River of Consciousness (Chapter 4) “Hapa Girl DNA”

I’m shivering inside a UFO.

The ceiling slopes down like a Chinese rice hat to the floor. A red band encircles the room where the ceiling meets the deck. The three of us look awkward – Maxwell, me and the girl who could almost be Mahani Teave.

I missed her name when she said it.

I see codes of consciousness when I blink. Ones and zeros.

I know them as doubly-even self-dual linear binary error-correcting block codes.

They were discovered by a theoretical physicist: S. James Gates, Jr., Ph.D.


This is my favorite picture of him: The founding father and pilgrim of string theory’s DNA. History will place him beside Einstein if rational minds prevail.

Biological DNA also has error correction: A higher mind showing cells how to build nanotech machines to fix DNA screwups. Things like replication errors and the mutations we worshiped in undergrad bio.

But the “illusion of consciousness” is the delusion of flatlanders. Conscious awareness is central to digital physics and independently real.

We are not alone.

We’re side by side on a soft Indian rug. The girl’s legs are crossed yoga style now with the tops of her toes flat against the opposite thighs.

“I didn’t hear your name,” I confess to her.

“I am Vedanshi,” she says, beaming. “The Role of the Sacred Knowledge.” Her expression reminds me of Luciano Pavarotti after an aria.


I was twelve when God’s angel died. I will always love him.

Maxwell’s face is blank. He risked everything for me.

“You both saved my life,” I tell them and lean against Maxwell’s wet shoulder. “Thank you.”

Even if leukemia has its way now.

“Cloaking,” Vedanshi whispers, and the red band fades from around us, the walls vanish, and we’re floating on a rug twenty feet above the ocean.

I see my boots on the jetty next to Maxwell’s jacket. I should feel the sea air, but I don’t. The ocean butts the jetty and climbs its rough boulders, but I can’t hear it.

“I need a mirror,” Maxwell mumbles.

“No you don’t. You look marvelous.” I fake an Italian accent, “Shake your hair, darling… such as it is.”

His eyebrows may have moved. I’m not sure.

“Don’t panic,” I tell him. “All your great pianists fly UFO’s.”

Vedanshi grins and the sun breaks. An orange bead on a hilltop.

Maxwell’s vacant eyes find me. He says nothing.

“I heard the phone call,” Vedanshi says. “I know what the old woman is doing.”

“Purchasing my soul?” I suggest.

Vedanshi nods. “Let’s get your things.”

The Jetty is beneath us but I didn’t feel us move. My boots are inches from my feet. I lean forward and reach but my knuckles hit an invisible deck.

“Sorry,” Vedanshi says crinkling her nose. “Try again.”

I reach down and pick up Ojiichan’s chopsticks, grab my boots, then get Maxwell’s jacket and lay it in midair beside his wet legs that stick out past the edge of the carpet and rest on nothing. A little reluctantly, I snag his ugly climbing shoes, bring them in and smell the rubber.

He watches from a trance.

“Snap out of it,” I tell him. “You seem shroomed.”

“It’s a psychotic break,” he mumbles.

“You haven’t turned idiot,” Vedanshi assures him. “There’s a small mirror I can loan you, but I want it back.” She reaches into the side pocket of the purple robe she gave me, pulls out a square purse, opens it and extracts a round mirror the size of a silver dollar. On the back is an engraving of a woman’s face. Lazar quality. She’s wearing a crown and triangular earrings that float beside her earlobes.

Vivid dreamers know how mirror images lag in dreamland. Maxwell is probably a gifted dreamer and wants to test the reality of this place. I can’t blame him. It’s weird.

In the past I’ve tested with mirrors, but I’ve found they’re harder to track down than bathrooms – in dreams, I mean.

Rule of thumb: If there’s a mirror, you’re not dreaming. You’re totally sitting in a classroom naked.

“We should leave,” Vedanshi says. “She’s coming. I don’t want her to discover me.”

With the sun up, Vedanshi’s white blouse is orange and short. It leaves an inch of skin above tiny-waisted harem pants. She either works out or never eats… or has issues with her thyroid.

“You two may want to close your eyes,” she says as the Jetty drops and the mouth of the Columbia River shrinks into a falling coastline.

The horizon rounds down and the Earth becomes smooth and blue to white on the sun’s side.

There was no lurch of engines, no whiplash, not even a hiss of wind.

I glance at the sun and get dots following my eyes. Canada is endless. The overhead is black and radiant with stars. The swath of glowing velvet is an edge-on look across a spiral galaxy.

This is the “near space” I’ve read about, but it feels nearer to Heaven. I’m overcome with affection for our magnificent little round home. She’s cute, miraculously great but humble. Wise and still innocent.

This is warmth I’d never imagined.

I grip it the way James’ therapist says – holding bliss in a 30-second headlock to myelinate the neurons of joy.

Listen now. Happiness is a skill, like training your fingers to do three-against-four on Chopin’s Fantasy Impromptu in C# minor. Or figuring out how to sing with vibrato as a child, then spending the rest of your life trying to forget.

Craning at the most numerous Seven Sisters in captivity, I lose my balance and grab the front of the carpet to avoid Revelation’s fall from Heaven to Earth.

M45, the Pleiades Cluster (92mm 5DII)

“My ship believes she’s twelve thousand years old,” Vedanshi says. “Her name is The Ganga.” Vedanshi looks at the rug and seems to talk to it. “Anyone can speculate about axial precession.”

Maxwell touches the mirror’s edges only, holding them with thumb and finger. He seems dissociative the way he’s checked out.

“So you’re from Earth?” I ask Vedanshi.

“Of course.”

“Well, you never know. You crashed the party in a UFO.”

“Yes,” she says, but shakes her head, no. “I’ve seen UFO’s on your internet but I don’t know if they’re real. We didn’t have them in my day, and I was never old enough for the talk.” She taps her knees to put quotation marks around, “the talk.”

“What’s ‘the talk’?”

Her brow furrows at Maxwell spinning her mirror, but she lets it go. “In my day, when you turned 18 you got ‘the talk’ from your parents. It was about free will – or so they said. But I could tell there was more. When I was in pyramid triage for the river – a test to identify pilots – I made friends with a girl whose big sister got ‘the talk’ and then started whispering to shooting stars. She wasn’t loopy before that, supposedly.”

Below us to the south, bright sheets of white flash over Mexico and red sprites blink over the clouds.


“What would make anyone whisper to a meteor?” I ask.

“Aliens?” Vedanshi shrugs. “We heard strange voices in the river before the asteroids hit. I still wonder if they were real – you know – literal words that The Ganga somehow couldn’t interpret. It’s doubtful. Her linguistics are advanced. But why would anyone subvocalize nonsense in the river?”

 Glossolalia, I don’t know. I look at Maxwell. “This is no ordinary UFO!”

No response.

Vedanshi nods solemnly. “The Ganga taught me English – which didn’t exist for us four months ago.”

Maxwell is mouth breathing. That’s the last straw. I lean over and kiss the side of his face. It’s salty. “Buck up, soldier. You’re making me worry.”

“Sorry,” he says and shakes the cobwebs.

That was the first time I’ve kissed a guy. True, I was raped once, but no kissing. I was eleven.

“You’re from Earth,” I remind Vedanshi. “So where did you get this thinking machine?”

“They did it on purpose,” she says, then draws an expansive breath. “I should back up. The very oldest ships had accidents. Their non-locality buffers got out of sync with the gravity lifts sometimes. So for an instant you had movement during the nonlocal swap.”

I nod.

Maxwell leans back on his hands. “You lost me.”

“Anything using quantum non-locality has to be nailed down,” she says. “So it’s motionless to the buffers. But the primitive ships shifted structurally – at nearly the speed of light if it happened with the horizons burning.” She searches Maxwell’s face. “Nonlocal point swapping horizons?”

He squints. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“High subluminal velocities turn nanoseconds into thousands of years,” she explains.

“It’s special relativity’s version of stasis,” I tell him. “Slows your clock.”

Maxwell smirks.

“You’re never heard from again,” Vedanshi says. “Unless you’re lucky enough to wind up in this post-cataclysmic dystopia.” She looks down at the Earth with a half-smile. “The old woman came from the first part of my era, I think. I finally saw her vehicle. It’s phallic, which is retro. And it has to be early because every thought gets out.”

“Every thought? What do you mean?” I ask.

“The river?” Vedanshi asks me back.

Maxwell and I shake our heads. I hate to admit when I’m lost.

“The fundamental unit of reality is consciousness,” she says, “not matter, energy or space. They’re derivative. Pilots use the river of consciousness to communicate with ships and other pilots. I don’t know why we call it a river, it’s more like a sea, or the pixels of an infinite hologram.”

“Now that I can understand,” I tell her.

“In the earliest vessels privacy filters didn’t exist. The old woman’s ship must be dangerously ancient because I hear every word she thinks. I’ve even seen a few cortical images from her occipital lobes.”

I feel my heart racing. This is the mother lode everyone dreams of. I wish I had longer to live.

“A few months ago,” Vedanshi says, “I heard the woman thinking about a young geneticist who manipulates terabytes of base-pair language in her head with no implants. Totally impossible. My mother’s best women with cortical enhancements couldn’t hold a ten-thousandth of that in working memory, let alone juggle it. So I had to meet you, Johanna. Because, as you say, you never know.” She puts her hands together yoga style and bows her head like Ojiichan did in his Temple. “This morning I heard the woman threatening to kidnap your brother. Then you went off to drown yourself. I sort of panicked trying to find you.”

“So… you can hear phone calls?” Maxwell asks.

“The woman was inside her ship,” Vedanshi says.

“Yeah, she was in her ship, Max. Keep up.” I scowl warmly.

He gives me a hint of a grin.

“You have to master the river of consciousness before you pilot,” Vedanshi says. “Pilots are born with an extra gyrus on their parietal lobes, but the phenotype is no guarantee you’ll make it.”

Einstein had a parietal lobe anomaly. Suddenly I want an MRI.

“You said 2015 is a post-cataclysmic dystopia,” Maxwell says.

Vedanshi nods. “We’re probably six to twelve thousand years into it. There are four in recorded history.” She pats the rug beside her.

“The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,” I hear myself saying, and the verses open in my mind.

“Your unique feature is the loss of ancient records,” Vedanshi says. “From what I’ve read, your scholars get things backwards. The Grand Canyon took millions of years and the pyramids took twenty. I don’t see how anyone with eyes could believe that.”

“What ended your era, a comet? A flood?”

“A series of asteroids,” Vedanshi says. “The small stragglers landed near Madagascar and left beautiful deposits.”

The Earth rotates beneath us. Africa comes around with Madagascar to the east.

“This is the best one,” she says, pointing down. “See the feathers? It’s like a bird’s wing.”

MadChevrons 2

I’ve seen these before. To me it’s like someone dumped soapy water in the dirt. This one’s several miles long.

“Geologists say these were made by the wind,” I tell her.

“Not true.”

“What, then?”

“This is a piece of the Earth that broke free when one of the smaller asteroids hit. I saw it happen. It flew through the air at thousands of miles an hour. It came from the seabed over there.” She points east to a spot in the Indian Ocean where I’ve read there’s a crater. “This piece flew out at a low angle, glowing like lava with a tail of smoke and steam. The trees exploded when it hit. It was fluid, colloidal, and flowed into this nice winglike shape. A small tsunami crept up a bit later but couldn’t wash it away. Unlike the previous day’s waves that razed everything.”

“The asteroids didn’t hit in one day?” I ask.

“No. The big ones came on the first day. A few smaller ones hit that night, and the tiny one that did this artwork touched down at sunrise. It might have been the last one, but…”

“So… Wait now. Are you saying the bigger asteroids made tsunamis that washed away their own impact deposits?”

“Yes, on day one. But I don’t think you’d call them tsunamis. They weren’t like Japan’s waves on the internet.”

“What was different?”

“They were huge. They moved like life forms – boiling over the continents without slowing down. Each one would start as part of an impact explosion and spread out in a circle with the circumference increasing until it matched the circumference of the Earth. Then it moved on around and the circumference shrank, keeping its power about the same until it narrowed down to a point and crashed into itself on the opposite side of the Earth. There was lightning and the loudest thunder. Water and debris shot up miles into the air. The big ones smoothed out everything in their paths, including their own ejection deposits. Later when things settled down and the small asteroids began to land, their water action looked more like Japan’s tsunamis. They were too weak to clear their deposits for the most part.” She looks down at the ground. “But if you really look, you can see shadows where some of them were washed away, too. Over there.” She points inland. “It’s like a stain.”

The Ganga moves closer.

chevron tilt

I kind of see what she’s talking about in the distance. But the wing chevron is impressive down here.

“Max, I’ve read that it’s six hundred feet thick at the edges.” I point to the wingtip.

“Looks pretty flat.” He tilts his head to look down my arm, and I point again. His buzz cut brushes my temple. His collar is wet.

“Take off that shirt and put your coat on,” I tell him.

He grunts.

The Ganga moves lower, as if to show us the height of the wingtips. Maxwell whistles when we come down over the lip and really see one of these things edge-on.

Ancient Mysteries

He’s twenty-five. When we first met a few months ago he introduced himself as an aging surfer. So he’s probably not cold at all in his wet clothes. The bum.

I jab at him with an elbow.

He ignores it.

A cell phone starts a weak rendition of “Surfer Girl” and Maxwell digs it out of his coat, sees the number, then hands it to me. “It’s James,” he says.

I put it on speaker by habit. “James, are you alright?”

“That guy I rammed was a cop. I don’t know where they’re planning to take me, but he’s filling out a bunch of paperwork and sounds extremely pissed off. He’s got handcuffs. I hate those things.”

“Where are you?”

“He’s taking… He took my phone.” The connection goes dead.

I look at Vedanshi. “A cop in a Prius? I doubt it.”

She takes Maxwell’s phone, places it on the rug in front of her. The Earth drops like a lead ball from a bomb bay. We streak through white haze and across a blur of blue ocean. A glimpse of land flashes by and our impossible speed turns to a dead stop without making us even bob our heads. We’re fifteen feet off the ground in front of a police station in Honolulu.

James stumbles out with his hands cuffed back and the Haole pseudo-cop shoving him. The man kicks James’ legs and knocks him off the curve to the ground.

“Let me out,” I tell Vedanshi. “I’m going to hurt that man.” I feel the cold DNA of my ancestor, Shinmen Musashi-no-Kami Fujiwara no Genshin, the greatest and by far the deadliest samurai who ever walked the Earth.

I was eleven when I strangled a male adolescent chimpanzee with my bare hands. It’s the same feeling now.

M. Talmage Moorehead


If you want, please read this story from page one (beginning with Johanna’s unorthodox prologue). It starts here.

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Johanna (Chapter 0) “Hapa Girl DNA” by M. Talmage Moorehead

“The scientists who have developed the case for intelligent design have begun to overcome the prejudice against their ideas and have published their work in peer-reviewed scientific journals, books, conference volumes and anthologies.” — Stephen Meyer, PhD, Signature in the Cell


I’m Johanna Fujiwara, Ph.D.

Years ago, I inspired Talmage to write fiction. He tries to think of me as a character he created. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I look a little like the artist, Promise Tamang Phan, the way she’s painted herself in this video. Actually I’m not as pretty as she, but try telling that to Talmage. My legs are short for my height and my calves are too thick. I call them “daikon ashi” which means “white-radish legs.” Short legs run in my family on my Dad’s side, but they skipped my little brother. Well, he’s big now. Sixteen.

Unless you’re a theoretical physicist, I don’t expect you to believe this, and if you are, you might disagree all the more, but beyond the Universe lie similar Universes, potentially an infinite number, though the heavens aren’t crowded.

As a result, virtually everything that could happen does happen somewhere.

That includes me and every detail of my life.

True, I can’t prove that in a laboratory, but I’m hardly ever wrong. It’s a matter of record.

What’s unusual, I guess, is the fact that I’ve figured out enough to sense what my “coincidental” writer is thinking and feeling. I know when he’s trying to pretend I’m not real. And when he’s honest with himself, he knows I know.

I choose to think of myself as antifragile, a girl with plenty to gain and little to lose. Believe it or not, this quality is the basic human condition. You have it. Antifragility is the difference between biological and supra-biological minds, assuming they exist. There’s decent evidence. I think our ability to gain from many small failures is the reason they’ve come here, assuming they have.

In veiled crafts.


The nature of identity is elusive. Talmage thinks the girl he’s been writing about all these years has always been me because his feelings never change for her.

Could be. But I know this – the seeds of love and meaning are free will and identity. I’m barely nineteen, but I can tell this applies beyond spacetime and the “God of Spinoza.”

Past the sub-infinite hosts of Universes, there’s reality outside of space and time. In third grade I was sent to the principal’s office for talking about it. They said we don’t talk religion in public school.

I couldn’t understand what was religious about it…

Light travels outside of time, but inside of space.

Einstein’s time dilation gives us a number divided by zero when anything moves at the speed of light. If you avoid the myopic logic of mathematicians who apply our internal speed limit to regions beyond…

Dividing by zero yields infinity. Inertial frameworks become irrelevant.

Which means a “wristwatch” on the ground goes infinitely fast compared to a “wristwatch” on a photon.

“Infinitely fast” means that the entire history of the Universe goes by in an instant when you move at the speed of light. Even if you’re a photon of light yourself, or some other fundamental wave-particle.

Hence the irrelevance of time to the diffraction pattern of light crossing slits, one photon at a time. (Here’s a video of that.)

Physicists in your universe think photons and their class have a separate reality. That’s adorable, but wave-particles don’t contain mind, they’re composed of mind. Literally. From a photon’s perspective, all history happens in a moment – in one Planck time.

So when photons, from our perspective, go through slits in single file, things are different to them. They see themselves as all passing through together, bumping shoulders and interfering with each other to give a diffraction pattern that would be supernatural if time were uniform and it were impossible to go outside of it.

My physics teacher told me to shut up when I mentioned this in class. He mumbled it through his teeth, but everyone heard. A red-headed guy behind me said, “Yeah, please!”

School’s no place for critical thinking. They hate it. They love their own dogmas.

From the center of a black hole and the mind of a photon, all history is an infinite holographic snapshot where time means nothing to the diffraction pattern of slit experiments. From there, our unpredictable decisions are known. But it’s not “foreknowledge” because the “fore” of foreknowledge is relative to the observer. One person’s foreknowledge is another’s “after” knowledge, depending on which side of the spacetime horizon you occupy.

That means free will is not an illusion! Please believe me. This point is crucial for your happiness.

Light is “outside of time” or independent of it. But we see light so it’s not “outside of space.”

Dark matter is protomatter that sits virtually outside of space. Its only detectable property from our side is gravity, yet it shapes and positions the galaxies, so it’s “inside of time.” (Here’s a video on that.)

When I was an undergrad, a journal rejected a paper I wrote on dark matter. The editor didn’t mention my paper in his rejection. I was simply not a Ph.D., therefore my paper, my brain, my soul, my existence were unfit for his journal: “Welcome to the cult, Johanna.”

Albert Einstein’s first four papers of 1905 would be similarly unfit for today’s journals. Forget the “miracle year” for space, time, matter and energy. Einstein wouldn’t have had the credentials for these elite morons we’re dealing with today.

The human mind lies partly inside and partly outside of space and time. Miss this, and materialistic determinism will swallow you whole, leaving you convinced that you have no freedom. No choices in anything. You’re a machine with a future set in stone, sweetened by a sprinkle of chance and the “illusion of consciousness” with its “false sense” of free will.

Not a happy place, but it’s the ditch into which our educated subculture has fallen. Call it science, but it’s not. It’s an emotion-based philosophy that, combined with the effects of modern wheat, brings us an ugly stat: 30% of college students are depressed.

The neurons that brought puritanical fundamentalism to the United States have now embraced materialistic determinism and made it the new religion of meaninglessness.

It’s a strange religion that excludes the mind. The fundamental assumption is that matter and energy exist on their own, but nothing else does. All minds are derived from the material world which is mindless, therefore our minds have no reality. The evidence from quantum mechanics has to be ignored to maintain their assumption, but that’s no problem for these zealots. A mindless universe is assumed with the confidence of a Baptist preacher.

I argued this with a brilliant atheist over coffee at Starbucks. It probably wasn’t a date, but he asked to meet me there, so maybe it was – my first date, in fact. When we landed on neo-Darwinism and he saw that I could argue intelligently against it from genetics he hadn’t read, he remembered he’d forgotten something and had to leave.

“We should do this again,” he said.

We never did. He was handsome, if that matters.

The mechanics of the mind lie within space and time (in and around the brain) but free will exists outside of space. By residing outside of space, free will inserts itself as an untouched cause into the web of destiny that fills the material, pool-table Universe.

By residing inside of time, free will remains relevant to history as it unfolds at various changing rates within spacetime.

I haven’t seen where identity lies. Talmage hopes it’s like free will: outside of space but inside of time. That way I’ll always be the same girl, Johanna, no matter what changes.

I think he’s right. I think someday we’ll meet for coffee, because, despite separation, my Universe is remarkably similar to yours. I don’t know why.

I was born in Castle Medical Center on Oahu, Hawaii – one of the few things I can’t remember.

Eleven great years later I killed my brother’s therapy animal, Moody. I wish I could forget the whole thing. I have recurring fight dreams about it. Nightmares, really.

Moody was a chimpanzee. Mom and Daddy were out. I was the sitter. What could possibly go wrong?

James was in his bedroom playing with Moody, pretending to snatch off Moody’s nose and then show it to him. Moody always played along and seemed to tolerated it well, but this time I think James punched the little guy’s face during the nose theft.

I didn’t see that part, but I heard a noise and got up to see what was going on.

Moody’s face was unlike anything I’d seen in real life. It was twisted in rage and looked like a monster. He attacked James, threw him against the wall, denting the plaster. He grabbed James again, threw him to the floor like a rag, jumped on his chest and bit his nose. Pulses of my brother’s blood squirted into the air. Moody spun around and glared at me, then grabbed James’ genitals and tried to pull them off. James screamed like he was dying, and something cold landed inside me. I felt it in my chest as I charged at Moody, shot my right arm around his neck as fast as a cobra, then locked a triangle with my left arm. I pushed my face against the back of his head to protect my eyes from his fingers, held my breath and squeezed with all my strength.

I don’t know how I knew that move. I never watched MMA. I’d never heard of a rear naked choke. I don’t see how it could have been me, honestly.

I was so angry my brain changed perspectives. It sounds crazy, I know, but I swear I was looking down at the three of us from above our heads.

I didn’t loosen my grip for the longest time.

James started yelling at me to stop, but I wouldn’t. Moody went limp, but I kept the choke on him with every bit of force I had. I felt as if I hated Moody and everything about him. But I loved him. We all did.

Finally my muscles couldn’t squeeze for another second. I relaxed my arms but still wouldn’t let go. I was afraid he would spring up and kill us. As I finally started releasing him, he slumped forward and I dropped him face first on the floor. He lay there like one of James’ stuffed animals.

There’s a saying that if you murder someone, you’ll always feel like an outsider looking in on humanity.

It’s true. Even if you murder someone who’s not considered human. Even if it starts out with you trying to save your little brother’s life.

In the emergency room, my scalp needed stitches. Most of my hair was gone. Pulled out, roots and all. I looked like a boy for the longest time. Girls around the island shaved their heads to honor me, Mom said.

One of the ER doctors told my mom that Moody must have been sick. A heart condition, probably, because there was no way a little girl could strangle a healthy adolescent chimpanzee. The doctor said an ape’s muscles are way stronger gram-for-gram than a human’s. The genetic code is identical, but parts of our code are now inverted, as if deliberately taken off-line. Nature does strange things, he said, no curiosity in his voice. None at all. I just don’t get that. I hope I never do.

But really, Moody was healthy. He was stronger by far than anyone else I’ve dealt with.

The truth is, I had an unfair advantage. I’m a descendant of Miyamoto Musashi, the Samurai. The legend.

No one knew. I didn’t. Growing up in Hawaii, I was a “hapa girl.” Hapa means “half” in Hawaiian.

I’m half Japanese, and I thought I was half white – until I got to the University of Hawaii.

At UH I discovered how badly some people are offended if you’re half Jewish and you think that makes you half white.

It happened in front of the biochemistry class. We had to pronounce our names for the professor. I was in the second row. When my turn came, I stood with my back to most of the class.

“I’m Johanna Fujiwara,” I said, and stood tall, proud to be the class prodigy.

He peered at me over the tops of his reading glasses. “You must be hapa,” he said warmly. “Your name’s Japanese, what’s the other half?”

“White,” I said.

He chuckled. “Can you be less specific? Scottish, Irish, Dutch… what?”

“My mother’s Jewish,” I said.

The warmth left him. “Jews aren’t white,” he growled, but caught himself and forced a smile. “You’d almost think some of them were. Makes you wonder. Well, young lady, clearly you’ve got a lot to learn. Have a seat.” The guys behind me laughed.

I felt flushed and humiliated. How was it possible that I didn’t even know my own racial composition? I stuck my tongue out at the professor, just the tiniest bit, but it was enough to notice.

“She stuck her tongue out!” a guy in the first row said, and howled. The whole class laughed at me, professor and all.

I buried my head in my arms wishing I could disappear or hit replay, go back and lie about being half Jewish. In fact, I did hit replay a hundred times that day in my head, but nothing ever changes when you do that.

Three weeks later I ruined the curve on the first test. I always do that in the tougher classes, but this time I felt good about it. Glad to redeem myself and show them how much I really knew.

The professor had the usual tough choice. He could give one A with the next highest grade a C -, flunking the rest of the class, he could make the next test ten times easier, or he could throw my scores out and redo the curve.

On the first test he gave me the only A, and told the class to buckle down. I guess he was proud of his tough reputation. Proud to routinely flunk a bunch of depressed students, thinking that cruelty somehow helped him make his way in the Universe.

After the second test he changed his tune. He said that I was an “outlier.” He isolated my score.

Then he said there was no reason to think of “this ten-year old kid” as a cut-throat.

He damn well knew my name, Johanna Fujiwara. But he wouldn’t say it.

He did say that he didn’t want to hear the term, “cut-throat” applied to “this poor little girl.”

The class cheered. Their grades would be recalculated and catapulted up several notches. They wanted to know if this new fairness would be applied to the first test retrospectively.

“Yeah, I supposed so,” the professor said, giving in.

I’d never been called a cut-throat before that day, but afterwards I heard it a lot. They shortened it to, “the throat,” as in, “The throat’s taking P-chem from Thompson. Better go with Bobst.”

You know, if you find the right phrase, you can dehumanize anyone. Ask Viktor Frankl. He said he found meaning in his suffering at Auschwitz, and everyone can find the meaning of their own lives if they search.

To me, life’s meaning starts by convincing your subconscious mind that it has a free will. For college students, that’s a tall order, but here’s the deal:

You get up off your butt and do something small and deliberate for yourself right now, and work up to doing these simple things all through every day. Instead of looking around the room for your next move, or letting something on your computer screen decide your next activity for you, close your eyes and think: What will I do next? Make the decision, then do it immediately.

Eventually it starts to feel natural to allow your world to fit you, rather than allowing your world to manipulate you and steal your free will. That’s depressing to your subconscious mind who begins to feel imprisoned in your skull.

I graduated number one in my class – just two years after seeing my one and only glimpse of antisemitism. I guess that’s what it was.

But I’m not Japanese or Jewish inside. I’m hapa. To me, “hapa” doesn’t mean “half” anything, it means fully human.

That’s my highest goal, anyway, to be fully human, no longer outside looking in at the real people.

M. Talmage Moorehead

If you’d like to read this story without clicking in and out of the chapters and fighting their reverse order, it starts here as a “single-page” scrolling document.

If you want to join my reading group and be notified when each of my novels is done (possibly before the next ice age), that’s here. (No spam or sharing of your info – ever.) You can also download a brief nonfiction e-book I wrote, the title is something like, Writing a Meaningful Page-turner. I should change that and make a book cover. Whatever.


By the way, if you like my stuff, please email my blog address to someone: http://www.storiform.com.

Thank you, I appreciate your help.