Author: noexpertbut

What is it about our species that makes us want to measure everything? Early this morning I was swimming laps and after a busier than normal period of long hours, little sleep and poor routines, my mind was foggy. I was struggling to keep count. Was I up to four or had I already swum six, could I reach my mini, out of condition, target of ten or would I be able to push through and swim twenty? How long had I slept the night before? How long would I sleep tonight? How many hours would I work? How much fat from my paunch belly would I be burning? The numbers went on and on and I began to wonder if any of it mattered. Why couldn’t I just swim for thirty minutes and not count the number of laps? Why did I need to count? Would it matter if I swam twenty, twenty-five or seventeen? But then thirty minutes was a measure again. Why did it have to be thirty minutes? Couldn’t I just swim for twenty-eight or ten or whatever I felt like at the time?

Suddenly as I was swimming up and down the pool, counting laps, I began drowning in numbers. I was surrounded and soaking in means and methods for measuring all aspects of my life. The way I spent time, everything I ate, my level of education, my income, my outgoings, my height, my weight, the number of words I would put to the page. Everything measured, everything weighed up and compared to some standard form or another.

But why? Why do we do it? As I approached my tenth lap I realised my mind and body were gearing up for a short swim. After all it had been a while and I didn’t want to over do it. My last lap is always a sprint. Whatever energy I haven’t expended in the lead up I try to burn off in one final and focused push. Even when I’m exhausted there always seems to be energy for a fast dash to the end. In that last sprint this morning the king of measures raced through my mind. There it was as I hurriedly paced to the finish. The measure of all measures, the very thing my swimming was aiming to push away, my mortality. Perhaps that is what drives us to constantly count and compare. Everything gauged against an inevitable ending. I breathed deeply at the end of the pool, relaxed my exhausted limbs, sank into the cool water and let go of all the numbers racing around in my head. I was in no hurry to reach the end of that mortal measure that defines us all, content for the time being to question if that very limit on our lives is what feeds our insatiable need to evaluate, measure and define.

At the end of 2007 I was feeling pretty miserable. I had a list of complaints including rejection, unfulfilled ambition and uncertainty about the future. Regardless I found myself on a last minute getaway over New Year’s with a good friend, eager to have some end of year reflection. As NYE approached I found myself considering the nature of resolutions.

As I thought about things I wanted to change I began to feel that perhaps New Year’s resolutions were not that great and were actually a means of confirming the list of insecurities I was carrying around. Why was I easy to reject? Was I getting too fat? Should exercise more, eat less, be more outgoing, less unconventional? And on it went ad nauseam. Not only would my resolutions confirm everything that was ‘wrong’ with me,  but when I inevitably failed to live up to these changes I’d also be able to ad that failure to the list of inadequacies. Not great for self-esteem.

Rather than challenge myself with resolutions reliant on my will power and based on subjective imperfections I decided to take on a New Year’s evolution instead. I wanted to change the way I saw myself and the world in a way that might be more productive and positive. We are, after all, a species that can adapt and change. But where do you start when it comes to evolving?

When I thought about it, all I had that I could control were the means with which I perceived the world. The five senses, and of course my human brain.

I later discovered this was called a mindful practice and it completely transformed my life. Over the following months I found joy in the smallest of moments by focusing on my different senses throughout the day. I’d take walks and alternate my focus, even situations that previously felt boring had elements I could uncover. Eventually my despair evaporated. When I added meditation a few years later things got even better.

A number of years later, however, and I’m ready to do it again. Over the last few months I’ve allowed the screaming demands of life to erode my regular practices. While I feel fundamentally happy, old patterns of frustration have re-emerged and I don’t want to be subject to them.

Here is what I said to myself in 2007 and what I’m saying to myself again today:


Look at the world in ways you don’t normally see it. Take time to examine objects in your every day life that you’ve seen thousands of times, but really examine their structure and construction. Don’t just look for the beauty in things, look past your initial observation and deconstruct your automatic responses.


When you wake in the morning listen for sounds in your environment you may have previously heard but not acknowledged. Quiet moments are not always made from the absence of sound. There may be things in your environment that you are hearing but not consciously perceiving.


Savour not only the foods you enjoy but examine what it is about things that initially disagree with your pallet. Food is not all you can taste. Examine what properties make things taste good to you.


Breathe in the aromas of your world. They are abundant, pungent, delicate and multi layered. Detect the layers, ad fragrance to your environment. Walk through the various environments in which you live and acknowledge the delightful and the not so delightful odours that waft in and out around you.


Touch everything you can. Caress surfaces, feel textures, enjoy skin, bristles, clothes, bench tops, steering wheels, food, soapy water. Remember your entire body can perceive touch. Exploit it.

I’m not saying I’m unhappy about the Paris Outcome. It’s certainly a great moment in history. It’s just after Copenhagen and well basically the collective history of humanity, I’m suspicious. As a species have we got what it takes to not only stick to this agreement and transition away from dirty power but also to go further and actually save ourselves and our planet from devastating climate change and toxic pollution.

This is the same UN collective that has signed agreements protecting human rights yet flagrantly flaunt abuses not only to the agreement but also to actual humans. From the comfort of my middle class existence here in Australia I’m ashamed of my own country’s human rights abuses and its lack of vision on climate change. Part of the Paris Outcome is an agreement for carbon emissions to peak by 2030 before shifting to a target of zero emissions for the second half of the century. The cynic in me feels there will be a free for all push to get as much out of the coal industry as possible before 2050, and then some, as emissions decline. Even if every country does what it has agreed to in Paris there is still going to be a huge amount of polluting going on well towards the end of the 21st centaury.

What is it about us that makes us so blind to our own self destructive nature? I don’t have an answer but I have been contemplating my own actions and found in my everyday life I’m no better than the collective. I want to give up sugar, but find it difficult to stay away from sweet things. I want to eat raw or unprocessed foods as much as possible, to eat less meat due to its impact on the planet but also its direct affect on my digestive system, but find various exceptions allow all these things to creep back into my diet. My own body is surely as important to me as the only planet I have to live on. It’s the only body I have and the only means I know of to keep me here as long as possible, yet I willingly allow toxins into my system through poor dietary choices. When you look at how we treat ourselves is it any wonder we are doing the same thing to the only home we have?

While writing my new novel MY FATHER’S TIME, I’ve been contemplating the nature of time. It has occurred to me that out of everything we may perceive, time, is the one thing of most value.

You can collect objects, buy houses, music, have nice clothes, even surround yourself with people you love. However, your possessions will hold no value when you no longer have time to spend with them. It is your time and your projection of meaning that gives objects, people or activities a sense of worth.

If someone wastes your time, they are wasting your life. Sounds dramatic, but it is true. Your time on this planet is finite. Even if you believe in reincarnation, your time as the person you currently are is limited. We are defined by that limitation, yet many people live as though there is no limitation and don’t’ value their own time or the time of people around them.

So I ask you, from one human being to another, to consider your time and the time of those around you. Consider the opportunity time brings to your existence, while the window is open.


It’s a great read – really 9/10 people have a great time reading it. The 10th person while perhaps not enjoying it as much as the others is not hurt in any way, unless you count psychological scarring.

If you don’t normally read science fiction, relax. This is not like regular science fiction. It’s more like social fiction. Yes, there is a space station, yes there are scientists but you should think of these elements as plot or story devices rather than the main concern. The world in Road To Nowhere is very familiar. You won’t feel out of place, but you may feel out of time (that is a climate change joke – see next point).

Climate change is real and we are starting to live through the effects of it. But have you stopped to imagine what might happen a little further down the track? Well now you don’t have to worry because I’ve done that for you and you can sit back and just read about it, safe in the knowledge that what will happen to people after you are dead is much worse than what will happen to you.

Sex – we all like sex. Okay, some people don’t but sex is a part of human existence and while there are some steamy scenes in Road To Nowhere they are not gratuitous. Okay, maybe a little, but sex is in my book because sex has a fundamental impact on human decision-making and I find that fascinating.

Are you interested in reality? Reality according to human beings? I want you to think about that. Our reality is a human one. A dog’s reality is inline with a dog’s perception. If this notion interests you then read Road To Nowhere for more such notions. Be grateful you have the opportunity to read it because a dog can look at the words but won’t be able to construct a meaning from the symbols on the page in the same way you so cleverly can.

It’s called Road To Nowhere for many reasons. As a species we seem intent on a path of self-destruction, but we are also resolute survivors. I find that duality compelling, don’t you?

Don’t freak out about the previous point. Yes it may seem like doom and gloom but there is much fun to be had on the way to oblivion and I’m not at all certain that’s where we will end up. In fact I think we are ultimately much smarter than that. We just have to be wiser about who we let loose on the collective controls of society.

I really care about you, and that’s lovely isn’t it?

I’m asking you really nicely to read Road To Nowhere. Frankly that should be enough. I spent quite a bit of time working on it for you and if you don’t like it once you start then you can choose to stop reading it. It is my humble opinion however, that if you give it a go, you will be surprised, perhaps even enthralled and entertained, quite possibly even delighted with your decision. Who knows, you may even want to share a recommendation with friends. Hey, an author can dream.

Evan Shapiro
Author – Road To Nowhere

By Evan Shapiro

© 2014

I’ve become invisible to her. She moves through the life we’ve built together as if I’m non-existent. I watch her as she readies herself for bed. She doesn’t seem to notice that I’ve stopped reading and that I’m just watching. She sits at her night table and removes her makeup, her actions almost automated, her routine entrenched and systematic. She stands and moves towards me, but it’s not me she sees. I’m just part of the bed to her. She turns down the sheets, drops her nightie to the floor and curls into her side, her naked body turned away from me. I feel the gentle warmth of her skin begin to radiate across the sheets and know I’m no longer permitted to touch it. Her hand extends from the bed and she flicks off her bedside lamp. She whispers, ‘Good night.’

‘Good night’ floats in the empty space between us. She wasn’t really talking to me. Saying ‘good night’ has just become part of her routine. The only light now is my bedside lamp. I’m so invisible to her that I also want to be invisible to myself. I turn my light off and stare into the darkness.

She’s gone when I wake up. She’s gone every day when I wake up. But in the light of day that pours in through my window, I’m still here.

As I make my way to the lab I wonder what she does when I’m not there. Is she ignoring my presence when I’m around or is this how she really is when she is alone?

We are working with pigment neutrality in the lab. If I can find a way to make pigment translucent, to allow light to pass through it instead of reflecting it back, then a new era of stealth will open. Not just objects, like my military employer’s jet planes and drones, but organic matter. Imagine what information an invisible spy could obtain moving unseen through enemy lines.

As I’m looking through the electromagnetic microscope, seeing cell structures the human eye alone can’t perceive, I think of her. How did we get to this place of isolation, where she no longer sees me? 10 years, no children, professional careers. Is it just boredom that makes me invisible to her now? Is it because she has seen me so many times that her brain has decided not to bother constructing that part of the picture? Knowing something is there but choosing deliberately to exclude it?

Suddenly I realise the answer. I have to make light work the way her mind is working. Not through boredom or apathy, but through reprogramming. Whatever part of me that reflects or blocks light must be told to allow it to pass through. Then it won’t only be her that sees through me completely, sees past me, sees a world that exists not simply absent of me, but one constructed around me, one in which I only exist as an echo. And in that world I can observe her. The part of her that thinks I’m still in the room and worthy of ignoring will not longer function. When I’m truly invisible to her then I can observe what her life is like without me.

I delve into the DNA structure with purpose and determination. A labor of love or perhaps lost love but I’m driven nonetheless and find a structure I can manipulate.

I attach my sequence of genetic reprogramming to a non-lethal virus. I inject it into my lab rats and watch them vanish before my eyes as the virus spreads through their systems. I pat their invisible little bodies and don’t forget to feed them just because I can’t see them. Strangely their fecal matter remains visible. It’s a little disconcerting seeing a tiny rat poo appear a few inches above the floor of the cage and see it drop, seemingly out of nowhere.

A few days later and their antibodies have kicked in and my virus and its effects are cleared. My little fury friends are now visible again and none the wiser. But I am, and I am ready to discover just what goes on in the world my love and I have created, when I’m not around.

I drive into our garage and park the car. She’s not home yet. I texted earlier and told her I would be working late, maybe into the early hours. I was on a breakthrough, that was true. She replied with an emoticon. She’s been replying with lots of those lately. A happy face. Does that mean she’s happy I’m not coming home? Does it mean she’s happy to get a message from me? If she’d sent a frown would it mean she was upset that I wasn’t coming home or would it mean she was irritated to have to look at her phone and see it was just another text message from me? I guess, all things considered, I was reading too much into her emoticons. But they were after all emotional.

I close the garage door. She always parked on the street so wouldn’t see my car. She would just come home as usual and enter through the front door. It was only ever I who came into the house through the garage.

I take off my clothes. My genetic re-sequencing wasn’t going to work on them. I retrieve the syringe with my virus from my brief case and jab it into my arm.

I feel the virus working almost immediately. A slight tickle at the back of the throat, like the onset of a cold, then a few aches and pains in my legs, my arms and then my shoulders and back. I flip down the sun visor and pop up the mirror flap. I see my hands fading before me; then as I look at my own reflection my mildly transparent skin suddenly vanishes. All goes black.

I can feel the car seat. I reach out and I feel the steering wheel. My other hand touches my face. It’s there, I’m there, but I can’t see anything. Everything is black. I retrace the steps in my mind up to the moment I see my own eyes vanish before me in the reflection of the sun visor mirror. Then it hits me and it hits me hard. Reflection! Goddammit why didn’t I think of reflection? How can I see if I’ve genetically programmed my cells to pass light? How will my retina operate its basic functions without the ability to reflect light? Without reflection I’m blind.

I take a few deep breaths. My mission is not a failure. I’m in a familiar environment. I can get myself inside and I can still monitor my lover’s life. I can listen, I can feel, I can smell and taste.

But quickly, I have to move quickly. How’s she going to feel if she sees a set of keys floating in the air? I feel around for the keys in the ignition and pull them out. I clutch them firmly and begin to feel through them to find the house key. But first where the hell is the door latch. I must do this every day, why now can’t I find the car door lock. I close my eyes, not that it matters, and breathe again, my hand feeling along the inner door. Finally I find the latch and pop the door open. It smashes into the side of the garage and I hear something break. Damn it, that piece of glass I should have just thrown out instead of keeping; as If I was ever going to reuse it myself; as if I was every going to take it to a glass cutter and get it cut to size. No I just had to keep it against the wall all this time, not so it would be of use to me but so it would be a son of a bitch hindrance.

There must be glass all over the floor, but it’s safety glass, it will be in clumps, maybe. I feel around the car and find my shirt. I throw it on the ground hoping it will cover anything potentially dangerous and gingerly put a foot to the floor. It seems ok. I take the other foot and drop it down.

The pain is immediate. My foot throbs at the point of entry and my fingers instinctively find the piece of glass and pull it out. I grab what feels like my boxer shorts and wrap it around my feet, satisfied I’ve stopped any bleeding. Still clutching my keys I hop to the door and pray I don’t land on any more shards of glass. A few fumbles with the lock and key but I soon marry the two and once I’m inside I rest a moment with my invisible back on the door to the garage. I imagine what it must look like. If another human being were in the room they’d see a bundled up pair of boxer shorts bobbing in mid air.

Then I hear her car pull up. Hiding places quickly run through my head. I could lie behind the lounge or just sit in the armchair. She wouldn’t see me. But now I’ve got this goddamn pair of boxer shorts tied to my foot. If she hadn’t trained me out of being a slob it would go unnoticed, but ten years together and now I’m some kind of neat freak my former self wouldn’t recognise.

I hear voices approaching the front door. She’s not alone. It’s that dickhead boss of hers. Dickhead. I hate that dickhead. What’s he doing here? Why isn’t he on the train home to his wife and three kids in the suburbs. Dickhead.

I feel my way around the walls and make it to our bedroom door. If I linger here I can easily make it to en suite for refuge if I need to. I suddenly wonder what will happen if I take a piss. Will my urine be visible as it streams out of my body, a midair flow of yellow liquid arching from nothing into the bowl? Or would it be like my rats. After a few days I could see their insides working before the outer layer became visible again.

She’s at the door and I hear it suddenly fly open and I feel a gust of air across me. They fall into the room laughing hysterically and slam the door behind them. My body shudders with the sharp sounds but then my knees buckle when their laughing continues. How come she doesn’t laugh like that with me anymore? They are drunk, I can smell it. Vodka. Transparent but potent, always her weakness.

The hysteria dies down but it’s replaced with soft short breaths. What are they doing? No they can’t be? Not kissing?

‘Are you sure he won’t be back tonight?’ the dickhead says.

‘I’m sure. He’s geeking out with his geek ‘friends’ at his geek work on some geek project.’ She replies breathlessly between kisses.

I’m not sure what hurts more, the constant reference to geek in the negative, or that she’s being unfaithful? Or is it that she knows so little about me that she can only refer to what I do as geekish. My work, my colleagues, the things in life that bring me joy all lumped into a single misused verb or noun depending on which part of speech you want to focus on.

‘Can we do it in your bed?’ dickhead says.

No. Not our bed I think. I crawl into the room and slam the door shut behind me. At least I hope I have. She’s pushing at the door now, wondering what slammed it. Was it the wind or some supernatural force stopping her from having sex with another man in our bed? My body is blocking the door as she shoves against it.

‘Something must be blocking it.’ She says.

‘Let me try,’ says dickhead. He shoves his weight against the door and my fingers get caught under the base and burn against the carpet. I roll out of the way, cradling my broken fingers and biting my tongue. I move my head forward to sit up and it pounds into the wooden slats of the bed. Without realizing it I’ve rolled under the bed. I use my hand with the unbroken fingers to feel out the space I’m in and check if any of my body is exposed. I pull my leg in to avoid any further injuries. I feel safe for the moment, if somewhat claustrophobic. For the first time I’m grateful I can’t see. I hate small spaces, but at least I can’t see it.

In their drunken state they have concluded it was the wind that shut the door, that nothing was blocking it. Perhaps to her mind it was the last remnants of our connection?

‘I want to use you,’ she says, ‘to fuck away what’s left of him in my life, the invisible stain he’s become on my existence.’

‘I can do that.’ dickhead replies as they fall on the bed.

I feel the air under the bed diminish as their bodies sink into the mattress. Their kisses turn to moans and I feel the air oscillate as the mattress goes up and down. Her moans of passion, almost forgotten by me fill my invisible ears. Is this what I expected to find when given a doorway into her private world? No, I just wanted to see her sulking, pining over our lost love, not trying to fuck it away with some smarmy dickhead from her office.

The movement from the bed gets faster. I can’t see the bed moving but I can feel it. If I can just slide out then I should be able to make my way to the bathroom. I can nurse my invisible wounds in solitude. I’m resigned to slinking around invisibly until the virus runs it course.

I keep my hands on the bed slats, feeling them move faster as their climax builds. Her moaning is like a dagger to my heart, his pounding driving it deeper. Faster, less space, I can hardly move, faster, pounding, moaning, yelling, no air, no space then bang, the bed slats pounding my head with their climax. Unconscious oblivion.

I wish I could tell you that it ended well. That I had an out of body experience, that I floated over those two as they tore my life to pieces, my life that was already in shreds. That I floated joyfully away, uncaring into a blissful realm. But it didn’t end well. I lay there until I could be certain they were gone. Hobbled almost, beaten, bruised and bleeding I tended my invisible wounds as best I could. Three days of sightless dragging along the floor between bathroom and bedroom, fearful of her return or the presence of any other human being until my sight returned: until being invisible no longer robbed me of my vision. My fingers, still broken, would probably need to be broken and set. My foot, infected and painful, would heal, but how long until my pride, my invisible unseen feelings, how long would they take to mend?