Thursday, October 29, 2009

29 October, 2009

Vampires? I think I've had my fill. Walk into a bookstore and there is a whole section of fiction devoted to them. You can't swing a dead cat without hitting a vampire book. I'm just saying this so it doesn't seem like I'm hopping on the Transylvanian train (do books even talk about vampires being from Transylvania anymore?), even though what I'm about to share could easily be interpreted that way. Anyways, the following are actual events that are so befitting the holiday season that I couldn't pass on sharing it.

Again, ACTUAL EVENTS, believe it or not. Here goes.

So, a few weeks ago, right around the beginning of the month, I was out riding my bike on some paved trails in the woods behind our house. It was around four o'clock in the afternoon, one of the few sunny days between all the rainy ones we've been getting down south lately. As a matter of fact, I remember looking up through the canopy of the trees and not seeing a single cloud in the solid blue sky. A cool breeze blew over my face every once in a while as I splashed through some puddles leftover from the previous day's showers.

Strange thing number one that happened. Out of the that perfectly, solid blue sky, it started to rain. For a moment I stopped and looked up through the branches of the trees and scanned the sky above. Not a single, solitary rain cloud, but it was definitely raining. The breeze had stopped, and I exhausted pretty much every juvenile theory I could come up with about the rain being blown from somewhere else. It wasn't a heavy rain, but enough that I was glad that I had partial shelter from the trees. I was about half a mile from my house so I decided, despite the cloudless rain, to go ahead and finish the two mile loop that would eventually return to my backyard.

It only rain for about five minutes. It wasn't like an invisible baby rain cloud was moving across the sky. It seemed more like it had only rained in that little spot of the woods for just that moment, leaving me a bit perplexed.

When I put my feet back on the pedals of my bike, lowering my eyes from the sky to the path in front of me, and started off again, I saw strange thing number two: an old, grey bearded Hispanic man walking toward me wearing an old, faded blue jean jacket that looked like it was from the sixties, a pair of worn khaki slacks, and old black, scuffed dress shoes. It was like he appeared out of nowhere. There was no one in front of me when I looked up for just a moment to search the sky for clouds, and all of a sudden, there he was, not but a few feet away from me. He looked like he may have been homeless, maybe even a bit deranged, walking with a slight limp and a spaced out look in his eyes. I don't know why, but I didn't want to offend him by suddenly turning around and zipping off in the opposite direction. Before I knew it, we were passing each other. Even though I glanced over at him, he never once seemed to acknowledge me, looking straight down at the ground with those spaced out eyes.

I let myself get a short ways up the path before I looked back, and that's when I saw strange thing number three. The guy was gone. Completely vanished. No joke. No fiction. No story telling. Just gone. But that wasn't the strangest part. Near where I thought he should have been, I saw a single coyote, trotting off the path into the woods. I actually stopped completely, set my bike on the path, and took a few steps back to get a good look at the coyote and try to see where the man had gone to. But he was gone. And the last I saw of the coyote was his tail disappearing into some shrubs.

At that moment, those chills hit me again. If you read my last post, you know what I'm talking about. Those weird chills you get when something extraordinary seems to have happened, even when you have no explanation for it. Anyways, I just stood there, looking around the woods and down the path as a warm, post-rain mist rose up from the it.

Now, I'm not saying the guy turned into a coyote. I'm not saying that. But what would you think? One moment here's this creepy guy and the next he's gone and there's a coyote you hadn't seen before.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I'm not crazy. At least, I don't think I am.

So, since that little encounter, I've notice a few signs having been posted around our neighborhood over the last month about coyote sightings and even some incidents of animal mutilations, people's cats escaping the house and being found somewhere...well, uh, you know, like something had savagely attacked them. There have been no coyote sightings in the woods for years until now.

I don't think coyotes are savage animals who tend to attack anything larger than they are. I've never heard of any coyotes anywhere near where I live attacking people. So I suppose it's not too much to be concerned about.

I've been on those trails several times since I saw the man. I Haven't seen him since and no one else has mentioned anything about having seen him. But the coyote is out there, somewhere.

My more faithful readers and friends are probably surprised that I found no way to tie this in with the Polar Bear Project. Just give it time, and I'm sure the Beast will turn up somehow in all this...

Monday, October 26, 2009


So I haven't really gotten sick in the past couple of weeks. Maybe a little hint of a sore throat here, a slight runny nose there, a touch of nausea way over there, but little more. Good for me, right?

However, for over a week or so I've been getting these chills. They're not the kinds of chills you get when you're plummeting into illness, the kind where it seems like, no matter what you do, you can't get your body temperature up to where it should be. They're those full body chills, the kind that seem to radiate in a sudden instant from the center of your chest and out into your arms and legs, gone before you even realize what's happened. They come and go at random, with no apparent provocation.

They're almost like the sort of chills you get when something really amazing happens to you, or when you hear a really awesome piece of music and it just sort of gets to you, and you have that feeling of being completely overwhelmed, spiritually, like something completely transcendent has happened. Kind of like those sorts of chills but, like I said, for no apparent reason whatsoever.

I've been kind of hoping I'd get just sick enough to miss school, but not so sick that they're digging my grave. But this feels like something else. Like maybe something big is about to happen, and some non-physical part of me is transferring awareness of it to me through the chills.

I don't know.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Mein Kampf

First, first FIRST...this is Not a Nazi Propaganda post. Got it!? For some random reason I decided to try teaching myself German (I even got some German language audio books from the library), and decided to try and look smart by translating the title of the post (My Struggle) into German. Well, lo and behold, Mein Kampf happens to be the title to a famous book by an infamous individual, and if I say any more then it might actually (accidentally) turn into propaganda...!

ANYWAYS, this is mein kampf, that is, my struggle: technology. I know I'm going to appear completely self-contradictory here, seeing how much technology it takes for me to get this message across the globe in the blink of an eye, but that's just the way it is - but therein lies the struggle. On one hand, I'd love to go completely stone-age, just toss all of our computers, cell phones, blackberries, televisions, radios, insert technological device here, into the mouth of a volcano,(I know, my blog is getting less and less popular with every word I write) and be rid of all them. On the other hand, I'm typing away on my laptop, the music playing from the radio in the background, about to hop into an automobile with the family and head out to eat.

I just hate to see people becoming so detached from one another. I just hate to see people using technology as a way to get out of interacting with people who are right there in front of them. Sure, you can talk to anyone on the planet any time from almost anywhere, we have all sorts of wonderful forms of entertainment in digital devices, we can do and experience things in virtual worlds that people of past times never could have imagined.

And so what? Does it mean we're happier, more content, more fulfilled than people in past, less technologically developed societies? We get on an elevator and try our best not to make eye contact with the other people on there we don't know. We don't make an attempt to get to know the quiet kid next or down the street, but we spend hours online looking for 'virtual' friends (I'm going to lose so much support after this). We sacrifice good, personal relationships with people physically near us, keep them at a distance (I know, some people you SHOULD keep at a distance), so we can send text messages to people nowhere in sight about how bored we are.

This is my struggle. I really can't stand technology, but I know it's essential to our modern lives...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The End is the Beginning

Last night I went to Mr. Milton's (my piano teacher) piano recital. It was held in the sanctuary of a contemporary Catholic church with stone floors, beautiful architecture and great acoustics. About 40 people showed up.

He started with a couple of Preludes by Chopin, after which he played the entire 'Moonlight' Sonata by Beethoven (Beethoven was a musical beast). The second part of the program, he played two short pieces from Schumann's Carneval, and then the incredible Snow Drift Transcendental Etude by Franz Liszt. The third part of the recital he actually had a couple of his students play as guest performers and, no, I was not one of them. The final piece was his own crazy musical interpretation of the first chapter of Ezekiel in the bible, full of imagery from visions of angels and other heavenly beings. Definitely an apocalyptic piece meant to bring down the roof.

I saw Bobby there but, of course, I didn't talk to him. I didn't notice him until one of the breaks when I saw him sitting in the back of the sanctuary, off in the shadows reading a book. I still don't know what his deal is. Bobby is, if you didn't know, is supposed to be my best friend. Something about the Polar Bear Project drove a wedge between us and now he just acts weird and distant all of time.

Following the performance, after everyone had left and my mom was talking endlessly to some lady outside the sanctuary doors, I found Mr. Milton in the sanctuary pulling the cover over the piano. The sanctuary was completely silent. All the music had gone. The people were gone. The lights were dim. It was actually kind of sad: just like that, it was all over.

Mr. Milton had once told me he worked for several hours a day for the past couple of weeks practicing and getting the music ready. All that work and commitment, and suddenly we were standing in the empty sanctuary, the event having passed. I asked him if he was disappointed that all the excitement, all the preparation was gone and that the special event was over. He said that "nothing was over and that we were standing in the beginning of something else." He said it reminded him of life, how we should live our lives in preparation for what happens after our lives are over.

The silent, dim sanctuary, that had once been filled with life and music was like the moment of death and transfiguration; it's not the place of ending, but a landmark from which we gaze into the future. His words didn't quite make sense last night, but the more I think about it the clearer it becomes: every end is but a beginning, and everything we do up to that point is preparation for whatever happens next.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Is it just me part...? II

This entry is the follow-up to Is it just me.

So nothing happened. I'm sorry to disappoint all of you. The whole police checking out the neighbor's thing was just a simple domestic misunderstanding. My mom started to tell me about it while I was at the piano this evening and the story got so boring I just tuned her out. So I guess that's the end of that.

So, admit it. You're disappointed that it wasn't a burglary, a drug bust, or maybe even a little domestic violence. I know you are because I know I am.

I think tomorrow I am going to a solo concert my piano teacher is giving. It may very well be the highlight of my week.

If you can't tell, I'm sort of in a 'blah' mood...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Just keep your shirt on...

So I was thinking today about the first human beings.

Whatever your beliefs are about the origin of man, hopefully we can agree on the point that the first man/ people were naked. Whenever the first 'men' walked on earth, they probably were not wearing so much as a fig leaf. Perhaps they strung some animal skins together in the winter, but for the most part the first people went without clothing. Yes, eventually environmental factors or spiritual (downfall) factors - depending on your own beliefs - would lead people to make clothes but, in the beginning, people just let it all hang out.

If we can agree on that, then perhaps we can agree on the fact that, being naked, at least in a technology free world, was and is probably the best way to go. Maybe, on microscopic and subatomic levels, the human body functions and interacts best with the environment when it's as bare as the day it was born. Maybe we were never meant to wear clothes. If we live in environments that are too cold for us NOT to wear some sort of covering, maybe we weren't meant to live in those environments. If we live in those colder environments that require us to wear clothing because of limited space in warmer climates, maybe there are too many people...wait, now I'm way off topic.

No, I'm not saying everyone should go around naked (even though I'm sure a lot of you are stripping down as you're reading this). I'm just wondering if we would be better off without clothes.

I actually started out with a completely different point in mind, so if this makes absolutely no sense, well...sorry.

How about a vote among us scrappy bloggers (and readers of scrappy blogs): clothes or no clothes?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Is it just me...?

I just realized something. Maybe it's just something about myself and maybe it's something that has to do with people in general.

Today, while I was standing on the curb waiting for the bus (yes, don't laugh, I still ride the bus to school - wanna fight about it?), I watched as two police cars pulled up to the house across the street from mine. As soon as I saw the two middle-aged police officers step out of their cars in that black uniforms and shiny badges, I thought, 'please don't let my bus show up on time', because I really wanted to see what was going down - I mean, going on.

Anyways, the two police officers casually strolled up the sidewalk to the front door of the house and one of them knocked. No answer at the door. Again, he knocked while the other police officer walked around the side of the house checking out the windows.

Now, I don't really know much about our across the street neighbors. I think a young married couple and their three little kids live there. I've never seen anything suspicious going on there and I hadn't heard of any burglaries, vandalism or anything else like that in the neighborhood that might have the police checking things out.

So I continued to watch, every once and while looking down the street to make sure my bus wasn't flying up, as one police officer continued to knock more and more forcefully on the door while the other continued to search around the house.

After a couple of minutes, the front door to the house next to the one the police were searching opened, and two little dogs came running out into the yard, yelping and wagging their tails as if they'd finally been liberated from some horrible doggy prison. I could barely make out the figure of someone standing in the shadow of the doorway, but I couldn't tell if it was a man or a woman. The police officer who was knocking, when he saw the dogs and that the other neighbor's door was open, casually walked through the grass across the yard and started talking to the figure in the shadows.

And that's when my bus pulled up, right between me and the intriguing little story that was unfolding before me. Disgusted, I climbed on the bus, found a seat to myself, and watched from the window as we pulled away.

So this is what I learned. I (we, as people?) love it when 'things' happen out of the ordinary. We love it when 'things' go wrong or weird 'things' happen. I'm intentionally using that broad word, 'things' because it could be anything. It could be a pair of policemen checking out the neighbor's house. It could be an apartment fire. It could be a terrorist attack. It could be an auto accident. It could be a natural disaster like a hurricane or an earthquake. It could be an exposed plot by the government to brainwash the public. It could be a possible UFO sighting. It could be someone slipping on a banana peel. It could be anything, just as long as it's not TOO close to home, and, even then, we still like for things to happen close to us from time to time.

When tragedy strikes, near or far, we think, "oh, that's awful", but deep inside we are drawn to tragic, odd, abnormal, shocking, (you name it) things that happen. Whenever out of the ordinary things happen, think of how proud you are if you are an on the scene witness!

Like I said, maybe it is just me, but something tells me it's not. I'll let you know when I find out what happened...

Saturday, October 10, 2009


Today, for some yet to be determined reason, our entire neighborhood lost power for about an hour or so. I was at home alone for much of that time and heard something that I haven't heard in a long time: silence, pure electronic devices and electronic systems free silence. It really is unique. Even now as I sit here alone and write this, these are the sounds that I hear:

1. My fingers typing on the keys
2. The hum of the air conditioning/ heating system
3. The hum of the refrigerator
4. The tiny fan whirring in my computer
5. The high pitched waves from a t.v. on mute in the next room
6. Some other high pitched electronic waves whose source is unidentifiable

It's like my ears are being subtly bombarded by electronic background noise. I wonder what it was like before electricity. I wonder if people's aural relationship with the world was different. I wonder if being exposed to electronic noise, no matter how subtle, has any long term effects on our minds. Maybe subtle background frequencies from electronic devices slowly drive us insane.

Today, when the power went off, it was like the air had been purified. The only sound I could hear (and feel) as I lay stretched out on the living room couch was the sound of my own heartbeat. Everything else was beautiful, wonderful, almost tasty, silence.

I'll try to engage the few readers I have. Pause for a moment (don't worry, unless you have a bad Internet connection, my blog isn't going anywhere) Sit back and just listen. What can you hear at this very moment?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Milton Raphael

Today was my piano teacher's ( birthday. I had an early release day from school and when I got home, there he was waiting for me at the piano(apparently my mom forgot to tell me that we'd rescheduled the lesson for the day). The lesson lasted for over an hour. I told him happy birthday and he barely responded with a slight grin and a nod. When I asked him what he was going to do on his special day, he said he was giving lessons all day, then going home to prepare for a performance he's giving at the end of the month. I don't know if he has any family (or friends) in town. I hope someone at least gets him a cake. The only person in the world who seems more lonely than I am is Milton Raphael.

He hasn't been quite the same since, well, the dream. He talks less; what used to be small talk between us has been reduced to tiny talk. He seems just a little less passionate about the music. When he plays pieces for me now he seems almost in a zombie like state. I often catch him staring into oblivion, his eyes seeming to stare straight through space and time into a void. I sometimes find myself wondering, what have they done to him?

He has all but prohibited me from talking about the dream. Every time I get even close to bringing it up, he completely changes the subject. I know he knows more about the Polar Bear Project than he's telling me. How do I know? I know this isn't a great argument, but it's a gut feeling. Call it intuition. All musicians at heart know, and most of them are either too utterly confused or too far in denial to want to talk about it.

He still has the scar on the side of his head, the scar that he got in the dream, my dream.


I love it when I find music related posts. You can read and hear about professional, world class musicians any time and they're stories about music are always so, I don't know, lofty(?) Not very easy to relate to for us little people. I'd rather read about how the common man (and woman) lives with music. Here are another blogger's thoughts on music, particularly the violin can be found here:

I started playing violin for a little while. I even went out and got some instructional books. I taught myself to read music for the instrument, learned some scales, a few simple songs, then hit a brick wall when it came to technique. I don't know why, but when I play the violin, it feels like I'm trying to balance a ultra light wheel barrow between my chin and shoulder while trying to shovel dirt into it. I mean, it's so uncomfortable!

I have so much admiration for violinists. I'd give me right hand to play some of those Paganini etudes (not really, that would be dumb seeing as how I couldn't actually play the instrument with one hand). I play a little guitar and find that it's so much easier after wrestling with a violin. It just makes me sick watching a good violinist; how do they make it look so easy?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Keep the Music Playing

I love discovering new music. I came across this blog and, after finding some of the music, felt obliged to honor the blogger by linking to it. Thanks for sharing!

Maybe this is just another one of those things that I missed while everyone else has been enjoying it behind my back.

Time Travel

Last night I dreamed I could travel through time. I guess it's easier than was previously thought. All I needed was a box. Not some special, computerized time travel box. Just a plain old large cardboard box big enough for me to curl up inside.

The first thing I had to do was lay in the box, on my side, pressed down so that no part of me stuck up over the rim of the box. After getting inside, in the curl up, fetal position, I had to close my eyes, and think about the time to which I wanted to go. The trick was in my breathing: while thinking about my destination, I had to also listen to and focus on my breathing, so that nothing existed but my deep breaths and my destination in time. I always knew the moment when I had accomplished a passage from one time to the next, could feel myself being pulled through a space-time portal. There was nothing really uncomfortable about it, just sort of a warm feeling in my brain and a slight pressure in my chest.

I also learned something about time travel, that is, something different from what we are usually told about it. When I traveled through time, there was always only one of me. For instance, in movies and books, the time traveler usually sees are encounters himself in the past or future (sometimes with devastating consequences). In my method of voyaging through time, my age would always change according to the time in my life to which I traveled. When I traveled into the future, I was older. When I traveled into the past, I was younger. I would be like I was simply reliving a period of time in my life.

The only catch was that, when I traveled to the future and then back to the past, my memory was always erased of everything I'd seen or learned - so I couldn't go back into the past and try to change the future. Only memories of the past remained with me when I traveled to the future, but even those were often sketchy.

I don't know. It might be worth a shot. All I need is a big cardboard box.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

This little piggy got everyone sick...

Everyone around me seem to be getting sick lately. Some of them have been diagnosed with the so-called swine flu, H1N1, the Porky bug, or whatever it is. Kids are being taken out of school left and right. Some of those who are being taken out are perfectly fine but their parents don't want them to be exposed to the hoards of other sick kids. My parents would never take me out of school to keep me from catching some infectious illness. Sick kids could be dropping in the hallways and I'd been there stepping over them on my way to history class.

So far I've avoided infection. Maybe the grass smoothie did something to strengthen my immune system...