Thursday, October 29, 2009

Chapter Two: Fear & Gripping Grendel. (In part.)

-“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid.” Lewis opens A Grief Observed with this sentiment, if one finds them self reading A Grief Observed, meaning, if one seeks out the book because of a need for it, chances are this line will fillet them. I too found grief akin to fear, but I would go further than Lewis. I would say that the primary manifestation of grief is fear. I was afraid.
-It was three months before I wrote anything. My time was consumed with reading, crying, thinking, replaying, justifying, rationalizing and a plethora of other half wasteful, half insightful oddities. Sleep generally came early; I begged its arrival and would settle into uneasy dreams who seemed to have lost the ability to create new material. The mornings providing work and the bittersweet distractions that earning a paycheck creates. It was acidic to be at work, but basic to be busy, it was sweet to get home but bitter to be alone, it was an ugly state of being, all the while I willfully elected to fuel the demise, for a time. After all, there was a lot of neat stuff to see doubled over with my head buried in the ground.
-Sam and Simon were best of friends. Being small boys, their world was both large and small at the same moment. It was large in the sense that they both understood that beyond the smoke covered mountains there were many, many miles, kilometers, fathoms, or whatever one fancies for measuring given sections of land-mass to be discovered. Conversely, their world was small because they made it such. The concept of how small they were was not lost on either of them, particularly Sam, or Samuel. Taking a wild world and cramming it into one’s pocket is not an easy task as one can well imagine. It must be done one day at a time, one spoonful of dirt by one spoonful of dirt. And, Sam and Simon did in point of fact dig in the dirt with spoons. There was a clay ditch across the street where the two of them spent a good deal of time developing a dense maze of traffic tunnels in the sticky, red wall. It looked much like a giant ant farm to the causal viewer, a shot of red surface with spaghetti thrown at it, sinking into the surface just far enough for a matchbox truck to amble along the edge of the precipitous ledge. It was a beautiful, miniature version of the Stremnaya Road in Bolivia, “The Highway of Death.” Though they were not self-aware enough, neither of them, to realize what they were doing, they did go out and make war on the wide World everyday. Determined to make it palatable, manageable; controllable.
-At this juncture a parallel story requires telling. Sam and Simon were raised in a community where status was based on BMX racing. More specifically, status was based on winning BMX races. Armed with a continually growing resolution to win they set about expanding the control of their destinies by practicing religiously. Simon was older, bigger, faster, and he was in a different age group, which was lucky for Samuel. That did not dissuade Simon from poking fun at Sam regarding his choice of starting location on the ‘Hill.’ The real racers all started from the crest of the Hill at the ‘starting gate,’ where from one would gather the most speed, and frankly it is illegal to start from any place else. There was one caveat to said starting Hill, at the bottom of that seemingly immense Hill, was a seemingly massive jump. Gravity is not pocket-sized.
-Upon sufficient berating, Sam pushed his bike from the preferred, middle of the Hill starting point, to the top of the Hill. It is a historical fact; sweaty palms were born on this day. He narrowed his eyes down the Hill, Simon’s prodding, “Eyes on the prize, Newbie!” ringing in his ears. He had borrowed Simon’s helmet for the occasion and it gave him some false sense of courage in his quest to slay the Hill. There were grand visions of racing down the precipice, flying off the jump, and turning his head as he soared through the air in slow motion locking eyes with Simon as he mouthed, “What’s up now?” He imagined the voice of the announcer calling out the starting position verbiage; his small heart beat loudly in his little world. There was a moment when the announcer in Samuel’s mind summoned him and the other 6 invisible racers, “go!” Hurtling down the Hill was pure ecstasy. The speed, the whirling, the rush of certain victory at hand resounded emphatically; his World was indeed small enough to fit into his pocket.
-Somewhere between the split second realization of how large the bottom of the Hill jump was and a rough calculation of speed to weight ration Sam’s briefly pocket sized World began to grow, rapidly. He nearly had had it all the way into his pocket…but inflation was as inevitable as his trajectory. There was a moment, Simon could attest, Sam left his bike, he was traveling though the air, but not majestically. The travel was that of a baby bird on its maiden voyage hitting every branch on the way down; that is precisely what he did.
-Three hours and ten stitches in his chin later, he found himself jumping rope after a dinner at Simon’s parents’ house. “Man, I can feel this weight tugging my chin down every time I hop, it is so weird. It is as if the world is trying to drag me down into itself, it’s heavy…” he thought quietly.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Chapter One: Starting at 'The End.' (In part, 4)


-Humans often find themselves searching for definition, that, “This is who I am,” a personalized Thesis Statement that will inform them of exactly who they are and what their major objective is for the next 60 or so years. A journal entry from four months after ‘day one’ paints this portrait, “I feel like I mostly only have questions. I am not thrilled with all questions. A few are okay, but answers go a long way.” There is an identity crisis here that is causing chaos in the mind. Questions abounded, answers have left a note on the shop door stating they’d be back at three, it is now half past four and there is no sign of them, the street is deserted, dark, damp and eerie.
-A cohesive recipe for success is a fool’s errand; yet this is not a reason to quit running the race. Hopefully, I had not set out on such a quest, to find the exact recipe, yet I was unsatisfied to merely quip, “Welp, that is that…what’s next?” Only quitters quit, age 26 was hardly the time to do so.
-Humans live in a world of perpetual paradox. If they eat food it will give them cancer, clog ateries, or make them obese, yet if they skip food for said safety reasons the results are equally and oppositely devastating. “Cars are killing the earth,” they hear, so public transport is used; only to deliver the rider to the office late, repeatedly, resulting in a loss of employment and the ensuing problems of being destitute.
-“Here is your cake, would you like to have it?”
-“Yes, please!”
-“Would you like to eat it?”

-“Yes, please!”
-“Well, do you want to have it or eat it? You can’t have both”
-The paradox list is endless, sit down and consider it objectively and honestly, nearly anything within life appears on it. Search for the paradoxical yang to the personal ying, generally speaking it is there, pretending not to see it will only delay the inevitable, ‘unplanning’ of “the wedding”.

-There are the ‘blessed fools’ in this universe that subscribe full-sail to the bliss of ignorance. They justify, “I needn’t know X, Y or Z” or “I needn’t accept X, Y, and Z” for a myriad of reasons. These fellows seem to find sleep at night, seem to find stomachs at ease, and pleasure in everything; I am not such a fellow. I was not blessed with the gift of “I don’t care.” “Care” is a bitter pill. It is actually a package deal, one can’t buy “care” in a white five-speed with a/c, but skip the leather seats because they get hot in the summer and are cold in the winter. “Care” is a hook, line and sink sort of business; it gets deep inside and when landed in the 16’ glittery, bass tracker on lake Wannawingo, “Care” rips your guts out leaving you a twitching little fish who swims for a little longer, tilted partially sideways. Why should the fisherman be concerned over one undersize bluegill, there are plenty of other fish in the lake, right?
-I had to ‘pop start’ us too often, my hand was no stranger to the emergency brake, I wouldn’t make excuses for her anymore, she was “over me,” her words failed and her behavior had made it transparent…my guts lay on the bottom of the bass tracker, thank goodness her hook was salvaged though. Imagine if she had lost that precious thing, they cost at least twenty or thirty cents a piece! The world was bobbing 45 degrees off true plane; my surety of control was suddenly and very lucidly a farce.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Chapter One: Starting at 'The End.' (In part, 3)


-‘Truths’ in life are always, always harder to accept and learn to “live harmoniously” with than lies, at least at the outset of the revelation. By harmoniously I mean, let them sink in, let them become a reality, begin to see the merit in them instead of ‘just dealing with them.’ Lies are easy, at the outset, due to this very natural law. Truth and lies are inversely proportional; Truth is tough going in the beginning and easier as time passes, lies are easy going at the beginning and grow unbearable as seconds grow up in to minutes who in turn age into hours. The knee jerk human reaction is to put one’s fingers in their ears and say, “LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA!!!” this is not an effective way of dealing with problems in case there remains any confusion. Truth is Truth, acceptance and obedience to them is one option, the other option is pain and death; apologies to the post-modernist.
-A child standing in front of a bank of vending machines with one quarter is better suited to comprehend this complex of The Eros Dilemma than most learned scholars. It is very acute, and very difficult. It is a ‘simple to comprehend, but nearly impossible to make choice’ type of situation, “I can pick one of these treasures, or I can save my quarter because something better might come along when we get to K-Mart.?.?. I mean anyone of these ring pops would suffice, but what if K-Mart has super bouncy-balls? What if?” All that is left to do is accept the fact that there is one quarter, one crank of the chrome cross-handle, one opening of the plated trap door of goodness. But the human mind bends and bows for a way to have their cake and eat it too. When one has spent, ‘invested,’ a word I use gingerly, a great deal of time, emotion, money, dreams et al on an ideology, any ideology; romantic, bouncy-ball or otherwise, letting it wash down the stream of life, as a stick in the gutter of the street, is as difficult as swallowing a horse pill.
-Using the logic/intellect, balanced with approached objectivity, applied over a path of memories and history, juxtaposed with the a limited gift of discerment/prophesy, one, could begin to see as I had so often been told, “Yes, it is better, it really is…” even one so deluded as me at that time. Now, that nearly sounds like a formula; please do not malign my misguided thoughts as formulaic. Formulas have a place, they perform well in finding the distance a cannonball will fly if fired at a specific angle to the horizon, with a certain initial velocity, with such and such a wind condition, all within a vacuum, of course. Formulas perform well in vacuums, in the event that there remains any confusion, the earth is not a vacuum. ‘Theoretically’ is about the end of the use of ‘formula’ on this terrestrial ball; so check all formulas at the door, please. There is no exact formula to human life, there is only seeking, truly seeking, resulting in finding. What one does with the findings is a whole other story.
-Piecing together the history, the reasons or as many as I could find as to why we had failed was painful, it was truth so no less than pain was expected. The pain made it genuine, in as absolutely non-masochistic way as can be understood. Yet, the finding process challenges one’s self-worth, constantly. Allow one’s self to be defined by what other people think of them or more realistically the way that other people treat them, or even more realistically the way that other people mistreat them, which is the truest measure of value that one being holds for another, is wrong; plain and simple. If one subscribes to the theory of ‘what so and so thinks about me economics’ and chooses to establish their self-worth based upon another human’s, extremely dynamic opinion of them, prime conditions for heartache and sneaking, permeating untruths have been established. This deluded definition will, more than likely, lift the person just high enough so that when they fall, it does not simply smart; it shatters. It is a sad tale authored, mastered and propagated by a despondent, lonely monster, to yield more woe and destruction.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Chapter One: Starting at 'The End.' (In part, 2)


-Eventually, I couldn’t take the disappointment any longer. Perhaps disappointment is too large a word? I am wary of using words that that are too large for there utility, Jack Lewis taught me that. If I were to insert a better word, or a better string of words, it would look more like this, “The car usually worked, it usually ended up getting me to the destination, eventually, but there was a certitude in my mind that a better, more fluid solution existed, I had but to seek it, diligently.” I ceased to see the value in the lessons of, “Oh, so that is how a fuel pump works!” or “I bet this brown wire is supposed to be connected to that little bracket thing right there…” and desired a car that I could get in, turn the key, and drive to Hanny’s diner, day or night, no questions asked.
-Cars can be sold; wives cannot, at least not within my belief system. I selfishly, perhaps, wanted a car that loved me as much as I loved it; I think I felt same way about what I wanted in a wife.
-Yet, a valid counter argument could be made regarding this sentiment. After all, as aforesuggested I do subscribe to the ‘the two shall become one flesh’ school of thought. With that being said, I would love me, therefore I would love her, therefore she would love me. Maybe it is not such a selfish desire after all? It is not that I have said I wanted a car that loved me regardless of mistreatment; I said I wanted a car that would love me back. My shoulder just brushed against the thorny hedge of the ‘does unconditional love exist?’ question, I shall pass on the hedge cutting, after all I am wearing short sleeves. Maybe it is innate in the make-up of the human nature to seek this Eros, and all that it touches, be reciprocated? Maybe it is part of the natural law, perhaps?
-My “library” was actually the second bedroom of a two-bedroom condo that I bought for me and my former fiancé, Marie. I use the term ‘bought’ loosely as I would be paying for it for the next thirty years; it is strange how often one refers to a residence as “his house,” when in reality the bank owns it, and the bank is owned by the government and the government is owned by a group of Asian business men in Hong Kong.
-I entertained so few visitors in those days and procured so many books that a library seemed a better use for the space; a place of respite away from my normal world, the kitchen and living room, who were already deafeningly silent. The life of a celibate is one of ‘domestic silence.’ There is no sound of one puttering around in the adjacent room, no tapping of a foot on the floor, or laugh resulting from a Jane Austin quip. There were sounds mind you, but they an amalgam of sirens leaking through the vinyl double-hungs, drunk bar-goers struggling home still finishing their last call beverage, and the creaks of the old, abraded floor. But those sounds were not mine, Neil Diamond would agree with me, that song belonged to everyone. My song was now silent, it was sort of my own little version of Spinal Taps’, “It goes to eleven!” but conversely mine went to eleven; quiet.
-We had spent months planning an October wedding, and unplanned the same wedding a week before the nuptials during a less than delightful ‘conversation’ on a more than delightful Saturday. There was no single straw what broke the camel’s back, straw is manageable. Yet, there was a time when one plus a million equaled too much and better senses prevail. “Better senses” is again a poor choice of words; it is far too small and requires expounding, which is my intention.
-“It is better this way,” how many times had I heard that ‘encouragement?’ Too many to count; oddly enough I believed it, not out of bitterness mind you, from day one. Day one being the ‘unplanning’ Saturday or sometime slightly before that warm, otherwise sublime, afternoon. The idea of, “This {marriage to be} is a messed-up state of affairs which will only get worse, and walking down this path really should not be continued,” was not revolutionary to me, yet by the same token, it was an immensely difficult Truth to come to terms with.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Chapter One: Starting at 'The End.' (In part)

(Ed. note: With difficulty I have divided the text where I have such that mouthful sized bits can be served. I have come under some reproach, good reproach mind you, regarding post length. This selection represents only the first portion of draft two's first chapter in an effort to avoid excessive yawning, as I know is your custom.)

Chapter One: Starting at ‘The End.’

-When I was fifteen I gave $2,200 to an old woman in Milwaukee; she gave me a 1966 Volkswagen Beetle. Her son had purchased it new, driven it a short time then given it to her when he left for Vietnam. Vietnam in the mid-sixties was nasty, I saw Deer Hunter and that wasn’t even the half of it, poor kid. She had carted groceries with it for another twenty odd years before a brake line decided it was sick of the constant pressure and broke. Three years before we exchanged goods, she had deposited him in the carport, left for dead. Needless to say, but I will say it because that is our method of speaking; the car was in a sad state of affairs. It could have easily been mistaken for the barn abandoned Herbie, as I recall it was frowning slightly and the wheels had that sad sort of outward cant, a telltale sign of clinical-auto depression. I on the other hand had wanted a Beetle for time out of mind and was giddy beyond words. We collected the Beetle with a trailer borrowed from someone that escapes my mind and brought it home to a receptive garage full of tools. We, my dad and I, lovingly worked through that dejected little machine. The motor was on the floor in the corner awaiting a new clutch and re-install, the interior was strewn about the shop, there was a pile of glass what had been and would again be my wind screens, $2,000 worth of boxes crammed with new parts sat in a queue waiting to be assigned respective roles, and heaps of old, oxidized metal said teary farewells under the cover of darkness to their longtime Bavarian master.
-We developed a relationship in those few months. We spoke often, between sanding the hood a fourth time and mounting new tires, I’d chatter about the times ahead and how things would be one day when we’d be found cruising along with little more to do that just be. The AM radio would play big band music through the one tiny speaker on the left end of the dash, all would be well, happiness would be had at a comfortable 55 miles per hour. He rarely offered much above a scrapping shutter or peal of pain while I ground out his cancerous rust, but there was a connection of some kind, at least I thought we were on the same page. In a short time the car was stripped, patched, repaired, and renewed.

-I was elated. I drove that car for six months before I sold it.
-Wait, what? Six months?

-Yes, six months.

-There was no major melt down, it never exploded or the like, it simply required me to park in slightly down hill conditions because the 6-volt electrical system was rarely enough to start it, it simply left me broken down at the side of the road time and again, often in the rain or snow, it simply required me to use the emergency brake on multiple occasions due to massive brake failure, it simply…yeah, that. All the while I would wash him, and vacuum him, change his oil religiously, and protect him from any foul element be it nature or man. Through all of this, the dynamic remained, though was increasingly one sided. If I was not at an appointment on time, chances are the lower half of my body could be found halfway ingested by the bonnet of a white VW on a blue road somewhere between my parents’ house, and the meeting place.