Men. Women. Just Saying.

Heart-rending story in the New York Times, The Life and Death of Therapist Bob Bergeron.… but perhaps not in the way you think. Depending perhaps on whether you are gay, a man. I’m not, but the beauty-fade? The loss of looks?  Getting old? The Creeping Decrepits, my son calls them. He, however, is only eighteen years younger than I, so he’ll get his. (He’s a Good Boy.) (Also a Senior GeoTech engineer, so I probably won’t be sending him this post.) You know the first thing I was thinking? Ladies,  do we kill ourselves when our looks disappear? The bright and shiny looks of youth? Noooo. And guys: this meat market, the whole guy hookup thing. Of which the Bergeron obit writes so blithely, so blindly. You think maybe it’s a tad empty? A tad suicidal, in and of itself?

Continue reading “Men. Women. Just Saying.”

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String Theory

Margaret Cho “I don’t know where sorrow is anymore . . .”

Such a lovely, haunting line, makes a person want to draw out the novel behind those words. Oh, yeah, that’s what it’s like, you hear a title—in the world, in your head—and if you can catch the end of that string—not easy—and have learned the patient art of holding—pulling—it’s rather like giving birth, in that you are an essential part of the process but not exactly in control. It’s a whole lot like a birth. I had to deliver a baby alpaca once when her exceptionally dimwitted mother kept spinning around to see what in god’s name was happening to her behind, the feeb. Fortunately she was a smallish animal—alpaca are not as large as llamas, nor do they spit as much. In fact, they reminded me, in style and personality, of nothing so much as cats. Continue reading “String Theory”

Meaning Beyond Question

All I know is, my soul is a pest. Or whatever is that internal thing that has kept yammering away, lo these many decades. Always with a very clear idea of what is right. Not what was easy, at the time, or even possible. Certainly not taking my children into consideration, when I was young and most wretchedly married. Just, Move on, move on. You’re going to leave here, sooner or later. One of the leavings was without my children—and I have never been able to explain why that was something I had to do. Granted, I thought it would be a separation of months—but back then, and perhaps still, a girl who would do such a thing was a slut. Beyond slut: inexplicable. I simply knew that if I had to move to Iowa and live in married-graduate student housing, I would kill myself. Having seen the sad and depressed women who lived in the same at Princeton, which I figured to be a fucking palace compared to Iowa.

Women then had nothing to do but childcare, which is a really boring thing, as occupations go. And the grad student housing itself had wallboard that picked apart in shreds, the rooms were tiny, it was terribly hot. I saw enough. We lived in a cottage, as my then-husband’s family knew someone, a family so extended it was hard to go anywhere in America and not know someone. In truth, for a while I wanted to fit in with them, it was ever so much better than my family, which had no influence at all–except for my father’s fellow physicists, scattered along the Eastern seaboard at just enough removal so that every night, when we travelled north or south, there was always someone from whom to cadge dinner. For all six of us. Something I did not know was strange until I studied the whole autistic-spectrum thing and began to see my parents for who they were. People hugely without a social clue, which is where shades of autism show up. Who saw nothing wrong with arriving, four children in tow, just in time for dinner. I remember clear as day my father checking his watch, noting that it was ten to six, and, getting out his address book, punching into a pay phone the number of tonight’s potential suckers. And the worried look on the wife’s face of the wife, trying to make her bean casserole stretch.  Wondering, I realized later, how to feed another six people, while my mother sat silent, mortified—but then, she was always mortified—as the husbands talked physics or whatever the hell it was they talked.

The soul so intimately tied up with memory. When everything fell into place later, in adulthood, I realized most of what my soul had nattered on about was the normal. Healthful. Not a massively distorted life. It definitely wanted and still wants for me to live amongst people who love me, and whom I love. Something I’ve had very brief experience of. And trying to stay sane in the midst of thought-disordered people is the biggest damn energy-suck. The point always was, I coulda been a contender. Instead of a bum. Which is of course what I turned out to be.

Words to that effect.

 

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Time Is Like An Arrow, Isn’t It?

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“Why does time slow down when we fear for our lives?” asks Burkhard Bilger in The New Yorker.

Oh, but it doesn’t—or rather, not only then. Not at all. Anything fantastic enough, witnessed, will do the trick.

I’ve seen it. Following closely behind a vineyard tractor as it slowly chugged down the narrow dirt road that ran along the creek at the bottom of our ranch. Two kids squeezed together on the tractor seat, distracting each other. A car came from the other direction, and the girl suddenly put the tractor in reverse, apparently thinking there was room for anyone to pass. I watched the tractor’s right rear wheel roll to the crumbly edge of the road and hang in air, inches beyond. The edge gave way, and the tractor went airborne, flying into a slow ballet of a complete somersault, as it rolled off the edge and backwards, moving through what seemed like an excess of air, floating in a high and graceful loop. There was no noise. I would never see anything so beautiful again – every color, every outline unnaturally clear. Never know again this eerie pause in the onrush of normal events.

But this was, of course, not normal.It is the improbable-unexpected that jars loose these long, still moments. The tractor bounced off the nearly vertical creek bank and came to rest upside down in the shallow creek, its wheels spinning like the paws of a great beast unable to right itself. I left my car, because you have to have nerve, but found instead of crushed bodies at the bottom, pinned between the huge and pointy rocks, the girl was sitting gingerly halfway down the rocky, loose bank, nursing her shoulder, the young man already scrambling up to her side, both thrown free, lucky souls.

I had a car phone, back then, and called the sheriff. In a short time, the chopper, patched through, was calling me back, hovering anxiously above. But we were hidden inside a cathedral of trees, with no way to see each other, air or ground. I verbally herded them to the field across the creek, telling the paramedics to just head west, no matter what.

We heard them crashing through the underbrush, cursing as they slipped on half-submerged rocks. Soon they came clambered up the bank, insofar as the stretcher, which they still bore, would allow. But no one, as it turned out, needed rescue. By stretcher or by air. The girl and the young man were flown off anyway. Remarkably, they were mostly unhurt—but it made sense, I supposed, that in its wondrous, strange flight, the tractor would have thrown them free.

I don’t have to tell you that time assumed its clock pace again. But the question remains: did time slow down? Or is time far more mutable than, in our daily struggles, we usually ever know.

My Problem

The genuine, albeit grim, fun will be to watch the media profile Thompson in a way that proves they still don’t get it. HST once wrote, ‘No point mentioning the bats … the poor bastard will see them soon enough.’

What is my problem? Among other things, that … I grew up in New England? Yes, as a matter of fact. One of them. And long enough ago that the Yankee principle still held: the more deeply you Feel, the less you Show. And a lovely principle it was. Then. Never mind that it got my life fucked every whichway from Sunday, including falling in with the Wrong Kind, the Kind that didn’t Show for the simple reason (I didn’t know anyone could be that simple) that there was nothing to Show. That wasn’t old-fashioned reserve, you dunce, you utter fucking blockhead, that was—no, never mind what it was. Let us just say, one of the Occupants ran my carcass over like a truck and kept on going, because, well, because they were a truck, inside. I still don’t get it—I don’t get why the really important lessons in life have to use up great honking chunks of said life, at least in some cases—nor do I get, nor shall I ever, the Big Why.

Must I embroider. Alright—though you already know this, it is in some way your own question too, it is the bones of the human question. Though I do sometimes feel I have been specially singled out, jesus christ, take that away and what the hell is left? No, this is too dreary; I am not going to spell it out, not list my misfortunes (why bother, they’ll shove their way to the forefront anyway, in time.) Everyone and her sister is in the business of listing their misfortunes, a.k.a. fate. Look at it this way: when the time comes that every person in America has been on Oprah … will we implode? As a nation?

Is it possible to introspect Too Much? Is your life as existentially interesting as mine? Really? Then why am I not reading you.

Because it’s a crap shoot. Because God giveth on the one hand, and with the other hand, the mo’facker taketh away. What the TV and the Web leave upon our doorstep, much like the bird guts my cat throws up (just the gall bladder, clever animal) is the general concept: Whoa! Other people have it better than me!

Disturbing. They are also sinful shits, Other People, in a multitude of ways, most of which I wish I’d never known about. Most of which my grandmother, born in 1897 New Hampshire, never dreamt. She turned on the television only for Bishop Sheen, who I dimly remember as a flickering figure in the funny hat, who delivered sermons and said prayers on the new, new thing, TV. That these were Catholic sermons—okay, mass, then—and Catholic prayers took a back seat to the astonishment of having church broadcast into her living room. And a far back seat it was, my grandmother so Protestant, the family arrived two years after the Mayflower. Where was I.

Oh, right: the homage to gonzo. Which is to say, to caring, to good writing, to breathtaking phrases, to goodness and purity of heart, all of which must be layered over with complex and beautiful strategies of reserve, the same way paintings on paper, with their fugitive colors, must be protected under glass. Only, being human, capable of employing all manner of transparency, we get to disguise our god-face from one another, and why the fuck not? Would it not shatter you? The light?

It would shatter me.

3.6.05–3.21.05

The Dying Thing

dylanOh, right. Blog. Entries. Write. Timely. All this stuff to remember. I get so caught up in my own reading or in reading online of the various crises that sweep the web—and then there is real life, a blurry distinction if ever there was one. I feel like such a traitor to the San Francisco Chronicle, which was for so many years such a great read in the morning, a daily magazine almost; now this thin, flabby thing is thrown upon my doorstep that is so much easier to skim online. Continue reading “The Dying Thing”

Send Me A Letter

Come down here and be my house monk. Course you can’t do that. Kids and all. And I am so much older than I used to be. I no longer look or feel very foxy, although god knows of course that I am a good-looking woman. Some things never change. I was watching Otis Redding at Monterey Pop, a time seemed to last forever, then. I don’t think I could bear to watch it if I didn’t, in some far corner of my dreams, think it could all happen again. Or never ended. Right, and Otis is not dead. He was twenty-five at the time of those incredible recordings. Twenty-five and bursting with a talent it’s hard to account for, with soul and good looks. Good moves. What if someone like that had lived?
Continue reading “Send Me A Letter”