elizabeth lane lawley
michael "OC" clarke
e v h e a d
sweet fancy moses
wood s lot
m. melting object
Saturday, March 22, 2003
The Man Lives
6:10 PM | link |
Baby Grand Blues 7
"I need you to be divorced," she said. It was just before the Christmas holidays. The Christmas before last. Our last. We were just getting into bed and she was telling me I had to do this now. "I'm running out of steam," she said.
I'd told her many times, explained to myself, why time was necessary, crucial. How the settlement could break me if we had to go to court, let a judge decide how much, how long I'd have to pay my wife. My lawyer knew who the judge would be. A Boulder judge, a woman judge, not known to suffer men gladly. And I'd had a couple of windfall years. Made way to much money, which was now quickly dwindling in the subsequent economic "downturn." It didn't look good for me, my lawyer said. I trusted her implicitly, a tough no-bullshit lesbian with a heart. I had to work this out with my wife, agree with her on terms the court would accept, basically rubber stamp. But to come to agreement needed time. Needed the understanding that's so hard to find between two people ending a marriage. Or trying to live through one.
But she'd heard all that, too many times. Was delivering an ultimatum now. Do it or else. This is hurting us, she said, and I knew it was true. But not anything like what she had in mind would hurt. Why was I so stupid? I saw it all coming. Didn't want to see. I knew what I was saying sounded like excuses. It's not just the paperwork and lawyers and money, she said. She said you are still enmeshed with your wife. There's a part of you that's not available to me, and it's damaging us.
I understood something new from that talk. Saw what she was saying in a different light. Saw the truth in it. Even if it wasn't the whole truth and nothing but.
Enmeshed. It was a word I hadn't heard that often, and never used in this way. I could tell it had a special meaning. For her. For the people she hung out with, her circle of friends. I had a general sense of what it meant, of course. Of course. But I pondered what other connotations it carried. Something else I was missing, and it bothered me. Enmeshed.
When you live with another person for 12 years, or eight or two -- how long does it take? -- you begin to share experiences, memories, language. Times you laughed till you thought you'd die, and no one looking in on that scene would have any idea what was so funny. Times when you did die, little by little, and no one, not even you, had any idea what was so wrong. When I moved out, I knew it was time, that I'd been avoiding it with everything I had. Telling myself something would change between us. But nothing changed. Nothing was going to as long as we stayed locked in our cycle of blame and broken hopes. It wasn't about lack of tenderness, forgiveness. We fought, increasingly, about things that neither of us could remember later. But it wasn't hatred or even animosity. It was impasse. Some bridge we couldn't cross together. I thought for a long time, I told myself I believed, that we would, that it was just a matter of time. But we'd run out of time. And belief. Run out of the will it took to suspend our disbelief in what was happening between us. What was not happening. What was once there and now, whatever it had been, no longer was. What's wrong, I would ask. And she'd say I don't know. But not knowing didn't make it smaller, didn't make it easier to ignore. Not knowing had ceased to be a question, had become an inarticulate answer to the question: where did we go? Past tense. Past hope of repair. We both knew it, though neither of us wanted to.
One night before I left, we went to dinner. It was understood I was moving out. Perhaps for just a little while. Perhaps forever. It was a restaurant we'd been to many times. And we were just like we'd always been there. Talking about this and that. At one point noticing something strange, a baking pan that had been left sitting on the drop-cieling above our booth. Who knows why. It was nothing, beneath notice. But it struck us funny and we got laughing. Laughing so hard we thought we'd die.
We were about to. All that we'd lived through together blown away in a moment we could no longer deny, couldn't stop from coming. Either of us. Either. Of us, no longer anything but memory. Is that "enmeshed"?
I moved out later that week, trying not to think about it. Wanting it to be over before I let it sink in too deep. Let it touch the place in my heart that was breaking to be doing this. To be going away, to be leaving. It was the right thing. We both knew it, had talked about it, agreed. None of which helped much when it got real. Some days walking around my then-new apartment, the one I moved out of last week, it would hit me and I'd be bent over double inside. Remorse, but more. A grief I couldn't look at, could not let in. How could I be doing this? I need to, I would tell myself, and yes it's sad, and yes, and yes, but it's so sad. Where do we go when we're done with whatever we've done together? Where does it all go then?
But I had a new lover, and that helped. A lot. The woman I'd longed for for so long. The woman who'd left me 20 years ago, but now was coming back. I was so high on her. So high. Our story like an ancient fable coming full circle. Odysseus returning from years of travel and travail. Penelope still waiting beyond all reason, beyond all hope. We were living the myth of eternal return. So high on what we would finally become.
One morning soon after we became lovers again, I woke and the bed was empty. But she'd left a note in her beautiful hand. "Chris," it said, "I love you. There is no one above you. Not even in the same country."
I was stunned. Amazed. My deepest dream come true. How was this possible, I wondered. But it was. Was happening, was real. Only much later would I wonder at "no one above you," and the implication that there had been once, might someday be again. In an impossibly loving message, a veiled threat. Was I paranoid to think that? To think what I read in those same words two years later held some other part of the whole truth? Above you, below you. It was a hierarchy. Of needs I never guessed at. Still wish in unguarded moments that I'd never seen through to.
After the pedestal, she said, the scaffold. I was impressed that she knew such things. Such a finely tuned understanding of the heart. She was warning me, I thought, not to idealize her. Which I did, of course. Of course. What lover does not? But perhaps the warning cut deeper. I see you as the Prince of the Imagination, she said. And later: you imagine things. And later: we are not on the same page, not even in the same book. And I did imagine things, as I swung from her scaffold, no one below me. No longer even in the same country.
"Why are you so over-invested in this relationship?" she'd asked me one day. I forget what we were talking about. Probably that I wanted to be with her forever, for whatever time we had left. And I said, what? I said can we please not cast our fate in financial metaphors? I love you. What are you telling me? "Well, Chris," she said, "sometimes things just don't work out."
When do two people in love become things. "They're a thing." Do people still say that? They used to. Now they say they have a relationship. When did we become a relationship? Some third element that was not you, not me. Not even us. Soon after she left a year ago, after my angry letter and she was suddenly gone, she said she was still thinking it over. I can imagine coming back for you, or for the relationship, she wrote, but I just don't see what's in it for me.
And one day before she left, long before, explaining once again why she needed me to be divorced, she said, "Do you realize that if you died today, I wouldn't get a penny?"
No one above you. Not yet.
"I am in agony," she wrote when she was losing me. Cutting me loose. I didn't know she was leaving, didn't understand. Then call me I said. Pick up. What's going on with you? I love you. I'm angry, but I love you. She said she didn't understand how those could go togther. When she got angry at me, there had never been any question. I'd written to her saying such asymmetry didn't bode well for our future. She'd pulled away many times before, refused to talk. Her withdrawal this time said: what future? After two weeks of unreturned messages, she called me by accident -- something she did six, seven, eight times afterwards -- and I said again, what's going on? Are we breaking up? She said, "You don't see me there now, do you?"
It took me months to accept that it was over. Some days even now I don't want to believe it. Forever is such a long time. The last time we talked -- another accidental dialing -- I said I did get divorced, you know. I was never planning not to. And she said it wasn't so much that. It was more the enmeshment.
Can I ask you a question, I said. When you said you hurt too, that you were in agony, what was that pain? This was your choice. You could have stopped it. And she said, "I was just as invested in the relationship as you were, Chris."
[to be continued....]
3:49 PM | link |
Friday, March 21, 2003
5:52 AM | link |
Dolce vita. Bella vita.
"Ars longa, vita brevis," right? As it turns out, probably not. At least not the way this over-popular bit of Latinate snotiness is usually bandied about, which is something along the lines of: "Art lasts, but life is short." While our mortality can't be argued, the notion that the saying refers to what has come to be thought of as the privileged status -- let's call it the oh-so-specialness -- of "Art" is, in fact, pure bullshit.
The quote is a snippet from the Greek physician Hippocrates, the whole passage translating roughly as "Life is short, the art long, opportunity fleeting, experiment treacherous, judgment difficult." The art referred to is not "Art" in some general modern -- or even postmodern, thanks anyway -- sense, but rather the art of healing. As in: medicine. As in deep, and deeply respectful, knowledge of the body. Not as in: Oh wow, baby, your Art is so fucking healing. No, not really.
My point here, basically, is that Art can kiss my ars. Life, however brief, is incalculably more valuable. Sweet and beautiful. At least to anyone who can legitimately lay claim to having one. Which, unfortunately, as some of us find out far too late in selfsame said life, is not everyone.
Inevitably, there will be those who believe this has nothing to do with war.
2:44 AM | link |
Thursday, March 20, 2003
2:01 AM | link |
to Monitor "Blogs" for Homeland Security
1:20 AM | link |
Wednesday, March 19, 2003
Baby Grand Clues
I'm totally broke. In fact, I'm digging myself deeper and deeper into the debt hole. I charged over 300 grand worth of stuff this month alone. I figure once the anthax/smallpox/ebola/marburg hits, what the fuck, huh? But I'm trying to be frugal anyway. The end of the world is no excuse to become an irresponsible consumer. So today, I just picked up a handful of bare essentials...
12:23 AM | link |
Monday, March 17, 2003
I've been more than a little self-absorbed of late, as perhaps you've been able to tell. I don't have cable (I forgot), I don't get the paper (didn't pay the bill), I don't read the papers on the web (Amerikan fascism is a newsflash?). So I was mildly delighted today, my second day here in this place, to find The New York Times on my doorstep. Now I can get out of myself a bit, take more interest in current events, cheer up some. I know I've been writing some terribly depressing stuff. What a bummer for you, but thanks for reading it. For indulging my pessimistic outlook. But now that I'm getting the Times again, I can see that there's hope for a better world out there. I can only thank God that everyone's not as down in the mouth as I've been. Whew, huh?
6:24 PM | link |
Baby Grand Blues 6
More than anything, I wanted to, still want to, bless her life. Say yes yes yes, as we said to each other once, say yes, this too. Say yes to all of it. The depth of field, the clarity of the air, these mountains so shocking, immediate, the wrenching pain of separation. I tried to let go, to release whatever held me, held her back, tried to say go in peace. Do what you do, be what you are. That is what I loved in you.
What I could not let go of, what held me, what saved me in the end, was the adamantine, unbreakable knowledge that I could bless. This power I never asked for, never wanted. The knowledge that these words are more than words. In the name of love, Bono sings with U2 driving the incantation home. And it is an incantation. Not of the Father. Nor of the Son nor of some spooky pseudo-gnostic Zeitgeist. Three times no. In the name of love...
Los Brujos are not "ghosts." They are not "witches," too tinged with our thinly veiled Puritan fear. They are skinwalkers, dangerous to encounter accidentally in the desert. Dangerous any way you cut it. They are my brothers in arms, awaiting your return. Blessing and curse so intertwined they meet at the root of this magic. Hummingbirds and rattlesnakes both. You cannot choose.
I called her from London, a thread, a thin wire all that still connected us. Or so I thought, looking into my heart for a blessing I couldn't find. For me. For her. For what had been us. A love adamantine, I believed. Unbreakable. "I am sitting," I told her, "looking into myself. It feels like I'm dying."
"Well," she said, "you've come closer than most."
Closer to what, I wondered. And than most of whom? Suddenly I was not who I'd been to her, who I thought I'd been. But in a long line of others stretching back into a life I'd never known, would never know. Could not, from where I was standing then, holding on, my hands useless, eyes and ears stricken, unbelieving. In the year ahead, I would work hard to understand what had shaped that life, her heartbreaking habit of withdrawal. Habit, withdrawal; funny that those words have multiple meanings. Always a telltale that there's more tale to tell. And I promised myself if I lived I would write it. Say whatever sense I found in that life. Whatever sense I could imagine, make up if necessary. To survive it. For a long time, though, no sense would come. An empty past. A future measured in minutes. Keep breathing. Keep breathing. No letup. No solace.
"I would burn down the world for you," I once told her. She liked that, she said. Appreciated my devotion. Let me light a candle then, to recall that moment. Rekindle what I once felt. Mark its passing.
"We all like to think our pain is greater," she said at the end. Smug. Telling me how it was. How it is. Telling me she knew about this. Erasing me. Just a natural part of The Process. Something too horrible to hear. Her voice colder than winter. And this morning, this Spring, still trying to conjure blessing from these memories, I think instead of Bringing Out the Dead. I am in the ambulance, careening across an alien landscape of impatient traffic unaware that anything has happened. Uncaring, unconscious. But I am not unconscious. I am broken and bleeding, hurting more than I ever thought possible. Dying. Knowing I'll never make it to the hospital. That there is no hospital for this. And she is bending over me with a syringe full of morphine, saying we all like to think our pain is greater. Why is she saying this? Torturing me. She smacks her forearm, brings up the vein. I am watching in slo-mo technicolor. She slides the needle in. See? she says. Backwashes a little blood into the cylinder, pumps it in. And ah, she says, I feel much better now. I know that I've done the right thing.
Like all myths, the myth of the vampire is an attempt to explain something there are no other words for yet. For which no sense has yet emerged. But one day your head snaps back and you know it ain't no movie, baby. The myth of the vampire is not a myth. And I'd invited her. Cross my threshold, I said, and went down on her in deepest adoration, drank from her, and she from me. There is greater life, I said. We both knew it. Only in different ways. There are lies so deep there is no way to tell they're untrue. Some loves so false, they look hyper-real.
Do you feel like a victim, she said. Look into my eyes and tell me. Whatever you say, you are over. Look into my eyes and tell me this isn't happening. How conscious do you want to be for the operation? How much do you want to feel, remember later? Not that there's any anaesthesia anyway. Just wondering.
I prayed for death. For anything that would make it stop. I knew something that would. There's a liquor store two blocks from here. That would make it stop for a while. For a few blacked-out hours. All perfectly legal. Or I could get a gun. ("Why don't you just get a gun," Jagger was singing back then, "and shoot me through this heart of mine.") Or see how fast I could get my car to go with a full tank of gas. How big an explosion it would make run into a concrete bridge abutment at a hundred and fifty. All pretty much equal. I found a shrink who could prescribe. I said give me something so I won't drink. It was a rare act of humility. I knew I couldn't take it. I knew I'd get loaded in another eight hours, ten at the outside. I knew what it'd feel like to let it flood into me, over me. I want to get lost in your rock and roll and drift away...
The Magician bent over double, clawing the ground. Heaven and Earth disconnected, man and woman, sky broken to pieces. Pain adamantine, unbreakable. And people asked me, why? I asked myself. Can't handle his liquor. Can't handle his women. Not much of a man, then, is he? Pain like that. That can find all the places you're vulnerable, weak, uncertain. And pry them open for your consideration. For your ongoing education. You'll learn a lot about yourself from this. You hate people who say that. But they're right. And for that, you hate them even more. But yeah, I learned a lot. I learned what it's like to keep living when your only faith is broken. Discovered what breathes for you when you cannot breathe.
I knew she had friends who were comforting her. Supporting a sister in a time of trouble. Telling her she was being strong, making the right decision. Finding her own story, telling her own truth. Strangers, witches, feeding her bad counsel, whom I had held in moments indescribable, whom I had carried in my heart for half a lifetime. And she fed on it, grew stronger, the plunger dropping, shooting up what was left of my love. Flow Morpheus slow, let the sun and light come streaming...
I took back the fire from your eyes, and cursing the darkness lit a candle anyway. But not to remember. Blew on the little forked flame we had created. Fucked it into a different purpose, my Lady, than Lawrence had in mind. To torch every bridge that could lead me back to you. Gathered what I had left of words and burned the world down. Forever. For good.
And now how do you like your blue-eyed boy? What does it feel like to be walking in my skin? Deep in New Mexico, deeper than you've ever traveled, los brujos, my brothers, await you. Google offers to translate: "Beyond the fish the sea remained single. The roots had attended the burial of comets in the immense plain of which no longer it has blood, and were tired and without dream."
[to be continued....]
1:47 PM | link |
Sunday, March 16, 2003
Books No Blogger Should Be Without (or) This End Up
I just got my hands on O'Reilly's new Google Hacks: 100 Industrial Strength Tips & Tools. Haven't had time to memorize the whole thing yet, but it seems to contain inside lore even I didn't know (he said, giving himself unwarranted airs). One of the authors is my old pal Tara Calishain, who was the first to write a serious review of EGR, lo many long years ago. You can bet it was glowing, or I wouldn't be flogging her latest. Now, would I?
Also, last week just before the big move, I noticed I didn't have enough books (he said, proving he is certifiably insane). So I picked up the companion volume to the above. No blogger worthy of the name would be caught dead without the DSM-IV-TR. The affectionate acronym stands for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision. What's that? Oh no (laughs), it's not for me! It's to help in my work. Which lately has involved deep research into which end is up. The way I figure it, if I could figure that out, I could also figure out how I ended up this way. Make sense? No? Then you definitely need this book.
In other random news, I am getting very fucking little email from you people. Perhaps it's because I've been sending so little. Is that the way this Internet thing works? Shit, how come nobody told me? OK then, listen: Be that way. I hate you all.
7:53 PM | link |
Baby Grand Blues 5
I'm offline. Disconnected. Wondering what to do. It's just 9 on Sunday morning, overcast, colder than yesterday, Spring in remission. But just as I started writing this, the sun came out. Little things. In a couple hours, I go to pick up Selene, my daughter. We get breakfast somewhere, then drive around listening to her music. Lately it's been Good Charlotte. They're pretty good. I turn it up loud. Little things, little things...
Let the kids rock and roll. Like they need permission.
I woke today in this place that looks exactly like the place I just moved out of. Except it's not. And I changed where things go, so it's not the same at all. Hard to tell though when you're just waking. Strange. I like strange. It would be hard to say why. Something about the difference that makes a difference. Geese, as I used to say: flying information.
During the move, things surfaced, as things will. Last night, trying to find something in a box of bathroom stuff, I found half a box of tampons. I remember how proud I felt when I bought them for her. Taking care of my baby. Something deeper than that. Tending to her, as she would say. Did say, often. They'd gotten wet somehow, the paper wrinkled and dried. I threw them out along with some other things she'd left. It was strange, I thought later, that she didn't leave anything she'd really want back. As if she'd known before it happened and gathered up what she wanted to keep, leaving only bits and pieces of her presence. Enough to make it seem she hadn't planned on leaving. But maybe that's just me. Of course it's just me. Who else would bother thinking it. Especially now, after all this time. No one left to explain it again.
As I was tossing this stuff, I reached back into the trash and picked up a plastic bottle of some cosmetic something. Some sort of mousse, as it turned out. No water damage there. Attractivce bright packaging. A spray bottle with a blue label: Beauty Without Cruelty. I almost laughed. Yeah, I know all about animal testing and what this brand is supposed to mean. Stupid as it is. But sometimes the irony is just too much. Beauty without cruelty. Wow. Do advertisers hire semioticians? They do. Amazing to think about, if you stop to think. Think about it. Professionals in reading the cultural unconscious. Who is this stuff meant to appeal to? Why? Like the hand soap in her bathroom when I first started going over there: Kiss My Face. I guess everyone's seen this by now, on store shelves in better supermarkets everywhere. I hadn't. I couldn't believe it. Kiss My Face? You gotta be shittin me. How about Sit On My Face? How about kiss my ass.
In a lot of ways, I guess I'm slow. So many signs. So many signifiers. So much subtle sound and fury. Beauty without cruelty. Like a fish without a bicycle.
I left the bottle out on the counter, so I saw it when I was making coffee. First coffee here in my new place. I like it here. Two big pine trees outside the front door. And a stoop. A couple of them actually. Long shallow-rise concrete stairs leading down to the parking lot. Transistion at the entryway. A passage in the pattern language. Good places to sit, watch the nearly full moon sailing up into the night. Or going down. Mid-sky, what difference does it make?
In the middle of the night, rolling over in my sleep, I was dreaming of my angel. I haven't said much about her yet. Not the one I've been wrting about here. Not even close. Good thing. There was a time, not long ago, I couldn't write anything. Couldn't imagine love. I wrote to her about a dream I had, of a feathered demon. He was beautiful but dangerous. I wresteld with him, trying to get him to accept me. A contest of strength, of will. At one point I felt one of his talons touch my skin, incredibly sharp, powerful. I realized he could rip me to pieces in an instant, but instead it was as if he was embracing me.
After that, she called me demon. So just for the record, not angel the way some people talk about angels these days. Oh yes, my angel spoke to me and it was so amazing! Fuck that. This is a woman. Real. With a sense of humor big enough to accomodate our impossibility. I talked to her last night, sitting on my stoop. My stoop that I like so much. One of the differences that makes one. I didn't have a stoop in the other place. Just a flat sidewalk. So progress, as they say, not perfection. Dreaming of my angel who is not a dream. Who saved me. Showed me that was possible. To reach out of the deepest darkness and say... say what? Hello. Say what if I fell in love with you? What would you do? And what she did was show me that there was, in fact, in realtime, no bullshit, beauty without cruelty.
I have to go pretty soon. I should stop writing now, get ready to pick up Selene, once known to some of you as Self. A name she chose as a baby, just learning to speak. Now she calls herself Mirage and won't answer to Self anymore. That's cool. She'll flay me for telling you this. But that's cool too. She'll understand. I'll ask her to play the Good Charlotte tune that goes: tonight, tonight, it's on tonight. I don't want your boring life. And I don't want your 9 to 5. Or anyone to tell me how to live my life...
And we'll crank it till the windows rattle as we drive through downtown Boulder, thinking foolishly that someone here might get it. But not caring, really. Not giving a good goddam.
[to be continued....]
11:56 AM | link |
"RageBoy: Giving being fucking nuts a good name since 1985."
28 October 2004
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at a major industry conference,
chris locke once again captures the real story.