Thursday, January 30, 2020

2 Minutes. Go!

Josh, Kale and I had been tripping for roughly two months straight. Acid, for the most part. It was cheap and it was everywhere. Hell, we could get it for free without much effort. And I was determined to figure it out. Which is a fools errand, but I hadn't realized that yet. So, we were coming down, and it was past three in the morning and our lower backs were throbbing. No benzos, no painkillers, no muscle relaxants. It was a very shady scene for three skinny, tweaked out motherfuckers with nothing but cigarettes to rely on. We needed weed. 

San Diego is not San Francisco. It's not that straightforward, getting weed in downtown San Diego in the middle of the night. But we were game. Game as in desperate and chemically insane. 

We drove until we saw a likely dude on a likely corner. He was in his late twenties, black, with dreadlocks. And he knew exactly what we were looking for. Said he could get it and to meet him back in ten minutes. So, we circled the  block, smoking cigs, waiting for the weed fairy to reappear. But he didn't. And then, as we were about to give up, we see a dude. Different dude. This guy is also black, but dirtier and sketchier looking. But we were tripping. What are you gonna do. And I'm focused on race mainly because this is the most epic example of White Privilege I have ever experienced. 

So, we roll up and I ask dude if he is with other dude and he says: "Yeah, man. Yeah. I got what you need." So. Josh parks with the motor running. Kale and I get out to talk to the dude. He nods toward some bushes and we make our way over there. My spidey senses are going fucking crazy, and I can tell Kale doesn't like this either. Then, the dude reaches into his underwear and pulls out a bag of dirty crack rocks. 

"Nah, man. We're looking for some bud. Not crack."

Dude slaps a rock into Kale's hand before we can think of a way out. 

"Hey, man. We're cool. We were talking to another dude, and..."

And then. And fucking then...

The whole fucking silent, blackened San Diego evening turns red and blue. Like a goddamn movie. It's like the lights are inside my skull. And then the cop yells over the speaker:

"FREEZE CRACKHEADS!"

Now, this next part makes me seem hella shady, but let me tell you the rules. The rules are when you're buying illegal drugs at three in the morning from a stranger on a corner, it's every fucking man for himself. So, I turn and the cop walks toward me. Crack dealer bails. I point in the direction of the fleeing man and say, "I think that dude threw something over there." And then we are in the car. I'm telling Josh to fucking drive, just fucking drive, and we're pulling away; I can't believe we're not getting arrested. Both cops went after the dude. The black dude. Cue White Privilege. 

So, we're driving and we're tripping hard again. We're laughing that desperate, relieved laughter of the damned when Kale says, "I still have the crack rock."

Now, there were many options at this point. We'd just stolen crack from a crackhead in front of two cops. We did not have any downers or weed, and we DESPERATELY needed sleep. I hadn't had real sleep in weeks. So, we did what you do. We went to park. We put cigarette ash in a metal bowl and broke the rock up on top. And we smoked it. And I have never felt worse as a human being. They say crack feels like pure power. This was not my experience. I spent the next two hours trying to convince my friends to let me kill myself. And we never did get weed. Probably dropped more acid. I can't remember. 

I don't know if the dude went to jail, but it wouldn't surprise me. 

88 comments:

  1. This is awesome... like what Kerouac would have written if he weren't such a hack. And I gotta laugh... Kale... perfect name for the era. So many kids were named after vegetables and plants. Gimme more of this!

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    1. Great read. Feels real. Funny, crazy, realistic. Karma-like end lol. And dodging the cops is hilarious. And the white priv bit adds interesting take.

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    2. Wow. You can paint a scene, for sure. I felt like I was there watching it unfold, and it wasn't comfortable. True and raw and powerful.

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    3. I like that you're cranking for that memoir you mentioned. ANd comparing it to mindset of the present. The hindsightset/mindset contrast especially is great.

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    4. Yes, it has the stamp of reality all over it. Good stuff.

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    5. So real I felt like scratching an itch I haven't felt in over 40 years. You put us in that car and its interior is charged with three different kinds of sweat and the stale air of weed-smoked upholstery and the whole world is constrained by the tunnel vision of the temporarily damned. Awesome!

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    6. This seems effortless and totally self-assured. It's a masterful piece of writing, Dan. Bravo. You should definitely expand on this!

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  2. She removed the journal from her desk drawer. Its leather cover was well worn, and it felt warm to her fingers. When she closed her eyes, she saw the places she’d carried it with her, written in it.

    Dark alleys. Dressing rooms of strip clubs. Backseats of taxis. The sets of so-called modeling shoots. The apartment on Fifth Avenue after she was “discovered.” The beach in Monaco. The sitting room in the country mansion. And now, her office.

    When she married, she continued writing in Slovenian, to guard her privacy from the inquisitive billionaire. Later, when she discovered he couldn’t read in any language, she switched to English.

    The television droned on in the background. Names she’d grown all too familiar with cut into her reverie. She held the journal to her bosom, even as she stood. She called for her maid.

    “The Louis Vuitton bags. All of them.”

    She watched the maid scurry. Twenty years ago, she’d never imagined having a maid.

    “We’re leaving for some place warm. Monaco perhaps.”

    She turned the television off, cutting off Mr. Bolton as he said, “I have a story to tell.”

    So did she. So did she.

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    1. Write, lady, write! I wanna know! Funny is the bit that he didn’t read in any language!! They’re nothing alike, I bet.

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    2. How can you not love this piece? The details make it.

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    3. I love fiction as wish fulfillment. And yes, the part about him not reading in any language made me laugh too.

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    4. This is so clean, and it reads so pure. Really sharp writing.

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    5. From your lips to Odin's ears, Leland. But never happening. Not when nerve agent bug spray and Moscow balcony flying lessons are the advance the author might collect. But you nailed this, my friend.

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    6. You've such a gentle touch with this, Leland. The exposition is sprinkled in almost imperceptibly and it's simply a divine read. Excellent.

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  3. Adamas stiffened. She knew her touch would be intoxicating. He'd probably never imagined it could be quite like this.

    "You like that?" Grace rolled his nipple between her thumb and index finger, applying enough pressure to let him know how much it could hurt. He'd already delighted in inflicting pain onto her; it was time for him to experience it himself.

    Adamas nodded. That was the best he could do, the gag in his mouth preventing him from articulating anything more coherent than low moans and grunts. The pillory prevented him from resisting anything she chose to do now, but so far he'd been more than happy with most of her choices.

    "That's good. You've been very cooperative so far. A little more passive than I prefer but it's early yet." She dropped her hand away and stood over him, enjoying the view she had. She'd removed his clothes herself, using a filleting knife she'd sharpened especially for the purpose, reducing them to shreds without causing him too much damage. He'd suffered a few scorings but the bleeding had soon stopped. She'd developed a great degree of expertise over the last few years, her ex's making few complaints.

    "Of course, you may be beginning to think, 'I should never have trusted you'. It's a common thought, I find. One that usually comes when I begin to strip my gentlemen friends. It's why I use the ball-gag now. It's a matter of courtesy. I hate to disturb my neighbours - it's so difficult to come up with a convincing excuse for all the screaming, week after week. It's much better this way, with me slipping something into the wine that makes my men more malleable. You should always watch what you're drinking, darling - that, my love, was your first mistake."

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    1. Oh god! You just know what’s coming next after that build-up. Wondering what their history is as she says he’d loved inflicting pain on her.

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    2. Yes...what Vickie said. I was hanging on this.

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    3. you had me at the oh so specific filleting knife...gulp!

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    4. Excellent use of building tension and escalating horror.

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    5. Lol. The filleting knife had me wondering whether that was the best blade to use, but I'm a weirdo. Totally agree with DA

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    6. Whoa... what tension! What tangible horror!

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    7. This scene of THAT scene had the verisimilitude of a dispassionate voyeur, a kink Boswell, chronicling another notch on Grace's pillory.

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    8. Dan's the man who has the knife knowledge. I'll defer to his advice on this. I'd thought she might have skimmed his clothes off, using the knife flat against his skin, rather than using a knife like a scalpel, but what do I know? As for the rest, thank you all! I was having fun - I'm sure you can tell!

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  4. Beluga

    We stand and stare into mirrors, reflecting
    The distant wordplay of land and sea
    Rescinding; a blazing red-blood hand
    Waving, where the fine firelight lists out.
    It is but the whisper of a warning spent.
    As the hour sheds its sheer leaves of glass
    We look to the candid moon for guidance,
    Like ships set adrift seeking a lighthouse,
    A bulwark of stone calm in rough passage.
    We dream the dreams of the still-breathing fish
    While night comes collecting, its nets strewn out wide,
    Ever stealing, and changing the lifelines of the sea.
    This ocean carves memories, inviting visitors to hear
    Strange tales of whisky-rapt sailors raw and inept.
    To them all, the white mermaid of the surf sings,
    But no seafarer will ever find her again.
    Once is all she offers; one sighting, one hope
    Of an infinity lost in the waves, this tide
    Sunken deep, unfathomed where she dives.

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    1. Love the imagery, and this: We dream the dreams of the still-breathing fish

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    2. I'm with Laurie. The imagery is perfect. Very moving.

      The white mermaid could symbolize so many things... She's such a bloody tease.

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    3. I love that the siren song only gives you ONE chance...really compelling...

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    4. Your word choices are so rich and evocative: distant wordplay of land and sea
      rescinding, sheer leaves of glass, candid moon, etc. This has such a mournful feel to it, augmented by the very sounds of the words themselves. It's gorgeous.

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    5. It is gorgeous, and your allegorical descriptions are spot on. Favorite lines: "As the hour sheds its sheer leaves of glass
      We look to the candid moon for guidance, "

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    6. On the "under-the-hood" side, your use of alliteration, even within words finishing the previous alliterative pair, ("the fine firelight lists out") help drive this piece to its very cool finish. Great stuff, Vickie.

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    7. Imagery! Everyone else has said it, but I revelled in the richness of the imagery and the sureness of your writing. Fabulous.

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  5. Inside the diner I saw him immediately and sat in the booth beside his, my back to his back. Arliss’s Diner was perfect: featureless and devoid of charm yet filled at this hour with the breakfast crowd who could work a full shift at the docks once they’d swallowed the marvel of Arliss’s five dollar docker’s skillet washed down by her lusty unlimited coffee. Here we could talk quietly amid the din of morning and watch the sleet play havoc with the waking streets through scuffed plexiglas.

    “This better be good,” said Dreisel.

    “It is. At least for your tastebuds. They toss every fried thing in there you ever thought of.”

    “You know what the fuck I mean. Ain’t here to eat.”

    Suddenly I wasn’t hungry either. I found eye contact with a waitress and mimed a coffee with my pinkie raised, which made her smile. I was glad someone could still do that. Smile, I mean.

    Caffeinated, I looked away from him anew and decided on sincerity.

    “So we tailed Langstrom, and that was fine. Every day we saw him leave and return to his apartment.”

    “Then why’re we talking about it here, fucko?”

    Fucko? This man wasn’t stable.

    “We’re discussing it here, jefe, because of one thing: when we checked out his apartment, it was never there.”

    I felt him shift behind me and heard him slurp his coffee like a great beast at some tenuous waterhole between dry seasons, scowling at a blurred horizon.

    “Go on,” he said.

    “There was a door, but beyond it, nothing. We don’t know where he went when he came home. There was no home, just a door.”

    He cleared his throat, finished the dark dregs of his cup, and somehow sent out vibes that would curdle your blood.

    “You leave now. Next time we meet, you will tell me things that make sense. If you tell me things that don’t make sense, like now, everything will go badly for you. Now get the fucking fuck out of here.”

    Something in me balked. No idea why or why then. Maybe the absence of grace in everything he did and everything he said. I’d worked for him a long time, and a long time is sometimes enough to nurture a coal of loathing. From across the greasy air, my waitress raised a brow, and I beckoned her with a nod. She came right away, and I saw her eyes skim the booths and see the boss. I could tell she felt it too.

    Like the world had drawn a bow across some terrible vibrancy.

    Dreisel wanted to move, ached to reassert himself, but the place was awash with life and sound and smells, and the peach-skin eastern light had snuck inside unnoticed.

    “More coffee?” she asked, her ruby throat frail with hummingbird doubt.

    “Yes. And bring me that docker’s skillet after all. I got me a sudden appetite.”

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    1. Great dark mood here. I kept highlighting passages, but this:I felt him shift behind me and heard him slurp his coffee like a great beast at some tenuous waterhole between dry seasons, scowling at a blurred horizon.

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    2. I would love to read more of this. To know about the man who went to a door with no home. To find out what happens between the MC and Dreisel.

      Love this whole passage - " Something in me balked. No idea why or why then. Maybe the absence of grace in everything he did and everything he said. I’d worked for him a long time, and a long time is sometimes enough to nurture a coal of loathing. From across the greasy air, my waitress raised a brow, and I beckoned her with a nod. She came right away, and I saw her eyes skim the booths and see the boss. I could tell she felt it too.

      Like the world had drawn a bow across some terrible vibrancy."

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    3. I'm loving it David, the way everything shifts--stops--on "it was never there" the tension between the two of them and that peach-skin eastern light...

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    4. It's funny; I thought this could be expanded on too. The mystery of the man's home. The tension between these two characters. I too want to know what will happen. Thanks, all.

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    5. Like the world had drawn a bow across some terrible vibrancy. DAMN! I would read the shit out of any noir-esque, waterfront, working man fiction you want to write.

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    6. Come to think of it, "noir-esque, waterfront, working man fiction" is where our reading tastes and writing styles overlap most seamlessly. Which might explain our mutual love for Cannery Row!

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    7. Your descriptions are like drapes made of stiff velour... soft, yet purposeful... I like the setting, too, and the tiredness of the first person. The mysterious door made me think sci fi... a portal to another time, another place. This could go any of many directions, and all of them would be good.

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    8. As one guy who some find a poet to another, yes, you are a poet. The use of poetic language that eases the reader to the next sentence and then the next is so rich with juicy, poetic hooks, David. The fact you use this great natural resource to build a beguiling story is what turns an artisan into an artist.

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    9. I've commented on this on David's Facebook page, but this is fabulous writing and the atmosphere and characterisation are spot on. And the storyline - damn, I want to know more about that door!

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  6. One day we will tell the children what it was like to vote. Well, to truly vote. We will tell the children what it was like to have more than one party from which to choose. We will tell them when the tap water was clean enough to drink; we will tell them that you could travel anywhere in the country without the need for a passport or personal protection. We will tell them about the great many varieties of birds and insects and amphibians. We will show them pictures of frogs. Their eyes will widen just as ours did the first time we saw one, when we were small and chasing the slippery devils around the marshes, giggling when one slithered through our fingers. We will tell them how hard we tried to stop this; how we banded together with our protest marches and thermoses of hot soup, stamping our feet to the pavement to get the blood flowing back into them. We will tell them how close it made us feel to our fellow man, how it must have felt to be a soldier in an old, necessary war. That you were brothers, sisters, no matter what your ethnicity or language or culture. We were one; we were family; we were resisters. Even when they began to beat us and jail us and make us disappear, we were family. We had systems and codes and secure networks…or so we thought. We will have another drink and, cheeks flushing, bow our heads and mumble how we gave in. That instead of blaming us, shaming us, that it was their job now to change. “OK Boomer,” they might say, and slip their VR headsets back over their eyes.

    At least we’ll have each other.

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    1. This hits a little too close to home. But, as always, you did it so well.

      "We will show them pictures of frogs." <-- This. Love how this simple line shows how very much things have changed, how bad they have become.

      "Their eyes will widen just as ours did the first time we saw one, when we were small and chasing the slippery devils around the marshes, giggling when one slithered through our fingers." <-- and I love the imagery here and you made me see this tiny fragment of a scene.

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    2. Chills is all...no, wait...tears and chills...

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    3. Yeah, simply, this one made me cry. :'(

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    4. This is awful and sad and true. <3

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    5. Tears and fears given the weight of words. I hope, and I believe, that those kids are stronger than even we are. Putting this into a future memoir format is perfect.

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    6. Laurie, you've encapsulated my life here. You children probably weren't there in '68, '69, '70 (Draft number: 46), but what you describe is the next great fight of the American people. An even greater fight than how Vietnam affected us. A fight for a country, a world. My use-by date is nearly here. It's my grandkids' world I worry about now. This reinforced my sadness, but gave me hope, as well. And that's what great writing does.

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    7. I hope this isn't prophetic but it's definitely chilling. The details make this and it makes you wonder what else we've lost at the time of this story's telling. I loved this and I'd definitely want to read more.

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    8. You always could make me cry. This is beautiful. I wish I didn't think the world is going in this direction, but it is.

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  7. The sea was grey today, the horizon a cold, dark line. The wind whistled through the re-purposed bunting which had been put up for yesterday's celebrations. There were beer stains on the promenade, the remnants of last nights kebabs littering the paving stones. This was England on the first day of February in 2020.

    He remembered his childhood, those long summer days that had hung like a dream in his past. The earlier years of his manhood, the thought of travelling to the Continent. He'd slept through the night on some of the ferries, waking in a world where things were subtly changed, the people's accents and their signs familiar but strange. Had it really been so long ago? And what had changed to make them all a threat to our small nation?

    And yet, he already knew the answer. He'd read the same newspaper articles most others had, reading tales of illegal immigrants swarming like a modern-day plague, their heads swathed with turbans and head-cloths. Each one had been dark-eyed and nameless, their affiliations with crime and terrorism making them all immediately suspect. They were dangerous and anonymous and here in our own country, motivations unchanged, still serving their foreign masters. But the newspapers didn't stop there. There were yet others we should be afraid of. The individuals we'd all met - the smiling Frenchman who'd sold us Camembert, the cheeky Italian guide - those people had all gone, to be replaced by men in suits. Officialdom had taken over, the ranked masses of our enemies now including European bureaucrats, each one stripped of his (or her) nationality, hiding collectively behind the skirts of their office. These were the people we should distrust most of all, we were told, our duplicitous partners plotting in secrecy to steal our heritage, each one gleefully taking advantage of our gauche inexperience and insular views.

    It had been easy for our own sets of suited men to sway our opinions. They were British, after all, and of course, they'd had nothing to gain from the argument. And today, the sea seemed wider than it had ever been, with the Atlantic now dangerously narrowed, and with our small island overlooked by greedy, indifferent allies.

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    1. Beautifully done, even for those of us currently preoccupied with the trash fire on the other side of the Atlantic...and the last paragraph rocks!

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    2. Yeah, the twin assault of Brexit and Trumpism is so distressing, and you capture the sense of it on that side of the Atlantic so well. It's kind of awful that the bad guys (however faceless and names) are winning.

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    3. This is craft right here. So well constructed and the tone makes the narrative, IMO.

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    4. Mark, the yahoos who shout "America first" and "Britain for Britons" and whatever they yell in Italy and Venezuela and so many other places just don't wish to realize the world has shrunken in their parents' lifetimes. They fear losing their primacy as the top of their national food chain. Whether earned or imagined. The use of the sea as the bookends and binding force of this piece - particularly in framing that historically magical island of yours - was spot-on.

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    5. I was trying to encompass both narrative and my own opinions on current events in Britain now in this, incorporating a sense of the imminent isolation we're seemingly keen to embrace. I hope that it didn't come over as too much of a rant, but believe that it's important that someone should speak up and sound the alarm bells. We're heading toward having a right-wing nationalist government and that can't be good for the public at large. But other than that, thank you all for your kind comments!

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  8. There are events that completely change your world. They divide your life into Before and After, define you as Who I Was Then and Who I Am Now. Sometimes these events are good things – Before I Married My Childhood Sweetheart. After I Became A Parent. Other times, most times, those events aren’t as good. After the Hurricane. Before the Big C. Before the Election. After I Was Orphaned.


    The worst part is when you make the journey from Before to After alone. When you leave behind the friends and relatives who either don’t know there is an After or just can’t understand that Who I Am Now is a person changed. When you’re realigning your paradigm and they don’t know why change is necessary. When you’re grieving and they can’t see it – or any reason for it. There is, I believe, no lonelier feeling than being in a room full of people who are all on the other side of Before/After.

    We create support groups, sometimes. We make new friends. But it isn’t the same. We miss the connections to the people we’ve known, the people who have grown to mean so much to us. So we try to explain things to the old friends, and some of them eventually understand…kind of. Sometimes they have similar life events and truly understand, and then we wish they didn’t because we love them and want better for them. Once in a blue moon, they experience the same positive life changes and you get to reconnect AND be happy for them.

    We can’t make other people understand or feel what we feel. But when we’re on the other side of the Before/After, there IS something we can do. We can take the two minutes to put ourselves in someone else’s position, imagine what it’s like to live in their head and heart and skin, and then we can act accordingly. Maybe we can’t know, truly, what it’s like to live in their After, but we can try to empathize with the _feelings_ that must surely be a part of that life. We can show interest in their emotions and needs. We can step away from our phones, and TVs, and EchoGoogleApples and pay attention to the people around us, to their body language, their vibe, their words, for God’s sake.

    Build the bridge. Find your spouse, your best friend, your roommate, your child who is going through a Major Life Event (even if it doesn’t seem major to you!) and pay attention to them. Really pay attention to them. See what their posture and gestures are saying. What their current demeanor is saying. What their current vibe can tell you. Hell, talk to them and see how they are truly doing. Take the time to imagine what they are dealing with.

    You have two minutes. Go.

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    1. There's never a bad time to be reminded of this. Empathy. Be alert to those around us. Intuit their pain and their joy. It's funny to read this here, because I think of fiction as one of our greatest tools in this sense, giving us the opportunity to walk in another's shoes.

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    2. Beautifully said, and a heartfelt call to action. And I love the closing paragraph.

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    3. There is, I believe, no lonelier feeling than being in a room full of people who are all on the other side of Before/After. - this hit me like a ton of bricks

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    4. Isn't it amazing how, as the world get "smaller" in this newish digital world, people have become even more isolated? On purpose. Folks my age have gone through so many Before/After's but don't even recognize them, let alone even notice the struggle some folks are having with crossing the continental divide of their own. Maybe what I described in the first and second sentences explains that. Beautifully expressed, my friend. Love how you incorporated the name of this place in punctuating your thoughtful piece.

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    5. I believe we're all becoming more and more lost in a mass of inputs. We're getting swamped in trivia - news about the plate of food someone just received seemingly mattering more than the real significant events we'd choose to gloss over because of the trauma we feel. It's such a shame that we're losing the humanity we need from one another, isolating ourselves even when we're not in pain. You wrote this so well, making me think deeply about how I need to try better to connect with the people I know and love. Bravo, and thank you!

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  9. Caleb Downey heard the sound and turned to see Edwin Howard’s head flung backwards and his body sag to drape the ground like a sack of rags. He felt the spatter of Ed’s memories on his face.

    “I didn’t sign up for this,” Caleb said, knowing the men to either side of him in the Union line couldn’t hear him. Just like they never heard the .50 caliber slugs from Rebel Enfields come fetch them to Jesus. Wide-eyed, Caleb skittered back from the makeshift breastwork of a rotten hickory as more Reb bullets chopped it to tinder, let alone kindling.

    “Where’re you going, Downey?” he heard Captain Mayfield yell, the flat of his sword spanking Caleb like his Pa would with a switch back in Indiana. “You get back to your position and hold this line with your squad.”

    “Cap’n, I ain’t got no more squad. The last of ‘em, ‘cept for me, just lost the top of his head not three feet from my own.”

    “You mean…”

    “Yessir. All dead.”

    “…you completely abandoned that position?”

    “Only of the living, sir.”

    “You get back up there and hold that post while I find some men to fill in the line.”

    “I don’t think so, Cap’n.”

    “What? Think of what you’re fighting for, boy. Think of the Union, Indiana, think of your family,” Mayfield said.

    “I am. The feller to my right was my cousin Edwin. On the left was my brother, Charles. They never signed up for this, neither,” Caleb said.

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    1. Wow. Visceral. Futile. You capture it, Joe.

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    2. Agreed. I want to read the rest of this guy's war story

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  10. My life’s a mess, but so is human life overall. The length and breadth of it is a litany of sloppy, awkward, falling-down trial, error, failure and maybe the occasional tie. There don’t seem to be any wins. And if we think there are such Me-versus-the-Universe faux-comebacks, that’s just the House sucking you in with a blast of endorphin to keep you at the gaming table.

    I guess the best times are the trials, those times where I've messed in the mess and have yet to fall on my face in the slop of it all. There are few times where the mess isn’t within and arm’s length of me (or you). I dance on the edge of it, splash in it, wade through it, throughout the Sphinx’s four legs in the morning, two in the afternoon and three at night quiz answer for Oedipus. His prize was the keys to “a NEW Thebes!”

    And we all know how that turned out, right? 

    Yes, life is messy, from its hormone-drenched origin, to its splatter-flick, camel-through-a-needle’s-eye (so I’m told and have observed) delivery, over its boot-sucking traverse of the day to day swamp, until its icky finale and ultimate disposal.

    I am up to my chin in it all, with the once-distant solid ground of my evermore within sight, which sometimes feels more appealing than yet another swallow of life’s wallow. I’ve taken on a lot of its turbid wash over the past few years, sometimes nearly going under, occasionally dreaming of scuttling this leaky vessel altogether.

    But here I am, taking the gamble one more day, reaching my foot into the stark paper-white unseen in hope there’s a there there to support me until tomorrow when I hold my nose and take another sodden step. That’s the risk I take. Maybe you do, as well. I’ve taken many a messy misstep, sunk into it over my head and somehow sputtered like flotsam to the surface. I’m an expert at treading, though I’m more exhausted every day.

    Maybe you’ve been lucky enough (or made your own luck) to find a map to the stars’ homes, isles of dryland dreams to keep your feet unsullied at least for awhile. I applaud you, but won’t allow myself envy. That’s just more heavy ballast I don’t need. I carry enough of my own. 

    So here on this page I have smeared the results of my latest fall in the marsh of human existence. I’ve wiped from my eyes the detritus I observed upon the silty bottom. Exhaled more of the miasma floating above the surface like a diaphanous warning of days to come. And I’ve spit out some of my latest gulps of failure. 

    Another mess. Another chance to tread on. Another tie.

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    Replies
    1. Writing is itself a foil for the despair, and is therefore brave. I hear this one so loud and so clear.

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    2. Another chance to tell the story, and to let the readers know they are not alone.

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    3. Yup. I feel this one in my bones, Joe.

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    4. I think we're both writing from the same place here, Joseph. We all try damned hard and life still sticks even more obstacles in front of us. I feel your frustration here, but acknowledge that giving up isn't an option. We can only carry on and do our best. Excellent writing, as always!

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  11. An Air Evergreen

    I like to watch the pines
    as they breathe in this cold air.
    It’s all theirs, it would seem,
    since they don’t have to share it
    with their broadleaf sisters
    for a few more months.
    It is of a different vintage
    from the vernal, summer, or
    even autumnal variety stuff,
    what they take in now. It seems
    clearer, cleaner, a steelier ether
    that tightens their needlework
    about them like old letter sweaters.
    Enjoy it while you can,
    snark the stark maples,
    oaks and poplars, standing and shivering
    like under-clothed underclothes models.
    Meanwhile, the pines pine not.
    They just take in meditative breath
    after breath, or heave their chests
    in bellowing exhalations that smell
    of kerosene in the raw and
    Christmas pitched until Opening Day.

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    Replies
    1. I love the sheer music of this:

      "It seems
      clearer, cleaner, a steelier ether
      that tightens their needlework
      about them like old letter sweaters."

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    2. Agreed. +100 lyricism points

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  12. No funnies today, folks. I guess I was feeling as bad as a lot of this people this morning; bewildered, betrayed, somehow orphaned by the times. Where has my country gone? Is true I am powerless? Do good people really do nothing save carry cloth grocery bags, give up straws, and congratulate themselves on what good people we are? Is the coup complete?
    I ain’t no crone nor wise woman. And yet it’s like I’m standing on an iceberg, exiled, exhausted, drifting, with no clear direction or sense of purpose, desperately wanting to DO something, anything—just to take some positive action against the slow, inexorable erosion of so much I hold dear and so many of the same values that shaped my identity as a girl and young woman. Just to feel as though my voice is heard, that whatever I do will matter, somehow. And instead, I feel like some extra on the movie set of Titanic.
    Wow, that song has a great lyric, doesn’t it? But damn, it’s hard to dance to.
    So, no funny stories today. Yet as I was reflecting on all the wreckage, I had an insight I wanted to share and that is only this. NO ONE EVER won a war or an argument or the heart of a woman by fighting for the past. Terrorize yourselves and each other all that history repeats itself stuff if you want to, but I don’t buy it. NO ONE gets an AGAIN. And only somebody with their head pretty far up their ass even tries. The real heroes, the true leaders never fight for the past—they fight for the future, for the dream, for the children, whether or not they ever get to see it. The suffragettes, FDR, Patton, the Kennedys, Martin Luther King, my god, the list is endless.
    So even though we’ve all taken a real ideological beating, lately, remember that much. Whatever your cause célèbre, fight for the future, not the past.
    All the winners always do.
    Geez, I should give TED talks!
    LOL

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    1. You SHOULD give TED talks! When I was looking for solace yesterday, I came across this in Obama's 2009 inauguration speech: “Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America." Jerome Kerns to the rescue.

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    2. Preach sister! I would also watch your ted talk, and I always enjoy the intellectual/folksy ramble!

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    3. Teresa, you're expressing what so many of our quiet, polite and civilly obedient fellows need to understand. One doesn't make something (pardon me, please) "great again" by going back to the old ways. We make it greater by going forward. I guess it's time to get loud and aggressive and toss a mess of civil DIS-obedience into the public realm. Well expressed, my friend.

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    4. There are elements of a great orator's speech here, Teresa. There's no doubting that you're hurting and sincere in your need for change. I just hope that we'll be able to find enough like-minded souls who can speak out and make others take notice. So, book me in for that speech, and let's all be heard.

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