googling the holy spirit

valerie kamen


On the corner of 35th street a man in a trench coat stops me and urgently warns of an upcoming “cannibalistic alien attack.”

I find myself unexpectedly happy. I am relieved cuz maybe now it won’t matter that I’m late to work.  

But then I think about it for a second and realize it doesn’t make sense cuz what does a “cannibalistic alien attack” even mean?  Like does it even count as cannibalism if aliens eat humans or are they gonna come all the way here just to eat each other or what? And I get sad cuz maybe I’m not involved in this at all and I’ll still have to go to work.

I think I finally understand the big deal with the rapture and why so many people are fans. It’s nice to feel that you will soon not be obligated to feel stressed about things you absolutely don’t give a shit about without having to take the responsibility of killing yourself. Especially if killing yourself might be a sin and then you might be un-raptured and have to go back to work, forever.

At work I listen to a Fresh Air interview with Bruce Springsteen. He is talking about who he performs as and why he is good at it. He explains the Two Parts of Bruce Springsteen. Part One is that he went to Catholic church as a kid and it gave him a leg up in the arts because of an early familiarity with transubstantiation and the world of signs. This probably also applies to alchemists but I think there are less of them. Part Two of Bruce Springsteen is that he is basically a conflation of himself and his father. This is a conscious decision he has made to try and solve a problem, he lives as a combination person, combining his sensitive worldview with his dad’s tough persona in the hope to one day understand his father more. (Which also seems related to Part One, very transubstantiation thing to do.)

I realize I relate to Bruce Springsteen a lot. Which makes me kind of depressed for him cuz I’m a lot younger than him so it really seems like he hasn’t worked out any of his issues yet.

The way Bruce Springsteen performs as Bruce Springsteen is very similar to the way I watch The Sopranos.

I have a secret dream of a version of The Sopranos that is only the parts I find the most compelling. It wouldn’t have murder or the mob or any of that stuff which I honestly find boring and feel gets in the way of the most disturbing aspects of the show. Which are the parts where Tony eats bowls of ice cream while watching the History Channel.

Walking in Midtown as the sun goes down the light hits the windows of skyscrapers in a way that makes it look like each little window is its own view of a sunset over the horizon of an ocean seen through the lens of an unfocused camera. Fuzzy orange at the top blending into a deep calming blue at the bottom. It’s an unpopular opinion but I love the lower part of Midtown. It is still full of the kind of businesses that in other parts of Manhattan have been long closed down and replaced. I don’t know how they still survive in this section of the city, sometimes I am suspicious that there is a secret Business Preservation Borough of Shitty Dingy New York. The lower part of Midtown is timeless New York in the way that you would expect New York to look if you had only seen it as a cartoon on a dirty souvenir coffee mug. Also apparently timeless means some time roughly between 1950-1980. I don’t know who decided that but it seems to be the consensus.

I walk past a store called The Retail Store Supplies Store which sells retail store supplies: clothing racks, mannequins, shelves, and industrial carpet cleaners. I feel like I’m seeing something secret I’m not supposed to see. Like the stuff everything is built out of, the wooden back of the stage set. I feel powerful like I could build Midtown myself if I wanted to, now that I have seen how it all works.

Next door is a store with a neon sign that says Menorah but it only sells sequined ball gowns. I wonder if they ever used to actually sell menorahs and why they stopped. I wonder if menorah sales in general have gone down, or just at this store.

Maybe miracles don’t happen anymore cuz if they did we just wouldn’t appreciate them enough.  Like how one time my friend Liz fell asleep while watching Blue Man Group.

In a bar a psychic pulls me aside and tells me I am also a psychic, but only half. She says that being half a psychic is worse than being a normal person because then you kind of know things but not enough so you just seem confusing and weird to people. Then she says she has to go because my aura is bumming her out, but that the reading is her gift to me and I don’t have to pay or anything.  

Being a psychic must be hard because you really have to pick and choose when’s the right time to brutally tear people down.

It’s not fair cuz how is a normal person—or half psychic person even—supposed to know when a psychic is telling the truth? They could just be fucking with everyone all the time. It’s like how if a magician were really good you probably wouldn't know if they were also a pickpocket. Literally all the magicians in the world could be pickpockets. You just wouldn't know.

Honestly, I think she is probably right.

At the Ukrainian church diner the Christmas garlands and wreaths are up and there is a new painting of Jesus. He is standing in a wheat field surrounded by smiling people of various ages. I know wheat is very important to Ukrainians. I feel genuinely happy and excited for them that He has decided to visit their wheat field.

An old lady is asking the man at the counter how the Holy Spirit works. She says she has never quite understood it. How do you get it? How exactly does it enter unto you?

He shrugs, gives her an apologetic half smile and refills her coffee.

She laments that the priest is not there this afternoon. Where is he! Today they have the donuts he likes, even!

The man gives an apologetic half smile again.

On the way back to her table she tells everyone within earshot that if they know anything about how the Holy Spirit operates they should feel free to share those details with her. But apparently no one knows anything about the operation of the Holy Spirit. She sits down and announces determinedly that she is about to google how the Holy Spirit works. After a couple of minutes she jumps out of her chair and shouts,

OH, it descends upon you!