Funereal Funk for a Friend

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And the farewell letter went something like this:

I started the day with an affirmation, a term resoundingly kitsch in an age of everything packaged for the spiritualist or recovering something or other in all of us. I could call it an intention, a wish or a note to self to suit my more cynical needs. I will not call it a resolution. First, it is too early for resolutions, the new year still a couple of weeks away, and second, I am not waiting two weeks to act. I have already decided in whole or in part this goal in action.

Soon I will disappear. My aim for today and tomorrow until fully accomplished, is to become invisible. The process started a couple of years ago when I toppled from the pinnacle of respectability only to land flat on my ass on the untouchables’ cement floor of society’s seething underclass. Thereafter, they started slowly, one by one by two and more, to forget me, the people who wanted to be near me before the fall, those self-proclaimed humanists. Turns out selective humanists crave less unsavory humans.

It only took a bit of ignoring and then some looking away for me to begin to disappear. From there, my reflex to shun the shunners lightened my shades of skin, hair, bone and eyes even more. But then the nose grind to recovery, the working endless hours with my head bent over my body, over my computer, over myself, kept me from seeing the rest of them, the strangers and people never met in person nor online, the unfriending and closing up shop, prevented me from knowing anyone existed but my inner circle.

And finally, to date, my love affair with those discreet few who have refused my refusal, love me despite the growing imperfections wrinkling with age–like me–and worn for use and abuse, as well as my continued affair with the word, a lifetime infatuation, the one true love that has never waned, never left and never judged, has nearly obliterated my presence among the living. Seclusion, surrendered suction into the recesses of imagination and thought, a comfortable den, affirms by the ease with which I slip ever more into that n’other world that I will one day be invisible. And I am glad. So I affirm to continue as I am, ever strengthening inside my own germinating vine climbing the walled off society I peer at occasionally from over the ledge.

Bar Talk

 
 
I must look safe, the one least likely to intrude in a bar. The uninterested.

She sits down next to me when there are so many other stools to occupy.

All dolled up, clearly she is waiting for someone special to occupy the stool to her right.

I am to her left.
 
Happy hour, bruschetta is half off as are select beers.
Of course, my selection costs its usual six and change. No discounts for the IPA’s–ever.
 

Some have accused me of having gout deluxe, but I say, “nah.” Simple woman.
My tastes range from pleb to elitist. Depends on the thing, the subject. 
Food, wine and beer, yes, I enjoy top of the line. Clothes, functional.
Not a shopper, no interest. That’s why the guys say, “You’re like a guy.”
 

Other reasons, I prefer conversation about what matters: the world, the local and
all in between. My interests range the span of my experience, read, written and lived, 
relationships only one among many. Frankly, I don’t care much for confession.
Keep the distance, please. Tell me about what matters to you as a member of the world.
 
Two beauties sitting on top of each other taking selfies. In another bar, that might be suspect.
 
But this is not that kind of bar. Affluent, beach, blonds.
 
And the texts on my phone: bad news about the revenge of cancer, someone out there, on my mind.
And the stranger narcissist filling my inbox with doings, wishes, manifestations.
 
“I can’t go out with someone I am not attracted to says the made up late fifty something with the silver shiny horizontal studded stripes in her blinged out black warm up jacket.
 
Ping…the cancer returned after five years. I thought I was done.
Ping…I love the way she feels…
Ping…but I am afraid to go through it, the chemicals, the time off…
Ping…Egyptian, her parents moved from Cairo…
 
“Everything doing okay here?” The bartender wants to know. “Yes.”
 
Happy hour at its edges now settles into its middle.
 
“The grass is always greener on the other side….she’s got to pay her dues,” says bling jacket. The babe next to me moves kitty corner with her guests, two other women fresh from work, twenty somethings, nearing thirty somethings. One curly blond, and two brunette: the Asian with the “whatever” bun and the white girl with the straight slung hair parted down the middle.
 
The time difference lets me off the hook. “Good night, sleep well. Dream healing dreams,” I genuinely wish and type.
 
There is a four year old behind the bar, and I watch her skim her hand over every glass and bottle she passes down the row on her way out of the bar well.
 
The device speaks: ring. “Yes, I am at a bar. Come meet me. We’ll eat. Want me to read you the menu? Braised beef ribs…bleu cheese sliders with Angus beef, poached halibut…okay, see you soon. Yes, chill a pinot or merlot, something interchangeable…feeling marinara or fish. Bye.”
 
Boys at the end of the bar closest to the television pin their eyes to football and the commercials that go with, men with pizza slices and desire written all over their orgasmic posed faces, Mercedes mini van advertised as affordability (right) and something computer and football combined, guys at desks and a football player fish out of water, Ameritrade. And then the Cardinals line up at the 40 yard line.
 
Honey, you don’t look as if you can handle the double IPA. Stick to your happy hour house wine. She just moved in and made it clear to the bartender that she was ordering for her boyfriend who was on his way. She is two barstools away: young, neat, attractive, twenties, trying to keep herself entertained, phone, looking around, the silk scarf around her neck shifting with each turn of her head from the wine cabinet to my left and the incoming guests. We are at the entrance. And he arrives. This is a new boyfriend. I can tell by the kiss they greet each other with–something between a peck and I-recognize-the-sink-into-the- thick-of-your-lips. They are still something stand-offishly, sweetly polite. He is soft and quiet, appetizers smartly waiting for him by her selection. He digs in with gusto, eats obediently, appreciatively, while she authoritatively introduces her informed choices. She will make a fine mistress of the house.
 
Isn’t this great?
 
“Who is training her? Their job is to come in, check in, go down the hall, check the laundry…” bling says to her patient hearer, the one who asked the bartender to turn down the lights, which bother her eyes. Bling speaks for the crowd to hear. “I’m not bashing her. I haven’t said nothing about her for weeks…”
 
The girl friend returns from the water closet with her hair bunned up. Why? What’s the projected look trying to achieve? I’ve never been good at style and signals. I do New York bag and that is the extent of my “style.” And that was a long time ago. Now I just dress whatever-is-clean-and-top-of-the-pile. It used to be important to dress with purpose. I am nearing golden, no need.
 
The symmetry of a wine cellar on display soothes, the circular slotted holders sprouting capped spouts or the buddy bottles snug lined up along a leisurely reclined shelf to feature chillin’ wine bottles, casual, seductive. I hope the temperature behind that glass is 58 degrees Fahrenheit. Nothing worse than room temperature wine, the myth of the uninitiated–says a pretender.
 
The beer has done its work. It only takes one, especially after a sleepless night of sacrifice: term papers and morning frolics in missed motel beds. The buzz combines exhaustion with hops, and I am content. School’s out. Time to eat: transition from bar denizen to restaurant patron.
 
Wait, the four year old swiper’s parent just came on shift. Maybe just a few more minutes….
 

credit: 1stdibs.com

In Gratitude…#Nanowrimo completed: 23 days, a novel

  
Seems befitting that on this weekend of gratitude, I conclude this huge though not impossible endeavor with the following:

While reintegrating to my life by inches, loving the smallest favors first like the grip of a long handled toothbrush or the pleasure of a private shit and shower, my own bed with more than two inches of mattress and a box spring in the quiet of my home, ragged as it was and is, snuggled inside the lefthand loop of a cul de sac; then appreciating bigger things like the love of a family that has been loving me–hard–more than I let myself feel, all this time. 

My family, blood and adopted, came through for me in a way that shocked me, even though it could not have been more predictable. They wrote, visited, and watched; they stood by and pitched in. They witnessed helplessly as I crumbled and paid enormous sums to secure my freedom, cried for me in my grief but did not pity me nor make themselves the heroes; they took care of me. 

JM stepped up for me and suffered like the brave and strong he never knew he was, taking up the mantle where I had dropped it. He came through for all of us, doing whatever he had to, and he proved to himself he was strong, something he needed to know but couldn’t since he had never needed to before. That was my job–ensuring that no one needed to be strong. I coddled them as organizer, unifier  and fixer. Now they took up the reins and showed themselves worthy of the task. And I received.

The Cage of Sanctioned Poverty

 

 
What they and the entire jail system missed or ignored, though, is the futility of punitive measures. So many of these women young and old had much worse lives outside of jail. They would easily trade the abuse–constant shouting, cursing, shoving, terrorizing and haranguing–for the safety and regularity of meals and meds in jail. All of their efforts to harass, abuse, demean and dehumanize had already been done on the streets by drug addled family, friends and lovers, or poverty, pimps and official and unofficial authorities on the streets. They were impervious to the abuse. The only ones who suffered the doled out intended intimidation were the rarer folks like me who somehow found themselves swept up in a hurricane of their own misstepped making, befuddled and shocked. The rest could care less. Jail was temporary and worse awaited them on the outside.
 

Credit: http://www.salon.com

Dualities not Duels

 
 

“Again, you know I don’t judge; I respect your relationship. I’m never here to tear you or J down. Who am I to do more than put myself in your place–even as I am merely me–and wonder? That’s all. I imagine your life in my body and mind. It does not work that way, but I cannot help but do it. You know I love you.”

“I do.” ((hugs))

“Drink up. I have to go back to work.”

While driving back to work, my thoughts cycle. 

“The shape of our relationships doesn’t differ much–this duality that appears like incompatability to those on the outside.”

You and I, you see, are so different, from such different worlds, you the straight and me the curvy, you the narrow and me the expansive. You like yours and I prefer mine. You know you’re right and I constantly doubt. To you, absolutes are real. To me, most everything is relative to time, place, and circumstance. You see global, while I see local, though sometimes we switch sides, me going long term and you going short. In the ven diagram, we intersect at the sliver overlap of our two circles. We meet in a horizontal world without borders, boxed and invisible, dimmed before each other, not in full light. Perhaps we must, or see the impossibility of us and kill the thrill. And yet, that divide, that delusion of polarity, opposition and contrariness keeps us interested, coming back for more. N’est ce pas?



 

credit: http://www.intermissionbristol.co.uk

Improbabilities

  
I don’t believe everything happens for a reason. I subscribe to chaos. I believe in the randomness of the universe as movement, collision, coincidence and correspondence. I believe in an ontology of chance. Cause-and-effect is real, but we humans are not always accurate tracers of chains. We are a lazy species, thus the teleology of throwing-up-our-arms-at-space with a surrendering shake of the head and declaring that the proof of the universe’s supporting life lies in our being here–the best science has to offer after unsuccessfully tracing the mathematical and natural laws to their inevitable ends in hopes of figuring out everything, just everything. We theorize origins and evolutions. We interpret from variables of experience, anatomy, observation and subjectivity. I do not trust absolutes. I believe in intention and will, though not necessarily in intended results. Thus speaks the rational mind of me.

The smoke and whispers, the mystery of which intuition is born, lean into those uninformed leaps of faith inside an unthinking gut and take me in another direction: a life unfolds according to its makeup, an already-has composition that merely needs room to spread out and manifest. Choices come from inherent brain patterns in conjunction with pathways generated in reaction to lived experience. This orchestrated tapestry of evolving human is the carpet unrolling from birth to death, a definitive starting and ending point that always ever was because of whom I was born, when and where. In that way, choices logical and whimsical alike, are prefigured, patterns predetermined even in their ensuing alterations and modifications. A determinism I am not comfortable with somehow associates the mystery of the inexplicable to me–my fuzzy teleology.

And the Wall Came Crumbling Down

 

 
The wall shook, rock crumbles beginning to fall even as the creature living underneath and behind it began slowly emerging, escaping the barrier. The image of my own making would take years to shatter.
 

credit:  villagevoice.com

You Once Told Me…

  
“No doubt,” you say, “that I prefer fantasy to reality. The lovers I adore are distant, physically and emotionally circumscribed by intimate unavailability. I love married or gay men or women most.”

I nod in agreement. 

“I require so much space. Who is it that needs so much that is not there? Possibility is my lover, potential my partner. Otherwise, people bore as much as they excite. Those poles–like hot and cold, boredom and excitement–exist elsewhere too, you know, some other place and circumstance like thunder storms and endless sunny days, or the laughter and terror of loving daughters.”

I nod again and consider how I love my own. 

Soccer is Life

  
Soccer squeezed the last drop of child connectedness present in me since birth, the longing to be with children, entertain them, love them, nourish and teach them, whether they were mine or others’. Soccer helped me prolong that self-nourishment, extract and exercise every morsel of that longing up til and beyond the passing of my children through the soccer loop. 

My youngest is a year or two away from concluding that endless year in year out schedule of life around soccer, that sharing of time that we all could communicate and commune through the participation in it. As the end nears, a clear cut picture of its termination in view, coinciding with the embrittling of my bones and calcification of my mind, enervation of my drive and lust, I see that soccer was my destination and destruction, a pattern of life that breaks along with reputation, image, doplegangers self-created. I build a monument to my image and then swung a sledge hammer at it in my sleep walking state. Only, now I select the salvageable pieces and so limp along until the chosen pieces re-integrate, grow like regenerating brain tendrils to form the new old me.

The Missing Art Gene

  
Her reading skills caught up with the other students by the end of second grade, and I was fully indoctrinated in the volunteer life. I first volunteered as the room mom for her classroom admittedly to watch over her–hover. Unwittingly, I also signed up to be the art teacher for her class, though I thought I was signing up to teach about the art masters via books in a program titled, Meet the Masters. Turns out I signed up for is a program where an art teacher came five times a year to teach parents how to teach an art lesson. 

When I found out during the orientation meeting that it was me doing and teaching art to second graders, I freaked out.  Approaching the parent volunteer presiding over the orientation for all of the art volunteers, I uncomfortably sought my release: “Excuse me, but I thought this was something else. I am not an artist. I cannot do art, but I can help out in some other way.” She, a no-nonsense, thin, long-haired blond, small-framed woman only a few years my junior donning serious glasses and a South African accent replied gently but firmly, “Well, you certainly can do better than a 7 year old no matter how bad you think you are. Just try it. If you really can’t do it, we will replace you.” She pinned me. What other excuse or protest could I make? However, I consoled myself with the silent sulky retort,  “I damn well sure can do worse than a 7 year old. Just watch me” as I grabbed my instruction sheets and left.

It turns out the workshops were therapeutic–an hour of focused forms and colors–even if I had to shame-facedly compare my art to the parents who clearly had art backgrounds or natural talent. Some were artists by trade or passion. My art was better, by a hair, than most of the 7 year olds, though some were clearly far more talented.