Breathing dirt and pine and fresh mountain air.

Doctor office for hand/forearm contusion, via iPhone. © Ryan Schierling

Failure. © Ryan Schierling

I woke up early this morning to the sound of our neighbors pulling into their driveway. Our bedroom windows were open because the weather had cooled off so gloriously, with no humidity and temperatures in the low 60s. (Should we talk about the weather?) I rolled over and looked at the clock on the nightstand. It was 2:30 a.m. I heard two car doors slam, and a single sentence spoken in a male voice:

"Just put the weed in the center of my desk so the dogs don't get it."

I fell asleep again, and dreamed in restless fits. I felt as though someone had a remote control for the stories going on in my head, and they were changing channels every five seconds to look for something more interesting. (Boring, boring... BORING (In Rik Mayall's voice). There's nothing on. There's got to be something on.)


There was a bus with no available seats departing a mountain top, en route a carnivale macabre mid-mountain. I opted to run, parkour style (l'art du d├ęplacement) down the mass to get to the show. I was jumping and falling and soaring and grasping and swinging, in a body that felt 20 years younger. I was breathing dirt and pine and fresh mountain air and my dream-state self almost convinced my real self that I could do this when I was awake, but my real self knows better. 

I arrived to an amphitheater built into the mountainside. The bus had unloaded and its occupants had seated themselves for this mad circus. I walked through the hundreds of freaks gathering on the dirt floor of the amphitheater and made my way up the sloped seating to the middle, where there was a doorway-sized hole flat in the ground with black flowers and blood-red silk draperies framing it. No one was looking at the amphitheater floor – not the patrons, not the performers – they were looking at this hole, this portal to something that seemed to be more important than the carnival itself. I was there, but do not remember sitting or standing. I just remember watching.

A woman with black hair and pale skin began to rise out of the hole. She had no clothes that I could see, but I only noticed her upper body coming up out of the dark hollow. She was lying back, nearly parallel with the horizontal hole. There was a rift in the center of her chest, and as she rose, a hand and forearm began to push its way up through that rift. The crowd gasped. She opened her mouth as if to cry out and the hand and forearm began to shrink back into her chest, ultimately returning again through her silent, wide open lips as she reached her peak. Children and mothers were sobbing. Men cringed and turned away. She slowly descended back into the pit. 

I remember blackness, and then sitting alone on the bus. 


Nobody move, or the mandolin gets it.

Mick Chegwidden, the most talented stringed-instrument player I've ever known. © Ryan Schierling


The art of controversy.

The controversy of art. Junk shop on South Congress. © Ryan Schierling



All of my favorite food groups are brown and white. Trudy's - Austin, Texas. © Ryan Schierling