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I used to have a handle on life. But it broke.

I'm back. I hope everyone had a great Independence Day (well, American readers, anyway). I hope you took the time to celebrate the great things about this grand experiment, to reflect on the price of our freedom and liberty, and to ponder the way things are going here lately. I had a nice low-key celebration with family and a couple friends. Saw some fireworks. Had an actual talk about history and ideals and the meaning of the day.

Anyway, this writing here will be pretty random I think.

--Did you catch the guy eating FIFTY-ONE hot dogs, including buns, in twelve minutes flat? Ugh. Over seven pounds worth of ballpark weenies and buns. Enough calories for about eight days. Enough saturated fat for about forty days. The guy is small and lightweight, too. They have this 'professional eater's tour' thing, which reminds me of the Jim Rose Circus at Lollapalooza. One woman ate seven sticks of butter in five minutes. It was truly disgusting and hurlinducing. My quality of life has been forever lowered for having seen it.

--Sometimes I regret not having gone into the Army. How many people have you ever talked to who regret serving five or six years? There are so many benefits to having served. And not the least of which is this: I've heard the old thing about passages into manhood. Things that make you a man. No, having cheap-o sex with some skeez-o girlfriend while you're both playing house doesn't 'do it'. A stint in the military is one. A prison sentence is another. Fatherhood is a third. I cannot remember the fourth. A college degree? Marriage? Near death? Anyway, how do you know you're a man? Or an adult? Where does that bridge come? I've come to believe that we're sorely lacking in understanding as to what it means to BECOME an adult in modern Western civilization. I believe we're lacking in those passages. One thing seems clear: you do not just 'grow up' by getting older until one day you're an adult. It takes more than the passage of time.

See, I don't think being an adult means you put away your toys or stop playing. I think playing is a basic human need. Most primates play, as do many mammals. Playing seems to be in our genes. I do think being an adult means accepting responsibility for things, for your own actions. It means being competent, thoughtful, intelligent, able to concentrate, able to take a step back and see things from a different angle. It means not blaming others for consequences of your own actions. It means being a MAN or a WOMAN, not a boy or a girl. Standing up for things. Being willing to 'do what it takes' and to do it without complaining incessantly. Knowing when to 'play' and when it's time to not play.

--Earlier today, I got the strongest d�j� vu I've ever had. It came on suddenly. I was listening to the radio, absent-mindedly thumbing through a magazine after coming out of the shower after a workout. They were discussing Ted Williams (greatest hitter ever in baseball, died yesterday). It gripped me, and I realized I knew exactly what the guy was going to say. I ALMOST KNEW IT WORD FOR WORD! I could almost mouth the words!! It crested and then was gone after a few seconds. It was wild. I gotta tell you, though I've had little wisps of d�j� vu in the past here and there, enough to know what is meant when people say the term, this feeling today CHILLED me. I kind of wanted to 'stop and get off' for a moment, if you know what I mean.

After I stopped feeling like something wasn't right, I did a little research. Some say it's related to temporal-lobe disorders including epilepsy. Some believe it is a mismatch in the brain which causes it to mistake the past for the present. Some call it 'lag', a slight temporary time delay between hearing something, storing it, and calling it up in the 'RAM' of the brain, so that it feels as if you're both hearing something and remembering it simultaneously. And they split it into several different kinds. But the thing was, it wasn't a feeling, or it wasn't JUST a feeling (let me take that back, I absolutely DID feel like I'd been right there before hearing the same conversation on the radio), I actually felt like I KNEW what what was about to be said, and as each word was spoken, in seeming slow-motion, it fell right into place. Did I know? I mean, if I'd turned off the radio right then and written 'it' down, the next two to three sentences, and compared it to what another person who had kept listening heard, would it be the same? I think it's worth mentioning that I CAN'T remember now just what it was they were talking about. It was something about Ted Williams, but they've been talking about him for hours. It was something specific. Even though I KNEW it ahead of time and then heard it, I can't remember now. Maybe this is part of getting old? I don't think I can handle much of that and maintain my sanity.

Our brains really are amazing, aren't they? Look what a brain does.
--It controls body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate and breathing.
--It accepts a flood of information about the world around you from your various senses (eyes, ears, nose, etc.).
--It handles physical motion when walking, talking, standing or sitting.
--It lets you think, dream, reason and experience emotions.

I've been mildly interested in the subject for a while. I'm interested in geniuses. My definition of genius might be different from someone else's (in fact, I've got a book with a long chapter on defining genius, including a survey on the topic taken by some of the world's foremost intellects). People who boggle my mind with what they do. The writing of David Foster Wallace, for instance, seems to me to absolutely transcend mere words on a page. How does he do what he does? How does he know the singular effect it will have on my brain? DFW writes friggin' RINGS around virtually every other author I've EVER READ. It's so stunning I can't get a grip on it, so I just scratch my head and call it 'good'. Imagine if someone rewrote the Dictionary into a one thousand page poem. Let's put Scott Miller's music in this category. Scott Miller is also on a different plane. Don't get me wrong, I love his music. But even if I hated it or didn't care for it, I'd still be fascinated by it on a whole other level. It's just not normal music. There's Scott Miller and there's every other pop/rock artist in the world. The point is, other people might not feel this way. It does something to ME. To my brain. I loosely put Charles Moses Jones in this group as well. He's alot more subtle, and since I've listened to nearly four hundred hours in the past year, it doesn't really occur to me as often just how crazy Jones is. He's the nicest guy you have ever met. But beneath that forehead lies a quad-turbocharged, 256 bit, 125 octane, 1000 watt mind. Jones has instant and total recall, for one thing. He has legitimate eidetic (photographic) memory. He's got a team of little men in his cranium looking up stuff instantly on Google. Once in a while, I also put Bernard Butler (Suede's guitarist for one and a half albums) in this category simply because it's the coolest guitar playing I've ever heard. I could even make the case for Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods having a type of genius, in that they seem to have some mental strength far and above all others.

Anyway, I'm interested in the different kinds of intelligence and whether some people 'feel' things differently or more acutely. I used to tell Dana that we felt love more intensely than the average person because we were far above the average person in mental capabilities. This was back when I probably WAS above average, before I slid face first into mediocrity and then under-achievement. But after reading Seven Kinds of Smart (which came with a bonus--two extra kinds of smart), I realize it's not just a matter of 'better or worse'. For instance, I'm sure that some people hear more in music than I do. And perhaps this is because they have the 'mental vocabulary' to hear more than I do. Is it practiced or bred? Nature or nurture? But that goes back to my two books on Wittgenstein, which I've tried to muddle through. Ethnolinguistics. Thoughts as language and language as the ultimate determinant of thought processes, acuity, and even quality and depth. Going back to love... Now that I feel I have a handle on just how hollow and illusory 'true love' is, I still wonder, who feels love more intensely? The hapless, weak, fat, flabby mind? Or the stout, energetic, diligent, not easily-swayed mind? Is it simply a matter of the size or output of some gland or set of glands or the development in some designated region of the brain which took place during early childhood or perhaps even in the womb? Or is it just more complicated or arbitrary than that? Is love a sign of weakness? Or is being a 'slave' to love weak, while feeling love but recognizing it for what it is and controlling it is a sign of strength? Or intelligence? Or the tenth kind of 'smart'?

Is this all a dream? And what's going on up there when I keep having incredibly rapid motorcycle rides during my dreams? I wake up feeling like I'm hurtling along the ground at 100 mph, leaning into the turns, being pushed by some mountain of 'power'. It's happened several times since The Ride (side note: I tried to replicate The Ride, but hitting 30 on a lil 250 just doesn't cut it--fun, but not in the ballpark). I feel like my body's in motion. I will probably not exorcise that completely until I get on a real bike myself for a good length of time. Which could be never.

It's a little odd to consider that all *I* am is a disgusting, mushy, folded up brain floating in putrid juices and mucous and connected to a big root. My eyes are just holes which collect light and wriggle around in different directions. And then I've got this body which I dump all kinds of garbage into. I'd love to get rid of the body part.