June 14, 2014


I threw away my wedding suit in a parking lot dumpster in northern Virginia in 1979. It was white. I was trying to lighten the load in an old Chevy van I'd rebuilt and was living in and it just came up and I tossed it with only a twinge of regret. The marriage had ended in 1974, three years on. I'm sorry now that I dumped it. It would fit like a glove. When I'd worn it at our wedding someone had joked that he hadn't known who was the bride, because I had long hair too, I suppose.

People thought I was a hippie but I was a yippie. Still am. What's a yippie? A political hippie. Not content to hang out getting stoned and listening to music, I kept up with current events and tried to be effective in the antiwar movement, something I never quite accomplished. One reason I think is that I never had the desire or enough ego to promote myself.

I went to a lot of demonstrations from New York to Berkeley. I'd go to one today but there aren't any in Las Vegas that I ever heard about, except the one I helped some Serbians organize during the bombing of that country, one of our oldest allies. The first demonstration in this phony fiberglass town in twenty five years, someone told me. My uncle began to hate me when I told him about it. "You demonstrated for the Serbians?" He was astonished. Twenty two trips on convoy across the Atlantic. "I fought a world war to prevent that sort of thing!"

I'd done it because I don't trust the U.S. government to tell the truth about war. I figured it was only another way to continue the Cold War by weakening Russia. I didn't know then about the Bosnian and Coatian genocides. After I read up on it I realized I'd been wrong. It was a heavy blow. It undermined my confidence. Today I'm more cautious about that sort of thing. But my uncle still hates me. At least I think so.

I'm probably a romantic but I've tried to be a realist. In my heart I want a revolution but  today I know that reform is revolutionary. It should be self-evident but it isn't to romantic anarchists and libertarians, both fancying themselves as revolutionaries but not that different from one another, who now want to trash the whole system. I wanted that before I matured. Revolution is the headiest adventure. But without government and imperfect law there would be no civilization at all. Somebody has to sign the Social Security checks for the old and jail pedophiles, thieves, and murderers. You can't leave it to the goodhearted people because in the first place there aren't that many.

The world is complicated and complex but on the other hand as simple as a grain of sand. Everything is connected and action and inaction alike have endless consequences. This sounds paradoxical or simple minded depending on your viewpoint or world view. You throw away a nice, expensive white, wedding suit that is yellowing only a little around the cuffs and forty four years later you wish you had it back. You can never get the woman back or the kid either. Regret is a sour apple but somehow still nutritious even tasting bad. Sometimes it is all you have and you have to live with it and press on. Chew it up, rewrite a few times, and put it out there to see if anyone will bite.

Looking at the explosive war in Syria and Iraq puts me in a bad mood. This is bad shit. Cooperate with Iran for boots on the ground to find targets for drones, and eat some crow, or lose the whole Middle East, that's your choice.But as Richard A. Clarke said, the fight is between Sunnis and Shiites and is aimed ultimately at the Shiite government of Iran, and, "There is nothing we can do about it."

America in flames. I can see it coming. Suicide bombers, truck bombs, paramilitaries herding leftists and homosexuals into stadiums for public execution, torture schools, lynchings, gang wars, corrupt courts issuing summary execution orders, and the people fighting losing battles against foreign intruders, that's the future I see. You can call me a pessimist but I'm optimistic that sooner or later the killers will be exhausted and dying of the plague. Millions will be dead and in a hundred years forgotten. A new generation will come along and be horrified at what their ancestors had done. The world will settle down and humans will get it together or perish altogether.

I feel sorrier for the poor, innocent animals. Am I anti-social? A little. Some days all of humanity's greed and selfishness hovers over my mind like a dark, sultry cloud.

Meanwhile I wish I still had that white suit. I could wear it to casinos and people would say look at that sharp old man, I bet he was a player once. I'd sit at the bar sipping rum and staring into space as if I were remembering better days. And I would be. The better days when I didn't know anything and thought I knew not everything, but enough. You never know enough. Ignorance was bliss I see now. Everything they warned me about has come true: save your pennies, work hard, enjoy life and try to be happy, ignore the news, be positive, die young, and leave a beautiful corpse, or you'll be sorry. The good die young. When you're dead you are dead. This is it. Try to understand, and try to be nice.

You should have seen me in that suit. My wife looked good too.

June 3, 2014

Nada Ever After

It was waking from a funny dream and forgetting it when you tried to write it, regretting the loss of one of the best things, because one has few funny dreams. It was in your mind and you should have written it immediately but you washed your face and eyes and the shoulder muscle that seldom stops hurting, by applying a cloth soaked in very hot water, and then you made coffee before writing. The dream and the feeling it gave you that things were funny are gone by then, and you shrug because so many other valuable things are gone as well, and there is nothing that you can do about that either. It becomes easier to mentally shrug as you near the end of a long and surprisingly dreary life as if you were always prepping for departure. It is not as if you could not recall it if you tried hard. It simply is not worth it. The shoulder pain and the stimulation of the blood to the eyes and the coffee were more important. What does it matter about leaving anything unsaid, because nobody was reading anyway? Not even the funny stuff. The sleeping and the dreaming are more important in the end than any writing that no one is likely to read.

Whenever I dream about my former wife I am somehow always in jail. She is always free and talking quietly in her composed and delicate way with another woman who fully agrees with everything said. I can never make out what they are saying. Sometimes I am confined to a bed, sometimes in an actual jail cell. It is never quite a nightmare and I always wake feeling sad. I doubt that she has dreamed about me ever. But I don't know what others dream of course. If she had dreamed about me I would never know it because that is an intimacy and she does not share intimacies of any sort with me anymore and has not for years, not even the necessary ones.

In the end, and the end is always nearer than we think, nothing matters much anymore, especially not memory and certainly not things as ephemeral and unreliable as dreams. One wishes to forget. It is impossible to forget, especially those things which we wish to forget, just as it is impossible to remember all of the things that we wanted to remember, and in my case there are not many of those either. I wish now to forget everything, even my name because only the first part of it was ever mine anyway, but I suppose that we only forget things when we die. I cannot imagine how one could wish for a long life unless one has lived a happy and healthy one. It is one thing to be happy and another to be healthy and one can be happy without health but health without happiness is not only possible but common. I imagine that it would be pleasant to wake one morning in perfect adult health with no memory of anything, with a completely blank slate and new chalk.

One can live a terrible life and not even know it until it is almost finished. One can have gotten up each day with hope and even money for breakfast and a car that is not breaking down and never realize how badly things can turn out because one took a wrong turn or two so far back in the past that the memory of it has been buried for so long.

It does not matter that one was given good advice that one ignored, nor does it matter in the end that one took the wrong advice because by then things have already gone bad and there is no fixing it because no one cares anymore. So one sleeps as much as possible and wakes and does what one has always done; read some, write some, watch some television, visit a chat room, read the news, research the latest topic on the Internet, go shopping, and try to ignore the numbness of the feet, the pain of the shoulder, the weakness of the lungs, and the memories; sleep and dream. At least one has a roof, a bed, air conditioning, and uninteresting food.

Food becomes less important. There is food enough but it is tasteless and the only thing making it tolerable is sugar and coffee. Coffee is important. Medicine is also important and necessary but it seldom does what it was intended or reputed to do. Pain medicine is the best. There is little excuse for pain today in the civilized countries. Pain and the finality of death is the the fate of all life. Who knows what pain is for? It instills fear, tells us where things are wrong, and inspires notions of nobility for suffering bravely. Nobody gets through life without it to the best of my knowledge but only fools wish for pain.

Sometimes I think that I don't love anything. And then I see a great movie like Before Midnight, and I am full of love and weeping with joy. How can a human being create such loveliness? How can two people act out such a complicated love affair in the confusion of so much anger? How can it all fit together so perfectly and make me cry? Why can't my own love affairs have turned out so perfectly and completely? Why does it take a good film or book to make me feel?

But I don't love anyone; not anyone. I feel no love for another and have not felt it for many years, if ever I felt love at all that was not a romantic wish or self-delusion. It is said to be sad. It is true for now if there is any truth. Perhaps for need of stability one does not want to change, to make it other than it is, because as it is perhaps there is only a little dread of the pain of having to die and none of the painful results of broken hearts and all that. People say that they feel sorry for me to which I say don't get personal or waste your time. Not everyone needs what you call love and I call affection. They say that there is still time to change and I say why, it took my whole life to get to this peaceful island, which is neither happy nor sad.

It would be wonderful to be romantic and funny like it is in films but there is no one now to play the other part . There won't be either. I was not such a fool to think there ever would be. I am alive and unhappy. And nobody lives unhappily ever after.