Posts Tagged ‘life’

Daily Batman: the irretrievably lost world inside

October 19, 2011


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.

(Schopenhauer.)

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?

Take-two Tuesday: William Blake Month — “The Fly”

October 4, 2011

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.


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Little Fly,
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?


For I dance
And drink, and sing,
Till some blind hand
Shall brush my wing.

If thought is life
And strength and breath
And the want
Of thought is death;


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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.


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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?


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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.

Heinlein Month — Do not let the past be a straitjacket

July 16, 2011


Whatever you do, do not let the past be a straitjacket.

(Robert A. Heinlein. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, 1966.)


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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.


“Jo Champa, Hotel Chealsea.” Helmut Newton, 1988.

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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.

A Personal Digression: For some moments in life there are no words, but I’m going to write some anyway

July 9, 2011


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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.


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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.


Hang loose? Is that still a Thing?

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.


Heading out to a call for emergency.

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?


B-Dub is on the far right.

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.”


Why not get amped over snack treats?

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.


For some moments in life, there are no words.

(Willy Wonka. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Mel Stuart, 1971.)

That is all.

Liberated Negative Space o’ the Day: Gotta keep ’em separated

April 27, 2011


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Choose … wisely.

Sushi über alles and catch you on the flip

April 26, 2011

One thing about the hiatus is that I’ve had a guilt-free great time being extra-close to all my face-time dear friendohs recently. They’re amazing, insightful, fantastic, and get me through everything with grace and good humor. Big ups to all my wonderful friends; I don’t know how you guys put up with me. Really.

Have you hugged your friends today?


via pandaeraser on the tumblr. Check her out!!!

But, that said, internet homies, it’s been a super-tremendously rewarding day back in the journal’s saddle. Though they’ve all been ghost posts which I’ve written the night before, I’ve really liked it. Let’s never part ways again. Butterfly kisses.

Got to set off some soosh bombasticos with panda tonight, so I’ll catch you on the flip!

Liberated Negative Space o’ the Day: Morning

February 1, 2011


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It’s the first of the month.

Christmas memories

December 23, 2010

Once, a boyfriend and I were drinking spiked egg nog and sitting on the couch in his seedy apartment, surrounded by the trappings of our small, personal Christmas Eve gift exchange. I was planning to go home later in the evening and spend Christmas Day proper with my parents, and, since neither of us believed in Santa anymore, although I was wearing a smashing Mrs. Claus number from Frederick’s of Hollywood that he’d just given me, we saw nothing wrong with doing the gifts on Christmas Eve rather than pushing in on my family celebration for the morning.

His arm around me while we watched a burning log on a channel he’d found on the television, this boyfriend asked me, “What’s your favorite Christmas memory?”

My favorite Christmas memory. I was four years old and we lived in our second doublewide and, being a runt and not even considering myself worthy of a bed but dimly aware that it was too near a waste of money to buy child-sized things, as we would just outgrow them and render the gesture useless, I still slept in a crib. It was the year Strawberry Shortcake was first really huge, and I used to beg my parents to rent a VCR so we could watch Strawberry Shortcake tapes.

We went to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. It was the first time I’d ever been to Midnight Mass and been awake for it. All the lights were off in the church and we each carried a candle with a little cardboard-paper holder to protect our hands from the wax. I cradled mine in front of me and tried to guard the flame from my breathing — you know how kids breathe hotter and harder than adults, like they take in bigger gulps of the world, like we give up more on wanting a part of it all the older we grow, until at the end we can only reluctantly take in these thin little sips that don’t even stir the air. I shifted from foot to foot and spun my head around to get the best view of Our Lady Star of the Sea, looming and receding, so deliciously unfamiliar and creepy, in the flickering shadows thrown up by the candlelight, as the cantor sang the lineage of Christ.

At the final lines, “And thus, all things being right in the universe (or something like that) … Jesus Christ is born,” and the lights all came up at once and a tympani rolled and trumpets began as the choir started singing “Gloria in Excelsis Deo” and it blew my mind.

On the ride home, the defrost on the Honda we had didn’t work anymore, and my dad had his window down and kept leaning out and wiping the windshield. In the backseat, the dew on the windows refracted the orange sodium vapor lights and I could see myself reflected in the window, suffused with the glow of dancing lights as we passed under them.

It was a pretty decent trailer court (one of those ones that says it is a Mobile Home Park) and a lot of people had gone all out on decorations. Because I was only four, I hadn’t been out and about seeing the lights at night in the weeks prior, so it was new to me. Everything looked unearthly, serene and intended and transformed, and the air that came through my father’s rolled-down window was humid because our town was surrounded by bogs but frosty, too, like sucking in freezer air, or the blowback of your breath against a tray of ice cubes. It was bracing and beautiful in that way that only very cold things can be.

When we got home, I went to my room to put on my pyjamas and there was a bed in my room. It had an actual headboard, which my parents’ bed and certainly the hide-a-bed in the couch did not, and turned-back striped pink and green sheets and a Strawberry Shortcake quilt. There was a red heart-shaped decorative pillow on top of my regular pillow, edged with cotton eyelet lace. Propped against the heart pillow sat a Strawberry Shortcake doll, and I could tell she was one of the new ones that had strawberry-scented breath. The doll was the part that startled me the most, because it grounded the experience: this was something I’d seen on the television and not even dared ask for. This room could not be mine.

I stood in the doorway gaping. I remember I had to pee and was freaked out that this beautiful bed was in the middle of my room, where my crib should be. My first reaction was anxiety. I felt like I shouldn’t be there, or that someone was going to take it away. My father came in and threw me on the bed, so I bounced, and my mother took pictures of me holding the pillow and the doll.

After I’d changed and gotten ready for bed, and climbed in it for the first time, my mother came and sat by me and told me how my father got the pieces for the frame and my grandfather and uncle had put the bed together while we were at Mass. My aunt had bought the doll, my mother made the heart pillow, and my grandmother sewed the quilt. Money was very tight for my family at that time, and everyone had come together to make sure I got a big girl bed for the first Christmas I’d remember. While she described their plans, this feeling in my stomach shook looser and looser, and it got away from me and filled the room and I started crying.

My mother clucked over me and said I was tired, and stayed next to me with the light off until I made my breathing regular enough to convince her I was asleep and she left. I lay in the dark looking at the textured ceiling, trying to avoid the spots where in the dark it made shapes that scared me, and felt tears run backward down my cheeks and drip slowly in to my ears. It was like Christmas and the choir at Mass and the cold vastness of the empty town on the drive home, with the lights on and no one on the street, and yet the tiny little family with all their love filling up the inside of my room and our home — was all so big and simultaneous that I could only cry, not from being sad, but from being humbled.

I thought about all that when my boyfriend asked me my favorite Christmas memory, and got shy. “You go first,” I said.

He described how one Christmas, after they’d opened all their toys and were having breakfast and watching cartoons, his mother surprised them with another box full of toys for him and his sister.

I asked, “Do you think — was that maybe the first Christmas after your parents divorced?”

“I don’t know,” he shrugged. “That all runs together. It was just awesome when she brought in that box and I knew it was full of more toys. I got everything that year — G.I. Joes, the Castle Greyskull, like, seriously. Everything.”

I looked at him and he had these particularly garish colored lights strung up on his fake Christmas tree, the kind where the red is really pink, and he’d set them to blink, and at that moment he was lit by them in a way that made me not recognize him as he stared at the television. He seemed like a total alien, like someone with whom I’d never spent hours: a stranger the planes of whose face I had never memorized in the dark. And I never told him my memory.

It wasn’t his fault, and I railed against myself for it later and tried to pretend it hadn’t happened, but, in that exchange, this sharp divide fell down between us, for me, and I could never seem to want to get it back up. Maybe if I’d told him then about this disparity in our childhood memories, things would have been different, because it really wasn’t a big deal and might even, in the telling, have picked up some softer and selfless side, some deeper soul in him that I cheated out of revealing itself. I’ll never know, because I never told him about it.

Now, when I remember the Strawberry Shortcake bed, I remember, too, those decades later, sitting in self-imposed silence in my cheaply-ribboned red velvet and mirabou beside a stranger with a pink forehead and shadow-socketed eyes before a picture of a burning log, when I maybe missed the mark — or maybe ducked a knife — and I think again of the bigness of my family’s love and the smallness of the details of our lives, and am grateful more than ever before. And I still let tears roll into my ears sometimes, because of course they will all die, they have already begun, just as I will and have nearly, and all that I can do is cling to these passionate recollected moments, captured so clearly in my memory, and hold them close enough to keep my heart in its right shape, so then when I join them they’ll be able to recognize me.

Take-two Tuesday — Movie Moment: Extras from the Goonies

December 7, 2010

This entry was originally posted on November 10, 2009 at 10:21 pm. Some pictures and more action descriptions have been added.

This post was originally accompanied by screen captures from a spotty YouTube video. I’ve capped the extras from Goonies myself since then, so I’ve got much clearer versions now. Also at the bottom you may enjoy lovely bonus caps of the madness.

Back to the original.


The Goonies are good enough for Cyndi Lauper.

Today after I picked up kidlet from kindergarten, we jetted down to Ceres for some gloomy day movie cheer. Clue strangely put us to sleep but then Miss D, kidlet, and I watched us the crap out of some Goonies. We watched every single feature it had. Maybe even to our detriment.


Steven Spielberg has a cameo and Cyndi Lauper wrestles the octopus that vanished from the Goonies final cut — oops.

One of the features we watched, which I'd never seen before in its … I'm not sure what to call it? totality?, was a two-part music video put together by director Richard Donner and theme songstress/my fantasy fairy godmother Cyndi Lauper, with a cameo by producer Steven Spielberg, to promote the film. I don't even have words for the surreality of watching the video. It was really something. I will not soon forget it. These are my neutral words.

The video features

World Wrestling Federation pro-wrestlers André the Giant, Captain Lou Albano, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Wendy Richter, The Fabulous Moolah, The Iron Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff, Freddie Blassie; Steven Spielberg; The Goonies cast (except for Kerri Green, Anne Ramsey, Joe Pantoliano, Robert Davi and John Matuszak*); and the relatively unknown Bangles as a group of female pirates. Roseanne Barr appears as the “sea hag”. Lauper’s mother appears as “Cyndi’s mother”, reprising her role from “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”.

(the wiki)

*The lead cast members from the film who do not appear in this video are those playing Andy, Ma Fratelli, and the Fratelli brothers.

The plot runs like this: Cyndi’s folks run a Mom and Pop gas station that has fallen on tough times. They are packing up and ready to come west to Californny or some such to start a new life and meet Peter Fonda, when they think they have customers! Is the station saved?? Wonderful!

Psych. Turns out it’s the creditors. The gas station is being bought out by villains from the WWF, each attired as a different weird stereotype. Unfortunately, they also have dialogue.

Cyndi and her brother? friend? and sister? his wife? are helping Mom and Pop (Cap’n Lou) pack up the ol’ place when the action begins.

The nouveau riche, stereotyped creditors chew up the scenery and generally set up quickie symbols of their wealth, such as a Benihana-type joint in the middle of the parking lot, which many consider the international sign of good taste and refinement, some to the point of exclusion. (Do not even try to talk dimsum on rollerskates to them; they will not listen.) The hibachi flows like wine and the wine is snorted like cocaine. In fact, there is no wine. It is just cocaine. Off-camera.


The skeleton and she scream at each other and her hair blows. It is a deep and fractured commentary on the intersection of orgasm, death, and bad ’80’s video special fx.

Cyndi discovers a secret cave behind a painting of their grand-ancestor, where she encounters the Goonies, who help her decode a map she lifted off a dead guy — real fuckin’ nice, Cyn.

The we get a nice long look at the same clips America had been seeing for several months in the Goonies trailer, and you think maybe it’s done? but no. Suddenly, some pirates show up (psst, it is the WWF guys IN DISGUISE — could it all be a dream, but a real adventure, too, a la The Wizard of Oz?), and Roseanne Barr. Oh my god, nightmare combination! The Bangles are there, too, but they do not try to sing.

In the chase that ensues, Cyndi stops real quick for some hibachi, creating a prevalent and provocative ongoing theme in the video.

Perhaps this is meant to make us reflect on the marketing of foreign cuisine in America, or on materialism and the ease with which an ordinary item common to one country can acquire peculiar clout in another country. Or perhaps it is merely included in order to set up a joke that is some straight racist garbage: ie, the following picture’s caption.

The pirates and the sea hag enslave the kids at murky tasks like, um, stirring big pots, and force Cyndi to dress like a Floridian prostitute while carrying buckets and singing (they do not allow her to stop singing even once).

Cyndi and her friends manage to overthrow the pirates and get away with some loot from the ship, but the “cheatin’ creditors” will not accept it as payment for Mom and Pop’s debt on the shop. Not even when she repeatedly bites it to prove its value! I know, right? If only she had offered them some fresh, dope funky fun hibachi.

As it is, Cyndi grows weary of attempting to convince the creditors to accept her jewels as payment, and whistles as one only does for a taxicab or deus ex machina. And what is it going to be?

Why, it’s Andre the Giant, and I am pretty sure he is literally still wiping coke from under his nose when he first appears! He beats up and chases away the creditors, which means the debt is legally and officially cleared forever, duh, and the video ends with this triumphant shot.

Oh, my god, I want that to happen to me every day after I die. I like to believe in an afterlife, unless I am in a particularly foul and doubtful and wobegone mood, and of course Andre the Giant is there waiting for me so we can finally hang out and stuff, and I hope so fervently that every single day when I greet him in Heaven he scoops me up and we cheer and do ’80s fistpumps in the air. It’s gonna be sick.

So here’s the video if after a report on all that insanity you need fuller confirmation of its existence.

Bonus caps:

Cyndi struggles with the octopus who never made it in to the theatrical release but was apparently still considered an important enough plot point at the time of this video’s production that Spielberg and Donner made sure to include him.

Stuck on a log, Cyndi asks Spielberg for help via the magic of television screens. He basically says he does not care, he is only here to remind people that hey-hey-hey, Stephen Spielberg is involved in this picture so you should run out and see it just as fast as your thickening Dorito-and-Pepsi-lovin’ legs can carry you. He signifies his essential non-interest in what’s happening by not removing his sunglasses despite being indoors and ostensibly watching television.

Captain Lou laments to his long-lost dead ancestor about the state of the gas station. But it’s going to be okay because …

Secret treasure inside the hidden cave! Happens all the time!

Goonies does not have any fart jokes, but the “Goonies R Good Enough” video does. As is evidenced by the sign in the below cap.

I say again, for all the casual vulgarity of youth as young as elementary school-aged and as old as seventeen that characterizes the scripts of both Goonies and E.T. (and their rather heartwarming insistence that these two age groups consistently interact and save the world), the movie Goonies does not have even one single fart joke. In a movie with as many other dick, breath, sex, and LCD body-function jokes as Goonies, that is pretty anomalous. I’m going to call it happenstance. I doubt it was on purpose.

WWF Pirates hunt for Cyndi Lauper. Recall that they have been dispatched by Roseanne Barr, assisted by the Bangles.

  • 1. WWF.
  • 2. Cyndi Lauper.
  • 3. Roseanne Barr and the Bangles.
  • 80’s Trifecta!!

    Cyndi singing in aforementioned Floridian prostitute getup under the insistence of the Bangles, Roseanne, et al.

    The octopus himself. Farewell, dude, we hardly knew ye. We’ve only seen ye in weird television cuts that were edited for time and had the master with the alternate ending. (Which Data still refers to in the released ending.)

    Finally, my secret crush from this movie may be reported to be Data, because I squeal when he comes on screen, but really deep down it’s actually:

    Martha Plimpton. Her and Jan Brady can come live with me and finally be appreciated the way they deserve. Oh, Martha Plimpton. Have my nearsighted, sarcastic blonde babies. Won’t you please? We’ll find a way.

    You Can Go Home Again — Every day.

    July 22, 2010


    “Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.

    (Matsuo Basho.)

    I’m not so sure. This seems like one of those things people get on magnets or coffee mugs. I’m not feeling this quote as much as the others I’ve been using, but I wanted something generically twee to accompany the delightful twee picture, whose credit I have lost. Sorry if this quote super-duper speaks to you, but I’m more of a light-my-soul-on-fire kind of a journeyer and I find this a little too sitting indian style suspended above a koi pond for my taste. Some day I will tamp down this ferocity and mature and grow more zen and finally gain the knowledge I claim to want … but apparently not today.

    William Blake Month: “The Fly”

    June 22, 2010

    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.


    via

    Little Fly,
    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?


    For I dance
    And drink, and sing,
    Till some blind hand
    Shall brush my wing.

    If thought is life
    And strength and breath
    And the want
    Of thought is death;


    via

    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.


    via

    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?


    via

    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.

    Flashback Friday — Music Moment: Gilda Radner, “Let’s Talk Dirty to the Animals”

    June 11, 2010

    This entry was originally posted on November 3, 2009 at 3:57 pm. It’s been slightly altered, but not much.

    Gilda Radner. Love. Patron saint. Heroine. Gar. I can’t talk about it.

    Gilda as Roseanne Rosannadanna, the colorful news anchor with aggressive speech patterns.

    If the name only faintly rings a bell for you, Gilda is the late great funny lady who was the queen of comedy in the early years of SNL. She was the first Not Quite Ready For Primetime player officially cast on the show. Noteworthy character creations that have had lasting cultural impact were Roseanne Rosannadanna and Emily Litella.


    With Chevy Chase in her Emily “Nevermind” Litella character, who had comic malapropisms and bad hearing.

    This Music Moment comes from her 1979 special “Gilda Live!,” a one-woman Broadway musical and comedy revue. Song starts around :35, because it was the opening number and she gets such a huge standing o that she can’t even calm people down enough to be heard until then.

    A rooster says, “Good morning”
    With a, “Cock-a-doodle-doo” – “Good morning!”
    A horse’s neigh is just his way
    Of saying, “How are you?”
    A lion growls, “Hello!”
    And owls ask “Why?” and “Where?” and “Who?”

    May I suggest you get undressed
    And show them your wazoo? – Ohhhh,

    The animals, the animals,
    Let’s talk dirty to the animals.
    Fuck you, Mister Bunny.
    Eat shit, Mister Bear.
    If they don’t love it, they can shove it.
    Frankly, I don’t care! – Ohhhhh,

    The animals, the animals,
    Let’s talk dirty to the animals.
    Up yours, Mister Hippo!
    Piss off, Mister Fox.
    Go tell a chicken, “Suck my dick,” and
    Give him chicken pox. – Ohhhhhh,

    The animals, the animals,
    Let’s talk dirty to the animals
    From birds in the treetops
    To snakes in the grass – But,
    Never tell an alligator, “Bite my…” (No!)
    Never tell an alligator, “Bite my…” (Yes!)

    Never tell an alligator, “Bite my snatch!”


    “I’m not so funny. Gilda was funny. I’m funny on camera sometimes. In life, once in a while. Once in a while. But she was funny.” — Gene Wilder

    Official site of Gilda’s Club, a “community meeting place for people living with cancer, their families and friends. There are 22 open clubhouses and nine in development in North America. Gilda’s Club was founded by Joanna Bull, Gilda Radner’s cancer psychotherapist during the time she had cancer; Radner’s husband, Gene Wilder; and broadcaster Joel Siegel. … The organization takes its name from Radner’s comment that cancer gave her ‘membership to an elite club I’d rather not belong to’ ” (the wiki).

    You can make financial donations into an earmarked fund so people have a place to stay while their loved ones are getting treated, or you could send blankets and books and toys for kids to play with in the waiting room. Maybe old ipods and stuff, even, actually. Or think about donating time and creativity. Draw a comic book, cross-stitch “I’m sorry your wife is going to be bald for a while” on a tea towel with a sad face; you know, do something Gilda would approve of. Think outside the box!


    “It is so hard for us little human beings to accept this deal that we get. It’s really crazy, isn’t it? We get to live, then we have to die. What we put into every moment is all we have.” — Gilda.

    There is hella dust in here right now.

    Daily Batman: Hot wheels edition

    March 3, 2010

    They call me Baby Driver
    And once upon a pair of wheels
    I hit the road and I’m gone,
    What’s my number?
    I wonder how your engine feels.


    Burt Ward and Adam West photographed by Yale Joel on the set of the Batman movie, 1966.

    Ba-ba-ba-ba
    Scoot down the road,
    What’s my number?
    I wonder how your engine feels.

    “Baby Driver” (Simon and Garfunkel, 1969).


    Patented style.

    An actual patent was filed for the Batmobile that was built for the first film version of Batman (Leslie Martinson, 1966). The patent, no. 205998, was registered to Mr. George Barris of Barris Kustom, who outfitted the Batmobile for the movie. Among its features were a mobile batphone, bat-symbol hubcaps, and a “radar-like antenna with aimable parabolic reflector.” (source)

    Movie Moment: Extras from the Goonies

    November 10, 2009

    Today after I picked up kidlet from kindergarten, we jetted down to Ceres for some gloomy day movie cheer. Clue strangely put us to sleep but then Miss D, kidlet, and I watched us the crap out of some Goonies. We watched every single feature it had. Maybe even to our detriment.

    One of the features we watched, which I'd never seen before in its … I'm not sure what to call it? totality?, was a two-part music video put together by director Richard Donner, theme songstress and my fantasy fairy godmother Cyndi Lauper, with a cameo by producer Steven Spielberg, to promote the film. I don't even have words for the surreality of watching the video. It was really something. I will not soon forget it. These are my neutral words.


    [The video features] World Wrestling Federation pro-wrestlers André the Giant, Captain Lou Albano, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Wendy Richter, The Fabulous Moolah, The Iron Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff, Freddie Blassie; Steven Spielberg; The Goonies cast (except for Kerri Green, Anne Ramsey, Joe Pantoliano, Robert Davi and John Matuszak*); and the relatively unknown Bangles as a group of female pirates. Roseanne Barr appears as the “sea hag”. Lauper’s mother appears as “Cyndi’s mother”, reprising her role from “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”. — (the wiki)

    *The lead cast members from the film who do not appear in this video are those playing Andy, Ma Fratelli, and the Fratelli brothers.

    The plot runs like this: Cyndi’s folks run a Mom and Pop gas station that is being bought out by villains from the WWF, each attired as a different weird stereotype. Unfortunately, they also have dialogue. Cyndi and her brother? friend? and sister? his wife? are helping Mom and Pop (Cap’n Lou) pack up the ol’ place while the nouveau riche chew up the scenery and generally set up quickie symbols of their wealth such as a Benihana-type joint in the middle of the parking lot, which many consider the international sign of good taste and refinement, some to the point of exclusion. (Do not even try to talk dimsum on rollerskates to them; they will not listen.)

    Cyndi discovers a secret cave behind a painting of their grand-ancestor, where she encounters the Goonies, who help her decode a map she lifted off a dead guy — real fuckin’ nice, Cyn — but then some pirates show up, and Roseanne Barr. Oh my god, nightmare combination! The Bangles are there, too, but they do not try to sing. In the chase that ensues, Cyndi stops real quick for some hibachi, creating a prevalent and provocative ongoing theme in the video.

    Perhaps this is meant to make us reflect on the marketing of foreign cuisine in America, or on materialism and the ease with which an ordinary item common to one country can acquire peculiar clout in another country. Or perhaps it is merely included in order to set up a joke that is some straight racist garbage: ie, the following picture’s caption.

    Click here for the rest of the plot, more campy pictures!, Andre the Giant!!, the actual video itself, and my top secret crush from this movie!!