Pattern Recognition - I

It starts with love and it goes this way -- It's a circle twisted through four dimensions. It's a sphere warped in time. It's a story I wrote about 20 years ago. Sitting in front of my first macintosh, on a dialup BBS called "The Boardroom". My first internet journey, before the internet. It was bits over a modem and I couldn't sleep. I'm like you. We don't sleep. We're made to be part of this world all the time. Dreams are for infants. Dreamers are wishes for horses. Daylight is for adults. Night is for lovers. Night is smooth on the skin. Night is cool on the eyes. Inside the overheads pour it in so fast so deep you have to squint to keep it out.

The story was an add-on. Each day, each person in the writer's group would write a section, parts contributing to the whole. Each day I'd dial in and see the chain grow by another six links. Five links, then mine. The idea was that all of us were in a diner in New Jersey, sitting on the harsh red seats, cracked vinyl, linoleum tabletops, googie patterns embedded in the hard aluminum-rimmed plastic. Melmac cup and saucer in front of me. Dark black brown liquid. The surface vibrating in circular ripples, disturbs a cluster of bubbles when one of us moves.

Look here. This way each story is a circle. I am sitting in the spare bedroom that will be our child's when she is born. I am illuminated by a nine-inch black and white phospor screen. Everything me is focused in that ovoid rectangle. Those characters that mean I have always lived. The words that say I have known you a thousand times. I have known you since meteors collided and lit the sun. I was Adam. I was the snake in the apple tree. I was a grain of sand on the first beach in the shadow of Olympus Mons.

You were the ocean that would not be still. You were the clouds that had to pass. You were Joan at the stake, you were Florence among the gut shot you were the cold river that took us down when the raft disintegrated against the stones.

This is my contribution. This is my coffee in my melmac cup. This is my waiteress with smeared lipstick and the crooked dress she has to smooth down when she comes out front. This is my pepper shaker. Here, this mound of salt could be anything. Make it.

With the tip of your finger you disturb the small white pyramid. Force a pattern through it. A Mayan snake. The Toltec eagle. Now the Aztec serpent.

I say, "What's that?" knowing you didn't mean anything.

You say, "Teoyaomqui, Aztec god of dead warriors. Thor's Valhalla to the Yaqui. Nothing dies, not even us. Especially not us."

I say, "What? You just made that up." But I don't believe it because love is a pattern. It's a circle. It's the mystery reborn over and over. Like the day. Like the clouds that will not be still yet always return. Like the smooth blue evening, lovers in the darkness create life again. And so there would be no day were we not in love.

" want?" I say.

"To be loved the way she was in that story."

You say, "You know," with your eyes. You say, "This," with your finger tips. You say, "Now," with your tongue tastes like salt on the table a pyramid toppled by the will to create the lines on the plain at Nazca, the Hopi Kachina, the Sun god of the Sioux nation.

And all of life exists to recognize the pattern.
Each day growing by six paragraphs that form a circle through war and rage and sex and death to this table again.
I love you.

I'm spending every day at work, working hard, absorbing myself so I can sleep at night. Filling my mind with equations and methods. Code and member variables. Object oriented, all, so I don't despair for wanting you. Ten thousand years I wanted you so much it hurts me to keep my eyes open. Four days so hard to keep from dreaming. Desire scares me. Fear of fire. Fear of the dark I will not yield.

Why has this happened to me? Thousands of times as if I have always been. You draw a snake in the white pyramid, the ouroboros.

"It eats it's tail," she says and then the modem cuts out and I'm alone in the dark with a disconnected macintosh. In 3 months our kid will be born.

How will I afford it? What will happen to me?

I add my paragraph.
What will happen to us? What will happen? Or maybe I already know.

And I add my paragraph.
The snake devours its tail. The lights go out. The sun comes up and my paragraph has been read and appended to.

While the earth makes a four dimensional circle in space time. It's a sphere. As far as you can go in any direction, you come back to this life, this here now.

I wrote twenty years ago, "It's a circle. It's patterned. Love is intelligently designed evolution. Recognize."
Love is listening to you breathe in the night so cool like clouds reflected in the water, the river that crushed the rafts and went on as if we were never there.
Yet I am.

You are.

Because I so want it.

Of late I have been pondering something. The word 'jump'. That is what I have pondered. We have many words for jumping. Leap, bound, fling, jump, skip, hop, dive, plunge, fall; all of these words describe the action of forcibly breaking contact with the ground, or of maintaining such a lack of contact. I assume this is testament to our inner monkey. I shall now explore the difference between these different words. Although I have included the word 'fling', I have not considered throw and launch. Although it is possible to throw and launch onself - "he launched himself at the feet of Scarlett Johansson" or "he threw himself in front of a bus" are perfectly reasonable sentences - it is nonetheless the case that 'throw' and 'launch' are most often associated with act of propelling an object rather than a person, perhaps because the human race has only recently developed the technology to launch an adult male skwards.

What differentiates a jump from a leap? The answer is that a jump usually contains a vertical component - one can jump up, and one can jump down - but a leap is more definitely a horizontal action. Indiana Jones might leap from one side of a canyon to another, lumberjacks leap from tree to tree, and leaping is in general a more dynamic action that jumping. One might jump up and down on the spot without much enthusiasm, but it is not possible to leap half-heartedly. A half-hearted leap is a jump, or a bound. One can leap onto something or someone - "he lept from the tree onto the horse", perhaps - but this is less common.

How does a fling depart from a leap or a jump? I believe that a fling is akin to a leap, but less precise and with less power. It implies a degree of haphazardness, recklessness. One might fling oneself in front of a train, or a car, but it would be odd to leap in front of a train unless in doing so one was also leaping over a canyon, or if one was leaping into a train carriage, perhaps. One would be more likely to leap past the front of a train, or away from a train. So, therefore, a jump primarily has a vertical component, a leap has a horizontal component - with no more horizontal component that that unavoidably imposed by gravity - and a fling is similar to a leap, but without as much direction or energy. A bound is mid-way between a jump and a leap, in that it describes a 'rainbow-like' trajectory; furthermore, it implies that one is bounding over something else, and therefore a bound is a purposeful action. In my dreams there is a forest canopy, there is jungle, and I can fly through the trees, it is good.

A skip is similar to a bound, but with less urgency and less energy. Skipping is a continuous action composed of several, individually insignificant skip-packets, and indeed to 'skip past' or 'through' something is to imply that either (a) the thing which has been skipped is objectively trivial or (b) the skipper is particularly skilled, to such an extent as to make the skipped thing subjectively trivial. It is not possible to bound over an insignificant thing; the action of bounding makes the bounded thing significant, because it must have been quite large. Although it is a cliché to talk of 'leaps and bounds', I believe that this is more a figure of speech than a reasonable measurement; only in the world of computer games can someone make several consecutive leaps, without tiring.

Hopping is similar to skipping; the sport of 'hop, skip and jump' (aka the 'triple jump', one of the oddest Olympic sports and one which I was absolutely useless at, in both real life and in Konami's Track and Field) implies that hopping is less energetic than skipping, perhaps because it implies repeated use of a single leg rather than an alternation of legs as does skipping. It's possible to both hop and skip on the spot and in a direction, but hopping is usually only used in cases where the hopper is injured, or restrained with soft leather straps, and perhaps made to hop around in a circle for the gratification of a lady.

A dive inevitably implies a downwards motion, although not straight downwards; in fact, outside the world of aviation, a dive implies that the diver has propelled himself along, and is relying on - and expecting - gravity to pull him or her down. In this respect a dive and a fling are very similar, although again a fling is a random act whereas a dive is tightly controlled. It implies a harness, a ball gag, restraints; or a tight, tight swimming costume, worn by a graceful young female swimmer - oh, so young - diving from a board into the hard, harsh water below. Ten points! As she plunges into the pool I feel my heart plunge, too; for the knowledge of being magnetically drawn to something I can never have. Never. I must never speak of this.

A dive... a dive is something one might perform on the football pitch, yes, burly men with knobbly legs, diving to the ground in mock-agony, writhing in the mud, pretending to be in pain... how sweet, pain. The faces of ecstasy and of agony and of death are indivisible. I must never speak of this. Grey squirrels seek to destroy all that is good. They are vermin enemies of the human race.

A fall is always straight down, and is generally unpowered and uncontrolled, although it can also be controlled. A plunge is similar, but uncontrolled; another subtle difference is that 'plunge' is usually used to describe a person or object that is already in the act of falling, whereas 'fall' and most of the above can be used to describe the initial act. One might fall off a building, and whilst one is falling one is plunging - plungeing? - but it is unusual to speak of someone being 'plunged off' a building or to speak of someone 'plunging oneself'. "I watched him plunge from the building" sounds odd, certainly compared to "I watched him plunge to the ground", although it is grammatically correct; albeit that a 'plunger' in the sense of being a rubber sucker designed for unblocking drains, a plunger is a dramatically active thing. At this point in the paragraph, you may have become unable to parse the word 'plunge', as I have; it no longer makes any sense. Plunge. Plung-ee.

A handy list, for cut-out-and-keep reference:
Jump = up and down, powered, controlled
Leap = across, sometimes down, powered, controlled
Fling = across and down, powered, without as much control
Bound = over, with purpose
Skip = similar to bound, but less urgent
Hop = similar to skip, but even less urgent
Dive = powered, down, generally also across
Fall = unpowered, down, controlled or uncontrolled
Plunge = unpowered, down, uncontrolled

I must acknowledge H. W. Fowler and his book of modern English usage - any why not useage? - for inspiration, and I must leave you now.

A new found respect for gas station workers

Today was a great day people. It was a great day because I finally got a fucking job. Yes I am now a member of an elite team of cashier jockeys sent to destroy the universe. Maybe I exaggerated a bit there, but the point is that I CAN PAY THE BILLS NOW!!! Which is a very very positive thing. It may be a petty, small job, but damn it, it's a job.

The great thing about working a cash register, is that it is not nearly as difficult and boring as working in a factory. The only bad part is dealing with the drunken customers. Yeah, thats right, it was my first day on the job and this guy comes in at like 11:00 AM. First he starts heading to the beer cooler mumbling some strange gibberish about a overly large watermelon, but then he turns around and points his finger at me and says "You guys still sell those really oily hot dogs?" I was stunned. I had no idea what he was talking about. I replied with a nice little "I don't believe so sir." He bought a half gallon of whiskey and was on his way. This job is great! I thought to myself. My duties include the following:

  • Mopping (mornings and at close only)
  • Running the cash register
  • Stocking shelves
  • Cleaning bathrooms....Ugghh

And really, that is about it. I gotta work from 6:00 PM until we close tomorrow night. Should be fun!

Just when you think you know how life works, and what to expect around every corner. Just when you think the rules of the game are in stone. That is when it hits you.

Today I experienced a new feeling.

It began with the feeling of going to supper with a lovely girl who it seemed I was caught in an infinite feedback loop of returning feelings toward eachother (each time slightly amplified). Comforted with plans to see her again next Wednesday once finals were done, it ended with an innocent kiss or three. It was a magical evening, and I counted myself lucky to have been a part of it. It was the beginning of a nice summer, and the beginning of something that could last.

And then the bomb dropped.

Out of nowhere, an IM pops up, "I really think you're a great guy, and you make me laugh. I tried to at first, but I'm just not attracted to you. I hope you understand."

My heart did not sink into my feet. It stayed about level with the rest of the world. I minimized her window for a few minutes (maybe to let her sweat a little?).

"That's cool. No hard feelings... Take care, doll! Honestly I wasn't exactly sure how it would work out between a pastoral small-town girl, and an ambitioius city-boy technocrat."

Now I know. It ends. It ends very quickly.

PS, In retrospect, this new feeling -- it is closure. There is so much cowardice in American dating for this to be a common thing. It's so much easier to just not pick up the phone. This is a feeling I should welcome in the future.

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