Saturday, May 17, 2014

AND STEPS ARE ENDLESS


Rumor or the meteorologists, as you would have it, predicted a rainy weekend, but it is bursting spring lovely outside. The neighbors are having another yard sale and no doubt there are many in the area. For a change, I don't have an urge (compulsion) to treasure hunt among other's discards. I suppose I am more concerned what I am going to do with myself, my cats, and all my stuff as the summer goes on. I will content myself with listening to Conor Oberst's new release, Upside Down Mountain, on NPR's First Listen and finishing my coffee. (Not particularly impressed so far.)

The irises were blooming all around Brooklyn yesterday. Photographs do not justice them or the pleasure of seeing them sprinkled down the street. A better color setting might have helped in sharing with you, but there is some charm in the above image. 

It was not an easy week for me, emotionally. I have been very up and down, without having a good handle on what might be the cause of this current round of discontent and discomfort. Again, these causes are not, on a universal or geological scale, anything but specks, however, our worlds are quite contained within the confines of our own skin and experience. Which brings me to a funny Proust quote.

It is in sickness that we are compelled to recognize that we do not live alone but are chained to a being from a different realm, from whom we are worlds apart, who has no knowledge of us and by whom it is impossible to make ourselves understood: our body. Were we to meet a brigand on the road, we might perhaps succeed in making him sensible of his own personal interest if not of our plight. But to ask pity of our body is like discoursing in front of an octopus, for which our words can have no more meaning than the sound of the tides, and with which we would be appalled to find ourselves condemned to live.

from The Guermantes Way.

This is kind of akin to an observation I frequently quote from D. Matthew Smith, "If I could find the zipper on this monkey suit, I'd climb out of it."

It was only last night that I realized my last CandJ conversation took place on the 5th anniversary of Carl's death. I still think of him often. His absence is an emotional jewel that is worn beneath my clothing, my outward veneer for the world; I touch it sometimes to reconnect with him, remember why and how he died, and compare it to my own dysfunction and failure. I thought of him this week, of a drive we were on maybe the Christmas before he died. We were listening obsessively to Jimi Hendrix's version of All Along the Watchtower, and he was talking to me about Dave Mason on guitar and what a great arrangement that was, etc. That's what I miss, someone who knows much more about music than I do who would patiently explain all the layers and nuances of sound. And there were no limits or boundaries to the joy.

And then the next day was the birthday of my mom's excellent boyfriend who died six year ago. He would have been 92. And we all had too little time with him.

And the next day was the day my own father died, and I cannot now remember the year, but it must have been 11 or 12 years ago. It was after the Iraq War began because he, notwithstanding his own hawkishness, was completely disgusted and disgruntled (did you ever wonder what the state of "gruntled" must be? It has to be better than it sounds.)

(Okay, there are some very nice lyric turns on this Conor Oberst recording, although the musicality leaves me cold.)

And it was Cooder's 16th birthday. That gave me pause (I Will Resist Pun!) to consider our path together, the jobs, the states, the apartments, the books I've read in her company,  the other cats we've lived with, the lovers. On that same day, our good friend Tupelo had a near death experience. Melinda woke in the morning to find him sprawled out on the kitchen floor, unable to move his head. When she picked him up, he started convulsing. Without changing out of her pyjamas, she rushed him to the vet, which is, luckily, only a block away. He's diabetic and keeping his food and insulin regulated is quite a challenge. Melinda was beyond devastated at the sight and the experience. I was heading to Brooklyn/Manhattan anyway, and was able to hang out with her and comfort her. 

Tupelo is at home now as they were able to stabilize him. His vet will see him again tomorrow, but she thinks he has some time left. 

I hadn't seen Louise for ages, so we had a work date on Thursday. It was my first visit to her apartment since her familiar, Cosmo, had died in March. I had some grieving to do with her. We got caught up on a lot of topics and did some good work on our next project, and some, of course, on Monsterwood

And then yesterday afternoon, after mistakenly rescheduling a lunch with recent former workmate, SC, I did get caught up with another old friend who recently changed jobs. This woman had been an executive at a Very Large media company for nine years. She's developed and launched gigantic shows, some of their largest,  for this company and yet they were pushing her out because they felt she didn't make a good executive that could be continually promoted up the ladder and away from doing any creative work. 

This was fascinating and disheartening for any number of reasons. One of the most interesting things was hearing of her insecurity and difficulty in presenting herself to the world again. This friend has had huge jobs and, believe me when I say, her track record with award-winning, multi-million properties would strike awe in any of us. She landed well, although without the security she had (or thought she had). And I always thought she had too much heart and humanity for the corporation she served. 

So, I am not sure where this mishegas stew of feelings and perception leaves me. Well, one place it seems to leave me is something that I recognize as depression but might be something else like fear or denial or grieving or pain or uncertainty or procrastination or laziness or ... in process of becoming something else ...

And here is the Poem of the Day that arrived in my inbox this morning and I just read. Fits in:

Burial

Geometry is a perfect religion,
Axiom after axiom:
One proves a way into infinity
And logic makes obeisance at command.

Outside of the triangle, cubes, and polystructures
There is restless pummeling, pounding and taunting.
The end is diffused into channels
Every step into eternity—and steps are endless.

— Robert McAlmon, Explorations, 1921


Addendum: This was Jeff Nunokawa's post for the day:

5245. Why We Write

May 17, 2014 at 7:46am
Why did I write? what sin to me unknown    Dipt me in ink, my parents’, or my own? (Pope"Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot")

Why do we write?
Maybe, partly it's our parents. Maybe, partly it's ourselves.
Why do we write?
Maybe, partly we have to. Maybe, partly we just want to.
Why do we write?
Maybe, partly it's the material we have. (Or does it have us?) Maybe, partly it's the material we'll be.
Why do we write?
Maybe, because it's our best way of knowing that the best things in life are way beyond the separations that we see.
-----------------------------------------
Note: Far off a young scribe turned a fresh
Page, hesitated, dipped his pen (James Merrill, "Flying from Byzantium").






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