The Other End of Sunset

Friday, June 06, 2008

Ferris wheels, frights, and other amusements

Should I fly to Los Angeles
find my asshole brother?

Well, it’s been a while, hasn’t it, my OtherEnders? In my defense, I have been crazy busy, with travel to 4 cities across two continents, and hours that are… well… long. In fact, my current work pace reminds me of the Google IPO. I think, however, this is easier, because I’m getting more sleep. Not enough, granted, but more than I did then.

Before I get into wherever the muse leads, I feel the urge to respond to my comments.

First, a shout out to Forsie, and her defensive gene. I know who to call the next time I’m in trouble – I’m telling y’all, Forsie protects her own. Nice to be on the inner circle!

And apparently there is some modern definition of nunnery that isn’t how Shakespeare used it – he used it to refer to a house of ill repute; it is worth pointing out that not all scholars agree that it was used thusly.

Many of you wrote to tell me what happened in that scene in I am Legend. I think I pointed out that many scenes were too dark to see. The bulk of that particular helicopter scene was among them. So I saw the bright outcome, but not the buildup before it. HJP explained why the film was so dark – it involved color densities and other stuff that was too hard for me to understand. However, it’s clearly a science and an art.

And my friend GW told me what the “Polite” sign meant. He was going to write a comment explaining it, but then wasn’t sure it was acceptable. Well, let’s see if he does it now with a bit of encouragement…

I nearly lost you there
Let’s try to sleep now
--Screaming Trees

The majority of comments, public and private concerned my “cheating” at cards. It’s interesting – various readers perceived it as condescending, while another interpreted it as “typically you, sacrificing for others”. Neither is correct. First of all, forsie nailed it – SL knows. And JR did as well. No surprises here. But they do both like to win, and like it that I don’t care if I win. I prefer them winning – because I think competition is destructive to me. And, by cheating, I get to play the game several times – if I lose, I lose. If I win, I get to decide on a new strategy to try. Playing a second game without shuffling the cards, and with some of the cards already used, is quite difficult. I have to count the cards pretty accurately to be able to do well the second time around. It’s a fun challenge for me.

I’m doing the best I ever did
I’m the best that I can
I’m doing the best I ever did
Now go away

But because of all of your comments, SL and I decided to talk about the “issue”. We talked, over a few glasses of red wine, at a little sidewalk cafe in Kensington where she was living. In that discussion, she admitted that it made her happy when she won, but felt even happier when she won without my help. Based on that, we decided that I would only cheat sometimes. But she didn’t tell me how to define sometimes, so I predict we will struggle over a few games, eh?

I have a love/hate relationship with the Screaming Trees
-Richard Beckwith

A quick shout out to the Big G in the sky. Two questions – why did you put a call to the GMail blog onto the GMail login screen? If your network has any problems at all, it takes FOREVER to get a response from blogger, so the screen rendering is waiting for a noticeable period of time. Ironically enough, the other day, as I was swearing about this, the blog entry finally came up. And it was about speeding up GMail response. The irony drips like rain from a cloudless sky.

And while I’m complaining about products from the company that prided itself on simple interfaces that were lightning quick… What’s going on with the Reader interface? My stuff, My friends shared items (whether they share or not), blah blah. Basically, they’ve added a bunch of header information that leaves precious little room on my screen for the feeds themselves to be seen. I have to scroll down to see most of my feeds. Yes, not a big deal, but I want to see my feeds, and find some other way to do sharing. Sharing is very cool – but the UI is all wrong. Makes me wonder what happened to UI review?

If I could,
I’d make a deal with God,
and get him to swap us places
--Kate Bush

I was riding in a cab through London the other day, and noticed a woman walking the same direction we were moving. Given the traffic, she was going faster than we were. She had a two-piece work suit on, of some dark color, and it was reasonably nicely tailored. She had blonde hair, cut in a bob about shoulder length. When she walked, her shoulders didn’t move. It was as if her legs moved, but her upper body was somehow disconnected or on springs or something. And she was wearing heels.

I couldn’t take my eyes of her. Yup, you have all figured it out. It was Jeanne. Well, I mean it wasn’t, but for a second I thought it was her. I wanted the cab to speed up so I could see if it was.

So we caught up to her. Surprisingly enough, JR’s still dead, and the lady walking didn’t look so much like her when I got close. But I thought I was going to vomit. And I was slightly off balance for days.

I went to Phoenix for a day trip and didn’t say hi to Jeanne. My excuse? I didn’t have a car. I set it all up, though, I was going to spend the afternoon with FiP and ask him to drive me to where she is. He and I had lunch, and were just chatting, and I lost my nerve. I’m not sure what I do when I’m there, and maybe it’s not pretty. So, I didn’t see her.

Anyway, I remember how she used to walk away from me – to go to a meeting, or whatever. She had that funny little shuffle – legs and hips move on the VERY high heels – but body doesn’t move. Until she turns, just her shoulders and neck, and gives me a little wave, with a shy little possessive smile.

She didn’t have that smile much at the end. Her smile had a weariness, not just tired, but weary, as if her soul was being worn down. I saw that smile but once that I can recall during the end. It was that trip down to Santa Monica.

I have to pause to thank, by name, Kim Cooper, Sergey Brin, and Korianne Cremona. The trip to Santa Monica was at the very end – about a month before she died. I needed a lot of help getting her there safely and comfortably. The three of them were amazing – giving, supporting, and executing to get the trip together.

During that trip, I saw Jeanne smile that way twice. We flew down on a private jet, and she got to fly in the jump seat in the cockpit. As we took off, she turned around and flashed me the biggest smile I’d seen in a long time. My little girl was excited, just for a second, not dreading, or tired, or weary. Excited. Later in that trip, we ditched her family, and I pushed her (in a wheelchair) up the boardwalk toward the Santa Monica Pier. We stopped on a concrete barrier to talk. I think I told her I was sorry. I know I told her I love her. And I hope she told me she forgave me. But I don’t remember that.

Thanks, guys, I got those two smiles because of you.

I wish I had taken her on the Ferris wheel at the pier. She wanted to go, and we just never made it. I think I put up barriers – I’m afraid of heights, I’m afraid of change, and I’m generally anxious about stuff. I bet I spoiled that for her. Sorry, Jeanne. I know you understood me, but I didn’t mean to let you down.

I guess I learned, somewhat. SL wanted to go to that Ferris wheel. I tried to get her there, right then… but it had closed. I’m still terrified of heights, and the idea of going makes my stomach turn, but…

…it’s the bitter taste of losing
everything I held so dear
--Sarah McLachlan

…I’ll be damned if I make the same shallow, selfish, silly, stupid mistake again.

I’m going to get on that Ferris wheel with SL. And try to keep my fear and anxiety to myself. She deserves it.

There is no turning back now.
You have opened the demon
in me.
Get up, come on!
Get down with the sickness!
Open up your hate
and let it come into me

Picture a boy, walking down a small street, shaded on both sides by old Oak trees, with their arms over the road protecting you from the heat of the sky. The day is humid and hot; the air still as death. The boy walks with his head down, his shoulders slumped, carrying a trombone in a grey plastic case. Off to his left, and just in front, he hears a small dog barking. The dog is super upset that the boy is near his yard. Behind him, he hears the squeals of tires turning the corner, racing towards him. His well-trained sense of self-protection causes him to run off the road, to his right.

Sometimes what you learn kills someone else.

The dog followed the boy, still asserting his dominance, as the boy ran. In some peculiar modern dance, the car sped on, the dog sped on… and the two collided.

The street is now silent. The car speeds on, leaving a perfectly round blood pool in the middle of the street, that grows with each labored breath of the dog. The blood is so red. It doesn’t look like Hollywood at all. It’s thick, syrupy, and reflective. It reflects the boy’s shock, and the horror of the dog’s owner as she comes rushing out, defending the car driver (“He tried to stop!”).

The boy gets a box, and inserts the dog, who is lying very still, but looking at the boy with pleading eyes. The boy picks up dog-in-a-box, and starts to cross the street. At the midpoint, where he heard the tires squealing he stops to look back.

He sees the blood pool, strewn about by his feet, his hands, the box. It’s so red, but darkening even as he watches. It’s brown under his nails, on the creases of his hands. But that could just be the boy’s vision darkening, instead of the blood.

The mother reassures the boy “I’ll watch your stuff while you put him in the car.” The boy couldn’t even get out the words to explain he wasn’t worried about his stuff… he was worried about the blood.

Did he have to clean it up? Would anyone help? What if he got it wrong?

And what happens when the next car races around that corner?

The boy didn’t clean the blood, and neither did the woman. The dried stain was there the next day.

When I look up at you looking down,
say it was only a dream
--Mary-Chapin Carpenter

He was late getting home, and very quiet, and very pale. His family asked him what was wrong, and where he had been.

Almost as if acting, he told the story. Aghast, his sister grabbed him and asked how the boy felt. But the truth was, deep inside, he didn’t know how he felt. And deep down inside, at that level of instinct that teaches you what is right and what is wrong, deep down there he knew that he SHOULD have known how he felt.

And the boy began to wonder if he was different from everybody else.

I’m trying to tell you something about my life
Maybe give me insight between black and white

Now I wrap my fear around me like a blanket
And I sail my ship of safety til I sank it
I’m crawling on your shores
--Indigo Girls

Thank you, SL, for saying yes, and I promise we will get on that Ferris wheel.