I went away. 

My body was on the planet, because where else really could it ever go? (Unless you are an astronaut). But my body wasn’t capable of accomplishing on-the-planet-things. I staggered around like a zombie, searching and starving for brains. Certainly, it was my own brains, that I was looking for, but, being a zombie, brainless, and starving, I wasn’t able to articulate that very well. “ARRRAHAHGGGGGGGHHH! UUUHHHHHHHH-HHHUUUUUURRRR!”  If anybody spoke that monster language, they might have been able to translate my moans, and help me. (Nice stranger enters from the left. She is wearing some kind of a simple and attractive overcoat, ending above the knees. She has a delicate frame, and an air of somebody who has possibly been highly educated, having spent a great deal of time looking into books of antiquated information. Maybe she is a professor of Latin or some other seldom used language. She leans delicately in my direction),

NICE STRANGER: “oh, this poor lady is looking for her brains. She just misplaced them somewhere.” (apparently addressing herself, or potential bystanders, with this comment. She extends her lovely wrist out of the sleeve of her coat, and takes a quick look at her watch, and then looks around a little bit.)

NICE STRANGER: (Now, speaking directly to THE ZOMBIE (me), her tone changes to one reserved for addressing the elderly and children) “Do you remember when you last had them? (your brains)?”

ME: “HAAARRRAA AAAAARRRRRRRRRRR RRAARRRRR RAAAARRRR RAAAAARRR RAAAAAARRRR” (here I, THE ZOMBIE, am beginning to cry, because the warmth of this stranger’s attention is making me realize how much I have missed my brains. Her tenderness, and the sudden realization, are absolutely wrenching my freakish heart.

At this point, I start to really zombie sob, gigantic monstrous tears that practically rip my body apart (pretty easy to do, you know, because I am rotting from the inside out), and the volume of my crying is a variety of loud, which is rarely witnessed in the public The explosion of horror of somebody becoming aware that have been missing one of their greatest wealths, a vital organ, and that maybe this person hasn’t even realized it was gone. Until now.  The sound of that. Imagine it. From here, you choose your own adventure:

a) my display of otherworldly emotion shocks the nice stranger, touching her heart in a way that makes her suddenly begin to sob as well, delicate tears at first, and then little by little a unselfconscious flow like a good sized river. We sit down on the sidewalk and hold each other, crying, for around 45 minutes, letting old things roll out of us like fish that would prefer to live in the salt water. Or,

b) She freaks out and runs. She calls the cops, and they shoot me with bullets, which don’t work, of course, and ultimately the only thing that will muffle the sound of my sadness is for me to be bludgeoned to death with a broken pipe. Or,


c) The nice stranger weeps a little, and then calls up a few helpful friends, and they spend the afternoon helping me relocate my missing brains. We get them back into my head, and she lets me take a nap in her guest room. When I finally wake up, I take a shower in her bathroom, which is very tidy and filled with great cleansers. She loans me some of her larger clothes, and then she invites her professor friends over for dinner. We drink a little wine and talk about the implications of brainlessness. They are curious to hear about what I know, and I end up feeling like my time spent as what society would call a monster was, in the end, valuable, and worthy of respect. I write a book.

Zombies vs. Astronauts.

Yes: you can actually leave the planet without getting into a spaceship. I’ve seen it. It can happen in different ways, to different degrees. Mine, this spring, was pretty minor.  It happened just after I watched a friend of mine leave the planet in a much bigger way. I am aware that my departure from the planet was really just a reverberating reaction to this. The friend seriously left. Body: still here, brains: I do not know where. Splintered brilliantly into the sky. 

Did my friend’s brains fly off of the planet? Or did they actually descend way down into a sunken tube inside of the heart? All I know is that if I tried to talk to my friend, the responding voice spoke back to me from somewhere that I do not recognize. Somewhere else. A psychiatrist would say, “your friend experienced a manic episode.” This sentence would do nothing to describe the way, in which my reality was sliced in half and gutted by witnessing the experience. My sense of what to expect in life was shot to hell. Though my own wording above doesn’t really bring the feeling much either. I guess that’s why the doctors are satisfied with the limited explanations. They prefer to speak half-truths, than to stand around with their mouths gaping open, saying nothing at all for months on end. I guess I chose the latter option.


Though, my gaping wasn’t as graceful as it might have been. It sounds like it could be nice to stand there, calm and speechless like an old statue, observing my own inability to create a response to what I had seen. Instead, I bumbled around not really knowing what was wrong with me. Starting blog entries, and then forgetting that they had ever been begun.

My life tends to divide itself up into eras. There are the wide range eras, long stories of time bundled into years, with contours that take a good while to be able to perceive. Then there are smaller eras, where time gets divvied up by more subtle factors into parcels of weeks and days. I like to get a blog written to capture the feeling of every couple of petite eras. I’d get one written for every single one if I were really on top of my game. I like to account for how the times are encompassing me, to get a record of how I’m living. So many significant epochs have passed unaccounted for since I’ve not written. They’re all just sitting back there in the past, hanging around in my memory while I gingerly remember how to stand upright and move forward with the balancing assistance of my walker. A certain chunk of time was colored by a boy who came to visit me from out of nowhere. It happened a couple of weeks after my friend’s explosion. (The explosion, which I am walking backwards to get some perspective on.) So, this boy, who was he?


Acquaintance vs. friend. Let’s take the leap and call him a friend. I still don’t know why he came out to visit. He certainly wasn’t coming just to see me. He lives really far away, and he hadn’t been back much at all since graduating from college a number of years ago. It seemed like he just had a sudden need.  (The bizarreness of him suddenly appearing out of nowhere actually seemed to fit pretty well with how screwed up the world looked to me just then.)

He called me up a few weeks ahead and said that he would be here. I offered my couch for a night or two. That is how well I knew him. Just about like a cousin: we spent years around each other during and after college, living in the same small town, vaguely witnessing each others’ agonies and successes, generally ignoring each other, or, occasionally, just pretending to ignore each other. I went to meet him at the train station. He was on a later train than he had initially told me he would be. I was anxiously trying not to feel like my whole day was being rattled by the anticipation of going to meet him, because in the end, I wouldn’t have been surprised if he never showed up at all. 

As the passengers were unloading from his supposed train, I made certain to be a little bit occupied with something, to not be standing there in the main lobby openly waiting for him like a dog. First I went to the bathroom, and intently washed and dried my hands. I sat down in one of the chairs that they sometimes have in ladies rooms. Walking back through the big arrivals hall, I called a friend on my cell phone, making just the slightest scan of the room to see if he was there. He showed up. We had a visit. (His visit is another one of those things that I have found myself unable to articulate. Still waiting for time to squint my eyes for me and give it a contour that makes sense. I might give some details someday.)

After the visit was over, and he had gone back home, I started tallying up in my mind all of the times that I could ever remember having interacted with him. It seems tallyable. I think I can almost remember every interaction that we have ever had. I think this is not because of the quantity. In one of the memories, I am trying to explain a weird feeling to him. This memory might be circa 1997.

cracked door.jpg

In the memory: cousin is holding out a small and valuable seeming moment of attention to me. I really want to make him feel like his investment of attention is worthwhile.  I give it a serious go, “I have this feeling lately, like it’s so scary. All of it. SO SO scary, and I can only let this tiny little bit of it all in. You know, only a tiny bit of ALL OF IT.” (Right here I probably looked over at him from the side with my eyes, or did some other kind of maneuver to try and make the concept feel real, the huge terrifying bizarreness. I was referring to the thing, which is generally an absolute frustration to attempt to describe.) 

(I’m sure, though, that I had a pretty solid sense that he knew perfectly well about the bizarreness that I was referring to, without my needing to draw arrows towards it. This is why I would have been talking to him about it in the first place.) (I remember not feeling frustrated at all.) “It’s like, I can have this little sliver of space around me, like a layer all around my body, where I let that stuff in,” I think I gestured over my head with my fingers then said soemthing like, “If it’s really small, I can actually let the scary feeling in. But the space around me has to be so tiny, like, maybe not even a half inch. More than that is way too much, it gets out of control, I fear I couldn’t take it.” What happened then? Did we sit together in the void and make googly eyes at each other? Naw. I think he did something like let me know only briefly that he knew exactly what I meant– he allowed for both of us to be holding onto the same baton for a couple of seconds– and then he took that moment of togetherness and ran down the field in some other philosophical direction, with a lot of masculine maneuvers that I didn’t understand. Something like that. I bet that he mentioned Foucault. I can’t even remember where we are at in this memory. A bar? All of our intersections were happenstance– we certainly never made plans to meet each other at the station. 

Like one time for some reason he was going to sleep over on me and my housemate’s couch. I remember him and me walking to the mini-mart together, and him buying me a can of vienna sausage. I was a vegetarian. Nothing about the memory makes any sense. When he was here, he told me that he remembered me saying to him a long time ago, “I just really want to be able to feel.” I don’t remember ever saying this to him. I remember saying it to myself, plenty, but not to him. I really wonder what it looked like in his head, the memory of this. It’s certainly interesting to look back at what I was talking to him about back then, and to recognize that I am still terrified of the same thing. I am afraid that if I let a huge feeling into my system, that it will take me over completely, create a havoc in my life, and maybe send me out off of the planet, in the way that I saw happen to my friend back in February. I want to feel, and there are some dramatic obstacles in the way.

Susan Pash Ploetz.jpg

I am too hot right now and my eyes are burning. I am writing this while on an airplane, above the planet (of course, that’s where airplanes go. They are fairly useless down on the earth, in fact). I am too hot because I am so far up in the air, over the ocean, and the air is weird, and my body just can’t get normal. There was also that very strong pain medication that the kindly German stewardess sneaked to me for my cramps. When the cousin was here, it was too hot. It was very early March, and the temperature was near 90 degrees for more than two weeks. 90 degrees in March in the Pacific Northwest is not right. The tree limbs were still winter bare, no sprouts of leaves yet, and people were out jogging in their shorts and sunbathing. I walked around next to my visitor, getting a sunburn, scared as shit, and so thankfully able to talk about it. He had gone to visit his mom, and she had asked him sort of cheerfully, “what do you think of the weather?” He had replied, “I think it sucks.” And she said, “Yeah, I know. It’s the beginning of the end.”

The unseasonable heat happened right after my friend freaked out. Any chance that I had had of recovering from the first shock was kind of kicked to hell after my brush with global warming. So it was just me, speechless and still trying to talk, brain dead and continuing with going out on dates: I would just cover up my pathetic unconversationality by focusing intently on stabbing the meats on my plate with my fork. It would have been more okay if I at least would have been able to cry. But even crying would have been too articulate. The sound of my tears would have made perfect sense, especially to anyone who added up the ingredients in my life. I had a clog in my system that had pretty much sealed up all the portals.

As this plane took off today, exactly as the unbelievable speed was building and the wheels were leaving the ground, I suddenly felt like I could cry for an entire day if I wanted to. The fear that a lot of people will get annoyed if I stay in the airplane lavatory for more than 5 minutes is the main thing that has kept me from crying all day long. My body left the ground with a total relief to be leaving the planet for a while, for real. Maybe, by getting itself up into the air, my body was finally able to reunite with my brains, which had been hanging out up there for months. Above the planet. When you are on an airplane, are you actually able to be aware of the fact that you and all your seatmates are truly in a little can blasting through the air? Do you really believe it? I think that the only people who have a real grip on the concept are the ones who have panic attacks and can’t really fly.


Separating yourself from a heavy-duty awareness, in order to just be able to proceed.

 I’d like to see you be able to feel it and fly!”

After a while of being separated from the feeling, you start to get all weird and dissatisfied. It’s not a very good long term solution for dealing, I have found.

To amuse myself, I listen to the airplane music broadcasts. They tend to repeat themselves every hour, and I’ve listened to this one a few times in a row. I don’t know what appeals to me about listening to a repeating loop of music that I would never choose to listen to if I were standing on the earth, but I end up doing it a lot on planes. Last year it was a whole review of Alanis Morrisette’s career. This time, the broadcast included a Linkin Park song that took me by total surprise. As far as I understand it, Linkin Park is a very mainstream band oriented towards boys who maybe live in the suburbs, right? These are the lyrics:








Yes! Linkin Park boys, yes! Who knew, me and the boys from Linkin Park, just some peas in a pod, all wanting to figure out how to not be desensitized to the huge feelings that are so hard to deal with. I wonder, do they lay there shuddering with fear about the planet becoming climatically unbearable in the next hundred years, too?


So, is anyone ever going to come along and challenge me to get way up on top of my game?It would look like this:CHALLENGER: Khaela, what are you talking about with this Linkin Park stuff? Their lyrics about their feelings is just the same kind of cheap self-help crap that is thrown around freely all the time in this country. It’s nothing revolutionary.

KHAELA: But…ummmm….it’s boys, and, wait, I don’t feel like I really hear people talk about taking responsibility for their feelings all that often, I mean, except me of course, and well, maybe that is tiresome self help crap, but…

CHALLENGER: Dude. Write me an essay about it.

KHAELA: but, seriously, it’s, like…


KHAELA.: ok. Essay.

“SOMEWHERE I BELONG: The creation of just a little bit more space in the mouths of mainstream boys”


Hello!! If you are either:
in the band Linkin Park, or
a great fan of the band Linkin Park, or
an astronaut who has actually been up in space, or
an airline steward or stewardess, or
a zombie,
would you please email me directly, so that I can ask you some more questions about what it feels like to be you for an essay I am writing.

July 21, 2005

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *