Time Is Another Place

…and I was happy There

A few short days ago I was witness to a 25th Anniversary and a wedding. They were the same event involving the same two people.

Such is life and marriage for same-sex couples in America.

I was present—and Present. We were all present and Present and there was nowhere else and no one else, even though it was City Hall on a thronging, thrumming Monday Midday.

Such is love and solemnity in San Francisco.

In the days that followed, off by myself, to myself, with myself, status quo: myself, another anniversary: Allen Howland tonight, in a couple of hours from now exactly….dead nineteen years. It’s the only time I look back, this day every year, strange as that sounds for how much I’ve written here about him, about us. About then. But yes, it’s the only time I look back.

All the rest? Time looks back at me; I just record it.

What do I see when I look back? My vision fails, details slip, fade, hide. At a distance only its Principle can be seen. He’s gone.

Love and marriage. Life and solemnity. Only I remain.

Posted in Uncategorized on 12-Jul-2014 – 21:19 | Comments (0)

The Well-Meaning Idiot

…second person accusative case-studies

Yes, it’s awful about Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Yes, addiction is a disease and not just a choice. No, he’s not an “idiot” for ODing.

Yes, everyone should get help. But even if everyone would get help, you know what wouldn’t happen? Addiction wouldn’t’ go away.

Plus, the disease theory of addiction only goes so far: cancer, for example, is never attended by a posse, pack or litter of enablers (just something to noodle over for a bit).

And do you know what else Addiction is? A transitive verb — when you’re still Using.

Addiction/Using is also NOT an abstract thing. It’s about as concrete as it gets. It affects. Everything. Everyone around you.

It affects those who love you, who care about you, or just the ones who are even in your life within the blast radius of the choices you make, or are unable to make, or allow to be made for you. Because of Using.

Behaving as if something real is merely an abstraction is yet another form of escapism. And escapism is merely running away. Liberal or conservative, activist or apathist, like addiction itself, the spinelessness of running away knows no boundaries of politics, color, gender, blah blah blah. Maybe emotional maturity is the boundary. It’s my best theory so far.

And I’m not alone in this. My current TV hero, Veronica Mars agrees:

The hero is the one that stays…and the villain is the one that splits.

Is emotional juvenility tantamount to villainy? (The emotionally mature stay in the present, in reality, while the rest check out into abstraction, ghetto-minds, the past, puppy-space, pain, or whatever soporific lets them not-deal). Oh, and it has a blast radius, too, and the damage it inflicts is irrespective of intent. So let’s leave that as an exercise to the reader.

For myself, I’ve lived through that take-home-exam and I can tell you, clean up’s a bitch.

Posted in Uncategorized on 02-Feb-2014 – 22:32 | Comments (0)

Poetry & Hums

…until I’m a hundred

Happy Birthday, Yog. Allen Howland would have been 56 years old today.

“’But it isn’t easy,’ said Pooh. ‘Because Poetry and Hums aren’t things which you get, they’re things which get you. And all you can do is to go where they can find you.”

― A.A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner

“Promise you won’t forget me, ever. Not even when I’m a hundred.”

― A.A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner
Posted in Uncategorized on 12-Jan-2014 – 03:51 | Comments (0)
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The Year That Never Occurred To Me

…sometimes you can’t get there for here

In the year of your Lord (well, he’s certainly not mine), two thousand fourteen, there began an interval of ordinary time (you catholics…see what I did there?) that I never considered. Not once when I was growing up, or had grown up. Not once in all the calendrical-gymnastical mathletics of my time did I consider my semicentennial, the year I should become — deep breath — a quinquagenarian. The deep breath is for the hexasyllabic word, not for the feigned histrionics of becoming a 50 year old.

After all, remember that I always remember the grave alternative.

After figuring out that I’d be 36 when we hit that science fictional watershed milestone 2001—and then of course, 37 by that year’s end. And upon actually turning 37 realizing I was the same age as Allen when he died, making me feel like there was no turning back on this adulthood thing in every possible way (emotional maturity being the most precious — and lonely). I also noted that I was the same age that Vincent van Gogh would ever be. It made an impression. Or technically a post-impression.

When I was a wee boy, I knew when I’d be able to drive (1980), vote (1982), drink (1985). At one point I almanacked — somewhat paganistically in retrospect — what years my birthday would also be an Easter: three times in my life so far, including my first Easter as a San Franciscan. I’d almost gone and done the (somewhat paeanistic) Easter Sunrise Service atop Mt. Davidson with its primeval clearing presided over by a depressingly, imposingly large, eisenhowered christian cross.

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I however did not: 4:30 in the morning is just evil if it’s an early 4:30 and not a late one, and Allen wasn’t quite well enough to endure the foggy bluster that was brewing outside.

I also know that the next time my birthday falls to an Easter Sunday, I’ll be 103 years old (2067). If I’m around to make it to Mt. Davidson, there will have to be solar powered gondolas to convey me up there. Still, it’ll be a first for me.

Many other odd bits of math wit have been broken against tick-tock-time just because I’m like that, but again, 2014 just never did occur to me. Fifty doesn’t seem like all that interesting a number. Half a hundred. Maybe it’s because binary and hexadecimal are more preeminent in a quotidian sense. Or that when it comes to base 10, it becomes the metric system to me (I am a scientist when you get down to it, after all, and fractions tend to find no purchase there, in favor of decimal representations).

And so let’s face it: “0.5 centuries” doesn’t have quite the ring to it as “woo hoo! I can drink in a bar now!”

So when did it occur to me? Obviously, the irony of writing about something that never occurred to me is that it suddenly did occur to me or else we wouldn’t be here, you with the reading, me with the writing, right? It occurred to me when I was back in Pennsylvania in December visiting my family. My phone has long since been reporting temperatures in Celsius and my dad asked me what the temperature was. I had to calculate it in my head because the only four °F/°C pairs I’d had memorized were:

  • 32°F = 0°C
  • 212°F = 100°C
  • 98.6°F = 37°C
  • -40°F = -40°C

The last one, note, is where Fahrenheit and Celsius are identical: the crossover point of the two lines — see? math is fun!

As it just so happened, it was 10°C. Quick math turned up 50°F. 32 + ( 9/5 * 10 ) = 50. Exactly. Whole number.

And for some reason, there was 50 as some sort of number of interest. And yes, the propeller on my beanie took a lap or two.

And so, on 3 April 2014, 50 years to the day from 3 April 1964, I shall become a Quinquagenarian. Six syllables, two Qs. One Q doesn’t fit my gayness anymore, and my economy of words continues to “suffer” from inflation: turgid is my prose and no blue pill required.

Posted in Uncategorized on 09-Jan-2014 – 06:48 | Comments (1)
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Bounded But Infinite

…we’re gonna need a bigger hat

A writer who hasn’t been writing. A painter who doesn’t paint. An artist who hasn’t picked up a pencil, brush, pastel, charcoal in can’t-tell-ya-how-long. The conceptualist who wilts at rigor.

Head full of Time & Pain, Change & Ache, Color and Glyphs and Cardinality n-dimensional absurdity colliding and orbiting and mixing: Synesthetic Anesthetic Sympathetic-Parasthetic, all trussed up and nowhere to go, all run amok and nowhere to hide.

“Just Pick One and step towards it,” they say, simplistic reductive nonsense in a head full of plurals born of too much experiences with duplicity and multiplicity and simultaneity.

The voice that fails to speak can one day only croak its first new words and then only under great strain and effort. And that presumes an interested audience. Thought alone isn’t any easier, just a more familiar kind of steep challenge.

And a full head, unlike a full bucket, doesn’t overflow: it just gets bigger while staying just as full. There’s just more TimePainChangeAcheColorGlyphsCardinalityDimesionality. More makes sense but less is accessible to that presumed, presumed-interested audience.

And ain’t that the pits.

Here Comes A Regular

…call out his name

Last night I wrote this on Facebook:

In about two hours it will have been 18 years since Allen Howland died.

This anniversary I mark each year and each year it affects me to varying degrees. 

This year was new: this year I wanted him back. I mean right here, right now, sitting right next to me because I needed him and I miss him.

The episode only lasted moments and passed, but it felt like a much longer time. It felt like 18 years

I wasn’t lying or even exaggerating. It was a first: I’d never veered even close to wishing I could have him back. What I didn’t say there was that I’d said so.  As in used my voice to express a want. As in aloud. I was alone when I said it, and I said it to no one in particular. Not to Allen. Not to the Universe. I merely said the words.

Also sprach „dein Gott von Gebäck”.

And in hearing it, I noted a kind of sickly sweet ardor, a quality which I found not revolting but rather somewhat companionable. And that was what I found revolting.

Yesterday was a horrible day. I’m not making excuses for what brought me to such maudlin, mawkish words—spoken-aloud-words—but rather pointing out it was the words that effectuated the horribleness of the day.

This is also no grand apologia to myself or to the Universe for deed or thought: you would be surprised, delightedly or appallingly, at how much and how often in agreement id and superego are with me. That is to say, my wants and my shoulds rarely find themselves out of alignment.

If yesterday was horrible, today is worse. And better. Worse because I’m further away from an immediacy I wasn’t quite done with (damn that companionability) and better because well, the past is a cemetery, not meant for the living.

Yesterday I was so close to eighteen years ago—the sense-memories of it all. It was all exactly, perfectly first-person. I wasn’t remembering, I was inhabiting. And I know the pathology of the third-person to first-person point-of-view switch and Ronald was nice enough not to lay that trip on me just yet (and who knew that a Vespa accident, a collapsed lung, three broken ribs and eight days in hospital could be a learning experience that would serve me thus?) and today I’m smarting a little and a lot from being left that much more a man apart.

Caught a glance in your eyes 
And fell through the skies 
Glance in your eyes 
And fell through the skies 

I’m walking down the freezing street 
Scarf goes out behind 
You said, “Get them away” 
Please don’t say a word 

Get me out of here 
Get me out of here 
I hate it here 
Get me out of here 
       — “Nighttime” by Big Star

The Well-Placed Accidental ♮

…unnatural sharp; the natural, unflattened

Most of the time it’s the things that don’t fit that make a thing complete: complete in a way that redefines complete; expands the borders and refuses to allow them to be defined quite the same way—or any way—ever again.

It’s the musical note that only works if it’s one that doesn’t belong in the key. And it affects others those beside it creating intervals that couldn’t exist without it, and radiate to harmonics that don’t make sense—or shouldn’t make sense—but they do and they’re lovely and they’re magical. Or at least memorable. And isn’t that sort of the same thing?

In my current job, there was a person who worked there whose résumé and C.V. was so astoundingly comprehensive as to be nearly non-sequitur and the level of industry involved to achieve what he had implied insomnia, eidetic multisensory capabilities or a Time Turner—but it turned out he’s far too nice a bloke to be capable of stealing from Hermione Granger.

Plus? She’s fictional.

I knew when I met him he was One of Them. An Accidental. Intuited in situ by smart people who trust their own stagecraft, handicraft, mindcraft, sense of family.

I recognize this because I’m good at this myself. I spot people like this with alacrity and in the absence of contravening factors I pursue the company of these people.

It’s not about being quantifiably accomplished, like the handsome man I mention above (oh, did I mention he’s also a good-looking guy? Sickening, yeah?). There’s just a certain something that can be seen with better eyes.

Some people bring their own lighting: they walk into a room and they’re differently lit. You see them and just know. Or I see them and I just know. And I meet them I want to know more. And I continue to talk and their identity as Accidentals in whatever key the ambient groove is in is as apparent as if they were wearing name tags.

These are the people for whom there’s no conventional room in the rules, but without whom, the greatest songs would never have existed. Wisdom could be said to live in the recognition that keys can sometimes lock things down as surely as they open things up, and so allowances should be made when such just don’t fit into intended places or for intended purposes.

Accidentals. Once more, with Purpose.

Posted in Uncategorized on 08-Apr-2013 – 01:19 | Comments (0)
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The Particular Biology of Regrets

…plaintive, plangent, thrumming hearts pumping Time

Yeah, this may end up being a weird one.

I have never been a creature of regrets, or of Regret. This is not to say I am without them, or without at least the one, but I speak not of creatures possessing or possessed of regrets—too common and numerous to call out—I speak of the creature-forms that we could arguably assign to Regrets Themselves.

Pardon the play at perverse anthropomorphism, but I rarely follow any vec’t’ral, spectral sinkhole-rabbithole to an appreciable extreme without having a point to it: furrow a brow, furrow a rich patch of soil and it’s the same thing if you let it be.

And I’m used to dredging trenches in No Man’s Land while others carve runnels at roadsides and call them rivers.

As if.

A given regret is a creature, a creature who respires dative-cases and flicks genitive- and nominative- case instances over the wall into ablative distress. Time flows through its veins and chronoglobins (I am a Princely Instance of neologisms) exchange time for kinetics as the Regret employs this particular chemistry to maintain serum pH and serve its own bodily needs.

Regrets are the trickster’s trickster: even Raven, even Coyote, even Hermes could only live if they lived without, using all manner of excuses for extraordinary behavior to create orchards and meadows and caves inhospitable to the needs of Regrets beings.

One necessarily has to travel backwards…to the Past…to locate a Regret: they’re born in the future but pupate back through time and emerge from the chrysalis only when they’ve breathed in enough of the unspent energy you’ve cast off in not-deciding, in not-choosing the better path or in acting the better man or in thinking through the bigger plan or bigger picture or in willing your exhausted metaphorical muscles to hold the bow, armed, for as long as necessary in order to achieve the only Spannungsbögen that will permit you to continue to exist as your true self.

Shed any of that energy capriciously or disappointingly and Regret will be there, honored guest at that feast, to live off of what you’ve thrown away. And with each passing meal Regret becomes ever the more dependent on your particular energy, ever more the parasite.

But remember (suss out?) that Regrets live backwards: born in the future, grow and consume and grow towards you calendrically and come to full form when there is finally enough excess free energy in which to transform: that energy comes from you. The energy you wish you’d directed into waiting, into focused attention, into parsimoniousness or alacrity, into calculated perspicacity—tenebrous or transparent.

But your failure sires that Regret, and as a creature of time that lives in nothing but your past—it shows up on the scene first at your fuckup. It keeps growing larger and more menacing as your past gets more distant as you look back on it, but already existing in your present and future—its present and past.

The results? As you finally come around to realizing a Regret and identifying it and its scope and other parameters, you realize that in being ready to talk about it, the Creature Regret is out there sowing its wild oats with people who know nothing of its character or origins. People you care about. People you don’t want to hurt by exposing the Regret.

For you, the Regret is in the past, a past you desperately want to rectify or at least spread knowledge of wide and thin so that others will notice if you’re developing the same pattern again. For others, assaults on that Regret are assaults on their present, their limbs, their friends, their family, their own versions of their own history.

This is the point at which a Regret-as-Creature appears to be indistinguishable from the immature, selfish, self-involved neverlander who insists that others keep his life afloat while he carries on in his untenable, unsustainable lifestyle: Pups need feeding; slaves need decisions made for them; codependents will need-you-bleed-you dry.  Those left behind have memories and little else and who wants to sully those if you can help it?

It’s classic brinkmanship going on here, and after all the soul-searching and the foot-stomping and the what-iffing and if-onlying, it comes to this: this is the real cost of the Regret: not the time lost; not the lost could-have-beens or roads-not-taken or even people you hurt or who you permitted to treat you ill.

No, the real cost of Regret is ugly, throbbing, absolutely untenable and public exposure of your own decency, your own morality, your own ethics, your own maturity: If you have yet to be dispossessed of such things—and really, why would you still be reading if you had been?—you must simply endure.

Endure the perhaps-still-present environment that brought the Regret into existence, the same people doing the same things for the same reasons. Endure the unspeakably unlivable notion that if there’s comeuppance or justice or a twisted sense of Karma, those are not yours to dispense. Endure the unfairness of fortunes that befall each and all of them and you. Endure that you are still alive: endure that you still endure.

Endure. Simply endure. Because outliving the future birth of the Regret (and then when it finally reverts to embryo and then winks out of existence) lands you in a world where that Regret Creature no longer ever was. Simply never was. No one had ever heard of him/it because he never happened.

Bad science fiction meets the most concretely beautiful Buddhist core spirituality, and you emerge in that new land. The land on the other side of the crucible.

I’ve been there. And I arrive there in new, little ways almost every day.

All our worlds are full of creatures of astonishing variety. It’s all in how the light hits them. Thing is, we are light: we are what reflects off of them.

Posted in Uncategorized on 08-Mar-2013 – 22:14 | Comments (1)
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Revelations In A Dream

…secrets: belies

I’m never using the word nightmare again.

Why? Because of its etymology: “denoting a female evil spirit thought to lie upon and suffocate sleepers”, “night” + mere or incubus.

I’m sure there’s plenty of etymological sexism in everyday speech, but I know this one now, and sometimes the devil you know is the one knows you back.

Last night I dreamed a lot of crazy things that kept waking me up to an urgency that had nothing to do with evacuating my bladder. I kept thinking I had a schedule to keep to, an appointment to make or a some deadline. The only thing I was sure of was that I wasn’t sure of anything other than it had nothing to do with work.

But then it segued, like they do.
And then there was a suit (but no tie).
And a (big) band.
And a reception hall.

And then there was more. So much more, culminating, as most dreams do, in everything which failed to culminate. Except…

Except that there was something new: A Brand New Thing.

I told my Self a Secret about My self, one that involved someone else. For once I’m being literal: I did not know before I went to sleep what I knew when I had awakened.

And now I know even less, except that it’s a secret the details of which I now keep to myself.

Blargh.
And I am profoundly changed in an overnight.
And I am not new to this.
And I am not necessarily fine with this.

Although, I am rethinking the employment of the word “nightmare”. More to my liking? Maybe “mare” as Latin/Italian “Sea”: there are no bad dreams, just that in the night when there are no shores, it can be unsettling.

Better. Because I am unsettled.

Posted in Uncategorized on 13-Jan-2013 – 19:58 | Comments (0)
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Historic Clintonian Brass

…open your eyes and look at the day

I remember seeing Al Gore and Bill Clinton in their long wool overcoats do a full body hug on stage in 1992. I believe it was election night and it was the first time they appeared together after they’d won.

I remember thinking that they were from my generation because they hugged like that. Older generations of men didn’t do that.

I don’t think I remember that hug because of that so much as that I had the sense in the moment that it was historic; that it was a sign of change, of things to come.

I remember that moment right now because I got that same feeling tonight when Bill Clinton seemed surprised when President Obama appeared. Then Clinton bowed to him right after he’d just utterly owned the room, the country and maybe parts of the world for 48 minutes. The music abruptly switched over from Clinton’s theme to Obama’s theme.

These two men embraced, far more warmly than even Clinton/Gore—and for quite a bit longer—as if it went on as long as it needed to in order to rewind and then fast forward the storied, personal history between them. It was reshaping that turbulence into a laminar flow in ways only the political theatricality of Bill Clinton could.

Which is not to say the reshaping isn’t Truth: it’s just that selling the truth in Electoral 2012 is nearly impossible when liars are so easily forgiven *cough* Paul Ryan *cough*, and extraordinary measure are called for.

And Bill Clinton is nothing if not extraordinary.

Posted in Uncategorized on 05-Sep-2012 – 21:07 | Comments (0)
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