Monday, October 29, 2007

Anatomy of Love part 2

The point is, I used to think of love as some sort of Platonic form. If only I wiggled right and squeezed real tight, I might fit in and get it. But it never worked. I don't believe in Platonic forms anymore.

Because what I've noticed about love is that it's very much like "cancer." Cancer is a word that everybody thinks of as one thing, but it's really a lot of different things. Cancer can be in the bones or blood. It can be in fat cells, or muscle cells. It can be in your bladder or your boobs. And the kinds; it boggles the mind. Fucked up cells that look like amoebas. Fucked up cells that look like silly string. There can even be fucked up cells that look like footballs or beef jerky. But they're all still cancer. Just like "love," is always love.

In the end what I think it means is that whatever you latch onto as a baby, that's what you love. If it's your parents; and your parents are Ozzie and Harriet, then that's great. Unless of course, the Harriet you see on screen is guzzling gin between takes and putting cigarettes out on your forehead. Then you're stuck somewhere between real reality and fake reality, and bound to be really lost and miserable. Like someone who went to Limbo after the Catholic church cancelled it. It never changes. It never ends. It never goes anywhere.

I knew a guy; he's dead now. But his mom had 9 children. This was during the Great Depression and she breast fed him until he was five. As far as I can tell, that's all she ever did with him. Instead of her, he imprinted on the draft mules on the farm. When the farm went mechanized and they sent the mules off to the slaughter, he went stark raving mad. He spent all of his life that way. Trying to pretend that he wasn't.

Which is why I think love is so random and hazardous, and why you really can't help who you love. I think we see someone from across a crowded room who's exactly that perfect combination of our mothers, our fathers, the cuddly toy Aunt Ruth gave us when we were three, the samari sword drunken Uncle Daniel gave us when we were 4, only our parents took it away because what the fuck is the matter with him anyway, giving a 4 year old a sword? Those people, those ones across the room, they're the exact right concoction of the mutt dog we could never have, the postman who gave us a kind smile and a candy, the babysitter with the saggy arms and mustache, and the turtle that got run over in the street. We see those people and we're hooked. Hopelessly and forever. Until the gods pull us up short and we finally understand they were only kidding.

I only wish my friend, before he left this world, had been invited to one single party, consisting entirely of of mules. If I could have him back for only one day, I would throw that party. The cake would be made of alfalfa and carrots; and everything there was to drink, would come from a trough.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Anatomy of Love

I haven't been blogging lately. Mostly because the things that I'm thinking are too weighty for a blog. Blog is such a stupid word; it annoys me. I know it means "weblog," but isn't that just an excuse for walking around with your pants down in public?

When I was younger, I was a Southern California hippie. The only problem was that before I was a hippie, I was a Roman Catholic. I was taught from an early age to believe in God, only I couldn't understand Him. To me, He just seemed like a nasty, vengeful bastard who lived in the sky. From a very early age, I understood that if a person wanted to suck up to someone that nasty, they were going to have to eat a heck of a lot of crow. So I elected not to.

But years later, some bearded guy with alfalfa sprouts in his beard had a talk with me. He said, "there is a God, only God is love." Being a mathematical nincompoop, I took that to be commutative. I figured if God is Love, then Love is God. Therefore, love was all powerful.

But what the fuck is it? This "love" thing anyway? The first people I can remember loving were my parents. My mother, blond and soft, was easy. Even though years later, her eyes would get slitty and her mouth so pinched she looked like a mailbox from the 1950's, she still felt relatively safe and stable. My Dad was harder. I remember him sitting at our kitchen table, really a card table with a red top and black legs, smoking Kent cigarettes and playing solitaire. If I got up early enough, he would teach me card games: solitaire, War, gin rummy. Kid games easy to understand. He wore a black, grey and white checked shirt, though not lame; black was the dominant color, just enough white and grey to bring out his hair. He blew smoke rings and tried to teach me how. I never learned, though I remember something about curling your tongue. By the time I was 9, I was scavenging his butts and trying to figure it out for myself.

I remember a time when my Dad laughed, had patience and time for children, but bye and bye something happened and it vanished. My love for my mom though it wavered, never left. She always felt safe to me. I don't know when it happened, but somewhere along the line my father's physicality started to put me off. His scent, the angular yet subtly sharp shape of him. There came a time when I didn't want to be in his lap anymore. There came a time he got complicated and scary.

Contrary to what the hippie with sprouts in his beard told me, love never felt like a universal thing. Not in a meaningful way. Love, as I grew older, was clearly a template laid down by my experiences as a small child. I don't know if it's that way for everyone. I only know it was that way for me.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Not Tonight. I've Got a Headache

I might just be to tired to blog tonight. Maybe too shagged out, fucked up, stove in and beat down. Some days, well you know how it is. The atoms that came together to make a person, carbon and whatever, just don't feel all that tightly strung together. Like they might fly apart at any second and turn back into space dust.

Young people never worry about turning back into space dust. When you're 15 you are convinced that all the scalding hot thoughts bubbling up in your brain are only being thunk just now, for the first time. You think the love you feel is the only love that's ever been worth feeling. And the fact that you don't like brussel sprouts is an absolute truth, that it says something significant about the true nature of brussel sprouts.

When you're 20, you begin to suspect, but only when afflicted with a terrible hangover, that some people may be made of space dust, but certainly not you. When you're vomiting everything up but your pancreas, you might get an inkling of the fact that somebody somewhere might have felt what you're feeling now, before. Maybe, if you're very lucky, you have slogged your way through Romeo and Juliet, thereby admitting to yourself that once, but only once in the history of humankind, somebody loved as strongly and tragically as you do.

You still, however, don't care much for brussel sprouts. Anybody who likes them must be clinically insane.

When you're 30, all the things that seemed so dire in your twenties, settle down a little bit. You start to suspect that it might be time to quit all the hard drugs, 'cause you just can't shake it off the way you used to. And the drinking, it has become not so much a problem, not even a concern really, just sort of something you're developing some consciousness about; and aren't all those people stupid and lame who never do. In your thirties, you stop ordering that third martini, that second bottle of wine when you're by yourself, but only because you don't want to turn into your parents. Perish the thought. Or if you're Catholic, parish the thought.

Forty is a bitch. In your 40's if you're a woman, you want to have sex all the time. This is because your ovaries are screaming out, "hey, do it girl. This is your last chance. If you don't spread your genetic material now, your line is gonna go dead and that's hardcore death for sure. Get to it woman, hump the busboy if you have to, but get the job done.

If you're a guy, you start wondering if it's your belly that's getting bigger or your dick that's getting smaller. You're not sure which you're hoping for, but if it's the latter at least you can keep eating buffalo wings and curly fries.

Fifties. I don't know because I'm not there yet. I will be in a month or so, and I suspect it will be bad. Even now, sometimes I look in the mirror in the morning and wonder who that old woman is. I suspect when a person turns 50, they no longer have any illusions about originality, love, or even brussel sprouts. I suspect that when a person turns 50, she lays abed at night trying every goddamn argument she can to counter the stark fact that she probably came from space dust and she's gonna turn back into space dust in hardly any more time at all.

I suspect this is what happens to such people, but of course I don't really know.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Why I'm not an Afghani, and You Can Too

I just took a look at my Google profile, and apparently I live in Afghanistan. This is unfortunate. Afghanistan is a horrible place. I know this because I'm currently reading a book about it.

It previous blogs I have admitted to only reading crap. While this is generally true, it is not always true. Right now I am reading a book by the guy who wrote "Kite Runner," although the title eludes me at this moment. It's about a couple of women both of whom grow from girlhood to motherhood in and around Kabul. Their lives start out as shit, continue being shit, and will no doubt end up shit unless they get out of Afghanistan. With every page I turn I hope ever more fervently that these poor females escape.

In the beginning of this book that's not The Kite Runner, these 2 females are born, albeit in different parts of the country. One is a bastard born of a mother who just barely refrained from aborting her with a coat hanger, the other has it relatively okay, except for the fact that her 2 brothers have been killed in a war and her mother is permanently abed with severe depression. Still, this girl has a boyfriend, and even though he's only got one leg, he winds up giving her a good schtupping before he goes off and gets himself killed by standing in front of somebodies mortar shell. The bastard girl gets married off to a brute with a hairline like a werewolf, who quickly grows to hate her for miscarrying all his kids. Then after the Mujaheddin bomb the other girl's house, and all the rest of her family are killed, she's unlucky enough to be dug out of the rubble by this very same brute and his miserable wife who hates her for a couple of years, but eventually ends up befriending her because what the hell else is she going to do?

Hilarity doesn't ensue.

They point is that with most stories of countries, bad periods are described, but good periods come afterwards. Germany, Britain, Argentina, Chile. Yeah, it always gets sucky somewhere down the line, but then the good times come and people go dancing again, are able to get wine, plant flowers, and bury their dead.

As far as I can tell, Afghanistan has been shit forever. This book that I'm reading, the one that's not The Kite Runner, hardly has any laughs at all. I can smell the brute husband's breath: of cigarettes, pickled onions, and rank meat as he mercilessly humps his hapless wives, see the cracked brown skin of his fist as he beats the crap out of them, and hear his slobbering apnetic snores. I can smell the stinky, litter, filth, and vermin infested streets down which he rides his bicycle to work, as well as the smelly leather with which he fashions shoes. Worst of all, I can feel the hell his two main characters are in. The one in which intelligence atrophies from lack of use, bitterness and sadness grow like tumors, and the only reason for not committing suicide is that if you fuck it up, some turban wearing uber misogynists will come along, nail you to a tree and flay you alive.

So I'm glad I don't live in Afghanistan, though it's fine if Google thinks I do. It can think I live on the moon for all I care.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Oh Well Whatever Never Mind

Blogging is such a load of crap. Anybody can say whatever they want anytime, and make it sound so authoritative and true; so well laid out and fonted. Right now, here I am blogging with half a bottle of wine in me and God knows what else. Actually, He doesn't know because I never told him.

But then when it comes to God, he may know anyway. There used to be a sect of Carmelite nuns who bathed with their clothes on because, they reasoned, the Lord can see all things. They thought the Lord was a voyeur. I read this in a book by Bertrand Russell. I used to read such things, now I mostly read crap.

But maybe He is all knowing and the Carmelite nuns were onto something. Every time I do something bad, He punishes me. Of course, sometimes He punishes me when I haven't done anything bad, so I guess in reality, he's a voyeur and a drunk. Certainly His rationality is not all it's cracked up to be.

We all know this. God is not an omnipotent, all knowing, beneficent being. He is a back room gambler with a drinking problem and a warped sense of humor. More warped than anyone you've ever known.

So maybe, the best any of us can aspire to, spiritually speaking, it to be a Holy Enabler. "Oh Lord, yes I agree that those motherfuckers that threw you out of the bar should be flayed alive; damn trailor trash motherfuckers."

Forever and ever, amen.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

About a Bong

The kid's on his way schlumping home. I can't tell if he got off the bus--but it seems that way. He wanders over to a brand new truck, or maybe he was already there. Two kids in it, won't look me in the eye.

I'm on the way to the grocery story, but this kid, you've got to keep an eye on him. I pull up close to the driver's side door of the car. He comes over, wool hat pulled low on his brow, pants hanging down. Like that kid on The Simpsons. He says, " I gotta tell you something."

"What? I'm on my way to the store."

"I'll tell you when you get back." He's got that look on his face. That cornered one that means whatever happened, he has to tell me because I'm going to find out anyway.

I drive off. I only have to get a few things, and know I won't be too long. Still, I can't wait. And when I'm in the supermarket parking lot, call him on my cell phone.

He tells me he got in a fight at school. Thinks he broke his hand.

I'm thinking SHIT. I don't want to spend the next five hours in an emergency room. It's nearly 4 in the afternoon and I have plans. So I call the doctor's office, ask if they can get him in first thing in the morning. They usually can. They're not all that busy an office. Maybe the doctors aren't that good. One pissed me off royally, when I asked him to put this kid on anti-depressants. It wasn't that he had any moral qualms about it. I mean, I didn't get the feeling that was the case. It was that he was afraid of getting sued should this kid commit suicide. There have been , like, three people who have, but since it got on CNN it's a big deal. Nobody ever talks about all the teenagers who commit suicide who don't take anti-depressants.

Sure enough, they give him an appointment for first thing the next morning. I get home with the groceries, give him a couple of Advil and wrap his hand. Two hours later, he's got the wrap off. He doesn't seem all that uncomfortable and there isn't much swelling.

"Why did you fight?" I say. He's all slumped on the couch. Knows he has to put up with some level of interrogation, but resists all the same. "Who did you fight with?" I say.

"Jason." This surprises me a little, but only a little. Jason is one of his buds, but way Eddie Haskell-ish. "Yes Mrs Cleaver. Why, I'm so fond of little Theodore." Of all this kid's friends, Jason is the most polite to me. The last time he was around the house, I admonished both him and the short greasy kid, "I know you're this kid's pot smoking buddies. But that's not allowed around here. I like you both but I'm keeping an eye on you." This kid, mine, or whatever, glared at me the whole time. Like he wished the both of us were dead all the while I was saying that. Jason, he said, "Oh no Mrs Cleaver. I get drug tested every week, and I'm moving to Oklahoma soon."

I find this odd. "They got drugs in Oklahoma too. You know that?"

"Yes, Mrs Cleaver."

So this kid, mine or whatever, he's still sitting on the couch. I've got the groceries put away and am holding a cold pac on his hand. "What were you fighting with Jason for?"

This kid slumps further down. He's got fuzz on his upper lip. His eyes always look shadowed. Not in an unhealthy way, like brown eye shadow, alfalfa colored eyes peeking out. Some nature's grace-note only she understands. Young people must be attractive, all in different ways. "He took my Ipod."


"I don't want to talk about it." This is followed by tantrums, screaming, his father on the phone resulting in his throwing it across the kitchen counter.

"What? He just randomly took your Ipod?"

"He's a fucking idiot. I don't wanna talk about it." He storms off to his room, trailing clouds of teenage angst and anger.

Why would Eddie Haskell take his Ipod. Could it be that he thinks this kid, mine, whatever, took something of his? That's when I get to thinking about the glass bong I found in this kid, mine, or whatever's room a few weeks ago. The one I smashed against the backyard wall. "That wasn't even MINE!" He said.

Today, at the doctors, then at the x-ray clinic. He missed school entirely. It was "early release." He would have gotten out at 11:00 anyway. His hand wasn't broken. I knew it wasn't. No discoloration. Not all that much swelling.

At the end of the day, there was probably a little more to it than just a broken bong. Eddie Haskell probably called me a bitch or something. Who knows? Maybe this kid, mine, whatever, just lost it for whatever reason teenagers do. They're all hormones, all the time. Hormones, angst, and in this particular case, a little THC. Eddie Haskell? He moved to Oklahoma today. They say God made Oklahoma, but I've heard rumors He probably had nothing to do with it at all.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

A Classless Society

My 16 year old son keeps getting in trouble for not making it to his first period class. I've had a hard time figuring this out but then since I'm old, I'm a little slow. I mean, he always gets to the bus on time, so presumably, the bus drops him off at school on time. But something is happening between the time the bus drops him off and the time they close the locker room door for 8 AM weight training.

He came home from school the other day with a scrape on his arm. I said, "What happened to your arm?"

He said, "I fell out of a tree. A stupid teacher yelled at me."

"Is tree climbing what you do before weight training class? Is that why you're late," I said.

He rolled his eyes and exhaled. I'm clearly hopeless.

The next day, he said he had a sore throat. I said, "is that why you can't make it to your first period class. You have to stop in the restroom for a good gargle?"

He rolled his eyes again, cleared his throat and grimaced.

The day after that he said he had a stomach ache. "Is that the problem with your first period class?" I imagined him, all doubled over, hobbling to class.

"They, they lock the door, like, the second you're late," he said.

"So get there the second before they lock the door."

The next morning, he's schlepping around the house. I know the bus is due any minute. "Maybe you better drink some coffee," I say. "So you can walk faster and get to class."

He slams the door on the way out. I'm getting a little tired of all this grouchyness first thing in the morning, so I follow him out. "It's a girl, isn't it?" Before I said it, I didn't even know I was going to. But it all comes clear. He's making out with his girlfriend between the time the bus drops him off and the time the first bell rings.

If looks could kill, I'd be on fire. Nothing but a smouldering heap of old pajamas in the driveway. He looks towards the other kids waiting at the bus stop; they get smoked too. Lucky for him he's the biggest kid on the corner, and with that stoner dude hat and the "I don't give a fuck about anything" look he's been cultivating ever since he started to grow body hair, not a one of them dares to give him any shit.

I head back into the house to get another cup of coffee.

Nailed it.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Not Even Trying to be a Journalist

Journalism is okay. We all want to know what's going on, but the problem with "journalism" is it's always a little Heisenbergian. Just the act of choosing what to write about means I'm directing others what to think about. Even if I simply document the facts of a plane crash in Bolivia, it steers readers' minds onto thinking about that rather than the equal number of people who may have been killed, for example, during a two week period from a sewage spill in Albania.

Nobody likes to document diarrhea. Not on paper anyway. I figure that's what blogs are for.

Ergo, I hereby dedicate this blog to everyone who has ever, in the entire history of the world, died from a sewage spill in Albania.

Thank You,
Catherine O'Sullivan