Elsewhen and Other Points of View


This longform post was co-written as letters between friends who are anonymous here. I suppose that this post and this picture of a beetle on an water-expandable toy brain on the edge of a slightly grimy sink will suffice for the weekly photo challenge on unusual points of view. http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/09/06/unusual/

These views aren’t so unusual to me. This morning, when I turned on the faucet to wash the dishes, I found a praying mantis sitting on the handle. These things happen. I see them everyday in this world where everything communicates and relates in infinite exchanges of relative significance and insignificance.


I posted some of these cloud pictures on facebook and someone said they were chemtrails. The person was droll and dismissive, utterly unamazed by the fact that the dust and water in the air was hanging at just the right angles to make inverted rainbows on a sunny day.

What we believe things to be impacts our view of them.

This afternoon, I sat in the field and threw the ball for the dog, watching the edges of clouds stretch and twist, dissipate and gather. “This is just mindfulness, this thing that I do.” I thought about how big even the smallest tendrils must be, hanging up there in the sky. One group of waves looked like vertebrae stacked and curved. The body that would hold such big bones would be massive.039

I love the sky and somehow I think the sky knows that.



Mad Libs in Correspondence

In a different dimension from this one, right now, a woman speaks to a man via electromagnetic waves and says “I’m not going to let you NOT be friends with me!” The man has to laugh. He has been caught off guard and there is something more than endearing about her insistence. It makes him smile. He feels as though his enthusiasm for her book proposal is not coming across, however, despite his excitement about it…

Elsewhere, elsewhen, a different man reads a woman’s account of having poisoned a nest of yellow jackets. Some of the things he has read inspire him to reach out to her, but he doesn’t. His sense of time, which has never quite worked properly, has lately been completely warped. Perhaps because of this, the man has recently contacted her more frequently than she might have liked. Ultimately, he does not know this to be true, as he has always had problems determining what is socially appropriate. Yet, caution makes sense to him, as he would rather be alone than reach out to anyone and be rejected or perceived as a nuisance. And he wants her to be his friend.

Having made up his mind, he looks up from the laptop screen and something catches his eye. “What the fuck?” The words leap from his mouth, as he watches a yellow jacket infiltrate the window screen through a tiny gap. “That’s fucking WEIRD,” he thinks as, heart pounding, he closes the window, thereby trapping the insect. Thinking about his own thinking, he remembers how, since he has recently started writing to himself, he has noticed that a massive number of his sentences contain the f-word and other such off-color ornamentations before they are filtered for societal consumption.

“Am I the only one who thinks that John Kerry is a fucking muppet?” he asks himself as he passes a television.

He then goes outside and opens the window’s screen to set the insect free.

on the screen

An hour later the yellow jacket returns, and the scene is repeated. This time, though, he thinks to take a couple of pictures of it with his crappy phone, so that he will know later on that this wasn’t all just imaginary.

The shimmering, stained glass trees offer the only hope as the small birds have gone missing. There is also a cloud that consists of seven horizontal lines and a form that looks like a boat riding them.

The next day, around the same time, the yellow jacket returns. Again, he takes a picture of it. Again, he wants to contact his friend, but he resists. “It is really fucking weird, though, isn’t it?” he asks himself.

This time, the yellow jacket finds its own way out. He wonders if there will be a fourth visit, but on some level he knows that the number will remain three.

“Why is it only coming when I am sitting here?” That evening, he asks the universe a vague question about how shamans understand how to interpret what they see, and a heron flies from right to left across the top half of the window.

Last time he saw a heron, he was sleep-deprived, and knew it was a prompt. It just stared at him until he tried to take a picture of it, at which point it flew away, and he felt like an ungrateful asshole.

One day blurs into another. He continues to ask questions. He looks up to see a hummingbird staring at him, and then notices that the larger, “small” birds have returned. A silly grey squirrel is making him laugh to himself as it does back-flips of off a tree trunk and rolls on the ground, only to bounce back like a spring onto the trunk again, over and over. Walking through the middle of a parking lot, he notices a tiny snake in his path.

It is winding its way so quickly and yet it is going nowhere: It is tracing infinity on the blacktop.

Happy New Moon!


She sat on her porch, like she always does, and wondered a little if he would ever get bored with the fact that she starts so many sentences with sitting on the porch. She laughed a little inside, with her face feeling quite serious, at the concern he had expressed in regard to the “f-word” and societal consumption.

She doesn’t care about what’s proper anymore, not here she doesn’t, in the world held in words on a screen.

She saw the message on the way home from work and the subject line caused her to remember the birthday that a friend had given her a book of Mad Libs as a gift, with a portion of the pages in the middle already randomly filled in. He hadn’t realized when he’d picked the slim book out of the pile in his room as something to get rid of, to give as a gift, that there were already nouns and adjectives all filled in from time spent with laughing with others. She still thought it was a good gift. It made her laugh, because it was such a shitty present.

She wasn’t expecting the story that today’s messages contained, but it didn’t exactly surprise her either. She was glad that the message was written in story. She gets tired of conversation, the word ‘I.’ It figures, she thinks, as she sits on the porch, that he knew the best way to get in touch with her would be as a character, an anonymous “He.” Of course he’d know that she would not be able to resist writing back. He knows her well, though not so well as he might think.

This may just be something she tells herself.

Her plan for the evening was to go home and go immediately to bed, pausing only long enough to let the dog out and possibly do the dishes from the night before.  It’s been hard for her to take naps lately. She can’t fall asleep for too long. She just lays there and hovers, occasionally forgetting that she is thinking and sometimes falling half into segments of dream. When she wakes up, she doesn’t know what day it is or where she is or what is happening. It takes her a few moments to remember and then she will tell herself, “Yes, it’s Tuesday in the afternoon. I am not late for anything. I am not missing anything. I am not supposed to be anywhere.”

Lately, there has been a dull sense, immediately upon waking from these small forays into sleep, that she doesn’t know who she is. This is not an existential feeling or a conceptual wondering about life and identity. It is a few seconds of being a blank slate in a strange world. This anonymity quickly passes, as the facts of her life fall back into her head…her name, her job, her children, the house that she lives in.

She is considering the possibility that she might not like naps as much as she used to and thinks it’s a little amusing that the woman who claimed to remember everything can’t even remember her own name at 4:15 in the afternoon.

It’s 7:16, about to be 7:17 and she wonders if he’ll be bothered by the noting of the significance of those numbers. She is going to text him, right now, and tell him she is writing him back.

She isn’t sure if this thing she’s just told him, that his letter was the best thing that had happened to her all day, is true. A lot of good things happened today. She received several good messages.

However, they needed scant reply and required the use of “I.”

A happenstance cosmologist who smokes too many cigarettes spoke about how she had considered getting in touch with people about what she could see in the world, an element that  voices told her was called genesis, which she saw in everything, the trees, the ground.

“I didn’t get around to it though,” the woman explained. “I just wrote it all down in notebooks. I started a blog, but just one person found it. I posted some on my facebook, but nobody paid attention. So, I just didn’t get around to getting in touch with anyone.”

The woman who is now on her porch laughed earlier, sitting across from the woman who can see genesis.

“Oh,” she explained, “I did try to get in touch with people. They didn’t write back though, so it doesn’t matter.”

She doesn’t want to talk about work, the woman on the porch, though the images and events of the day are in her mind and there is something precious to her about remembering. She likes that she can remember the lamplight and the smell of Pall Malls, the warmth of the sun and the thoughts she was thinking as she drove through the forest on the way home. When she remembers, time seems like it could be infinite, with a hundred years held in a single day.

The wind is blowing and she thinks she should finish writing him, say something about the yellowjacket in the window screen and that, yes, she does believe that is a bit odd, not typical yellowjacket behavior at all.

Yellowjackets don’t go very many places alone. They aren’t known for friendly visits in windows. It makes sense though, that he would see a yellowjacket.

There is a story about Carl Jung and a beetle. Of course, yellowjackets aren’t nearly so rare as scarabs. It occurs to her that when she took the cups in from the porch, with the dregs of yesterday’s coffee and milk holding still swirls and making rings on the clear glass,that she had found a beetle in the bottom of one. She will send him a picture of that beetle. It looks, she thinks, a little like scarab, though she knows it is not one. Maybe it is?

At the very least, it is a distant relative.

She will send him a picture of the clouds she saw, too.

Today, she took pictures of clouds instead of taking a nap. It was the right thing to do.


At one point, she tried to call her daughter next door, to see if she could come out and see what she saw, the inverted arc of rainbow held by clouds on a sunny day. The purple, which is so often weak in rainbows, was thick like something solid, something more than light. She wanted her daughter to see it, and asked if she could come outside. The girl said that she would, but then she didn’t. When the woman tried to call her back, to say, “Hurry, I don’t want you to miss it! I want you to see it!” the phone just rang and went to voicemail. She didn’t leave a message.

The woman stood in the field between the houses and took more pictures, but her feeling had changed and the camera wouldn’t focus. So, she went inside and turned on the computer, thinking she’d post one of the pictures to facebook.

She doesn’t say much on facebook anymore. There’s just not much to say.


In her inbox, she found an offer for 250 business cards for 10.00 dollars and she chose the most plain design. In the place of her company name, she wrote …remember me… and then filled her name in the space for an address, left an email and a phone number with the back side blank for notes or drawings.

She wants to go to Liverpool in June, but right now she needs to take a picture of that beetle before the cats decide to knock it off of the corner of the sink where she left it, lose it somewhere under the cupboards.

She is glad he told her that it was the night of the new moon. That means something to her, but she doesn’t know what.

She is happy to be his friend.

She does know that.


13 thoughts on “Elsewhen and Other Points of View

  1. I will have to ask my friend if he is certain if it was a yellowjacket. The abdomenal proportions seem to me to be more wasp-ish. Of course, yellowjackets are a type of wasp…but, they seem to have a shorter abdomen in proportion to their thorax. This may be my impression because I have most frequently seen them up close in a stinging position, which curls the abdomen, and may make it appear shorter, depending on one’s perception.

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  3. another great post Faith, thanks, will look at it again later but have to go out now to a ‘coffee morning’, a fundraiser, helping pour tea/coffee and chat to folk. I had made a batch of pancakes but they didn’t turn out. You know how it goes – pan too hot, sticking, pan too cold, sticking, one side overcooked the other side undercooked … the birds are getting some of them, our cats will no doubt have a go, we’ll eat the rest as we’re not too fussy …

  4. Ahoy, Chrys! Good to hear from you! This is my favorite post of recent months. I hadn’t realized how much I needed to shift out of the “I.” Sorry to hear ’bout your pancakes, though it happens. Pancakes seem to require a certain alchemy. Some days, they just won’t cook correctly, too hot or too cold. The birds will be happy with them. When I have a bad-pancake-day, I just put peanut butter on them, which actually tastes wonderful on the burnt ones. Hope the fundraiser went well and good on you for chatting in the morning. Most Saturdays I wake up and don’t say a word – except to speak with the dog about going outside, to say good morning and be patient to the cats – until the kids come ’round at noon at which point the whole house changes, becomes full of talking.

    hope the day goes well and thanks for saying hi…

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