where the writers are
This Is Not What You Think It Is - Part V

If every drawer in the world never got stuck, that’s how much I love you.  And if each of those drawers pulled smoothly open, (and with the appropriately selected drawer pulls), and revealed that it contained a different colored marble lining, some solid deep and clear, others crackled and complex, yet others swirled or mottled or patchworks of glass, but none like any of the others, and each one had a shade or a tone so astonishing, so distinct from all the rest that an almost silent “oh” escaped from one’s lips upon seeing it, that is how much you seem to surprise me.

All idylls do not end with a head ache.

A petal fell tonight.  Around midnight, just post making love, in that same Pulitzer Prize winner’s bed, the tone changed in an instant.  Earlier this morning Cordelia had risen at 6a.m. for work and I slept till 9.  She is tired, I am not.  This is problem?  I left the Pulitzer Prize winner’s 12’ wide bed, wandered into the living room and went on-line to view a video of a gruesome triple murder in the village in NYC – close to my old stomping grounds.  Cordelia implied I was doing something akin to Kate Winslet’s husband in Little Children, surfing the net for some sort of pornographic titillation or looking for women on-line.  Ode to those jarring shifts in that cauldron of coupling.  She thought I had minimized the site to avoid being caught.  I told her that was ridiculous.  Mumbling, she returned to bed…oops, now she’s up and about, it’s about 2 a.m., wondering if she is looking for _______.  In latest AI research, some people believe that the brain makes predictions on what it will encounter next.  HTM – hierarchal temporal memory.  My best to worst case scenarios?  Best - this will be worked out to worst fear – a full tilt binge.  Reality can shift in a moment.  What is this really about?  There is nothing to feel guilty about…and I refuse to play this game.   I don’t like this space and don’t know what to do.  She is silent, sullen, mournful…eating ice cream on living room couch.  My brain is ill equipped to make real time prediction of what will happen next.  Two congressional delegations with differing constituencies melanged with unique emotional histories and context.  In the ambience of Pulitzer Prize winner’s house, I’m thinking modern Cuban Missile Crisis, but happily, diplomacy and gentleness prevailed and all is well…for now.

We left Pulitzer Prize Winner’s house and returned to the understated did I die and go to heaven barony of Dead Crow Ranch. (160 acre estate owned by benevolent philanthropist and is mostly used for workshops for misc. non-profits helping to eliminate teenage prostitution in Asia.)  Cordelia is sleeping. I am on one of the several beautiful wood and cast iron decks once again trying to make sense of it all.  When I get there, is it like getting to the end of the universe and then pondering what next?  Or simply the original title for Woody Allen’s “Annie Hall” – Anhedonia.

Prior to leaving Pulitzer Prize Winner’s house, I broke their now topless butter dish lid.   Left hand written note expressing my sadness and the feelings I had.  In their exquisite abode, the space filled with oh so many WORDS of the Holocaust, Nazi atrocities, societal guilt, child and adult traumas, the Cold War and the making and re-making of the Atom Bomb, I had opened the refrigerator door, reached for said butter dish, and watched as it slipped from my formerly tobacco stained hand, and w/ gravity working, began the rapid descent to the hard surfaced tiled floor and the inevitable shattering of said lid.  I duly noted that the image that flashed in my brain, at the same time shattering my relatively crepuscular calm, was the slow motion explosion of said butter dish lid akin to exploding refrigerator in Anotonioni’s Zabriski Point.  Though paradigms of absolute certainties are few and far between, I did promise to set this as one specific goal that I will strive to accomplish, i.e. the replacement of the now topless butter dish, with an appropriately tasteful and appreciated new butter dish lid.  (And I was actually capable of accomplishing said deed.)

It is now one day post the Ides of March, 2007.  We are a couple.  We have traversed the pits of squirming live larvae, eating on the saliva of the pigeon and the bliss of 100 vestal virgins and the pure jihad of coupling bliss.  Everything comes and goes.  Cordelia sleeps and the next CD on the turntable is by her beloved dead aunt, the woman who passed in that Death House 6 months ago.  This will be the first time that I have listened to her gentle songs, this woman who I didn’t really ever get to meet when she was whole but who is forever embedded in my memory bank.  She left a big deposit in a brief moment of time.  With that last gasp, did she say it’s time to get away, the time to stop?  I look behind me, look outside, eyes veer to the left….always contemplating the cautionary strategies, the skeletons in those shifting realities, those jarring shifts of Sex, Love, Death, the reality cauldron.  Cordelia dreamt last night of James Brown’s anus – it was greenish/goldish/yellowish – lapis lazuli with mandibles of gold.  But Cordelia says I have more strange day dreams on an on-going daily basis.  Might be that struck by lightning motif.

Tell me where you are.  Show me how to catch happiness and hold on to it.

Born Yesterday - Philip Larkin

Tightly-folded bud,
I have wished you something
None of the others would:
Not the usual stuff
About being beautiful,
Or running off a spring
Of innocence and love -
They will all wish you that,
And should it prove possible,
Well, you're a lucky girl.

But if it shouldn't, then
May you be ordinary;
Have, like other women,
An average of talents:
Not ugly, not good-looking,
Nothing uncustomary
To pull you off your balance,
That, unworkable itself,
Stops all the rest from working.
In fact, may you be dull -
If that is what a skilled,
Vigilant, flexible,
Unemphasised, enthralled
Catching of happiness is called.

A sister of mercy, a writer that makes me hungry to read her poems.

Listening to the Band’s song, The Weight, and wondering about happiness….hers, mine, and the rest of the world.  Indulge me a bit.  Here’s my data:  definite correlation, in opposite direction, from 1956 to 2007, we have accumulated wealth and lots of stuff while our happiness barometer has plummeted.  Especially compared to Western European states.  Individual prosperity led to more individual unhappiness.  We got more stuff but we are more isolated, disconnected, hungering for community…material saturation with spiritual angst…pursuit of happiness counter to pursuit of stuff.  Intrinsic conundrums.  Reason there are more storage locker facilities, they cannot keep up with demand.  Coupled with new building plans have two master bedrooms – husband and wife sleep alone.  2006 versus 1956, things have changed, people alone, have accumulated stuff but are unhappy due to the community disconnect.  Or maybe back to 50’s Ozzie and Harriet shows with two single beds and sex did not exist.  Now sex is clear but the modern day couple just don’t do it.

How did we get so far? 

November 30th e-mail:

Cordelia: Sweet Swoon,

I want to be clear about some things.  When I wrote in a previous e-mail that my feelings change from day-to-day, I did not mean my core feelings for you.  I have felt love for you from the first night we kissed (actually, to get down to the moment, during your cemetery tour that day.) That feeling has only deepened over time.  Other feelings have come and gone on TOP of that feeling of love (hurt, confusion, anger, sadness, basically aka fear) as a result of my unique circumstances and how and when we met.  But to be clear:  the deep-down underneath-it-all feeling of love isn’t change-able.  You are you.  And I love you.  You have taken up residence in my heart.  And my heart does not sublet space.

Speaking of residence; that brings me to the second thing I want to be clear about.  I don’t want our decision to cohabitate or not cohabitate to come from a place of need.  In other words, what I wanted to know the other night was whether you bringing it up was something that came from “Well, she needs a place to live; I should really offer…” as opposed to something that you want for us and that you think would be good for you. I have to trust that you will think only of what you need and want, without concern for my situation, cuz I am just fine.  I can afford a place; I can borrow money from my parents if I can’t, or worst case scenario couch-surf for a bit.  The last thing I would want would be for the scenario to be about dependence: that would just not work.  I would only want it if it’s about us both wanting to live together, period.  So before we talk about whether or not we want to do it, I thought I’d put that on the table, mkay.

You were great last night.  You really truly are amazing.  (I had spur of the moment performed remnant of my on-going piece, An Asshole In His Prime, at Canvas café, in an open mic segment…hardly anyone paid any attention…but Cordelia apparently did.) 

Love,

Cordelia

Late at night, March 28, 2007, chez MCRanch – Cordelia is house-sitting my friends’ comfy home in the Oakland Hills while they are wandering around Portugal and Spain to celebrate their 30 year wedding anniversary, and I am imagining creating more history with Cordelia; whereupon she tells me she is questioning if she wants to be a mother or not!  I have been there before; whoa, that crystal night of time curled leaves burning, horses howling, Floridian swamp quicksand sucking me in.…I am free falling, howling at the moon does no good, I am back in 2nd grade and can’t find those pens and pencils and this holy ecstasy has holes and I’m clammy and sweaty, sheets are unclean, dirt in my root beer float, and tell ‘don’t worry, be happy” to the Donner party.  I have been down this road before and thought we were clear.

But I can’t hear what Cordelia says now…so I go back in time as the present seems pointless and I can’t say what I mean or what I feel.  I don’t want to be a “flake” in Cordelia’s life.  Tom Waits song, “I hope I don’t fall in love with you” comes to mind.

She says it’s gonna be alright.  Maybe she thinks its fine but I am so tired.  I don’t like to be let down.  Easier to dwell on happier times in the past….or in the future, i.e, June 1st birthday card to Cordelia:-

Cordelia,

Every now and then you come around a bend and eternity sparkles before you, moonlight becomes alive, time slows down and the colors of the sunset turn electric.

We all slug through miles and sink into the grime and mire of daily existence.

But this ride together has enough bliss around enough turns as I become more inspired and devoted to this enterprise of ours.

Sometimes I cannot imagine nor be capable of comprehending this process of us, and maybe this is more information than you need to know, mkay?  Maybe some parking meters never run out of time?  Maybe some busses actually arrive on time and take you where you’re supposed to go?

And, so, this is what you need to know, on a need-to-know basis:  I relish, enjoy, adore, treasure, delight in, long for, love and crave you.  I long for the eternal peace; that eternal sunshine of the spotless mind, like home, of your touch; for the infinity I find sometimes in your eyes.  The bliss / adventure I brush against in the recesses of your mind – more secure amidst the inevitable undertows, crosscurrents or rip tides.

No ripples when touching you, or being touched by you; familiar and peaceful and has felt such from day one somewhere back in time in that tent in that Santa Cruz backyard, way before I knew you.

To an amazing degree, you meet my every thrust and parry; whatever I throw at you, whether ideas, thoughts, fears, images, reactions, anger, insecurities; you take them in and come back with something fresh.  Far as I can tell, though your heart sometimes quails, you never play it safe.  You’re always right there in the fray.

So…a toast to this bus ride towards sustainable bliss. 

On a cellular level, from my endorphins to my retinal photo-receptors, all o f me wishes all of you a most happy b-day!

Way back in November Cordelia gave me Paul Auster book.  She gave me that book after reading my stuff and she thought I’d relate somehow to his voice.  

Way back in November:

Cordelia: I would love to be your muse.  Will you be mine?  Yes, memory is suspect.  And empathy (the ability to easily switch moccasins) can be a blessing and a curse.  But so what that I said I thought you live in the past.  Who cares what I think?  Besides, what I think and feel changes by the day and the hour.  What I felt yesterday can completely change by tomorrow.  So indeed, there is no such thing as time. 

So indeed, there is no such thing as time.  Just an ever-evolving universe.  Don’t look outside for any answer.  Don’t even look to your muse.  Remember what Glinda said at the end to Dorothy: it’s all inside.  Someone said, “If you’re too busy looking behind you (at the past), you can’t see what’s up front.”  But nothing is true unless it’s true for you; if it ain’t true for you, then it ain’t true.  It’s my nature to try to figure people out, to shine a spotlight through to the marrow of their heart.  Because I love the marrow.  I truly love people’s darkness. But I do realize that hearing about it is not pleasant, and for that I apologize.  Who cares if I said you live in the past.  Who cares.  That’s not me.  It’s you.  And you are beautiful.

And I am thinking Patti Smith – “Dream Money” – Oh baby, troubles would be gone…when we’re dreaming….dream money, dream money, dream money…”

So put that in your pipe and smoke it, mkay.

The past is fodder and also burden.  Desire too.  Looking outside for an answer, for happiness, for anything.  Sometimes it seems it’s all we do.  “If only I had ___”, then I’d be happy.  And it will do for awhile.  We meet someone, get into a relationship. “Great! I’ve got it now!”  And then, a few weeks or a few months later, “Oh, it was the wrong person.”  And onto the next thing or person.  Desire for other, for someone else.  It’s what drives the economy, this sense of lack, of dissatisfaction.  There is a certain pleasure in it.  It is even put on a pedestal in our culture.  “Drive” they call it.  Looking around for this or that.  Will this or that do?  I have this, but I want that.  Now I have that, and this is gone.

But, me, the selective depressionist, the one who sees love as a ghost train, sees spent jet fuel drifting down from heaven, the screaming across the sky, distant buildings falling down, and, Cordelia says everything will be okay and I say, “don’t be ridiculous, Katy is dead.”  People hang themselves, plumbing fails, wills are weak, chemicals imbalanced, bullets go in one side and out the other.  People lose their tools, lose their pens and pencils and people disappear and what is left is memory.  It’s not true that there’s nothing you can’t wash off your hands.  I do live in the past.  My present is my past and my future is my past.  Patti Smith – “Jesus died for somebody’s sins, but not mine.”

I am back in late November, immediately after Thanksgiving.  We’re driving on Rte 1 along Devils Slide, w/ thoughts of all the other drivers on the road, and especially the oncoming traffic.  All the drivers, here they come, all drugged by excessive amounts of turkey and overdosing on L-tryptophan with their resulting over carbohydrated metabolisms guaranteed to lead to bad endings.  Then dwelled on the double Thanksgivings –one at transmogrified Santa Cruz House of Death with Cordelia and her rejuvenated large and loving discombobulated extended family and then two days later, the 2nd turkey fest with well brined / grilled Turkey for me and my two sons and Cordelia – twas veritable fun feast, outdoors in backyard, with candles ablaze and trees lit by light.  And sometime at edge of dawn when darkness makes the deal with the on-coming light, Jake’s girlfriend returned from Canada, slipped between his sheets, just on the other side of our common bedroom wall.  Separated by 2 layers of ½” sheetrock came the biblical sighs of lovemaking and my most modern 18 year old son was indeed playing the right chords and oblivious of his dad’s presence literally inches away.  Not sure that his complete comfort level is a good or not so good reflection on his upbringing.  But, I know this, it was all about teenage lust and love.  (And memory reminds me of not too long ago, all he thought about was “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”)  I can straddle all sides of the argument, but no need to do so as it feels alright.

I am in pieces sweet, sweet Cordelia.  But back in November, post Thanksgiving, I tell Cordelia that both my sons already have that inward smile.  The smile of knowing much more than they used to know just a short time ago.  A smile that recognizes the gap between the past, (when they wanted to be cowboys), and the now.   A smile also oblivious of mortality so there is no past, no future, just the now.  And it is geometrically heightened by the speed of technology and its blanket of noise and the immediate impact on the textures of time.

I wait for you Cordelia to make up your mind.  I wait for you while you slip into something comfortable while I slip into something in-between.  Floor or ceiling, curse or blessing to be haunted by the past.  Cordelia says again, I live in the past.  Perhaps because I am significantly older…maybe growing older is a lot about recognizing, measuring, defining and appreciating what is and what comprises the past.  Mostly a futile attempt at meaning.  Remembering the past is an exercise in filling in the blanks as an attempt to make sense of it all.  Like “Momemto”, letting the reel of life work backwards, and trying to microscopically remember, weigh and dissect it all is an acknowledgement that nothing/everything that happens to us is never not there.  Where was I and who was I with at 6:08pm on November 30th, 1976? (Sarah Salami and Cordelia was 6 years old then).  Finding all those dust specks of truth revealed under the blinking fluorescent lights in rooms where time and space warp out of control.  Laughter, joy, tears, cataclysmic storms, deep wells of sorrow and ecstatic tectonic plates.  The lava flows up and down, in and out.  We are all gorgeous in our weakness.

The past is blinding, it is on fire and so bright that it is almost invisible in all this darkness.  It is excessive and anything is / was possible.   I am an IMPOSTER!  I am a frail teacup on the counter.  All memory is suspect.  There are no independent observers, no impartial full mode truth alerts.  My history cannot be stamped so easily that, this is so, and that was that.  Too bad it can’t be labeled like “this is dental floss,” all discussion over.  The spider’s web needs to be untangled.  I am watching the spider walk up the wall.  The past is a giant tsunami, a tidal wave of pixeled events that maybe if I was Chuck Close I could make some sense of it all.  All are modified and mutated memories / pieces put together of what took place and how they have been warped, embellished, diminished and erased over time.

That decay that begins with our first breath.  There is no truth.  We’re desparately fighting that beautiful, luscious, viscous, incomprehensible mother-lode monster of time running out.  The cord pulled out of the wall.  We walk in and out of life so quickly.  Beware the under toad, beware the incomprehensible FOG of the Past.

And, yes, all stories start all over again.

Cordelia is not an ordinary girl, and, time expands and contracts.

I wish Mercury would get the fuck out of retrograde.