…life on the synaptic firing range

Location: Los Angeles, United States

Bent but unbroken Southern California native seeks understanding, companionship, and resonance along and off the beaten path. Teresa plays well with others and makes every effort to perform to her potential. Usually. *processed in a facility that processes nuts and nut products

Monday, July 03, 2006

the gospel according to dierdre

“By the way,” said a disheveled 52-year-old runner I had met just moments before, “you’re an old soul. You’ve led 36 lives. I’m very psychic.”

It was a jarring non sequitur.

The disheveled woman in question, whose name turned out to be Dierdre, had flagged me down on the Sepulveda Basin bike path. She looked distressed, and I figured she needed to use my cell phone, probably to call her husband for a pickup—the valley heat had crested 100 degrees on this Saturday morning. I veered off the smooth pavement and managed to stop just at the edge of an unevenly bricked area; weenie racing tires and rough surfaces don’t mix well.

“Oh, thank you for stopping,” she said breathlessly, her face splotchy with broken capillaries and her dyed black hair dripping sweat. “You look like a good person to ask: How do I buy a bicycle?”

Not what I was expecting, but I was ready to take a break from the heat myself. I was a couple of hours into a ride that had taken me across the valley and back, with a rest stop at Jamba Juice for a big protein-fortified fruit slushy. Not that I have to ride across the valley to get to a Jamba Juice—there were undoubtedly three or four along the way—but I’m trying to build my stamina back up after many months of energy-sapping physiological and psychological weirdness that kept me and my bike parked indoors, on a stationary trainer in front of the TV. A trainer can mimic road resistance and keep you pedaling—and will even keep you up to speed on Law & Order reruns—but it won’t re-create the brain-frying dispirit of riding into a strong hot wind. For that, you need the great outdoors, which is why I was on the path, counting the miles in my own personal Tour de Bonk, and was all too willing to stop when Dierdre caught my attention.

She apologized for interrupting my ride, but in truth the only thing bike geeks like more than riding bikes is talking about bikes. Also, talking about riding bikes. And since bike talk is so terribly scintillating for people who don’t give a crap about bikes, it’s exciting to encounter someone who actually wants to talk about them.

I asked her what she felt like she was in the market for. She said she didn’t know, that she had blown out her feet running and needed to find another way to stay in shape, then, she said, she saw me and thought, Bicycling!

I don’t have a terribly prescriptive personality, so the idea of sizing a stranger up and telling her what she needs makes me uncomfortable. (My partner probably shot milk through her nose laughing at the concept of me not liking to tell people what to do, such is the yawning gulf between her perception and my own.) So it was that I began to tell Dierdre everything I know about cycling. Maybe she was just trying to change the subject when she told me about my old-soul status.

“Ancient Egypt, Samaria, the French Revolution, you’ve seen it all,” she said. “And the old souls are being awakened now because the world needs them.”

“Oh,” I said. “Thank you.”

“My teachers warn me to be careful with my talent. My psychic eye is very strong, and not everyone is ready to hear what I have to tell them, but you have a strong spirit and you know you’re here for a greater purpose.”

Goodness, am I that transparent? I have always thought that I’m here for a greater purpose. I mean, maybe not a great purpose, but, for instance, when I was still waiting tables four years out of college, I thought then that perhaps there might be something better in store for me. Ditto when I worked, briefly, for a publisher of gay male erotica. Indeed, I shouldered through the colorless depression that practically consumed my post-college life with the gilded hope that an unknowable purpose was yet to come, and here was confirmation that my purpose is extant!

And while I don’t remember much from my Egyptian and Samaritan lives, I’m pretty sure that during the French Revolution I was Marie (Madame) Tussaud. How else to explain my sick fascination with wax museums? I remember as though it was just yesterday: I (Tussaud) had been a friend of the court and was consequently arrested by the Jacobins on suspicion of royalist sympathies. I was to be executed, and my head was shaved in preparation for the guillotine, but on the eve of my doom I managed to save my neck by consenting to root through the decapitated heads of my friends and make death masks of them for posterity. In my present life, too, I have shaven my head during dark times, and I used to enjoy pulling the heads off Barbies. Coincidence? I think not. Besides, the resemblance is uncanny, as shown here in a waxwork I made of myself:

Dierdre continued to extol my virtues, which included but were not limited to: my powerful insight, my compassionate nature, my valuing of the human over the material, my patience, and, oh, the list just goes on and on.

In sum, I am awake, and I am here to help heal a world in peril, as is Dierdre. (How could she know how special I am were she not equally special herself?)

Oh, and she’s probably going to get a hybrid bicycle, with a more relaxed, comfortable geometry, though she’s considering a racing bike like mine.


Blogger WenWhit said...

Such a striking resemblance indeed.

Did Dierdre note any previous incarnations as a vocalist?

5:26 PM  
Anonymous jkt said...

an ex-girlfriend of mine happened to meet her former husband (they were married during the samurai period in ancient japan) through the junior high school she worked at in hiroshima. a person with a "strong psychic eye" approached her and said former husband (who in this life is a middle-aged japanese housewife learning english conversation)and made the connection for them. it was interesting (and a bit jarring), and perhaps a little uncomfortable for me--i (her current lover) was standing by her former lover, and they had known each other for centuries and (literally)lifetimes longer.

7:06 PM  
Anonymous L. San Rio said...

p.s. i wholeheartedly agree with the awesome things she said about you. maybe she is psychic!

7:09 PM  
Blogger sporksforall said...

I'm trying not to drink as much milk lately and I'm certainly trying not to shoot it out my nose. And you look nothing like Madame Tussaud. Nothing.

7:42 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

Ok. This really made me laugh.

Considering how truly awesome you are, I'm so glad I'm on your blogroll. I think this could be a good thing for me sometime in the future. As my grandmother ALWAYS told me - I think it was at least twice a day she said this, "It's not what you know, it's who you know."

As an aside, I'm interested in winning the lottery. Perhaps you have some sort of influence in such activities.

8:44 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...


Does this negate your 'evilness?' Just wondering.

9:41 PM  
Blogger WenWhit said...

Suzanne was flipping back and forth between the Os and Ghost last night, so today's refrain is "I'm Henry the Eighth I Am." Oh, joy.

Maybe Madame Tussaud can relate?

7:14 AM  
Blogger scout said...

Wendy, silly girl, I can't be baited so easily. I've led 36 lives! And what was once thought "evilness," it's now clear, is but misunderstood charity. The reason you needed the lyrics to "The Happiest Girl in the Whole USA" running through your head earlier this week will soon become apparent. Be still, and know that my motives are pure.

Elizabeth, my apologies, but I cannot use my awesome power for your material gain. You will, however, reap cosmic benefit from your place on my blogroll. Namaste.

JKT, eek! That would really freak me out…I mean, if I weren't so transcendent and all.

11:20 AM  

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