Thursday, February 04, 2010

Awake, Not Dreaming


It is just after four in the morning. I have been awake since midnight.

The last couple of years, I've forgotten how to sleep. Not all the time, but more and more often lately.


I spent four hours in the box day before yesterday with a guy, trying to get him to admit that he'd been molesting his girlfriend's seven-year-old daughter.

It took a long while, but we got there.

It was the worst kind of intimacy, being in there with him. The whole trick is getting inside their heads, figuring out what motivates them, what they're afraid of, what they think you'll think is okay. You have to develop a sympathetic way of seeing them.

Everyone wants to be loved. We all want to be admired and respected. We don't want to have to admit our mistakes, or pay for them. We want to be understood. We want to be able to do what we want without consequences.

All I do is exploit that humanity for my own ends. For society's ends. I tell myself that. But in the box and in the aftermath of the box, all I feel like is a whore. I flatter and cajole, tell him what he wants to hear, listen to his tales of woe. Blame the victim, that's always a fruitful line.

There is a momentary sense of triumph when you get them to pop, but after all I want to do is take a long hot shower and drink until I can't feel anything.

Still, it's what I love to do and I'm good at it.

I can't believe I get paid to do it.


I'm a broken toy.


We are working on catching a killer right now. He doesn't know we're coming for him. It is a slow, methodical kind of thing. Not the hot and heavy, balls-to-the-wall, four hours of sleep every three days, hundred miles an hour of the fresh pursuit.

It has its own kind of beauty, though.

There is this process in the work when you are in a room with the team and they are some smart motherfuckers, some people with time on and they have clear eyes and they are funny, they are always, almost always, funny fucking people, and you're kicking stuff around, lining things up, working it backwards and forwards, turning it inside out, going big picture, tiny detail, this-way-that-way, and this is also what I love. The world's biggest jigsaw puzzle and no box, no picture, no guidelines, but somebody picks up a piece and turns it and sets it down next to another one, and you get an edge, and a piece of sky or water, and you are off to the races and it is beautiful to watch. It is like watching trauma surgeons or fly fishermen or hyenas taking down a wildebeest.

I really love smart people doing difficult things well.


I'm reading Daniel Dennett right now. I just finished "Freedom Evolves" and I'm working on "Darwin's Dangerous Idea." Like Jarred Diamond, he helps me fit things together into a larger conceptual framework that allows me, or I hope will allow me, to continue with this expansion I am struggling to force onto my consciousness. My mind is small and my concepts are small and my focus is narrow, so to overcome this I feel like I must always build a bigger scaffold around what I have so far, and then fill in and build up around that structure so I can launch out yet farther.

How am I supposed to really understand the vastness of the physical universe? It is too big to encompass conceptually. It really is. And what about deep time? Geologic time? Cosmological time? How about neural complexity? There are more neural synaptic connections possible than atoms in the universe? WTF? How do I understand complexities of scale, macro and micro, not just intellectually, but emotionally? As big as the whole enchilada is outside of you, it's just as vast and huge inside of you, cellular, molecular, atomic, sub-atomically.

You are the center of the universe, geographic, temporal, scale-wise, etc.

No, you're not either. But something about the concept is illustrative. I don't know of what.


In the meantime, I like to eat peanut butter sandwiches at around three am. They taste so good and they soothe me and settle my stomach, which is always in knots. A symptom of my nervous disposition. Hard-hearted, misanthropic, shaved-headed mean guy on the outside, nervous little poodle on the inside.

Among other pathologies.


It's nearing five am now. Soon I will wake up my better half with a fresh pot of strong coffee and a new day will unveil itself for us in all its unpredictable glory.

I am glad for the gift of it, always.





Blogger Mim said...

Tearful: I had the radio on as I read you post and had to turn it off so I could hear you more completely. I do.

I'm looking across Meridian Avenue right now. There's an amber colored curtain blowing out the window. A good wind today.

That coffee better be strong. You're probably already on your way, into your difficult job. If you were here on the beach during Superbowl, there would be plenty of work for you.

Be well!

6:07 AM  
Blogger Radish King said...


11:16 AM  
Blogger Claire Beynon said...

Me too, Radish, Mim, Tearful.

Namaste all.

11:57 AM  
Blogger tearful dishwasher said...

Thank you, my friends. It is good to have your company.

Mim, I'm glad I'm not working your beat for the Superbowl!

all best-


4:15 PM  
Blogger LKD said...

I swear, when I bother to stop and read here (instead of gazing endlessly into your sweller than swell artwork), I learn more about being a human being than I do being a human being in my own life.

I learn more in one of your posts about all the black-hearted and white-hearted souls out there in the world that I walk past every day, than I do walking past those black and white hearted souls.

Thanks for being so fearless in this space.

Thanks for opening up my eyes, heart and mind.

9:18 PM  
Blogger tearful dishwasher said...


I'm glad you get a little something out of visiting here. But I know damn well you crack the bones and get the marrow of life out in everything you do.

Keep up the good fight.



6:59 AM  
Blogger Melinda said...

marrow and bones. As hard as Life is sometimes, I am grateful you share your stories (actually more than stories, your wide-awake perceptions) here, for me to read and be reinforced in my commitment to stay awake. As much as I can. Every beacon of light is a gift.

8:22 AM  
Blogger melissashook said...

thank you for gives me a strange's so easy to lose all hope in politics, voting, whether health care will get enough votes, whether the police really care....I've been there recently..all this corruption with John Edwards, etc., etc. I'm sure you know.....

6:07 PM  
Blogger Lydia said...

Thank you for the quiet talk this early morning. At least that's what it felt like. You have something special going on here, most definitely.

1:19 AM  
Blogger 21k said...

Oh my god Scott. You are the most amazing fucking guy. I could say a lot of things about you here that would probably embarrass you to hear them, I'm thinking heroic and brilliant and words like - I can't even find the words and I really don't want to embarrass you, but I'm thinking them.

What you do, and how you think, and how you live, how you love and work, and how you think about it and learn and grow and give and give and give.

Man alive. You are something else.

stay safe.

9:24 AM  
Blogger tearful dishwasher said...

Damn, y'all.

I don't deserve it, but I'll take it all.

Thank you.

You wonderful freaks.



11:26 AM  

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