The wanderings and thoughts of Kip Kellogg

Kip Kellogg had trouble sleeping. Kip could never fall asleep. He'd lay there for a spell, just thinking, then Kip would get right up. He'd pull on his pants, find his dirty sneakers, and go wandering into the night. Trying to find that something, that something that would make real sense.

Kip liked the back alleys. It was dangerous, but Kip didn't care. So often he'd see stray cats, and Kip always waved to them. He figured it was better that way, since nobody probably ever showed them any respect. It's like that with stray cats. Everyone just brushes them aside.

Kip also saw garbage cans. They were silver, just like on TV. Kip wondered if there was more garbage in the world than garbage cans, but that was pretty easy to answer. That was too bad, thought Kip. Maybe that was why there was so much garbage all around the street. Not enough cans to put it in. But no, that wasn't it. You can't blame the cans for that. Maybe you can't blame anyone, thought Kip. After all, who could stop any of it?

Kip saw some bums on the corner. Kip tried to talk to them. But they kept asking him for money. No matter what Kip said, they wanted a dollar. Kip gave one of them a dollar, then the other bums wanted a dollar, too. Kip didn't have any more money, but he still wanted to talk to them. But finally they just pushed him away. Kip was pretty disappointed. He figured they could tell him something. Maybe they had, in a way.

Kip was in the park now, and he stood against a wall. He liked to do that, and watch the people walking by. The people looked kinda' neat to Kip, with different-colored hair and skin. Kip wondered if space aliens really existed, and if they did, would they like all different-colored people? Probably, thought Kip. All one of anything seems too boring, and Kip figured that aliens would be smart, and therefore like a nice mix. Like a space salad or something. Kip thought that was funny, and laughed to himself.

Kip wandered some more for a while, and passed a bunch of bars. Kip thought about bars, and figured maybe they were so popular just because no one wanted to be alone. Kip realized that if a person wanted a drink, they could just go get some cheaper beer at a store and drink at home. But no, they went to a bar, and it was because they were lonely, and wanted to see other people. That seemed good to Kip. That thought made some real good sense.

Finally Kip went home, undressed and went to bed. He closed his eyes against his pillow, and tried to sleep like the rest of the world.
But sadly, Kip couldn't sleep. Like always, he was wide awake.


Written 5/19/05





Story #2 The wanderings and thoughts of Kip Kellogg

Kip Kellogg had trouble sleeping. Kip could never fall asleep. He'd lay there for a spell, just thinking, then Kip would get right up. He'd pull on his pants, find his dirty sneakers, and go wandering into the night. Trying to find that something, that something that would make real sense.

First Kip walked past the Post Office. It was closed, but Kip didn't mind. Kip thought about mailmen, and how important they really were. If the mail suddenly stopped, then business would stop, and then the whole world might stop. Kip figured they should at least get a little more credit, but they probably never would. That didn't seem right to Kip. He thought garbagemen and farmers were really important, too, but he wasn't near a farm or the dump, so he decided to think about it another time.

Kip sat down on a bench, and saw some ducks in a nearby pond. Kip couldn't believe that ducks would be out at night, but there they were, swimming. Kip figured that the ducks would migrate soon, and he laughed because he pictured people doing the same thing. Moving all over the place every 6 months or so. It was a great thought, but it didn't last very long. Also, Kip didn't have any bread for the ducks, so he was starting to feel guilty, so he got up and said goodbye.

Kip wandered his way to a doughnut place, and went inside to get a doughnut. The lady behind the counter was nice, and Kip wondered if she was married. Not that Kip wanted to marry her or anything like that. It's just that whenever Kip saw nice people, he wondered if they had a second nice person to live with and love. Kip figured she didn't, because most people are alone in the world. Then Kip thought that maybe that's why some people turn angry. Because they don't have anyone to love. Kip thought about that for a while, then he bought a doughnut and left.

Kip went back to the pond, to pay the ducks their doughnut. But they were gone, and Kip sat back down on the bench, pretty much disappointed. Kip figured it was his fault, because he hadn't told the ducks he was coming back. Kip always forgot things. Kip wished he had a better memory. But because he was always thinking, Kip forgot lots of things. Kip thought he shouldn't think so much, but that seemed impossible, because everyone is always thinking, in a way. But Kip still figured he was wrong for thinking too much, and he figured he should have told the ducks he'd be back.

Kip went to the Little League baseball diamond. It reminded Kip of when he was young. He wasn't a very good player, but he tried, and that was enough. Kip remembered his father, and some of the things he had said. Kip wished his father wasn't dead, but he was, and that was that. Kip knew that no matter what a person believes in, they all end up in the same place. At first, that made Kip sad, and he just looked at the ground, but then he thought, maybe it wasn't so bad. In a way, that seemed fair to Kip. Life might not be fair, but death was. It didn't judge, or make exceptions. Black or white, it took everyone, because to death, everyone's the same. That made real sense to Kip. It seemed really fair to him.

Finally Kip went home, undressed and went to bed. He closed his eyes against his pillow, and tried to sleep like the rest of the world.
But sadly, Kip couldn't sleep. Like always, he was wide awake.


Written 7/05/05





Story #3 The wanderings and thoughts of Kip Kellogg

Kip Kellogg had trouble sleeping. Kip could never fall asleep. He'd lay there for a spell, just thinking, then Kip would get right up. He'd pull on his pants, find his dirty sneakers, and go wandering into the night. Trying to find that something, that something that would make real sense.

Kip noticed a laundromat. It was open, and he looked through the window. Not many people were in there, but a few were washing their clothes. Kip watched the machines spin back and forth, back and forth, and imagined what it would be like to ride in one. Sort of like a sailor on the ocean, he figured, except with no dolphins. Too bad, thought Kip. Dolphins were greater than anything, because they smiled and laughed all the time.

Next Kip saw a truck drive by, and some guy threw out a bundle of papers. Kip never really read newspapers, although he knew he probably should. He figured that since all those people went to all that effort to make one, he could at least give it a glance, but he didn't. Kip didn't know why. But he did know that a newspaper was a pretty good deal. All that information and whatnot for only a couple of quarters. So even though he never looked at them, Kip figured that, as long as he knew what a good deal newspapers were, that would be enough. He was aware, so it was okay, and he didn't feel bad about it anymore.

Kip wandered for a spell until he came to a sewer pipe. He watched as all these rats ran in and out. Kip knew that, once upon a time, there were no rats in certain places of the world. Small islands and even bigger areas had no rats at all. Then some boats came along, and when they did, all the rats came with them. Diseases came as well, and a whole bunch of other things that probably shouldn't have. Kip wasn't blaming anyone. He just realized that's how it was. But it was always like that, when different things meet. You get some good, and you get some bad. No matter what you do, it'll turn out like that.

Kip walked down a few more streets, and then he heard some yelling. There was this guy screaming at a lady, and then he punched her in the face. The girl fell down against a wall, and the guy ran off. Kip went over to the lady, who was crying by now. He asked if she was okay, but she just kept on crying. Kip didn't really know what to do, so he just sat down next to her and put his arm around her. Kip knew she was a prostitute, and he felt really bad for her. He figured that she probably hated her life, and that she just needed someone to sit next to. Kip tried to talk to her again, but she still kept crying. It made Kip feel as bad as a person can feel, because he figured she was crying for more than one reason. Maybe she was thinking about when she was young, and all the things she had wanted to be. But it hadn't worked out, and now, she couldn't ever be those things, and she had no hope left at all. Kip tried one last time to speak to her, but she just got up and walked away. It made Kip feel like crying himself. He felt sick right on through. That lady didn't deserve that. She didn't deserve to get punched in the face like that.

Kip felt real depressed, so he just wandered until he found a big old stone. Kip sat down, and tried to think of something that made sense. But Kip was pretty sad, and good thoughts weren't popping into his head. He tried awful hard, but still he thought of nothing. But then he knocked his foot against the stone, and a thought entered his mind. He figured the stone was reliable. That it could be counted on. Kip knew that it was only a stone, but at least it would be there the next day, doing its job as best it could. Kip figured that you couldn't really ask anyone or anything for more than that, and he felt a little bit better. The thought was a small thought, but it still made real sense to Kip.

Finally Kip went home, undressed and went to bed. He closed his eyes against his pillow, and tried to sleep like the rest of the world.
But sadly, Kip couldn't sleep. Like always, he was wide awake.


Written 8/27/05





Story #4 The wanderings and thoughts of Kip Kellogg

Kip Kellogg had trouble sleeping. Kip could never fall asleep. He'd lay there for a spell, just thinking, then Kip would get right up. He'd pull on his pants, find his dirty sneakers, and go wandering into the night. Trying to find that something, that something that would make real sense.

Kip walked by an old video store, and he noticed a big sign on the door saying that they were closing. The sign also said that they were selling the rest of their old VHS tapes for a dollar a dozen, and that they must go now. Kip looked at the big pile of tapes, and he thought about how, at one time, those tapes were the most advanced thing there was, at least for movies, anyway. Then, one day, DVDs came along, and suddenly, tapes were no good anymore. Kip figured that was the way with just about all things. After all, nothing lasts forever. Something might be important one minute, and then meaningless the next. Kip also thought about how sometimes that would happen with people, too. You could be super famous, and then just disappear. Kip figured that was even more true nowadays, what with instant celebrities and all, and then he thought that they should update that old saying, about everyone in the future being famous for 15 minutes. Kip figured that now it was more like 15 seconds, and even that seemed a bit too long.

Kip wandered around a little some more and saw a hot dog vendor selling food. Kip wasn't really hungry, but he bought some french fries anyway. Kip liked potatoes, and remembered how he'd heard once that they'd originated in South America. It seemed funny to Kip that there was once a time when most of the world didn't have potatoes, or french fries, or even ketchup. Santa Claus, too, was only a couple of hundred years old. It seemed pretty incredible to Kip, and then he thought of all the things people didn't have a long time ago. Then he figured that the good old days weren't really good, that they were just more simple. But Kip thought that the old time people still might have been happier. Even though they didn't have lots of stuff, it didn't matter, because they didn't know what they were missing in the first place. Kip knew that you couldn't want what you don't know about. Maybe that was the secret to life. To not know about anything so you won't want everything. This seemed really funny to Kip, and he laughed to himself.

Kip wandered until he got to the river, and watched a ship gliding upstream. Kip thought that maybe he should get a ticket and go on a trip somewhere. He figured that maybe if he did, some great adventure would happen, with like pirates or something, and then things would change and he'd live in a new fantastic place and his life would be more exciting and have more meaning. But then, Kip decided not to. He didn't have the money, and besides, things like that never happen. And even if they did, after a while, one place becomes the same as any other. Kip knew that, no matter what, it would get boring eventually, and then he'd have to move again, and find more pirates and adventures. It was just like bubble gum, thought Kip. The flavor doesn't last for very long.

This made Kip unhappy, and he wandered over to a curb and sat down. Kip thought about how, when he was younger, he figured he'd grow up to be a famous artist or war hero or someone amazing like that. When he was younger, Kip figured for sure that he'd be someone special one day. But as Kip sat on the curb, he realized that wasn't true, and that it never would be, and that there was no more use lying to himself. Kip figured that he wasn't really that bad of a guy. He was just ordinary. There was nothing to him. He couldn't juggle, or dance, or really do anything. Kip had always wished he could have been great or the best at something, but for whatever reason, it just hadn't happened. So this was his life, he thought. Wandering around the city at night, thinking about nothing in particular. Kip hadn't pictured it like this. He hadn't pictured it like this at all.

Kip was really down now, and he still hadn't found anything that made sense to him. He had wandered back to his apartment building, but he didn't want to go in. So Kip went into the alley next to the building, and leaned up against the wall like he always did. There was a street light there, and it shined down on the brick wall just opposite of him. When it did, Kip noticed some graffiti that hadn't been there before. It read:
"NEVER FOLLOW A CULT OR A MOB. THEY'RE ALWAYS HEADED IN THE WRONG DIRECTION."
Kip looked at the words over and over again, and he wondered who had written them. Then he thought about what they said, and when he did, they made real sense to him. Somehow, when Kip read them, they were absolutely perfect in his mind, and he no longer cared who had written them. Just as long as they were there.

Finally Kip went home, undressed and went to bed. He closed his eyes against his pillow, and tried to sleep like the rest of the world.
But sadly, Kip couldn't sleep. Like always, he was wide awake.


Written 9/20/05





Story #5 The wanderings and thoughts of Kip Kellogg

Kip Kellogg had trouble sleeping. Kip could never fall asleep. He'd lay there for a spell, just thinking, then Kip would get right up. He'd pull on his pants, find his dirty sneakers, and go wandering into the night. Trying to find that something, that something that would make real sense.

At first he wandered down a street, and when he did he saw some people on their front porch, laughing and having a good time. Kip also saw that one of them, the one that was laughing the most, was this guy in a wheelchair. Kip thought that was amazing. He figured that here was this guy, who couldn't walk and who would probably never walk again, who was still enjoying himself and living his life. Even though he had a disability, he wasn't going to let it stop him from being happy. Kip knew that there were a lot of people out there who would act differently, a lot of people who would withdraw from life because they were ashamed of all the things that they could no longer do, but not that guy. Kip figured he was a real winner. Then Kip wished he could see things the way that guy did, but he knew that if something like that were to ever happen to him, he probably wouldn't be able to. Kip knew it was wrong to see it that way, but realized it was impossible to force your thoughts to think the right thing. Kip just stared at the smiling wheelchair guy for another second or so. That guy lived the way people should.

Next Kip walked around a bit and then cut through an alley like he always did. It was usually empty, but this time someone was lying down on the ground, next to some cardboard boxes. Kip couldn't tell if it was a man or a woman, because the person was covered with rags, but he did see a bare arm sticking out, and there was a needle hanging from it. Kip had seen things like this before. It was like that in a city. He wondered what he should do. He was never sure what to do in situations like this. He thought about it for a while, then decided that he should at least help the person up. But before he could do so, a police car came blaring down the street. Kip turned and watched it speed away, and when he looked back the person was gone. But the needle was still there, rolling back and forth. Kip watched it come to a stop. The needle would always be there.

Kip found his way further downtown and into an oriental marketplace. He liked to look at all the people chopping up vegetables and selling weird things. He also liked to listen to them talking, speaking incredibly fast. Kip was very interested in other languages, and he tried to pick up a few words here and there. He'd always wanted to be able to speak like 50 different languages, even if it would only be used to impress girls, but he just couldn't learn the words. Kip tried to ask this little old Chinese lady to teach him a few, but she just kept handing him a bunch of carrots. Kip didn't want to buy the carrots, but finally he laughed and bought them anyway. He figured that the old lady had tried hard to sell them, and therefore she earned the sale. It seemed right to do that. If a person tries, they deserve to get somewhere.

After that Kip walked with his carrots back uptown, and when he did he passed a museum. They were having this big painting exhibition for a new artist, and there were posters and things talking about it. Kip looked at a few of the sample copies of the paintings that they had on the posters. It looked rather odd to him. Just a bunch of swirls and blobs of paint. In all honesty, Kip didn't think it looked like anything, and he wondered why they were having a show for it. It seemed to Kip that just about anyone could have done the same thing. All you'd need were a few brushes and whatnot. However, Kip wasn't an art critic or anything, and he thought maybe he didn't know what he was talking about. But then he thought that was crazy, because his opinion still counted like anyone else's. Kip figured that the only reason why these paintings were considered art and some other similar paintings were looked at as junk was because some fancy person had told everyone that it was, and since that person was supposed to know everything about art, they believed it, and that made it so. It was all just a popularity contest, and that didn't seem right to Kip. In fact, it seemed ridiculous. It seemed stupid and silly and ridiculous.

Kip kept carrying his carrots, and wandered to the walkway on the overpass of the highway. It seemed very peaceful there, and Kip liked to hear the cars zinging past. When he looked down he'd also see all their headlights, some dull and others super-bright. It was sort of like a show, really. All these white and yellow and red colors rushing back and forth through the darkness. Kip thought about how one time he had heard a country person say that they hated the city because you couldn't see the stars. That all the smog and lightbulbs wouldn't allow it, and that you couldn't see anything beautiful. But Kip figured that wasn't true, because even if you couldn't have a light show in the sky, at least you could have one down on the highway. It may not be a constellation, but it was still pretty impressive. Kip watched the cars some more, and he was glad he had called it a light show. Maybe no one in the universe had ever called it that before, but now they had, and it was so. That made a lot of sense to Kip, and he felt good about the way things were.

Finally Kip went home, undressed and went to bed. He closed his eyes against his pillow, and tried to sleep like the rest of the world.
But sadly, Kip couldn't sleep. Like always, he was wide awake.


Written 10/02/05





Story #6 The wanderings and thoughts of Kip Kellogg

Kip Kellogg had trouble sleeping. Kip could never fall asleep. He'd lay there for a spell, just thinking, then Kip would get right up. He'd pull on his pants, find his dirty sneakers, and go wandering into the night. Trying to find that something, that something that would make real sense.

Kip went a different way this time when he left his apartment, and when he did he walked by some old abandoned buildings that were due to be knocked down. He walked inside one of them, and looked at all the neat brickwork that must have been done at least 100 years ago. Kip thought about the person who had made the wall, and wondered if it was anybody famous. Probably not, he figured, since walls were being put up all the time. It was too bad, though, since the guy had done a really good job. Kip realized that things like that happened all the time. A person would put a lot of work into something and try their hardest, but nobody would care. They would say "It's just a brick wall," and never give it a second thought. They would never appreciate all the skill and effort it takes to make something like that, and never give the guy any credit. Maybe they were right a little. Maybe it was just a brick wall. But it at least deserved something. A pat on the back, if nothing else.

Kip wandered some more and then sat down on a curb just across the street from a police station. Kip sat there for a little while, thinking about nothing in particular. Then he got up and was about to leave, when all of a sudden two cars pulled up at the station. One was a regular police car, and two cops took this young kid wearing handcuffs out of the backseat. The other car was a normal one, and this lady got out and came running over, crying and sobbing hysterically. She tried to go over and hug the young kid, but one of the cops stopped her before she could. Then they led the kid away, and the woman just stood there crying. Kip figured that she was the mother of the kid, and that he must have done something pretty bad. Something that might get him locked up for months and even years. A few seconds later a third cop came out, and led the lady inside. She was still crying, and she buried her hands in her face. It really bothered Kip to see something like that, because he hated to see women crying. Poor mothers, he thought. They always go through the worst of everything.

Kip left the curb and went down another road which led past a cemetery. It didn't bother Kip to walk by the tombstones, because he knew there weren't any ghosts. Kip could see that some people had visited relatives and put flowers on their graves. He could understand how someone might do that, but he never did anything like that himself. Kip figured it was pointless, because the person wasn't there anyway. Maybe their body was, but who they were was long gone. It was just an empty shell now, and soon even that wouldn't be there either. Kip figured it would be better if everybody were cremated, so that people wouldn't spend all their time at the graveyard, remembering what they had lost. Somehow it seemed to Kip that if there was a marker standing somewhere with a person's name on it, that marker would make you hold on and not let go, even when there was nothing left to grasp. It gave people the illusion that their loved ones were still there, and that just wasn't true. It seemed like a lie to Kip. An awful lie that made people miserable.

Kip wandered down another street, and across two more roads. He figured he was near a highway now, because when he looked up he saw this big billboard that was advertising these new pills which were supposed to cure some new disease. Kip didn't believe the sign, because in truth he didn't believe that the sickness it talked about actually existed. Kip thought it was strange that, years ago, you never heard of these diseases, but now, all of a sudden, here they were, and here was a new expensive pill to cure them. But the pill never really cured you, because you weren't really sick in the first place. In fact, most of the time the pill made things even worse, and people sometimes even died from taking them. Kip figured that drug companies just wanted to sell drugs, and that they'd make up any excuse to get you to use them. They didn't care if you felt better or not, all they really wanted was your money. Kip looked at the billboard again and shook his head. It was all about money.

Kip went down another alley, and when he did he walked into a trash can. Garbage fell everywhere, and Kip had to pick it up. As he did so, he thought about some of the things he had seen that night, and how all of them had been pretty sad. Kip always wished that one night he would go out walking, and see only good things all around him, but it never turned out that way, and wasn't likely ever to. Kip wasn't sure what to do. Maybe he was just wandering in the wrong places. At last he finished picking up the garbage, and was about to go when he noticed that, stuck to his coat, was a little piece of white paper. When he pulled it off he realized that it was a fortune from a fortune cookie. He couldn't read it in the dark alley, but when he walked to a streetlight and held it up, he could see that it clearly said:
"He who wishes to see paradise shall do so if he only chooses."

Kip thought about the fortune for a little while. He figured he knew what it meant. It was like that old saying, "Every cloud has a silver lining." That every situation, no matter how bleak, has a good side if you only search for it. Kip wasn't sure if he believed that, but he realized it was a different way to look at things. He figured that maybe if another person had seen the same things he had seen that night, they would have a completely different take on it. They would see all the positive things instead of all the obvious negative ones. Again, Kip wasn't sure if he could go along with that, but it was a good point that the fortune was making. In fact, it even made sense to Kip. It was something he could think about for a while.

Finally Kip went home, undressed and went to bed. He closed his eyes against his pillow, and tried to sleep like the rest of the world.
But sadly, Kip couldn't sleep. Like always, he was wide awake.


Written 10/08/05





Story #7 The wanderings and thoughts of Kip Kellogg

Kip Kellogg had trouble sleeping. Kip could never fall asleep. He'd lay there for a spell, just thinking, then Kip would get right up. He'd pull on his pants, find his dirty sneakers, and go wandering into the night. Trying to find that something, that something that would make real sense.

At first Kip wasn't even going to go out that night, because it was raining very hard, but then, he figured he should, because he didn't want to miss something important that he might see. So he got out a yellow raincoat and went wandering as usual. As he walked he felt the rain splash down, and it made him think of something he once heard. It was an old saying, and it said that the rain falls on both the just and the unjust. Kip thought about what it meant for a minute, and he figured that what they were saying is that bad things happen to all people. That no one has it completely easy, and that all people get soaked at least once in a while. Kip figured that was fair, and then he wondered what he was. Was he a just person or an unjust person? Kip actually even stopped walking for a moment, and looked up at the sky, almost expecting an answer. But nothing happened, except more rain falling down, so he continued on his way. Kip figured that no one could really answer that question, except the guy who makes the rain. And, as usual, that guy was keeping real quiet.

It kept right on raining, but Kip kept right on wandering. He found his way to the park again, and when he did he saw a statue the city had recently erected. It was of this soldier who had died in World War 2, and had received a medal for his service. Kip looked at the statue in the darkness, and wondered about that soldier. He must have been very frightened all those years ago, when he headed off to fight. Kip thought about all the other soldiers in all the other wars, who had vanished and never ever been found. So many young people sacrificed, for something that could have been avoided. Kip looked at the statue again, and it made him feel pretty low. That soldier was a brave man, but he had to die just to prove it. It seemed a real shame to Kip. It was an awful sad way to get a statue.
Kip walked across the park and then passed the city college. Years ago he had thought about going to college, but had finally just gotten a job. Kip knew it was probably better to have a diploma, but he was never good at school because he just couldn't concentrate. While the teacher was talking, he would always be looking out the window, thinking about something else that had nothing to do with the class. But it didn't really bother Kip. He figured it didn't matter whether or not you went to college. After all, It was just a piece of paper. It didn't make you smarter or better than anyone else.

Kip went to a convenience store after that, and bought himself a soda. It was still raining out, so he leaned up against a dumpster and waited for it to slow down. When he did his shoulder touched something, and when he turned around he could see that it was a bow and arrow set. Not a kid's set, but an adult one, used for hunting. Kip was surprised to see something like that in a dumpster, and his first thought was that maybe it had been used in a murder or something, and had been tossed out just to get rid of evidence. But when he looked at it again, he could see that it was just old and worn out. Kip thought about hunting, and figured that it wasn't really a bad thing. He figured that as long as the person ate the animal, it wasn't any different than someone buying a hamburger or a hot dog. But Kip didn't agree with hunting only for sport. He figured that was wrong. He thought that if you were going to take a creature's life, you could at least use it for food. Kip thought about the way the Indians used to hunt, and he really agreed with that. When they hunted a deer and killed it, they would give it water to drink afterwards. Then they would explain to the deer that they were sorry they had to kill it, and that they only did it because they needed to keep their family alive. Kip could see that the Indians really respected nature, and that they did things the right way. Kip really admired them for that. The way the Indians used to live was beautiful.

Kip finished his soda and wandered over to a bus stop. When he did he saw this old lady sitting on a bench, feeding popcorn to a bunch of pigeons. Kip wondered why the pigeons were up so late at night, and then he laughed as he watched them running around after the popcorn as the old lady threw it. It was a good deal, thought Kip. The pigeons got something to eat, and the old lady had some friends to sit with. It didn't matter that they couldn't speak, or that they were just there to get the popcorn. What mattered was that they were there, and they made her feel better. Kip kept watching the old lady feeding the pigeons, and secretly wished he had a camera so he could take a snapshot. It wasn't an extraordinary scene or anything like that, but it was simple, and had a lot of dignity. Kip always looked for things like that in life. Plain, simple moments that made real sense to him.

Finally Kip went home, undressed and went to bed. He closed his eyes against his pillow, and tried to sleep like the rest of the world.
But sadly, Kip couldn't sleep. Like always, he was wide awake.


Written 10/17/05





Story #8 The wanderings and thoughts of Kip Kellogg

Kip Kellogg had trouble sleeping. Kip could never fall asleep. He'd lay there for a spell, just thinking, then Kip would get right up. He'd pull on his pants, find his dirty sneakers, and go wandering into the night. Trying to find that something, that something that would make real sense.

Kip wandered some for a bit, not really heading in any specific direction. But soon he came to a large house, that was used as an old folks home. Although it wasn't that late, Kip noticed that all the lights in the house were already out. Kip thought about what it must be like to be old, and then he tried to picture himself in his 70's or 80's, but he couldn't. It just didn't seem possible to Kip that he would ever reach that age. Then he thought about how people in those homes are always told what to do, and what to eat, and how to live, and it seemed very strange to him. Kip figured that, when you get really old, it's just like going back to being a child. You're not allowed to do anything for yourself, and you can't go anywhere unless somebody says you can, and even then you have to be watched. It seemed to Kip that old people were kind of like prisoners almost, and there was no chance of escaping because once you're old, you can't ever be young again. Then Kip thought about Mother Nature, and imagined what she'd be like if she were a real person. Kip tried to picture her as kind, but at that moment he really couldn't. All he could see her as was cold. Cold and indifferent and cruel.

Kip walked around some for a spell, and then he sat in a parking lot of a restaurant and watched people going inside to have dinner. He noticed that people usually went out in groups, and figured that made sense. A lot of people like doing that, because it takes pressure off of them. They don't have to do all the talking, and they can kind of just drift. Then Kip noticed three people, two girls and a guy. One girl was hugging and paying attention to the guy, and the other girl was just sort of walking behind them. Kip figured that the alone girl was the other girl's friend, and that she'd just tagged along on her date. Neither of them were really paying any attention to the alone girl, and that seemed to upset her. Kip wondered why was alone. She seemed like a nice enough sort. Then Kip figured that maybe she just lacked confidence, and because of that she walked behind people. Confidence was an amazing thing, thought Kip. If you have it, you can do anything.

Kip left the parking lot and went down past the arcades. The whole place was lit up, and the machines were buzzing like crazy. Kip was surprised to see so many young kids out at that time of night, and wondered if their parents knew they were there. Some of them looked about only 8 or 9 years old, and Kip kind of worried that they might be stolen. He thought back to when he was younger, and it seemed as if it were a million centuries ago. Kip was only 30 years old, yet he felt like he was ancient. Time had speeded up on him, and now he didn't recognize some of the sights around him. It was almost as if he'd woken up one day, only to find himself in a different world. People talked and acted so oddly now, and nothing seemed familiar to him anymore. Everything moved way too fast, and Kip simply couldn't keep up.

Feeling a little blue, Kip left and wandered to a place that was more quiet. It was this spot right behind a movie theater, where some trees had been left standing. Kip sat down against a tree, and tossed a few pebbles around. He was drawn to these quiet places. They helped him think more clearly. Kip thought about the city around him, then the country, and then the planet. Then he thought about the universe, and all the quiet places that must be in it. Kip figured that somewhere out there, someone else might also be wandering. And they might also be sitting against a tree, tossing pebbles around just like him. Maybe there were even thousands of people doing that exact same thing, at that exact same moment in time. Just sitting down in the darkness, tossing pebbles out into nowhere. Kip stopped what he was doing, and looked up at the Moon. He never felt so alone in all his life. He felt like he didn't exist.

Kip got up and walked away from the trees, but he did it pretty slowly. As he wandered he thought about what life meant, and why things were the way they were. At first he figured that everything was wrong, and that there was no way to make it right, but then, he kind of changed his mind, and came up with a different point of view. Maybe, he figured, things were a certain way, because that's how it had to be. Kip realized that a person really only learns from grief, and that if you don't have that you'll never understand anything. He knew that too much grief was a bad thing, because too much of anything always is, but perhaps, if you have some obstacles in your way, you'll learn how to overcome them. And maybe, by doing that, you'll be better off, and that will make you more of a true person in the end. You'll understand because you've been through it. You'll understand because you've been there. To Kip, that seemed like the only way real life could be, and it made sense because it was true.

Finally Kip went home, undressed and went to bed. He closed his eyes against his pillow, and tried to sleep like the rest of the world.
But sadly, Kip couldn't sleep. Like always, he was wide awake.


Written 10/18/05





Story #9 The wanderings and thoughts of Kip Kellogg

Kip Kellogg had trouble sleeping. Kip could never fall asleep. He'd lay there for a spell, just thinking, then Kip would get right up. He'd pull on his pants, find his dirty sneakers, and go wandering into the night. Trying to find that something, that something that would make real sense.

Kip wandered down his own street, and then cut across an alley like he always did. Then after a few more minutes he came to a road that he had never been on before. It was a really long road, and completely dark at one end. Kip thought about it for a second, then decided he should find out what was at the other end. So he started walking, and as he did it got darker and darker. Kip thought about how when he was little, he had been a bit afraid of the dark. Then he started thinking about supernatural things, and evil things, like vampires and werewolves. It wasn't that he actually believed in them, it was just that the surroundings made him remember all the horror movies he had seen. Kip even looked over his shoulder once or twice, just to keep everything honest. But then, at last, Kip came to the end of the road, and in fact there was nothing there. It was just a dead end, with a bunch of grass and weeds and trash. Kip laughed to himself, and felt a little silly. People shouldn't be afraid of the dark. It'll never do you any harm.

Kip walked back up the road and made his way into the heart of the city. He saw a bunch of people walking in and out of a liquor store, holding handfuls of lottery tickets. Apparently the jackpot was really high, and everyone was praying that they'd hit it. Kip thought about the lottery, and wondered if it was a good thing or a bad. On one hand, it was kind of a waste, because the odds of you winning were ridiculous. Something like 88 trillion to one, no matter how many tickets you bought. It seemed to Kip like people were just being suckered in and taken for a ride. But then he thought that maybe it had some good points, too. He remembered how he had once read that the lottery had been used to make money for the American Revolutionary War. Since the government couldn't tax people, they used lotteries instead. Also, even though it was a long shot, people could still actually win. It wasn't impossible, even if it was improbable. Kip also figured that it gave some people hope when they might not have any at all. That by betting only one dollar, they were taking part in something bigger. Then he thought about how if nothing is ever ventured, then nothing is ever gained. So Kip decided it was okay, and left it at that. Hey, why not, he figured. What can you expect for a dollar anyway?

Kip wandered a pretty far way, and finally arrived near the airport. He could hear the planes landing and taking off, and he watched their lights blink red and white in the sky. Kip had never flown before, and he wasn't sure how he felt about it. He figured it was safer than cars, but it wasn't really the same, either. If something goes wrong with a car, you can at least try the breaks or pull over or something. You can't do that at 40,000 feet. Also, after what happened with the terrorists, it made people think differently. It certainly was the case with Kip. In the past, whenever he had seen a plane in the sky, he would wonder where it was going or who the passengers on it were, but now, whenever Kip saw a plane, his thoughts were completely changed. Now he wondered if it had been hi-jacked, or if it was headed for a building. Now every time Kip saw a plane, he worried that it might explode. It was a bad way to look at planes, but it was still in the back of Kip's mind. He didn't mean to think it, but he thought it just the same.

Kip walked back through the city, and when he did he noticed all the neon signs that glowed and lit everything up. It seemed almost a miracle to Kip that there was enough electricity to light them all. Then he wondered what a person from the 1640's would think if you brought them through time and showed them those sights. They'd probably faint or scream, or just stare and stare at everything. The noise, too, would be a problem. They'd most likely hate the noise. Living in the city all his life, Kip never seemed to pay any attention to it while he was there. Yet, when he found a quiet place while on his walks, the difference was pretty amazing. That's the funny thing about noise, thought Kip. You only notice it when it's gone.

Kip made his way to some tenements, and sat down on some steps. He gazed up at the fire escapes, and wondered how long ago they had been built. Then he saw these little kids running around, and they weren't wearing any shoes. This was a poor place in the city, and it made Kip sad to see it. He had always wished he was rich, so that he could buy shoes and Christmas presents for everyone, but it had never worked out, since richness with money is hard to come by. Kip gave the kids without shoes a dollar each, and then got up to leave, but as he did, he smelled something good, and looked over at a windowsill. When he did he was stunned to see that there was an apple pie sitting there. It was still blazing hot, and must have been put there to cool. Kip still couldn't believe it. An apple pie cooling on a windowsill. He thought things like that only happened in small Midwest towns, or in the movies or something like that. Kip felt pretty lucky to see that apple pie cooling. In fact, he had even wanted to go buy it off the person who had baked it. Maybe he could frame it, or freeze it, and look at it all the time. Imagine: Here, in the city, was an apple pie cooling on a windowsill. It was just incredible to Kip. He didn't think he'd ever live to see that.

Finally Kip went home, undressed and went to bed. He closed his eyes against his pillow, and tried to sleep like the rest of the world.
But sadly, Kip couldn't sleep. Like always, he was wide awake.


Written 10/28/05





Story #10 The wanderings and thoughts of Kip Kellogg

Kip Kellogg had trouble sleeping. Kip could never fall asleep. He'd lay there for a spell, just thinking, then Kip would get right up. He'd pull on his pants, find his dirty sneakers, and go wandering into the night. Trying to find that something, that something that would make real sense.

Kip wandered over a couple of streets, then came to a magazine stand. He wasn't all that interested in buying one, but he figured he'd have a peek anyway. Kip looked through the first few, but all he saw were pictures of celebrities. So he took a few from the back row, and gave those a glance, but they were the same as the others. Just articles and stories about famous individuals or movie stars or whatever. Then Kip realized that every magazine on the rack was pretty much the same thing, and that didn't make sense to him. It made him think that people were more interested in other people's lives than they were about living their own. So Kip put the magazines back and continued on his walk. He preferred that to Hollywood.

Kip walked a few more minutes, then took a break and leaned up against a wall. As he was standing there, he suddenly heard the roar of an engine, and then a car came flying by, full of teenagers who were screaming and yelling. One of them leaned out the window, and fired a beer bottle right at Kip's head. Kip managed to duck right before it hit him, and the bottle smashed up against the wall. Kip was covered with beer, and there was glass all over the sidewalk. The kid driving honked his horn over and over again, and they sped off down the road. Kip got up off the ground, and wiped the beer and glass off his coat. Then he looked over in the direction of the speeding car, and he just shook his head. In a way, he actually felt sorry for them. Odds were they'd be in real trouble by the end of the night, or maybe even worse. It was always the same with teenagers, figured Kip. They all think they're going to live forever.

Kip was pretty upset after that, so he bought some bread and went to feed the ducks in the little pond he always visited. The ducks were still there, and Kip was still surprised to see them out at night. He tossed them the food, and watched as they swam over and gobbled it up. Kip always liked animals. There was something about them that made him feel calm. Maybe it was because animals were innocent, and didn't judge you or look down at you. Maybe it was because they didn't want anything from you, or try to use you or take things from you. Whatever the reason was, Kip felt better when he was around them. They always made him see things in a much better light, and he always appreciated them for that.

Kip finished feeding the ducks, and thanked them for calming him down. Then he wandered across the street and walked past a mailbox. As he did he noticed an old man, who was trying to mail a package that was way too big for the mailbox. Kip stopped him, and told him that he needed to go to the Post Office. The old man seemed confused, and just stared at him. So Kip explained that the package wouldn't fit inside the mailbox, and that it had to be sent in a special way by the people at the Post Office. This time the man seemed to understand, and he walked off very slowly. Kip felt sorry for the old timer, and figured his mind might be going. It reminded Kip of another old guy he had once known, several years back. His name was Mr. Rotenzi, and he used to run the corner store next to where Kip went to school. He was a nice guy, and used to talk to Kip all the time. But then, his wife died, and he had trouble speaking after that. He'd just stay inside the store all the time, sitting behind the counter. It was a very sad thing, but what happened next was even worse. One night the store got robbed, and because Mr. Rotenzi had trouble speaking, he didn't tell them where the safe was, so they shot him six times. Kip had cried when he heard about Mr. Rotenzi being dead. It was something he wouldn't forget. It was a terrible thing they had done to him. They shot an old man just because he was too sad to talk.

Kip now felt worse again, so he wandered back into the city to see if anything would cheer him up. He looked in through several store windows, but nothing seemed to work. He really wanted to end the night on a good thought, but it didn't look like it was going to happen. Kip even thought about feeding the ducks again, but figured they had gone to sleep by now anyway. He just couldn't stop thinking about Mr. Rotenzi, so he couldn't cheer up. Kip had pretty much decided to go home at that point, but before he did he passed a store selling television sets. As he did he saw a commercial that had an old couple holding hands, and it made Kip think about Mr. Rotenzi and his wife. Maybe, thought Kip, that was them right now. Maybe, if there was a heaven, they were together again at last. Kip didn't know if it was true, but he certainly hoped it. There may not be fairness in this world, but maybe there was another place where it existed for everyone. If that was the case, it made sense to Kip. In fact, it made real sense. He just hoped that heaven truly existed. He really hoped it wasn't just a dream.

Finally Kip went home, undressed and went to bed. He closed his eyes against his pillow, and tried to sleep like the rest of the world.
But sadly, Kip couldn't sleep. Like always, he was wide awake.


Written 11/07/05





Story #11 The wanderings and thoughts of Kip Kellogg

Kip Kellogg had trouble sleeping. Kip could never fall asleep. He'd lay there for a spell, just thinking, then Kip would get right up. He'd pull on his pants, find his dirty sneakers, and go wandering into the night. Trying to find that something, that something that would make real sense.

It was pretty windy out, so Kip put on another shirt under his coat before he went wandering. The wind kept up its pace, and almost blew Kip's hat off. He even had to stop for a little while until it died down. It made Kip think about all the strange weather that had been happening lately, and then Kip thought about something he heard a preacher say, that all the storms were a sign that the world was coming to an end. Kip thought about that for a bit, and when he did he pictured volcanoes exploding and rivers of fire and lava. Kip always saw the end of the world as being like that. He didn't know why, but he did. Then he wondered if the preacher was right, because things did seem to be going a little crazy, but then he figured that it was silly, because weather patterns changed all the time, and this was probably just a weird stretch that the Earth was going through, and nothing more. Most likely something like this had happened thousands of times in the way back past. So Kip just shrugged, and decided not to think about it anymore. It wouldn't help, after all, because if the world is coming to an end, there's nothing anybody can do about it anyway, so why worry over it? It wouldn't make any sense to do so, and Kip didn't really like things that made no sense.

Kip got away from the wind by ducking into an alley and making his way through a bunch of other alleys. As he did he heard people in their apartments talking or singing or laughing. It made Kip think about prehistoric days, and what it must have been like to live in caves. He wondered if cave people sang or laughed like people do today, and he figured that they must have. Kip thought about those caves, and how they probably had these big fires in the middle to keep everyone warm. Some wild dogs most likely lived there, too, because dogs loved cavemen. Kip had heard that cave people were stupid, because they didn't have phones or boats or other modern things, but Kip didn't think so. He remembered how he had once seen cave paintings from a cave in France that were over 40,000 years old. There were pictures of bears and deers and wolves, and the drawings were really detailed. Kip didn't know much about cavemen, but once he had seen those paintings, he had figured out one thing: Whoever had done them was anything but stupid. Whoever had done them was pretty remarkable.

Kip left the land of the alleys, and cut across an older part of the city. When he did he saw his high school, which he hadn't been inside of for over 12 years. It was odd to Kip. He still felt like he was a kid. The last decade or so had just seemed to fly by, and it made Kip sad to think it. Life is too fast sometimes, and should really be slowed down. That way, you can sit back, and realize who and when you are. But it doesn't work that way. Things go on no matter what. Kip remembered high school, about how it wasn't a very good time, but he still wished he could go back and be that age again. Not so he could go to school, but because he wanted all those chances again. When you're young, everything is still there for you. You haven't made any mistakes yet. You may not realize it then, but that is your one golden moment. Kip looked at the school for a second or so, then walked off in another direction. He felt a lot of regrets, and didn't want to stay there anymore. That's the trouble with growing up, he figured. You only get to do it once.

Kip wandered his way for a spell, and wound up at a construction site. There was a big sign that said a brand new mall was on the way. Kip looked over the site through the fence, which was full of cranes and cinder blocks and sand. He wasn't really sure how he felt about it, since he could see both angles. Kip figured it was a good thing, putting up new buildings and clearing away old ones. The construction would give people work, and then the mall would hire more people. That would then get people to spend money, which would help both the area and the economy and all. However, it still didn't sit well with Kip. Something didn't seem so straight. He realized that the city had every right to put up a mall, but somehow it just didn't seem okay. Kip figured that perhaps there was something else they could build that would be much better for everyone. Maybe an orphanage, or perhaps a hospital or something. He once more thought about all the good points he had raised before, and they were still good points, but he couldn't get over the fact that this was just another mall, and the city, as he saw it, didn't really need another mall. Kip kicked the sand, because he felt a little angry. It made him sick to think that he didn't have any answers.

Kip walked through the city for almost an hour after that, and then sat on a bench outside a new little diner. He was there for quite a while, and in fact the diner even closed. All the lights went off, and the whole street was almost completely dark. However, there was still one light, which was coming from the diner's rear entrance. Kip got up and walked over, and when he did he saw a bunch of homeless people standing there. The guy who owned the diner was handing them bags and sandwiches, and Kip realized that he was passing out all the old food that hadn't been sold during the day. Kip watched as the last of it was handed out, and then the guy locked up and shut the light. Kip was really glad he had seen that. It was a really nice thing. Instead of tossing the food in the trash like most people would, that guy had given it to some hungry people who needed it. It was a very decent thing to do, and Kip had a lot of respect for the guy who owned the diner. He even made a note of the diner's name and location, because he planned on coming back someday. Kip figured that a place like that was a place he'd like to visit.

Finally Kip went home, undressed and went to bed. He closed his eyes against his pillow, and tried to sleep like the rest of the world.
But sadly, Kip couldn't sleep. Like always, he was wide awake.


Written 11/12/05





Story #12 The wanderings and thoughts of Kip Kellogg

Kip Kellogg had trouble sleeping. Kip could never fall asleep. He'd lay there for a spell, just thinking, then Kip would get right up. He'd pull on his pants, find his dirty sneakers, and go wandering into the night. Trying to find that something, that something that would make real sense.

Kip was pretty tired, but he still couldn't sleep, so he went on his nightly wandering mission as always. Kip thought about how he couldn't sleep, and wondered if perhaps he should see a doctor about it. He did like to walk around the city at night, but it was starting to give him problems at work. His concentration was starting to slip, and he never felt very good. Kip wished he could sleep, but somehow he couldn't turn his mind off. There was always something new to think about, and that made it hard to drift off. Kip thought that maybe he was going crazy, because he recalled how he had once heard that insane people never remember their dreams, and since Kip never slept, he never had any. Maybe that was it. Maybe he was crazy and everyone else was normal. It seemed that way to Kip. He never did see anyone else wandering around all night asking questions. But he just wasn't sure, since who can say what's crazy and what's not? Who decides that something is sane and something else isn't? Kip figured that nobody can decide that, not even doctors. He didn't care what anybody said, because no one can make that decision, and if they try to, well, then maybe they're crazy themselves.

Kip made his way downtown and then finally wound up at the dump. It didn't smell very good, but Kip stayed there for a bit anyway. He looked over all the stuff that was there, like old mattresses and shopping carts. Somebody had even abandoned a car, and it had been stripped pretty well clean. It all seemed strange to Kip. At one time all that stuff was new and important to the people who owned it, but then it somehow got useless, and finally just got chucked. Kip even found a baby crib that still looked kind of sturdy, and on the side of the crib were actual pictures of the baby who had lived in it. That seemed very sad to Kip. He figured the parents would want to keep something like that. He hoped that maybe it had been thrown out by mistake, but then he guessed it wasn't likely. Maybe the parents were dead, and someone else had tossed it out. Either way it didn't matter. The nice crib was now junk. Kip looked off into the distance, at some smoke rising up from a factory. That's how things were, he figured. It was just a throw-away world.

Kip left the dump and wandered back into the middle of the city. It was pretty late, but people were still out and about. There was even a guy handing flyers to people, and Kip made sure he got one so he could see what it was all about. The flyer said:
"NEW SPACE EXHIBIT OPENING! SEE THE STARS UP CLOSE! WEDNESDAY NIGHT AT 7! ADMISSION ONLY TEN DOLLARS!"
Then it listed the address, and there were also some pictures of moons and planets and comets. Kip thought it looked interesting, but he figured he probably wouldn't go. Outer Space seemed okay, but it was too far away for Kip. It was nice to think about, but it didn't seem like a real place to him. Then Kip thought about NASA, and he decided that perhaps it wasn't worth the money. After all, billions of dollars get spent every year, and for what, really? Just space pictures, and nothing else. Kip thought that the money they used for NASA could be spent better on sick people or starving people. After all, before you try to find a new planet, shouldn't you take care of the one you have first? To Kip it seemed like building a house, and starting with the roof. But then Kip wasn't sure. Maybe he was just thinking foolishly. So he tried again to justify spending all that money on space pictures and space rockets, but he just couldn't do it. He just didn't see it. Fix Earth first, thought Kip. Then you can go conquer Mars.

Kip kept the space flyer anyway, and walked across a couple of streets. Then he made his way down a hill and into the parking lot of a supermarket. There weren't any cars left, but all the lights were still on inside. Kip walked along the building, looking through the windows at all the food. That was a big thing to most people. Food and diets and all. Kip had heard of all these new diets, where you eat only meat or only vegetables or whatever. It all seemed very silly to Kip, and he didn't understand it. Whoever heard of eating only one thing, or only eating once a week or something? Kip remembered that in school, it had always been the same: They told everyone to eat three meals a day, and to eat from all of the four food groups. That seemed right to him. That made more sense. Kip figured that as long as you didn't over-do any one thing, you could eat simple regular meals that included a little bit of everything. Then, if you exercised some, you'd feel better and not be so sick. Kip wasn't a doctor, but he figured that was the right way to go. He just didn't understand all these new weird diet plans. They seemed to go against what nature intended.

Kip backtracked a bit, and once more wound up near downtown. He was still thinking about that baby crib, and how he wished it hadn't been thrown out. Finally he decided to stop thinking, and instead went back to the dump and looked for it. He found it right where he had left it, and Kip brushed it off and cleaned it up a little. He figured he would take it home and perhaps give it to a new mother he knew in his apartment building. Maybe she wouldn't take it, but it was worth a try. He'd clean it and give it a fresh coat of paint, and put new blankets and pillows in it and all. That was a better thing to do, thought Kip. Better than letting it be destroyed. The crib wasn't very heavy, and Kip brought it back and put it in his kitchen. It was a nice project he had now, and it made him feel good that he could save a crib. He also took the baby photos that were still attached, and stuck them on his wall. Kip would probably never have any kids, but he could at least have some pictures.

And since Kip was home, he undressed and went to bed. He closed his eyes against his pillow, and tried to sleep like the rest of the world.
But sadly, Kip couldn't sleep. Like always, he was wide awake.


Written 11/21/05





Story #13 The wanderings and thoughts of Kip Kellogg

Kip Kellogg had trouble sleeping. Kip could never fall asleep. He'd lay there for a spell, just thinking, then Kip would get right up. He'd pull on his pants, find his dirty sneakers, and go wandering into the night. Trying to find that something, that something that would make real sense.

Kip left his apartment and walked uptown for a while. When he did it took him into a richer part of the city, one that he didn't visit very often. There were a lot of expensive-looking shops everywhere, and Kip felt like he was spending money just by walking around. So he stopped for a bit, and rested up against a wall. He was there for only a minute or two when all of a sudden a cop came by, and he asked Kip what he was doing and why he was just standing there. Kip said he was just taking a walking break, but the cop laughed and didn't seem to buy it. Then he told Kip to move along and not make anymore trouble. Kip didn't argue. He just pushed off the wall and left. But he felt somewhat upset about that. It seemed pretty unjust to Kip. He didn't care if the guy was a cop. That still didn't give him the right to judge anyone.

Kip went back downtown, and when he did he wandered by a pawn shop. Kip thought those places were pretty interesting. They always had many different things for sale. He looked at a few items through the display window, which had watches and bracelets and rings. Kip never did understand jewelry. It just made no sense to him. What did it matter if jewels were real or not? As long as they shined, wasn't that what counted? And in truth, wasn't gold just another metal? Not really different from copper or tin? The only thing was that people had decided gold would be worth something, so that's why it was worth something. But on its own it was worthless. Not at all really special or anything. The same thing happened with tulip bulbs in Holland, back in the 17th century. All of a sudden somebody decided they were priceless, so boom! They became priceless. But that still didn't change what they were. They were still just tulip bulbs, and nothing else. And Kip knew that the same thing could be said about gold, for it wasn't any different. He knew that when you get right down to it, gold was just a yellow rock. You can make it more important if you want to, but it was still just a yellow rock.

Kip wandered for a half an hour, and finally he came to a back alley next to a night club. There were some posters put up, to promote different events and whatnot. One of them mentioned a boxing match, and another talked about a rock group. Then one mentioned a circus with zoo animals, and it showed a picture of some elephants. Kip had always wondered about zoos, and whether or not the animals who lived in them were happy. He figured they probably couldn't be, because nobody would want to live in a cage. To people it seemed like it would be nice to be fed and looked after, but the animals most likely hated it. Then Kip wondered if they knew about freedom. That is, if they actually understood what it meant to be free. On that he wasn't sure. He couldn't make up his mind about that. But Kip figured that if they did understand, then they should try to run away every day. After all, what was more important? What means more to a creature in their life? Kip knew that the freedom to live as you pleased was worth more than being fed and looked after, and in his mind he was rooting for the animals to escape, because secretly he thought they understood.

Kip crossed another part of the city, and wound up in the park, which was still his favorite place. He liked to look at the trees, and try to guess how old they were. It made Kip think about forests, and then he thought about the Garden of Eden. He tried to picture it as a real place, with flowing rivers and birds and sunshine. He tried to see it as a beautiful place, where no one died and everyone was always happy. He tried to picture all these things, but finally he just stopped trying. He did so because he knew it wasn't true. There was no Garden of Eden. Oh, maybe it existed somewhere else, figured Kip. Another dimension or somewhere like that. But as far as this planet was concerned, the Garden of Eden was just a myth. No reality that had as much pain as this one had could ever give birth to such a paradise. Kip knew this was the case, and he decided to let the thought go. He figured a person could go crazy if they lived in fantasy too long, and it made it harder to face what was real. Kip wasn't happy about letting the thought go, but that was life, whether he liked it or not.

Kip went on his way after that, and didn't have any real thoughts for a while. But then he came upon a large brick wall, and on it someone had painted a picture of Martin Luther King. It was a really good drawing. It looked just about exactly as Mr. King had. Kip studied the picture for a while, and thought about the man it portrayed. Kip really admired Mr. King. He admired him because he was brave. Some people can talk a good game, but not be able to play it. And some people can play the game, but they let their words mess it all up. But Mr, King did both. He practiced and he preached. He lived for what he believed in, and he died for something bigger than himself. Kip had nothing but respect for someone like that, and he wished he could have courage in the same way. Martin Luther King was a good man because he didn't back down. Kip would always look up to Mr. King because he had the heart to stand tall. As Kip said, he was brave, and in the end, that was enough.

Finally Kip went home, undressed and went to bed. He closed his eyes against his pillow, and tried to sleep like the rest of the world.
But sadly, Kip couldn't sleep. Like always, he was wide awake.


Written 11/28/05





Story #14 The wanderings and thoughts of Kip Kellogg

Kip Kellogg had trouble sleeping. Kip could never fall asleep. He'd lay there for a spell, just thinking, then Kip would get right up. He'd pull on his pants, find his dirty sneakers, and go wandering into the night. Trying to find that something, that something that would make real sense.

Kip put on a warmer coat, because it was very cold out now, and went wandering like he always did. He passed a few clothing stores, and then saw a sports bar. Kip figured that the place must be pretty popular, because it was always packed whenever he walked by. Kip himself liked sports, although he wasn't a fanatic about it or anything. He always tried to watch the games, but most of the time he just fell asleep. Kip could understand how someone would enjoy following a team and all, but he didn't understand how some people could almost worship the players and see them as heroes. That didn't really make sense to him. After all, it wasn't as if they were saving anyone's lives or anything like that. They were just playing a game. Also, they were getting paid trillions of dollars to do it, and it was also making them even richer on endorsements and everything. It just didn't seem right when compared to regular people who drove cabs and cleaned offices. Their jobs were way harder, and they made just about no money. Plus no one ever gave them any credit for doing the things nobody else would do. It just made things seem wrong, when you think about priorities. It just seemed to Kip that people cared too much about things that didn't really mean anything at all, and if hitting a ball with a stick makes you a hero, well, then maybe real heroes were going extinct.

Kip walked on for a bit, and as he did the wind made it even chillier out. It was very cold that night, but just the day before it had been very warm, especially for that time of year. In fact, it had been much warmer for a while now, and it made Kip think about that news report he had seen which talked about global warming. There were two people on the show, and one person said that it was a fact and another person said that it was made up. Then they listed all their reasons as to why it was real or fake. Real because of all the side effects factories and pollution caused, or fake because it was just a natural thing in the weather cycle or something. Kip had thought about it a bit since then, but wasn't completely sure. He realized that natural things like this did happen a lot, but it was kind of hard to ignore all the smog and melting icebergs. Kip figured that all the pollution had to be doing something, and that something couldn't be good. So even though there wasn't any actual proof, Kip decided global warming was real. It was kind of the same thing with smoking cigarettes. Supposedly there was no evidence that smoking caused lung cancer, but it didn't take a genius to see that it was rotten for your body. And it didn't matter whether it was first-hand smoke or second-hand smoke or third-hand smoke. Common sense would tell you that it just wasn't good for you. But courts of law got involved, so no one could actually come out and say it killed people. Kip realized that once again it was all about money, because that's all that seemed to count in the world. So he decided on something right there: From then on, in all matters, he would make sure to think for himself. To do anything else would be pretty foolish indeed.

Kip cut across a company parking lot and sat down on a curb. As he did he looked up at one of the office buildings and through the windows saw several people still at work. They were pacing around all over the place, talking into cell phones or headsets. It looked a little sad to Kip. All those people working so late. One of them even slammed their headset down and collapsed on their desk. Things were different now, thought Kip. Stress was now a major part in people's lives. It was causing heart attacks and ulcers, and breaking up marriages left and right. Kip wondered if there was anything that could be done to stop the way things were going. He sat there trying to think up some ideas, but nothing came to mind. Then Kip figured that there was no way, because in reality that's what people wanted. Everyone today wants the big house or the new boat or the fancy watch, but for most people, if they want that stuff, they're going to have to sacrifice lots of other things. Time for themselves, and vacations, and maybe even love. Kip looked at all those people way up high in the little windows. He gave them a good long glance, and wondered if they were happy. Hey, maybe they were. Maybe that was were they wanted to be. However, it didn't look that way to Kip. They all looked like they'd rather be somewhere else.

Kip left the stress parking lot and went on over and caught a bus. He usually didn't do that, but he was pretty far away from his apartment. That happened sometimes. Kip would think himself almost out of the city. He took a seat in the back and watched as the road zipped along by. Soon his stop arrived, and he jumped out and continued his walk. He took the longer way into his own neighborhood, and when he did that he entered a few sections that he wasn't really familiar with. He liked to do that, in the hopes of seeing something new. Kip rounded a corner, and approached this old place that used to be a bakery. Just as he got within five feet of it, a big neon sign lit up above his head. It almost blinded him for a second, and after he recovered he gave it a look. The sign was glowing bright blue, and the words were hard to miss. It said, without any doubt:
"HAVE YOU BEEN SAVED, MY SON?"
Kip blinked a bit to see it more clearly. It made a hissing sound and one of the letters fluttered on and off. He realized that the bakery would soon be a new church, and whoever was in charge had decided to put the sign up first. Kip thought it was very strange that the sign had turned on just like that. No one appeared to be in the old bakery, because it was pitch black inside. The whole event seemed somewhat eerie to Kip, even though the sign was talking about God and all, and he even looked around, almost expecting to see a pillar of light or something. Kip stood there for a minute, just staring up at the sign. How had it turned on? Maybe it was.....maybe it was...but no, then he stopped thinking that. He decided not to open that subject. Kip then figured that perhaps the sign was on a timer or something, and popped on that way. It seemed pretty reasonable, so he left it at that. Then Kip walked away from the sign, doing so in a slow manner. That big important question was now on his mind. The one everybody asks after a while. But tonight he wouldn't do it. He would save that question for another day. Kip almost turned back around, but he fought it off and took the next corner.

It was very, very late now, and Kip hurried to get home. He didn't want to be late for work again, and have the boss scream and scream. However, as Kip jogged along, the big clock in the middle of the city chimed the hour. It froze Kip in his tracks, and he listened as it sounded out over the night. He didn't quite know the reason why, but Kip loved to listen to that clock. It reminded him of old stories, like the one with Ebenezer Scrooge. Soon the clock finished its job, and all was quiet again. Kip stop hurrying, and starting thinking about time itself. Time was a funny thing, he figured. It was funny because it didn't really exist. Think about it: Time, as it is perceived, is nothing more than the measuring of the rising of the Sun, which is really the rotation of our planet. Now on Earth, we have weeks and days and all that, and we know because it gets dark and bright, but in outer space that isn't so. Those things aren't in outer space. Kip realized that if you could float upwards off the Earth and pull away from it to a great distance, night and morning would vanish, and in the process, so would time itself. There would no longer be a June 5th, or a February the 23rd. There would be no 11:34, or 2 o'clock in the afternoon. It would just be one long never-ending day and night, continuing into oblivion. The Earth would be turning and the Sun would be shining, yet it wouldn't matter to you anymore. Oh, no doubt you'd keep aging, and eventually die as all things do, but time itself would die with you, because from your point of view it would have no further purpose. All these things were true, thought Kip. They were weird, but they were true. Time was just an invention, designed to keep people from going crazy. It was nothing more than that. Just a trick somebody played long ago. That made real sense to Kip, and he knew things had to change. He knew he had to start looking at everything from a different window in his mind.

Finally Kip went home, undressed and went to bed. He closed his eyes against his pillow, and tried to sleep like the rest of the world.
But sadly, Kip couldn't sleep. Like always, he was wide awake.


Written 12/05/05





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