The Other End of Sunset

Sunday, June 29, 2008

There is a season, turn, turn, turn...

Lying in my bed I hear the clock tick,
and think of you.
Caught up in circles,
confusion is nothing new
Flashback--warm nights--
almost left behind;
suitcases of memories….
--Cyndi Lauper

Two years ago this last week, I lost my beloved Jeanne. And I just lost the last link in my life that connected me to her. How does one mourn the passing of a blog? Is it like mourning a person? I don’t know, but, as of this week, AC is gone.

It’s ok, I can’t blame BF for shutting down AC. I’ve often considered ending this blog, marking it as completed. Well, not completed, I’ll never stop grieving for Jeanne, but perhaps marked as having reached a local maximum. And, of course, I’m supposed to be writing a book – I am sure my coauthor and editor would prefer I spent my time writing chapters rather than writing posts.

But I still have more to say, I think.

But the passing of AC makes me sad, sitting here in cold, rainy London. Once again, my mood matches the weather. One wonders if the weather causes the moods, or, perhaps vice versa. I’m just joking, by the way. Even though I’m sometimes described as compelling, I don’t think my bad mood can cause rain. Of course, my moods reign supreme, but that’s another matter.

Here’s to you, AC. May the path rise up to meet your feet, and may you always feel the blend of creation and invention that drives you.

Being married seems to be having someone who will slap your enemies or help you clean up body parts

And a brief shout-out to Robert Mugabe – thanks for casting your basket over the light that was the nascent vestiges of democracy in Zimbabwe. I am, indeed, vicariously responsible, as are all of us who didn’t, or don’t, stand up to protest injustice. Not saying that my country doesn’t have great, terrible injustices, by the way. I’m just sad at the developments in that part of Africa, with such great physical beauty and such wonderful citizens.

To wit, our friend J. Several of us went out on my ski boat a few weeks ago. It was a lovely, hot day, and the water was totally empty of other boats. Very cool. However, it turns out you really don’t want to drive the boat over the rope you use to tow the inner tube. Yes, I knew that already, and no I wasn’t paying attention. Yes, I drove the boat squarely over the rope. Yes, the propeller got caught, cut the rope, and wound the end around the driveshaft. No, the prop didn’t fall off.

After an appropriate screamed warning from one of the boat guests, I killed the boat engine, and we drifted, lazily, towards the side of the channel. And went aground on the rocks. Sigh. Another day, another scratch in the clear coat seal. That’s ok, it was my fault, nobody to blame.

But someone has to go under the boat to unwrap the rope. Was it me? Nope, it was J, from Zimbabwe, swimming under to pull us free and rescue us from the clutches of the Delta rocks.

I didn’t want to swim under, but would have. It is, however, nice not to have to do something you don’t want to do. It’s like having a support system. Well, I guess it is having a support system, now that I think about it. At any rate, thanks J!

Do you often think of suicide?

// Side note: I’m trying to expand beyond song lyrics in my side notes. It’s a new challenge. Hope you like it. If not, make a suggestion… //

// Side note, 2: Google Analytics is cool. Apparently I had exactly one blog reader from a particular Former Soviet Union state ending in –stan. That is very cool. I have never been there. Nice to “meet” you! Most of you use Internet Explorer to read this – but I don’t have data on those of you that RSS feed it. //

I was walking down the street the other day, entering an airport (surprise surprise). I was passed by a lovely brunette woman, wearing a tight dress that looked really nice on her. She was wearing expensive-looking high-heeled shoes. Her hair was done up nicely, and she smelled nice. Her hair was styled to fall across the right side of her face, shielding her eye.

All in all, she looked extremely trendy and well put together. But look a bit closer, and notice she was using her hair to shield a black eye. And she had a ring of bruises around her left wrist. Roughly in the shape of a hand.

She noticed me looking and glared back at me defiantly.

And I walked away.

Come dancing,
Come on sister, have yourself a ball.
Don’t be afraid to come dancing,
Its only natural.
--The Kinks

I spent a few hours sitting in an airport lounge the other day. I know, again, surprise surprise.

Whilst there, I found myself thinking about things that annoy me. Again, not a surprise.

There was a TV on the wall. The volume wasn’t overly loud, which was nice. It was set on a 24-hour news station, which is boring after a while – the news doesn’t normally change over a few hour period, so you get to hear the same stories over and over again.

A couple was sitting on a couch not far from me. After sitting there for 30 minutes or so, the wife got up and changed the TV to a garden show. On the one hand, I shared her boredom with incessant repetition, but on the other hand, what if I had been watching it? And, regardless, I hate garden shows, and so had to sit there for another hour being actively annoyed.

In the interest of self-reflection, I did spend a while thinking about why I was annoyed – and I think it came down to her not asking if anyone cared if she changed the channel. She didn’t even make the token eye contact to see if anyone was watching. She just changed it – it’s almost a sense of entitlement. There’s something about a sense of entitlement that makes me want to rebel… even when I agree. Strange, yes?

Just down the way a bit was a group of businessmen. They were, apparently, technology consultants for NASA. They won the annoying prize that day, however. Far outstripping the woman with the channel changing habit.

They were taking about work, which isn’t surprising. The fact that they each chose to talk on their cell phones, separately, to different people at the client, about the costs and details of the project on which they were bidding, was surprising. Nobody but me seemed to be listening, but, for what it’s worth, NASA is overpaying for this project, based on the margin math I did, comparing two of the calls.

And, yes, they were all employing maximum cell-yell.

After their lobbying session was completed, they went back to just talking. One guy was excitedly telling the others about this new technology – ringtones. Wow. I guess it’s new to you! (Thanks to NBC for giving me this line, which I have oft reused.) I was waiting for them to enthuse about text messages next.

And remember these are technology consultants to the US space agency. Does it frighten you, just a bit, that the people making technology to keep people alive in outer space don’t know what ringtones are? Do you think that means they, perhaps, don’t keep up with technological progress? And I wonder if they know the difference between metric and English units of measurement. (That’s a bad Hubble joke, by the way, for those of you who left your copy of “Guide to Technology Irony” at home.)

And a shout-out to the people at the Virgin bar on the plane on my overnight flight the other day. No, really, I wasn’t trying to sleep, despite having earplugs in and an eyeshade on. And, no, I don’t think anyone else was trying to do so either. So, please, by all means, get really drunk and yell at each other, and faux-wrestle in the corridor by my seat. Who needs to sleep, anyway?

Now I know what I have to do…
--Iron Maiden

I spent a weekend in Las Vegas a short while ago. Was very fun – SL took me to celebrate (belatedly) my birthday. No, it’s not a birthday that ends in a “0”, but it’s close.

// Side note: I remember when I turned 30. I had just changed jobs, and someone guessed my age as 40. At the time I thought it was funny, until (a) I realized that he thought I looked ten years older than I was and (b) he pointed out that he now had a “superior officer” who was younger than his son. Neither made me feel very good. //

SL had planned various fun events for me, including a helicopter ride to the Grand Canyon.

Did I mention I’m scared of heights? Well, I am. But I’ve never seen the Grand Canyon (except out the window of the occasional jet flight), and I’ve never been in a helicopter. So, SL fixed both those two gaps in my education.

Was a great gift, and I was very, very excited.

So, we got to the place, and I was …well… terrified. I think my hands were shaking. I was trying to find some excuse to cancel.

Sometimes I am a weasel.

But I could find neither a weasel nor an excuse, so we walked out onto the tarmac to get in the copter. I could hear, distantly, the cry of “Dead Man Walking!”, but it was just the ghost of a memory. The helicopter was in good shape, and looked pretty new, so that was a comfort. It was parked in a little parking lot that was next to the Vegas airport. There was a road that connected the lot to the main tarmac, with pebbles on both sides of the road.

We took off, and hovered about 5 feet off the ground… and proceeded to exit the parking lot through the road. I mean, it required us to make some turns, and stop at a stop sign. Why not just fly over the pebbles? I expected to see the pilot using arm signals to mark a left hand turn! Anyway, the ride ended up being about an hour to the Canyon, 30 minutes in the Canyon, and about an hour back.

It was fun, sort of. But it was SO hot that I almost got sick, just from the heat, leaving aside how scared I was. I was slightly shaking most of the time, and holding onto the strap with a white-knuckled grip.

SL, of course, had a huge smile on her face, was looking around everywhere, and was generally having a blast. She was fearless. I was a chicken, but got some comfort from the fact she didn’t have a care in the world. And she reached over to pat me regularly and ask if I was ok – which must have been a funny question since I suspect I was whiter than Casper the Friendly Ghost.

Now, keep in mind that this paragon of bravery is the same woman who can’t watch action movies because she gets nightmares, and yet was more than comfortable in the hundred-degree-plus heat in a little bubble suspended impossibly from a stick spinning at greater than the speed of sound.

Oh, so strange. But thanks SL for being in my life, for comforting me when I’m scared, and for making me do things I wouldn’t do otherwise.

Are you some kind of freak
who lives to raise the ones who fall?

Well, during writing this post, the rain has cleared. It’s now sunny, and the air is clear. Perhaps, as I clear the air, some Godhead has done so, on some far greater plane.

Or helicopter.

I have profoundly mixed feelings, sitting in a taxi, here in London. As we cross Tower Bridge, I remember being here with Jeanne, with her trembling in excitement at getting to see a new play, or sit and have dinner with me, or walk through Hyde Park. Then she’d remember she was supposed to be a grown-up, and she’d compose herself and ask some question about history or philosophy or something. But a few minutes later, the happy little girl inside her would come out again.

I never took her to Paris, but I can imagine her awe as we walked up to Notre Dame, and how she’d try to find the bell tower where Quasimodo lived. I hope she enjoys the chorus there now.

But London was her favorite city. So I’m often a bit sad here. On the other hand, SL lived here for a while, and I’d visit her, and we had a café that was ours and we walked, hand in hand, through Kensington, and had fun and laughed. She made friends, and went out to the country with couples who cared about her.

So London also reminds me of SL, and happy times. Hence, the mixed feelings.

And, of course, I have guilt. The predominant emotion, my personal specialty. Is it ok that I have mixed feelings, or should I be sad, and sad alone? Key word being, of course, alone. According to my friend Bob, the guilt never leaves, it just fades into a tapestry of love, and life, and remembering that she loved you and would want you to be happy and fulfilled. And I do not, under any circumstances, want to lose SL.

So, day by day, taxi ride by taxi ride, I weave my tapestry. Some of the words here are in its woof. And so is the way she shook when excited. And so is the fear, and comfort, in a helicopter.

Yes, indeed, mixed feelings. But I shall focus on my weaving, and on the picture that appears, and hope to reach enlightenment in its face someday.

Come, pick up the shuttle and help me, and together we shall rise above.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back!
--Martin Luther King, Jr.