Some Autobiographical Ramblings

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In fall 2007 at Utah Valley University,  I had the assignment to write a spiritual autobiography for the English course "Literature of the Sacred." As follows.


 


Some Autobiographical Rambling


 


“Once, God showed me infinity and I thought I would die. In fact, I was dead. In fact, He never showed me.” This is how I found Brad: ambling, ambiguous, stupid. I left him just the same. Brad wasn’t inspiring, not directly. He wasn’t attractive, not remotely. He wasn’t rich, his breath smelled and his personality lacked. His lofty goals in life were limited to holding onto the graveyard shift at some Pleasant Grove gas station. His one redeeming trait came in the form of the fact that his mother had passed when he was very young. Come to think of it, even this didn’t garner my sympathy or improve my opinion of him. Brad was what I'd refer to as a moment of self-deprecation. We twice had drunken sex then I subsequently spent some months in his room watching anime. During those months we lived as comfortably as we could. I slept the day hours and stayed awake while he was away, during his graveyard shift. When my waking elapsed with the hours after his return, Brad would propose we drink, pop pills, smoke weed, do speed. And I would relent, knowing the annoyance of his company would ebb in the haze. Some days I went home to my cold, shared apartment. Other days I spent in places I can’t recall, save they were away from Brad. He interested me vaguely. His self-proclaimed suffering inspired only apathy from around him. When I looked into Brad’s cow-dull eyes, there wasn't a glimmer of recognition that passed between us. I would search him and see myself: my apathy paced his dejected gait.


*          *          *          *


During some forgettable summer, some forgettable teacher teaching some forgettable writing course started the day with, “The thing to a great story is a character that moves." I asked that he explain what he meant by it. He sounded irritated, “You don’t do any moving, doll. That’s your problem.” I thought, certainly I of all people did move. And so I said so. He rebuked, “No. You only make your characters move, with you a backdrop to it all. You’ve got to let yourself be moved and stop always with this figurative wandering from one person to another who eventually move on without you.” But there wasn't anything figurative about it so naturally, I rejected his comments. Anyway he had always made it a point to speak in broad terms, molded like a psychic's reading. Why is it that ambiguity is so often confused with ingenuity? I would not want to mislead you; I would have you believe that my story is, I suppose, filled with what stereotypical English professor refers to as “static characters” — but then perhaps they are the dynamic ones, somehow, and I the static.


*          *          *          *


Night is a clinging child — ragged and torn, gaunt and scarce, silent and solitary — waiting to be brushed away. I in turn am clinging, naked and revealed. But I wake. And so I wait for him to wake. The morning's white light consumes the room. It seeps through the windows. I think, 'Nothing here is right.' He wakes. Disproportionate, I wade into life of the day, the life that was yesterday. I turn to watch him with the nagging sense that cannot be brushed away, ‘I’ve filled this spot before. I’ve seen these lights all stark and hollow. I keep coming back.' He leaves; I leave. The path I pace is carved now and without thought, I cover its ground. My feet slide into steps traced in time. Here it is then; this is the fruit of my labor. This is my labor. I’m not thinking of salvation here — not here, not now. I’m thinking of hours. How long until the time when I’m back in his room, naked and clinging and waiting for the sun, dreading the sun? I am a child. He is a student of philosophy. It is ‘sex’ the elephant in the room. The big, black elephant.


*          *          *          *


I was born Mormon. I was a Mia Maid president, a member of the youth council, a “strong spirit.” My friends were Mormon and my family are all Mormon. I was Mormon and I was brilliant. My parents—perhaps to show how brilliant I was—pulled me out of school and later pushed me into college. I met him there. In one story I ask my bishop for spiritual guidance. He asked, “Are you having sex with him?” and I answered “Yes” and then he asked me “Do you feel ashamed?” and after thinking, feeling for a minute, I said “No.” He told me our spiritual guidance sessions were over. He would not speak to me until I felt shame.


*          *          *          *


My narrative that journeys forward is macabre and ambiguous. It follows straights of path that end and begin and rejoin and double back to forward, side to front, back to side, black and then out. I wake in a basement bedroom, naked next to a stranger. I tend to go through life this way: I wait until the dawn breaks and darkness cools my burning eyes. I wait until the world reaches its Roche limit and sinks inward, downward, destructing one more night. I sit alone. I force myself beyond my limits. I cling to time. I cling to the world of darkness and silence, where nothing is required and nothing returned — only thoughts and space. And I think, 'This story is Nothing. This is angst. This must be unavoidable.' They are my frame tales packed with alcohol, drugs and debauchery. They slip into the next. They stumble, blend, blur. But I never found the moral message, the spiritual undertone. Nor will you. I must emphasize this point. You are looking for movement. I present you with a four-year, drug-induced haze and descriptions unsavory enough to make a prophet lose faith. I remember these not as a conscious effort but as a synaptic impulse, and then finally there is shame.


*          *          *          *


The inhuman expands before me. I see yellow, blue, brown and green. I see helio, atmosphere, mineral and plant. All this is foreign. I have lost all through days — through learning of terms and numbers. Fearful, I slip into the expanse to move closer to Jen. I am not a Mia Maid president or a lusty wanderer. And I have forgotten that I am brilliant, or I am less and less convinced that I am. She tells me that I am though. She boasts that someday we’ll be sober and revolutionaries, the two of us. For my own part, I am in worship of her eyes. This story is short-lived. And when she has drowned, I am now facing a mirror sobbing 'uncontrollably.' The word comes to my mind as I heave in an unfamiliar contortion of the gut. My hands are pressed against a linoleum counter-top, and my weight falls into elbows and wrists, into reserves of muscle I’ve never felt. I begin to think that my body is its own, does not belong to me or my command. Yes, I have that very sense — my body is a lawless, dangerous landscape. I watch myself in the mirror. My eyes are feral and as I watch I wonder if they'll ever be my own again. By then my body is shaking. ‘I am convulsing,’ I think. Standing horrified, I heave again, sweat, burn and quake. The mirror’s image is riveting. I realize, 'This body is exquisite.' Later during the day, my body is prostrate near a fountain and my arms wrapped tight around a man. His name is Michael. I am still crazed with grief or loss or self-absorption — not brilliant, not even legible. A figure approaches us from the horizon. Michael introduces me to his friend Brad. 


*          *          *          *


I’ve lost the impulse to spill my guts. That is, these stories seem at times irrelevant or tangential, or unforgivably simple. I find myself writing them like a linear equation. They end like an unbreakable causal chain. It may be a poverty of thought. I’ve tried transcendence —Dillard and nature and deconstructionism — but the world seemed impossibly whole and improbably transmutable. We are continuous creatures based upon brash and mundane rituals. And our knit of madness has been so crafted that when a thread is snagged, pulled loose, our tapestry does not unravel. The strand sadly sloughs off and is lost to time and decay. I fear that individual.


*          *          *          *


Morning creeps into my mind, stifling the pleasures of night. The atmosphere is sifting, shedding layers of surrealism, taking back what light my fingertips had brushed, restlessly reaching out—and at what? Already life is ticking, already people rotating. My world is orbiting. My room has the stench of anxiety and laundry. And after months of breathing it, choking it down, pushing it out, I’ve forgotten that the world ever reeked of anything else. In all this, I hate to finalize in words what I have yet to evaluate, what I have yet to discover. Though it’s there fresh in my mind, and there accentuated in others' words. It has no form and it has yet a name. There is madness in our mode and yet I see the point of gratification. The unfamiliar tempts and entices, hinting towards a feast of variety and experience to nourish my half-starved senses. I hear faint voices, strange and new. My vision blurs a horizon of forms and shapes far from my own grounds. My appetite brings about images of arcs and angles transforming into ellipses then breaking, rushing into every desirable direction until I lose my way in the vastness of opportunity. Rest is all I need now and I fall into it, deus ex machina.

Created: Mar 21, 2011

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