Chekov’s Vase: Day 17

Here’s the frog to swallow. Do this now and everything else will be easier. Not easy, mind. We can’t make that assumption these days. But easier to not despair so fully. That’s the benchmark we’re reaching for…to not maintain an overfull sense of despair about things we have zero control over.

I’ve bought my airfare to go to Seattle, see some dear friends, indulge in all the Critical Role my heart can endure (this is why you need less despair, so the bucket can tip and sway under the overfill of joy) and reliably, it’s nice to have something real and immediate on the horizon to look forward to. It’s a good reminder, of course, about the Grand Plan, to get myself into a bit better shape to not get overwhelmed by those hills once again. A reminder that you can’t get there by doing what you’ve done before.

Someone posts a meme: “You deserve someone who isn’t confused about their feelings for you.” Comments ensue. His feelings – all feelings in all forms – are confused is the public statement. Well. I think. Well, I nod to myself, pulling at my dry eyes. Well. I can be snide about it. Post back something charmingly sarcastic about how little confusion he seemed to exhibit last night. Maybe all of that is a lie. Who can say? But I know that would be painful, mortifying, frustrating, and would end with me apologizing and feeling as though I’d crossed some line in the sand.

And I would have. It’s not who we are to use the forum to have actual communication, to argue publicly, argue at all. But the forum exists and these parallel streams of experience flow through its conduits, currents that split and run for miles in opposite directions before they cross into the fog of Love and War and somehow end up pooling in the same ocean. I hear what he’s thinking as a vase in a room absorbs an actor’s monologue. I just get to know it, hold it. I don’t have any option to roll myself on the floor and crack over it. I’m not the audience. I’m a piece of set dressing in the long Pinter play that is his life. An upgrade from a handful of dust, tangible, photographable, but unless you put some significance in the narrative, the gun is just a gun, the vase is just a vase, a spade…

Not entirely true. But far less false than it should be.

No word from the honorable RP’er. That is as it should be, of course. He’s passed the test, refused the ring, and away he goes with a good and happy life.  Maybe.  Nobody can begrudge him that.

I am moving on?  Not really, but I’m enduring by building the small brand of power I claim.  Another day – 3 days running  – of facing the turn of terror.

A note, as a poet one must comment.  Mary Oliver passed away today.  You can kind of feel a chill in the air, a lacking that feels urgent, new, inexplicable.  Let’s not forget the work, the way the work can make a life just where it stands.

Negative Space


I know, because I’ve been given a Clue, that it’s around that time of these 30 or so days that I start to feel emotional about reality.  Mine, of course, and our shared reality.  Neither of which is always kind or sufficiently explained to us.   It’s one of those nights where you start crying and stop, you shiver and you strain, and you keep thinking about things that hurt as though they were a flame you’re inextricably drawn to burn yourself on.

David Bowie was not necessarily someone who was important to me.  He wasn’t important to me in the way Johnny Rzeznik was.  Or Matthew Good was.  Or Liz Phair.  I didn’t buy his albums.  My parents were never into Ziggy Stardust.  I saw Labyrinth mostly to be indoctrinated into the allure of the codpiece,  but preferred what I grew up watching: the Tangerine Dream seriousness of Legend.  I loved the Flight of the Conchords’ 1-step removed imitation of the icon. Like everyone, I was caught off-guard by the news last night and was convinced for at least an hour that it was a horrible hoax.   And like everyone, now I’m left to absorb the fact that we’ve lost a real icon, a real human being.  I’m startled to find that perhaps he was more important to me than I ever realized.

I wasn’t sure I thought I’d check my Itunes, just to see. But I needn’t have wondered, because of course, there’s some Bowie in there.  That was one part of his power.  Omnipresence.  Not looming, not lurking, just living on the periphery of your experience, waiting for half an invitation to come and thrill you before escaping again for further adventure.   I don’t think I’ve ever listened to this song ever…Cat People, but it’s there waiting for me, like a audiomantic revelation.  And I’ve been putting out fire / With gasoline! 

Friends are sharing videos.  I’ve been reading reminiscences from celebrities and reactions from everyone.  Why does it feel like someone made a mistake?  Like we still need David Bowie?  Like none of us had ever added it all up and told the powers that keep the books out there that we needed more time to find the mustardseed?  That we’d have genuflected at the font if we knew what it meant to do without him.

Maybe I never felt like I had to give my heart to David Bowie because he was bigger than any of my petty concerns.  He was in the atmosphere.  He was elemental in my mind, factual, permanent.  His coolness equally so.  I know now how much I took his presence, his talent, his history that built the pop culture I am so passionate about today, his out and out weirdness for granted.  I feel like I could have been an excellent fan of his – I still could be – but I could have felt that connection with his music when I felt like I was nothing and no one and adrift on the rainiest South Atlantic oceans.  I could have learned more about who he was before this instead of relying on collective memory, collective belief.  I could have taken his umbrella from the storm and stood under it with other oddballs and off-brands and self-made creatures.  I suppose I found other umbrellas, but it was the same storm and we were all weathering it together.

He shared my aunt’s birthday.  He passed on my grandmother’s.  A Capricorn with a sliver of the Devil in his eye.

That is the lesson in all of this.  You have your window.  Whatever it is.  However long that you’ve been allotted.  For all of it.   For your passions, your hates, your learning, your feasting, your rock star idolatry.  And as situated and stone-bound as you may feel, fate can swirl you up and away you go, onto your new, juicy adventure and all of this, grand and horrific and sublime and stupid as it is, goes away.  So, yeah, I made the chocolate mug cake, and yeah, I’m writing this other dude back even though he has a kid and says Lol, and yeah, I feel loss for time spent blinking at popcorn ceilings and cringing in doorways.   I feel regret.  I want to know about the David Bowies of the world.  I want to share my umbrella.



All I want is everything that ever was – available forever.  ETEWAF, coined by Patton Oswalt?

Last night I dreamed about the goodness of Mr. Rochester.  I dreamed about him mediating a unwarranted and uncharacteristically hateful dispute between two other people in our circle and acting so generously that the fact I was absent-mindedly stripping distracted him for but a moment.  It was a warm dream.  I didn’t realize that warm dreams (dreams that are so vivid and memorable and kinesthetic that they veer towards lucidity) should generally make me nervous.  When I have them, something seems to happen.  I was already feeling psychically open after stripping my bed down to the mattress pad last night and changing my sheets and leaving the room and  suddenly my piece of blessed amber turns up on top of the made bed out of the blue.  A bed I’d patted down to make military-grade smooth.

So, naturally, I learn today that Mr. Rochester and his shop of mystical wonders is leaving (me) on Friday.  It is a grave shock.  It’s a keening cry of frustration radiating out every direction. It’s a personal failure. I don’t want to believe it.  I feel bereft of a friend, though it may well be that he’s staying in town or I’ll see him around or something, but for the moment, I feel like there’s been a death. Apropos in these waning hours of the year, I suppose.  He’s asked me to pop back in some night between now and then and that pretty well leaves me tomorrow night for a goodbye that I have no idea how to make – if I have to make one – since he has no sense of the depth of my feelings.  I barely have that sense pinned down for myself.

In an equally strange and terrible way, this is something of a relief.  If he’s gone entirely, wholly, out of the state and eventually only these memories of his kindness, his voice, his small care for me will be kept in an album stored in the back of my mind where I store and paw my most precious regrets, then it is one less tie for me to be here.  One less reason that giving it up wouldn’t be so heinous and wrong.  One less person to make me care about the importance of my job when my job – at least officially – could do nothing for him.   That I can really do nothing for anyone but cash their checks.

When he told me today, all glibness and sarcasm while I followed him about in stunned silence, all I wanted to do was touch his hand.  I wanted to physically know he was alright, to comfort him, to feel the connection so long, so limerently imagined.  But there were five or six people about – all of whom must have known him at least as well as I do if not twice as well and some are employees and really, what was there to say?  No! I won’t allow it? I need you and this place and these small instances we have to make me feel anything at all.  That you’re my friend and I need to know where you’ll be and how hard this is and how I can help and what I can give and where I can stand to ease you and all of this is a thousand bumblebees in my head.  I can say nothing for fear of saying everything.

If you’ve ever seen the BBC’s  2006 Jane Eyre, that moment when Rochester tells her that she must go to Ireland and forget him while he marries Blanche Ingram and she, in this first betrayal of her emotions, says:  Do you think I am an automaton?  a machine without feelings?…Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless?

All the fervor of that moment pressed on my heart and was swallowed whole.  Perhaps without a heart or a soul, I have room to withstand all the pain of my regrets.  Thornfield is being sold off, piece by piece, and the madwoman is shimmying down the drainpipes and making her escape.  There is no ulterior purpose to maintain us unless I concede to the friendship and to the desire that lays nearly dormant below.  I don’t know how to do that.  So like every other case, I am but fingertips and hourglass sand away from losing him entirely.

But this is not a thing you can express just because every fiber in you needs to express it so we joked about politics and throwing books at idiots and I said this was a “bummer” and that I’d be around before Friday, of course, I’d be around.

At the office, I was able to tell everyone with an air of nonchalance and finish my work.

In the car driving home, Fleetwood Mac’s Landslide came on and I cried and tried to figure out the eschatological final step.  That if I cared at all, if I wasn’t an automaton, I should do something to say something.  A bottle of wine, a card?  I still don’t know.  I wish I knew one thing at all.

I’m just going to be as alright as I know how to be for as long as I can keep up the facade.  Yesterday was all about the cyclical nature of things, the security and positivity of that even if so much of your cycle is fucking up.  Today is about chaos.  Unbidden.  There is no comfort but the blue-stained belief that somehow you can bear it.

Everything ends, but I was sure that this was the exception.