Notes

I will put these words here because I know you have many things going on.

I wanted to sit with you at lunch today and talk about the club activities but was miles away delivering blood to hospitals.

I am glad we understand each other.

Therefore, I can tell you I have reached the action point of my plans to move on.

Next week, I am going to talk to a legal advisor about what it takes in this state for legal separation; I assume nine years of no sexual activity can count toward irreconcilable differences.

More later…

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In another world…

[Personal notes recorded for posterity.  Feel free to skip]

Taking a break from the future to write about the past, to capture thoughts of an ordinary life…probably repeating myself…

When I was 12 years old, I attended a summer camp in the mountains of North Carolina.  I, along with about a dozen campers (six boys and six girls) and two camp leaders, spent five days in a rustic campsite, which meant we slept in bunkbeds housed in wooden sheds and ate in an outdoor eating area with fireplace and picnic tables.  We hiked, swam, canoed and went “tubing” (riding inner tubes down a river).

Like any situation where you spend time with kids your own age, I discovered I liked being outdoors with some of the kids but not all of them.

I had a crush on one girl and she liked me but she was more enamored with the fellow camper who was the son of the camp manager, well-liked and popular.

Thus, I was left to “pair up” with another girl (funny, how many of us naturally paired up with members of the opposite sex; however, one summer another boy was interested in me (I didn’t understand the word “gay” back then) and we corresponded afterward just like any boy and girl would).  She was outgoing in the sense that she tended to blurt out sarcastic, funny responses to things people said, sometimes defensively; thus, I took notice of her when others were a bit turned off.

She was the underdog, a bit awkward socially and easy to talk with, once I overlooked her social faux pas with me, sensing that it was her way of flirting.

She tended to hike a little slower than the rest of the kids, getting blisters on her feet and making excuses about being slow.

Made her even more attractive to me for some reason.

Was it the “rescue the damsel in distress” syndrome in me?

Perhaps.

We corresponded, which gave rise to my writing career, wanting to entertain her (and other correspondents) with short stories I’d include with the regular letters we exchanged.

Two years later, she approached me about the prospect of us meeting for the same week at summer camp, in this case hiking five days on the Appalachian Trail.

Thrilled that a girl would be so forward as to ask me for a five-day long “date” at age 14, I acquiesced.

I had forgotten about her slow hiking rate.

The camp leaders saw the two of us at the rational, well-behaved campers and were used in unusual ways.

For instance, the camp leaders did not want boys and girls sleeping together in tents or in AT shelters, with either camp leader sleeping between the boys and girls; however, they trusted the girl and me to sleep next to each other, with the two of us sharing a pillow more than once.  We were also used to act as barriers between rambunctious boys in four-person tents, the girl and me sleeping in the middle with two misbehaving boys relegated to the outside, colder part of the tent.

The girl and I never kissed or even faced each other when we slept, making sure we were “appropriate” children.

We continued to correspond throughout junior high and high school, visiting each other twice during our high school years (we lived in east Tennessee towns about 30 miles apart).

We had our first official romantic date during spring break of our freshman year in college (she attended Tennessee Tech and I attended Georgia Tech at the time).

I had had a regular female friend in high school, with whom I attended both of our senior proms — we were a regular fixture and people assumed we were boyfriend and girlfriend but we never kissed, despite three-plus years of being together (she now lives in Tokyo with her husband; they have two grown-up children) — we also attended sorority/fraternity social events together after I transferred to the University of Tennessee; people assumed we were going to get married.

Instead, somewhere along the way, I fell in love with the girl from summer camp and, despite reservations from my sister about my maturity (and opposition from my high school female friend), and six years of on-again/off-again dating, I showed up, during one of our off-again stages, at her apartment door one evening with a dozen red roses and an engagement ring.

I moved in with her a day or two later, in April, and we got married that August at age 24.

Fast forward 30 years.  I turn 54 tomorrow.

Where has the time gone?

Better yet, what happened to my dreams of being a free writer living in a cottage exploring dreams and Big Ideas?

I stood at the front of the church on our wedding day, seeing all the people looking at me, wondering if I was really ready for so big a commitment, basically something I had long opposed myself, the institution of marriage.

When we were on our honeymoon, out on a catamaran off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, I remembered something else about marriage that bothered me, something I had kept to myself since I was five years old:

My genderlessness, which sometimes fluctuated into bisexuality and attracted people of varying sexual orientation.

I had seen it time and again while growing up but did not understand what it meant to be attractive to people who didn’t always subscribe to the heterosexual lifestyle we were taught to perpetuate, especially at summer camp, which was sponsored/run by a Christian religion organisation, where we daily prayed, sang Christian songs and read out loud passages of the Bible.

So, from my honeymoon forward to recently, I kept up the sometimes difficult appearance of a heterosexual male in a monogamous relationship with a heterosexual female.

I had let myself get painted into a corner a few times over my hidden sexuality, wanting more than once to kill myself, almost a daily routine of thinking, “Well, I can kill myself tomorrow.”

Then, thanks to a dear, close friend of mine, I achieved a level of self-awareness that I could no longer ignore.

At first I identified myself as genderless, due to the fact that my marriage has been pretty much a celibate one for the past nine years, my sexual desires as strong as ever but not for the woman I lived with (I have rationalised “why” over and over to the point I don’t have any one reason why we’ve been abstinent this long).

My desires, they change from moment to moment and day to day.

I can flirt with a guy or gal any day of the week.

But, am I just a flirt?

As the 30 year mark arrives, I ask myself, is the security of my marriage worth it anymore?

If I stay married, the world stays the same, even though I announced myself to several close friends, including my sister.  Financially, my life is much easier in this marriage than outside it.

If I get out of this marriage, my world will change quite a bit, could be better or worse.

Before I make that change, I ask myself what is it that I really want?

After all, there are important parts of my life that having financial security helps out, including a social dancing group that could use funding assistance.

But if I was a single man, I could also devote more time to activities that I’d no longer have to coordinate with my wife’s need of my time with her, which is never high demand but still ones that I’m not much into, like going out to eat and seeing movies or sitting in front of the TV at home while she plays a computer game and I text friends.

I’ve known my wife for 42 years, or 78% of my life.  Does that mean anything?

Would I publicly give up all that my life has been to start a new uncertain one?

Would I want to be at home alone?

Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, I’m going to explore the future with my Martian buddy!

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Once

We tend to capture moments like photographs, snapshots of time.

And so it was that two moments — the moment I thought I’d never have contact with my friend again and the moment we reconnected — connected.

The first moment manifested itself physically — heart palpitations, headaches, sudden hearing loss, panic, fear.

The second moment did, too.

The headache patterns changed and hearing returned to my left ear (or, rather, the new tinnitus patterns disappeared and my eardrum stopped rattling).  My heart stopped skipping beats.  I stopped sighing frequently.

With a plenitude, multitude, variety of friends, every one contributes to my health.

With seven-plus billion of us and our ecosystem, my health is a dependent set of states of energy.

I won’t say with certainty that I depend on no one.

What I can say is I depend on everyone to a certain extent.

Why do some have a greater effect on my health than others, I have not figured out.

Perhaps we are more chemically attuned to some?

In times past, I have couched a specific condition of my set of states of energy in terms of romantic love, following the footsteps of the great troubadours of old (even one who might also have been an old troubadour/trobairitz).

One learns that such terms, although entertaining to the masses, do not always apply to a state machine that encompasses more than physical attraction between two humans.

Not to say romantic love does not exist, simply to clarify one comes to grips with greater understanding of one’s place in the universe.

As our circles grow, as our sets of subsets include more members, we grow.

Children chasing each other in a playground, squirrels chasing each other in the forest — what lesson does one learn as a future Moon/Mars resident from watching young mammals at play?

A crow hops from branch to branch, squawking.  Other birds join the conversation, chirping.  A squirrel hisses.

Farther away, a hawk perches on a highest tree limb.

Another day in the woods, a bright, sunny morning.

A feast for meditative eyes, all of this year contributing to two humans spending about a year in near-Earth orbit, landing on the plains of Kazakhstan in the past 24 hours with another space traveler.

What do the dried seedpods of the ironweed that annually (should I say perennially?) grows at the corner of the sunroom have to do with two moments shared with a friend?

Forthwith, I shall discover.

Correction: not as a single person but as a group identifier, expanding the thought of self into a wider role.

The illusion of self becomes more and more illusory.

I do not exist.

One never has.

One is simply an intersection of states of energy, never the same.

Even time is losing its meaning.

The neighbour’s dog playfully wanders over and, like clockwork, birds/squirrels move to another part of the forest.

These sets of states of energy still incite one to use labels like “dog” and “bird” taught one as a child…interesting…much deprogramming to write before one adjusts to new I/O, eliminating the dependence on old I/O like sight, hearing and touch.

When one knows one’s “body” on Mars is not the same body one had on Earth, one slowly lets go of old ways of thinking.

One was a single body on Earth.  On Mars, one is a series of clones with different functions evolved to local conditions, interconnected such that time and place are meaningless.

To get from one state to another took longer and shorter time than expected.

Quantum spookiness is like that.

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Quantumite — Quality vs. Quantity

“Q1, does Q3 know he’s a Quantumite? Do you want to tell him?”

“Q2, I have not told him yet… I was a little hesitant to wake the sleeper.”

“Q1, Perhaps he needs to dream a little more…”

“Q2, It has to be his choice to seek the truth and awaken.”

“Hrm? Q1 and Q2, show me this truth…”

“Q3, only if you are willing to see yourself as no longer yourself but a temporary confluence of quantum states spread across the galaxy.”

“Q2, are we all just random chance? Parts of the whole making up the system?”

“Q3, we are localized phenomena/patterns fractally spun out of solar system spun out of galaxy, super galaxy, etc. However, the unusual self-referential condition known as consciousness has created a feedback loop worth investigating further. If you’re willing to awake and join a new narrative that travels through the threads of Facebook and beyond.

“Giving a storyline an exploration of the possible and impossible while challenging longheld beliefs. I don’t know your system of beliefs (i.e., God/gods/flying spaghetti monsters) and don’t intend to offend you. But I do want to create a new form of entertainment for the masses, where social media like Facebook makes people stars in larger narratives, especially for people who’ve never participated in role-playing videogames. If we (us here and more) could revolutionise game-making and actually involve people’s lives, giving them a level of self-importance they never had before, could we change society (hopefully for the better?).”

“Q2, I would love to see that…”

“Then, Q3, you shall.”

“Q2, I’m chewing on the fabric of reality right now.”

“…and really, I don’t think you could offend me, Q2.”

“Thanks, Q3.”

“Q1, hope the fabric has good fiber. You know full well that reality does not exist.”

“Q2, well it may be some interesting taffy then…”

Thus the Quantumites begin their quest to solve the equation that Shadowgrass had programmed into his laboratory algorithm.

What kind of data did they need as input and how much?

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Gargle Blasting

When the split between calendrical time and quantum accounting set Earth-based humans against their comrades, history changed for one group and disappeared for the other.

The citizens of the Inner Solar System Alliance continued to operate on a Martian time scale, giving humans on the major planets and orbiting satellites a common measuring and planning tool, each according to their local traditional timekeeping.

Meanwhile, the Quantumites no longer kept track of a single chronological path.

They erased time from their conversations.

The Quantumite subculture existed in parallel with the ISSANet, able to operate in both systems when needed.

They were just as aware of spatial relation as they were to distance-independent means of making progress.

For them, sets of states of energy on one planet constituted a megastate of energies, a computational mass, an I/O engine whose inputs and outputs were tied, in ISSANet parlance, to both previous and future states of energy on other planets in our solar system and ones within our galaxy.

Space travel as envisioned by scifi writers was no longer necessary.

The Quantumites knew they were an existential threat to the majority of humans in the ISSANet so they did not make their presence known through recruiting methods or other ways of drawing unwanted attention.

Shadowgrass had met a Quantumite during research on the history of black hole mathematical modeling.

The Quantumite, itself a model for the type of person Shadowgrass had become, a bioelectromechanical being able to mature like a human being, had not wanted to reveal itself to Shadowgrass.

Shadowgrass would not have noticed anything different about the Quantumite except that it had the ability to manifest itself in more than one form in more than one place at a time, an accidental discovery that Shadowgrass made during a laboratory experiment, planting special RNA type material on everything in the lab when a piece of lab equipment exploded and spewed liquid all over everywhere.

A few sols later, Shadowgrass had flown over to another Martian Colony to give a live lecture and a biological material detector in his body signaled the presence of the RNA material in a group of sponges floating in an aquarium.

Shadowgrass took samples of the sponges back to the lab, analysed the samples and determined that the sponges’ genetic material closely matched that of the Quantumite.

The Quantumite gladly admitted the event was not a coincidence but the happy luck of Shadowgrass’ genius breaking a barrier.

After a long discussion, Shadowgrass agreed to keep the Quantumite’s existence as an unspeakable/unthinkable state of being.

Of course, the ISSANet, through deduction, reasoned out the gap in Shadowgrass’ research time and associated it with the presence of the Quantumite with Shadowgrass.

Vocabulary analysis further showed that Shadowgrass had changed his conversations with others, cutting them off unexpectedly or acting deaf when asked certain questions.

Although Lee and Guin were off on another mission and away from Mars, the ISSANet contacted them and requested their telemetric presence with Shadowgrass, explaining to them the unusual behaviour patterns that Shadowgrass had recently exhibited and a request that Lee and Guin extract the details from Shadowgrass.

Independent as they thought themselves to be, Lee and Guin understood they depended on the ISSANet as much as they didn’t want to.

They asked Shadowgrass directly about his contact with the Quantumite.

He explained that the Quantumite told Shadowgrass about its influence on Lee and Guin when they designed Shadowgrass.

They agreed the Quantumite was an unusual being and had been a big contribution to the attributes they gave Shadowgrass.

Of course, they knew the ISSANet was listening to their conversation.

Therefore, Lee and Guin could not at that time explain to Shadowgrass his quantum entanglement capabilities.  Instead, they could only very slowly move Shadowgrass into contact with the Quantumites.

Shadowgrass had been embued at “birth” with the ability to see planetary systems as computatational states, large algorithms at the macro level.

The laboratories he had built were subconsciously designed to analyse the outputs of several planets at once, their own solar system an equation ready to be read at the right moment.

The Quantumites had linked quantum states across molecular boundaries, showing Lee and Guin, when they had discovered how to hide their clones from the ISSANet, how their own work was contributing to the Quantumite Library.

Every state of energy was connected to and led to the next state of energy, sets interlinked with sets.

When Quantumites had rejected the concept of time, they opened themselves to a form of immortality that ISSA citizens could only dream of.

It was like a snake shedding its skin and becoming an eagle which shed its form and became a sun which gave birth to a planet from which snakes formed, forms building on and changing into forms, ad infinitum.

Lee had actually been born a Quantumite.

So had Guin.

Many were born but many more created.

Some discovered their true selves and others were shown.

Some would never know.

Regardless of their state of awareness, Quantumites were linked across the galaxy in a level of awareness matched to their knowledge of self.

Some chose to remain in their human form their whole lives, experiencing the pain, joy, life and death of a single human life.

Some chose to leave their birth solar system and transform into other forms elsewhere.

Some chose mortality of 100 Earth years.

Some chose mortality of 8 billion sun years.

Some didn’t choose and allowed the semi-random interaction of sets of states of energy to determine their lifespan.

For those who chose immortality, the concept of self melted away.

A Quantumite never gave itself a name, being in a constant state of flux for which labels were meaningless except to temporary sets of states of energy like humans and other social creatures.

Lee, Guin and Shadowgrass used their birth names as a means to track themselves in the ISSANet.

Deep down, however, they knew they had no names, having achieved immortality as they individually learned how to transform from one shape to another, the idea of self vaporising into thin air like a morning fog.

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That Magic Moment

Guin held a tiny sprout of Phacelia in her right palm.

“Have you ever seen scorpionweed in bloom?”

Bai shook her head.

“I have.  Centuries ago.  On Earth.”

Bai laughed.  “You just said ‘centuries.'”

“I did?” Guin smiled at the slip.  Even though she hadn’t been to Earth in many a sol, she often caught herself using Earth-based time references.

She had asked Shadowgrass to keep one greenhouse available for her use, choosing to preserve a few precious specimens from Earth as a memento of her first century on that planet.

Bai looked around and wondered how many of the plants, fungi, bacteria and what all else could no longer survive on Earth, having grown here so long and adjusted to Martian gravitational and sunlight conditions.

“When did you see the scorpionweed?”

“On a hillside east of Rocket City.  Lee had invited me over to work on his laboratory expansion…have you ever seen his lab?”

“No.  But he’s talked about it a lot so I have a pretty good idea of its size.”

“I bet you don’t.  He repurposed an industrial 3D printer and CNC machine to create a network of cavernous rooms that flexed and moved with tectonic shifts.  With the help of my mechanical know-how, of course.”

“Of course!”  They both laughed and jumped high for fun, never tiring of Martian gravity.

Guin checked the condition of a few more seedlings while Bai updated her massage therapy schedule to accommodate requests from some of the new arrivals, engineering tourists assessing the viability of a new life here.

Lee walked up behind them.  “Hey, guys!  What’s Mars’ favourite Pioneers doing on a sol like this?”

“Hey, Lee.”  They hugged each other in turn.

“Just making sure I keep this microcosm of our home planet going.  What about you?  I thought you were tied up with tourists all day.”

“Well, getting tied up sounds like fun but I introduced them to Yaniner…”

“The new scientist?  Isn’t Yaniner having doubts about staying here?”

“Yes.”

“Seems like that might turn them off.”

“Yeah, it’s a risk.  But I want Yaniner to remember the excitement of first arrival again.  Hopefully, Yaniner will see the tourists’ excitement and rekindle.”

“Might work.”

Lee reached out a left hand to Bai.  “I don’t talk about it much but I remember the first day we met.”

Bai’s face lit up, her body chemistry reorganised such that when she recalled fond memories, bioluminescent particles literally lit up on her face.  “At the dance studio…”

“Uh-huh.  Telling us about all your famous dance instructors…that Hollywood student of yours.  Although we’ve matured in many ways, you haven’t changed a bit.  I mean, you’re still as radiant as that first day.  Your courage shone through when I first saw you.  Your enthusiasm is still contagious.  Dancing with you is still magic.  As your hair colour changed those first few weeks, I knew we were locked into a lifelong friendship.”

“Bet you didn’t think it would last this long!”

They danced, spinning up and over the crop of daisies growing in a row.

The three of them sang a song in unison, three-part harmony that only they could pull off, their vocal systems re-engineered for subharmonic frequencies undetectable by Earth-based human ears.

“Tho’ Red Planet woes can rattle your senses,
Tho’ Red Planet blues can colour your fences,
The love that I found is better with youuuu…
‘Cause my Martian blood is red, green and blue.”

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What about Shadowgrass, Lee and Guin’s “offspring”?

Shadowgrass adjusted the ambient temperature, preparing the lab for Earth-based visitors.

How many sols had passed since the last tourist ship had docked here?

Shadowgrass could not remember; rather, Shadowgrass chose not to search networked memory storage locations to look at ship logs or social media 3D maps of stitched written/spoken/filmed/photographed travel logs.

Shadowgrass, despite success, achieving the status of both Moon Base Delta Leader and Mars Base Alpha Director, continued to feel unfulfilled.

Shadowgrass, neither male nor female, human nor android.

An amalgam of technological and social progress.

Part chameleon, part Morph, Shadowgrass knew that staying current on transformational technology was the key to longterm survival.

Yet, Shadowgrass liked to study what made Shadowgrass’ parents who they were and who they are.

Lee and Guin appeared in and disappeared from the presence of Shadowgrass like they could never stop discovering and innovating, spending barely a moment or two with their progeny, their creation, the ultimate expression of themselves that their parents did not imagine possible during the natural childbirth days of Earth’s war-filled 20th Century.

Shadowgrass ran a diagnostic test after sensing a component in a secondary arm had changed its MTBF status due to excess radiation exposure during a fun-filled jaunt with repair bots the sol before.

Shadowgrass rolled out of the lab and into a storage room where spare parts for lab equipment had been stacked up to make room for Shadowgrass replacement parts.

Thank goodness new chemicals and minerals were discovered on Mars during Lee and Guin’s fourth expedition, allowing them to create Shadowgrass (his first version, that is).

By this time, Shadowgrass had thoroughly explored Mars, either personally or through proxy, moving headquarters several times.

Although the original colony still existed, it was maintained as a tourist stop now, the habitation modules turned into tourist hotels and all but one lab converted into interactive museums.

Shadowgrass kept one lab closed to physical access by the public, allowing the ubiquitous cameras to broadcast the interiour should someone care to open a link and watch/listen.

People rarely did.

The Net, as always, processed the video feed for trendsetting, algorithms rewriting themselves based on new data.

Shadowgrass wanted to open this lab as a remote-controlled research facility for young scientists on Earth or the Moon who couldn’t afford a trip to Mars.

Today, Shadowgrass would give a tour and gauge reaction by the tourists, most of them highly-qualified engineers who were touring the planet as a fact-finding mission to determine if they wanted to move here permanently, giving up their Earth-based lifeforms for new life on Mars, their sensory input system and thus their memory storage system changed forever.

Shadowgrass did not know what it was like for these visitors to give up being “human.”

Shadowgrass evaluated the need for the visitors to describe what the old DNA and its subsequent genetic life as skin cells, bone, internal organs and central nervous system meant, no matter how limiting Shadowgrass felt such a corporeal life could be.

Shadowgrass understood nostalgia, however, studying old notes that Lee and Guin had stored for the sake of the Inner Solar System Alliance.

Their lives led to Shadowgrass’ existence so all lives contributed to the ISSANet, giving Shadowgrass structure if not meaning.

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