Another Matrix

Life is like a bowl of jello…

water on door
The waves kept coming in for my friend’s daughter Erica, reminding me of my ex-step-daughter Erika life at that age and my own…so when she asked of I’d do a mural for her daughter on her closet doors, I began with the tides…like life’s tides, always moving, their power unleashed by some kind of control just beyond our comprehension. The sea is alive and one of the most difficult things to reproduce, for painting life only allows us a still, unless we go anime or video

 the Excentric Voyages of an Eccentric Mind

A personal Matrix is when life resembles non-reality. Dunno if other people have had it happen, yet I have had several “episode” in life where reality became…well, for lack of words to define my experiences…different. Unbelievable. Inconceivable. Weird. Exotic. Strange. Unusual. These are the words that drift to mind right now, yet it will be something for you to follow as I reveal their unfolding delicacies in titillating delight or tantalizing  mystery.

Those little reveals are kind of  like looking at a tinted fog with a friend who sees yellow, while you see light green. Or a quiet, normal evening suddenly brings an aurora borealis to your neighborhood (yes, it happened in Red Bluff during 2000, an extremely unusual condition of atmospheric phenomenon). Or like when you wake up in the midst of making love with your wife and neither of you remember instigating it because you were both asleep (I totally enjoyed what I remember of it and so did she – it was a wonderful experience, yet we both were bewildered as to how we got so far into it without either of us knowing how it started – we simply awoke going at it! Ha! Ha! Now if only life brought happy little surprises like that more often! Tink! <that was the sound of the gleem sparkle which appeared in my smile just thinking about it).

Mike goes serialDyslexic typewriter letters aside, sometimes I look at “if” or “the” and although I know they are spelled right, they do not look correct. Semantic Satiation is what it is called when simple words just seem wrong due to repetition, and it’s become almost a new science for wordologists to ponder and muse about, finding amusement.

I used to get it in school when writing reports; my brain would freeze on a word that didn’t look spelled correctly, so I’d check a dictionary (no cellphones around in my youth)…and see, yep, it’s spelled right, yet, no matter how many times I wrote or spoke it, it still felt wrong. Brain-whackin’, hard-laced fun, eh? especially those times when you’re typing a report at 4 AM which is due by 9 AM. Debilitating? Mesmerizing? Or was it just the pressure tickling your stomach in the back of your spine? Doubtful.  Just weird crap.

So school wasn’t that hard for me. Matter-of-fact, it was damned boring the biggest part of the time. Except for Trig.  I tried to get along with Trig, but no go. I hated trig! I just could not get my mind wrapped around it, no matter how I tried. I mean, Geometry just pissed me off. I could guess-ti-mate the degrees within two or three points (which impressed the hell out of my teacher) just by looking at a triangle, or trapezoid, and I could never see, or even think of a practical use for it after school. I wasn’t gonna be a nuclear scientist.

During those days, I did think about becoming a pharmacist (which raised the eyebrows of a few teachers), yet never a nuclear scientist. Rocket man, sure. But clinic statistician? Hell no, I mean, hell, no! Spending endless hours contemplating mathematical equations with strange symbols to form a hypotenuse? Nope. I had far better things to do with my mind (not to put down people who do that kind of work). I was always going to be a huge artist with a reclusive lifestyle so nobody would really know what I looked like, yet would pay me wheelbarrows of money for a painting.

Nikola Tesla age 34 (1856-1943) – head-and-shoulder shot of slender man with dark hair and moustache, dark suit and white-collar shirt – Napoleon Sarony postcard ( ~ Courtesy Wikipedia

I was too sci-fi minded to challenge the rigors of mental prowess on mere theory. I’ve always wondered about that anyway — isn’t science just waiting for the domino effect to fall and disprove it all? Theory based on theory, which is in itself based on theory, seems like it’s kind of a precarious balancing act. I’ve always felt scientific fact was the where-it’s-at-of-the-universe; that is, until I got older and saw how they work hypothesis to determine fact. Just because something happens 100 of 100 times, that does not prove it is real. I was a geek in the sense that I’d spend hours upon hours, delving into books on Bugs, Space, Rocks & Minerals, General Science, Astronomy, Medicine, Invention, Advanced Mathematics, like Euclid and the Eight [now like 12 types depending on who you listen to]  Other Higher Maths of our time, Construction by Applied Science (structure, resiliency factors and properties of objects), Anatomy (got obsessed with the female, since they have better shaped curves, bumps & valleys – hahaha – still am), Physiology, etc., my list goes on quite a ways. I consider myself a lifetime student of… well, life.

So my mind has always been deeply rooted in imagination, truth, reality and nature. I did spend some time trying altered realities off and on in my high school years, but what I am really talking about is when life itself actually becomes an altered reality. (Note how easily I segway-ed back to my topic of origin)

Life is strange! STRANGE! I mean, downright weird…at times. My life has done that a few times and I just happened to thought it normal. Like, when S**T HITS THE FAN, life gets strange. Rock people melt. Melted people become ROCK. Middle-ground people…well, they change, but lots of time it’s like left-middle-ground, not right-middle-ground anymore. Kinda like changing in a circle and stopping two steps from where they were.

This twelve-foot tall Fairy Ring appeared in my back yard during a time I was asking for help from my higher power, at the brink of suicide – my wife of 25 yrs left me, then a month later I suffered a broken back ~ Courtesy Cavette Collection

Death brings a kind of surrealism to life. It can be any kind of death…a loved one, can instantly be very swift, a life-changer; so too a divorce, loss of career, serious injury…we have lots of death in life. You can’t live life for sixty years, without death; experiencing a lot of little deaths that cut you in pieces, and, hopefully, only a few major ones too. You never know how death will affect you or it’s effects as they emanate out of you into your world. No matter whether you try to keep a death under wraps, such as a divorce, it will emerge into the public. “Everything gets cleansed in the wash.” The wash is pretty much, the worst thing which could happen for all involved when they desire to keep it hidden from everyone. Yet life will force you to face whatever sin you created, or involve you in someone else’s sin, which had not before been revealed to you. Surprise!

It doesn’t matter which side of the secret you are on…stuff is gonna come out, and that which you hid the deepest will soon become your front page to gossipers. I abhor gossip. It reeks and reaps destruction. Gossip has destroyed more lives than anything else of human origin. Created wars, feuds, brought death, death and more death. It has literally driven people insane…driven them to kill…driven them into a bottle. Gossip drives people — usually to very bad places. People don’t gossip about good things, instead they “spread the news” about good things. I have committed the sin of gossip and also been paid quite dearly for my contribution. Lost friends, lost loves, lost relatives all come from gossip. Hard, hard lessons. Those lessons that, for some of ’em, never stop, cuz they don’t learn to stop!

Sixty to Zero in 0.0 seconds

oak tree 60--0 in 0.0A commercial on television when in high school began by showing a new motorcycle, the fastest and quickest bike on the market — a Yamaha “V-Max” motorcycle, burning it’s rear tire into a huge cloud of smoke then speeding off. The announcer said the name of the motorcycle and it’s zero to sixty time interval, which was less than six seconds if I remember correctly. Next it showed the slightly older Kawasaki Ninja the same way, then a few other models with their times. Finally, at the end of the thirty second spot,it shows an oak tree and the announcer said, “Sixty to Zero, in 0.0 Seconds.”  POW! That was a punch in the solar plex IMPACT!

I was hooked on advertising!The power behind that work was amazing! I loved that commercial! My 250cc “Big Bear” Yamaha Scrambler was my transportation to school each day back then, so safety was a major concern. That commercial was a safety Ad by the Highway Patrol, a Public Safety  Announcement.

Darren Stevens on L P Safety Poster NewsletterBewitched! was made into a bumbling, loser type, who was utterly and completely disorganized, and yet, stupid as he was, his wittiness was sharp and swift. Watching his campaigns over all those years, I used to wonder how he got some of those ideas and how people in that profession kept going all the time. Bosom Buddies was about the same in that they also didn’t really show the advertising business at all. It was only needed as a qualifier, not necessary to the scripts for the show to run.

I used to design safety posters for a couple of local companies (St. Elizabeth Hospital and Louisiana Pacific Corporation) when worked for them over the years. When first asked, I was trying to help the boss with an example and said, “You mean something like, you can’t pick your nose with a hook?” Well, his face actually turned red as he choked down a cough and gulped loudly. “No, that is far too graphic an idea.” Of course I knew it was, I was just trying to see him set some real boundaries so I’d have an idea of what he wanted. Perhaps it would fly by today’s looser standards, but in the 1970’s, it was way too advanced for society. Not as much a gentle world anymore.

The Monster Inside Begin’s to Roar

In that reality, life’s deaths were more overwhelming, with far more impact than in today’s world. If people then saw what is on the TV screen today, they’d have freaked. Imagine, if you will, what it must have been like in the 1940’s when George Orwell’s “War of the Worlds” came out on the radio. People actually committed suicide!

Fear then is nothing like today. We laugh at Frankenstein movies and the Creature from the Black Lagoon seems phoney. Only the men who went to war ever saw shocking things, unless you happened upon a wreck before anyone else. If you arrived at that same wreck,  fifteen minutes after it happened, back in those days, clothing or tarps would be placed over the deceased to protect rubbernecker sensibilities as well as the reputation of the deceased. Now it’ll be on the local evening news. “I make my living off the evening news, Just give me something, Something I can use, People love it when you lose, They love dirty laundry…Kick ’em when they’re up, Kick ’em when they’re down…” Don Henley (<link) made a pretty open comment in his song, but far too many people just don’t listen.

Boris Karloff as “the Monster” in Frankenstein (1931) A promotional photo of Boris Karloff as Frankenstein’s monster, using Jack Pierce’s makeup design. each one of the shoes weighed 11 pounds! Karloff used goalie pads underneath his coat, toothpicks to flare his nose and platform shoes he made himself. He was in great pain throughout filming while wearing the costume ~ Courtesy Universal Studios (Dr. Macro) via Wikimedia Commons

In today’s society, you can see graphic pictures with a newsperson standing in front, so it is the background picture in the corner of their report. People just don’t shield and protect people anymore. Children see things that even most adults did not view in years past. We laugh at 1931’s “Frankenstein” movie with Boris Karloff, yet in 1931 it was unlike anything ever seen before.

Bela Lugosi had already sparked fear in his Dracula movies, yet the impact of Frankenstein’s monster scared people deeply. Interesting to note how differently that Hollywood treated the monster…Mary Shelley’s novel had the monster given more flexibility than an average human, yet Hollywood made him stiff and rigid. But that is how it is with surrealism & imagination — it becomes a different aspect inside each mind’s view.

When overcome by severely heavy emotion, life can go to places we’d never expect.  After my first wife left me, then suffering a broken back the following month, life began a very surreal and unbelievable journey which lasted for several years. Looking back, although it eventually became auspicious, at that time I’d never have expected it to turn out as it did. It felt like life was over in so many ways. Work comp didn’t pay me and “lost” my check somehow for a full month! Christmas was coming and it was looking so dismal. Depression is too nice a word for what I was going through inside. I kinda, sorta “lost” it. Well, not kinda according to my son. He came down to visit, one of the few people still talking to me, and said people were worried, I wasn’t being myself.

When Christmas came, everything was bleak and washed out. It was on December 23rd that I got the divorce papers. I lost everything! The very foundation for my core beliefs for life was ripped out of me. What I felt was necessary for a full life was gone. My marriage, my career, my body, all broken…even my surroundings became uneasy. Fear came to the forefront of my life, from being a background to be ignored at work. For twenty years I had pushed up to the edge of danger, walking 2″x 4″ studs strapped to 8″ wide beams, carrying everything from nail kegs to 4″x 4″ ‘s twelve feet long across, walking the 2″x 4″‘s and trying not to stumble – over jagged rocks 35 feet in the air. I pushed…walking atop 35 foot tall siphon walls that were 12″ wide with beveled edges on each side – without handholds over a drop of thirty feet to solid concrete on one side or a steeply sloped hill on the other, many times littered heavily with debris.

Challenging the Highs and Lows

Standing atop the high rise buildings in San Diego was an interesting experience. One day, a pour up on the 24th floor developed a problem, an elbow of the heavy-duty steel pipe which pumped the concrete up the inside of the Bank of America building where we were working, suddenly blew out during the beginning of our concrete pour. According to my boss, over six yards of concrete spilled out, dumping all over, burying a huge corner of the basement floor, the concrete from all 24 floors emptying down the tube and expelling out the spayed hole of the elbow in a bubbling stream of grey goo. The 1/4″ thick steel pipe was destroyed, a spalled uneven and jagged gap, four inches wide, laid open across six inches of the elbow’s bend.

Tip for shooting downtown San Diego ~ Flickr by Bill Morrow CC by SA-2.0
Tip for shooting downtown San Diego ~ Courtesy Flickr by Bill Morrow CC by SA-2.0

The unscheduled break for the 42 guys up on the 24 th floor waiting to finish the pour began a rumor which said the nearest place for a replacement was Los Angeles. Having all those men standing around with nothing to do gets very expensive, very quickly. We watched the litttle people below, counting the concrete trucks as they lined up down the block…working their way up to twelve before they finally called them off. That was a huge expense in itself, but not that much for a huge building like the B of A was. I think they called it an”Act of God” type accident when 1/4″ thick pipe weakens from all the rocks wearing across the inner surface with each surge of the massive pump, moving it up those 24 stories.

People were smaller than ants. Concrete trucks were smaller than toy matchbox trucks. The photo above is pretty close to what we saw from that height. The view was beautiful! We could see the entirety of Coronado Island to one side, San Diego International Airport a little to the right and the San Diego Zoo from our vantage point on the southwest side of the deck.

An airplane took off and as it flew by us, we could see the people on the plane and they were clearly in view, close enough to count the fingers of their hands. A kid made faces at us and grown, bad-ass men that we were, we made faces right back at him! SOme guy got bumped by the person behind and with the look we saw, it looked like we were ringside for a bout. THen he sat back down in a huff and crossed his arms — I swear you could see his bottom lip start to purtrude as he began to pout like a baby, unaware anyone was seeing him.

The stories began to float amongst the crew. Only several weeks before the entire county had a half-mast day for a fallen construction worker who got hit by a foundation brick from eight stories above. Another guy spoke about how a carpenter was building the elevator surrounds, dropped his bags to go to lunch and stepped back, right into the hole! It was said his head stopped on the eighth floor of the twelve story building and his brother was the first person to find the body. The superintendent of the job was the man’s own father too. Cold! Life is cruel. We all gave a long pause in remembrance.

The break was long enough, but not long enough for us! Somehow, the gopher on the pipe, drove up to L.A. and back to San Diego in two hours! OH WOW! Evidently the company enlisted the California Highway Patrol for an escort given the extreme circumstances and amount of money involved. They probably offered a huge donation to the police fund

after the pour
David De Loera wipes concrete from his face while helping to pour the foundation for the New Wilshire Grand tower ~ Courtesy Concretepumping

All the groans came from the crew as we heard the massive surge of the pump below, seeming like it was going to rip off the chains holding it to the structural red-iron beams fastened up the empty elevator chute, at that time only holes cut into the deck which were surrounded with a 4-foot tall, double-layered, wooden handrails with kick-plates on it. They were solid enough and had to be stable or death could result and concrete pours were the place for an accident waiting to happen. Once you get into the pour and the concrete gets all over your face, glasses get steamed up from the heavy exertion of energy, and so much noise surrounding you, that you can’t hear someone yelling standing beside you , it’s danger-bay!

Showing up at my son’s practices when I could, early enough so I could watch him practice scrimmage before giving him a ride home, was a looked forward to event.  I’d go whenever possible, sometimes about asleep from the weight of sheer exhaustion. I always wondered if I embarrassed him (he told me not), my face littered with concrete ju-ju-bees stuck all over, in my ears, my mustache, up my nose, and sometimes even in my mouth. If the chunks weren’t bad enough or I’d missed a few, it was the chalky-white dust coating me everywhere. Women especially, either gave me a wide berth, or leered at me with juicy eyes, damned near drooling, enthralled at their daydream of a construction worker…you could always tell because they’d look and gaze far too long past the polite timing rile, set by that invisible etiquette patrol of high society.

On days when I had the time, I’d pull out my trusty Leatherman tool and smash the chunks that were on my mustaches, just to clean up a bit. I’d get up from the bleachers and little pieces would fall off onto the seat or on the foot area of the bench, sometimes the outline of my pants neatly marked out by a slight dust of concrete cloud. When the wind was high at times, little clouds puffed off of me as I walked, choking people who happened to be nearby, bring them to cough. Tough luck on them. For me, it was important that they knew I was there for them while they practiced in anything they did.

My parents apparently used to show up, but they didn’t let me know they were there! I only found out years later when I made a comment about them never going to my games or swimming meets and my Mom and Dad both were shocked. Mom said, “We were there at almost all your swimming meets and your basketball games, honey!” I said I never knew and they said they didn’t want to interfere. I asked, “How can I know you even participated if you don’t ever let me know?” It killed me all those years thinking I was always alone and didn’t matter.

My reality was hard work, soft lovin’ and being a student of life. It only amended instead of changing. fairy tales can come true in real life. Miracles happen yet you can only witness them if you live in the present. Pixies are a real thing…I discovered one and after having an affair for eight weeks  with a real live one, that part of my heart will always be hers… Far more exists out there of the cosmos…and right here in our world too, than most ever believe to be true

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