Wrote after a friend of mine passed away: "Some people you don't see for years and years but they're always on your mind. They don't get there easily. They probably annoyed the hell out of you a lot. They most definitely loved you. And you them. But they're there, living their lives inside your mind and only occasionally brushing hard against a memory to bring the face to your forefront. Some faces demand to be held steady between hands and kissed softly to slow the face down. Haggard from the workday, a chance for peace at home, these faces draw strength from mundane pleasures. Maybe memories of you. Maybe memories of themselves. When we're lucky we get to remember we were beautiful. Some people are perfume, the kind that lingers like a coiling thread, wispy but tangible as a touch. These people are royalty. The long-suffering ones, the receptionists, the file keepers, the moms, the doctor s, the wishful, the trusting, the forlorn, the loving. They're everything and everywhere, but to someone out there, they're never forgotten. That has to mean something. Losing a friend makes you realize what a fool you’ve been. Said goodbye to a valuable friend today. I met her as a younger man and thought she was a queen. And that, my friends, is where she will stay."
It was a note to folks I hadn't seen in a while, people I worked with long ago, people I hugged that day. Then I added "...It was good to see everyone. I don't have all your email addresses but trust--if warranted--that this note will find its way to the GEMB crew, those who were there today to whisper 'Safe journey' and everyone who couldn't make it. Numbness can sometimes be a beautiful thing, but when it wears off you're shockingly left with who you are. You reach upward because there's nothing beneath you. Or you reach outward because you realize no one is ever alone."
People who, undeniably, are a part of me.
This was supposed to have been my introductory blog but emotions have been so jumbled that in writing it I jumped from cliff to cliff after whatever truly needed to be said. I put it to the side. Others stepped forward.
So here we go:
Necessary information: These writers are all better than I am. Read them. Toni Morrison, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Christopher Moore, Walter Mosley, Mil Millington, Harlan Ellison, John Gardner, Harper Lee, Octavia Butler, Joseph Campbell, Phillip K. Dick, Milan Kundera, William Shakespeare, Basho…
Seek them out and the thousands I didn’t mention. A public service announcement.
Secondly, should you care that I’m at work writing to take up your valuable surfing time wherever you happen to be employed? You should not. This is nihilism at its finest. You’re here because there are people near enough to catch you lingering over porn in your cubicle, but not to catch you glancing randomly at text on a screen. If you frown you'll look dedicated, carpal tunnel and bad eyesight be damned! I'm reasonably sure you can read this blog in safety. Something about your job irked you off today, and by damn you need this! I’ve got your blog right here, love. This is the new porn. I will be your Dick Rambeau.
I have no intention politicizing you, converting you, or teaching you about your inner self. If you’re stupid at the beginning of this blog, by god, you’ll be stupid at the end. If you’re smarter than me, well, keep that kind of rudeness to yourself. Or blog elsewhere where no one will read you because you, dear clod, are not Dick Rambeau, Shakespeare’s wily cousin. Better writers than me (see? atrocious grammar) have shown me that a blog must be a public service. As your public servant, let me clear the air surrounding a few prevalent conspiracy theories so that we can all move on to new and better insanities. In no particular order of heinousness or awe: Bush did it; the Loch Ness Monster has been captured; a full-fledged female orgasm is not something men should be privy to—not that that happens when we’re around, eh? Much like Santa Claus, there’s no such thing as Christianity, unless you’re willing to drop the pretense that it’s so much more than a pagan hodgepodge, in which case we’re all Christian’s at heart, Hooray! The needs of the many do not outweigh the needs of the few (if they did then the ultra-rich would be at our service, wouldn’t they, and being sickly entertained by Paris Hilton’s vagina—there’s probably a new tape out there somewhere—does not count as a valid service). When’s the last time some wealthy prick approached you needing time off to tend to a sick child? And, yes, you specifically are the many.
Theory dismissed by the blinding light of truth # 6: You will always have family. No, you will always be trying to get away from family. The conspiracy is that the ties that bind make a cord stronger. The truth is that a strong cord is essentially a good tool for hanging oneself. Do you realize the odds of you not being born into a family??? They’re astronomical. There’s going to be someone there in your immediate or far-flung future who thinks a few watery strands of shared DNA undeniably and unequivocally means you owe them something of yourself. And really, that’s all you come into the world with: yourself. Protect it. The old saw is that god created friends to make up for family. This truth has so many branch points. Family is conscription. Friends are largely voluntary. Family is good for the occasional holiday card, yearly barbecue, and having someone available to help you move furniture from one home to another. Friends—who realize without restraint that they don’t have to put up with your shit—are good for the good stuff, which is life itself. Love should be worked at, not assumed. Drop a nickel in the pot if you agree.
Last of the conspiracies: Death. Don't you dare believe for a second in that flimsy boogeyman. Death can kiss my left nut. Really, how do you die? When you think about it, death's a weird thing. You're trudging along without being anywhere in the vicinity of figuring out what anything is about and then, unceremoniously, Bam, brick wall, you're done. Over. Finito. When you're dead, goes the song, you just ain't there. Doesn't it seem cosmically weird to put all this energy into being here and then, phft!--a pretty lady whose only prior ailments were poor taste in men and the occasional female problems dies from a heart attack. Nobody up and dies from a spleen attack, do they? That'd be ridiculous. You'd get to Heaven, get asked how you got there, say "Spleen got me" and get laughed right out the Pearly Gates. A heart attack is equally ridiculous. That a single piece of equipment carries that much operational power without there being reliable backups is shoddy design work even Bill Gates would frown upon. Cancer? I can see dying from cancer. I've seen far too much dying from cancer. Half my immediate family. Cancer's a full-out attack on the body complete with inner espionage, double agents, sleeper agents, moles and hateful propaganda. The body--your body, the thing you've lived in since forever--at war.
But a heart attack? That's just stupid and it makes me mad. A woman I haven't seen in a long long time died recently. They said she had a heart attack. Had she grown weary? Had it grown lonely? Had it missed opportunities? Was it waiting for me to call it? Years and years and years ago we were very close. It's rare that a man and a woman can be attracted to one another but realize there's so much more to explore together than what's in their pants. Not platonic. Platonic is when folks try to pretend there's no frisson. We were passionate with our friendship, very flirtatious, practically lustful, but we knew that it was best we merely play with those notions than give in to them. As fun as we were, I didn't want to wake up next to her for the rest of my life, and the flipside is the same for her. I suppose I could get psychological and say we sublimated our feelings into acts of conversation, shopping, advice, other exertions (I highly recommend working out with someone you're attracted to but shouldn't give in to--best sweat session you'll ever get), and just basically chillin' around the notion of being really good friends. And I'd be right. But we were cool together. Life and time intervened to where the junk drawer of the mind added one more set of keys you'd never remember which lock they were for, and we lost contact. Plus we'd had a falling out, which increases memory loss. The firm we worked at disbanded, I the asshole told her to take care of herself, and that was the end of it. I pretty much took our friendship away from her based on youth and stupidity. I am an utter twat. The twatness comes out like Tourette's. My wife tolerates my condition because she's basically crazy as a saint, but I know that I'm a prick.
I should have remained her friend, and not become the guy who gets an email years later saying she's had a heart attack. I would have warned her about her heart's planned cowardly sneak attack. I watched out for her like that. Don't you dare believe in death. I'm not talking religious 'Rise up and have sweet pudding for eternity' disbelief in death. I mean that it doesn't happen in the first place. It is a huge conspiracy, one so vast that it doesn't even bother trying to hide in the shadows. We're supposed to actually live, be productive, engage one another, all while threatened with the random capriciousness of the big Here-Not-Here? I bloody well think not.
"Some people you don't see for years and years but they're always on your mind. They don't get there easily. They probably annoyed the hell out of you a lot. They most definitely loved you. And you them. But they're there, living their lives inside your mind and only occasionally brushing hard against a memory to bring their face to the forefront. Some faces demand to be held steady between hands and kissed softly. To slow the face down. Haggard from the work day, a chance for peace at home, these faces draw strength from mundane pleasures. Maybe memories of you. Maybe memories of themselves, as beautiful as the last note of a lovely song. When we're lucky we get to remember we were beautiful. And she most definitely was. Some women are perfume, the kind that lingers like a coiling thread, wispy but tangible as a touch. These women are queens. The long suffering ones, the receptionists, the file keepers, the moms, the doctors, the wishful, the trusting, the forlorn, the loving. They're everything, but to someone out there, they're never forgotten. That's simply not possible. Putting certain women on pedestals isn't some foolish errand. It's an inescapable and necessary function. My friend whom I haven't seen for longer than I've been married is dead. Death is bogus, but that doesn't mean she ain't gone. She's gone. Ask me where and all I can do is shrug and look stupid. Dunno. People will and do say things like She's not gone as long as we remember her. Bull. She's gone. If I wanted to pick up the phone and catch up on things with her, I couldn't. That ship's passed. Gone. Dead. But it's a cheat. Death is a cheat. They want you to believe that it has to happen and you have to deal with it, but it doesn't, and I'm damned if I'll deal with every snatch of a good person away from me and the tiny universe I hope to control. Not believing it. Not having it. Not about to go quietly into that good night. Her name was Sheryl. I met her as a younger man and thought she was a queen. She wasn't, but she was. And that, my friends, is where she will stay."
A bit of a rant. Will try to keep same from reoccurring during future sessions, if anyone is inclined to return. But if we can't rant when we lose somebody important, why the hell are we here?