Friday, March 02, 2007

Why my writing group will hate me . . .

Yet another quote from one of my favorite writers, M. John Harrison:

"Ambiguities excite me mysteriously. I like any book or film or group of images that stacks them up then walks away. I'm overly stimulated by that, & indeed disappointed when an argument comes too far into focus. I don't want to be guided to conclusions, they're so often indifferent & boring. I want meaning lodged somewhere I can see it but not quite get at it, the way it is in a dream."

Dirtbag (Psycraft Remix)

"You've seem to mistaken me for someone who cares,I'm just a dirtbag under the weather . . ." Brad Sucks, "Dirtbag"

I'd been avoiding the fever clubs for the last couple of months, ever since the self-proclaimed contagion fashionistas dubbed H5N1 variants de rigeur. "Don't you know, darling, it's the Chinese Century, Chinois, c'est tres du monde, c'est tres chic." Fucking dilettantes, treating viruses as accessories. There's nothing sexy about the Asian Bird Flu or any of its variants, no fire, no heat, no beautiful dreams and visions. But hey, if mucus fetishism is your kink, liberte, man, liberte.

Me, I was riding some Rift Valley Fever. I had been burning and hard and righteous. I had the jones for some infection vectoring, that feel of fevered breath on fevered breath, the commingling of soft bodies on soft bodies feeding each other at 105 degrees. But no joy, no joy as all the infection kitties and pretties I knew were partying on the Bird Flu. But that's OK. James Watson unlocked the key of life by seeing the double helix in a dream, DNA as two intertwined serpents, and he had a baseline immune system with no infection. Rift Valley Fever provides such wonderful dreams with its burning.

I was content with my solitude and delirium, hearing the voices of the Seraphim while attending to the centrifuges, the electron microscopes, the bloodlines and gas chromatography. I was creating new strains by candlelight, the harsh whites of the computer screens and the dim orange flickers illuminating the lab. In the fever, even the antiseptic smell of disinfectants held a heightened meaning of promise and progress. I was going to see the face of God through the single-celled and spread his Gospel through RNA replication.

And when you do seek enlightment, the universe eventually provides.

I was examining a petri dish of agar and the white blooms of virus when Rose Choi called, all petulant and breathy. "Jack, I just had a marrow upgrade and feel all bruised and needy. C'mon Jack, come see about me."

Out came the feral grin, and I drove to L'Hopital Verte on Sunset and Vine. I was at the height of infection as I walked from the parking lot to the fever club, truly burning and righteous, an alternate Delacroix's angel with a fiery sword come back to let Adam and Lilim return to Eden.
Rose "la petite belle" Choi was standing under the green neon cross of the club's sign. She had kept her pink candy floss colored hair, those bangs in a jagged angle over green cat eyes. She was wearing a dark, schoolgirl jacket with a Union Jack at the lapel over a white t-shirt that read "Real Sluts Don't Brag" in red, a plaid mini-skirt and black knee high boots. Rose was Betty Page as remixed by a Hentai artist.

"Hey Fever Fucker," Rose said.

"Infection Slut."

"Sickie Molester."

"Contagion Whore."

Rose took her hand and held it an inch from my forehead. "My God, I can feel you from here." Then she purred, grabbed the back of head and leaned in for the kiss. I exhaled and she took it all.

When she broke off the kiss, she looked at me, saying "C'mon Jack, let's spread the disease."


If you ever read single author short story anthologies, there's always a section, either the preface or at the end, containing little blurbs about anecdotes about each story--how the story came about, revisions, alternate versions, etc. Most of the time it's the author's navel gazing, but once in a while, it's kinda cool to see the thought processes behind a story. Given that I haven't been published yet, it's a bit presumptuous for me to start entertaining ideas of writing one of those little blurbs, especially for something that may not make it into a story at all. But fuck it. So the following are the bits and pieces, the sketches, the flotsam that's been percolating in my head that have formed the bit of writing you've read above (given that this blog is set in backwards chron order).

A little over two years ago, I was waking up in the middle of the night hyperventilating from task dreams (you know the dreams, where your mind decides to focus on one thought or task--if I press the green button I will sleep, if I finish this memo I will sleep--so you press the green button in your dream or you try to type of this memo and your mind goes round and round and round). I was vomiting blood. I was out of breath after walking up half a flight of steps. I literally could not relax. It turned out that I had what is medically known as malignant hypertension. For you and me, that's incredibly fucking high blood pressure--a healthy blood pressure should be 120/80, and mine turned out to be 250/180. There was a good chance that I would be dead by now if I didn't go to ICU.

But also at that time, I had a steady, well-paying (if thoroughly mundane) contract gig. I had a woman who could (and who even still now, if I think about her too much) drive me to tears, but who, as we fell asleep listening to each other's breathing slow, would tell me "Come here baby. You have no idea how much I love you."

Now, well, after all the medication, my blood pressure is artificially low, too low often. I was at 90/50 a couple of hours ago. I'm light-headed, and if I stand up too quickly, I feel weightless. Instead of being unable to relax, my body has been jarring my mind awake--it's akin to that shock-like shudder when you're trying not to doze off while driving at 3am in the morning and your head, hell, your whole body snaps to keep you conscious until you can get to that rest stop. Those shudders have been happening to me all day, every few minutes. I still can't fall asleep, but when I do, I get wonderful, terrifying hyperreal dreams in crisp details, deep colors and such lovely, horrible, emotions.

And at this time, the contract gigs are dry. I have no one in my life who can either turn me tears or brighten my life with a single word, and yet my emotional health has never been better.

My new found mental stability comes through a conscious, deliberate effort to cut drama out of my life, to at most be a spectator instead of a participant in emotional toil. Being the type of person who is incredibly receptive to his emotions, a characteristic that, if left unchecked, can lead to irrational and self-destructive behavior, this attempt to lessen drama has meant taking a hiatus from looking for relationships. I need to make sure that I can maintain this newfound stability and control before I dive back into emotional entanglements.

But of course, the mind and the body is a dynamic system that also seeks equilibrium. Cut down on one impulse, and the body is going to shove back. And so the baser needs are getting stronger and stronger. So I'm feeding kink and the deviant by listening to the darker and sexier--Massive Attack, Recoil, Twilight Singers; by rereading the weird and the sensual--novels by Richard Calder and Steve Erickson; and of course, there's always porn.
So yeah, now you have the flotsam and jetsam that is feeding into a new character, a new scenario that I have in my head. I'm not sure if it's going to lead anywhere, but it's all about the journey, isn't it?