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Jan. 21st, 2011

Leaping Puma

With all undue respect to middle management

From what I've seen of middle management, I've often thought that a great way of getting $150,000 fast would consist of the following steps:

1. Appear out of nowhere with a resume full of impressive lies. Choate, Harvard, Rhodes Scholarship, Halliburton.

2. Promise prospective employers a radical restructuring of their organisation. Draw from unlikely, vaguely spiritual sources (recast Tim Leary's The Psychedelic Experience in MBAspeak) and don't forget to have catchy inspirational slogans on hand. This isn't just going to solve the firm's hierarchical problems, this is a way of life!

3. Take up some bad habits. Spread rumours about yourself online. Fall asleep at the wheel. And remember, drug tests are for the little people.


5. Quit shortly before someone discovers you're just an eloquent charlatan with a pneumatic resume.

6. EXTRA CREDIT: BOOK DEAL From a safe distance, write a callous expose of the endemic stupidity of the firm that hired you. Check yourself into rehab with great fanfare.

Seems to have brought good results for a lot of the people I've worked "with" (i.e. under).
Tags: ,

May. 26th, 2010

Leaping Puma

(no subject)

Why are we all subjected to the advice of the top .01% of the population when it's clear that (1) such advice applies only to them and (2) the world only has room for a few of these people? Most of us who aren't delusional would be more than satisfied with a non-televised life of moderate success, doing something we love in the company of friends. Instead, we're given the idea that aiming for such a life is "mediocre" and that anyone who isn't world famous is a loser or a wannabe. Much like the disappearing middle-class, a middle ground between megasuccess and abject failure has dropped out of big-media discussion.

Aug. 25th, 2009

Leaping Puma

secret network of wanderers

lately i have noticed life has drawn a symbol on my face, a tiny circle at the temple. this mark is a homing cry to the secret network of all who, like me, faced the possibility of inside but chose outside: i have a habit of not refusing an adventure, so they all come and talk to me.

an elf with straw hair sat with me in the green lamplight after i'd returned from my forest. three-times-thumb says: offer her space on the blanket. i have plenty of space both inside and outside my head, so i gave her some. we spoke long of spirals and sisterhood, in a combination of english, german, and miasma. she traced the serpent on my back. always coiled, ready to bite. a singer sang sharp, plucked harp, notes repeating and rising into ether/or.

i know she felt the forest on me. i knew what she was doing.

the next day a hungarian found me, and no there is no work in berlin, another of my long-wandering sisters on her way to some scandinavian-sounding town nearby. she'll live on the ice cream she forages in the streets of Vältha. i like lamb's quarters, myself. free food is not supposed to exist anymore. it just does. like we do. there is no supposed-to about any of this.

i almost drew the line at the old man with tennis-shoe breath in the hot train back to berlin. he started out okay, singing old folksongs in plattdeutsch and roundly ignoring the passengers with reservations waving computer printouts at us. his refusal of them was so silent they had to go away again. but the book i was reading had god on it, so the funny man got all carried away reciting the bible. i suffocated in the sun and wilted in the unsolicited christianity. he should have known from my symbol that i am not a christian wanderer. but, i do not feel like explaining to the deaf what 'sacred' means.

here is the magic i make: i touch the wellspring and find healing.
i climb the mountain even if it means crashing through to real road,
untangling my shoelaces from thistles on the way.
i love my forest by melting into it, heavier than molten gold,
seeing it in all its impossible glory, showing it my naked mind.
i sacrifice language on an altar of moss, and fall into the sky, tongue strung and unsung,
hexagonal thrum, prismatic hum, be welcome, become and unbecome, come home
so below i mark how each twig, each stem, each tiny leaf has its own colour and meaning,
as above find the cities in the dome of branches, and let them dissolve again,
twisting the kaleidoscope of sunlight to braid rainbows into the trees,

turning vision inside out, flatten dimensions here, sprout them there.
and why so many hours at this ritual? because it is not a ritual, though it is sacred
love: i use my magic sight for love alone. love is truesight and long presence.
it's only this that gives me my birthplace.
i will never be lost. forest within me, not without.

there is no nowhere now here.

Jul. 13th, 2009

Leaping Puma

Throw Money from the Plane, or: Bringing a Pet East o' the Border

Got too much money? Try bringing your pet overseas. Ask me how I did it. Well, actually, a friend and I. And an army of vets, gubmint officials, and taxi drivers, all now a bit richer.

To bring a cat to Germany from the U.S., first, you must obtain... a SHRUBBERY a microchip. This will run you $50. Oh yes, and if you would like to know what the REST of the rules are, that will be an additional $7, please. Plus shipping, handling, and applicable taxes.

Thus beginneth the Pet Passport paper-trail.

My friend in the U.S. took Cricket to get the shrubbery microchip installed at the same time she had her required immunisations (at least 30 days before travel): $129. On Delta Airlines, travelling with a pet (in a regulation carry-on1 container, $39.99) is an additional $150 -- the cheap option. Good thing little Cricket in her regulation carry-on container fit under the seat, because if she'd been a baby elephant, it would have meant saving her a special place in Cargo ($575), in a hardshell container ($24.99 - $149.99). Woo, gold-plated!

The Pet Passport rules said I needed a final certification of health for Cricket within 10 days of flying back, meaning another vet visit ($129) in a taxi ($12). There, the vet advised me cheerfully that I'd also have to make a special trip to the USDA at the airport to get the Final Stamp of Approval ($34, no cash, credit cards or money orders only. Office closes at 3pm M-F). Next door at the pet shop I bought the regulation container, a small packet of cat food, and some Children's Benadryl in case of on-board wowling ($69 total).

Walked the three miles back from the vet's with both cat carriers, credit card steaming like an overheated Ford Pinto.

Fast-forward to flight day...Collapse )

1Not "carrion," of course, which belongs in Cargo. [back]

Jun. 14th, 2009

Leaping Puma

If This Is the First Time We've Met, and You're Trying to Get into My Pants: A Guide

Dear Diary,
Men are stupid.
Apologies to those who aren't. Will you please relay the following to your less-gifted brothers?

If this is the first time we have met, and you want into my pants:
  1. Do not continually ask if "we are cool." Especially do not ask if I am cool. Because I am.1 :D
  2. Do not ask if you can kiss me. If you gotta ask, you can't.
  3. Do not ever, ever tell me about your other conquests. What you consider rollicking tales of masculine prowess just comes off as sleazy to me. Also, I don't give a shit.
  4. Do not describe in excruciating detail what you would like to do with me sexually. (1) What am I, 14? I already know. (2) What are you, 14? If you'd played your cards right, you'd have been putting your money where your mouth is. Or vice versa. I dislike finding out you've written the entire screenplay already, signed me up as the unpaid pornstar, and have already begun filming.
  5. Yes, I know how absolutely luscious and huge my ass is. Why do you ask?
  6. Do not ask me if I like sex. That's like asking if I like food. The answer is, "Depends on whether it's good, who I'm having it with and under what circumstances."
  7. Do not ask me how old I am.
  8. Do not predict the number of years remaining that I'll be able to get sex from the random man on the street. This will not suddenly make me desperate enough to ask you to step in. In fact, it will cause me to tell you to step off.
1 If I weren't, what were you doing talking to me?


Jun. 7th, 2009

Leaping Puma


suppose everyone you knew died
or, worse,
everyone knew you died
and went on living without you

suppose you were breathing someone else's air
in a place overgrown with roses
your senses fading in and out
with your carefully timed inhalations
so first birdsong,
then wind chill
then the scent of roses is lost on you

are not
supposed to be here
no one
will know
when you are gone again.

May. 26th, 2009

Leaping Puma

Monday night weirdness, Episode 10

links to past episodes 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9

episode 10

all that's left of mayim is the echo of her last words: oh no no no no.

pretty much sums it up, actually.

thank Odd she untied you first -- but she'd promised to show you how to open the hollow tree. and you're betting she had no extra molecule paper, or she'd have come back by now.

you blink. the sunshine is so potent you almost feel breathing is optional. maybe food and water too, which would be great considering that nobody in the house is going to bring you anything. ever. maybe they were too nervous about their karma to kill you up front, but hey, who could get on their case for not feeding a hallucination -- ?

(even if the hallucination were quite real, and just as subject to starvation as the next living creature...)

you push yourself up off the ash-covered ground, pain rushing through your head, and totter to the wall where you remember mayim's door. it won't do to pound the wall, of course; the last thing you need is a pissed-off crane crashing in to replace the Police Line - Do Not Cross tape around your wrists.

you pat the wall, then run your fingertips down bright yellow bark, hoping for a clue and reaping only a couple splinters. patience.... every ridge and crack feels like a break in the rhythm of the bark, each bump like a magic switch. you jab everything that isn't a hollow, then the hollows for good measure. you drum subtle patterns on the darker blotches in the wood. you drive your nails into crevices until your fingertips bleed.

plainly, you're missing something.

you collapse onto your knees before the wall as if worshipping its stubbornness. a cloud of ash rises and settles around you. 'open sesame?' you murmur. 'speak, friend, and enter?' -- half-expecting your dumb jokes to result in dumb luck. they don't. you nod. well, at least your luck's consistent. hurray.

is there any other way out?

tunnel down? you scratch through the ashes on the ground, hit bark with lacerated fingers. ow. yeah. hollow tree. okay, great. if only you had one of those chainsaws they'd had in the drab dimension.

it's getting slightly less bright and warm. hm. what's night like in here? you don't want to find out.

drab dimension... molecule paper. any molecule paper in the tree? probably not. mayim would have dove for it. but maybe she didn't have time to. you turn your back to the cheerful, stubborn yellow wall and survey the rest of the tree. someone's taken all the toy trucks away, but not the ash. you blow on it, sending a very tiny tempest of ash into your own eyes. dammit. you squeeze your eyes shut, tearing, wiping your face on your sleeve.

you run fingers through ash. it feels as nice and cool on your fingers as it felt gritty and burning in your eyes. you pretend your hand is a toy truck combing every square inch of the floor, the game dissolving fear for a minute. you find a tiny ladder, probably off one of the trucks. a rubber band. a piece of bark. a paper clip. a ring set in the floor, rattling a familiar chain. daphne!...

then another paper clip -- attached to some paper.

you scrabble wildly, dig out a little spiral notebook. though the cover and sides are uniformly grey, the inside pages are still legible: lists. notes. you flip it open to the clipped page.

a $100 bill! you grin, then sober. even $100 isn't going to do you much good inside this tree. you unclip the money. on the page behind it is a note scribbled in purple marker:

at the end of the acid rainbow
pick up the trail:
34873 Montana Overdrive
Nosoma, CA
daphne we are waiting for you!
come home soon. love, saint somebody.

your brain buzzes. the $100 is the least of the stuff you just found. pick up the trail, indeed. daphne! an address! and best of all:

did someone say...


not seven percent. not molecule paper. but acid.

so you're not... uh... hallucinating. or a hallucination, for that matter. you didn't make up the word acid. it's in daphne's notebook, and it clearly comes from the dimension where you and she live.

if you can just get the hell out of this tree, maybe you can find her. and maybe yourself then, too.

but that's the problem, isn't it? you sigh. another tiny tempest of ash. you flinch. a grey particle flaps up at the bottom of the tempest and settles.

the particle is square. colour rages under grey.

you stare at it, knowing exactly what it is.

a tab.

which you grab.

this is gonna be a taste sensation, the best damn thing ever, no matter how disgusting and ashy. who needs doors! you think, elated, and pop the thing under your tongue.

and recoil, your whole face squinting. elation still doesn't turn ash into chocolate ice cream. you can't unpucker your mouth for a while. finally, gagging and swallowing, you flip your hood up, settle back in the ash with your hands behind your head, and wait.

the yellow sunlight is definitely weakening. you hope the tab gets going soon.

a horrid thought occurs to you: suppose it's expired. or even, used.

not thinking about it. no, no. you stare up into the ceiling of the hollow tree.

only it's not a ceiling. the hollow keeps on going upward, into the branches. whoever hollowed this tree out was mighty thorough.

tunnels. the trunk branches off into tunnels.

the last time you saw tunnels, you couldn't get into them. it's pretty easy now. gravity seems to have nothing to say for itself. you rise into the hollow branching tunnels, sunlight warping into prismatic walls.

apparently, even stale ash-covered acid beats the hell out of molecule paper.


/tune in turn on etc. next week.

May. 24th, 2009

Leaping Puma

the missing chapter

sitting in the middle of a fluffstorm at wendel on the corner of schlesische straße & falckensteinstraße. it's gotta be over 20°C (meaning: NICE) today. the blizzard o' cotton is from a really prolific tree, brand unknown, whose dream seems to be making lots and lots of baby trees just like it.

thing is, they ain't gonna grow on my purple hoodie. (i hope. though that'd be kind of cool, at least in the short run.) the tree's enthusiasm is just kinda disproportional to projected results. hey, sometimes, i know where the tree's coming from on that :D

yesterday was my first-year anniversary of coming to berlin.

somewhere along the line (oh yeah: october or november) i moved into a cramped little room and there, i ran out of blog juice. not fodder. been plenty of that. just kinda toxic-and-didn't-wanna-share fodder. so i don't know what to do about the eight-month missing chapter. i could tell you funny stuff about germany, like how

foreign countries...
...are where garbage cans look like mailboxes,
and your job as foreigner
is to wait months for the reply
from the inexplicably silent landfill,

or that Karl-Marx-Straße has the best shopping in Neukölln,

or i could simultaneously try to explain why life here is generally nicer than in New York even with a bureaucracy whose digestion is the slowest in the universe, rivaling the nasty spiked pit in Return of the Jedi.

don't even know if i'll play catch-up. haven't decided yet.

but in any case, i did GTFO of the cramped little room, and into a new place, same zip code, vastly different situation. got most of everything i need in there now (not bad for having had nothing a week ago in the way of kitchenware), with a few notable exceptions. one, still no hot water yet (took a freezing cold shower this morning, interesting combination of excruciating and invigourating -- the shampooing process gave me an ice cream headache). two, no internet at home for a while, takes forever here. so germany's wi-fi cafes are experiencing a windfall in caffe mocha orders while Freenet twiddles my DSL between its thumbs.

anyway, stay tuned, more to come.


May. 22nd, 2009

Leaping Puma

no party

Brand new poem. I read this last night at New Word Order at Café Mano, Skalitzer Straße.

p.s. If news of my not-nettedness has actually not reached you yet, I'm currently netless at home because I moved. This is the universe calling: Get Outta tha House :P Other than that, the new apartment is absolutely awesome.


no party

so you're relaxing poolside with a few joints and lines and other bits of geometry, when some wiseass says:
let's have a messiah.

never mind the streets of mexico city littered with dried messiahs.
no, at this point in the evening, it's Always A Good Idea to have one,
no matter how annoying they are. people always forget
the messiah is the guy whose cellphone plays Karen Carpenter ringtones in the subway
where there is no signal.
and while you're sitting there smelling fried freedom and the nobody odor of feral straphangers,
he'll get all yap-happy with some dude named Ezekiel
about invisible burning lines in the sky, blue arms and sacred dismemberment,
and catering fish and loaves to thousands from a motorised hot dog chariot.

suppose they gave a messiah, and nobody came?
being the messiah means no joints no lines no party
there is no poolside when you can walk on water.
to ride this ride,
you should be taller than this question:
how to get killed without winding up dead.
99.9999% of the answers are wrong
and the fraction of the one who doesn't want to be the one
knows the best answer is nothing.

May. 19th, 2009

Leaping Puma

Monday night weirdness, Episode 9

links to past episodes 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8

episode 9

still sitting, mayim lifts her eyes. she and crane pass a stare back and forth that is visibly new and unpleasant for both of them. each time the stare jumps from one to the other, it gathers like a lightning storm: disbelief, disappointment, defiance.

'crane,' mayim whispers as if just remembering his name. 'you gotta be kidding me.' he shakes his head, stare-lightning stabbing her. she closes her eyes, bites her upper lip, bows her head.

not one of the robbers in the circle around you and mayim so much as blinks.

when mayim speaks again her voice is so bitter the forest bristles, a cold wind rattling the coloured leaves. 'since when do you care about what the majority thinks is best?' crane's stare wavers. 'what did the majority at home think about us and molecule paper?'

'they misunderstood us and hated it,' crane says. 'and we solved that by leaving. if we ruin this dimension for ourselves, that unsolves the problem again, doesn't it? it's not about majority.'

'no, it isn't about majority, is it?' mayim snaps, getting up. leaves rustle under her feet as she stumbles towards crane. 'in fact, i'd be willing to bet it's a pretty small minority. like, maybe, one of us in particular.' she takes all the lightning she absorbed from crane's stare and beams it onto fez, who's standing a few feet away. 'go ahead, tell me he isn't the spokesbastard for this whole -- " her breath catches in a shudder -- 'fucking thing.'

crane unfreezes, steps out towards her, palms outward. 'mayim. just stop. don't make this personal, okay?'

'right, because he sure hasn't made it personal. singled me out or anything just because he's jealous -- '

'what?' fez's chin jerks forward, and his fez falls off. he dives after it.

'crane, don't you see? fez is bullshitting you!' mayim spits. 'he wouldn't give two shits what "entities" i talked to as long as i let him slip me the -- '

'mayim!' face red, fez gets up, jamming the leaf-plastered hat back over his thinning hair. 'you're reading things into our conversation that i never said.'

'you said them loud and clear, you big liar!' she throws her hands in the air. 'the only way you wouldn't mind me and crane together is if i gave you a piece here and there!"

'oh, grow up.' fez gives a dry laugh. 'we're not in high school.' you flinch. high school! fez fixes crane with a sly upside-down smile of sympathy. you can just hear him beaming the thought: girls! a little squeak of sympathetic outrage escapes you. mayim glances back at you, shakes her head frantically.

'crane,' she says. 'how long have you known me? sure, i'm younger. but i'm not some teen drama queen. this afternoon fez as good as called me a slut. so much for free love, huh?'

the robbers pass a look around the circle with slitty uncertain eyes, stamping and jingling, ending at crane. crane clears his throat, equally uncertain.

fez, arms folded: 'i said nothing of the kind. my motivation is purely to -- '

the words burst out of you. 'you did actually call her easy.'

mayim hides a smile, eyes giving her away.

'of course her pet hallucination is going to back her up,' snarls fez. 'ignore him. she's really fed him with her sexual energy.'

'not even a complete breakfast,' you mutter. scattered laughter from the circle.

'stop laughing.' fez balls his fists. 'don't even acknowledge him. you're giving him power. crane, look at them -- ! this is what i'm talking about.'

crane rubs a weary palm against his forehead. 'fez, i hear you. but you're getting really worked up. okay?' fez scowls, backs off. 'now. mayim,' crane continues, the lightning storm no longer in his eyes. he wades through the rainbow leaves, touches her hand. takes it in both his. 'you know that i love you and the last thing that i want is for you to leave.' her eyes are still fixed on the ground. 'you are such a vital force in this collective i'm not even sure it could survive your going -- i might need a break myself, from this, molecule paper, everything if you go.' the circle murmurs and shifts in alarm. 'but nobody wants that. i think this isn't too far gone yet; you still can recover your balance. it is important to know the day-glo forest is not in fact consensus reality at all, but a projection of our collective mind. to believe anything different will destroy your sanity. and because i love you, i won't let that happen to you.'

'crane, i'm not nuts. i know what real is. and -- ' she twists to look at you -- 'he is real. why is it not ok to let him be real?'

fez sighs. crane shoots him a daggered glance, then turns back to mayim. 'because he's taking on a will of his own. achieving consciousness. it's like when artificial intelligence discovers itself, becomes conscious. it's... a separate being reshaping reality, drawing life energy like a tumour, out of -- '

a tumour?

'i live here!' you shout. 'i found this place before you ever showed up.'

'that's not true -- ' crane counters as a reflex, then cuts himself short, looking conned.

you keep at him: 'this isn't the inside of your skull! it's a real world.' tight-lipped, crane motions to the robbers with his head: inside the house. the circle collapses into a line, filing slowly back. fez has disappeared. mayim stays rooted to her spot, her hand falling out of crane's as he moves off. he stops.

'i can prove it!' you yell. 'if it matters who thinks i'm real, and most of you don't believe i am -- except for mayim -- '

'leave her alone,' says crane through clenched teeth. 'you are driving her insane.'

'crane, please -- ' mayim starts.

'listen to me, crane.' you can't help it now, though you're babbling and pretty sure you're only pissing him off at this point. 'if i'm only a collective mind projection, i'd be practically transparent with only one believer. but i am real and i'll be here even if you send her away, which you shouldn't -- '


and something cracks as it hits the top of your head. 'no! you bastard!' mayim screams. you stumble forward, fall to your hands and knees. shake your head, panting. roll to see fez lifting a thick magenta branch above his head for a second go at you.

you scramble clumsily up, tackle him.

fez falls backwards, branch flying. he grabs your shoulders, then your arms, grappling with you. you writhe an arm free and punch him in the face. he lets go, nose a red fountain.

blood and confusion. mayim and crane are yelling at each other. you waver, head burning. crisp footsteps and outraged voices gather...

you are grabbed from behind, wrestled to the ground. struggling, you can't tell if the crackling and hissing you hear is the leaves they're drowning you in, or the hot buzzing head wound soaking into your brain.

they hold your wrists together and tie them tight, then your ankles, nothing playful about it now. yanking you off the ground, then off your feet, they carry you away. black spots dance between you and the shifting day-glo colours of the forest path.

fez's voice behind you: 'if he's going to get violent when we try to leave him behind...'

'hitting him over the head doesn't qualify as "leaving him behind"!' comes mayim's voice. she runs after them. 'what are you doing with him?'

'he has to go.' crane's voice.

'it's his dimension!'

'it very well might be, if we don't get him out of here.' the bouncing march of the robbers carrying you splits your head open. mayim follows, her arguments an angry sonic blur.

'...cool out in there, nobody wants anything to do with him...' you jolt back to consciousness. you are back in the hollow tree, sitting on the ground still tied up. yellow sunshine floods your vision, so bright you want to barf. you bow your head.

'look, he's hurt, okay? i'll be right in.' you look up. mayim is at the open door. crane looks at her, shakes his head. 'i promise. jesus christ.' before you can stop her, she swings the door shut.

'that door doesn't open from the inside!' you pant, mouth dry.

'not unless you know how.' mayim kneels at your side, takes a penknife, and cuts the yellow plastic tape off your wrists and ankles: Police Line: Do Not Cross. 'i'll show you later. but you should lie low for as long as you can. everyone's mad. i'll bring you food and stuff, don't worry. how is your head?'

'not so good,' you croak. the magenta in mayim's hair looks rose-pale, her skin transparent in the overpowering sunshine.

'i'll see what i can dig up around the house,' she says. 'some of the housedwellers are on this whole anti-aspirin trip -- '

'so at least aspirin is still aspirin,' you murmur. mayim is puzzled. 'not seven percent or molecule paper or -- '

'oh, fuck.' mayim's eyes widen in horror. 'oh, no no no no wait -- this tab wasn't supposed to run out for hours yet -- '

with a pop, mayim disappears, leaving you alone with a slight nature-abhorrent vacuum in the sun-drowned tree.


episode 10

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