When we moved into our house fifteen years ago, for me, the most charming thing about the place was not its unpainted wood shingles or open floor plan or exposed beams, it was the fact that the writer Philip K. Dick used to live right down the street.
If you plugged me into a machine and read one of PKD’s novels aloud, alarms would sound and lights would flash and the gauges would jump and spin like disco dancers. Mention his name and my heart goes boom, boom. I have had a major thing for that guy since long before I met my man, so John just has to deal.
People who love to read know about the intimacy that can develop between reader and writer, when you feel like the writer voices something big and deep and true, that their words are like a gong that reverberates and awakens. Some might say it’s all in my head, but my answer to them is, 1. so what? 2. wow. I’m deeper than I thought I was, and 3. don’t you want to try it, too, because it’s so effing good.
I’m not going to try to explain why I like PKD here– if you want to talk about that, we’ll need to meet in real-time, in a bar or for coffee or on a beanbag in someone’s garage, or in email, at least. In fact, my understanding is not something I put into words, or perhaps I should say that my thoughts emerge as stories, so talking with me might not access my understanding the way reading me might.
As you may surmise, I spend a lot of time alone, writing and reading and thinking, perhaps too much. But last weekend, I somehow finagled a weekend off to attend the Philip K. Dick Festival in San Francisco.
On Saturday morning, I walked out of my house to get into my car and drive into the city and I was met by an extraordinary sight: a huge congregation of crows, more than I’ve ever seen at once, waiting for me outside my house.
Their large, feathery bodies clogged the air with flapping wings and clustered like big, black pearls on the telephone wire that runs along the street. And the noise, the noise! As soon as they saw me, they began to shout. One cawed out and the whole group answered in a raucous, deafening response. It felt like the universe was cracking open.
Here’s the video I took:
What does it mean? I have a feeling PKD would have an answer (or a hundred). And, because crows have territories that they pass on to their children, that means the crows in my neighborhood are the descendants of the same crows that PKD saw when he stepped out of his house in the morning to go to work.
The festival was divine. Pieces are coming together. I feel connected, inspired, and ready to write.
I met an amazing man named Richard Doyle who can put it into words, with whom I had a great conversation. If you want to see where my mind has been, watch this. Wow.
This is the twentieth time I’ve written about my attempts to befriend the neighborhood crows. See more here.
What makes your heart and mind go boom, boom?