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?

“Fun” & Loathing

15-July-2011 00:05~00:55. Fifteen days prior was 18, so this must be 16, as it follows every year, as it has since 18 was two and 16 was the Elevens and the clock struck midnight, then 12:05, and then I finally fell unconscious, dozed off after several hours—was it really almost 6 hours, or has remembering rewritten that into a much larger number?—6 hours hitting the button every 15 minutes on the home pump to deliver that extra bolus of morphine.

Schedule 3 Narcotics are a Very Important Thing in the eyes of the law, puritanical tight asses that who want us to Just Say No to anything that might bring pleasure or even relief (which really, is just an edge-case form of pleasure, if you consider it when measured against Hell Fire), unless you get off on violence. Violence is great. Violence is purifying. Ask the Crusades. Just don’t ask any non-Christians. Their violence might as well be pleasure.

Or a Schedule 3 Narcotic.

Because way back, all the way back in 1995, there existed the technology to codify and thus enforce the prescriptions of an MD into the electronics of the home pump mechanism itself: it was Allen’s home pump carrying morphine to the already-non-responsive corpus that had used to be the seat and center of the soul of the man I’d loved, but he was no longer in it, and by a day at least: that would be 24 hours on the devices which measured such things dutifully even after I had already long since lost the knack for quotidian anythings.

Death makes everything mundane, and It makes nothing else unimportant. It makes everything besides the upcoming End quaint, and does nothing but lay bare Its Own Essence: that Death Itself deserves no capitalization after all for its own event, because death is nothing.

And by that I do not mean to walk you down a primrose path only to push you off a cliff where the path abruptly ends: the Void.

Unlike so many self important (and yet shockingly simultaneously self loathing) men I have known, I am never cruel.

I have let others see my frustration in the repeated aloneness I feel when I invite potential mates up to the curtain of mystery/knowledge/intimacy/thing-requiring-attention-span-longer-than-required-for-what-passes-for-“fun”, but that’s my trip, not a full spread of transitive verbs intended for the ones who disappointed me.

This is not to say that there aren’t those who come gunning for me, the ones who may find this very marking of the 16 year interval between now and the death of Allen Howland to be morbid or obsessive or any of those words that people bandy about when they’re actually out of their depth so they just throw sheets of meaning down over a concept and hope they get full coverage and prevent daylight from getting through. No-daylight is tantamount to Rightness.

Yeah, right.

Fun is a good thing, but only when it spoils nothing better.
—The Sense of Beauty, MIT Press, 1988, p. 155

All this is also not to say that those who have heard this quote from Santayana (and apologies to the memory of the man for the long shadow that bumper sticker aphorism has cast over his far more nuanced, involved works) and scoff at it don’t stop at the scoffing, but expend energy in order to justify “fun” as the storied Better Thing. And then go ahead and resent me for tacitly having required that expenditure.

This is how voluntary ghettoes are formed and maintained: Shut out dissent first, then watch as your ability to cope with conflict atrophies considerably—and swiftly. But then you then have to also shut out heterogeneity of thought and opinion, not because they cause conflict (they don’t), but rather because heterogeneity/variety is a potential, indirect source of conflict.

Eventually you have to pare vocabulary, too, because words require judgment even in speaking them, and having already judged, you put something out there subject to interpretation of meaning, because words are blunt, barely-aimable objects after all. So in paring vocabulary, but still needing to communicate, you go for proto-linguistic vocalizations and dress them up as “fun” or “identifying traits”.

A “woof” here, and a “grrr” there and you’re off to the races, meeting someone new, taking him home or back to your tent, “funning” the “fun” out out of him. Or letting him “fun” the living “fun” out of you. Consequence-, meaning- and chance-of-conflict- free.

Chock full of “fun” and absolutely no opportunity for a shot at anything better.

And so, while deaths themselves truly are nothing, their effects on those who remain to mourn and to remember and to continue are truly profound, and what people forget is that those ripples caused by a given event are not restricted to surface phenomena: the waves radiate in all directions, and travel to depths unseen even more swiftly than they disrupt calm surfaces in that beautiful concentric imagery we all know so well.

Here I am 16 years later, and of course it’s not to say that there haven’t been my own something-wonderfuls. And it’s not to say, again, of course that there haven’t been horrors in my life as well. But the horrors were nearly all a result of the wonderfuls having been suborned by “fun” at the near total expense of all of the Somethings Better that we had going on.

And in the worst times, unsurprisingly, there were plenty of people gunning for me, plenty of less-than-people avoiding conflicts by explaining things away, paring vocabularies, reducing conflict by avoiding conflict by avoiding confrontation by avoiding truths by avoiding conversation by avoiding one of us, all on the descent vector towards woofs and grrs, and all along the way, “fun” was on the ascent towards the top of the priorities list.

For everyone else.

As for my priorities, in health and then in sickness, priorities remained intact: love, intimacy, care, sharing, fun, respect. All in proper order, all withstood it all.

Before and, even for a short while after, the non-event of his death 16 years ago today.

The Pineapple Fields

30-June-1993. To prepare the day, She walked out into the evening through Her Pineapple Fields, a large bowl under Her arm and, reaching in and casting out, She threw the stars by handfuls into the violet dome of twilight sky.

Her labors were for me: She had sown in Her skies a greeting only for me, I imagined, and I had been late for it, not arriving until well after dark almost past the witching time.

Being late for your own beginning is not the best first impression to make, but then again when you’re on your way Home, you’re in time-running-backwards and you set your own double-naughts on that clock and the last grains to run out of the sandglass will fall onto Ocean Beach only when you are there at the surf’s lip to release them yourself.

Having arrived far too near to the double-naughts on the Pacific Daylight’s clock to my liking—sixteen and a half hours after I put my hands on ten-and-two-o’clock and started my third and final day of driving with no AC and only Wyoming’s, Nevada’s and California’s Central Valley radio stations for company—even the calendar was nigh on hitting its own witching time to roll itself into July.

I did arrive, of course.

3986655147 b57b48e3ff (click on the photo for much larger size)

And the Sky! And Stars! Our Dome of Sky, a cosmic bowl turned upside down and lit from everywhere and nowhere. The Stars freshly sown that still seem to tempt us all to climb the hills, some tiny part of each of us fancying that once at the top, if we just reeeeeeach up high enough….

Success!

And that perfect gem would be ours to—to what? I still believe that no one of us would ever keep a Star thus captured. It would be enough (enough! Was there ever a more inadequate concept?) to have touched the Star! the Sky! for even that Moment. We wouldn’t even tell the story to anyone, but not for lack of believability: You San Franciscans out there would never dismiss such a story entirely, if at all.

MoonPhaseIn eighteen years, I still see the look in my fellow denizens’ eyes that they have stories, too. Stories, and Stories. Like this. And like nothing you’ve ever heard before. And all of them are true.

Because they happened Here. And Here is nowhere else on Earth.

So yes, back up that Star would go, arm casting out, throwing it into that impossible violet, impossible dome of sky, to let it find its own place among its Sisters.

As we all have done in our twinkling, shining City.

So many nights since then I’ve looked up, and out, and within, and seen the same twinkling, shining magic. So many perfect nights, too, like that long ago perfect night—well, almost perfect: The Moon, ever willful, would end up requiring a few more days for perfect fullness. So San Francisco, earthbound, has her limits after all—just don’t tell her that.

Eighteen years now and I still haven’t told her. Who would believe a story like that?

I Never Watch The News

I tend to get my news from the web. Why? Even though there are significant downsides (perhaps more down- than upsides)—most especially the self-selecting behavior that locks you into self-serving ignorance—it’s much easier to avoid the fluff-pieces. It’s much easier to avoid the media’s idea of “balanced” news stories (e.g., Creationism does not deserve equal time with evolution). It’s much easier to ingest the information at your own leisure.

Tonight I was maneuvering TiVo (top of the hour is a tricky time), so that I could get back to watching the Tonys (yes, I’m at least that gay).

I landed on the local news, which had a story about same-sex marriage. More to the point, it was about the much-anticipated legal recognition of (not “legality of” as the reporter called it) same-sex marriages. It’s a supreme, potentially embittering irony that same-sex marriage shows up at a time in my life where not only do I no longer have someone in my life with whom to contemplate marriage, but that I have been knocked down enough that I am not even ready consider being with anyone with whom I might contemplate marriage.

Naturally, my thoughts fly backwards: I visit each relationship as an exercise in futility what could have been (I’m too fragile to consider what really was). Movement backwards is never easy. It’s never healthy. I’m not talking about remembering: Memory is a gift, a blessing. Like any powerful influence, the chance for abuse is great. Like any narcotic (chemical or spiritual) addiction is a danger. The danger of addiction to the Past (or to anything) brings the exact same cost: you lose the Present. You forget to live.

Don’t forget to live.

In all candor, the news was difficult to watch. I didn’t stop watching, though. So much excitement: a wedding chapel in the Castro. Same-sex wedding bands. The Mayor performing the very first marriage at 5pm tomorrow. So exciting!

So far away.

But only the weak-minded and small-hearted can look at the personal successes and happinesses of others and keep to their selfish negativities. In the abstract, availability of civil marriage is a beautiful thing. In a free society, there are no concrete obligations within the context of the civil marriage, but in the context of good will the spiritual and emotional obligations are obvious.

Good will is a thing in short supply. No one knows how good will comes into existence, but we all know how it leaves. It does not follow the laws of conservation of the rest of the world which, I suppose, gives it the freedom to blossom without limit. It may not follow that marriage will change the people who enter it, but the availability of something so long wanted may prove fertile soil.

Hope won’t die.

By the time the story ended—after “balancing” the story with Fundie idiots saying they don’t hate homos but they think homos are going to ruin all of society by tying the knot (sigh)—my balance was restored and I’m back in the mindset that the increase in happiness after 5pm tomorrow will be palpable: a rising tide raises all boats!

All the while I’ve been writing this, the Tonys have been going on. There’s a revival of Sunday in the Park with George this year, and it’s up for at least one award. The selection from it—shown right after the presentation of an honorary award to Stephen Sondheim (nice touch)—was ‘Move On’.

Serendipity and simultaneity never fail to astound me, even for how frequently such stuff happens in San Francisco.

The words of that song have inspired me in so many ways, so many times. Its literal meaning is to do with creativity, but Broadway music is never ever solely literal. So this song is also about fear and about the future, about love and vulnerability and opportunity, and intimacy. All those things that are so difficult to be or do, but provide so much upside. And so much downside, perhaps.

Moving On past any lingering or niggling bitterness or sadness about my distance from a true marriage—including the insidiousness of my doubts that most of the couples I’ve known won’t likely appear to live up to any of the ideals of marriage whether or not they get married—had its effect once again. How a single song can deliver so many different and varied epiphanies, I don’t think I’ll ever understand. Truth suffers from too much analysis.

Later, there was a tribute to “Rent”, including the appearances of the original cast members of the play, including a reprise of the main song. In the chorus?

“Measure your life in Love.”

If…

you ask me how I am, expect a short and vacant answer, all generalities and no content.

If you feel like I’m dodging the real answer (which I am) and (where “and” is positively crucial) you’re ready and willing to hear the unvarnished truth, then ask again, imploringly and convincingly and do not brace yourself for the answers: prepare to receive them.

Unvarnished communication is precious thing. You don’t trap it, or look for it. You don’t feel around for it, but most of all, of course, you don’t hear it.

Measure a friend not in good times: everyone is a “friend” in a visceral Prosperity. Measure friendship not according to a label assigned: the word’s meaning has changed here, casting so wide a net it captures everyone, capturing no population that maintains any specificity. If everyone is friend, no one is: you are alone.

In the solitude, silence is companionable and nothing else is, save the darkness. So if words offered are only according to Form, empty boxes in boilerplate—a perverse Mad Lib—save the postage. Save the postage and remain silent. Silence is easy to interpret because of its blunted thrust, which is to say, no interpretation is necessary at all.

At this point I should consider it a blessing, these Madlibs condolences? There are worse reactions to someone who’s miserable and dispirited: earnest words for betterment? Yes, I have received those as well from ‘friends’ (wide nets are euphemistic) but the earnestness is misplaced: misery in its midst breaks the seal on a hermetic (both definitions apply) bubble of contentedness and false comfort and many offer condolences in order to rid the air of difficulty in Contented Land. Yes, I mean to say that I have been offered comfort directly to restore contentedness for themselves.

The braver and more candid thing—which ironically would bring me solace—would be banishment: go away until you’re better and then you can rejoin us.

Is it simply age to say that this is no longer the San Francisco I so cottoned to so many years ago? Maybe. But maybe it’s just, as they say, the company you keep. In other words, am I generalizing the City based on a small, pathetic self-serving, self-imposed ghetto?

GoB, I hope so.

Buitenlands

But where can warp drive take us, except away from here…?

A bit of a geeky reference, yes (it’s from Star Trek: Insurrection), but serves as a fairly equivalent statement to all those things I feel about San Francisco. It’s not a Dorothy’s-back-yard thing nor fear of itinerancy, not even xenophobia, but if you so love the place in which you live what purpose is there to travel, what impetus to improve means of travel?

To outsiders this particular bent in my geographical sensibilities would conflate xenophobia and agoraphobia to the point where the Dome of the Sky is so obvious as to require no belief system in place at all.

Still, the jewels adhered and embedded in the Dome of Sky are the same that all see except domeless, wide open; no context. And no context = no story and no story means no magic.

And we all have to have at least some magic in our lives. It’s everywhere, in everything. Some people assign all things magical to one true source, others find magic to be oddities of nature and the beautiful light cast upon the walls by a candle being filtered by irregular weaving within the fabric of Nature. Still some others find the unexplainable to be sinister, dark, evil, no good. Spirits here! And magic for them is just a gateway to paranoia. Piteous, yes, but those deserving of the most sympathy are the ones who refuse magic. Refuse its benefits, its entertainment value, its very existence!!! Those are the dry and rational, staid and stolid individuals who must explain away every waveform, every molecule, every action, reaction, cause, effect, correlative and causal in order to exorcise magic any given day.

Magic is not easy to find, until you find it and realize you’ve known all along that it was right there in front of your face. “Right there”; “RIGHT there”; “Right. There.”

It’s getting harder and harder for me to find magic here in San Francisco, fewer and fewer reasons to leave the warp drives dismantled. More and more refusers of magic spinning their wheels more and more feverishly to get away from the magic they don’t believe in anyway. More and more refusers finding less and less interesting ways to distract themselves from the demanding presence of magic. The magic of an orgasm as a cheap substitute and as a relentless way to contrive a society which expects less magic, expects less in others and in themselves.

For myself, I have found that paths to the best, most powerful magicks follow deep roots and deep fault lines to inhospitable places requiring work you can’t outsource, strength you can’t employ machines for, and commitment so deep and pensive and single-minded it sparks the first lights of honor and good will. Sparks which then fund a hearth, a hearth which eventually ascends to light the skies: the sunlight by which these best magicks can be seen.

But for a while now, the furrows and cracks in the earth, the places where oddity and life might have found purchase are paved over with the even, non-porous surface of acculturated sameness and so there is less and less access to the kinds of magicks my life requires. Dissent, conflict, even ridicule are unnaturally ineffective, as the sameness has lost the ability to adapt, to learn, to abide.

Yes, an arable for magic is no longer in this place. At least not in my traditional potreros.

So the piece of the puzzle that can’t be moved must now be moved. Towards, away, forwards, backwards, down or up, near or far. Or surrender to cacophony of the denial of greater things and welcome in the death of hope.

Earthbound & Timebound For Too Long

Too much Now and far too much Here. Present and accounted for: my mantra for years. For all of the San Francisco Years.

From Here. On This Moment. Faulty sense of offense to the point of atrophic defenses. I’ve gotten rusty at Combat, but unexpectedly better at Building. And I never noticed. Not til Now, which is no different to the Now of each Day.

Calendars play at…well, I don’t quite know. Building a folly for non-existent tomorrows. But follies don’t need reason, all ornament and no cunning. But every Thing, living or not, that ever was or ever will be (unnatural participles notwithstanding) has a reason. The Builders choose.

San Francisco itself is a Folly for many: a place all ornamental and guileless. It swarms with people who chose it for those very reasons and there are people who absorbed it and stopped them dead in their tracks. Motion stopped and therefore Time stopped. Retardation is the padlock and who can work a key anymore?

Escapism is another word for stopping Time; but Time doesn’t exist and by fiat and consequence, neither does History. Those who cannot endure such things and live within them naturally live without them. Without motion forward, without backward pensiveness: a lock on learning (also requiring a Marker in Time: Before and After).

Itinerancy both doesn’t exist and therefore that becomes all that exists when you choose to walk away from imagining. Tragic, frankly, because Imagination has never respected Time nor Place: Imagination is Itinerant, a notion that exists without Time yet still manages to move about in the World that itself choose to create.

Then there are those who don’t move, by choice, and let the world move through them. You are what you eat, and that sort of thing. And did you know that corporeally, all of the molecules and atoms filling out the pattern when you were born have all gone away? Matter flows through the pattern that is You. But that’s Motion, invoking Time and Space? But aren’t you still you? You are not the matter than flushes out the pattern and seeps into and out of. The Pattern is retained, but you remain more or less a Constant.

Of course there’s Then and there’s There, if for no other reasons than we require it for excuses for extraordinary behavior or original thought. Or for vulgar reasons like burying the past or living without consequence or avoiding blame or responsibility.

In the Folly that is San Francisco, sitting in the middle of a Vast Garden, there are no boundaries: it only took me nearly fifteen years to let that in completely, consciously. I have lived with the lack of boundaries—which is really just another way of reinforcing the solipsist’s luxury: human calenders. No boundaries and everything lies flat, colors bleed into one another leaving a brown muck, a quicksand which owns you, retards you. Locks you into Now and Here. Friendships bleed into Sex. Relationships are porous to the point, sometimes of there being more non-existent parts than the fragile, frail scaffolding that holds it up: the Pattern is there, but it’s covered in that muck. And the popular choice in all of this is to believe in diversity but bury it every time in that same muck, silencing those who dare carve out a walled garden where life has color and wonder and safety without sacrificing self or beauty or joy.

The muck overtakes the garden every time. The Folly wins and your Neverland becomes a Never-was.

San Francisco has my love in spite of how it retards some and makes them boorish and ignorant and disrespectful of the very diversity they probably came here for. After the just over a decade of setting aside a fraction of my individuality to appear to be “one of the guys”, the events of the past few years have worn away those walls, wicking away the sunshine and color and wonder and making me feel as alone as I’ve ever felt, for there is no worse loneliness than living behind a pasted-on smile, a vibrant individuality being dulled on purpose. And there is no worse dread than stepping into the muck because that’s where everyone else is, for fear of suffocation and for fear that those things which you hold most precious are the things that the muck-dwellers feed on. Feed on for energy or to simply dismantle anything that dares to be special.

Respect. Boundaries. Time. Space. Candor. Honor. Decency. Empathy. I live—or try to—amidst the interplay and interstices of each of those things. And often I must behave otherwise, if for no other reason that self-preservation. It’s only belief in all those things which animates me and allows real choice in changing the pattern that is me.

I have to: there’s not enough respect from the outside.

The Drama Empress

A few years ago, two of my friendships—two of my strongest friendships—evaporated instantly with a little (and one very large) Poof!

I’ll say upfront, however, that one of those friendships returned, not in any onesided or dramatic way, but in rare one: one of us took the first small step and this time I wasn’t the one who made that first step. He did. Let’s call him H. Though I did not take that first chance, I returned the offer by taking a bigger chance than he did, all without giving up self-esteem and without taking any high road. Friendships mean a whole lot to me. So H. and I are friends again, but irony has it right now that he’s returned to the City after a long absence and is staying with the other former friend. Let’s call him F.

Dear GoB, I’m going to need a map. No, I’m really going to need a map.

Or maybe a history:

  • I was dating J. at the time. Before me, J. dated a guy, DP. Remember this, because it’s very important.
  • When I was dating J., I was still very good friends with H. and F.
  • They had a friend, JD.
  • Once I got to know JD somewhat, JD ssssssspoke the sssssentence that culiminated in the sssssssupernova of sssssstupidity: he told me, and I quote: If you were really my friend, you’d stop dating J.
  • Me: blank-faced & !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! & ?????????????
  • Turns out, JD had been dating DP, and someone NOT DP had told JD at DP’s party that DP was still in love with J. and would never be interested seriously in JD.

So JD asks me to stop having a relationship with J, because being around J reminded him of DP, who had wronged JD indirectly through a party guest.

Read that again. I’ll wait.

Done reading it again? Read it one more time.

Do you have a grip on how much indirection is there?

Do you have a grip on what kind of spacy, priggy git JD is?

Are you sure? Really sure?

Now, here’s how the friendships had ended, and while one can blame the misunderstadings inherent in AIM and email, ummm, no.

JD said it to me the first time in IMs: If you were really my friend, you’d stop dating J. I responded with an LOL or hehe or something. He had to be kidding, right?

He repeated it. I told him, buffered by plenty of politesse (the niceties must be observed, especially through a low-resolution medium like IMs), that he had no business asking me to do something like that.

In what I can only assume was tacit belief in the appropriateness of his request, he amped it up to demanding I stop seeing J. But JD was having none of it, and kept going and going and going with it, so I had no choice but to get more direct. And more direct. And when information was not passing at normal levels, I became blunt. I became candid. I began to deconstruct his lack of argument (so much for proving universal negatives). I began to describe what kind of sociopathic mind it would require to make an argument that he had the right to ask someone to stop seeing someone because that someone’s former someone’s party guest had shot down JD’s chances with DP because DP wasn’t ready to move on with anyone (where “anyone” would be, in this case, JD).

So the IMs had included, I swear, at least an hour’s worth of escalation, at which point it switched to emails. That first email was already quite contentious (I’m being understated), and as I was running out of words because nothing was being effective, I started to use a better-fitting, lesser-known vocabulary (translation: I was using ‘big’ words).

After probably another hour’s worth of emails back and forth, with plenty of “fuck you”s and “you’re a fucking asshole, you learning-impaired troglodyte and why-don’t-you-go-eat-some-billy-goat-ing, I get emails from F. and H. whose subjects started with “FWD:”, meaning forwarded. Meaning, the stubborn little shit had sent the entirety of the email portion of the argument to his/my friends. But here’s the key: the email chain only included the latter part of the argument, entirely omitting the part where my patience still had some wiggle room left in it.

”Why are you being so mean?” and ”You’re a horrible person for using big and nasty words against poor JD, making him feel small and stupid”.

“But…but…but…but….”, I thought. What was I supposed to do, say ’he started it’?

So there were phone calls with F. and H., and I first asked, then implored, then begged, then demanded that each permit me to offer information they hadn’t heard, the IMs part of it.

Each refused.

Only a couple of years after that fateful day was a dialog with H. started, and when we started talking, I asked of him only that he let me tell him what had started the whole thing that had turned me into such a mean, big-word-usin’ prick: “JD demanded that I stop seeing J because seeing J reminded him of how mean DP had been”, where J had nothing to say in it, never had said anything mean to JD, had stopped seeing DP long before JD started to see DP.

“I had no idea!” said H., visibly more and more shaken as I watched the wheels of his mind reconstructing the past several years.

Silence. I offered, “All I ever wanted from you and F. was that I get to tell you what started it.” That was the moment that the beautiful part of a friendship reignites. I’d said what I’d been waiting to be allowed to say. No blame. No guilt. No anything left to stand in the way of a friendship. And we’ve been friends again ever since.

Long after that day, I saw F. out and about, and there was more than just an exchange of meaningless niceties, I thought I’d have a chance to tell F. the only thing that I told H.

I emailed F., offering that it was nice to see him and that I’d thought maybe…

No response.

But at least JD still remembers to keep his distance and keep his yap shut.

Best of all, I have my friend H. back. Back in San Francisco and back in my life. That’s a lot, isn’t it? It’s certainly enough, enough for me.

Electricity, I Love You!

Tragic. Desperate. All Alone In The Night.

Ok, I’m being overly bombastic (in the first two anyway: it’s J. Michael Stracyznski being bombastic in the last one).

There were some crazy-ass storms today in San Francisco with, I heard, another two crazy-ass storms on the way to make the weekend something special. It’s because I’m back but not back, I know it. I am at odds with my environment and the environment is letting me know it (and yes, ‘solipsistic’ is a mere doddle away from ‘bombastic’). Still, don’t blame me. I’m too busy cowering under my own storm of a thousand questions up above me and with no settled firmament beneath. And my head hurts. A LOT.

So the storm knocked out power to most of the City. In my neighborhood, electricity went missing at 8:29 (I’ll explain how I know that in a bit) and didn’t return until 17:24 (same reason I know this, don’t get your gutchies in a bunch).

Things learned in a bleak and silent afternoon without electricity:

  • the house is bleak and silent without electricity
  • only my old school room type analog plug-in electric clock which hangs above the kitchen doorway remembers when the world went off and, with offsets, exactly when the world came back on
  • I spend more time in artificial light than natural
  • MacBook Pro batteries should be kept charged at all times and do not do so would be really stupid because they’re there to keep you going when there’s no electricity available and so keep them charged, kids, and now I’m done PSAing
  • iPhones are a lifeline to the net thanks to EDGE networks which are totally plenty fast (but not fast enough for the sole reason that the net can never be fast enough) despite all the bitching by feature-list-obsessors that 3G is “necessary”
  • the Internet isn’t a god, it’s a landscape and electricity keeps you dressed and fed when there
  • the Internet’s my There and without electricity, there’s almost no ‘there’ there
  • the time when I most want to write is when I can’t, and now that I can write, I don’t feel like it. Corollary: adolescence isn’t the Past, it’s vestigial. Like your appendix.
  • Tea-lite candles are quaint, and they’re certainly keeping Walter the Cat transfixed, but flickering light is just a pain in the ass to read by.
  • Giving to charitable organizations is a Good Thing, especially appreciated today when the hand-crank chargeable radio (FM, AM, SW, along with siren, flashing light and white LED light) I got by donating to KQED last year came in very handy indeed.
  • compared to a full-on soundsystem with giant HDTV, music sounds magnificent from a single tinny speaker on a bleak and silent afternoon without electricity.
  • I noticed that tea was being converted to music as I cranked the hand-crank to give the radio an extra bolus of electricity.
  • Thank you, gas heat!

By now even I’m getting the idea I should have titled this one “Even More Filler”, so I’ll just shut up and get back to my re-electrified world of torpor and distraction, because the vickies just ain’t cuttin’ it for the pain no’ mo’.

Doubt

I have had years end in pleasure, years end in pain, years end in soft-focus sorrow and sharp-edged rancor. I’ve had years end in bitterness, years end in a kind of victory, years end flat and years end unmarked.

But a year ending in doubt? This is a new one.

I started dating someone one year on New Year’s Eve: it was a surprise to both of us. I spent two years ago New Year’s Eve in the hospital: it was a surprise to three of my ribs, one of my lungs and several liters of my blood and humours spilling out of a chest tube.

At least Allen had the good sense, will and manner to die in the summer, far enough away from the previous holiday season and far enough away from the coming one to avoid connection with either. That was the year of soft-focus sorrow, a year of desperate up’s and too-frequent downs. Down, down, down into an unknowable hereafter. Which left me here, after.

Not after: After.

No one ever said that a calendar flipping over and separating time into last and next couldn’t be a macabre thing.

I’m timid, walking up to the rim of a terrible funnel, peeking almost over and into it, but not quite. Fear of falling, thus and such. On the surface it’s the counterpoint of fear of flying, but at the end of the day, end of the tether, end of the perilous fall, aren’t they the same thing just lit from a different angle?

The overlap judders the mind, working loose the studs and brads that keep it all together, keep it focused, keep it sane and rational. The overlap joggles judgment, a distraction that may remove choice and throw you down anyway. Dumb luck is abundant, especially the dumb part. Thank god [of biscuits].

Adventitious elements figure more into things than one might think. Good news, right? A cushion upon which to land, a broken fall instead of a broken foot? But that just leads to more doubt: what was my doing and what was death by a thousand tiny deus ex machina devices?<?p>

It’s not an all or nothing thing. It never is. The givens are taken away but are there for the taking. The floor drops, but gravity’s on holiday. Money lends no purchase. Love is for the true of heart and mind and all directions means no direction, no truth.

So are you flying or do you lack sure footing? Two sides of the same coin, but a coin you can’t flip because nothing lands in this no-man’s-land.

Doubt.

I don’t know where I belong. I don’t know anything.

But I’m not even sure about that.