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Sun Dreams: Pain and strange mutation.

There is a garden in my mind and it grows on both sides of the soil. That means roots and flowers intertwining. Dreams when I'm not sleeping.

These are a couple of my chronic images of pain and strange mutation.

Because of Cerebral Palsy, I had three operations when I was a kid. They cut into my heels. They cut into my thigh. They cut into my shin. They did it for free and it helped a lot. However, after the last surgery where they jiggled around my tibia, the nerves there ended up a little fucked up and confused. The lower part of the shin is extremely sensitive. The slightest pressure causes a locomotive of pain to roar down to my foot. Consequently, I began to imagine a scenario of hurt. In some dark wood of Eastern Europe, I stand in shadow, unable to move. A wolf approaches (in 2003 it became a Martin Direwolf). My left leg is exposed and the wolf bares its teeth; its right canine is absurdly long, some seven inches. The beast punctures the top of my shin and slowly rips down, digging a canal of agony. I scream a lot.

That hurts, doesn't it?

The second is about mutation.

I sit on a couch in a quiet room reading a book facing a door. I feel a sudden itch at the right base of my jaw. Reaching to scratch it, my fingers find a hard, plastic tab. Naturally, I pull it. My perspective changes and I'm watching from the wall. The Me pulls at the tab and it divides my skin along a wax track from my jaw, over my chin, up the center of my face over my scalp, and down the back of my head to the base of my neck. The two sides of my divided head fall away to my shoulders. Perched atop my shoulders is a perfect sphere of orange cheese. A knock sounds at the door. The Me stands up and opens the door. A very thin child is there, shaking. The Me takes the ball of cheese in both hands and gives it to him. The child hides it in his long coat and runs away. The door shuts.

More of these later.

For Mr. Bradbury - Bless 'im.

Today I've been reading a multitude of thoughts and memories about the great and recently passed Ray Bradbury. So many great writers and film makers sharing how the gifts of this man's colossal imagination helped to shape their futures. Of course, he created futures and fantasies on the page, yet the power of this singular voice spoke like an oracle to the minds of those whose creative gardens we enjoy today.

Of my own influences, Bradbury resonates louder than that famous foghorn.

I discovered Bradbury relatively late. "There Will Come Soft Rains" was the first story of his I read; it was in my high school sophomore literature book. I found that apocalyptic masterpiece beautiful and eloquent and absolutely chilling. It's a ghost story, it's a work about absence and death and promises our damnation if we don't remember it.

Since elementary school, I had always been a strong writer. My teachers often read what I wrote aloud. I loved words and making stuff up, but it wasn't until late in high school that my mind turned seriously to writing. In the spring of my senior year, I read Fahrenheit 451 and picked up Ray Bradbury's 100 Greatest Stories.

Oh my God, these stories!

I was overwhelmed by the thousands of windows he opened within my imagination. It was like spirits nobody has ever seen spoke to him! I felt like I had been given a ticket to everywhere I thought I would never go. His wondrous stories touched a deep loneliness, a sadness within me, and made it lighter. He made me better. One summer night after reading "Jack in the Box," I stood under the clear night sky, exhilirated, gazing up at the stars, and that infinite cluster of light was the closest representation of how I felt, a reflection of Bradbury's genius and my excitement about wanting to write stories too. The galactic possibilities!

Probably more than any writer who influenced me creatively, Mr. Bradbury was the voice of hope and joy and perseverance in the face of disappointment, of insatiable curiosity and excitement! Although I never met him personally, I was awarded an Honorable Mention in one of his Waukegan Library writing contests and received a certificate with his signature.

Oh boy.

If not for Ray Bradbury, I might have given up. He shared his wonder and immortal childhood.

He made me better.