Goodnight

I want to die an old woman

Smirking in her sleep

Dreaming about all the rules I broke

All the hearts, too.

I want to have been several women

By then,

Having lived myriad lives

The thought of dying only saddens me

When I think

Of disappointing myself.

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Quest

I am so tired

Of being kicked in the chest

By powerful men

I am smarter

Stronger

Braver by half

I keep proving myself

They keep stealing from me

My work, my words, my body, my truth

It’s hard being so fierce

Sometimes

I just want it to end.

I am so tired.

Weep Not for the Memories

Driving today with my elder son in the back seat, a Sarah McLachlan song came on the radio.  I smiled and sang along.

I will remember you/Will you remember me?

Don’t let your life pass you by/Weep not for the memories.

There’s a surface meaning to the song, as with any song, and at first I was only thinking surface thoughts.  Swiftly transported to a simpler time in my life – high school and early college days – when love was messy and dramatic and fascinating and painful and I wanted every part of it.  I also thought about my brother, (who is probably Sarah McLachlan’s number one fan), because he used to burn me CDs and make me notes on what to listen for.  He’s an audiophile, I can’t hear the things he does, but I still loved getting CDs from him, and I listened to them dutifully and repeatedly.

As the song went on I started thinking about the lyrics having a deeper and more profound context. I imagined a conversation with my Grandaddy Curtis. He’s been on my mind the past few days.  I see him standing in front of me, smiling.  He was always smiling.

“I will remember you”, I say.  “Will you remember me?” He nods at me silently. It’s like a verbal handshake – a pact – we make.  “Weep not for the memories,” I say to myself.  I miss him, but I am not sad.  I have been loved more earnestly and well than some people will ever dream, and I can only be grateful for it. Sarah kept singing:

You gave me everything you had, you gave me light.

I leave the imaginary scene and focus my attention on the road ahead.  The sky looks a shade or two grayer than it did this morning.  I’ve heard it said that for as long as you are remembered and loved by someone you never die, not really.  Your love becomes your legacy.  So in my imagination, Grandaddy and I made a deal to keep the other alive, through love and conversation.

You know that age old question – “If a tree falls in the woods…”?  Well, let me put it to you another way.  If a person exists – if a human life is lived – and there is no one to bear witness – is it truly lived?  What proof is there to point to that person, what certainty can we have about them?  I suppose the answer depends on how much you think existence has to do with things like community, connection, love, family, and legacy.

Isn’t that what every person wants?  To be remembered?  To have mattered?

Existential crises are a part of the Human Condition.  We all, whether we realize it or not, whether we want to admit it to ourselves or not, yearn to matter.   I believe with all my heart that this is why we are driven to create.  Most of us (maybe all of us), usually from a young age, feel a compulsion to make.  Writers, painters, singers, dancers, even people who create in different ways, like businessmen and inventors, all respond to the familiar call to make something of their lives – and by extension, of themselves, of their time here.

To be honest I think this is (at least in part) why some of us have children.  We want to leave behind something of significance, and we want someone to bear witness to our lives. We want some assurance that the stories we grew up with – the recipes, the traditions, the places and people we love, even the dimples passed down on our father’s side – don’t cease to exist when we are laid to rest in the damp, dark earth.  We hope that the generation we raise will be better than us, we hope they aspire to greater heights, we pray they will work as hard as we have to make some kind of mark on the world, to give their contribution to the collective.

We want it all to mean something.

It’s futile.  It’s absurd.  It’s romantic and brave.

And isn’t it a lot like writing a manifesto in the sand?  We toil and sweat and bleed and give of ourselves, mining the depths of our hearts to produce something raw and true and worthy.   The tides of time will likely wash it all away eventually.  We know.  In the back of our minds, we have always known. Yet we can’t seem to help ourselves.

Stranger still, there is inherent value in the markings left on the beach, even if they aren’t seen or acknowledged on a global scale and even if they only last a fraction of a second.  Ironically, the value isn’t as much in the words as it is in heart and motivation of the person desperately scrawling them; not as much in the thing created as in the creating.

Sounds like one big, terrific, cosmic joke.

Perhaps the punchline is this: Love is what lasts.  Love is what transcends. Only love.  Real love is eternal.  It exists here and it exists in the after, and it is the only thing that does.  So really, all this creating is nonsense, and all our sleepless nights and working lunches and grand projects are useless, except for the loving.  Who we love, how well we love them, whether and how we express it, where we allow it to take us, how much of that love we pour into others and into the universe is what bleeds over into the cosmos and echoes in the night sky after we are gone.

I’ve heard it said that for as long as you are remembered and loved by someone you never die, not really.  Your love becomes your legacy.

I will remember you.  Will you remember me?

 

 

 

 

Yellow Legal Pad Circa 2006

I am never

Not thinking

About him.

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Preach

It is not a testament to your choices,

This life I choose to lead.

It is a testament to my strength.

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At First Glance

Yesterday I tweeted about seeing Neil Gaiman at an airport once.  I was glowing that day, I remember it distinctly, the feeling of the light beaming from my face.  A man was sitting at a table to my left, facing me, so my view was of the food court and runway and his view was of me.  When I finished eating I stood up to throw my trash away and I looked over at him and to my surprise he didn’t look away (as most people do).

Instead, he ran his eyeballs up and down my visage like he was trying to remember or understand something.  Enthralled?  Enchanted?  Annoyed because I was blocking his view of the airplanes?  I didn’t know.

I smiled at him.

I am sure I only stood in place for two seconds, maybe less, but an entire universe exists inside that two seconds. If time has ever stood still, it did then.  I studied him for a moment in response to his studying me.

He had longish hair and a black jacket that was faded, a little bit more gray than black now and it appeared to be a bit too big for him.  He had wavy dark hair that fell a bit above his shoulders.  He was older than me, but I wasn’t sure by how many years.  His face said that he had lived, but not enough just yet.  He looked studious, although I may have thought so only because I was, in that moment, the sole object of his deliberation.

I liked him.

I was fascinated by the way he was looking at me.  I don’t know if he was watching me so intensely because he found me odd, or amusing, or because he had found something in me that he recognized in himself.  I suppose in this day and age it almost seems a bit unusual for a human to notice another in that way.

I threw my trash away and without turning around to look at him again, made my way to my gate.  It was a pleasant moment, and as I sat silently on the flight to Nashville gazing out of the small oval window, I kept replaying it in my mind.

Falling in love with strangers.  Watching them fall in love with you, just for a moment.  Going about your lives as if something extraordinary hadn’t just happened – as if you didn’t glow from the inside out, as if the interesting-looking man in the sad gray jacket hadn’t recognized your soul. It’s all so romantic and tragic and yet completely benign.

Life moved on, as it tends to do, and I mostly forgot about it.

Years after the airport incident, I picked up my first Neil Gaiman book.  I had been watching Lucifer for a while without making the connection to him, and I saw an ad for a TV show that seemed part mythology, part Sci-Fi, completely perfect for me.  It was called American Gods.

I have this odd habit when I see a preview for a TV show or movie that intrigues me – I immediately look to see if there is a book.  I would rather buy the book and read it than dive into a new television show, or at least read the book first.  (The book is always better, you see.)

So I purchased American Gods (the book), and then Fragile Things (a collection of short stories), and others, and Neil quickly became one of my favorite contemporary authors.

I finally saw a photo of Mr. Gaiman somewhat recently, while scrolling through one of my social media feeds.  There he was.  Instantly I had a flashback to the airport and the curious stranger in the black-ish jacket who had seen me radiating light.  Was it him?  I can’t be sure.  It’s possible I imagined the entire encounter, and the man at the airport was simply staring at something in my direction.

Whatever the case, it’s a good memory that I sometimes revisit, although I’ve never told anyone about it until yesterday.  I would like to think that by liking my story, Neil Himself (whose twitter handle is actually @neilhimself) nodded in appreciation – and perhaps recognition – of our pleasant, albeit momentary, meet.

Michael Keaton Day

September 15th was Batman Day.

Did you know this is an annual thing?  Well, the cool kids knew.  And me. I also knew.

For me, Batman Day really means it’s Michael Keaton Day, because Michael Keaton is the BEST Batman ever.  A quick scroll with the tv remote tells me that at least 4 cable channels agree with me, as they are currently running a loop of the Keaton films that will undoubtedly go on all weekend.  No such thing as too much Michelle Pfeiffer in red lipstick and leather, so I doubt anyone is complaining.

There’s so much to appreciate about the MK Batman movies, I hardly know where to begin.  I have been in a mood today so let’s begin with his mouth.  If you’re going to cover up approximately 97 percent of your body with latex and leave your mouth showing so that you can speak and scowl and whatnot, it needs to be a pretty damn impressive mouth.

Exhibit A:

batman-keaton-0126-e1485471155261-1

For all his handsome broodiness, Christian Bale does NOT have a pout like that, I’m just saying.

Secondly, Michael Keaton’s Batman was campy and fun.  He told great jokes and was able to have a laugh at himself.  It’s like he KNEW this shit was comic books, man.  He wasn’t trying to get all philosophical about it, he was just there to bust some noses, spend some Wayne Enterprises money, and kiss the pretty girls.  I admire his simplicity.  Jack Nicholson is so enjoyable as the Joker that his performance elicits giggles of delight.

And finally, the reason I hold Michael Keaton up as the Batman Standard which all other Batmen have failed to measure up to:  Well, this guy says it better than I can , but Keaton’s Batman’s whole purpose was wrapped up in his alter-ego. They weren’t so easily separated as Christian Bale’s version.  He wasn’t ALSO Bruce Wayne.  Bruce Wayne in the Keaton films was a regular guy who lit up and came alive when he answered the call to save Gotham.  I get goosebumps just thinking about it.

So Happy Michael Keaton Week, everyone.

I hope you get the opportunity to sit down with your loved ones tonight and watch Batman, followed by Batman Returns, a cinematic masterpiece starring one of the sexiest set of lips that has ever graced the big screen.  And also Michelle Pfeiffer’s.

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I am the (K)night

Care Bear Scare

This is so funny and I had nowhere to post it, so here you are…

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…and I don’t really have anything further to add to that.

((not my art, artist unknown))