking the main dining hall under the great dome; we're just barely within range of the sweet potato that's thrown at us. The other time traveller with me is very angry, but the girl says "I know." She's wearing her burial suit, square and elaborately painted, with a spherical hat, with a date of earlier that year on it. Part of the painting is her spirit after death flying perfectly level with the ground. Ahead of her is a gliding magnifying scope into which various reels can be inserted to allow her to read after death. It was invented by her aunt. The girl is a little unhappy that this suit won't be the suit she wears for her actual death, since this was for a mistaken, small death. We talk about how she (now I) substitutes reading for sleep and adjusts to a 32 hour daily schedule. The eight extra hours are spread over a time-shared body.

On the bus ride back to the taffy man's shop, which has the brain scanning device I use to report to the future, I peruse the catalog. I'm surprised there aren't more games without dice and timers, to be played during the day of rest.

Sunday, June 17, 2001

(17 Jun 02001)

Mr. Hall is about to tell me his real name is Mr. Haljoud. He's a tall, thin man in his late sixties, in good shape. I'm walking down the stairs with a large package containing an unassembled crib, and he's describing to me exactly how my body will deteriorate as I get old. First my knees will go, he says, and then I'll get some tiny bone fractures when I am carrying a package down the stairs and have to sit down too quickly. He says he can help me through this when it happens, that he can tell me exactly what to do. "That will be fifty years from know, you said," I say. "I know," he says, "I'll be long gone. Let me help you up now instead."

(earlier) The brother and sister of my neighbors on the island were practicing with robins, imitating their sound so that they could make a proper trio. Derick stayed with them, and Howard Stern talked on the radio about what it was like, driving with them, with Derick doing vocal percussion all the time and the trio of bird sounds and their stunningly beautiful older sister that never spoke and always rode shotgun. The mother is driving me home because it's on the way to where they have to drop off a friend's robin and maybe catch a new one, on Wilson St., and she's describing what it was like to study with Howard Stern, and how hard it was to actually learn anything. We find another robin on the grass, with its bird's feet removed and lying beside it, and another in the nest above it, that won't move at all but its heart is still beating.

Tuesday, May 22, 2001

OVERHEARD (Two men, probably early 20s, Rochester Public Library):

A: On the first day, your mind will just keep saying, "I'm hungry, I'm hungry, I'm hungry," but you don't listen to it, you see what I'm saying? You ignore what the mind is saying. And then on the second day, you look around and you have an intelligence. You look around and the people who're around you seem so stupid, you see what I'm saying?

B: Yeah.

A: And then on the third day it's like your mind is outside your body, it's like you're outside your body, you see what I'm saying?

B: Yeah, it's like your mind goes through these levels, one level each day.

A: It's like a drug, but it takes so long.

B: Yeah, drugs, like drugs were medicines.

A: Drugs were medicines and then people abused them and now they're drugs. But it takes so long,it's so hard to get through your mind saying "I'm hungry, I'm hungry." But it's the best drug there is, you see what I'm saying? Now you know about science. A scientist is one who studies life.

B: Yeah.

A: But people hear something above their head, something goes creak in the night, and what do they say? They say they're ghosts, right?

B: Right, like there's a ghost.

A: But really, in your house, the scientist says, there's all these microscopic particles in your floor and then the wind blows through them and makes it creak. No need to get mysterious. It's like some people proclaim their ignorance. Like look out that window. What color is the sky?

B: It's white, well it's blue and white.

A: Right, people look at the say and say it's blue and white. But it's black.

B: Right, it's black, because there's space...

A: But the scientist knows... you see there's the earth, spinning through space at a hundred thousand miles, it's a hundred and sixty eight square miles of surface. But the sun sends off this light that's moving so fast that it just bounces all over the place. Three quarters of that area is water, a hundred and twenty four thousand square miles. Now you've got light spinning off that water and all over the place, and people say the sky is blue and white, but it's not, the scientist knows it's black. You have to educate yourself.

B: People say it's blue and white, but the water...

A: Yeah, even the water is black. It's just because of the sun... when the earth turns away from the sun...

B: To the moon side.

A: Right, there's the sun, and the earth turns around, and there's the moon, you see what I'm getting at? On the moon side, you look at the water and it's black.

B: But the moon, it's light, it doesn't make it's light....

A: Right, there's the sun and the moon reflects a little bit, because if you took away the moon, at night you'd be bumping into all kinds of shit.

B: Heh.

A: But if you look at the sun, the people say it's yellow, but the scientist knows it's black, because it's all colors together. If you go out in space and look at the sun.

B: Yeah, I saw a picture of it, the sun was black, and then the sun was black, and black and red, and then red, just arcing out like.

A: Right, the scientist studies life, you see what I'm saying? Now you know about God.

B: I learned this one today.

A: Oh, right.

Monday, May 21, 2001


Yosemite in winter, all the flashing lights denoting the ages of the oldest trees. People drive too fast through the thicker snow. Slipping one SUV into an older tree, a landmark the announcer says, and it shakes but stands. A compact slips into the gorge. These cars are built to disintegrate and shatter to protect from fire or flood, but this one sticks solid and we ski down to rescue them.

I'm cleaning out the room I share with two others, and the auditor laughs at me. "So little you carry" he says. I've kept too many clothes that are much too small for me. My parents find the random notes I left, and are angry at me for writing down such apparently meaningless things. The better a cappella group is on, pulling down the roofbeams to dance with them. They'll hold auditions for their college in the outlying buildings later.

Monday, March 19, 2001


To fly, you just need to type it repeatedly, and eventually it works. 'Daffida' is the last word in the incantation to set the beam moving, which is the only way to shut down a rogue robot, sliding them into each other or the electric net. Daffida is also the name of a Sarah, excavating with a young Indiana Jones in the Nile Valley. Fly, then south, then west, watching carefully for the proper hole while avoiding the white weasel. There is a translation there of Goethe by Robert Isabel Jordan, author of Icewind Dale, who takes his children with him on a flatbed truck as he drives across the country, dictating his books into a tape recorder. He is not allowed to admit that he has translated Goethe, so he chooses me to put my name on the translation. This is a long and previously untranslated poem, which starts with roses and travels through death to roads and suns. I go to the bookseller to try to secure pre-orders, but there is a woman in California who has already begun translating this poem, and it becomes clear that I don't know a word of German. I am sent to the back room, where I am in constant danger of being crushed by falling shipping boxes and rogue robots.

Tuesday, March 06, 2001


I improvise the role of a modern-day king. Though I know it's a role and so does everyone else, it slips into everything. The renovated Eastman Theatre has levels on levels of complicated balconies, with no railings. A singing group has an audience with me, when I say "I wish to dance." The soloist looks upset, but I say "No, no, we can dance to your song." I choose a girl at random and start out with a simple swing dance, but find myself doing more and more complicated moves until I am on a stage with a host of supporting dancers behind me. When we end spectactularly, another girl takes an amazing leap over us from another balcony, spinning wildly in the air. She lands on her head. A group of people pulls her from this balcony, but they drop her and she falls all the way into the lowered orchestra pit. More people rush around carrying her up the stairs, but I order them to stop moving her, and I wait with her for the ambulance.