Mar. 5th, 2017

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Oddest experience yesterday. I was out and about buying plants when Neil Young’s wavery, eerie, slightly out-of-tune tenor and a familiar piano arpeggio suddenly spilled from the store’s sound system.

After the Goldrush:

Look at Mother Nature on the run in the 1970s…

For a split moment, there was someone else in my brain.

And I knew instantly who this person was: It was me. Age 20 or so. I must have listened to this album 1,000 times or so when it first came out.

The odd thing, though, was that this me was an alien presence. Not the same me that now lives in this body at all. The coloration of consciousness was completely different.

Then wham! the alien presence was gone.

I have completely forgotten who that girl was.


This is actually a plot device I’m using in one of the perennially-being-written novels. In Where You Were When, there’s a group of people who are able to travel back in time because they’re able to seize moments like the one I've described above to go back into the brains of their younger selves. The kicker being that they can only travel one way – backwards – and that the pasts they find themselves in are always mutating though certain motifs appear to be inflexible. My heroine, Ybel, for instance always ends up working as a waitress in a place called The Buttercup Bakery and always witnesses a boy named Danny jumping from a window while stoned on acid. But the other details of her past are always changing.

Danny’s leap from the window has created a kind of temporal do-loop for Ybel, and the first novel – yes, yes, all unwritten novels must be trilogies or tetrologies! – is an account of how she is broken out of that do-loop so that she can be conscripted by the Forces of Good to fight unspeakable e-e-e-evil!

The catalyst for traveling backwards in time varies from time traveler to time traveler. Kind of like epilepsy triggers. For some, it’s a smell; for others, it’s a particular way that light flashes or glimmers. For Ybel, it’s sonic – that inverted 18th from Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.

By the time the novel opens, we’re given to understand that Danny has made his leap an uncountable number of times, and that Ybel has developed some measure of control over her backwards time traveling. She only has to imagine the inverted 18th in order to go backwards in time. In terms of the actual words on the page, this, too, is problematic since in Chapter One, Danny and Ybel are actually listening to The Doors’ Light My Fire – from which it’s really, really hard to segue into Rachmaninoff!

Anyway, the odd experience yesterday was very illuminating in terms of my little literary experiment.


In other news, it’s very cold here. Like 8 degrees. I’m afraid those daffodils by the post office are popsicles.


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Every Day Above Ground

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