30 May 2016

Once Upon a Time

I haven't written shit since 2013 and suddenly it's all I feel like doing. I blame the fuckin' Snowflake, or the resulting snowball, as the case may be. I suppose there's a reason I've kept under the radar for so many years, but I can't stay in hiding forever. Eh, fuck it. Let's see how this goes.

I wanted to reserve this blog mostly for storytelling, since telling stories is my favorite thing. Someone mentioned the other day how the words "Once upon a time" causes an altered state of consciousness. I went in search of the origins of the idea and the closest I got was a book by, of all people, Tucker Smallwood. I wasn't quite expecting Tucker Smallwood, but here's the quote:

I’ve also been told that the four words “Once upon a time”, when read or heard create an altered state of consciousness. Let’s see.
Yes, let's see.

I grew up in a weird family. I didn't realize we were weird, of course. We were just us, doing us kinda things. But now I look back and think "Holy shit, what a bunch of freaks". Thankfully, lovable and kind freaks. Thankfully, diverse and interesting freaks.

I think what most influenced my ideas and temperament were the numerous religions that were packed into my one family. It's as if no one could stay the religion they were raised in. Everyone went out and did their own thing. My great grandmother (a clairvoyant who saw banshees and foretold all the deaths in the family) was a member of something called the Agape Village. Her sister Bess was a Christian Scientist. Her brother Kate was a Jehovah's Witness. Her other sister, Rudy, was an elegant Episcopalian lesbian. Her daughter, my gramma, was pretty atheistic. (Gramma was also a weird math savant who could instantly solve huge math problems in her head. I did not inherit this gift, needless to say. Also, Gramma used this gift to gamble. A lot.)

My mother, Gramma's only child, was a die-hard, fire-and-brimstone Southern Baptist. I remember my grandmother telling me "I raised your mother to be a liberal, broad-minded woman. I don't know what the hell happened to her"

Rebellion happened, most likely.

My father's family were all Christians, mostly Church of God. My dad, on the other hand, seemed to be a secret skeptic. He went to the Baptist Church on Sunday with my mom, as did we all, and he even acted as deacon for many years. He never said a word against the religion but he did have a way of sending mixed messages. Like after a particularly apocalyptic sermon on the book of Revelation, he asked me, "Did you understand anything the preacher was talking about?"

I shook my head and he said, "Yeah me neither".

Every Saturday he used to take me to the quarry to hunt for fossils. He'd tell me how all the area was once covered with ocean millions of years ago, and talk at length about the age of the fossils and what the earth was like when such creatures were alive. So much for the earth being six thousand years old.

I developed a love for fossils, and rocks in general. I also developed a lot of contradictory ideas which may have been confusing then, but now I'm grateful to have grown up capable of believing as many as six impossible things before breakfast. I'm glad to have been raised among so many different religions, and I'm glad religious conformity wasn't standard practice in my family. It gave me room to grow and explore.

When I wasn't fossil hunting on Saturdays, I was fishing. To this day I despise fishing. I had to go, you see, because I was the 'luck'. I had to catch the first fish, or no one else would catch a fish that day. This is how I learned how luck worked. If only I had better retained the lesson.

As a child I loved to read and would pretty much read any book I could find. My grandmother really should have hidden her stash of porn better. Pornography aside, my favorite book was an enormous tome that covered history, sociology and anthropology. It was thousands of very very thin pages, had tabbed indentations like a dictionary, but which opened to various periods of history. It went all the way back to the origins of humankind, and covered everything up to around the 19th century.

I can't remember the title of the book, sadly, and it was probably horribly out of date even when I first began reading it, tainted by colonialism and western-centrism. Nonetheless, it gave me a sense of how large the world must really be. More than that, it gave me a hunger to learn and discover and experience.

There's more. Much more. The age of five was particularly eventful for me. My first up close paranormal experience. The Hong Kong flu. A broken arm.

And weirder stuff. I remember levitating as a child. It was difficult, and nothing like the serene floating one sees on television. It was like treading water, flailing to stay aloft. A dream? Probably, but it is affixed in my mind as a memory. It feels like something lost.

Well that's enough for now, I think.

28 May 2016

My Reading List for the Last Half of 2016

Here are the books I have queued up on my Kindle. I might be persuaded to review them once I've finished them.

  • The Sinister Forces Trilogy by Peter Lavenda
  • The Messengers: Owls, Synchronicity and the UFO Abductee, by Mike Clelland
  • Magicians of the Gods by Graham Hancock
  • Medusa's Web by Tim Powers
  • The Super Natural by Jeff Kripal and Whitley Strieber
  • The Octavo by Peter J Carroll
  • The Chaos Protocols by Gordon White
  • Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink
  • When the Stars are Right by Scott R Jones
  • The Exegesis of Phillip K Dick
I'm always open to recommendations, so if you know of a book I might enjoy, drop me a comment. Thanks!