Election day special.
Choose … wisely.
This post’s picture originally appeared on November 9, 2010 at 9:53 am. Check that near-synchronicity.
“How We Roll” by bubbabae on the deviantart.
Only once in your life, I truly believe, you find someone who can completely turn your world around. You tell them things that you’ve never shared with another soul and they absorb everything you say and actually want to hear more. You share hopes for the future, dreams that will never come true, goals that were never achieved and the many disappointments life has thrown at you. When something wonderful happens, you can’t wait to tell them about it, knowing they will share in your excitement.
“Geeks in Love II” by Blood On the Moon on the deviantart.
They are not embarrassed to cry with you when you are hurting or laugh with you when you make a fool of yourself. Never do they hurt your feelings or make you feel like you are not good enough, but rather they build you up and show you the things about yourself that make you special and even beautiful. There is never any pressure, jealousy or competition but only a quiet calmness when they are around. You can be yourself and not worry about what they will think of you because they love you for who you are. The things that seem insignificant to most people such as a note, song or walk become invaluable treasures kept safe in your heart to cherish forever.
Memories of your childhood come back and are so clear and vivid it’s like being young again. Colors seem brighter and more brilliant. Laughter seems part of daily life where before it was infrequent or didn’t exist at all. A phone call or two during the day helps to get you through a long day’s work and always brings a smile to your face. In their presence, there’s no need for continuous conversation, but you find you’re quite content in just having them nearby. Things that never interested you before become fascinating because you know they are important to this person who is so special to you. You think of this person on every occasion and in everything you do. Simple things bring them to mind like a pale blue sky, gentle wind or even a storm cloud on the horizon.
“Friends for a reason” by Pookaburra on the deviantart.
You open your heart knowing that there’s a chance it may be broken one day and in opening your heart, you experience a love and joy that you never dreamed possible. You find that being vulnerable is the only way to allow your heart to feel true pleasure that’s so real it scares you. You find strength in knowing you have a true friend and possibly a soul mate who will remain loyal to the end. Life seems completely different, exciting and worthwhile. Your only hope and security is in knowing that they are a part of your life.
R.I.P., Davy Jones.
This post originally appeared on April 5, 2010 at 2:59 pm.
Had a lot of dogs in the fire lately, Stanimal, but wanted to share these gorgeous caps of Jul-Newms in her guest appearance on The Monkees.
About a month ago, I thought I’d lost my specs and was going to have to get new ones and I was super-bummed, because I’ve gotten loads of compliments on my dorky, deliberately dowdy and thick black frames. I found them, but the brief transition back to my old, unobtrusive, lightweight and thin frames, and the corresponding dip in compliments and double-takes, hammered home to me how fun and harmlessly fetishistic a nice pair can be. Of glasses. Get your mind on track.
There’s a pervasive and misguided old saw that men aren’t attracted to a girl in glasses (I believe it runs, “Men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses,” and I’ve seen it attributed to patroness Dorothy Parker, but I am not so sure it was she), which I feel is unfortunately still believed to this day.
I have not found this to be true, and I think these stills dispell that ugly myth once and for all. As the countersaying goes, “Men do make passes at girls who wear glasses — it all depends on their frame.”
So leave ’em on, ladies!
All stills from “The Monkees Get More Dirt Out,” Season 2, Episode 29, The Monkees. (Original air date April 3, 1967.) Ms. Newmar plays April Conquest, who works at the local laundromat, and with whom each of the Monkees falls in love.
In polls, questions at conventions, and weight of fan mail, the episode has been voted the most popular and favorite of the series. Get it, girl!
Edit 3/1/2012: In memoriam, extra stills of Davy and the gents.
“To John Dillinger and hope he is still alive.
Thanksgiving Day. November 28, 1986.”
Thanks for the wild turkey and
the passenger pigeons, destined
to be shat out through wholesome
Thanks for a continent to despoil
Thanks for Indians to provide a
modicum of challenge and
Thanks for vast herds of bison to
kill and skin leaving the
carcasses to rot.
Thanks for bounties on wolves
Thanks for the American dream,
To vulgarize and to falsify until
the bare lies shine through.
Thanks for the KKK.
For nigger-killin’ lawmen,
feelin’ their notches.
For decent church-goin’ women,
with their mean, pinched, bitter,
Thanks for “Kill a Queer for
Thanks for laboratory AIDS.
Thanks for Prohibition and the
war against drugs.
Thanks for a country where
nobody’s allowed to mind their
Thanks for a nation of finks.
Yes, thanks for all the
memories — all right let’s see
You always were a headache and
you always were a bore.
Thanks for the last and greatest
betrayal of the last and greatest
of human dreams.
I do not believe it is as hopeless as all that. This year, I am incredibly thankful to be alive at all, let alone to live where I do with the people I love. I understand Mr. Burroughs’ criticisms, I just think that we must keep caring and trying to win out against the sense of defeat and cynicism, and maybe then the dream can still be saved. I don’t believe people are inherently bad; I believe the opposite, and I won’t get discouraged and filled with bitterness toward all of humanity just because of the publicized exploits and outrages of the bad apples in our barrel. I believe that for each one of the headlines that sends people in to despair over the state of the world, there are a thousand unreported little kindnesses and gestures of love and connection.
And world peace. I know. I get cheesey. I’m just feeling very happy and free and alive.
Almost all photos via Square America.
This post originally appeared on November 26, 2010.
This entry originally appeared on October 20, 2010 at 9:19 am.
Photographed by mjagiellicz on the d.a.
Now the leaves are falling fast,
Nurse’s flowers will not last,
Nurses to their graves are gone,
But the prams go rolling on.
Photographed by bittersea on the d.a.
Whispering neighbors left and right
Daunt us from our true delight,
Able hands are forced to freeze
Derelict on lonely knees.
Photographed by leenaraven on the d.a.
Close behind us on our track,
Dead in hundreds cry Alack,
Arms raised stiffly to reprove
In false attitudes of love.
Photographed by cookiemonstah on the d.a.
Scrawny through a plundered wood,
Trolls run scolding for their food,
Owl and nightingale are dumb,
And the angel will not come.
Photographed by redribboninyourhair on the d.a.
Clear, unscalable, ahead
Rise the Mountains of Instead,
From whose cold, cascading streams
None may drink except in dreams.
(Auden, W.H. “VI.:Autumn Song.” Twelve Songs. March 1936.)
If ever there were a view on which to turn your back à la Gertrude Stein, a sweeping vista of the Mountains of Instead would be the one. No going back. Too late. Prams rolling on. Breathtaking strong tide of inevitability that takes all the water with it and leaves you and your petty fears and dreams dragging in the dust.
Time is stolen from us in such tiny ways — although I guess it is scarcely a theft when you never lock the door or look out the window to see if there is a shadow waiting for you to turn your back, as if all you possess are invincible by dint of being yours — and we use landmark occasions to mark the loss, but we only once in a while really look at what momentous and yet totally miniscule shit comprises what is destined to be our one and only, short history.
This Autumn was already weighing as heavily on me as last year. Now all I feel like I can handle doing is to take a hot bath and climb back beneath the covers (you see what I mean about aiding in our own robbery by time?). Thanks a lot, Auden. I guess what scares me most about it is does it always steal up on you? Does it just sneak up and you turn around and cry out, “Oh, not yet. It can’t be time yet. I’m not finished. I thought I would have more time.”
Photographed by disco_ball on the d.a.
Is there any way to escape that, that moment of realization, that punch in the gut when the waste, all the time you wasted suddenly comes rushing up around you so you can’t even breathe? Your life is over and you’re not ready because you thought you could always keep backsliding, that there would be special accounting for prodigal, last minute, golden you, who always slid in under the wire, who always got a second chance if you smiled big enough when you asked. There is no talking or charming or dodging your way out of final reckoning, and no method by which I can imagine escaping the horror of that realization, and you finally turn around and see the Mountains of Instead. You made them that tall. What do you do about the regret which will follow. Is there a way to soften that blow?
I don’t think there is. I can make vows about viewing this poem as a cautionary tale, and shine you on about how I plan on avoiding such a fate by making every moment count, and on and on until the sun goes supernova, but a plucky attitude does not lower the Mountains of Instead even an inch. No changing the past. No erasing regrets. That is just some fucked up shit right there.
This post originally appeared on at October 27, 2010 at 8:45 a.m.
Photographed by Mieke Willems.
Prohibit sharply the rehearsed response
And gradually correct the coward’s stance. …
Harrow the house of the dead; look shining at
New styles of architecture, a change of heart.
(W.H. Auden, “Petition.”)
Like that bird, for instance — do you think he woke up knowing he’d get to perch on a pert ass today? I expect not: I expect he thought it would be just another day, the same as all the others he has lived.
I guess what I’m suggesting is that, as Auden petitions, it is worthwhile to defy the lessons of experience, throw caution to the wind, and look with a hopeful heart for the unexpected and unpredictable new. How to completely go about doing that I am less certain of, but I know that it must be worth trying.
The deep pain that is felt at the death of every friendly soul arises from the feeling that there is in every individual something which is inexpressible, peculiar to him alone, and is, therefore, absolutely and irretrievably lost.
I’ve been mourning the loss of a very close childhood friend. She was very literally the first friend I ever had. Because we moved quite far apart, in the last several years, our contact has been social networking and phone calls on each other’s birthdays (my lucky number, 22, is owing to her birthday of February 22nd). I do have to give her a wry thumbs-up because it was very clever to die of breast cancer in October so that we’d all remember every year to donate and walk and light candles and the like, but I can’t say I have been much of a fan of the actual passing.
In any man who dies there dies with him
his first snow and kiss and fight….
Not people die but worlds die in them.
(Yevgeny Yevtushenko, People.)
My friend had time to say goodbye to her sons, her husband, her sister and her parents, and to all of the rest of us who loved her. But what I have been struggling with is the loss of that world inside her: a world whose first gasps I was lucky enough to share with her, a world whose confident, feet-found orbit was still only just beginning. I feel so bitter and helpless about it. I didn’t realize how badly I’d been repressing it until I went to her funeral at our old church several hours away (alone, which was a terrible mistake). I didn’t weep or make a spectacle, but I didn’t stop crying. It was like I couldn’t.
Afterward, a very nice, very short woman came up and began gently asking me about my friend, and I explained that we’d known each other since we were very, very young, and had even gone to school together off and on. Turns out the woman was one of my kindergarten teachers. The nice one. Still nice, after all these years. I’ll explain that another day.
The point is — horrible. Bitterness. Anger. Grief. But not so much anger that I wish to assuage it by some sort of strike back; that would not at all comfort me, because I’m not down to facts just yet. I’m not ready to slap on a pink-ribboned tank top and run any marathons to make things better for others, because I don’t give a shit about all that yet. That is for sure.
I feel like a lost and selfish monster, surrounded by all this breast cancer awareness promotional material and not even up to the point of resentment of the disease; ergo, mystified by the idea of embracing that activism to trump my grief. I don’t like to feel that way. And I like to do all kinds of charity malarkey. I really do. I’ve donated this month already in the name of another friend’s mother, who beat it two years ago.
But this new thing — I am just not ready to even think of my friend’s death in terms of what killed her. That seems objective to the point of frightening. But I should strive for it? Right? How do you get to there?
Thing One: I don’t understand the uproarious, showy displays of grief such like, “Oh, the surprise of this unexpected thing, how stunning,” going around over Steve Jobs’ unfortunately succumbing to his illiness. Like, you knew he was dying, people, first of all. How is this shocking? Totally sad for his loved ones and his company, yes. Shocking, no. Good lord, no.
But what galls me most is what might piss you off really badly when I say it. I think this messianic technological heroism they’re touting is nearly imaginary. Visionary for sure but not exactly Edison on the invention side, here, dudes — he had a whole lot of help. The giant-ness of the attention is deserved, but the track is wrong for me. I’ll explain.
Besides being a notorious, egomaniacal hellbeast of an overseer, Jobs did not “invent” iPods and the like. He was just the admittedly sadly ailing, ever-thinning public face of those products. He was good at making geniuses work for him, and signing off on ultimate marketing decisions that were really the culmination of the work of thousands of other people, which he had a big hand in directing but not generating the content of.
He was a trench-educated, old school techie and a hell of a businessman — but he does not deserve all this solo credit he’s getting left and right for products made by the entire staff of the huge company he ran. Okay, so I’d like to see less credit for inventions in pieces on his passing, and more credit for innovations.
Thing Two: For me, his real magic power, good or bad, the truly remarkable about him for which his merit should be forever remembered is again not technical invention, but business innovation — when Steve Jobs returned to Apple, he did not just turn profits.
He ate the competition for breakfast and shit them back out as money.
He took Apple away from its image of a quirky, hip-cognescenti alternative to the big, straightforward Goliaths of PC corporations, and put the company on its present path, whereby its highly-publicized and ultra-high-conceptual-design products are virutally unupdatable, and this is accepted completely by consumers. Built-in obscelence has become not only expected but anticipated.
That is the kind of skilled marketing genius that makes IBM and HP look like retired guys with their belts up under their bitch tits taking a big ol’ handicap at the golf course.
People camping out in lines for the slightly newer version of a product they already own, knowing full-well that within a few years there will be another slightly newer version of that thing? And then arguing with me about why it was super-necessary and how I just don’t understand (I don’t, so they have me there)? That is Jobs’ legacy.
This path was so successful that every company now follows it in its production of handheld devices and, increasingly, notebook PCs. Since notebook PCs are likely to cause the phase-out of desktops, moving understandably and beneficially to cloud computing but cleverly plotting the ever-evolving releases of mobile devices with which to access the cloud, Jobs’ model is the plain old Future. Even the most diehard home-cobblers will eventually have to cave in order to meet the technical demands of what society will expect them to be able to do if they want to work and interact with others efficently. Get mad, but Jobs started it. Yes, he did.
Its users may still include ponytailed bluegrass fans and flannel-sporting skinny-jeaned twats with ironic facial hair, but Apple is categorically not the scruffy gang of misfit scamps, all earnest and adorable, trying to beat the rich kids across the lake so Old Man Withers can keep Camp Wannahumpme anymore. They are the rich kids across the lake.*
You might be thinking, Jeezy creezy, E. What’s wrong with making money? You’re right: nothing. Good for the guy making it. For me, the guy spending the money? I say, Dang, man. Fuck those dudes making money. They suck.
It’s a petulant, childish attitude, yeah: what do you expect from a woman who writes chiefly about comics and boobs? Do I strike you like I got a plan to make money? (I don’t.) Of course my criticism is in large part sour grapes masquerading as mild Marxism: all Marxism is. Except Engels’. He was in it for the pussy.
I am sorry for Steve Jobs’ family, very much, and, marginally, for his company. Grieve the man. Yes. The loss of any human life is genuinely sad, especially the loss of complicated, particularly brilliant stars like Steve Jobs.
But the rest? About what a major and important place of honor Apple holds in our culture, and what glorious tools of divine perfection Jobs delivered to our hands by the grace of God or whatever, like the Lady of the Lake giving Arthur frigging Excalibur?
Not so much for me. I flatly disagree with the openly money-seeking strategies of the mobile device business model he has wrought. I know Steve Jobs was famous for saying negative people upset him, but, if that’s so, then he and Carl Sagan will just have to sit in the turtleneck department in Heaven and shake their heads over my lack of getting it. (Carl will only be playing along to humor the new guy — he loves me.)
I admire the shit out of his business sense, even as I dislike it, and I feel bad for his family. But I do not hold him up high for putting a new iPhone in your hands every thirty minutes. Not sorry for saying it. Go jerk off in back of the Birkenstock outlet and boo-hoo about it. I’ll be out here, reflecting on the loss of a major figure in how world business works.
*Open contest for the name of the rich kids’ camp in the comments, if you’ve got one.
This entry originally appeared on June 22, 2010 at 1:44pm.
Late post, am I right? I’ve been invovled in some deep bookfoolery which I will explain below. The heading of each of the chapters in a book I read last night/today is followed by a quote, and one such quote was from this poem of Blake’s.
Thy summer’s play
My thoughtless hand
Has brushed away.
Am not I
A fly like thee?
Or art not thou
A man like me?
Then am I
A happy fly,
If I live,
Or if I die.
(William Blake, “The Fly.”)
So — the lateness in the day. Yes. Sorry, but I am not even firing on four let alone six cyllinders today. See, I went against all my usual instincts and quickly finished my yearly series last night wayyy ahead of time and I refuse to let that happen with my other obligations, so when I dropped the last in the series to the floor, I dug in to my pile and instead of snatching up The Tommyknockers (absolutely not touching it until July 2nd or 3rd or I will not be where I need to be for the 4th and I cannot afford any more Bad Days), I started this book my cousin Mary loaned me called The Descent.
I was initially skeptical and, at points, flirting with grogginess from the overabundance of sleep-inducing substances I pour down my throat every night in an effort to quiet the seven-headed rock dragon of my insomnia which makes the Balrog look like a Pound Puppy, but it was amazing shit, full of caves and sci-fi creatures and anthropology and linguistics and religious themes and Hell and mountaineers and Jesuits and everything else that rings my bell, and before I knew it I was completely sucked in to the throat of it. I powered through the layers of tylenol pm, Miller, and a slug of Ny-Quil I’d taken earlier, ignoring my sandy eyelids because I Couldn’t Stop Reading, and, having finally shook off any need for sleep and finished the last sentence and closed the book thoughtfully at around nine this morning, I can confidently say I’m a believer.
I slid it under my bed and lay reflecting on what I’d read for a few minutes, because I felt like there had been some unresolved plot points, then I suddenly did this herky jerky twitch and thought, “How many standalone science fiction novels are that long? Plus … it was set in ’99, but the cover was new. No dog-eared pages. Mary would’ve loaned it to me years ago if she hadn’t just recently bought and read it. It’s a new book.” Reprint. Why?
Totally excited by this chain of thought, I flipped my ass in the air, dove under my bed and grabbed the book back out of my piles and checked the front. HELL YES: among the author’s other books listed by the publisher is one titled The Ascent, which I think it is fair to conjecture can only be a sequel, so now that I’ve finished all the housework and cooking I’d planned previously to do in the hours of the morning I’d spent reading, I’m going to cruise out to the used book store by my house and see about scaring that bitch up for tonight — and see if there are more. Keep you posted. Don’t worry about the insomnia thing: I’ll get all the sleep I need when I’m dead.
Guess what I’m doing today? Going to see Joan mother-effing Jett, that’s what! For free.
Will we play baseball? A girl can dream.
My daughter wants nothing in the world but Joan Jett’s autograph on her Blackearts album liner. Kidlet conceals tiny black hearts in all her drawings to demonstrate her adoration: she’s a superfan. She goes way beyond knowing the words to “I Love Rock and Roll” or humming “Cherry Bomb.” She can discourse freely on which versions of particular singles she prefers.
She watches youtube footage of old Joan Jett concerts. We walk through Guitar Center so she can show me which guitars she is going to use when she forms her all-kid Joan Jett/Garbage/Runaways/No Doubt/Hole cover band, which she has named the Bad Apples*. She sings “Bad Reputation” in the bathtub.
I’m hoping Joan is charmed by a child’s request and we get a chance to get that autograph, but hopefully just being in her vicinity will satisfy my little rock star’s heart. And thrill me, too.
This is what Joan Jett wore to her performance in 2008 at Artscape in Baltimore. If this is what she wears today, you guys can draw straws or arm wrestle to sort out who takes over the blog and raises my kid, because I will leave you all behind without a second glance.
*Once when the Go-Gos’ “Head Over Heels” was on the radio, kidlet seemed interested, so I said, “Would the Bad Apples cover this?” She looked at me like I was Grimace from Ronald Macdonaldland and said slowly, “It’s a rock band.”
Whatever you do, do not let the past be a straitjacket.
(Robert A. Heinlein. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, 1966.)
Hey. The pre-scheduled entries caught up with real time, and then I was too lazy and depressed to write more. But I’m fixing that now. Even got a Girl of Summer in the pipeline, because, hey, man, life goes on, and my dead friend liked boobies. (Hath not a short joyful EMT eyes?) So. The rest is personal. Dip out whenever you’re done.
Yesterday were the services. Sweet fucking Christ. I have been to some rough funerals in my life. I really have. But I’ve never been through any shit like that. That was some fucking shit. My lord. And now the most recent two entries in my journal have giant cusses right at their start, when I’ve been trying really valiantly this year to cut back (first for my daughter, as an example, and also because vulgarity is so often a refuge of a weak writer attempting cheap authenticity).
Photographed by Dara Scully.
Big Ben and I agreed to attend together. He got to my place an hour earlier than planned and announced he’d left his wallet in Fresno — a town I notoriously hate, like it’s a joke among my friends how much I make fun of it. I had an idea we’d end up making the longish drive to get it back later in the day, but I didn’t say anything because I wasn’t sure what the was going to hold: what if I wanted to go back to a reception and stay for a long while? What if friends had an impropmtu wake? We didn’t know what to expect. We slid down to C-town and got to the church about twenty minutes before Mass was scheduled to start, thinking that was prudently early enough.
Besides being friends with one another in our own right, B-dubs and I moved in a lot of similar circles. It’s not a big area when you get right down to it. Even if you only joined The Party in the last 15 to 20 years, you’ve pretty much met everyone your age by now, at least with whom you’d have a dime in common, in one way or another. There wasn’t time enough or, in some cases, inclination (willingness to engage in a lot of catch-up and mutual depression) to say words to everyone I knew, even just as we walked through the parking lot and up to the church. In the very, very long line to sign the guestbook before entering, there was this crowd of EMTs and firefighters in front of us in uniform, and I started tearing up. I’m not an overemotional person, and it caught me off guard.
Art by TheSweetMachine on the tumblr.
It was a harbinger of things to come. A bossy aunt came out not long after and told the crowd that we’d all better grab a seat inside and sign the book later, because it was getting very full in there, and we entered the church. I’d never been to St. Jude’s. It’s not by any means the smallest church in which I’ve ever heard Mass, but it wasn’t large. But it was not at all equipped, I’m proud to say, to handle the number of people at my friend’s funeral. It was literally SRO. People could’ve probably crowded the pews a little more, but a lot of the EMTs had to stay in the back near the doors because they were still on call.
“Losing My Religion” by Mrs. Colbert on the da.
Right away, on entering the church, I was up against old, old friends, serving as B-dubs’ pallbearers. So we started crying. I think, in the back of your mind, or perhaps only in mine and some of my friends’, maybe more macabre than others? or just realistic?, there is the knowledge that you will pass from this earth and enter in to whatever, if anything — I believe and hope a very real something — comes next. Sometimes you discuss it loosely with friends, like your burial/cremation wishes, songs you want involved in your memorial, etc. But you don’t take it terribly seriously. To see our old friends standing at the back of the church with white gloves and red carnation boutonnières, guiding the elderly and close relatives to seats was a profound jolt, following on the heels of the uniformed contingent reminding me of what a life of service my friend left … I basically cried for the next hour. Standing for the casket’s entry made me cry. My strong, broad-shouldered, stalwart old male friends crying as they walked that casket toward the altar made me cry. The readings made me cry. The priest’s homily made me cry. The only thing that didn’t leave me shredded was the Eucharistic prayer, maybe because I’ve had it memorized since time out of mind and it gave me time to catch my breath.
But then my friends gave their eulogies and it was all over. It was pointed out what a remarkably, not just bullshitting like people do at funerals, but a remarkably live wire and loving spirit he was, how he literally lit up rooms and took care to take care of everyone he met. It grew as a theme that B-dubs lived his whole life, essentially, to protect and make at ease everyone else, and that we could only honor him by trying to keep taking care of each other. That’s how it ended. Everyone in the church was just in pieces. So we exited on that, this horribly emotional note. Like I said, I have been to some rough funerals, but I’ve never heard free, open weeping from so many people at a service. It was some shit, honestly, I’m not describing it well enough. God. Harrowing. Big Ben agreed it was the worst thing he’d been to so far, too. I think the priest put it best when, during his homily, after speaking about Brandon’s faith and dedication to serving others, he simply spread his hands and said, “He was too young.”
Photographed by Logan White.
After stunned chat outside the church, we caravanned to the cemetery for the graveside service. The priest said the very familiar words about dust to dust, and the valley of darkness, etc, that have always held a ritualistic comfort to me. One by one, the pallbearers came forward and placed their gloves and their boutonnières on the casket. But then — then — B-dubs’ cousin began to speak. I have very few friends, and dear they are, as specifically faithful as I am, and I am 1000000% okay with that. I’d say a majority of my friends do not believe in any god nor afterlife, and I’m truly all right with that. If they got questions about how I roll, I answer them, but I really don’t try to suggest religion to them unless I am asked. It’s been the source of debates between me and many of the people who were in attendance at these services, the idea of the co-existence of intellect and faith (hey, college).
via my pandaeraser.
This cousin began by saying that Brandon’s completion of the sacraments of the Catholic faith did not qualify him for salvation, but rather his loving relationship with God did. I was fine with that. Then, he moved forward in praise of a relationship with God and Jesus, with a format very familiar to me, that of his personal testimony about his journey to salvation. Okay. Cool. I’ve heard that lots of times and, though I sort of cringed at first, thinking, “Normally I’d be more receptive, but, come on: is this the right place — like, what has this to do with today?” I was still tentatively on board, willing to see where it lead. I’m sorry and angry still to say that it lead only to more of the same. He spoke for some easily fifteen minutes, asking everyone to read the Word (okay) and pray about it (okay), but also to repeat a personal prayer he wrote, out loud along with him. Afterward, he had us close our eyes and then said, “Raise your hand if you really repeated the prayer.”
Photograph by William Gedney, via the collection at Duke’s online library.
The uncomfortable, growing dissatisfaction I had pretty much burgeoned to full-blown dislike at that moment. At one point he threw down the Bible, but I’m not sure he noticed. He’d complained in his opening statements about not having a podium, so I’m sure that played a role, and I guess the important thing to him was what he was saying, not the source of the quotes he was citing in his very targeted proselytizing once he’d finished with them. I just know I wasn’t the only one to inadvertently have a sharp intake of breath on that one. But there was a general all-over shifting of feet and nervous sighs throughout, to be honest. This was not an issue of religious tolerance: it was an issue of inappropriateness.
Like, dude, we are graveside. It is not an appropriate setting for a) your story; b) talking about Jesus actually very well, but relating it back to yourself again and again rather than to your cousin; and c) evangelizing to these bereaved friends of your cousin, when with a prayer for discernment it might be easily seen that now is hella not the time. Not to mention, just personally, I felt that if his argument that justification for salvation was by faith alone and not works nor acts, then why did we need to repeat his prayer and raise our hand, or not, over the issue of repeating his prayer, like guilty five-year-olds who were being asked who ate the green crayon? It all sat very, very poorly with me.
Photographed by Giasco Bertoli.
I’m Catholic, dudes. Do you just kind of always expect me to unload at some point about how you all should be, too? And how properly to do so? Because I was offended as all-git-out and I couldn’t believe how blasé some of my most atheist friends were about what to me was this needless and selfish diversion, as if they’d anticipated uncomfortable evangelistic pressure from the beginning. When Big Ben asked me in the car whether I was up to going to the family’s smaller reception after the other gauntlet points of brutal funeral and heart wrenching graveside service we’d passed, I said, “I don’t want to go anywhere that douche is going to be.” He replied immediately, “That was pretty bad. But everyone grieves differently. Would Brandon have been okay with it, since it was his cousin? Probably. He’d want his cousin to have that time.”
I wiped away my tears, started the car, and said emphatically, “Fuck that guy. If that’s how he grieves, he sucks.” We did not go to the reception.
A little under three hours later, we were in Fresno, retrieving Ben’s wallet. That joke which I am famous for is, “No one should go to Fresno. Not on purpose.” But it’s really a diverse town, like any. Anyway, after we got the wallet from his friend, the friend asked for a cigarette because his girlfriend had asked him to quit smoking and he knew we’d have one. As we stood outside, at our friend’s insistence safely behind his apartment building in case his girlfriend came home unexpectedly — yes, we ribbed him without mercy both for his dishonesty and for his paranoia — Ben described the scene at the graveside with the cousin. The friend, who’d said plainly that he did not believe in an afterlife but felt that funerals were important for the living, which I liked, asked questions about the mourners’ reaction to the cousin’s unnecessarily aggressive come-to-Jesus sidebar. I’d stayed silent about that part of the services, still steaming. Ben jerked his thumb at me and said, “She was pissed.”
“Don’t see the sorrow,” photographed by meninalua on the da.
The friend clucked his tongue but then said, “Maybe that’s how he needed to grieve.”
What the what, man? Am I the only one whose sense of outrage is not overshadowed by sorrow? Or am I the only one who is blindly seeking refuge in outrage instead of sorrow? Maybe? And not to mention, I found comfort in aspects of the funeral that were Catholic and so culturally and familially familiar to me, but what of my friends raised outside that tradition? Did not my “stand up, sit down, kneel, repeat after me, say this when I say that” comforts probably confound and alienate those friends who were not accustomed to it? What right have I got to judge which are off-putting and which welcoming religious behaviors? I was sooo mad. You should have seen me. Wet hen-style. Fairly? Not, most likely. Oh, angry, mixed-up me.
But what I really want to say is good on those friends who gently chastised or tried to guide me back to zen-ness, for being yards more tolerant than I the alleged Christian witness of the bunch was evincing with my bitterness: they displayed a genuinely universal forgiveness for which I think many who recognize the love that bonds all things in this world without necessarily having an origin story for that love are seldom credited. I, on the other hand, wanted literally to point-blank fire a nail gun in to the eyeballs of my dead friend’s cousin’s head. Which is not at all loving. I know.
Now I’ve talked a great deal about one aspect of the day which was really not as big as I’ve made it out to be in this entry, and it’s not some hint of how repressed or larger it looms in my psyche than I knew by my writing it. It’s just that in a day so filled with grief, it was the thing I could describe with a more familiar emotion — outrage. The grief I will take a long time to get to know. The events of the day made me cry right away, as they happened, a big enough pain that I didn’t have time to push it down, it spilled over with me fully aware that I was unhappy. Most feelings don’t get that far in my cognitive process. So I know it’s going to be a journey to get cool with this dreadful shit.
Sex without love is merely healthy exercise.
(Robert A. Heinlein)
When I first found this quote, I thought, “Where did that come from?” I couldn’t place it and still can’t: I cannot find a source for this quote. Being as we sci-fi geeks keep pretty meticulous track of our heroes’ writing, the lack of traces to published work makes me suspect this pearl of wisdom is ascribed to Heinlein inaccurately.
But the quote itself is accurate. Yes? To my dismay, I’ve found it to be very true.
He kept at true good humour’s mark
The social flow of pleasure’s tide:
He never made a brow look dark,
Nor caused a tear, but when he died.
(Thomas Love Peacock.)
I don’t talk much about myself. I do and I don’t. I don’t go in to practical, actual facts, or any great specificity beyond memories distant enough not to hurt when shared. That is the opposite of what this thought experiment was supposed to be. When I thanked everyone for joining me in the last two years, it forced me to confront the fact that I purposely stopped explicitly talking about or analyzing myself at some point along the way, when the original intent of this journal was as an unflinching self-audit. I’m going to try to sort of get back to that from time to time, as well as I can stomach it. But this is not going to become some bullshit vanity plate — I’d hate that. I’m sorry, but you’re never going to know real names of my friends and family, nor see pictures of me slutting it up on here or even obligatory self-held head and shoulder shots with oh-so-quirky expressions. I know I’m kind of hokey with a sweet rack and that my name starts with E. You just have to take my word on it.
I bring up all this by way of explaining that I’m going to talk about myself for a sec, here. If you are not down, I am totally okay with that: skip down the page to the fun stuff. I’m not in the least bothered. This I’m writing for me, because I’m supposed to be doing that and not shying away again and again. No excuses.
So, some shit has gone down for me emotionally in the last few days. I keep the entries of the journal queued up a bit ahead of real time, most of the time, when I’m not being a lazy wretch, so this has happened in the interim of the regularly scheduled posts’ appearances. But the Liberated Negative Space below, in the previous entry, really jolted me, and galvanized me to discuss something immediate that’s been affecting my life: namely, the death of an old friend, with whom I used to be very close in school. I was told about it yesterday, around the early evening.
On the way to my eight-and-some-odd hours examination today, I took the road he was driving when the wreck which killed him happened. I purposely looked straight ahead and listened to my music, focused on the road: I didn’t want to look at the sides of the highway in case I saw pieces of his Mustang. I thought very clearly, I come this way far too often to let this have power over me. I could never drive if I thought of it every time I pass past these spots. This is the strategy I always employ with things that make me feel Ways: I staunchly use deliberately dodgy methods to keep from letting any inanimate thing like a song or stretch of highway get power over my feelings, because I’m not supposed to have those, right?
But on the way back home, maybe due to the security blanket of the divider in the center so that I could not see the other-bound direction of the road anymore, or perhaps due to the unwanted stress of the exam being off my shoulders, I thought that my earlier deliberate ignorance was actually cowardice, and, if there were ever a time for me to step out of my expressionless shellac vis-a-vis facing down hard feelings, this was the time. This is no thing to put off wading through, I told myself. This is different and deserves better treatment than what you usually give emotions.
Here is what happened: I have a friend named B, B-Dub he liked to jokingly be styled, a good friend of about twelve years, who died in a horrific car accident in the early hours of Friday morning. He was driving his 1998 Mustang along a nearby highway, when, while attempting to pass a slow semi-truck, he lost control of his car and hit the center divider of the road. Not wearing a seatbelt, he was thrown from his car and then run over by a tractor-trailer, after which he died almost instantly.
I know, right? Who the fuck does that actually happen to? It is gruesome as hell. That is action movie shit right there: that is not something that happens to someone who’s squeezed your hand during a pretend seance, or nursed your spins before taking you home. Just unbelievable, unimaginable even. The idea that my friend is dead is hard enough to wrap my mind around, let alone his last seconds of life.
I don’t really care to go in to safety and hazards in the details of the accident, etc, just now. Those are obvious, I think we can all agree. What I want to say is that, of all my old friends, and I am blessed to have more than I ever dreamt in my lonely childhood I would — which makes them all the more special to me — B was one who was a true comedian, a really blithe spirit. In late adolescence, it seems like some people are very, very funny and still have that dark or serious side off of which you feed while you pick things apart and explore your latent sarcasm and rage. Not B.
B was all right with listening to you complain, but he was much more evolved than to do so himself, due to his, I came to realize as we grew close, well-chosen and informed, mature good nature. There was no naivete to it, and he never played the fool. He was just a joyful man, a sprite or leprechaun who burst with comic energy and always lifted your spirits. He genuinely loved to make others happy. That he would die in such a way has seemed particularly cruel to me. But why, I ask myself. It’s not a death that “fits” anyone. Doesn’t everyone remark on how vivacious and free-spirited the deceased was in their elegaic, closing remarks? Does any death suit anyone?
No. Christ, of course not. But we don’t get to live forever, at least not that I can tell as yet. People keep saying things to me like, “It just reminds you to live in the present, express your love to those who matter, live life to the fullest, because you never know,” etc., but it’s not very comforting. I guess what they really want to say is, “People die” (which I have already painfully learned) and “– your friend did. You can’t change it” (another thing I know) “So find a way to get okay with it.”
And I’m going to try. I’m going to listen to my heart instead of suppressing it. I’m going to acknowledge what I’m feeling. What I’m feeling is exactly what everyone tells me, which I want to reject: ie, that my friend is dead, and that there is nothing that I change about it. And as I said, I’m trying to get okay with it.
And I have started by saying I’m pretty fucking well upset about it.
That is all.
“If you would know a man, observe how he treats a cat.”
(Robert A. Heinlein. The Door Into Summer. New York: Doubleday & Co, 1957.)
James Dean being all handsome and fly with a couple kitty cats, and scope those specs no less! Heat.
A very big guy for pretty much only this type of pussy, Dean’s cat’s name was Marcus. It was a present from Elizabeth Taylor.
Finally, a pen and ink drawing which was auctioned two years ago by his museum on good ol’ eBay. Dean drew it for Geraldine Page, his co-star in a Broadway play. I don’t really want to know what those two are doing, but you have to admit it’s a pretty damned good drawing, as bestiality sketches go.
This post originally appeared on May 19, 2010 at 3:53 p.m.
I am involved in a freedom ride protesting the loss of the minority rights belonging to the few remaining earthbound stars. All we demanded was our right to twinkle.
(Telegram from Marilyn Monroe declining a party invitation from Bobby and Ethel Kennedy. June 13, 1962.)
You got to fight for your right to twinkle. It is difficult and discouraging and at times seems insurmountable, but in the end, you are raised up to the sky to shine forever. Please try to help each other out and let’s none of us lose heart.
You really can’t live alone.
Thanks for two million unique hits on this journal in its almost two years of operation. Come for the porn, stay for the shenanigans! Comment any ol’ time. You do not know how much I enjoy it.
As this is not a for-profit blog, every person who visits really does matter to me. It began as a way to force myself to write, and to subject myself to the excruciating experience I’d spent my life trying to shun, sharing myself with other people. When I shied away, I thought that I’d change focus and the journal evolved in to a sort of annotated public scrapbook, a way to share the things that matter to me with other people.
But you know, I’ve been thinking about it, and it’s really the same thing. Maybe I don’t have the courage to always talk about myself, and I instead sublimate that desire to share, that impulse to connect, into a post about a former Playmate or a digression on the mythic overtones of a poem by E.E. Cummings. But I am still sharing myself, still saying, “This is me, and this is what I am about. I’m telling you something personal.” Because the things that matter to us almost entirely comprise who we are. When you visit, and link, and comment, it ratifies my sense that I’m not alone in this universe.
If you want to introduce yourself, ask questions, or share ideas, do it, and thank you again. Here’s to two million more of us agreeing that some of the detritus we encounter in this thing called life can be pretty all right — even meaningful.
I truly appreciate the company.