From a Month of Nonsense

From a Month of Nonsense

A Chapter by Keaton S. Ziem

I realized somewhat recently what was one of the major contributing factors to my desire to at least wanting to write at a young age, or enjoying what writing enables the writer to do, and pursuing it early. Oddly enough, I wasn't consciously aware of it at the time, but when I finally recognized it for what it was, it seemed at least somewhat obvious to me, though not total, perfect sense; which is fine... I've come to terms that things can sometimes be true and not make sense, so that doesn't bother me. Anyway, the instance of my realization as to why I wanted to become a writer occurred perhaps a year or so ago at the point of this writing. It was while I was working as a busser in Sedona. On a particularly busy, crowded afternoon lunch rush, on a particular day that it was rainy and generally unpleasant outside we were throwing as many people as possible into corners of the restaurant that were covered from the rain and it was getting very crowded. In any case, this wasn't an area that seemed condusive for babies; or at least, not this one in particular. The poor little kid was wailing his head off, as if attempting to tear it's own head in half with it's mind-rending screams. On this particular day, when I should have been too busy to even notice such a thing, I was stricken dumb and mute with curiosity. I watched this baby cry, and tried to figure out what it could possibly want. What was the problem? What would make it better? Of course, finding the answer was the parent's perogative as well; and they wasted no time. Bottle? No. The baby pushed the bottle away and screamed louder. Picked up? No. The baby would thrash and kick whenever it was picked up. Okay. Put down? No, even worse. The baby would collapse and writhe across the floor, burying it's head in it's hands and scream agianst the floor. Food? No. Not hungry. Hit the food away and spill it everywhere. Scream harder. Eventually the parents had tried everything and gave up and that's when I realized it, or at least remembered the feeling of frustration at having a problem, wanting to solve it, but needing help, and not being able to clearly articulate to anyone what will solve the problem, or how they need to help you do it. Being incapable of articulating your pain or your problem, and finding no one who can understand what you're trying to say. I hate that feeling because I also realized that it wasn't just a feeling I would have as a child, either. I have that feeling every day. Worse, even; since sometimes I wake up and I feel like something isn't right, but I don't have a way to correctly identify to my own self what the problem is. I think my attempts to become a better writer is in hopes that I someday learn how to clearly articulate my fears and my problems in further hope that someday someone will be able to help me, or not, depending on the problem. But at the very least, more than help, I just want to be understood. I think everyone does. Furthermore, I think everyone knows this, which I've usually found are the best things to write; things that people already know. The brain always seeks to reassure information that it already knows, the same way that we sometimes need to be regularly encouraged or else we feel somehow flawed or failed. Funny how we seek to be understood, while at the same time, say and do things to one another that everyone understands equally.


It's weird how you can know someone for some number of years, seeing them regularly, routinely, come to know them, vice-versa, and then all of the sudden, they aren't around anymore; sometimes without having said goodbye. Weirder still, sometimes you never find out what happened to them. They're just totally, absolutely gone. This has happened more than a couple times to me; people who have been substantial parts of my life who suddenly have disappeared. Another thing that makes it strange is that, from their point of view, I just disappeared too; and they never knew what ended up happening to me. 


I've only ever stolen one thing from someone, and it was a jacket that I still have; and by 'steal' I mean that they left it behind and I claimed it after the fact as my own. I felt no guilt in doing this, since the person who left it behind had gotten s**t-faced drunk and proceeded to beat up my bedroom for half an hour before I got there to find the whole place was trashed. Taking his jacket was actually the least that happened to that guy that night. Someone else at the party was so mad at him that they stole his car keys directly from his pockets, walked them down the street about a mile away and threw them in a trash can and never told him. So, yeah, I didn't mind keeping the jacket. I still have it. It's the only thing I've ever consciously stolen.


I'm listening to a belching contest right now. Going on in the apartment below us, which qualifies it as pretty epic, I think.


A single moment from my past: standing in the doorway facing the back yard, flailing and jumping and screaming my head off trying to rid myself of the seemingly hundreds of stinging bees all over my body; in my shirt, in my shorts, hair, everywhere, after having just ran inside once my Mom opened the door for me. There I 'stood' in the doorway looking back at my friend Patrick, flailing and jumping and screaming in madness equal to my own, and in that moment finding it equally tragic and hilarious that my Mom turned him away, making him run another block back to his own house. I don't think I'd ever felt more sorry for anyone in my life than I did for Patrick in that moment, while simultaneously finding something about it so f*****g funny; all happening amid the insane terror of a swarming bee attack.


I was locked in a trunk once. The inside of the trunk was wallpapered with the faces of many decks of cards; Jacks, Kings, Queens of all suits. Must've taken many decks of cards to line the entire inside of the trunk. I had a flashlight and a Bearenstein Bears book with me, even though I couldn't read. I remember knocking on the side of the trunk as the 'signal' to let me out. I could barely read anyway. Anyways, the 'signal' only works when someone is actually listening for it. To be fair, I probably would have torn that trunk apart from the inside-out before the situation became serious--I was capable of kicking pretty hard when I wanted, and to be more fair it didn't even come to that; someone who wasn't listening for the 'signal' heard me anyways and let me out. I sought out the person who was supposed to be waiting for the signal and, upon finding them, gave them what very well might be the last sincere punch I've ever thrown. 


I do find the expressions on the face-cards disturbing; they're so muted. Not that I dislike them. I like how disturbing they look.


I used to think my right hand was better than my left. Why not? I was right handed, after all. Sometimes I'd let my right hand bully my left hand, pushing it around or punching it. Sometimes when I was in the bath tub or in the shower I'd spit on my left hand. This went on for quite some time, until one day it occurred to me that I wiped my a*s with my right hand. I tried to designate this unsavory task to the hand it deserved to be delegated to; my left, but, I am not a naturally ambidextrious a*s-wiper, so that didn't work out; my right hand kept the job, and suddenly my left and my right hand were now at least equal in my own estimation... if my left hand had not gained at least a slight upper hand.


I remember sometimes sitting in church as a kid, and thinking, 'after I grow up and die and become a ghost, I'm going to come back to this moment, and since I'd be a ghost, I'd be able to fly, so I'll stare up at a spot on the ceiling for 30 seconds, which should give my ghost-self enough time to fly up to that spot and make eye-contact with me, so that at least for a few seconds, I'll be looking at my own dead self.' I intend to do that.


I don't remember where I learned that it's not enough that you should try hard, but you should make it seem as though it's the easiest thing in the world; which of course makes everything so much more difficult; but I wish I hadn't. I'm always trying to unlearn that one. But sometimes, when things seem as though they should be hard, I find that they are quite easy. Not always, but sometimes. Sometimes in those cases I'll make it look harder than it really is. I don't know why I have it so backwards. 


Another mystery; at some point, I had decided that I was going to pretend to sleep longer than I was actually asleep. I'd lay in bed, perfectly still, eyes shut, just breathing, but totally awake, for a long long time. No idea how long, since my eyes were shut and I refused to look at the clock, but time would pass this way. The first time I remember doing it was when I knew relatives were visiting and I wanted to avoid them (there's no avoiding relatives when you're a child), but the habit grew; somehow. I don't know if it has anything to do with my current sleep malfunctions, but I don't pretend to sleep anymore. Unless I'm fooling myself.


There's another moment of my childhood that I've always remembered, and I've often tried to articulate, have often tried to write down--both as a story, and as an actual personal event that happened to me, ala diary entry or something like that. Any way you slice it, I'm never capable of getting through it, even though in essence it's a very simple moment: I wake up with an intense sunburn from a camping trip, walk to the living room where the television is still on, but silent, in the middle of the night, and proceed to watch a blurry video tape recording of monkeys using tools. Harmless, right? Still, something about this moment upset me more than most any other memory I can think of. Trying to explain why it did is what always stops me from being able to write it, clearly. I don't know. I don't dream or have nightmares about it, I'm not resentful of monkeys or tools at all to this day, and since then I have watched many nature documentaries about chimps or apes doing essentially the same thing without the same emotional effect I had felt at that time. Many other realizations were being made at that moment, I suppose; the physical weight of growing up and getting older was becoming a pressure that I could feel, beginning to understand a little bit more about the world and that it was a larger place than I had ever considered before that point, and probably even larger than that, and that everything I had been taught up to that point was capable of being wrong or incorrect. Whatever it was, something switched for me then. When I was found and was asked what was wrong, I told them I didn't know, and that it was a nightmare; but nightmares are so easily dismissed aren't they? "Oh, well then don't worry about it then, it was just a nightmare", was essentially the response I got. Except I had lied; it wasn't a nightmare, it was something worse, an indescribable fear I had found inside of me that hadn't been there before; impossible to articulate, custom-built for my own needs. This is about as close as I've come to being able to describe that moment. 


Im deciding that this is the end. After a moment considering this, I decided again; yes, this is the end.

© 2011 Keaton S. Ziem

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Added on October 1, 2011
Last Updated on October 1, 2011
Tags: evolution, entropy, chimpanzees, tools, sunburn, mystery, sleep, faking, relatives, effort, difficulty, right, left, cards, claustrophobia, trunks, brothers, bees, phobias, belch, jacket, steal, baby


Keaton S. Ziem
Keaton S. Ziem

Los Angeles, CA

I was raised in a cabin in one of the largest Ponderosa Pine forests in the continental United States. I had nothing to do with the amount of trees that grew there. I am an only child with two brot.. more..