1.3

Right now, I work as a copywriter in the marketing department of a financial newsletter. Luc’s one of our designers. I don’t know how this happened. That’s what I want to figure out.

I left Brooklyn the last time in April 2012 to move back in with my mom and step-dad in Richmond, Virginia. I was 35 years old, out of money and unemployed. Yet again, I had absolutely no idea what was happening in my life. I’d just completed my second master’s degree, this time in philosophy, and I’d been applying to law schools while simultaneously trying to get a copywriting gig. I figured I’d take the first thing popped up, but I don’t think I really wanted to do either. I didn’t have any ideas anymore.

I’d never really finished studying for the LSAT. It was a half-hearted attempt, brought about by an argument I’d had with Fox News over the Constitution while sitting in my mom’s living room during Christmas the year before. Back in New York, my therapist kept asking me what the hell I was doing. Once upon a time, a PhD had sounded like a good idea. Because people always tell me I’d make a good professor, but a lot had happened since 2008. Four years later, all I really wanted to do was finally finish the novel I already told you I’d been working on for seven years. I needed to do something practical for a change. I was in serious debt from all that education.

Truth is I was tired. By the time I left Brooklyn that last time, I wasn’t hipstered out any longer. I was truly beat. Friends had been offering to let me crash on their couches for as long as I needed until something finally opened up, but all I could think was, Man, I’m 35 years old. I’ve been living like this too damn long. So I decided to head back south and see what I could scrounge up.

My last night in Brooklyn, I went on a solitary walk through Williamsburg, that neighborhood that defined so much of my adult life. I put an Anthrax playlist on my then-ancient iPod, and I walked up Lorimer to Bedford Ave, all the way over to Greenpoint, by my old place at the corner of Manhattan and Nassau (where I’d truly lost my mind for the very first time) and back down to the Broadway G train stop. As I walked, thrash metal deafening me like I’d always hoped it would, I started praying. Something I never do. Thinking about my time in New Mexico, I spoke to the ancestors, to my family that had already passed on. My father, grandfathers, aunts, uncles, even dogs rose to the forefront of my consciousness. Then, I was conversing with ancestors I’d never even met, people I’d only heard about, some of whom I’d maybe seen faded photographs of… a Native American grandmother in Texas, a German Jew traversing the ocean from Germany, a Swedish family who gave their daughter up to the Lutheran orphanage. I saw them all so clearly, and I asked all of them, every last one, to watch over my journey as this next phase began.

But I managed to get into law school. The only thing was the school I got into didn’t give me enough funding. When I did the calculations, it looked like by the time I started working again, at the age of 38, I’d be nearly $300,000 in the hole. There was no way I was going to be able to practice human rights law with a load like that hanging over my head. I’d be doing corporate law, working 80 hour weeks and trying to make partner at some firm, which I was probably already too old to do anyway. No. If I was going to be in the corporate world, why not hustle a little bit more and try to do something might leave my nights and weekends free enough to do what I really want, which is this.

I’d given up hope, accepted that law school offer I couldn’t afford, when I heard back about the job I have now. They offered me a position in their Copywriter Development Program with three other aspiring writers. Only thing was, I’d be the oldest entrant by more than ten years, and I’d be living in Washington, DC because I certainly wasn’t about to make my home in Northern Virginia. DC was one city I always said I’d never return to. There were ghosts haunting me there I didn’t even know I had. It was the city I’d gotten clean in for the third time back in 2005. But I didn’t mind. I needed a job.

That day I got the job offer, I put the Anthrax playlist back on my iPod (in honor of the ancestors), and I headed out for a walk beneath the trees, around the suburban streets and down to the lake in that same neighborhood my mom’s lived in since my junior year of high school. I felt like a cat on, at least, its eighth life. For the first time in nearly three years, there was a slight strut to my gait again, and I thanked the universe for the experiences I’ve received. When I got to that lake where the neighborhood kids go fishing for fish I don’t think are there, I bowed to the watery depths alone. I envisioned the madness of H.P. Lovecraft’s demonic Cthulu rising off its surface. In my mind’s solitary eye, I saw the ancient one in all its formless glory, an essence defying the laws of our world’s Euclidean geometry. And I told the devil, “We’ve battled a long time, my friend. You’re a worthy opponent, but let’s call a truce.”

Gabriel,” only I heard the devil whisper to me, “If that’s even your name. You are free to go. For now, but I’ll meet you again. Either in this life or the next.

Out of respect for such a worthy adversary, I switched the thrash metal playlist over to Slayer, and I wound my way back up to my mom’s house on the hill.

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1.2

By the time I got to work, this smoldering idea had burst into a full-fledged flame. The whole train ride in – rumbling beneath DC’s monuments, staring through the window at the Pentagon, out past National Airport – it scorched my mind, licked my soul and kindled deep inside my guts. I couldn’t settle into my chair, much less focus on the computer screen’s emptiness before me. There was a marketing message I was to write, but the blank page would have to wait. I emailed Luc on the 4th floor to ask him if it was too late yet to step out and grab some breakfast. He said he’d meet me in the lobby.

I was reclining in a plush chair beneath the high ceiling, reading today’s tech news off my phone. Silicon Valley had a “youth” problem. People were too focused on apps and IPOs. The story took me back to my dot-com days in Boston in 1999, and I remembered my longing. Luc came down the spiral staircase. His shoes tapped across the floor. I knew he hated that. “Took you long enough,” I said.

“You just got here,” he laughed. “I heard you get off the elevator.”

“That wasn’t me.”

Luc and I used to live in the same neighborhood here in DC. Now, he owns a home in Anacostia, out by the ballpark, in the city’s Southeast quadrant. He purchased it right after finalizing the sale of an old house in Alexandria he and his ex-wife shared over four years ago. They have a son together who Luc gets on Monday and Friday nights. When his son was born, Luc had been the same age my dad was when my parents had me – 30. Luc remembers when he could hold Seamus in the palm of his hand and rest him on his leg while he worked all night at his desk. Luc’s theory was Southeast is the best investment he can afford in the District today. I remember getting lost in Southeast DC back in high school. Back then, I never would have imagined anybody would ever choose to live there. Luc and I used to sit on our company’s balcony, beneath the afternoon sun, smoking cigarettes together. He’d put on his shades, and I would squint my eyes. Nowadays, I chew nicotine gum while he puffs off his vaporizer. We both started at this company within a month of each other, nearly two years ago. Shortly after Luc’s first day, he gave me a ride home. We were on the same work team back then, and our company’s algorithms said we should be friends. Thus far, they’ve been right.

We were in his car – a mini Toyota SUV he’d bought from his ex-brother-in-law years before – cruising with the windows rolled down up Rock Creek Parkway when he first started telling me about his newest music project. Luc had started school at Berklee College of Music in Boston in ‘93, finished at UT Austin and spent his twenties in touring bands across the United States. We’re roughly the same age. He’d played guitar for everything from math rock to garage rock revival. Today, he says he quit that last band when he realized he was making music for other people’s kids while his own kid was back home in Washington, DC without his father. This newest project was Luc’s first foray back into music in over four years. It was a pop/rock project inspired by the emotions he was going through from his most recent break-up – a grad student in her mid-twenties he’d met while he was tending bar. But he had no intentions of ever taking it on tour. He wanted it to be solely an internet project.

I could understand that, but still, I said, “Sounds cool. I’m probably not the best person to ask about it right now, though. I really don’t know what makes any one thing better than anything else anymore.”

Luc’s an attractive man. He thinks he resembles Indiana Jones, and I can see it. I’ve always been told I look like Bob Dylan, but recently I’ve been getting John Lennon a lot. I don’t mind. Maybe it’s because I started wearing glasses four years ago. I like my glasses, though. They make me feel softer than I’ve ever felt in my life. That day in the car, as we were first getting to know each other, Luc responded in that measured way people have when they’re still sizing each other up, “Oh, I don’t know if anything’s really better than anything else either. I still remember this old guitar teacher of mine, when I asked him who the best guitarist in the world was, telling me the best guitarist in the world is probably just some guy sitting in his basement who nobody’s ever heard of.”

“Yeah, that’s probably true,” I said, thinking of my own basement apartment and the novel I’d been chiseling out for seven years then.

On the day this story started, though, Luc and I were walking together over to the Einstein’s Bagel shop around the corner from our building. He was telling me about this girl he’d just met on OkCupid. She sounded interesting – worked in organic farming, grew up on a commune outside San Francisco. I thought of the turn of the century and Annie back in Brooklyn. I asked, “It wasn’t some sort of Buddhist commune, was it?”

“Maybe. I don’t know yet. Why?”

“No reason. Just wondering.”

Luc and I grabbed our orange juices – his fresh squeezed, mine Minute Maid. As we waited in line for our sesame bagels with hummus on them, I said, “So I think I finally figured out what my next writing project’s gonna be.”

“Nice. What is it?”

“Well, it’s based on a conversation I had with Cora this morning. It’s a memoir. Only, the main character’s gonna have my name, but I’ll publish it as Raphael D’Angelo, my penname, you know. So it’ll be a novel. The working title is Confessions of a Reluctant Hipster.”

Either I couldn’t read Luc’s expression, or he wasn’t making one. I went on, “See, what I’m thinking is I want to tell the story of my life, only backwards. I mean, like, starting from right now and going back as far as I can remember.”

Luc warmed a little to the idea. He said, “Okay, but why the title?”

“Well, think about it, for people like you and me, being a hipster was always at the periphery, but back in the day, none of us wanted to admit we were one. Why was that? See, what I’m thinking now is – why couldn’t we just be hipsters? Why couldn’t we accept that was what was happening? I think it has something to do with the alienation of our culture, the way we grew up, everything we were a part of – punk rock, heavy metal. So I want to write a memoir of my life, but I really want it to be a memoir of our culture, of the counterculture. What do you think?”

“That sounds kind of interesting. But remember, if you want to write about culture, you need to write about relationships.”

To say I never admitted I was a hipster is a bit of an overstatement. Last night, I sat up on the arm of Cora’s couch while she reclined across my bare feet, and before we watched Game of Thrones, I read to her the same thing you’ve read so far. She said she liked it, but there needed to be more of her in it. We both laughed. She also reminded me of our first date, when we were crossing the street away from the National Mall and the Smithsonian.

That day, we’d gone to see an exhibit at the Hirshhorn on violence as art. It opened with photos of nuclear explosions and ended with a video of a guitar tied to a truck being dragged down country roads. The noise it made reminded me of Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music. Cora had never heard the album. So I told her about when I’d listened to that whole double record of feedback in one sitting and eventually wound up taking off all my clothes and dancing figure-8s in the nude around my tiny bedroom.

Afterwards, we sat down on a bench. It was Super Bowl Sunday, and I kissed her for the first time right after a group of very European looking men walked past. We guessed they were German. I asked if I could see her artwork from high school since neither of us were interested in watching the game. She said, “Sure.” Then, for some reason, while we were crossing the street in our leather jackets, beneath the gray, January sky, she asked me if I was a hipster. I said, “Well, I lived in Williamsburg in the early 2000s. So in a way, I helped create that scene.”

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Something Like a Phenomenon: 1.1

It’s the first day of spring, and I’m still trying to quit smoking… since the first day of last spring. I don’t know why I can’t give this up, but I know why I started. It had something to do with Axl Rose.

I’m sitting on my girlfriend’s couch, drinking a cup of coffee from out a French press. She’s played by Beyoncé in the movie version of my life. I’m certain of this because a coworker recently showed me a picture of the pop star on Instagram the other day. Muted morning light shines through multi-colored drapes. A shadow of the windowsill’s lone plant is cast on hardwood flooring. Cora’s younger than me by 12 years. But neither of us minds. We already discussed that. She just started letting me call her my girlfriend last Saturday.

It’s her French press with the red top brewed this coffee. She brought it to me in a wide-lipped, purple mug, hand-thrown somewhere in Baltimore. I used to own a purple car, but I haven’t owned a car in over four years. In fact, the last car I drove I didn’t even own. I’d already sold it to my step-dad a few years before upon my return from Santa Fe. Cora and I woke up early today to the sound of Cat Stevens coming off her iPhone. It was earlier than I would have liked it to be. And I realized maybe if I opened my own blinds in my basement apartment, let the sun stream across me on days I was alone, it may not always be so hard to get up. But we both have to go to work. That’s something I didn’t always do.

For some reason, there’s a Beastie Boys tune worming through my mind, something off of Check Your Head. I remember discovering that record in the midst of a store’s fully stocked shelves somewhere off the 5 freeway in San Clemente, California. The same store where I first discovered Rage Against The Machine. This song goes, “Now Ad-rock and MCA, let’s rock this joint in the old school way…” which I say quietly to myself.

Cora laughs. I love her light sound. I don’t know what that means, and I don’t know if it’s the words or my phrasing brought her humor on. The caffeine must have already hit our brains. When I said it, I wasn’t sure whether or not she would know the line. But even if she doesn’t, I’m certain she knows Ad-rock and MCA. A 12-year gap isn’t that big a cultural difference. Or so I’ve learned since my mid-thirties – despite technological advances.

“You know, the Beastie Boys weren’t great rappers,” I say, “By any stretch of the imagination. But they had amazing production…”

Cora agrees, nodding through the cloud above her cup. Her curls spill over bare shoulders. Her mouth is pursed, blowing the steam from her lips.

Recalling collegiate discussions on the merits of the Dust Brothers’ work with The Beastie Boys on Paul’s Boutique, I remember I didn’t like that album when it first came out. I’d loved License to Ill, but in fifth grade, the video for Hey Ladies was beyond my tastes. I’d just discovered heavy metal. By the time I got to high school, though, it was a whole different story. “And a great sense of aesthetics,” I go on.

I first discovered I wasn’t a hipster in the fall of 2001. I was 25 years old, the same age Cora is now, and the Twin Towers had just gone down a couple months before. The scent from their immolation still lingered in my nostrils, and the sight of their smoke still burned my retinas. There I was, two months after 9/11, a poet in my girlfriend’s painting studio, somewhere near the campus of Pratt University in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. I had on a pair of dark blue jeans, flared out at the calves to cover the buckles on my motorcycle boots. My shaggy hair hung over my ears and in front of my eyes. I wore a black tee shirt emblazoned with an orange AK-47. The tee shirt said – Defend Brooklyn. It was one size too small for me. The only size the traveling, California street artists had left when I bought it from them on the main-drag of my own Brooklyn neighborhood. “It’s cool. Kinda heroin chic,” they’d said to me as I slipped it over my emaciated torso.

Annie, my then girlfriend, had on a ripped up, sleeveless tee shirt with glitter encrusted paint smears streaking her legs and dotting her Chuck Taylor’s falling apart at the seams. She’d just invited me over to see her artwork for the very first time.

We’d met at a bar. The buzz saw slice of late-70s punk rock blared from out the heavily-stickered juke box. I’d been shooting pool and just lost another game. I was sitting at a table in the corner, drinking my Bass Ale, when a tall girl with bleached blonde hair slammed a pitcher of beer down on the table, slid into place across from me and said, “I want to talk to you about politics and philosophy.”

“Okay,” I said. “Anything specific?”

Marx and Nietzsche,” she answered.

Back then, Annie’s most recent paintings were composed of cellular shapes undulating across dark canvasses. She said the lights polka-dotting her cells were inspired by the cityscapes of her most recent cross-country flight back home to San Francisco. After spending her childhood in a Buddhist commune outside the city proper, she grew up in the Haight-Ashbury District. Her mom had made millions by marketing the dot-com boom. I was reminded of brain synapses. We were smoking pot from out her one-hitter and taking pulls off the gin in my flask as I rolled cigarettes tight with dark, French tobacco. She and I lived in a pair of conjoined neighborhoods, little-known at that time outside New York, just north of there called Williamsburg and Greenpoint.

“You know what the hipster kids back in Williamsburg don’t realize,” I said to Annie.

She shook her head, No. She smoked so much pot, she never really got stoned.

“Is the history of that word. You see, Norman Mailer, all the way back in the 1950s wrote an essay about it. He said hipsters were basically educated kids who moved into the city to drop out of society… by embracing drugs and poverty. It’s not a fashion statement, you see. It’s not a way to gentrify New York by turning all of Brooklyn into the suburbs… a place where all these college kids can feel safe and at home. Just like they never left their dorm rooms. It’s a philosophy, a rejection of all the middle-class values we grew up with. See, you and me, Annie, we’re hipsters in the sense Norman Mailer was talking about. Not the way people use that word today…”

As I tell this story to Cora right now over our cups of morning coffee, she laughs. “You do see the irony in that, don’t you?”

I nod and smile.

Cora grew up outside Baltimore. She went to an artists’ high school there in the city that, once upon a time, rewrote my entire life’s trajectory. “It’s funny, though,” she goes on, “When I was in high school, me and my friends, we all wanted to be hipsters. They were the Wham City kids we thought were so cool…” She’ll be starting law school at Georgetown this fall, but she’s been talking about wanting to do some new paintings again recently.

“I know. That’s the crazy thing. Back in the day, being a hipster meant you could never say you were a hipster. I don’t know why that is. Maybe it’s because we all showed up in Brooklyn thinking we were so special. We read these books. We listened to that music. We liked this artist. We watched those movies. And then, suddenly, we were all in the same place surrounded by people who were just like us. And that meant we weren’t so special anymore. All while the rest of the city kept saying we were just a bunch of hipsters, like Williamsburg was some sort of new wave fashion show. So we rejected the title and tried to show everybody how different we each were. It probably has something to do with how my generation grew up. The music we listened to, the movies we watched, the courses we took in college…”

After leaving Cora’s that day, as I was walking to the Metro, that’s when this idea first hit me. But I didn’t start writing it until tonight, on a new pad of paper I bought to jot down notes for the meeting about this film I’m to help write. It didn’t come to me fully formed. It was just the title striking my brain like it was thrown straight from Zeus’ clenched fist – Confessions of a Reluctant Hipster.

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Preface from “The Death of Sophia”

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Preface from The Death of Sophia
By Israfel Sivad

My main area of philosophical interest is that of the dual nature of the term “subject” in which humans exist both as “metaphysical” and as political entities. Primarily, I am examining how the evolution of the metaphysical subject evolved simultaneously into the individuated subject’s subjection to a political authority. It is my thesis that the modern, metaphysical subject either gave rise to or developed as a result of the notion of the political subject’s placement within a state. Which came first – the metaphysical subject or the political subject – is of less consequence to me than the idea that it is necessary for one to view oneself as a distinct, metaphysical subject in order to be a proper political subject within the modern state.

It must be stated that from its early modern inception, the philosophical notion of subjectivity has confronted the question of insanity – albeit, at times, obliquely. Descartes, in his Meditations on First Philosophy, asks and responds to his own question, “But on what grounds could one deny that these hands and this entire body are mine? Unless I were to liken myself to the insane…” It seems to me that, in this instance, Descartes has missed his own point. The point is not that he himself is not insane and that, therefore, he can discount such a viewpoint and continue on his own line of questioning. Rather, the question is: If one person, at any moment in her life, on any grounds whatsoever (rational or irrational) – provided that those grounds correspond with her direct experience at that moment – can deny that she is constituted subjectively in the same manner that Descartes perceives himself to be, then might not Descartes’s own notion of subjectivity be in jeopardy?

This idea does not sit well with me. For, it appears that the concept of a thinking subject (either independent or intersubjective), given the trajectory of modern philosophy from Descartes through Kant to Husserl, is an experience so basic to the human milieu that it is the most primary fact that must be proven once one endeavors upon philosophical reflection. Therefore, if this notion is so primal to the philosophical project, then, since there are moments in people’s lives where this subjectivity appears to break down (and in contemporary times, through the aid of medication, be reconstituted), we must continue to analyze the rational foundation for the idea of subjectivity itself.

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Quantum Fluctuations

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Quantum Fluctuations
By Israfel Sivad

The first time it had ever happened was when who was now a man was still a child. The second time it had ever happened was when he was a teenager. The third time it had ever happened was just now… just now…

The first time:

Who was now a man was playing alone with his GI Joe men in the flowerbed where his mother did the weeding with a spade and a fork and gloves on her hands. But she wasn’t weeding right then. Instead, who was now a man was playing alone in that flowerbed with his GI Joe men. His dad was in the garage. Who was now a man could hear the roar of the table saw. He could feel the pounding hammer. He could smell his dad’s beer-drenched sweat.

Who was now a man was playing alone in the flowerbed where his mom gardened while his dad worked in the garage because the week before, he’d gone over to the house of some kid from his soccer team, some strange kid with a French mom and an American dad who went hunting all the time. They’d invited who was now a man to go hunting with them the next weekend, this weekend in fact, but who was now a man didn’t want to kill a deer. He didn’t want to see a deer’s blood. He still remembered Bambi, and Bambi’s mother still reminded him of his own.

But the real reason who was now a man was playing alone was because after that weekend at the strange kid with the French mom’s house, who was now a man didn’t trust any other kids to play. Most sensible children would never believe it, but who was now a man no longer knew what children might be sensible: That kid with the French mom buried his GI Joe men when they were killed in battle. He would perform a funeral dirge, and he would bury them in his own backyard’s Arlington cemetery where he’d never dig them up again. That strange kid with the French mom’s backyard was a veritable graveyard of dead and decaying action figures. If he were precise about whom he killed and simply killed off the action figures he didn’t like such a notion might not have been so bad. Who doesn’t want less uncool action figures? But somehow, in that childlike world of play, the fates managed to dictate their decrees and spin the non-existent bullets from the little plastic guns in all sorts of directions different from the ones you wanted them to go in. Zeus himself had never had less control over the world he was supposedly responsible for. Any action figure could die at any time, and that action figure would never come back to life. Who was now a man had had a huge argument over his own Snake-eyes who was somehow hit by a non-existent stray bullet. Who was now a man refused to part with Snake-eyes, but the kid with the French mom said the Joe had to die. Who was now a man didn’t believe him. Permanence had yet to infiltrate his world of play. His action figures had infinite numbers of lives. They suffered, died, went back into their boxes, and came out themselves again – an 8 year old’s version of the transmigration of souls. The kid with the French mom was more of a nihilist. He didn’t believe that consciousness could continue after a non-existent bullet ripped through an action figure’s lungs, and he certainly didn’t believe that that action figure could go into a box and come out itself again. Who was now a man decided that if Snake-eyes were going to have to die, then he wouldn’t play. He snatched his Snake-eyes out of the kid with the French mom’s hand, and he walked all the way home. His parents weren’t mad at him. They were actually quite understanding when he explained the situation. After all, Snake-eyes was his favorite Joe.

And it was a good thing he hadn’t let Snake-eyes die because at that very moment, Snake-eyes was rescuing Lady Jay from Zartan’s clutches. Not that Lady Jay was defenseless. Who was now a man was not a chauvinist. As could have happened to any GI Joe on a dangerous mission, she’d simply been tricked by an under-handed ploy of Zartan’s. Snake-eyes crawled up the rose bush and sat in a nook where a couple of the branches came together. He took a sniper’s careful aim. He slowly squeezed the trigger. And he popped one shot straight into Zartan’s brain. Zartan died instantly. And even though who was now a man didn’t like Zartan (not that the character wasn’t cool (he did change colors with heat), he was just evil), he still didn’t perform the action figure’s last rites.

With Lady Jay safe and Zartan dead, who was now a man took his box of action figures and walked back to the house. That was when it happened. Who was now a man was passing right by the garage. He heard the sound of the saw. He was close enough to smell the sawdust. “Damnit!” his dad said. It startled who was now a man, and he dropped Snake-eyes. But as he leaned down to pick the action figure back up, who was now a man was passing right by the garage. He heard the sound of the saw. He was close enough to smell the sawdust. “Damnit!” his dad said. It startled who was now a man, and he dropped Snake-eyes. And he leaned down to pick the action figure back up. Yes. It happened twice. Who was now a man stood still. He didn’t have the words to describe what he had just experienced.

The second time:

The mall was a real madhouse that night. All of the adults there kept trying to figure out what the kids thought was so funny. Little did the security guards know that acid was making the rounds. The high school kids, the middle school kids, everyone was looking to score, and most already had.

Smoking a cigarette, Joe Smith was standing out on the sidewalk in front of the food court when Jay came back up to him. Jay was the one who’d hooked Joe up earlier that evening, about an hour before that cigarette that Joe was smoking. Jay was already tripping pretty hard when Joe and his girlfriend had found him sitting on the curb, staring intently at a long line of ants. The blond-haired hippie-type-headbanger had told the freshman couple that he was pretty sure he could get them both a couple more hits if they’d front a few bucks for Jay to get another one as well. This shit was good and he didn’t want the trip to stop. Joe and his girlfriend didn’t think twice about it. They pooled their money (which incidentally added up to twenty bucks – she had fifteen; he had five) and bought four hits… one and a half for each of them, and another for Jay. Needless to say, Jay was seeing tambourines and elephants when he approached Joe smoking that cigarette.

“Man…  I swear to God you’ll never believe what I just saw, man…” Jay said. Joe nodded. He didn’t want to hear about it. He wasn’t tripping yet, and he didn’t want to hear about the wonders another was experiencing. It would only be a second, now, he was certain of it, before he’d start catching trails. What time was it anyway? How long ago had he dropped the acid? Was that a trail following behind Jay’s hand as he ran it through his hair? Damn it, no. Patience, Joe, patience. “Man, I was just talking to Zoe Tan, and I swear to God, man, I could see her thoughts. No shit. She had these little bubbles above her head just like in a cartoon, man, and I could see what she was thinking right in that bubble, man…  It was fucking wild. This world’s a fucking cartoon!”

Joe thought Jay was sure as hell crazy. He’d already dropped a bit of acid in his time, and he’d never seen anything like that. But one thing he did know was that on acid, anything was possible. He just wanted that hit and a half to kick in…

Walking through the mall: “You know, man,” it was Jay again, “You know why they call it a trip, man? See, I realized this tonight. As I was walking it felt like I stepped down a little bit, and suddenly I was tripping, man. You get it? It was like I stepped off reality’s ledge and into acid-land. Like there’s another reality right next to this reality that I just stepped right into. You know, like it’s just a couple inches away from us, and acid can drop us down to that level. Somebody must have tripped once stepping off the curb like that, and that’s why they call it a trip…”

Jay wasn’t annoying Joe anymore. Joe’s cheeks were warm. A smile was plastered across his face. His lips felt purple. His pupils were dilated. His joints cracked whenever he moved his arms: strychnine. He was nodding. Everything Jay said made perfect sense. Everything made perfect sense. Had Joe stepped off a curb when the acid had kicked in? Maybe. He wasn’t sure anymore. That seemed like it could be right, though. There was another dimension right next to where he was walking. A scientist had tripped into it a number of decades ago when he intended to find something else. Acid existed. That other dimension was so close Joe might have been able to reach out and touch it. That’s what made him laugh. He could touch it…

Suddenly, he was smoking a cigarette outside in front of the food court again. His girlfriend, her long brown hair splayed back from her cherubic face, was sitting on the ground. Joe thought she might have stumbled and fallen. But she looked all right. She was laughing. A young security guard was helping her stand back up. That sure was nice of him. He was smiling at her and asking what was so funny. He probably had a crush on her. That was okay. She was hot. Joe had a crush on her, too. He laughed. Of course, he had a crush on her, silly, he was her boyfriend.

A beat-up, gray Toyota pulled up in front of the mall. It was Joe’s girlfriend’s older sister. Cool. Time to go home. Joe got in the car. He sat down in the backseat, scooted all the way across the pleather to the window. He touched the car’s ceiling. It looked like a mattress, which made him think of sex. He glanced out the window to his left and then, looked to his right again. Joe got in the car. He sat down in the backseat, scooted all the way across the pleather to the window. He touched the car’s ceiling. It looked like a mattress, which made him think of sex. He glanced out the window to his left and then, looked to his right again. His girlfriend was following him into the car. Joe leaned back in his seat. His eyebrows creased. That was weird, man. That was fucking weird. He’d just tripped into another dimension, and contrary to what he’d thought earlier, it wasn’t funny at all. It wasn’t until the next day that he remembered that that had happened to him before, when he was a kid, before he knew words like deja-vu, at a time when there’d never been any drugs heavier than sugar in his system. It had happened to him before… without drugs.

The third time:

I just finished this story. I woke up this morning at 5:30 AM. I couldn’t get back to sleep. I made a cup of coffee. I ate a bowl of cereal. I sat down at the computer, and I wrote this story. When I finished, it was 8:30. I went to go to work. I opened the front door, lifted my foot to step outside, and I woke up at 5:30 AM. I couldn’t get back to sleep. I made a cup of coffee. I ate a bowl of cereal. I sat down at the computer, and I wrote this story. It wasn’t until I was done that I realized I’d already written this story. I went back through the files on my computer, looking for something entitled: Quantum Fluctuations. I couldn’t find it. Thinking that maybe I’d changed the name again sometime after the point I’m at right now (this is the fourth title I’ve given it already) I reread the beginning of every piece of writing in My Documents. None of them started with: The first time it had ever happened…

I’m not 8 years old anymore. I’ve become a man. I’m not on any drugs right now. I haven’t eaten acid in close to fifteen years. But still, I wrote this story twice, and I don’t know what happened to it the first time. I don’t know how six hours have passed since I woke up at 5:30, and somehow, it’s 8:30 and time for me to go to work again. This last paragraph is happening right now. But the last time, it must have happened right now. I’ve done this before. This has happened to me before. This is at least the third time. It’s like three times I’ve taken a pitch. The first time, I dropped something. The ball flew straight by me while I stood there staring. The second time, I tried swinging, but I tripped. The third time… What happens after three times?

Click here for more stories from Israfel Sivad’s collection Psychedelicizations.

Recipe for a Future Theogeny

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Recipe for a Future Theogeny
By Israfel Sivad

We must communicate this to
those in future generations who
want to free themselves as well…

just in case reincarnation exists.
Remember: Dionysus was half-
woman. Apollo was God, Artemis’

twin. It is not this body; I
am this body…  “It” am not
this body. “I” is this body.

A girl when I was a child called me
her brother. She asked me to get
undressed in the closet; she is no longer.

If you want to follow me, you’ve
got to play pinball. Just put in
your earplugs, put on your eyes…

Time – Zeus’s father. All –
Zeus’s children. Chronos
is Zeus’s father. Pan are

(god in man’s image
– Michael/Lucifer –
man in god’s image)

Zeus’s children. All are Zeus’s
father. Time is Zeus’s children.
Pan – child. Chronos – fathers.

Put in your eyes, pull out your
earplugs. Don’t play pinball
if you want to follow me…

A boy when I was a child called me
his sister. He asked me to get dressed
outside the closet; he is still with me.

I is not this body; It am this
body…  “I” am not this body.
“It” is this body’s twin:

Artemis loves Pan/All/God –
Apollo was the divine half
of Dionysus’ reincarnated man.

Wanting to free the society as well,
those in future generations must
communicate this to themselves…

 Schizophrenia is the food of the gods.

Click here for more poems from Israfel Sivad’s collection Recipe for a Future Theogeny.

All Being, All Time

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All Being, All Time
By Israfel Sivad

All you kids stay cool. Don’t
ever give in to this world. Don’t sell
your bodies; don’t sell your souls.

We’ve returned from the underworld
where we learned the mysteries of being.
Give us time… we’ll share them with you.

The feminine bears fruit; the masculine
breathes fire. But neither male nor
female is one or the other.

The masculine drinks whiskey; the feminine
dances holy. But neither female nor
male knows the lunacy of Venus –

Dionysus.

We swirled into the madness. We
observed Apollo from the corner
as he contemplated all being,

all time before he disappeared.
We looped the music of the spheres,
used it to power our generators,

but we never took off from this
earth – not because we didn’t have
the capability, but because we didn’t

want to. We wanted to share
the mystery with you so you would
realize why we dropped out of school,

why we turned off our brains and
sewed up our lips while we pulled
up some chairs to contemplate this koan:

Confucius asked Zhaozhou what
all being, all time meant, but as Krishna
pulled his hands down from the crucifix,

Lucifer slapped him upside the head.
“Ouch!” he screamed, but before he
sued for peace, he told Saint George,

“I know the answer now. I don’t
have to do anything.” With that,
we kicked aside our chairs. While all stared,

we meditated.

But we refuse to pray in public…
so much so that we refuse to
admit we pray in private…

so much so that we will never
tell you we believe in God.
We don’t. We believe in the mind.

We believe in chemistry, the chemical
combination for love – was revealed
to us once, but we forgot it.

Have you understood us yet? We
have worlds to share with you, and
we will spend our eternity doing just that.

Click here for more poems from Israfel Sivad’s collection Indigo Glow.