I haven’t kept notebooks all my life, just most of my life. I think I must have gotten the first when I was ten or eleven. Although it was dubbed on the outside “My Diary,” I rarely went more than a week with any prototypical diary entries. In fact, it was neatly divided into three or four modest “day” entries per page andI routinely wrote over several days’ worth for each entry. These little books always tended to be more like journals, sometimes filled with activities, but mostly filled with emotional screeds, commentaries on the world, philosophical ramblings. Later, they tended to fill up with bits and pieces of my writing: character sketches, poems, dialog runs, etc., etc.—mixed in with the emotional screeds, commentaries, philosophy. They have mostly been cheap paper-cover books, but once or twice I’ve bought something really fancy, like this one:


This one cost far more money than rational me wanted to spend, but the excitable part of me had to have it. Or, actually, it had to have the one made of brown leather. Black leather has always had less appeal to me. I kept circling back to the store and fondling that book for weeks, but fortunately, the rational me got the excitable one to wait until the notebook had been marked down and I had a gift certificate. By that time, sadly, all the brown leather ones had sold out—but that did not deter me. I’d obsessed about the damned thing and so I was going to have it. Let’s not speak of acquisitiveness gone mad, shall we?

That was a few years ago now and I have never written a word in it. I just can’t bring myself to violate those pages with the usual screeds, ramblings, and commentaries. What am I saving it for? I have no idea, but there is sits, beautifully occupying a shelf. Seems a waste, but we’re not talking rational processes here. The rational me and the excitable one walk hand-in-hand, but it’s often an uneasy partnership, each pulling hard in the opposite direction.

When I was about thirteen and walking around the back yard of our old house in Venice in a moony state (not at all uncommon in those days), something kept nudging me to go to the little walk space behind the “garage.” Garage is a euphemistic term for the structure on the back end of our property. Basically it was a couple of strung together rattletrap sheds which hadn’t seen paint since the Trojan War and had a distinct lean to the south. My biodad stored his tools and an inordinate amount of Important Guy Stuff in the larger shed. The smaller shed sometimes held fertilizer and the like for his prodigious garden. Behind this structure was a pathway about five feet wide at the very back end of the property. An enormous wire fence kept the riff raff of the neighborhood (my family) from entering the property on the other side, the Edgemar Dairy.

Dairy is also a euphemistic term, as no actual cows wandered the premises. It was a processing plant and staging area for Edgemar trucks to fill up with ice and cart their loads of milk, cottage cheese, fruit drinks, etc., to stores. An enormous ice-crushing machine sat on the other side of that wire fence and it would start going at about two or three in the morning. (That, and being in the flight path of Santa Monica airport, helped train me to be the talented sleeper that I am to this very day.) The positioning of the ice-crushing machine against the property line was intentional, one in a long series of harassments the dairy management folks concocted in an effort to get us and our neighbor to sell out cheap to them and move. It didn’t work. We were made of sterner (and more spiteful) stuff than they imagined. They never did get our property. But that’s another story…

So anyway, something urged thirteen-year-old me to go behind the garage, telling me I’d find something special. I’d been back there countless times and the rational was skeptical—but the Believer was game. When I walked this familiar path, what did I spy? A little notebook lying just beside the fence on the dairy side: a cheapie, maybe 4×7, black leatherette, spiral bound. I could reach quite easily under where the wire of the fence didn’t quite meet the concrete and pull it to me. It was full of paper, every page blank, and it must not have been there long because it wasn’t damp or dirty. Well! The Believer thought I’d been given a Very Special Gift from the universe. The Skeptic (active even at that tender age) thought some schmuck had dropped it in the wee hours while filling his truck up with ice and disturbing my sleep. But I held onto that notebook for years—and kept it as empty as that expensive model. I just could bring myself to violate the pages.

The Believer always seems to be saving these things for that something special that never quite materializes.

(This post is really about Skepticism and Belief.)

I have always had two people fighting for dominance in my mind. The Skeptic is still picking at the incident I wrote about here, figuring the Believer must have been mistaken, that surely there’s some logical explanation. And of course there may be. But the Believer isn’t buying it. The Believer thinks it perfectly within the realm of possibility that I saw something spooky on the drive home from work. The Believer also wonders if the Skeptic is so troubled by this because that post was written on the day my world fell apart. It represented the very end of the Last Normal Day. I wrote it, posted it, and drove home to find everything changed. The Believer wonders if I jinxed myself by speaking of such things. The Skeptic thinks it’s utter rubbish to think that way, but one half of my brain still clings to magical thinking.

So here I sit, a Devil on one shoulder, Angel on the other, crowded beside a Skeptic and a Believer, constantly arguing with myself over That Which Goes Beyond Proof. It would be so much simpler if I could pick one side and commit to it all the way, but it’s rather late in the day for that to happen. I suspect I’ll be stuck for the rest of my life as I’ve been for my life so-far-lived: walking the Betweenlands.

The only thing I have found that suitably explained this split in myself is an astrological explanation: my Sun and my Moon are in near-perfect opposition. For you astrology wonks out there: my Moon is in Pisces in the First House, 28 degrees 21 minutes; my Sun is in Virgo in the 7th House, 29 degrees, 43 minutes (Tropical Placidus). For you non-astrology wonks, that means my head (Sun) and my heart (Moon) are constantly pulling in opposite directions, stretching away from each other on different ends of the horoscope wheel. The first time I saw this on my horoscope, it was like seeing a snapshot of my warring shoulders.

Ironically, even the Skeptic likes this explanation. Doing astrology charts holds much fascination for both the left brain and the right. All that math makes it seem to logical and legitimate, even if great dollops of it are pure faith.

Whenever I post something odd, I want to put a disclaimer at the bottom: Really! I’m quite rational! I am one of the most logical people I know. Cynical, even. I always try for rational explanations before going for the loopier ones. But I have had enough strange experiences that the Believer knows there is something beyond the mundane and tactile. The Skeptic reminds her that even if that’s the case, there’s no telling what that extra something is. It could be something mystical and profound…or it could be hormones, brain chemistry, etc.

The Believer isn’t buying that, either. She doesn’t much care if skeptics or The Skeptic disdain her belief system; she doesn’t much care if they think her irrational or deluded or fantasy-prone. She knows what she knows, that behind every mundane cobblestone and boring fact lies a great luminous possibility just waiting to be found.