I am a traveler. My mission: to drive through galaxies in search of life forms never before seen. My only nemesis: the Duchess of Hazard who transmits her distraction devices through such things as free cable and bathtubs of unusual sizes. When I finally submit my findings I will be sent home. Until then I will enjoy every alter universe I stumble upon and with them all the chicken rings and santana covers they have to offer. bye-bye. rs

Thursday, March 17, 2005

United Flight 257 from Jacksonville

United flight 257 from Jacksonville was on time and in the gate. It was an evening flight and the sky was a bit orange. I found my seat next to the window which is preferable to the aisle; the aisle being less desirable due to the shuffling of bladder full passengers making their way to the toilet. Nothing like opening your eyes from a light nap to find someone’s back end in your face. And then there’s the middle seat, which on a full flight you might as well ask to sit under the plane with the cargo, or even cling to the wing for that matter. Fortunately this flight was a two seater on either side.

I was a bit sleepy and having the short attention span that I do, I had my stash of distractions in the pocket in front of me. My Two Towers book packed next to my headphones, collection of 12 CDs and my journal. Yes, it is only a two-hour flight, but I needed some things to keep my mind off the thought of being in a large metal object suspended in the sky thousands of feet above the earth.

I buckled my seat belt and found some comfort. I opened my book as the other passengers filed into the plane. Every once in a while I felt inclined to glance up and found myself watching a person feign patience as a woman blocked the aisle and shoved her unusually large bag into the not as big overhead compartment. I caught myself in a stare and went back to my book. My next distraction was a woman struggling with a loaded baby seat, two kids in front of her and one following closely behind clutching her shirt. He was so close he kept tripping the poor woman. The stumbling was immediately followed by an embarrassed “Excuse me” and “Sorry” by the frazzled young mother.

It was at this point that I recognized the troop.

Two hours earlier I was at the gate falling in and out of sleep. I had my headphones on and woke up startled by a high pitched squeal. I looked up and saw a wild child taking the airport by storm. He flailed his arms. His screams teetered between sheer delight and mad hysteria. He was followed by a thirty-something woman who tried her best to harness this tornado.

As they made their way through the aisle I noticed that they were starting to set up camp right over me. The two older boys quickly took the seats across from me, much to the chagrin of the middle child; too old to take a seat next to his mom (that was reserved for the baby), too young to hang out with the big boys. So he had to sit next to me. As soon as they settled themselves, I went back to my book. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed my traveling companion looking over me to see out the window. It wasn’t long before I caught him looking at me. I glanced over at him and his big blue eyes quickly moved away and down followed by a bashful smile. This happened two more times before I put my book down and stuck my hand out, “Hi, my name is Molly, what’s yours?”


“Well Jack, if you want to look out the window, just tap me on the shoulder and I’ll trade seats with you.” His response, a smile and a bashful look away. I went back to reading and every once in a while caught some more curious glances out of the corner of my eye. As soon as we gained the appropriate altitude and it was safe to power electronics I replaced my book with the headphones and stared out the window.

Jack was a little fidgety and kept trying to get his brothers’ attention. They ignored him and kept shoving each other. This activity was quickly replaced by throwing paper back and forth across the aisle. Being an aunt of five at the time, my threshold for annoying behavior was very high. I noticed that Jack was curled up in a ball, shivering as he tried to get his mother’s attention. At this point the flight attendant had already brought the beverage cart around and the mom’s tray table was full with five cans and several glasses with various levels of soda and apple juice in them. She finally responded to Jack’s cries of being cold by haphazardly whipping his blanket around and knocking over a glass of apple juice all over him and his seat. At this point Aunt Mode kicked into gear. I had Jack get up as I went to get paper towels. I patted it down and placed a blanket on Jack’s seat. Little did I know that this act would break Jack’s vow of silence. As everyone settled down and his brothers stopped laughing I handed Jack his seatbelt. “Your belt sir.”

“I thought you knew my name?”

With a smile, “Your belt Sir Jack.” I think he liked the sound of that and put his seat belt on with another bashful smile. As I went to put my headphones back on he quickly asked what I was listening to and I handed them over. He had trouble putting them on. They looked massive on his little head. They kept falling off and he had to hold on with both hands. His face contorted in a sort of half smile, probably because someone finally let him listen to their headphones. This look was soon followed by one resembling a person who just ate something really horrible. I motioned for them back and he slowly relinquished them. “So? You don’t like it do you?” He shook his head no.

“Who is it?”



“Don’t worry, you might like this stuff when you’re a little older.” His brothers whispered to themselves and laughed. I was about to put the music back on when I was dissuaded.

“Have you seen Spiderman yet?”

“Yeah, it was really cool.”

After the spill, and now seeing me as an ally, his mom peaked from between the seats and said that they would be seeing it that weekend. He then asked me who my favorite Star Wars character was.

“Hans Solo.” He looked at me like I had three heads. At this point he was half sitting on his seat and rested his arm on the back of it. I explained to him that Hans Solo was in the original Star Wars movies, but he didn’t understand. I then learned that he was six. He asked me how old I was and I told him to guess.


“Nope, close.”

“Guess how old my mom is.” I then saw his mother’s head turn and her ear was strategically positioned between the seats. I guessed a generous twenty seven and a chuckle came from over the seat. Jack then leaned over with a whisper, “Mom how old are you?”

Through a laugh, “Twenty seven Jack….let’s just say twenty seven.”

Our conversation waned a bit and I was about to put the music back on. Jack touched my arm to stop me. He wanted to talk some more.

“Was God alive when the dinosaurs were here?”


My mind was swimming with possible answers. How does one go about talking to someone else’s child about a subject as elusive as religion?

My thoughts went back to the last time I was in this position. I took my sister’s kids to see the animated Prince of Egypt movie. It was the Passover scene. The chosen people were instructed to paint lamb’s blood over their doors so the Holy Spirit passes over their house. This one act would ensure the safety of their first born sons. This specific scene involved an innocent little boy whistling and walking into his house with a jug of water. Behind him, the ominous waft of smoke follows (the Holy Spirit). As he disappears under the threshold (without lamb’s blood) there is a crash and the young boy’s hand falls into view. My five year old niece leaned over to me and whispered, “What just happened?”

Without thinking, “Uh, the Holy Spirit just killed that kid…” My niece just shook her head up and down mouthing, “Oh, got it,” not realizing the complicated absurdity of my response. I should also add that this particular niece is my God Daughter and at some point I am convinced that a man in a white three piece suit is going to knock on my door and erase my title for that one.

Ermph, I kicked myself for taking them to see it, why couldn’t I have just bit the bullet and watched a nice easy film like Beauty and the Beast or Bambi for that matter? Anti-social disfigurements and parental death are a little easier to explain. The reasoning is actually quite selfish. I took them because I wanted to see the parting of the Red Sea scene which I heard took a couple years to computer generate. I paid for that one.

Unfortunately my reverie didn’t help much in my current predicament. “Well Jack, some people believe that there is a higher being that created all things. Some people don’t. Some of those people believe in the Big Bang theory.”

“Big what?”


Jack twisted his face to reinforce that what I was saying was the craziest thing he ever heard. I then started to explain the Big Bang theory the best I could which started out with the colliding of planets and organisms evolving out of primordial slime and ended with the “dawn of man”. [Flash back to 8th grade video day in science class, there’s me in the back of the room giggling and passing notes]. I quickly realized that I was trying to explain this to a six year old. I also realized that I desperately needed to brush up on my understanding of The Big Bang Theory.

This explanation left him disinterested. Seeing as I was losing him and clutching to what hope I had left of being the antithesis of a babbling adult I quickly changed the subject.

“So what is your favorite movie?” Jack looked up deep in thought, piled his lips to one side and tapped his finger against his cheek. I could tell by the length of his stare and the shifting of his weight that he was really having a hard time picking just one. So I decided to make it easy and ask him what his three all time favorite movies were. I expected he was scanning over the countless canned Disney movies that hit the theaters as of late.

He paused, got right in my face and said The Leprechaun. His little cherubic face contorted with a snare. He lowered his head, his eyed rolled up, and he looked right at me as he said over and over again, “I’m a leprechaun! I’m a leprechaun! I’m a leprechaun! I’m a leprechaun!” Each time I tried to stop him he got closer and closer and repeated over and over, “I’m a leprechaun! I’m a leprechaun! I’m a leprechaun! I’m a leprechaun!” his voice, deep and hoarse.

My amused chuckles turned into nervous laughter.

“Ok Jack got it.” “I’m a leprechaun! I’m a leprechaun! I’m a leprechaun!” I should explain that The Leprechaun is a really awful horror movie starring an evil leprechaun that kills people. I haven’t seen more than 5 minutes of it to know that it is a) a really bad movie and 2) a little odd that this angelic six year old is hailing it as one of his top three movies.

“I’m a leprechaun! I’m a leprechaun! I’m a leprechaun!”

“Jack!” Mom's tone punctuates itself.

Jack whispered, “I’m a leprechaun.” one last time. His face then turned to normal.

I got us back on target by asking about his number two all time favorite movie. He rolled his eyes up again and said, “Chuckie!” Chuckie being the story about the soul of a murderer put into a My Buddy-like children’s doll that goes around and kills people. Nice. I’m sensing a theme here and I am almost afraid to ask what number three is.

“One, two Freddy’s coming for you.” He was referring to the hit thriller Nightmare on Elm Street: The story of a neighborhood pedophile that loses his life when the town’s people burn his house down. He then gets his revenge by tormenting his friendly neighbors as they sleep. Jack proceeds to tell me about a scene where Freddy stabs someone through the stomach with an enormous tongue.

I asked Jack if he has nightmares. He answered yes. At this point his mother felt the need to defend herself against being thought of as a bad mother. “You know, his brothers watch those movies and he tries to fit in. He usually falls asleep within the first five minutes.” Just long enough to have unsettling dreams I imagine. I then looked over at his brothers who continued to shove each other and pull each other’s hats over their eyes, and I’m not surprised. I confide to Jack that I have nightmares too.

My conversation with Mom ended and I sat back in my seat. At which point Jack began to look out the window again and commented on how the clouds look like mountains. At this point the sky was a deep pink and to the far right I could see the sunset. I motioned for Jack to look over. He had trouble seeing it and strained his neck as he smooshed his cheek against the window. Then I saw a smile come across his face and his eyes grew larger. I knew that he finally spotted it. He then was about to ask if he could sit in my seat. Mom quickly chimed in, “No Jack.” Much to my relief because the thought of sitting in a seat soaked with apple juice did not appeal to me very much.

I got back in my seat and as I put my buckle on Jack asked, “Do aliens and ghosts exist?”

I paused and Mom turned her head, “I’m glad I’m not sitting there.”

Here we go: “Well Jack, everyone has their own opinions about life on other planets. I personally find it hard to believe that in this immense universe we live in we are the only living beings.” At this point his brothers stopped shoving each other and began to tell a story about how one night they were on their bikes and saw a bright light in the sky and they swore it was a UFO. They raced their bikes all the way home, ran into the house and locked the doors. They were very excited to tell the story and I could tell by their expressions that they weren’t kidding. I was surprised to see those two admit to being afraid of anything.

At this point I started to speak with Mom again. She told me that they have family in Chicago and they come out every summer and spend it with her family. As we talked Jack tucked my hair behind my ear and started playing with my earrings. Mom explained to me that Jack has eight aunts and is attached to woman. We started talking about all the exciting events going on throughout the city. When our conversation died down I sat back in my seat and I noticed that the cabin was now completely dark. Jack was asleep. I looked over at the spastic brothers and saw that their heads were bobbing too.

“Attention folks, we’ll be touching down in Chicago in just a few where the local time is 10:15. If you look out to your right you can see the beautiful Chicago skyline.” Jack’s brothers woke up and looked out the window. I could see the lights from the Hancock building past their heads. Feeling a sense of loyalty to my new friend, I nudged him. I envisioned all of them in the car on the way to his aunt’s house. The two would talk excitedly about how cool the lights looked. I imagined Jack’s little face in a pout, arms crossed disappointed from having missed it, always missing it. I gently shook Jack and he pushed my arm away and turned a bit.

I gave up. I sat back in my seat and stared out the window. There was a face mark on the glass where Jack rested his forehead. The plane was descending and the lights got closer. My ears popped and I shut my eyes for a moment anticipating the home of my own bed. I opened them and continued to stare out the window. The rickety wing flaps flew up with the wail of a banshee. The cabin shook with the change of speed. My mind fixed on whether or not God was alive when the dinosaurs were here.

(names have been changed in celebration of anonymity)

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

the joint between pelvis and femur

I am sitting outside a high society sleep chamber for the paralyzing affluent. So far I've gone about my business undetected. I am wearing black which is the "new black" I am told by some fashion sources popular in cyber space. I am hiding behind some Kurt Vonnegut papers in hopes no one will take notice of my antennae. I have ordered some squishy brown meat wrapped in a slimy goo shell along with a glass of white mead juice. I am fond of my server; his smile is genuine and rare among the plastic plants that collect dust in the lobby. The heat lamps are buzzing and I cannot help but wonder if the buzzing stopped would I lose my ability to compute new information? I kick it and look around to see if anyone is stirred by my inspection.

The platter arrives and the smoke settles directly around my cheeks. I wish it didn’t make such a commotion. I exchange a pleasant auditory barter with the waiter. We find common ground around the current weather forecast and then exchange a metaphorical wink. We both know the other does not belong here.

I start with the prologue of my reading material. My radar picks up a low frequency. It is hard to decipher at first. And then, there it is. I have located the source. A table about 10 beats behind mine: MALE /AMERICAN EARTHLING / 5’7” / DESINGER SHOES. I must rely on my devices for my read, a complete turn around would blow my cover and engage the Subject in a conversation about place of birth and favorite shape of pasta. No time for that, I must gather sound bites.

“Oh yeah, I ran with the bulls in Pamplona two years ago.” Pamplona….scan my mental files…look under the p’s yes yes there it is: Running with the bulls. Some young earth males find it exhilarating to run down narrow streets with a hungry, angry and abused bull poking them in the back side with their pointy horns. Some young earth males find it even more exhilarating to talk about it years later around a table of strangers in a sort of, “when I was young and adventurous” kind of way.

Having this information stored in my bank already I decide to give up on this subject and wait for new information to appear on my scanner. I go back to the first page of my papers. I do not get very far. Subject’s frequency is now off the scale.

“You know what’s hip? I’ll tell you what’s hip.”

Hip? herm... scan the database: 1hip \'hip\ n : the fruit of the rose hip n 1 : the part of the body on either side below the waist consisting of the side of the pelvis and the upper thigh 2 : the joint between pelvis and femur 3. hip also hep adj hip-per; hip-pest 1 : keenly aware of or interested in the newest developments 2 : WISE, ALERT

Oh yes, got it. This is good information. “I taught myself how to play Led Zeppelin on my acoustic guitar in my basement. I just ripped through those cords.” Interesting, last time I ripped through cords I spilled some purple stuff on my mother board and had to be rewired. Good information.

“I don’t know man. I guess I should learn how to play the guitar I have. It’s just that all of them, each one of them is special, has a different sound, something new to offer. I guess it would be smart to master the one I have...but a new guitar is just so exciting. I lose interest in the one I have.”

At this point all my instruments are beeping. There is a change in Subject's pitch. There is a new emotion attached to Subject’s voice. It loses strength….not as confident.

An updated profile appears on my display: Subject 35 YEARS OF AGE / SINGLE / COMPULSIVELY LONELY / FEAR OF COMMITMENT

Got it. I save the information and close my identifier. I take a sip of my liquid mind enhancer and realize my new best friend has brought me another receptacle full of the stuff. I am about to return to the same page and same sentence of my booklet when I am spotted. The 4th wall has been scaled and I am verbally apprehended.

“What are you reading?” The fancy lady wearing face paint to cover up her wisdom can only be talking to me. The shiny jewels suspended from her ears, wrists and neck send a blinding beam into my retinas and I need to put on my visor to adjust my vision. My identifier is beeping furiously. I don’t have to look. I recognize this mode of human interaction. Fancy face paint asks me this question not to get to know me better, nor to befriend me or even to enrich her own library. She asks me this merely as an appropriate preface to…

“Well have you read any Dan Brown?”

The white juice has made my motor slow.

“Well, Dan Brown wrote 'The Di Vinci Code' and he is an excellent author. I am on my third book by him.” I am proud of my new companion merely because she is so proud to share her feats of literary accomplishments with me as well as her superior ability to annunciate. I decide that if I went too far in this discussion I would be discovered and politely shoved into the service closet with the other vacuum cleaners.

“Yes, I have heard of it.” Actually the title reminds me of an old comrade of mine named Di Vinci Code. I met her in a human vessel sculpting class. She is a senior comander who demonstrates an astounding ability to “tsk” and judge in silence. I admire the way she wildly swings her arms and twists her torso to the techno version of “Forever in Blue Jeans”.

My brevity dissuades the painted lady. I scribble my signature on a small piece of paper along with the number 419. This exchange marks the end of my observation session for the day. Now I will return to room 419 with the oversized mattress. Tonight I decide to catch up on my essential human behavior telecourses. Tonight's topics: flirtation, tension and impatience from a tutorial program called “Cheers”. I will then plug myself into the wall, shut my eyes and recharge my battery for tomorrow’s activities.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

fish faced killah

This is my sidekick fish faced killah. He's pretty no joke, but gets sorta tweaked by bright lights and tapping sounds. Last year we found out he's allergic to aaron neville ballads and most things considered "soft" or "frilly". He likes chilly cheese fries and rolling down the street sippin' on liquid oxygen. Favorite line: "Caution: I'm gonna fuck you up." Posted by Hello

Friday, March 11, 2005

robotskirt to ground control

Friends: I write to you huddled under a desk lamp in a small, dark, clammy corner of the space center floating around Alpha Centauri 3. I woke up so early this morning I wanted to puke. There was a power outage that effected the whole block. We had to move some suits away from the projectors as the constant power surges are heating up the projector lamps enough that one more could cause them to blow. Meaning: broken glass on heads, shards on hair pieces. Panic. I fear the coffee tanks might blow and if that happens all hope is lost. We will spin off into a worm hole never to return.I have been sustaining myself on martinis and breakfast sandwiches. I have been here since Friday and have not seen the ocean yet. I grow weak, bloated and blotchy.Tomorrow I'll fly straight to Boston. Friday I'll be back on the shuttle headed to the mother ship wrapped in a full body cast with toothpicks in my eyes. As soon as my body adjusts to earth's gravity I will put on my beer suit and jump into a barrel. I'll need to plug my nose. My gills have not fully evolved...yet.Hope to see you then.