The Sneeze Attack

The Sneeze Attack

White House lawn

I decided to walk by the White House because I love that front lawn. It’s rare to have so much of a yard in a big city.

There were three people out mowing that grass. I also saw a squirrel digging in the ground for nuts it buried months ago. A wren was searching the dirt for worms. Some ants crawled up its leg and the wren tried to shake them off.

I started to sneeze because of the cut grass in the air. I’m allergic. I had a rapid bout of sneezing. My sinuses felt like they were on fire. Someone offered me a Claritin. I took it, but the sneezing continued. I felt like my head was going to explode.

The lengths I go to

The lengths I go to

Herman Melville

I like to time travel visit the illustrious and well known when they were doing things for which they were not well known. Perhaps I do this because it helps me feel okay about my day to day general ordinariness. For instance, I time traveled to 1854, Galena, Illinois, to Braghner’s General Store, midday, so that I could grocery shop at the same time as Ulysses S. Grant. Ah, the peace of mind as I saw that we both has sassafras bark in our shopping baskets.

Today I got in my time travel machine and ventured to 1857, Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and the home of the famous author of Moby Dick, Herman Melville. Dressed in my coveralls, and carrying a satchel of tools, I was greeted at the front door by Melville’s wife, Elizabeth. I pretended I was there to plane the doors. Back then, most doors were improperly placed and fastened to doorjams, resulting in their regularly getting stuck when shut. Sometimes a person living by themselves would accidentally be trapped in a room by a door holding fast, only to be discovered months later as a skeleton gripping the door handle with both hands, by a visiting relative.

I had planed a number of doors in the Melville home, when I came upon the door to Herman’s study. He was within, but not writing at his desk. Instead he was sitting on the floor, whittling a piece of birch, his tongue jutting out the right side of his mouth. He nodded at me. I nodded back.

I planed as he whittled. I was so entirely absorbed in watching his whittling, that I lost track of my own progress, and realized I had planed the door all the way down to the doorknob. I stood like a fool amidst three feet of wood shavings.

I interrupted Mr. Melville to note and apologize for my dubious workmanship. He took notice and said, “It was once a tree. Perhaps it was through being a door.”

My life as a conquistador

My life as a conquistador

It was cloudy, raining, and cold when I woke up this morning. I hate foul weather. So I changed into my workman’s coveralls (ideal for time travel because folks from all periods of history are always accepting of someone who can fix things) and I hopped into the time travel machine. I zipped off to April 2, 1513 and the coast of St. Augustine, Florida.

Ah, the sunshine and warmth greeted me in full. And it wasn’t during those unbearable humid and muggy months. Plus it was far enough into the past that I didn’t have to deal with loathsome tourists besieging the beach.

I pranced around on the sand, extolling the Sun about its rayful wonders, when I noticed three great sailing ships just off the coast, and a smaller boat approaching the shore. I squinted and noticed the small boat was filled with conquistadors. Sure, they were a brutal folk, known for genocide, mayhem and the spreading of disease, but when I was five, I wanted to be one.


I had a poster of conquistadors on my bedroom wall. My parents got it for me because I had a self-confidence problem. I used to go up to bullies in the school yard and ask them to throw my school books on the ground and then beat me up. They obliged and it made me feel special and liked. After I got the poster, I would spend hours gazing at it, emulating the eminence and strong posture of the Spanish conquerors on the beach.

I took that attitude to school one morning. With full gall I went up to the bullies and chest-bumped them. They saw in me a kindred spirit. I suggested we form a gang. They took me up on it, and we proceeded to relinquish students of their lunch money as they came into the school. That was until Principal Jipper intervened. He broke up the gang, and as I was considered the leader, I had to appear in Juvenile Court, and was subsequently sentenced to spend six months at Allworths’ Reformatory for the Criminally Promising.

At Allworths, rehabilitation was brought about by having the young malcontents work long hard hours at its in-house Bromine reclamation plant. From sun-up to nightfall, me and 700 or so jackanapes would pound mounds of seaweed with rubber mallets, causing the bromine minerals to loosen and fall through the grates, into the collecting vats below.

As I stood on the shore of the beach of St. Augustine, the surf splashed over my feet, which became entangled with seaweed. I reached down and tried to pull myself free, but to no avail. I looked up to see the boat with the conquistadors had almost reached the shore. The Spanish soldiers eyed me with bad intent. I sighed and remembered an inspirational quote on a poster at the reclamation plant. It was from Antoine Jérôme Balard, the discoverer of Bromine. It said, “I did not discover bromine, rather bromine discovered me.”


The Night Tremor

The Night Tremor

time vibration

The other night I was laying in bed, feeling drowsy, when I heard a whispered, “Are you asleep?”

I said, “No. Who is this?”

The whisper said, “It’s time.”

I said, “Time for what?”

The whisper said, “No, I’m Time.”

I said, “Oh, I’m sorry…I’m Brooks.”

The whisper said, “I know. I’m very familiar with you.”

I said, “How’s that?”

The whisper said, “Because of your constant time traveling. You travel in my under layers. It’s extremely intimate.”

I sat up and said, “Tell me more.”

The whisper said, “Normally people are in the moment. It’s like a container. A container that I hold. They are in the container. But when you time travel, you step out of the container. You move to my hand. I can feel you on my skin. It tickles and its sexy. You are only there briefly. Then you move back into the container, but to a different place in the container. Because of our quick but memorable interaction, I think about you. A lot.”

I said, “Are you actually here now? Or are you speaking through the walls of the container?”

The whisper said, “I’m here, in the room.”

I said, “I’m gonna turn on the light.”

The whisper said, “No. Don’t. Stay where you are.”

I said, “But I want to see you.”

The whisper said, “You can’t. I’m not visible. I’m a feeling. Like a tremor in the ether.”

I lay back down. I sensed.

The whisper let out a slight, “Wooh.”

I said, “I felt your quiver.”

The whisper said, “You most certainly did.”

The less fancy time travel trips

The less fancy time travel trips

Sure, the first twenty years I used my time machine just to meet famous people and see historic events. My therapist felt it was my way of feeling important. I said that was the only reason I do anything, and his eyes lit up because he knew with me he would be able to afford a really nice car.

After that notorious and illustrious swatch of binge time traveling, I began looking for trips that would bring me simplicity. That’s when I began to visit Paracelsus, The Cypress of Abarkuh, and Urgblap and Plemphf..


First, Paracelsus! He was the founder of Paracelsianism. Ah, you might be saying, “Isn’t he famous since he founded a way of thinking?” Yes. But he’s not realllly famous. He was known during his time for discoveries related to chemistry and the human body. Many people were known during their time, but they’re not known now, so what does it matter?

I didn’t visit Paracelsus because he was known. My reasons were he was a great walker. Not a robuster. He walked delicately. He enjoyed honoring his steps. He would tell me, “I like the sound of my foot moving through the air towards the ground.” Paracelsus and I would walk for hours at a time. We never got very far because he took small steps, and walked in super slow motion in order to savor the landings of his feet on the ground. This is when I began to learn how to relish and be gradual.

I would time travel visit Paracelsus often in Salzburg, Austria, 1538, in the mornings because that’s when he went for his walk. I would greet him at his door with a duck. Ducks back then were a way to say, “I cherish our special friendship.” (Because I visited him a little over thirty times, this allowed him to establish the only duck farm in the country, for which he became renowned, but later infamous when those ducks were linked to an avian influenza outbreak that wiped out most of the chicken livestock in Europe.)


Then there’s the Cypress of Abarkuh. Currently it’s a massive 5000 year old tree in Aburkah, Iran. But I’ve often time traveled back to the year 2983 BC, and sat with the tree when it was just a sapling. It was less than a foot high and ignored by all but me. I don’t know what it was about the Cypress, but I’d feel happy sitting with it. I’d tell it my problems. I’d sing it songs. I’d blow a gentle breath on the sapling, watching it dance ever so lightly.

Once, an aardvark was heading towards the Cypress with bad intent. Aardvarks are malicious creatures that mean nothing but ill will towards all species. I stood up protectively in front of the Cypress and hollered at the aardvark to retreat. The aardvark fumed, but went back to where it had come from. The Cypress was quivering from fear. I said that everything was okay. The Cypress calmed down. I don’t know what it is about that delicate newbie that makes my heart consistently ricochet against my rib cage.


Lastly, there’s Urgblap and Plemphf. They were a sweet neanderthal couple that I have often time traveled to the plains of what’s now Europe, 450,000 years ago, to visit. On my first visit they tried to kill me with their rudimentary tools, but at the last second when I offered them a selection of Peeps Easter bunny marshmallow candy, they spared me, and we became fast friends. I have often felt at home when they generously serve me a prepared meal of slugs and spores on a rock. At others times we would walk hand in hand naked through the desert, staring at the Sun until we went temporarily blind.