28 December, 2003

Holidays in the South


My brothers and I woke up at six, dressed, and were out the door heading toward the farm by six-thirty. On arrival at five after seven we realized that the gate was locked and wondered how anyone would have gotten in before us, since we were a little late. But we pulled up to the trailer and there sat Matt, Jamison, and the Cooper brothers. My half-brother Dibble pulled in right behind us. We all started pulling on waders and organizing shotguns as the sun was already bright red in the east. We were a small group, about ten guns is all. Before we headed down the the duckponds a bottle of Hot Damn went around a few times to make sure we all stayed a little warm.

The ponds were quite and still. The corn has never looked so puny and pathetic. We all spread out in twos through the adjacent ponds. Not a duck was in the air. As Matt and I started making our way through the water, mud, and corn to the middle of "the Refuge" as we call it, we jumped woodies and teal. It wasn't an auspicious beginning. I am used to great outpouring of ducks in the early morning. Nothing. As we approached a narrow strip of small box elders in the middle of the thirty-acre pond I finally decided it was time to shoot. I dropped a woodie hen that flew over my left shoulder.

With that shot, the air started to shudder. From the flooded timber and corn ducks by the thousand rose up, quacking and whistling. We stopped shooting a moment to simply watch. They flew around, not wanting to leave. Despite the glaring blue skies, despite the lack of guns, the ducks circled around and around all morning. Woodies, teal, ringnecks, mallards, a good mixed bag.

After a few hours Matt and I turned back to the truck. We lined our birds proudly on the tailgate and cracked the first beers of the morning. We walked up to the corner of the new pond where Dibble and the Cooper brothers were still hunting. The shot sporadically at the late, still-flying ducks. We drank a few beers before Dibble and the rest met us with grins and cheers.

Everyone had a good hunt. We killed lots of greenwing teal which are beautiful small birds with a cinnamon head with a dark green stripe across their eye. Dibble whipped out the bottle of Hot Damn. We told some jokes were slow to leave the ponds.

My brother Will and Jamison had a dove hunt and bar-b-que to attend, so were the first to leave. Dibble and his friend Kim discussed how the hell they were going to get home in such a drunken state. Matt and I decided to take the beer and drive around the farm to see how things have changed in the time since we were last out here.

We drove all over, looking at fallow fields and the sad new clear cut down on the Level. The farm looked quiet and solitary, more so than I have seen it in many years. My brothers and I used to spend so much time here. But our stomachs began to gnaw at us around one, so we drove off the farm toward the Waffle House, the old high-school tradition.

For me, if was just refreshing to spend so much time with an old friend, to ride around property that I loved, places I have known for so long, and now were often so distant from me. But this sort of activity has always entailed alcohol and I was maintaining a buzz, fighting getting drunk, but fearing letting the buzz dwindle to a tiredness.

Matt decided that I needed to ride with him to the other side of Columbia to my Uncle Burwell's farm. Matt was meeting Author out there to deer hunt. I didn't have any plans. Matt thought we could just ride around and look for deer. That was about as good a thing as I could think to do with a day. I used to work out at Burwell√Ę€™s when I was a teenager. I haven't ridden around there in years.

We stopped at a gas station to get more beer.

We spent the day creeping around corners and walking down deer trails looking at deer rubs. I climbed a big sweetgum because I figured it needed to be climbed. The day passed in a long moment and the sun dropped out of the sky as we sat in the grass and clay at the edge of wheat field. The air felt like the air of the morning we had started the day with. I had spent the whole day gong inside only twice. No deer came out and we walked to the truck, drank another beer, and then Matt took me home.

Not until I reached the kitchen door did I realize how damned tired I was. I wasn't sure what to do first: shower, dig dinner out of the fridge, or simple drink water. I took off my dirty carhearts, drank some water and hopped in the steamy hot shower for a long time. I took some Aleve and made a whoping plate of leftover Chinese food Will and I had bought with Pop's money the night before. It was a luscious meal. I felt rejuvenated and turned on the Bond: 007 Days of Christmas. I read an article in the Utne Reader'about living in the Now.

I wanted to write about this day because I think it typifies something about the South for me, my South, the South of my youth. I lived here for many fun years with some great friends and family. I love the land still. All the good and the bad are here in this story, however brief and skeletal.

I hope the holidays are great for everybody, amazing how different they all will be: Nepal to Boston, New Zealand to the Keys, France, Spain, and Cuba. Today it was sixty degrees in Columbia. What was it like today in Missoula? The sun is so bright here it hurts my eyes. People live such different worlds. ...anyway. I need to go home and eat more leftovers and watch another movie: the "Extended Edition" of the secong Lord of the Rings. I can hardly wait. Vacations can be good for the soul...

-jonah

19 December, 2003

A Brief Encounter

I was running with Widge down the street when, from a car coming up behind me, I hear a voice:
"Stuu, like Tuube, only Diferent..."
Then I see Crystal's big head hanging out the window of some old Crysler like a dog in the wind. It was great. She just drove on by without saying anything else. Perfect!! Simply Perfect!!

A good quote from Megs:
"Happiness is when what you think, what you say,
and what you do are in harmony."
Mahatma Gandhi

18 December, 2003

School is through.
I am happy and sad. That work and those experiences are now only memories, they can't be experienced in their full vigor and vitality ever again. That is the way of things, but the effort I put into the Nag Hammadi, my passion and addiction; the love I felt for Wendy, and the desire I had to make things work; my devotion to my classes, my perseverance through illness, injury, and doggy dispute; I worked as hard as I could. I can't remember ever in my life where I have more often felt grumpy, disgruntled, more frustrated, baffled - or simply curious as to if I was actually losing my mind. Seriously, I understand schizophrenia in a whole new way now.

It has truly been a wild ride like none I have ever embarked upon before. So I am a little reminiscent; I wonder if I learned what was there to be learned? I wonder if I have missed something in my delirium that I should take with me? What mistakes and missteps have I made? Maybe it all is still to near to see with any perception?

I don't want to do it all over againby any means. I hope, and I am trying to make, my next semester, my last semester, a bit more pleasant to work through. I can hardly explain how excited I am to soon be home with family and old friends. When was the last time? It was so brief, a year ago, it doesn't seem to carry any weight at all. I feel years have past, ages of experience and change. Yet I don't fear that I have grown away from anyone, not at all. Perhaps I should; it is an inevitability of life and growth. But Columbia is more like a family to me than a destination. I care little for what or who people become with their age and choices. My family and friends first reflect where it is that I am from, what my roots are, the foundation of who I am; but second, they personally influenced me, changed me by their own intrigue and ability. I am "me" because of the effect of those around me. If I love who I am, I must love those who taught me to myself, who raised me, challenged me, brought my dreams alive, believed in me, encouraged me, scolded me, toughened me, didn't take shit from me, and wouldn't let me take the easy road. I feel like the world is my teacher and Columbia was long my world, long my home and haven, and you all have always been there for me. I was never let down, never disapointed. I feel like I had the greatest mom in the world.

So if any of you are out there: I love you very much. I hope to see some old faces in the coming weeks.

Now it is to house cleaning and celebration, good food and drink, a little skiing perhaps. I am doing a little coaching for the Special Olympics - this should be an adventure.
-jonah

17 December, 2003

Oh I am through.
My Blake paper - in Bigley's box.
My Non-fiction portfolio - in ten minutes it will be gone.

I don't know how I pulled through.
The hardest semester I have ever had ended with the two easiest and most peaceful weeks.
December has been such a joy. I can't ever remember feeling the Christmas spirit so strongly.
Okay, this is entirely to mushy.
I'm damned cheerful - how's that?

15 December, 2003

9.
Today is the day. In a little less than twelve hours I get to do my presentation. I am damned excited, pretty funny. I feel good. It is early but I’m up and at it, listening to a little Willy and Waylon, “A good hearted woman in love with a good timen’ man.”

Well that’s about it I guess. I’m just so stoked I wanted to write about it.

--
Well it went good and bad. People enjoyed it and stayed after to here me speak, but my organization floundered. I couldn’t use my notes at all. I have to just wing it. Which I did but I was scattered and inarticulate. But I got through and people were impressed. Wilson said he really wanted to take another class with me. I want to sign up for the Dante/Joyce graduate seminar as opposed to the Joyce class I am now in. I may ask but that will be a lot of work – so what!

SO I am happy and cheerful; I went to the bar and had a Baily’s and won a game of pool. Life is good. Now back to work.



12.11.03
It is hard to know what to believe about this, but last night Widge was ill. He was liking his lips constantly. I went to give him a little food around two am and went back to bed. When he came back, he walked into the living room then walked past the door again, and then when he realized that I was in bed he started coming to get in the bed, but something seemed to distract him. He whined and started to snap at something invisible that moved from the foot of the bed to the head. As this happened I heard a loud wine, remenesent of the ”dying rabbit” sound. I jumped out, “what the hell?” I assumed immediately that there must have been a mouse, regardless that I have no mice. Widge seemed to limp and fell over into bed and began to whimper and tremble through every muscle, powerful shivers of what seemed to me to be fear.

I jumped out of bed and turned on the lights thinking there was something terribly wrong with my dog. He was freaking out. I tried to comfort him and think about what had happened. It was then I realized that as he was snapping he wasn’t looking down, but about 12-16 inches about the ground. Plus, my mattress is on the ground? And what was that whine? I swear I heard it move past me. After five minutes or more Widge stopped shaking. We went in the kitchen for a little bit. It was then I started to realize the possibility that Widge saw something that I couldn’t see.

14.
I need to write so that I can try and capture an emotion. Tonight has been one of those rare nights, a night where you look into someone’s face and see years and experiences juxtaposed with their smiles. So many things past before my heart and eyes tonight, but then again, so much was just me, my emotion, what was up welling and isolated to my life, my times.

Jamie Rinker called. It is a rare day when she calls, but always welcomed. I love to know she is thinking about me. Sometimes she seems to far away. But she and I and Libby go all the way back to my first days in Missoula, my first summer, living in the back of my truck with Widge, playing pool games for beer money. That was almost five years ago.

So much has changed. I see so little of those girls that used to be such a part of my life. What did we ever do really? Pot lucks mostly, lots of good talks; I flirted with Libby to little avail. Recently those days have felt awfully far away.

But Jamie called this afternoon. She was still in bed, having had a rather consumptuous evening the night before, Friday night. Next week is exams week, so lots of us are finishing up and have a lot to celebrate. Jamie has only one exam and is graduating. We I have only one paper and a story, both of which are well in hand. We decided that we should have a dinner and catch up before Winter Break sweeps us off in different directions.

“Should we go cheap or expensive?” I ask. After a bit of deliberation we decide to “go big,” and eat sushi at Sushi Hanna’s, my favorite restaurant. I haven’t dined in a while so I got out my nice shoes and a cashmere sweater. I stopped into Warden’s Market and picked up a bottle of sake—a celebratory energy was rising in me. Jamie can be counted on to get dressed up for diner, and she is such an attractive girl. She arrived, casually late of course, wearing a suede sailor’s cap and a nice wool overcoat. I bought dinner; it is the Christmas season and all, and that way I could order a two-person platter I wanted.

Everything we talked about was personal: failed relationships, best relationships, “knights in Shining Armor” vs. “Prince Charming,” why I date crazy women (no offense, I love you all), and on and on. We closed the restaurant. But the conversation was overflowing, so she offered to buy a round of drinks at Charlie’s. I wasn’t planning on going out, I’m not a goin’ out kind of guy these days. But there was something about catching up, being close again to a girl I haven’t seen in a long while, and also it is Christmas, the fall has been so difficult and exhausting. Now things are winding down; the pressure is off; I am enjoying the work that remains; time is on my side. So we finished the sake and went arm in arm to Chuck’s.

We sat at the bar and the bartenders were taking shots together in a ring. The music was loud and had a lot of bass. We ordered a Baily’s for me and a Jamison’s for her and the conversation continued as before. “Easterners can’t kiss” she said, “I mean Northeasterners—Southerners are fine,” she continued. I saw Ed and Nick, Bradley came and talked for a bit, Wendy walked by without a smile, without stopping. Dustin just got back in town and he told us about Alaska, his new job, his new love. We never really get to talk. He is a good man.

Even Chris Simpson showed up. We had a few more rounds. I kept looking over my shoulder to the end of the bar to where “the Cambodian” and Wendy were drinking. It was nice to see her, strange not to talk to her. Looking at the clock on her phone, Jamie says, “Tonight is Libby’s birthday, we’ve got to go meet up with her when she gets off work.” The days have flown by and I didn’t realize that today had been the thirteenth, a midnight it would be the fourteenth. I’d get to see Libby; I haven’t seen Libby in such a long time.

We drink more. We meet some nice new folks, friends of Scott and Ed’s. We grab our coats and make out for the Rhino to meet Libby. I can’t help but stop and say “Hi” and “Merry Christmas” to Wendy and Bradley. She didn’t say much. Dustin walks with us to the next bar.

Jamie races in the back; Dustin and I mosey in the front. Libby was by the door and greeted us with a big smile. Little Erin was with her and a bunch of friends I didn’t know. We all hugged and I sang a verse of the birthday song in her ear. She told me I was a good singer which I overwhelmingly am not. Jamie came rushing up from the back, now clearly drunk, but seemingly overwhelmed with emotion. She was exuberant. She hugged everyone and then decided to by shots, trying not to cry. She doesn’t get to see anyone anymore either. As Jamie scampered off I talked with Libby about some old postcards I had mailed her this summer from India. She didn’t get them, thought they were lost in the mail, only to find them at her mother’s house over Thanksgiving holidays. I told her I had just this week found another one I had never mailed. Jamie came back with the drinks. I took a stool and sat back and looked at this group. I had virtually lived with Jamie and Libby when I had first come to town. I had suffered through the death of Corey with them. But, god, it seems like it has been such a long time, seeing these girls together laughing, Jamie was now crying, all together. They are so beautiful, all of them. They are my friends, my first here. I care about them so much and I know they love me though it is easy to forget.

Last call passed and the lights came on. Some were gathering for after hours, but it was now way “after” my curfew. Now drunk myself, I just stared at them. Jamie was still crying when I decided to say goodbye. I’m a hugger by nature, and when Jamie said goodbye she told me she wanted a good “serious” hug, and reminded me of a hug we shared years ago: “it went on for hours,” she said. I had almost forgotten; I can’t believe it.

Feeling loved by old friends is a joy. This is Christmas. The act of remembering, reawakening the relationships that have been dormant, the act of remembering whom is important, the act of allowing yourself to remember maybe is what is important. I don’t know; it doesn’t matter—I am just telling a story about a night when I spent time with old friends. I saw them in an old light on a new day. We are older, better people, different then before, but our hearts are the same, our compassion the same, the reason I loved them in the beginning is the same. So why let it go.

10 December, 2003

So here is my journal backlog. I didn't write any of this for mass consumption. But this all happened so I will throw it out there - but I am not proud of it. I will be more articulate from here on out. (I hope) I am in a state of literary flux.
jonah

And by the way.....
I love you guys. It feels so good to be supported. You all really encourage me. It really means a lot. There is so much going on in my life, so much to digest and mull over. This is the beginning for some much and it can be scary as hell.

So I love ya and thanks
jonah


NOVEMBER

1.

Ah, a new month. Halloween was great. Wendy is fine. All is well. I did a lot of studying today. I am going to bed.

I am concerned still about my body. So many aches and pains, nagging injuries without seeming cause. Why?

8.

So much is happening and I have had so little time for my journal, alas… I am recovering from a cold, but that is not at issue. I have talked to Robin and he is excited about my proposal for a ship. Sail-mountaineering is what he is after. Sail – mountaineering! Can I really believe it? It is hard to imagine such a life. There is so much to think on and I have so little time right now. But the time is quickly coming. I need to get healthy.

It is also time to sit down and rewrite these stories. I am psyched. Everything is coming to a head. This is the time. I am so excited for the world, for life again.

What to do about Wendy? What there?

Remember the Marathon Monks of Mt. Hiei in Japan. Remember their seven and a half days of fasting, meditation, no water, no sleep. Remember 52 miles a day for 100 days. Seven years, a thousand marathons, five day fire meditation. Truly anything is possible they go beyond the real.

10.

I broke up with Wendy this morning… then went and had three cavities filled at the dentists. So obviously it was a great day.
Actually I have done a fair share of writing this evening. But the twenty-four hour sebaticle was large.
Oh but the venison steak for dinner…. Uum yes.

I have been dreaming so vividly the last few days. I have seen the boat and imagined the Antarctic. I want to get a bike and pedal around countries I visit.

I am ready. I am ready to work and to fear, to be alone and to achieve my far flung dream. It will go. I don’t want to live the life of everyone else here. Sometimes, I am scared for them more than I am afraid for myself.

11.

Oh I just had the most beautiful talk with Wendy. We reminisced old times and our feelings and our hopes. It was really superb. We get along so well when we are broken up. I am sad that things went the way they did. God, I am so thankful.

She said that I was looking for a mother figure in my life.
I would love a Bootsie figure in my life.
She thinks Bootsie is coming to see me soon.
What does that mean?.......

20.
The word is bionic. That is how Nicole describes it. So that is how I have been feeling.
I stayed up until seven am last night. I got lots done. But it is that overall, I feel great, alive. My mind is working so clearly. I can see the future and its setbacks. I am resolving potential problems with creativity. My writing is growing. My relationships are maturing. I am relaxed in the face of a fare deal of pressure and challenge. None of it seems so terrible right now. I am learning what I want and I am looking to the future to see what I will need.

I have had very little time for journaling. SO sad. One can’t do it all I reckon.

22.

I learned a lot of lessons today—too many. What I have learned is that I am vulnerable, in my honesty, to people that choose to pry the truth from me, noting my deflections and deducing the truth, if not knowing it certainly. I have a right to my own privacy and I couldn’t protect it. (I am single now by the way.)

So how can I protect myself. This isn’t the first time: Genny did it to me as well. How can I stop it? I need a poker face. I need for all answers to be given in similar manner. I need to stop the questions from coming. How? How could this have been stopped?

Strangely though, I feel free. Today was the belly of he whale. I am not attracted to anyone—I don’t even feel crushes. Perhaps I will be more free to pursue them. I don’t know but, again, I feel that this relationship is at last behind me. There is nothing left to be destroyed; it’s all gone now. I feel nothing anymore. Strange that I felt this coming all day long. Why did it have to end this way I wonder? Why did she have to dig until she found what she feared, self-manifested? I am not tied to her. I am both pissed and numb.

Lots of questions, old questions. What a huge autumn. Has it really been the best I could do? What has been gained? I have learned to write; I have suffered; I have started to move into my future; I have loved; I have fought; I have been challenged; I have found seclusion; I have slept. All in all I’d say it has not been overwhelmingly positive. So there is plenty of material to learn from. Is there a story in it anywhere? How could I ever write Wendy’s dialogue?


24.

Fucking cool day. I haven’t said a word since 12:05. I’m going a full 24 hours without talking to anyone – no vocal communication, not even Widge, who likely will be a bit confused because he won’t be able to read my notepad.

Well, I haven’t meant to say a word. They slip out from time to times. See ..\Quietude2.doc This link may change when I change the final name, but it shouldn’t be hard to find. It is a non-fiction piece about not talking for a day; it’s called “Say What?”
I had a good semi-talk with – oh my god, I can’t believe I forgot her name. . . . . Heidi. Welcome to my world of amnesia.

30.

The last day of a tough month. But oh how it has ended well. The trip I took to the cabin with Linda, Greg, Cory, Loren, Soren, Caroline, Rose, and Daron was great. The ski in to the cabin made the whole weekend worth while. It was an awakening.
Last night we talked about fairies, near death, dreams, Jung, destiny and on andonandon…. Caroline was staring at something that felt special and a friend walked up behind her and felt it too. He took three pictures of the tree they were staring at. On developing the pictures he found a fairy was walking there in the picture. HOW COOL IS THAT!!!
[see thanksgiving pix in Fall’03]

I feel so much better after the turmoil of the last few weeks. I talked to Jamie B for an hour which was great. Loren Linda, and I had great talks in the car and we listened to Jean Houston on the way home. Highway 2 was a beautiful drive, so much snow and the Northern Rockies like teeth hemming us in. My favorite, though, was walking alone at night. I sneaked away from a group and then hid and watched them pass. It felt so good. I thought about Blake and the Gnostics. We played a great game called scategories—I love it. It is my new favorite game. Me and Linda won. We kicked ass, but we had some fine, my-T strong competition.



JOURNAL
OF
DECEMBER


2.
It is 3 AM and I am rocking. The last few days I have been on fire, working my tail off, in the zone. I am on task, and I feel like I am doing good work. I had a great talk with Judy tonight which also made me feel uplifted. Life is back on track. I just need to see it through. Everything is flying by. Eternity is now. I can see it all around me. I hope everyone else is okay. Wendy? Linda is hurting like I have never seen before. I am scared for her, but so wrapped in my world that there is little I can do or even think about doing.

Always exciting to have a new journal. I don’t have as much energy to put in my journals these days as I would like. But I am doing plenty of writing all the same. I need to decide what to write for next semester. Pokhara and A.T? Maybe Bootsie’s death? A version of Bouda or “The Dogs are Bodhisattvas” Oh—“The Shepherd’s Hut” I want to write that one.

5.
I just got reunited with Megs – like from the Lemon Megs, Crystal and Megs, hop in the bed at two in the morning Megs, the grey area between all talk and no action Megs. She is married and living in Fargo. How strange. She goes completely with the wind. Megan Sunshine Turner. It was a fun talk. I needed a break from the computer.

Work is coming along. I had a workout today and it felt lively and fresh – whatever that is supposed to mean. I could feel it, I could feel the life in my muscles what seems like the first time. I am tired of looking at the computer.

9.
Today is the day. In a little less than twelve hours I get to do my presentation. I am damned excited, pretty funny. I feel good. It is early but I’m up and at it, listening to a little Willy and Waylon, “A good hearted woman in love with a good timen’ man.”

Well that’s about it I guess. I’m just so stoked I wanted to write about it.

--
Well it went good and bad. People enjoyed it and stayed after to here me speak, but my organization floundered. I couldn’t use my notes at all. I have to just wing it. Which I did but I was scattered and inarticulate. But I got through and people were impressed. Wilson said he really wanted to take another class with me. I want to sign up for the Dante/Joyce graduate seminar as opposed to the Joyce class I am now in. I may ask but that will be a lot of work – so what!

SO I am happy and cheerful; I went to the bar and had a Baily’s and won a game of pool. Life is good. Now back to work.


09 December, 2003

I have been neglectful - I'm sorry.
This semester has been Maddening, like a scary rollercoaster on rusted tracks that you are never quite sure
will hold.
Today, I have my BIG Blake / St. Thomas / John / Gnostic / Early Christian / Mysticism presentation - and now I only have thirty minutes to get it all in. No Problem!

I've got class in a few minutes. I just wanted to "re-install" my self into this site.

++++++This winter I am actually going to build a website - Yeahhhhh

Megan - thanks for the support, I really appreciate it.

I will start telling stories again.......

04 December, 2003

Say What?




Monday, 12:05 pm__________________
It’s done. I left a message on my voicemail: “sorry, can’t answer my phone today. If you need something come and see me personally. I will answer all calls tomorrow.” I feel strangely excited. I don’t know what to expect. This is something new, hopefully challenging. Am I going to stay home and hide, or am I going to go out and do things, interact with people?
I just realized I forgot to call a friend of mine to tell her I need the paper back she borrowed. Too late now. The goal is to not speak a word until this time, 12:05 tomorrow—everything is off until then.

12:18 pm__________________________
Within fifteen minutes, I’ve already slipped up. Widge, my chocolate lab, was looking at me pleadingly, and I said, “Widge, you want to go out? Okay.” I didn’t even realize what I was doing.
Talking to Widge is like internal monologue; how do you shut that off?

12:46 pm_________________________
My first interaction. Coming back from walking Widge, I ran into Bob, my neighbor. “Snowbowl is open,” he said putting his skis in his trunk, “I’m going to get ‘um all waxed up.”
I just looked at him and made funny gestures. I was totally at a loss. I mouthed some things then pointed at myself, did the “talking” gesture with my hand and nodded my head “no.”
“Whaddya do, lose it all?” I just held my arms out with my palms up. He started brushing snow off his car, and I ran in and grabbed my pad and scribbled a note to him. He nodded but didn’t say anything, as if he couldn’t talk either.
It was awkward. I wasn’t ready. Communication is so naturally vocal, doing it any other way takes a bit of conscious effort.

Walking Widge, I tried to cross as few roads as possible. He doesn’t walk on a leash; he heals as we cross, but I normally use voice commands like, “heal,” and “good boy.” Today when we came to our first street crossing, I patted the side of my leg and he came and healed. We crossed the street and when we reached the other side, I raised my arm forward from my side, as if throwing a frisbee, which is the signal for “break,” and he ran off sniffing trees. He did well—I was proud. But once, only once, he stepped into a one way street; it didn’t look much like a street all covered in snow, but I had to groan at him, and he ran back to the sidewalk.
Am I allowed to groan? I don’t think so. Groaning and whistling are out, I think. No vocal communication. So now I have flubbed up twice, but I am getting into the swing of it. I think I’ll pack up some things and go run some errands on campus—without Widge.

1:19 pm_________________________
I just made myself a notecard that says “Yes” on one side and “No” on the other. I want props. Everything is more fun with props. I’ve got the highlighter out and I’m going to town. My little notebook is ready to go, also highlighted and underlined.

1:22 pm_________________________
My first missed call. It’s exciting, I guess—a whole day without my cell phone (the only phone I have). This day is the antithesis of the cell phone revolution. Anyone can talk to anyone at nearly anytime, anywhere on Earth. And can talk to nobody, not my friend down the street to see if she can give me my paper back, not my family on the East Coast. I’m cut off. How unusual in this day and age. Remember beepers? In my house I grew up without an answering machine. I love getting phone calls—I hope they leave a message.
Yep, there’s the voicemail: beepbeepbeep, beepbeepbeep. I feel loved.

1:28 pm__________________________
Not talking is turning into a pain in the ass. (I checked my voicemail.) How am I supposed to manage my life? I have an independent study to arrange and some girl is trying to change it; I need to call the professor—but I can’t. Ahhh!
Nothing will be lost in a day. Patience, my friend. Honestly, I need the break. I have had the most stressful few days. Now I understand the path to mental breakdown. Nothing has made much sense recently; everything I thought was true was somehow skewed if not an outright lie. (Mind the absolutes.) So, will this day of silence be calming—a step back from my beleaguering stresses—or will it be a magnification and intensification of them?

2:51 pm__________________________
I am getting ready to venture out into the world. I am a homebody and am loath to leave, but this won’t be all that interesting if I don’t. So here goes.

4:20 pm__________________________ I have made it to the computer lab on campus without interaction. In fact I am hiding here. I was nervous that the bus driver was going to say “hello” to me. I was ready to smile and nod, but he said nothing.
I hate being rude to people. I can’t say, “hey, how are ya?” I’ll just smile and nod, smile and nod. If they stare at me strangely I reckon I will pull out my highlighted notepad and notecard and explain that I can’t talk: “You see, I’m doing this project because I talk to much. . .“

4:46 pm__________________________
My first good interactions. Can I use the word “exciting” to describe a conversation with a notepad and a cashier / coffee maker? Whatever!—it was fun. I went to the University Center, a quasi-mall on my campus where I go to school. It is an easy place to run into folks you know. Since I’ve had a hard few days and still felt a bit low, so I thought I would buy a soft drink to treat myself. So I went in the Market and thought, why don’t I ask how much a chai costs? I love chai. So I took a deep breath and went to the counter, made eye contact with the girl there who walked up to me. I scribbled a quick note: “How much for an iced chai?” I was expecting a one line numeric answer—a simple interaction.
“Do you want a ‘something-something’ or a Tipu’s chai?” she said.
I didn’t hear the first part, but I wanted a Tipu’s, so I made a letter T with my hands. She understood, and then she asked what size I wanted. I didn’t want to buy a chai; I only wanted to know how much one costs. Again I went to the pad. I underlined the “how much” part of the question and circled the question mark.
“Yeah, but what size?” she asked.
I wrote twelve.
“And what kind of milk?”
Soy, I wrote.
“$1.75. You get twenty-five cents off for happy-hour,” she said.
Ah, at last an answer. I smiled and nodded my head “no thanks.” The “thanks part I added with my smile. I think she got it because she smiled back as I walked over to the fountain drinks to make a suicide.
I left the U. C. and decided to walk over to the Writing Center where Janie, a friend of mine, may be tutoring students on how to write an essay. Perhaps I could go and “communicate” with her for a little while. It was dead quiet, no students and no Janie. There was a man I didn’t know working behind a computer and he looked up at me. I didn’t have my notebook handy so I did the “point at myself and zip my mouth” charade. Just like Bob, he nodded, smiled, but didn’t say a word, and went back to the computer. Being mute, you seem to mute those around you as well.
I looked at the board where the tutors make their appointments and wrote my name down to see Janie tomorrow. Before walking out, I took my notebook from my pocket and showed the guy my highlighted page explaining that I wasn’t talking for a day and why.
He smiled. “I thought that might be what was going on. I did something like that for a project I had once.”
I nodded and smiled and walked out satisfied. I’m kicking ass, I thought. I don’t even know what that means really.

Now I am in the library, another social Mecca—as strange as it may seem. I hop from computer to computer, home, computer lab, library, hiding behind the screen, plotting and hiding. I haven’t seen anyone yet, and I am no longer afraid.


6:11 pm__________________________
My first long conversation. A girl named Zeta came up to me. She wasn’t put off at all, and we’ve never talked much in the past. She told me once she had gone a whole day with ear plugs in her ears. That is intense: I know what I am not saying, but she couldn’t know what she wasn’t hearing, for instance, someone screaming, truck horns honking as you’re walking across the road. Imagine going blindfolded for a day.
Zeta was great. She kept asking me question after question. I started writing in my pad, but since I was working on a computer, I figured I’d type instead.

“Do you have to do ‘something-something?’” She talks really softly.
“I am just making it up as I go—just no talking. I talk so much; I’m trying to become more introverted, so today I am taking it to the extreme. I thought it would be a fun thing, a change and a new point-of-view. How was your weekend?”
“I went skiing.”
“Where?” I typed.
“Up at Lolo. How was your weekend?”
“Long story…” I am glad not to have to talk about it. People don’t expect you to write out long stories and probably wouldn’t want to read them anyway.
I won’t dictate the whole conversation. It would be boring and superficial. But to me, at the time, I was loving it. I don’t know why she bothered. I’m a novelty for a day, come get it.

It’s about time to catch the bus back home. It’s dark and Widge is sitting on the porch, probably a bit pissed off. It’s dinnertime, and it’s snowing out. I must remember—Don’t talk to the Dog. Don’t talk to the Dog. Don’t talk to the Dog.

7:27 pm__________________________
The silence has been broken, again, and this time with intent. It wasn’t talking to Widge either. When I got home I stayed composed, received kisses and gave belly rubs and head scratches without any “good boy” or “hello Mr. Widge” or anything of that sort. No, it was on the way home. I missed the bus so I went and found my bike which just happened to be on campus. I remembered what I had forgotten this morning: That I had tentative dinner plans with Jeddie, an old friend. He had called and left me a voicemail, basically saying I was “a weirdo” for not answering my phone today and that he may stop by later if he could get his car running. His apartment wasn’t far off, so I thought I’d stop in and explain, with my notepad, why I was being a “weirdo.”
As I left campus, going through a crosswalk, a car paid me no attention as he turned right onto the road I was crossing. If I were really mute I would have been smacked. But I am not mute; I am voluntarily silent—so I yelled a loud “WOA!” breaking my bike halfway across. It worked; he stopped, and I went on down to Jeddie’s. What if I had been mute, would I really have been hit? What if I were blind and walking across the street? What then? I guess these are the risks one then takes.

9:25 pm__________________________
A quiet evening. I came home, fed Widge, broke a plastic cup, my favorite, while juggling behind my back. “Shit Widge, I finally killed it.” Another slip up, but I super-glued the cup back together. I got a National Geographic Explorer in the mail and spent the last hour reading it while eating dinner: peanut curry and rice. No phone calls really, only one. Jeddie never called or came by. Everyone’s avoiding me since I’m no fun if I can’t talk. Life is lonely.
I think I may go to bed seeing how I actually need to wake up early for a change. I hope I don’t talk in my sleep, but I’ll never know anyway.

Tuesday, 9:05 am___________________
At eight o’clock this morning, I had a doctor’s appointment—I have a long enduring strain in my hip-flexor. There is no way I wasn’t going to talk to the doc and explain clearly and articulately where it hurts. Pictionary sketches wouldn’t cut it. The vocal fast had to come to an end. Though, I might add that it was hardly worth it—the doctor didn’t say anything all that interesting. A disappointing, anticlimactic finish—I was expecting to get healed due to my precise descriptions of theP injury.
Now I am waiting for a class I have in half an hour. I want to sit through it silent, I want to observe and listen, I want to reinstate the fast.

12:39 pm__________________________
I’m free—but it’s not really all that exciting. No kidding! You say. I guess I was never that deprived. It felt great to be an observer, no pressure to express myself or alter anyone else’s ideas with my own. I never got frustrated. I never had to say anything. I guess that is a lie since I broke the fast intentionally a couple of times: the car and the doctor. It was a good escape. I’m calm and more relaxed than I’ve been in weeks.

I think my next project will be to try and turn off the internal monologue as well as the external dialogue—that would be something.