Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Fete de l'independance

Today is what I like to call my own 'independence day'. several years ago myself and someone close to me severed the ties that had bound us together. That day was, I suspect, a much happier occasion for her than for me, after all what person would not want to be shed of an ass hat like me?  Therefore today is probably a happier day for her than for me, and I must confess that I use the term 'independence day' with tongue planted firmly in cheek.  It is supposed to make light of what still is,to this day, (and this day especially) a particularly bleak day on my own personal life calendar.

In Egypt, there may be some celebration of the 1952 revolution that overthrew King Farouk, and brought about the reign of Nasser. I doubt too many people will be dancing in the streets over that particular event, but if there are any that will still be more people celebrating what this day means to me.  One hundred and eleven years ago the first Ford motor car was sold, to whom and for how much aren't really important, and maybe the history of the automobile is more important that what this day means to me. After all, I used a car to get to work today.  This day in 1971 Van Helfin, an fairly decent American actor died. I don't know if any of his close family, or friends are still around to mourn him or not, and I can't says that I will either. The sad truth is this day, while semi-important to me, may be of critical importance to another. Imagine Papillion counting this day as just another day in his year of solitary confinement on Devil's Island.

On this day in 1942, a quite famous Bulgarian poet, Nikola Vaptsarov was put up against a wall and shot, not for his poetry (I've never had the time to learn Bulgarian), but for his communist activity against the Nazis in World War II.  I cannot equate the liberating feeling that I feel with the sorrow that M. Vaptsarov's family must have felt as they heard that he had be shot as dead as dead can be. Nor can I imagine the horror and terror that he and the 11 other men who were shot with him felt as they were lined up against that wall on that July day, and shot like dogs.  One man's happy occasion is another man's (or woman's) funeral, and we just have to accept that to try to appropriate an entire today to ourselves is just a fool's errand. Everyday has its sadness for some, its happiness for others, but for the vast majority of people,  it is just another day that they are trying to get through until tomorrow comes.

And (hopefully), for the vast majority tomorrow will come, to erase the tragedy of or help cement the joy of today.  Not that today was really the 'end' of anything for me. I wasn't lined up against a wall, given a blindfold, and shot down like the mangy cur I am and like I probably should have been a long time ago, nothing really died for me on this day, and nothing was really, truly made independent. A ceremony (such as it was) was performed, and a few words were said that were, at the end of the day, mostly meaningless.  No flags of one nation were lowered to be replaced by the raising of another country colours, no territory changed hands, and the populace was mostly unaffected. Nothing was determined that day that had not already been decided long before, and everyone at the party knew that already, but sometimes the forms have to be observed for the sake of the actors involved.

I will not be setting off any sort of firework, or roasting the carcass of any sad little animal in celebration of what this day means to me, or to anyone else for that matter. No sort of cake, or card will be prepared to mark the day's passing, nor will there be any sort of songs sung, or balloons fashioned in the shape of animals by some militant clown. No, today will just pass, just like yesterday did, and tomorrow probably will, with the realization that independence isn't always what it is made out to be.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Per Chance to Dream

You were in my nightmare(s) last night. Although to be fair, this isn't your fault, and you would probably be just as horrified as I was, but there you were nonetheless. I also figure you would prefer that I refer to any sort of nighttime remembrances of you as 'dreams' rather than 'nightmares', but since the naming of them is the one thing I can control, I will continue to label them nightmares.

To be fair to you, though I don't know why the hell I bother to be fair to you, you were not some Hydra headed beast with revenge for past wrongs on your mind, or some Scylla like apparition trying to lop my head off, and feed it to the fishes.  Either of those would have been frightening, but at least those could have been passed off as twisted figments of my overly educated and over active imagination.  If you had shown up as Scylla, or even Charybdis (know that I cannot swim), I could have at least 'dreamed' myself some Homeric hero like Odysseus, or even Jason (sans Argonauts, I am not a team player as you know from experience), and perhaps given you a decent enough fight before being overwhelmed by your power.  I've also thought that in the battle between mortal man, and soul stealing life taking, muscle bound monster, it is always better to bet on the monster. Let's be realistic for a bit shall we, and realize that monsters like Hydra, and Scylla are pros. They exist in order to kill people, lots of people. In this scenario, I am an amateur, one that is going to his doom with only the faint hope to at least 'make a good showing.'

However, you weren't not some, outwardly at least, monster, you were just merely you. Or at least the version of you that I remember the last time I saw you. That was X amount of time ago, and it may have been a while, but I doubt it was long enough for you to sprout six or seven extra heads and start wrecking havoc on the villages around you.  In this nightmare you were merely human, or at least as human as you can be, at least in my memory. You weren't even boiling bunnies crazy either, you didn't have an axe (at least a real axe) or any other sort of sharp object that you were chasing me around the Bates Motel with in the attempt to sever parts of my body from other parts of my body.

There were no acts of physical violence in this nightmare that would jolt me awake, and have be thankful that I awoke before your knife severed my private parts from my public bits. Perhaps if that would have been the case, and I did jerk awake the nightmare would have been brief, violent yes, but brief, and if your nightmares are violent they should at least have the common decency to be brief.  You, not quite like in real life, did not resort to any sort of low brow physical violence to do your damage. You were always too smart, and too subtle for that, which in many ways stinks because a good solid slap or two might have made it easier of me to make a monster out of you.

Your jangling ringing and stinging attack upon me was not that simple, nor should I have expected it to be, you were one of the few people that I admitted to be as smart if not smarter than me. Of course, you took this nightmare to point that out, in minute detail, and with an amount of glee that was just a bit off putting.  That was the gist of the nightmare, you sitting there calmly, almost seductively telling me about your 'career' and comparing it with what passes for my 'career.' It was not a comparison that I was ever likely to win, but you made it clear as crystal that my 'career' did not measure up to yours in any shape, form, or fashion. It was in some weird nightmare only way seduction by destruction, and you achieved both with a remarkable degree of aplomb.

My defense to both your seduction, and your destruction was woefully inadequate, just as you planned it to be. No matter what I attempted to say or do, you were there already one step ahead both in the plan of destruction, and in the dance of seduction. My last, failed, attempt to mount a defense that even you couldn't breach was to wake up, and after some effort I managed to get about seventy five percent awake. Awake enough to know that I was having a nightmare, not quite awake enough to break the bonds of that nightmare. Awake enough to 'see' you standing across my own personal nightmare like River Styx waiting so very patiently me for me to row back across so that you could complete your dual tear down job, but not awake enough to stop myself from paying my coin to Charon to be rowed back across that murky river to let you finish what you had started.

That boat ride over a mythical river, powered by a boatman that doesn't really exist (though both certainly seemed real) was not a happy journey. To see you waiting so cheerfully for me to set foot back upon the 'solid' ground of my nightmare, is not a scene that I will forget anytime soon, nor do I wish to replay it for a very long time. The only small mercy to this mindfuck of a night spent in bed is that my alarm, that glorious beeping noise calling me back from the far side of nightmare town, sounded its, for once, sweet noise, and interrupted my journey back to you. I can only hope that you are still there on the Hades side of the river, waiting with growing frustration as I remain awake for as many hours as I can in order not to be subjected to the horror that you've become for me.  

Thursday, July 10, 2014


'I love you because you're my uncle, niece, nephew, brother, etc..'  Simple enough words, and said (I suspect) with some amount of true feeling. But, let's get behind those words and ponder their actual meaning.  They are just words after all, and they need to be explored like that cave up on Fredrick's Bluff that everyone says is haunted, or the home of the guy who only says 'shit and fuck' in some sort of loop that only he can hear.  Unlike that cave, these words should not scare intrepid people with a sense of adventure that overwhelms their good sense.

Truth be told, do you really love the other person because they are your relative, and that is what we are supposed to do i.e. love our relatives (in some parts of this state people take that a little too seriously, but that's a tale for a different time). Mom might be a drunk, but she is our drunk right? She may or may not have at one time gotten plastered and left us behind the glue factory in some sort of mistake or sick joke, we were never really sure which, and by the time she sobered up to ask it didn't really matter anymore. Are we loving our relatives just because they are there? I mean if I am stuck with Wallenstein for a brother, do I still love him? Sure we have a mutual dislike of cats, and share some DNA, but he was a real prick, do I have to love him because he and I got shafted/blessed in the same gene pool lottery that each of us play without our consent?

We aren't born, and then handed a 'Welcome to the Family' playbook in which each of our currently living relatives are profiled for us like a college football player before the NFL draft. We don't get the chance to read about Aunt Julia the drama queen who thinks that TNT has nothing on her day to day life. Or how about Cousin Etienne the wonder boy of the family that can do no wrong, mainly because he does fuck all. Or, the sister Lois that was the town slut, before she 'found Jesus' and now spends her days at the Junior League looking down on all the people she used to 'pleasure'.  Nor do they get the playbook on you, whatever your relation, they don't get to know that something inside you, some internal wiring as it were, doesn't quite connect, and 'normal' feeling are beyond your ability to have. They don't get to read about that, and decide to withhold their family love from you because after reading about your fucked up nature they conclude that you are a waste of their time.

We don't get to pick the profession of either our sires, or our progeny, we may be the frustrated piano player that happens to be the child of a plumber, and a cannery worker who are unable to appreciate our talent, and if they do, certainly can't afford to nurture it the way it should be. Not that it is their fault that they got stuck with a child with the kind of talent that just isn't going to put bread on the table, and bread on the table is the daily struggle that each family among us has to win in order to remain a family. Sure, a lot of us aren't starving, and probably eat to well, but for a large percentage (too large by far) the fight to keep body and soul together is the main fight they face. We will worry about nurturing talent after we have made enough money to eat. Flights of fancy or pretty words strung together are all well and good, but the fucking light bill needs to be paid, and Corky's Auto Shop needs a shop boy.

Do we get to love our family because of the enforced time that we spend together? All those awkward holiday dinners, and weird birthday parties where Uncles Sean got drunk and almost blew out the candles even though it wasn't his birthday, are they what form the ties that bind a family together? Are we held together by our mutual awkwardness, forever stuck in the 'family' with no escape? Or, can we after careful consideration, and lots of soul searching walk away from the family? Call it quits, and tell them that 'I'm sorry, but I've evaluated you as a group, and would rather not be a member of this organization any more? You can't replenish your DNA from some blood bank, and acquire yourself a brand new family, and at a certain age adoption is no longer feasible, so what do you do? Grin and bear it, and pretend that this group of people that chance, with its perverse sense of humour decided to throw to together, is the group that you are going to cross the finish line with?

If you break away, and it ends in tears, which it is quite likely to do, what are the protocols for such a radical move? Do you write some sort of 'resignation' letter, turn it in to the family's central committee, and hope they don't liquidate you like Stalin did to his Bolshie family? Perhaps the break need not be so dramatic, in spite of Aunt Julia's hysterics, maybe you can just drift away like a forgotten plank on a high tide, and be swallowed by the sea. A sea of forgetfulness you hope, a sea that allows the rest of the 'family' to survive, and progress without you. They will you know, survive maybe not as a group, but at least individually, and they will, in time, forget you. Time heals, as well as deals all wounds, and who in the family (the alive bit) remembers great-great-great-great Uncle Konrad who managed to get his entire ass blown off in the Great Northern War, but not before fathering 11 children on long suffering, long dead Aunt Florence. No one remembers him, and unless we've done our genealogical research no of us knew he ever existed, yet without him, and some fair amount of luck, we wouldn't exist.

Or maybe we learned our lesson from Don Corleone, and don't 'ever go against the family' out of either fear of being all alone in the world like Blondie in The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Or out of some sort of (misplace perhaps) loyalty to the idea that blood is thicker than water. Though we wonder if it really is, after all the 'water' in this case would be the friends that we picked once we became of an age to pick and reject the people that will form our own personal inner circle. I didn't choose Aunt Julia, or sister mine, they didn't choose me, and if we were strangers on a train, I doubt we would even strike up a conversation. I guess it is a choice without options, if you choose to walk away from the family, they have to let you go. Blocking their phone numbers and not responding to their emails, texts, or letters is a sure fire way to get more (rather than the desired less) attention. If you stay (as you will probably do) you get to try to grin a bear it as much as possible in all those family photos where you look like you've been sentenced to hang. After all, we're family right?