Say Cheese

I wonder if I even know how to write anymore.

Well, the previous sentence answers some portion of that question: my fingers still work. I was having a rough time of things, but now, except for some extensively unanswered questions, I feel quite good. I just don’t have anything to say, and I haven’t really cared about anything enough to form opinions beyond my reflexive standbys. For a while, that was a generalized apathy, but now I hope that it is more of a zenlike detachment; whichever, it’s not as if I feel like pontificating, you lucky thing.

One area in which I have caused movement is that I bought a really nice camera that I couldn’t afford because I wanted to see the world in a different way. I took some good photos of people when they didn’t know I was doing so, and I have shots of one or two random flowers. One of the flowers has a bee in it, but it was not a particularly photogenic bee. My designer’s eye allows me to compose things, but I barely know how to operate the bells and whistles of the bloody camera so you wouldn’t necessarily know this from my work to date.

As for the rest of my life, I realized today that I’m waiting for something to happen. Not a specific something; it’s just that certain situations either need to sort themselves out or, if they’ve already sorted themselves out behind my back, they need to send up some smoke signals so I know what’s going on. I don’t think I’m in the waiting mood, however. I am taking steps. I am making decisions. If any of those decisions make things worse, well, at least I can boast that I avoided stagnation.


TRAVEL JOURNAL: Washington State, Part Two

I haven’t felt like writing in a while, which signifies several things in myself but also means that I left you hanging in middle of a story.

We had just seen Person Seven. Person Five posited that it was some sort of bird, but it was not a bird. It may not have been a genetic Bigfoot, but it wasn’t a bird. It wasn’t a deer or a bear. The clearest thing to me was the shape of the creature as it ran: were it just a silhouette, I would have thought I was seeing a jogging human, one elbow sticking out behind it, but the full-body fur sort of throws a damper on that analysis.

Back at the compound we had other things to focus on. I was to attend a writers’ group meeting there that evening, featuring Person Three, Person Five, and a few other persons whose numbers are not vital to the story. This particular writers’ group was formed by Person One’s grandfather (the father of Three and Five and the husband of Person Four) before he died. I think they had sold me as some sort of expert writer and editor because my opinion was much sought after, and the meeting ran late. Afterwards, we all sat in the living room discussing how the meetings used to be. “My father ran these things with an iron fist,” announced Person Five. Conversation turned to the dead father and grandfather with all of his quirks, and never having met him, I listened in appreciative silence until I felt one of the dogs poking my back with its nose. I was sitting in an open-backed chair and assumed that one of the ever-milling dogs was trying to attract my attention by nuzzling my back three times, slowly. I reached out to pet the invading muzzle and banged my hand on the wall. My chair was against a wall, and there was no space behind it for a dog or even a cat. There were no dogs or cats in the room. Before I could say anything, Person Five said something like, “Hmm, there was just a weird shadow behind your chair.” I had seen nothing but explained what I just felt. “Oh, that’s just Dad. He’s still around,” said Person Three. The rest of the family then took turns talking about the footsteps, voices, and full-bodied apparitions manifested by Ghost One since his death a couple of years prior. “He must like you,” said Person Three. Yeah, he must.

Bigfoot and a ghost in one day. When do I get interviewed by Connie Chung? Hey, whatever happened to Connie Chung, anyway?


TRAVEL JOURNAL: Washington State, Part One

According to the walrus, the time has come to talk of many things. I don’t know what that walrus is doing in here, nor what precisely he happens to know about one thing or another, but in this case he happens to be correct. The time has come to talk of the many things that happened on my recent visit to Washington State; that I promised to change the names to protect the living, the dead, and the cryptozoological beasts I encountered should not hinder the tale overmuch.

Last Monday night, I flew into SeaTac airport to visit one of my oldest friends, whom we shall call Person One. Person One lives on a rural compound within easy view of Mt. Rainier with her three-year-old son, Person Two; her mother, Person Three; her grandmother, Person Four; her filthy crazy uncle, Person Five; and her autistic crazy uncle, Person Six. Also wandering around the premises are Dogs One through Three (a series of interrelated pit bulls), innumerable cats, and various other creatures, such as Mosquitoes One through Infinity, that feature tangentially in the telling.

I should describe this rural compound further, and I will, but there is the matter of Person Seven to contend with first. Person Seven was spotted on Tuesday just after noon, as Person One and I were picking up Person Two from nursery school. This was the occasion of my first sunlit view of the area, surrounded by hills and scrub trees, with snowcapped Mt. Rainier looming volcanically over it all. It was also my first sunlit view of Person Seven, who crossed the road in front of the car.

There was a slight pause as it registered, then Person One asked quietly, “Did you see that?”

“It was Bigfoot,” I said. It was Bigfoot, or some other species of Furred-American, although this had not quite sunk in at that moment. Here is what we saw:

As our car descended a decline in the road, a box truck approached from the other direction, about three hundred feet ahead of us. Between the two vehicles (but much closer to the truck, against which it was silhouetted for a moment), a humanoid creature, seemingly between five and six feet tall, ran across the road. It was covered in relatively short fur of one solid color, a dark grayish-brown, and did not appear to be wearing clothing. Person Seven emerged from nowhere on the left side of the country road, from our point of view, and disappeared behind a tree on the right side about three seconds later.

I wish I hadn’t been so stunned by this appearance that I forgot about the approaching truck. As the creature was much closer to it, observing the driver’s behavior in its wake would have been informative. I’m not even sure if the truck slowed down (I know it didn’t stop) because Person One and I were so intent on figuring out what we had seen. “It was Bigfoot,” I said again. There was no disagreement. Person Seven had vanished behind a tree, but it was one of only two trees in a field. A driveway cut between them, and a house stood about 1000 feet back from the road. There were livestock pastures to the left of the driveway, and the grass everywhere was long. Coming abreast of the trees, we could see nothing and nobody . . . even if it had been a regular person or some other animal (as Person Five suggested later), it would have had to have been visible just a second after crossing the road, but it wasn’t. The low branches of the trees were scanty and we didn’t see anything behind the trunks. My current thought is that it dove into the long grass and hid, but that is mere speculation after the fact. In truth, I don’t know anything more than what I have related in writing here and, moments after our return to the compound, audibly to Person Five, who was loitering in the driveway. Person One corroborates all of these details, but I must disclose fully: at the time, I was transitioning off two very strong anti-anxiety medications. Most likely, this fact also colors my perception of subsequent events, however it is significant that a Bigfoot sighting, real or imaginary, is still one of the least bizarre things that happened to me last week.

I wonder what the walrus would have to say about that.