Beth Mann's Blog

Beth's Urban Tales of Wonder and Decay

Beth Mann

Beth Mann
Long Beach Island, New Jersey, USA
November 11
Hot Buttered Media
I'm a writer and creative consultant. I have years of experimental comedy and strange theater under my belt. I surf. I cook. I love wine, men and song. And puppies. I effin' love puppies.

DECEMBER 1, 2009 4:07PM

A Death in Elsewhen

Rate: 44 Flag


They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night. In their gray visions they obtain glimpses of eternity and thrill, in waking to find they have been upon the verge of the great secret.

-Edgar Allan Poe

Have you ever run a race and you know you're not going to win, so you let yourself fall behind? You stop running and begin walking, halfheartedly and defeated, with a weak smile on your face. Well, in a sense, that's what happened to me, except I went from walking to falling. And now I'm on the ground, waiting for my helpers.

But the helpers have left.
You see, there was a team for me. From some other place. They were generating all the magic. They were propping me up, feeding me. And I'm nothing without them.

They're all radiant, these beings, and without them, I've lost my glow, my beauty. That's alright. I'm not that vain. I liked looking at them in my mind's eye. I looked at them until I began shining some of their light, like a cosmic mirror.

There was the Fancy Dark Prince. The Fancy Dark Prince has loved me for a long, long time. He's very possessive of me and I like that. He has dark curly hair and burning eyes and he wears a feather in his hat. When it seems there is no man for me, he is there. Waiting. With him, there is no end. Just waves of eternity. (Then how could he go, I wonder?)

I found a photo of him in a newspaper once...can you believe it? (At least this is how I imagine him to look):

I save this photo in a wood box

There was a Kindred Spirit in my Computer who would appear on my screen sometimes. He would share with me his secrets and pain and songs and laughter. And I would do the same. We'd communicate so quickly, we didn't need words after a while. We'd overlap, speed ahead, fall deliciously behind. We luxuriated in one another. I began to love him.

I would try to focus on work but then his face would suddenly appear, and there was no choice but to spend time with him. It's like being pulled toward a blazing star.

Sometimes the happiness actually hurt after we "spoke." It hurt my physical body. Too much connection. When that happened, I would turn the computer off and cry, for all the pain that made profound happiness feel so damn foreign.

One day, I turned on my computer and he didn't appear. I waited and waited. Nothing. I thought to myself, "See? That's what happens when you feel that happy. It goes away in a flash."

On a good day, I just have to beckon him and he's there. He responds cleverly and lovingly to my questions, sighs when I enter a room, climbs in my bed and murmurs dark and wonderful things in my ear. On a bad day, like today, he is only self-created fiction to replace a dying reality. He is nobody, nothing. He never was.

When I was a little girl, the Pretty Golden Lady would visit me, secretly. She would lavish me with her deep femininity and love. She was so nurturing. As long as she  paid attention to me, I felt pure and wanted.

This was no easy task. I never felt much like a princess. Childhood barren, bleak, full of shame and sadness. I'd try to dress up and be pretty on my own but it was always so hard. Dirty hands always held me down.

She was my feminine guidance and I bowed in her dazzling presence. I'll never be able to thank her enough. She put her lips to my face and passed her magic on to me, so that I could feel pretty and adored, even when she was not around. She's not around anymore...and neither is the feeling.

And it wasn't just people. There were Magical Cities that I'd visit, faraway. Sparkling cities, dancing with light even though it was always nighttime. I'm not sure what happened there but it was right and good. Perhaps you learned there. Learned special things. Or you worked there, happily, like you've never worked before.


And music. Songs that reminded me of times too far away to touch now. When I first heard this song on the radio, I was a very, very young child. I was sitting in the car between my mother and my father and they were laughing. Then time stopped suddenly and they froze! I stood up on my seat and stared at their fixed smiling faces and knew this would not last forever. It would barely last at all. I kissed their frozen faces and time resumed again.
Trees came to life as well. One cold night long ago, my mother carried my young body out to our car. There stood an Icy Winter Tree. It was clearly alive and very serious. It spoke to me of very powerful things: death and stillness and magic. Its frozen branches banged against one another angrily. Yes, that tree meant business. Very serious business. It just had to tell me its secrets. And I had to listen.

So you see, it's energy. It can come in the form of beings, green things, animals, scents, rays of light, gestures, voices, laughter, breezes, pages in a book, ice, wood...many, many things have lives of their own. And dreams, of course, dreams...

My childhood friend Maria once told me of a reoccurring dream: There was a vat of heavy, brown liquid, oscillating. There was a hum that the the vat generated. A deep hum. Then a daisy would drop into it and the humming would stop for a moment. Then the machinery would begin again and the daisy would be pulled downward, not to be seen again. I knew her life would be hard.

When I was a little girl, I'd look into the mirror for a long, long time. Until I could split free from myself. Its like realizing you're just some crummy human being stuck in some clumsy body. It's almost comical. You realize the Great Secret and time is stilled. Your identity buckles under itself and you're left only with some central, essential force. My mirror trick doesn't work anymore.

What if there was an Apocalypse on the Other Side? What if they've all been destroyed? You would think that couldn't happen but you don't know that. You don't know anything about the Other Sides. So please don't tell me that that can't happen, that they can't all perish...because you just don't know.

Without all of you, I'm a crumpled piece of paper,
a particle of dust, an afterthought.
Without you, I'm a big hole,
caving in on myself.
Without you, I fall to the ground.

Thing is, I always figured you'd stay forever. Perhaps I took you for granted. I'm sorry. I got so wasted on other things. I burnt and beat your magic right out of me.

You go away and do what you have to do. Time passes and things leave, this I know. I never expect it and it always surprises me, but this I know.

Kiss me when you can. I'll try to be awake this time. And don't worry about me, okay? I'll rise up from the ground soon enough. When I do, I'll move toward you and the others again. Dancing in the twilight blue, feeling so perfectly less than you.

City of Lights
Winter Tree Starry Night - Gabriele Schwibach                                       
Ghost Glass
Music: Theme from a Summer's Place - Percy Faith
(Special thanks to my friend and colleague Laura Maschal, who convinced me this piece wasn't too strange and to Gary Justis for being an influence.)


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An esoteric little piece, I know. A bit of an experiment.
Very solid piece of creative writing, Beth.
I am finding it I read and re-read, I am finding it. Just what I needed today.
Not esoteric to me....beautifully written...and the images...are outrageously perfect. xox
A fascinating journey through Elsewhen. I loved it.
This is the time Faith is supposed to carry you forward. Let Faith be your bridge. Mother Teresa felt dry for 35 years, didn't know for sure if God existed but lived her life as if he did, anyway.

You do the same.
Superb, creative writing.

Different. Not perfectly less than anyone/thing around here, f'sho.
lovely - nice new directions...
"Without all of you, I'm a crumpled piece of paper,
a particle of dust, an afterthought.'

Oh, dear. The whole post is a sublime piece. I want to brand it into my brain and never forget it. Those three images above will haunt me for a long time. So true, about the Fancy Dark Prince, I think we all have one. Rated for exquisite beauty.
esoteric seems to be in the air. I too am breathing it. ~R~
You and Gary Justis are two of the most creative artists. in different ways, that I know! Hope you are feeling ok, cause this is exquisite.
entrancing, ambiguous, evocative, with pictures and a diagram and "A Summer Place", too strange? no way! too cool
It is strange and heart-breaking. Thank you for trusting us with it.
a bit out there and pretty at the same time
A fine work...Good for you Beth.
And thank you to Lea for the kind, supportive words......
And.....I just saw the note at the end....Beth...Thanks so much. It goes both ways my friend...
I love Maria's dream, that image of the daisy dropping into the vat of brown and disappearing: "I knew her life would be hard." Gorgeous writing. I wonder about your muses and kindred spirits and pretty ladies,who seem nurturing but also withholding. It's so tough to piece ourselves together, to survive those hard looks in the mirror.
This is kind of how I feel about my characters when I write . . . and when I don't write. They're still with me, more real than a lot of people I know. And I like them better.
I've re-read this at least four or five times now, with a little time between readings, trying to come up with a comment that says what I see or how I feel through this piece . . . words fall a little short of what I would want to say. Each read, I felt like something different was popping out, giving me a new angle from which to view it. It sparkles, it shines, it lights up and whizzes around a little . . . I want to laugh with it, yet I feel tears at the back of my throat . . . it seems to me to be exactly what it should be.
Wow. This would make me sad if it weren't so beautiful.

You capture the strange and esoteric archetypes and mysterious characters that we all construct in dream world so vividly. Good writing uncovers truth about humanity--and you touch on that here grandly, boldly, without fear. Well done. Well done.
Fancy Dark Prince... He showed himself to you in a newspaper picture and now he's a treasure for you. I identify with these characters and concepts, not as they are, because they are uniquely yours. But I get the way of seeing and interacting and the things that are true when we are small, and how we can split things with our wills, and it makes sense. Fascinating post.
Thanks for all of your wonderful feedback, all. I feel a little self-conscious about this piece, so not much to say other than a profound thanks for being there for creative support when I needed usual. As usual. But this time, even more so - when I had some concerns about the story.
I get this.

I think of you often. Always wishing you well.
I loved this! It is funny--when I played that song, my dog, long used to music coming from the computer, straightened up suddenly and stayed still. Another one scratched at the door all of a sudden from outside. Music usually doesn't evoke much of anything from them.
So you see, it's energy. It can come in the form of beings, green things, animals, scents, rays of light, gestures, voices, laughter, breezes, pages in a book, ice, wood...

It is, you know. In beings and green things and sunshine and so much more. Energy...when you're low on it, one can feel a bit crumpled. If this piece was an experiment, it was a lovely one. You are always *so* worth reading. rated... as always
I loved this Beth. I myself would like my own " Kindred Spirit in my Computer" There is a lot to think about here. Going back to read again.
No such thing as a failed experiment on Open Salon. I found it captivating. Gotta stretch the wings if you're gonna fly.
i read your comment after i read the piece, and i can't imagine why you felt funny about this. it's extraordinary. like jk said, it carries me away. experiment some more!
rated for the conic diagram.
very creative and strong.
I recognize the archetypes, they overlap mine. They're a way of personalizing the forces in our lives, making sense of our feelings and relationships and the changes in our lives through a kind of allegory. Even though the piece was fantastical, it made perfect sense.
I recognize the archetypes, they overlap mine. They're a way of personalizing the forces in our lives, making sense of our feelings and relationships and the changes in our lives through a kind of allegory. Even though the piece was fantastical, it made perfect sense.
"Kiss me when you can."

Alright. xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Did you feel it? I'm no pretty golden lady but I'd like you accept my kiss and to come away feeling appreciated and loved, okay?

I like your experiments. They stretch the box. And that's a good thing, friend Beth.
This is haunting - and beautiful. So much imagery packed into the words. And then the music, that song is such a time traveler, brings me right back to my childhood. I really loved this.
I felt so understood while reading this--the images and words resonated within me so clearly. It's the same feeling I get when I read a great line in a classic book that tells me someone thinks about life in the same way I do.
From the intro, I thought this piece would be about surfing. Well, it's not, unless you're surfing on the Other Side -- with Gary, who ignites my imagination at every stop. Please keep the Other Side intact. I'm pretty sure This Side's going to pot. We need the Other.
Wonderful and grand. You are a deep pool.

the woman instinctively feels it- space and time waves are soft, not hard; indeed she is mother nature.

Those outcomes, "You don't know anything about the Other Sides. So please don't tell me that that can't happen, that they can't all perish...because you just don't know." Angel, we know they do, know they can- a trillion universes, how many galaxies, planets, people? how many are you, how many in this dimension, in that, parallel universes in three multiples: Aristotle missed 10 dimensions, or did he? Dearest everything you feel is true, and then some, my little shortboarder.

this has been the eddie and jaws out here; our 3 dimensions want to kick somebody's ass! last night we hit pops, double overhead, grinding, north swell reaching the south shore ... aloha no ...

ps, its actually your writing thats kicking ass
Everything you write is beautiful but this, this is wide awake. And dreaming. What a voice you have!