Tucson to San Diego

Fall now ahead, Sylvie’s baseball season over, we drove from Tucson to San Diego, where Sylvie was to attend a three day conference. Not in a hurry, we drove west to Why, then dropped south to the border crossing at Lukeville. Back in old Mexico, we stopped in Sonoyta to eat, dry and hot, folks moving slowly in the heat. After lunch we walked around some, surrounded but ignored by border business as usual. I had drunk a beer with a taco burrito full of red and black steaming beans and hot chilies, and with Sylvie now driving, I fell asleep. When I awoke we were on Mexico Federal Highway 2, driving west along the border. Desert, mesa, flat tan and sandy, rocky hills. We switched seats again and Sylvie slept while I drove and when she awoke she was surprised by crops and greenery reappearing around San Luis Rio Colorado. We crossed the border again at the portmanteau crossing of Mexicali and Calexico, picking up 8 west through chaparral forest to El Cajon and La Mesa, and finally drove into a muted San Diego night, where Sylvie had booked a bungalow near the water in Ocean Beach. We had encountered no gods in the desert, had not felt watched. The desert gods are heavy sleepers, Sylvie said. Now back to the city gods, I said. The beach gods are my favorites, Sylvie said. I should move the team to a beach city next year. You can never be sure about the gods, I said, how they’re going to act, or react. I unpacked the car while Sylvie opened up the bungalow windows to the ocean breeze. We sat out on the front porch facing a narrow road that led down to the beach, and Sylvie poured herself a glass of chardonnay and I drank a beer and then we went to sleep for the night.

“Tucson to San Diego” is episode 61 of Inventories, a Novel in Progress in Serial Format at The Coming of the Toads.

Waiting for Sot

Scruples. Chance. Fishing. Hiding.

Most of the gods are on the make. Being at least part human, as I am, may cause one to harbor some scruples. These Sylvie relies on to keep me on the straight and narrow. It’s no wonder humans have created shame in an attempt to keep the activities of the gods under some control and keep them from seducing and infesting people with their talons and talents for abuse of power. The god Sot was both cob and pen. I was waiting for Sot’s message which should tell me when to expect Wally the Whale who would carry me in its belly out to sea. It should come as no surprise given the ambiguities of our origins that gods often have more than one name. I am sometimes called Chucker’s Chance, also Prior Probability. Possibility is not the same as probability. Nothing is impossible, but not necessarily probable. Initial singularity, an oxymoron, illustrates. The problem is we like to see something happen more than once so we can begin a line of best fit. One occurrence only creates a point, but not a line. Points are multidirectional in potential, while lines are by definition linear, lineal, and must contain at least two points, one of which can always be used as a referent. All of that the actuaries to the gods taught me – but that’s not to say I was a good student. For the next seven nights I made my way down to the pier to fish, waiting, testing my new cover, hiding out during the day in an attic above a garage in North Redondo. I had let my hair quickly fall to my shoulders as part of my new disguise. The beach cities are not particularly safe havens for hiding. Because the cities are relatively small and wealthy from enormous taxes from expensive properties and prolific and diverse businesses, their police are well funded. And the locals are not friendly to outsiders, though on the pier exceptions are made for the fishers who are supposed to add color and character which satisfies the tourist expectation and taste for the exotic. Still, there are rules written and unwritten that could mean either one’s safety or danger, depending on unknown, random forces at work. One had also to watch out for the Lifeguards.

“Waiting for Sot”
is episode 17 of
Ball Lightning
a Novel in Progress
in Serial Format at The Coming of the Toads.
(Click link for continuous, one page view of all episodes.)

Walter and the Panhandler

The gods and one's nature. Metamorphosis. Unhuman. Inhuman. Panhandling. Gold. Plutocracy.

Most gods have little choice but to follow their nature. It’s not so much that they are bound to, but that they want to. It’s what fulfills them, brings them happiness, even if its taste is bitter. It’s true though, that with a lot of hard work, one may achieve a kind of metamorphosis of one’s nature, changing, over time, but then that very change has always been a part of one’s nature, waiting in the wings, as it were. Metamorphosis is different from mutation or mistake or accident. The snail wants to be a snail, slipping and sliding slowly along its trail to and fro its eats. The seal is at home in her wavy salt water coves, climbing the rocks to dry in the sun after a meal of fish. So too the human can not be unhuman. Inhumanity is a different matter. One follows a slippery slope toward inhuman behavior, landing in the pond of selfishness, fed by streams of stinginess and hoarding. If you are happy, you will hand over some change to the panhandler on the corner, and not think twice about it. His cardboard sign may be filled with lies (veteran, three hungry kids and no place to call home, need money for ticket back home); so what, of these lies? Doesn’t all advertising fib? Appeals to the emotive, the passions. So when Walter and I reached the corner where sat the fellow with his sign (can’t work – groin injury), and Walter scoffed what was he, an NFL quarterback? I gave the fellow a greenback. Why Walter should care, Ray having just recovered the missing transaction of $300 million, is a story not of metamorphosis but of one’s nature. Walter is a miser. And, one of the wealthiest men in the world, he is, by nature, a panhandler who advertises by pandering to the base desires of a soft audience he detests. The language of the gods is not made of words. The best prayer, as Thomas Merton has told us, is wordless. As a flight of birds. As a sea breeze. As a flight of bills falling into a hat sitting on a sidewalk between two wretched legs. Words are seeds in bloom, flowers and weeds, wanted and unwanted. The bee is on your lips, her long tongue slipping through for the nectar of your words. It will take many bees to change these words to honey. The panhandler is working, similar to Walter, sifting his investment pan for gold nuggets, panning for gold. As an enterprise, it’s one of the most efficient. Surely, I told Walter, even you must appreciate at least that much. Money in one’s pockets, like gold, does nothing. It’s a dead weight. It must be circulated. This wretched state of affairs is part of human nature. Zeus blinded Plutus so that the god of money could freely pour the goods of his cornucopia without regard for worthiness. Thus we arrive at our current plutocracy, which affords sans philosophy, sans religion, sans love, sans hope, sans charity.

“Walter and the Panhandler”
is episode 13 of
Ball Lightning
a Novel in Progress
in Serial Format at The Coming of the Toads.
(Click link for continuous, one page view of all episodes.)

Defenestration of the god Tchotchke

Fear of falling. Pub of the gods. Bubblebath.  

Most of the gods are afraid of windows, because they fear falling. I met up with the god Tchotchke at Pog’s Place. Vetteboy said he wanted to transfer some risk, and when I asked him how much, he said he wanted it all back. The Pub of the Gods is where we conduct our defenestrations in the Seattle area. There is no coming back from your deicide, I told Tchotchke. He said he understood. I gave him his bar of soap, the traditional send off gift (gods may bathe, but they don’t wash). He wanted out. He said he was looking forward to being fully human. The corporate gig as keeper of the thingamajigs had not been a good fit. I asked him what his plans were and he shrugged his shoulders and he said simply he did not know. He was going to spend his bar of soap on a long bubblebath. A quietness had settled over his face. His shoulders lowered, his chest fell, and I could see he was breathing differently, from his stomach. He handed me the keys to his candy apple red Corvette. We finished our pints and got up and walked to the window, and I pushed him out, and he fell into the Sound.

“Defenestration of the god Tchotchke”
is episode 10 of
Ball Lightning
a Novel in Progress
in Serial Format at The Coming of the Toads