Here Comes A Regular

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 ♮

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.

The Particular Biology of Regrets

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.

Revelations In A Dream

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.

Historic Clintonian Brass

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.

Someones I Used To Know

Facebook is a mixed bag.

536707 3961931881791 125542098 nAnd that may be the hugest understatement that’s ever made it onto these pages.

Its connections can go broad: when it’s about now, you interact with people from everywhere. Its connections can go deep: when it’s about all your Here’s, you interact with people from your own everywhens.

It’s one’s own past that gathers the moss—and the weeds and the mud and the sticks and the brambles and all the moist forms of ick that tend to ferment in monoclonal populations. This is where “multicultural” fails: when two or more otherwise monocultural populations finally mingle and clash. When it succeeds is when we each and all “bring our own” cultures and share. In other words, a polyclonal population. Culturally speaking, of course. No, on the non-Petri dish level. Yes, there.

But back to Facebook. Literally this time. I jumped in to a “discussion” already in progress. Why the scare quotes? Why am I asking ‘why the scare quotes?’ when it’s Facebook?

Because as much as my good friend Bill from the way-back machine tried to herd the god-awe-full cat, to catch the slithering slimy sacramental serpent, another way-backer (that’d be the god-awe-full one) was relentlessly ignoring him by pressing on and making the same demands that the game be played according to the classic right-wing whack job playbook. You know, the one that starts with the entitlement/assumption/insistence/imposition that we all believe in the same god, the same version of their god, the same instance of their god, that they do.

I jumped in, as I said. Only as I started to write something, it turned into something else. Something more general and so more…let’s call it archival-quality. And I remembered: hey, I have a blog!

So here it is, with the pointy references smoothed and the open ends annealed, but otherwise as-was.

[…] Homosexual here.

But I prefer the term “gay”. It’s interesting that “you people” always run as fast as you can towards the Greek-derived terms when you want to dehumanize a group of people or a condition (Greek derivations are more clinical) and you run as fast as you can towards Latin/Roman-derived terms when you want to gloss over what medical/psychology clinicians have plenty of non-normative Greek-derived terms for the issues that conservatives—particularly the religious ones—have with change. You’re damned afraid of the future, of progress, of anything that steps away from your good old days of absolutist-antiquity and towards modernity.

Thing is, that homosexuality is about a whole lot more than sex or sexuality. Unless you want to concede right here and right now that YOUR — I’ll take this on faith — heterosexuality is about no more and no less than what makes you tumescent and where you want to put your penis (all clinical terms).

That your heterosexuality has nothing to do with love, or family, or society, or the brotherhood and sisterhood of humanity. Nothing to do with sharing with those around you the extra good will that your loving familial (spousal and other) relationships creates.

I’m not going to argue sin with you. Or god. Or religion. Or any one (or more) of the versions of the christian bible. You are far too limited in this respect and the dialog is far too limited when your bible(s) set the rules of the game.

Put another way: NONE OF THESE CONCEPTS APPLY TO ME.

I know you think you know better. I know you think that god is everywhere and universal and so he (apparently god is omniscient but not omnisexual — or omnigendered, take your pick) applies to everyone whether we “believe” or not, but at this point I’m completely done with humoring the irrationality of those who insist I buy into their invisible-absentee-father-in-the-sky constructs.

I’m just done with it.

Accept that or don’t, but if you’re going to live in a real world and interact with it, I’d suggest you accept that gay people exist; that sexual behavior is nearly the *last* thing on the list of differences that being gay is about; that most people on this planet don’t care about your god; and that you have to live in this world with the rest of us.

It’s up to you to take it or leave it. It’s NOT up to us to accept your god into our hearts.

He’s all yours, not mine — a fact that has nothing to do with anything you believe in.

17 Elevens

Verbs win over nouns every time. Objects and events stand still as time travels over them, plows them under, leaves them behind, distorts and Dopplers whatever light they still cast.

There are no Gödelian absolutes, but time transcends space whenever it wants—often when we don’t want it to.

I didn’t want it to for the longest—yes, Time. My back to tomorrow and the light from yesterday still hitting my eyeballs, spectrumming towards red, both hotter and dimmer at the same time, then more vivid and bluer and cooler.

And seventeen years later, the Elevenses can be just an orange bottle or forever or today, an anniversary that is fully circumscribed by solemnity.

Time made it that. I made it that: you can only go so long with your back to the future before relentless time wins. Fear sometimes crawls over your front if you wait too long.

And so it goes Today, seventeen years ago.

To my Allen,

…and so it goes, and so it goes…and you’re the only one who knows…


19th

29-June-1993 23:45 TMZ-700

The official date I became a San Francisan for “real” or for “good”. Of course I prefer “good”, because it’s a more real quantity and quality.

Yes, I know…I know.

After 19 years of being a San Franciscan after nine years of having this blog, after stabbing, swiping, scything, gliding, exalting, brooding, scarpering, tramping, soaring, winnowing, estivating, winterizing, springing, falling, down-inning, out-of-ing, and otherwise action-verbnikking and my way through the years here, this year seemed not to bring any inspiration to note but two things:

  1. Two days from now, 05-July-2012 at 10:25am, I will have been a San Franciscan for 10 million minutes exactly. I am a geek for all things calendrical.
  2. I have been noting my San Francisco anniversary in this blog every year except for one, where there was ohhh, let’s say way-too-much-by-half-again going on with me—and none of it good.

So in recognizing my tradition, here are the links back through God of Biscuits Time:

My San Francisco Me is old enough now to be of parenting age. I don’t know why that thought just occurred. Maybe there’s something to that, perhaps not. That’s what blogs are for, right?

The Three Princes of Serendip

I always start with the title; Except for this time, when I didn’t have a title in mind, so I had to use someone else’s title.

Today, 06-June-2012, marks the 9th birthday/bloggiversary of the God of Biscuits Blog. It feels like not so much of a celebration, though, as a milestone. Not a chore or a duty of office either—definitely something worth marking.

It’s because I’ve let the whole thing go a bit frowsy. In a way, that means it’s still going full steam at what it’s always been best at doing: reflecting my life, snapshotting it (odd that I think in terms of the blog as the active party, but there you have it).

The conspiratorial nature of Time is one of the more interesting aspects of it, to me anyway. Time rarely colludes, though, with anyone or anything else, so when Mister Moment-fomenter does a mashup with My Mrs. Mood you bet your sweet ass I’m going to be observing tempus comitatus as intently as the world did transit Veneris Sol.

Latin? Too much? Fuck it, I’m Deus Paxamatia, bitches! Besides, I haven’t gotten to the Sinhala or the Tamil yet.

I had no idea where the word serendipity came from. So of course I had to find out.

Turns out, Horace Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford, of Strawberry Hill (English estate, not Central Park), and novel The Castle of Otranto fame coined the word taken from a line from a book whose title headlines this blog entry. From the OAD:

[…]a fairy tale in which the heroes “were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of.”

“By accidents and sagacity” Don’t you just love English sometimes?

Except English is only lovely serendipitously, and only it’s only in English by coincidence (a hypernym of serendipity). That book’s made quite a trip getting here: Horace got his English version as a translation of a Venetian edition by Tramezzino, who heard the story from a Signore Armeno, who in turn had translated Book One of the Persian fairy tale Hasht Bisht.

Breathe.

Now, in the Persian tongue, “Serendip”? That’s just the name for the country of Sri Lanka. Though the ancient Arabs had called it “Serendib”.

Sri Lanka’s official languages are Sinhalese and Tamil. Gorgeous alphabets. This blog entry’s sub-title is Sinhala. Here is Tamil:

விருப்பமூட்டும் பொருள்களை தற்செயலாக கண்டுபிடிக்கும் திறன்

Both brought to you by Unicode, TypeKit and their supporting foundries, and by the glyphs ය් and ள் (don’t ask me why those two, they just wrote the checks).

What does the Sinhalese translate to? “Serendipity” The Tamil? Same thing. There’s something quite devastatingly apt in that, I just don’t know what it is yet.

Serendipity and coincidence—and accident, for that matter—are all denizens of Time. They depend on things to happen at specific moments.

Except they’re not, because they don’t. Serendipity is a fiction borne out of meaning that we make for ourselves, that I make for myself when I get busy with Mrs. Mood. As for coincidence? It may feel like it’s two things that happen at the same time, but it’s never that. That’s simultaneity. Coincidence is just a fudge factor that the mind uses when it can’t find causality for the apparent connection between two apparently disparate things. And accident? Rub two of those together long enough and you end up with a coincidence. [Or you go blind. – Eds.]

And if that action remarkably start throwing sparks and a few land on a pile of flammables and you happened to have been chilled and that little campfire warmed you up? Then that, Gentle Readers, that is serendipity.

This being an anniversary/birthday/bloggiversary, reflection is an unavoidable aspect. I started this blog on 06-June-2003. With a Buffy quote. The comments you’ll see there aren’t the originals; well, they don’t begin with the originals. Those are still stuck somewhere in the original commenting system.

But reflection is more than just calendrical woolgathering. Sometimes it’s discovery. And discovery—personal discovery—is often a dangerous activity, especially for the risk-averse.

Thank god (of biscuits) that isn’t me, huh?

The Aught’s were not very kind to me. Wait, that’s pussyfooting. The blogging years were not very kind to me. Taken together, the timespan of this blog and relationship between the activity levels in this blog and the overall…positivity in my life, there’s an ineluctable and nagging truth to be had.

What? You’re waiting for an answer? Fuck that noise, as I always used to say. If you’ve ever read this blog, you know that I’m not that literal, except when I have no other choice. ◊cough◊ vampire pups from hell ◊cough◊

And you know those 3D street chalk-art optical illusions? You know they only work when you look at them from exactly the intended angle in order to get the intended illusory effect: from any other angle it looks like a funny pages transfer onto silly putty.

Imagine serendipity applied in reverse: I’ve made word sketches, painted masterpieces, written biographies, brought you upstairs to show you some etchings, watercolored some dreams and even took a shot or two at sculpting some seriously abstract shit. But there was never the intent for it all to come into sharp relief, in any way coherent enough to be subject to distillatory process, fermentation, transubstantiation or any kind of reductive voodoo yet still be recognizable and referent to the original.

And then just today an Elvis Costello song that I’ve heard a million times before pops into my helmeted head as I buzzed along on the 100cc hill hopper on my way home from work. From King of America, “Sleep of the Just”

The soldier asked my name, and did I come here very often
Well I thought that he was asking me to dance
In my holey coat and hat, and him in his red bonnet
We’d have made a lovely couple but we never had the chance

From one particular perspective, just that one singular-yet-unintended angle, where mental, emotional and psychological yaw, pitch and roll are perfectly just so, a magical view snaps into shape and extra dimensions pop out of four lines of song and fill nine years of a labor of life, lifetime, love; a corpus of writing and thinking and feeling and all of it.

I’m not saying that I wouldn’t trade the God of Biscuits blog for the world, I’m saying that it has been inextricable, interwoven into my world and me.

So, Dear Everyone Out There, please write. Publicly or privately, just please do it, because then it’s not only in your head anymore.

42 Isn’t Always an Answer

42 years ago today my grandmother Mary Trosko died. She was 56.

It’s odd to have such specific memories and to have the effects stay with me: so many things about that day were just a little bit “off” before I got the news.

A neighborhood girl, Cynthia Baines, said to me, “Mary died,” before anyone else told me. It wasn’t real, of course. She was not authority on anything real to a six-year-old. Only family had such sway.

But then our family car came driving down Vaughn Street. But my mother wasn’t driving, my Aunt Toots was: off. My mother was in the passenger seat and I had never seen the two of them in a car together alone: off. It was a Friday but I wasn’t at school: off. It felt like winter: off.

My mother was crying. You could always tell when she was crying. Her face and nose get very red; my Aunt was stoic: off.

Three months later my great-grandmother, my grandmother’s mother, would die.

Summer 1970 was a Before-And-After Season. My first.

Not the last.