Monday, July 25, 2016

Cleaning Up

Another friend died today. He was just past 50, and died after an illness. We weren't super close, but I did stay with him for a week in New York when he was doing a show there a few years ago. He was a light, fun fellow.  He brought a lot of joy to people and smiled and laughed a lot. I always loved seeing him and we always gave each other a big hug. The last time he said we should get together for coffee.

For years I kept track of the people I knew who died - friends, colleagues, teachers, relatives. For a time I knew many people under 40 who died in freakish ways, from serial killer to suicide to cancer to meningitis to flesh eating virus. One day you'd get a call that someone had succumbed to a surprise illness and had left behind a partner, a child.  Or there was an accident. So many surprising, unexpected ways.  Grief is strange, unpredictable, which is all I've learned of it. I wrote a poem about it once -

The loss
Is a ring, an undertone
A tuning fork struck
Again again unexpectedly again
To begin -

The other day some circuitous thoughts led me to Joan Didion. Come to think of it, it's her quote, "a writer is always selling someone out," which is usually how she comes to mind, thinking of some idea and how it might offend someone.  Anyhow, I thought of her loss of her husband and child in quick succession, and how insurmountable it must be to bear that loss. Then the thought came to me that there's some virtue in being the one left to turn out the lights. There must be. We'll all go. It's the unavoidable end we push from our minds so we can live our lives. It's probably just as hard to leave the the party when it's going, but there is some comfort to be taken in being the one to stay and clean up, to bear the grief, to continue the memory. That's how I look at it anyway, or have to. Someone came to the party and left. I hope he had a good time, and I'll certainly miss him.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

On Surety

     I just read Kathryn Schulz' article about Thoreau in the New Yorker, which points out what a difficult, narcissistic, hypocritical misanthrope he was, and how pernicious his ideas actually are, as they're not based in fact or experience, but opinion. It's quite an article, and fascinating to think of what is so interesting to him for the American imagination.  One thing he was, though, was sure of himself.
     I also recently finished a book by Dan Harris, 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works--A True Story It's quite a title.

I'm posting this because it was a draft of a post I started and didn't finish, and now the title is ironic. Sometimes it's worth it for a little laugh.

How does this all work?

I haven't written on this blog in some time, but inspired as every by Elizabeth Aquino's blog, and how she writes daily, I thought I'd truck on over and put some words down, as my writing has been spotty of late. 

Anyhow, when I logged in, I saw that my page, this one here, had 112 views on July 7th. This page normally has about 2 views a day, so I'm wondering what happened that day on the web that made 112 people visit my page.  Not like they left comments, or even so much as wiped their feet on the rug, but it would be nice to know. You can't though. I can barely remember July 7th, and it was 6 days ago.  How does this all work?

I'm noticing how fast things are moving. Blogging, which once felt like the most immediate form of communication, now feels as antiquated as letter writing. What with Twitter, Snap Chat, and Pokemon Go, we can immediately record and watch ourselves recording.  We find ourselves so fascinating.  Blogging is basically now journalism. Research? Who cares. I thought today that it's gone from "don't trust everything you read" to "don't trust anything you read."  Yet, as you can read here, we have an endless need to write it, and an endless need to consume it.  I love the phrase "crowded media landscape," which would imply land or something behind the crowd. At this point, there is the crowd, no sky above, no mountains behind, no sea below.  Just crowded media. 

So I guess I'm holding up my little virtual sign, too. Anybody else routinely overloaded?

This is becoming surprisingly bitter in a way I didn't expect.  That's okay, though, I probably won't remember it tomorrow.