There’s a reason I’m writing this. Bear with me.
Before me get to my main point, I want to talk about visions. You see, when I was a child I had “visions”. I’ve never known what else to call them. Dreams happen when you’re asleep. Visions happen when you’re not. So, while my Mother sometimes called what happened to me “the waking dreams”, the terminology never felt right to me. I accepted them for what they were. Visions. Nothing more. Nothing less. What the word “visions” means to you may be very different from what it means for me. But it’s a good starting point.
Unless you’ve experienced what I’ve experienced, it’s hard to explain what it’s like. I would use the term “dream state”, but that infers one is dreaming. In this regard, let’s use it and pretend that we both understand what I’m trying to say, that sometimes one can enter into a dream state without being asleep or dreaming, or even losing contact with the material world around them. Let’s say that you can see and hear things while still being aware that people are around you, trying to talk to you and figure out what the hell is wrong with you. You know when they start freaking out. You know when someone inevitably suggests calling 911. But you’re powerless to talk to them. They’re there, but they’re not. That’s what it was like for me. Someone once used the phrase “walking between worlds”. That seems like a good fit to me.
When I was a little girl my Mother asked me to stop talking about my visions. Rightly so. My father was mildly schizophrenic, and Mother used to say, “he resents that the voices talk to you rather than him”. So I told no one. I kept a diary for my own sanity (which, many years later, my father found and burned); that’s another story. Pretty much, though, for the sake of what I’m writing here, let’s at least agree that these visions weren’t something that was widely discussed in my family, much less in the neighborhood.
That changed in my late teens and early twenties, at a time when some pretty horrible things were happening to me. I won’t bore you with details, but let’s just say that I became more accepting of these visions as a means of escaping a reality I was not remotely equipped to deal with.
In my early twenties these visions happened with such regularity that someone in my circle of friends would always volunteer as “Claire wrangler”. I couldn’t be trusted to get myself home sometimes. I would “slip between worlds” at any moment. Sometimes I wound up in vulnerable situations. For years my friends thought this was kind of cool. Some of them believed it was at least partially an act, but it made our social group more edgy than the norm, and they went along with it because of it. If nothing else, I was entertaining. Young minds who prefer to believe the world is full of magick, and their destinies are not for menial jobs at fast-food restaurants, but rather on the edge of culture achieving astonishing thing, go for such things. That was us. Wild evenings bore legendary tales of me acting like some wild spirit, or talking in languages I couldn’t possibly know (a friend has a recording of me speaking in a language that sounded like Sanskrit, but wasn’t). It scared the hell out of some people, but my closest friends thought it was cool, in some fashion, and no one seemed to mind overall. As one friend put it, I was a comic book character come to life. Like I said, we were young, and in some way it was all fun for them. We liked being “different”, and somehow I was the validation of that angst.
Well, it was fun until we started getting older. Then my friends began pairing off into marriages and procreative obligations. By then the glamour of being “Claire wrangler” had faded. One by one, those friends fell away. I didn’t blame them, either then or now. I was tired of myself, too, and can only imagine what it was like for them. I saw the writing on the wall. I began to stifle those visions. I knew what I felt like when they were coming on, and that helped me to short-circuit them before they could get rolling. I came up with 1,001 creative ways to distract myself, to stop them in their tracks before any real damage was done. No harm, no foul. I just found ways disconnect myself, like unplugging an electrical cord. If I was really careful, I could pass for normal. I got so good at it (passing for normal), and asserted such control over my meanderings, that I was able to attend college at M.I.T. There I found that the structure of classes and the intense focus of the courses helped me to find an even keel. For awhile, anyway.
This reprieve didn’t last.
When I returned to Asheville, I replaced old friends with new misfits from the local arts scenes. You can’t throw a rock in any direction in Asheville without hitting one wannabe Pagan or another. Among them I found a surrogate home again, in the company of people for whom my pedigree as a hereditary elevated me to some stature of importance, for whom my “walking between worlds” was venerated and encouraged. I was eccentric, but I was M.I.T. educated eccentric, and that sounded much better than crazy. They enjoyed tales of my past adventures, and even built up something of a spiritual component around them. They encouraged me to explore my eccentricities, and I slowly began to have the visions again. I became a teacher, of sorts, and quickly discovered that at least some of what I said and believed resonated with some people, and that the weirder things got the more some people liked it. If I got nothing else out of M.I.T., I had learned the ability to put my thoughts and ideas into coherent structures which I could use to communicate concepts with others, and I was able to describe some of what I experienced when “walking between the worlds”. It went well for a time. There was a balance. But everything goes sideways eventually. In time, I was going too far. Indulging too much. Drinking too much. People grew tired of me humping their girlfriends. Or going catatonic right in the middle of a movie. “Eccentric” is only fun on the weekends. Everybody likes to hang out with the weird chick who takes off her clothes and channels absinthe-fueled wisdom that makes you ponder the basis of reality, society, and even spirituality. But nobody wants to take her to Pizza Hut. And you sure didn’t want to feed her after midnight. Whether or not she might provide you some special kind of spiritual insight, she’s still an asshole who only thinks of herself. She won’t mean to fuck you over. But she will. The ego is a fragile thing, and some people were not cut out for a pedestal.
Anyway, needless to say, I found my way through the spiritual phase and clean out the other side. Mostly because I tried to codify it within the structure of PaganCentric. At least until I realized that trying to teach people a way to move beyond religious and societal concepts was really just another way of putting chains upon them. When you tell me people to think for themselves, and they ask you to teach them how to do it, you begin to realize that there’s a basic flaw in the human psyche which compels most of us to accept artificial structures as a way of making sense of the Universe. It’s a powerful narcotic, and dispensing it left me feeling like a charlatan. In the end, the drinking and the sex had more to do with my shame and guilt over feeling like I was pretending to be something I wasn’t, and being angry that these obvious things I was pointing out to people was being received like Word from On-High. Even when I fucked around, some of them thought it was great, and it made me despise them almost as much as I despised myself.
So I wandered off. PaganCentric’s still there, I think. No one posts there. No one knows what to do with it. The one who was driving it has moved on, and is content to see it whither.
I went back to the technology. With my uncle’s help I started indulging my knack for hacking things, and exploring patterns and pathways which others seemed to miss. I immersed myself in computer programming, and, through Uncle’s contacts, quite unexpectedly found myself contracting with various government agencies to test computer security systems. I had a knack for breaking them, and these people were willing to pay me to try. Naturally, this led me into providing security services. If you know how to break things, you know how to keep them from being broken. What I didn’t expect was that this interest in computer systems coincided with a decrease in the visions. It was like my soul was overflowing with energy, and the only way I could contain it was to burn some of it off. Like a release valve on a boiler. Computer programming can best be described as a sustained, intense focus on an objective. That burns off a lot of energy. That worked for me. For years. I’ve had around five incredibly productive years in which I’ve established my own company, and now spend my days in the company of some of the most creative and intelligent women I’ve ever known. I’ve had minor episodes here and there, but for the most part I’ve kept it together.
This changed recently. That’s the reason I’m writing now. I don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s possible I need therapy. It’s possible I should be institutionalized. Or at least find myself again in need of a Claire Wrangler, now that my girlfriend has moved out.
I’d noticed that everyone in the office was acting “uncomfortable”. This went on for a few days. I stay pretty busy and miss a lot of stuff in general, but I finally noticed that all of my interactions with the staff seemed like everyone expected me to scream at them at any given moment. I finally pressed them on it. What I learned compelled me to write this. Not as an explanation, but perhaps more as an exploration of what might be my descent into madness, or whatever this is. Okay, scratch the last part. I’m being dramatic. Let’s just say that I’m apparently not on as even a keel as I had thought. This is something I’ll have to work out. Honestly, it might be something I shouldn’t talk about. But if I’ve had one over-riding rule in my life, it’s always been that I try to upfront about what’s going on. I won’t hide from the uncomfortable stuff.
Here’s the deal. My senior assistant, Meghan, showed me a video of myself. In it I was sitting cross-legged on my desk, completely naked, with a Wacom drawing tablet in my lap. She was talking with me. I smiled and interacted with her, but when she would ask me a question in English, I would respond in some other language. Other than the nakedness and the foreign language, I didn’t seem to think anything was wrong. Of course, I don’t remember of it. Which is where the uncomfortable questions begin.
The reason I’ve written this unexpectedly long rumination is to provide some context, and examine where I’ve been up until this point. Of course, that I’m posting it to my web site means that I have least a passing hope that it will provide context for old friends, relatives, and lovers. It’s also a starting point. This is where we are. Soon we’ll find out where we’re going.
I’m unusually calm about this. That probably disturbs me more than anything. That all my employees now know what I looked like naked runs a close second.
In the end, what compelled me most to write about this is that the dreams I’ve been having of late make a lot more sense. I’m pretty sure that language I was speaking was something I’ve heard in my dreams since I was a kid. I’ve always understood it in dreams. Kind of like when you dream you’re in Paris and can understand French, but you really can’t in the real world. Lately I’ve been dreaming of spaceships. I’ve watched planets slowly revolve beneath me from viewing platforms. I’ve seen naked women soaked in blood slaughtering thousands of people with their bare hands amid pitched battles between armies. I’ve seen beings made of energy move around the halls of Congress, and angrily lash out at me when they realized I could see them. I’ve dreamed of zombies, but not the Hollywood types; rather, people whose brains seem to have been partially deactivated. Most importantly, though, I keep dreaming of a naked woman offering me an orb of energy (yes, I know that’s an apple in the image – that’s not a cell phone pic I took of a dream). It’s something I haven’t wanted to accept. But it’s something I know I eventually will accept. Just not today. And maybe not tomorrow.
No. I don’t know what any of this means. Yes, I’m aware of what all this sounds like. But just this once, I thought it was important to get all this down. This is where my mind is at right now. For better or worse. Visions and other annoying phenomena are part and parcel of my existence lately. I don’t know where all this is headed. But I do feel like it’s headed somewhere. Even if that’s just to me getting through my days in a straight-jacket.
On the upside, my assistant, Meghan, just told me she was going to need a raise. At the moment, I can’t argue with her logic.