Tuesday, May 31, 2005
File this under the "Because you asked for it" section.
When I started work on this new book, Vicky would ask me, "Where does it end?"
My reply would be, "Whatever date I stop writing it on - that will be the end of the book." That seemed reasonable, I supposed, but I realized later that it made for a horrible ending to a book. Books need story arcs and development of some kind and ending it "Whenever" didn't fulfill any of that.
Then, a few weeks ago, Vicky and I realized what the ending should be. I should return to the Grand Canyon and face the demon I'd left behind when I went to kill myself, years ago. That's an ending!
So, we packed up the car and set off Saturday morning for my return - not realizing, of course, that Memorial Day weekend would be a pretty dumb time to return. After driving through the Monster, years ago, there wasn't a soul there. Saturday, it was packed!
We had to stop over a mile before we reached our goal, because of the long line of cars waiting to get in. Slowly, then, we progressed. I was nervous the whole - the whole trip! Mind you, I didn't think I'd suddenly get the urge to jump. (And, writing today, I can tell you with some certainty that I probably didn't.) But it was like chasing a ghost, following the trail of my own specter, that broken man who had come out here to jump over the side.
Waiting there to get in, in bumper to bumper traffic, it began to rain. Perfect, I thought. Of course, I'd be welcomed back with rain!
But, upon entering, the rain stopped. We found a place to park and we walked to the edge.
I didn't know what to expect.
We got to the rim… and here's what happened in the first, few seconds there, which I didn't tell Vicky. Like working an old wound - my shattered wrist, say - something popped inside. I felt something inside of me whimpering, weak. "Oh, god," it said. "I really wanted to jump." My guts did a summersault. But I remained okay. It was actually kind of anti-climactic. I said, "Yep. Really big hole in the ground."
I could see nowhere that I could have jumped, no precipice that led straight to the bottom. There was always some kind of slope. I would have spent hours looking for the right spot.
I turned to Vicky. "Okay, let's go," I said.
Well, she wanted to spend a little more time there than that. We took some pictures at the edge. Then, we drove to some tables and had ourselves a picnic.
I hope you'll allow me to digress for a moment to mention how great Vicky is. She's wonderful. She let me walk out to the edge and didn't once ask me if I was okay. She knew I was conflicted but didn't do or say anything to make me think she thought I was still crazy. She had faith in me. And then, she made me lunch under some wonderful shade.
Returning to the place where you nearly killed yourself is a lot like walking over your own grave. She knew I needed to do it and she had a picnic ready for me there.
Could I love her more?
After, as it was getting late, we started to drive out. We took Highway 64, south, to US-180, which led to Flagstaff. We were heading to Phoenix and I would normally take the major highways, 40 to 73… but we decided to do things a little different.
We drove on a road we'd never been on, without a map, to wherever it went. We weren't entirely sure it would take us to Flagstaff. We navigated entirely by dead reckoning.
"It's how I do most things," I told her. "Writing. Acting. Most relationships are navigated by dead reckoning."
"Even ours," she asked, with a smile in her voice.
"Especially ours! How do you think I knew to propose two months after we met? I'd been burned so many times before but there was no doubt in my mind that you were the one."
On the horizon, a massive thunderhead painted the sky with lightning - another Monster waiting for someone to pass through. But not me. Not this time.
And so we drove into approaching night, not looking back once.
Friday, May 27, 2005
Then, the neo-con-artists make out like it's the media's fault we're at war with Iraq and Afghanistan, for dissing the Koran...
(No, it doesn't make sense. And that's the point.)
Now, it turns out that the FBI has documented evidence that US soldiers dissed the Koran - which fits so handily with all the torture and misery we've been propogating in our many Gulags.
Mind you, the Pentagon is now calling the FBI "uncredible"... because they must not be PATRIOTIC enough...
Meanwhile, Shrub has admitted that there were no WMDs, and the Downing Paper provides evidence that he lied to start a war... but that's okay.
Thursday, May 26, 2005
Just another example of the folks at My Side going OC Metroblogging!
(This shameless plug brought to you by the fine people at Plugs4Pugs, providing shameless plugs to politicians, celebrities, and plain old shmoes since quite some time ago...)
But since I've reached the second third of this book, and haven't posted nearly as much as I had originally intended, I'd make today's story an excerpt from my new book, which tells how I became a playwright. It started at the second cast party for 40 Carats... and goes something like this...
It took nearly two weeks to plan and, by that time, we were ready. But actors are a transient breed, one job finishes and another begins, so we had to make the party last to allow windows for everyone's schedule.
Which gave us plenty of time to drink.
The party was a Sherryl's house, down in south county. Sherryl's husband was gone on another trip and we were drinking and music was playing. Before long, Sherryl and I were in each other's arms, dancing in the front room while everyone was in the back. Amidst the dancing, there was kissing. Suddenly, Annie Mezzacappa walked in the room to ask Sherryl where her restroom was. She only got about half the sentence out, which ended in a gasp. If the rest of the cast didn't know what was going on, they knew now.
We rejoined the group outside.
That sunny afternoon in May, we were all seated around a fire pit in the back yard, talking about the show. We had all worked together so well that the conversation seemed to focus and refocus on one thing: that we should all work together again and soon. But how to do it? Theaters had their seasons planned already. We certainly couldn't hijack a theater! What to do…
"Well, Ken's a writer. He could write a play and we could all be in it." I don't remember if it was Annie Mezzacappa or Lori Williams who said that but they were each sitting at either side of me and it could have been either of them.
The other agreed that it was a great idea.
"No. You don't understand," I said. "I write books - and I haven't written a book in years." The last book I had started was Vampire Society, and that was in late 1999.
"So," one of them said, "it can't be that hard. And you're really talented. You should do it!"
The other agreed.
And then, the rest of the cast agreed.
I said, "You're forgetting that just because I write a play doesn't mean it will get on stage. I'd need a director. There's no sense in writing a show if I don't have a director."
Steve Gomer leaned forward. "Ken, if you wrote a show, I'd direct it."
I would have gasped - but my foot was tickling my tonsils. I had to think of a way out of this mess and I had to do it fast; I was fighting a very large swell.
I thanked Steve but added, "If I'm going to go through all the trouble of writing a play, it only seems right that I get cast. In fact, I wouldn't write a play I couldn't act in."
Steve said, "Ken, we all know how talented you are, and you're a very good actor. If you write a play, I'll cast you in any part you want."
Which sealed it.
I was stuck.
And that's how I became a playwright.
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
... let's stop there, please!
I've always heard that a mid-sized book is about 100,000 words. It is by that estimate that I announce: I have now completed 1/3 of the new book!
Yes, I'm firmly on the path that leads to the Grand Canyon. Presently, I am writing about 40 Carats, Sherryl... all sorts of craziness. In fact, if one thing has become clear to me, it's that I started heading towards the Grand Canyon years before I started driving there. (And this book tells you how!)
I still don't know if this book is for the public or for me but now that I've started it, I feel compelled to complete it.
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
Hold on. You okay? Get up off the floor. Now, sit down. Relax. It's going to be okay.
Yes, the Atheist has been reading his Bible.
I have three.
Why? Well the right-wing neo-con-artists have done their amount of spouting about how Jesus hated gays, how Jesus hated the sick, how Jesus hated the poor…
As close as I recall, Jesus didn't hate anyone.
So, I was reading the other night. Ephesians. Chapter 5. Verse 21.
"Be subject to one another…"
Subject to one another?
There's something you don't see. What would the world be like if we did as the Bible says, if we were subject to one another? Subject to the poor? Subject to the meek? Subject to the weak? Subject to the hungry and the sick and less fortunate?
It would be a world without right-wing neo-con-victs, that's what.
No wonder they forget stuff like that.
Friday, May 20, 2005
Mr. Dilawar asked for a drink of water, and one of the two interrogators, Specialist Joshua R. Claus, 21, picked up a large plastic bottle. But first he punched a hole in the bottom, the interpreter said, so as the prisoner fumbled weakly with the cap, the water poured out over his orange prison scrubs. The soldier then grabbed the bottle back and began squirting the water forcefully into Mr. Dilawar's face.
"Come on, drink!" the interpreter said Specialist Claus had shouted, as the prisoner gagged on the spray. "Drink!"
At the interrogators' behest, a guard tried to force the young man to his knees. But his legs, which had been pummeled by guards for several days, could no longer bend. An interrogator told Mr. Dilawar that he could see a doctor after they finished with him. When he was finally sent back to his cell, though, the guards were instructed only to chain the prisoner back to the ceiling.
"Leave him up," one of the guards quoted Specialist Claus as saying.
Several hours passed before an emergency room doctor finally saw Mr. Dilawar. By then he was dead, his body beginning to stiffen. It would be many months before Army investigators learned a final horrific detail: Most of the interrogators had believed Mr. Dilawar was an innocent man who simply drove his taxi past the American base at the wrong time.
"Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: 'Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.'"
"All these I have kept since I was a boy," he said.
When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. Jesus looked at him and said, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
I started as a Marketing Writer, you see. Then, after a couple of years doing that, I was removed from that position because, as it was explained to me, "We don't need Marketing Writer." Or badges, even. So, I was demoted to "Writer" and I wrote both Marketing and Technical material. Then, last year, they hired a new Marketing Writer, which I was not qualified to apply for, and I was demoted to "Technical Writer". But the Technical Writers didn't really write, not as such. We copied what others wrote and pasted it into a pre-ordained format.
We were formatters.
And so it was that I went from writing the copy for data sheets (think flyers) to copying and pasting the copy onto data sheets. I was also told that I could never ever nerver - neuvenbaum - change the copy no matter how inaccurate or stupid it was, lest I hurt someone's feelings.
Monday, we began a new chapter in the saga. On Monday, the guy who writes the copy got tired of people telling him how crappy it is and - probably inspired by the (burning) Bush administration - claimed that it was the fault of the Technical Writers for not fixing his writing. That's where I came in. Why didn't we fix his writing, I was asked. Well, because we were told not to. Who told me? The people asking me the very question. Did I have written proof? No, because nothing is put in writing. I don't even have a job description. So, why are the writers trying to back out of this? Why don't they write? Why do they foist their responsibilities on others?!
There was no backing out. Fine, I said, if you'd like, I can rewrite his crap. No!, I was told. You have to respect him more than that - anyway, I'm not qualified.
And on and on it went.
I was hoping this would all blow over when the Hellmouth - my boss - left for vacation yesterday. He'd spent the week yelling at me for decisions he'd made. It had to be over… right?
You see, the guy complaining about the writing - done by a guy who writes so poorly, by the way, that he's already been responsible for one class-action lawsuit - still had crap writing to deal with. Now, his solution is for me to ANONYMOUSLY rewrite the writer's work, which would not result in any hurt feelings, I am assured.
If I don't help this guy and change someone else's work behind their backs, I have been told I'm hindering the process… even though I was told never ever nerver - NEUVENBAUM - to change the copy.
If I do this behind someone else's back… well, you see where this is going.
… ANYBODY GOT A JOB THEY WANT TO GIVE ME? I CLEAN TOILETS! REAL GOOD!
I've said many times that my luck improved when I met Vicky.
Do I need to give examples?
With Vicky, I found and bought a house. (Seriously, I never thought that would happen!)
With Vicky, we won our honeymoon trip. (For those not in "the know", we'll be going to the Bahamas.)
Now, we have the third - the trifecta.
This morning, on Star 98.7 (a local radio station), Vicky won an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii!!! We'll be staying at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki!
When will we go? We don't know - we already have our honeymoon booked! I guess we'll just HAVE to fit it in… somewhere!! (Oh, the burden!)
On most days, I feel like the luckiest guy in the world for having Vicky in my life. On days like these… Vicky, I think we need to look into you playing the lottery!
Thursday, May 19, 2005
So, with apologies, I use another's:
In Orwell’s 1984, the character Syme, one of the writers of that totalitarian society’s dictionary, explains to the protagonist Winston, “Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? Has it ever occurred to you, Winston, that by the year 2050, at the very latest, not a single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation as we are having now? The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking — not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.”
An unconscious people, an indoctrinated people, a people fed only on partisan information and opinion that confirm their own bias, a people made morbidly obese in mind and spirit by the junk food of propaganda, is less inclined to put up a fight, to ask questions and be skeptical. That kind of orthodoxy can kill a democracy — or worse.
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
"Senator, I am not now, nor have I ever been, an oil trader. and neither has anyone on my behalf. I have never seen a barrel of oil, owned one, bought one, sold one - and neither has anyone on my behalf.
"Now I know that standards have slipped in the last few years in Washington, but for a lawyer you are remarkably cavalier with any idea of justice. I am here today but last week you already found me guilty. You traduced my name around the world without ever having asked me a single question, without ever having contacted me, without ever written to me or telephoned me, without any attempt to contact me whatsoever. And you call that justice.
"Now I want to deal with the pages that relate to me in this dossier and I want to point out areas where there are - let's be charitable and say errors. Then I want to put this in the context where I believe it ought to be. On the very first page of your document about me you assert that I have had 'many meetings' with Saddam Hussein. This is false.
"I have had two meetings with Saddam Hussein, once in 1994 and once in August of 2002. By no stretch of the English language can that be described as "many meetings" with Saddam Hussein.
"As a matter of fact, I have met Saddam Hussein exactly the same number of times as Donald Rumsfeld met him. The difference is Donald Rumsfeld met him to sell him guns and to give him maps the better to target those guns. I met him to try and bring about an end to sanctions, suffering and war...
"Now, Senator, I gave my heart and soul to oppose the policy that you promoted. I gave my political life's blood to try to stop the mass killing of Iraqis by the sanctions on Iraq which killed one million Iraqis, most of them children, most of them died before they even knew that they were Iraqis, but they died for no other reason other than that they were Iraqis with the misfortune to born at that time. I gave my heart and soul to stop you committing the disaster that you did commit in invading Iraq. And I told the world that your case for the war was a pack of lies.
“I told the world that Iraq, contrary to your claims did not have weapons of mass destruction. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to al-Qaeda. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to the atrocity on 9/11 2001. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that the Iraqi people would resist a British and American invasion of their country and that the fall of Baghdad would not be the beginning of the end, but merely the end of the beginning.
"Senator, in everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to be right and you turned out to be wrong and 100,000 people paid with their lives; 1600 of them American soldiers sent to their deaths on a pack of lies; 15,000 of them wounded, many of them disabled forever on a pack of lies.
"If the world had listened to Kofi Annan, whose dismissal you demanded, if the world had listened to President Chirac who you want to paint as some kind of corrupt traitor, if the world had listened to me and the anti-war movement in Britain, we would not be in the disaster that we are in today. Senator, this is the mother of all smokescreens. You are trying to divert attention from the crimes that you supported, from the theft of billions of dollars of Iraq's wealth.
Thanks to Krup, who has a great Blog - you should read it - for the transcript.
I mean, the (burning) Bush administration is pinning all of the evil in world now on… Newsweek Magazine! Because, you know, they have so much more influence than the leader of the "free" world.
What about (burning) Bush's illegal war that has killed thousands? What about Brit Blair's 2002 memo stating that Bush was readying to go to war with Iraq long before they dreamed up the nightmare of WMDs? What about Senator Graham's accusation that he heard about it long before that but never dreamed it could be true? What about the nightmare dismantling of our press, which doesn't even bother to report these things? Have you seen the news recently? No? That's because there is none! It's all petty gossip!
Unbelievable and Nightmare - those are the only words that suffice.
And so, unable to write about this, I turn to Keith Olbermann's blog. One of the last real journalists, in a world where the best journalists turn out to be stand-up comics, he's summarized the current state of things very well and I'd advice you to give him a read.
And try to wake the fuck up.
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
I'm talking about the gym.
And now it all makes sense, doesn't it?
I've been running after work for a while now. I drive on down to the gym and run a leisurely 4.5 miles/hour or so. Well, I've decided that time is short and clothes are not nearly loose enough!
Tonight, I'll be running at 5 miles/hour. Sure, this is about as faster as your garden variety snail but, for fat, old me, that's something. After 45 minutes of that, I should be ready to go home.
… but wait. How will I listen to my MP3 player if I'm running that fast? With my (CRAP) headphones, they'll fall right out!
What to do?
Oh, I know! I'll ride the bike for 1/2 hour after that so I can listen to my MP3 player!
… Those who thought I'd regained my sanity are now thinking again...
Thursday, May 12, 2005
So, today, Vicky and I went to her jewelers to buy my mom a present. (I call it "her jewelers" because, well, she pretty much keeps the woman in business… recently, it's been me!) Vicky had gone before and found a beautiful bracelet. I can tell you comfortably because I know my mom doesn't read this site. Today, Vicky and I picked it up.
It wouldn't be an insult to say that Vicky is not the warmest person in the world. She nice - don't get me wrong - in fact, she's wonderful, but she's not prone to showering affection. That's more my style. But as we looked through jewelry, we also looked at wedding rings. (Those paying attention will know she already has hers. This one was for me.) The closer we get to the wedding, the more I'm freaking out about it. Looking at wedding rings made me even more freaked out. But standing there with her, holding her, talking about wedding rings felt so right somehow.
I love Vicky very much.
After, I suggested we have lunch. So, we drove over to Carrows. Inside, I said, "Could we have a table for two, please?"
The waitress, a short, stodgy, Winston Churchill of a woman said, "Sure thing, honey. Follow me." in a voice that sounded like any smoker's worst nightmare. You could imagine her chain-smoking through a tracheotomy hole.
Carrows is far from the Ritz, alphabetically or otherwise. In fact, Vicky and I often joke, "You take me to the nicest places." But it's so rare that I get to share a lunch with her, it was worth it.
Then, we had to split as we returned to our jobs.
Driving back on a day as hot as today, with the rippling heat of the asphalt invading my car, I thought only of Vicky and how - my god - we'd be married in just a few months. Terrifying!
Something else occurred to me as well. And it made me smile.
I've said that writing this autobiographical novel is good for me but this was unexpected. A new story came to mind. I've been living off the threads of old stories for so long, it was like tasting treats from childhood.
Here's the story: There's this young man who has the unique talent of knowing, wherever he is, what had happened there before. He'd be in a garden at a stranger's house and say, "A small child named Maria would play with her dolls out here and her parents would worry that she'd spend so much time alone but she was perfectly all right." And the stranger would say, "That was my grandmother!" One day, this young man met a girl and, after they were married, his talent went away. Before too long, the girl was ostracized for taking away his talent. But when they had a son, they could see that something of his talent went to the boy, and they were happy.
Not much of a story, I'll grant you. In fact, it's only a piece of a story. But seeing this - I see stories, if you can imagine that - made me realize another way I'm so blessed to have Vicky in my life. I feel as if being with her is bringing me new stories to tell and tell them I will.
It was a nice lunch.
Look at this: Impaired near-range vision may speed older adults' rate of mental decline as they age, study findings suggest.
... or, should I say, Vicky's screwed....
And this is where everything took a completely unimaginable turn.
Rosa could have done any of a hundred things in response to my not cheating on her. She decided to begin telling me I should do just that. That's right. She started telling me that I should, that I ought to, that she would prefer it if I would sleep with another woman.
Segue, then, to sleeping with the woman with whom I'm about to be wed… so very much has changed in just five years!
I've noticed something over those years. There are different kinds of sleeping. Among the many ways you can subdivide sleep, there is "single" sleep and "married" sleep. In nearly a year with Vicky, we always had the sleep of single people - sleep with distinct boundaries, lines of demarcation, no-man's lands, mine fields, and, yes, moats. (We have an interesting bed.) But last night, something remarkable happened and I felt the sleep of married people for the first time. (Okay, so we're not married yet. Piss off!) Vicky didn't lay her mines or set up her razor-wire and I could feel two, individual sets of personal space merge into one.
(No, this isn't a sexual reference.)
When I told Vicky this morning, she thought I was crazy. "It doesn't mean anything," she said. Maybe not to her, but I take it as a sign. See, I'm a big fan of "married" sleep and look forward to a lifetime of it.
… or however long I have before Vicky kills me in my sleep to stop my snoring…
… which is still counted as a lifetime…
Vicky also says she moved close because Suki, our dog, pushed her over. But she can't fool me. She digs me. As a woman, she can't help it. (Ken ducks.)
Segue, then, to Suki and walking her yesterday.
As we were out on the street, I noticed a car of high school aged boys, all wearing their baseball caps to the side… and I had to laugh. It makes sense, of course, what else do they have? They can't wear it face-front and they can't turn it around - after all, that was in their uncle's day, wasn't it? And they wear it to the right or left, leaving very little choice for future generations.
And so, for the next generation, I provide this advice: Berets! Think of it! Berets! It'll be completely different from your father, your uncle, and your older brother - all worthy of rebelling against - while totally cool with your grandfather, who will then leave you money when he dies, which could be in minutes!
Or, better yet, go Dutch! That's right! Dutch! That way, you'll be rebelling against your entire nation. The US has always hated the Dutch. Ever hear of Dutch Fries? Or Dutch Toast? Hell, no!
And multiple, complete abdominal piercing with attached, cloned appendages!
(Let's hurry up this bizarre turn so when my kid's turn comes they'll just go back to wearing long hair…)
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
Want to know more? I'm glad to help.
Frightening news broke this weekend when a (buring) Bush advisor, Matthiew Simmons, said, "There is a big chance that Saudi Arabia actually peaked production in 1981. We have no reliable data. Our data collection system for oil is rubbish. I suspect that if we had, we would find that we are over-producing in most of our major fields and that we should be throttling back. We may have passed that point."
Check out these links. There's a lot to this story that you need to read.
What does this mean? First, it means that oil production could peak as soon as 2013, far earlier than the previous prediction of 2037. with production declining as little as 3% each year thereafter.
We're talking about oil passing $100/barrel within this decade. At about $50/barrel presently, this means we could see $5/gallon at the pump - or more. This could easily trigger global economic catastrophe and the end of things as we know them. Consider how dependent we are on oil, not just for transportation but for production, farming, and more.
Now, this is coming from a (burning) Bush advisor, the same people who told us there were WMDs. But I think that when these oil-hungry bastards advise caution, we should listen. Maybe it's time we all considered driving less, getting a Hybrid vehicle at the very least, and bracing ourselves for hard times to come.
Monday, May 09, 2005
Well, great news for me, at least. Now, I'll work on writing only one book! I wrote nearly 2000 words today but much of that was stolen from letters of the time. I'm coming up on when I wrote my monologues, so I can steal lots of material there. Self-plagiarism, that's the name of this tune!
For those wondering when Vampire Society began, well, I have news for you. Working on this new book, Grand Canyon, I found a letter to Blanche back around Christmas of 1998 - and I had 25,000 words to Vampire Society then.
About damned time, I finished it!!!
Friday, May 06, 2005
She's pretty cool, I gotta admit.
We're going hiking tomorrow. Some of you might not know about all the rain we got this week but Vicky's totally into the idea of hiking out there, rain or shine, mud or dirt, plastic or paper… uh, forget the last one. Anyway, that's pretty cool and I'm really looking forward to it. We're going to a place called Holy Jim Falls. Jim wasn't there to complain to last time I went and there were no falls (they'd all dried up) but there should be plenty this time. We'll be trekking through not only some wet ground but some running creeks as well. Yep, she's going to get her money's worth tomorrow!
And that's pretty great. It would be a great thing, if that was the thing.
But it's not.
We went out to buy me some running shoes a couple of weeks ago. I usually go to Shoe City because it's cheap and, well, what? You want more?! It's cheap! Sadly, that also means… well, it's cheap. No service at all. If they have any good shoes, you're lucky to find them! Sometimes, I get lucky. (Shut up, Tim.) When we went, though, it was crappier than usual and I walked out, shoeless. (Well, I was wearing shoes, but…) So, Vicky says to me that I should wait a couple weeks and we can go to a regular shoe store, one that sells good shoes, one that'll maybe even help you find them. It doesn't matter that I can't afford them - because she's going help me get them. Cool!
Again, that's great, too. But that's not the thing.
I got a call from Vicky today, asking me if I'd like to go to the Hollywood Bowl. Oh, god, I thought. What for? Motley Crew? Sonic Death Monkeys? What am I in for? So, she tells me. Garrison Keillor's going to be performing with the philharmonic - and she wants to take me. How cool is that? How thoughtful? I'm totally - if you'll pardon the '80's terminology - stoked!
And, yes, that's pretty great, too. But that's not the thing.
The thing is this. I could never tell you how much I love Vicky because, no matter how great a writer I am, I am completely incapable. She's the best thing that has ever happened to me and I love her very much.
Thanks, Vic, for being so wonderful.
… And you're all mine!
Wednesday, May 04, 2005
Before I give you the update, there may be some of you who don't quite catch the irony of me writing a Grand Canyon book. Here it is. I hallucinated the Grand Canyon twice before I drove out there to kill myself. When I did, I didn't enter the park or see the Grand Canyon. Now, I'm writing a book called A Grand Canyon, which is an allegory for the disconnect I felt with, well, my life, basically. So, after those four events, it would be nice to, you know, actually see the place!
I finished Chapter Two: Ken and Rosa's Place today. It told about our lives from apartment to apartment to home, with our wedding in there and our first separation, along with tales of meningitis, shattered arms, and lots and lots of fighting.
Not that it was without humor, such as:
We saw the second counselor years later. (We may have already been in the house.) Here was his take: "The problem, Ken, is that you expect Rosa to contribute. You expect her to help out. You expect her to be supportive. Now, what right do you have to put all of these expectations on her?" I was out of there before our hour was up.
The next chapter will be called "The End of Ken & Rosa". This will start at the abortion, cover our tenth-year anniversary, tell about how we nearly split up and how we did split up. It'll cover about three years.
Vicky wasn't too clear on what I was doing or how I was doing it and I realized I hadn't explained things too well. After all, I have over 325,000 words right now and I say I've only started, and yet I'm at 1995. I've covered 30 years. Only started?
So, here's the deal. Only about 12,000 of those 325,000+ words are the actual book. The rest of the words are from letters, emails, and blog entries that I'm using as research and reference for the book. After all, having documented the past five years so thoroughly, I'm in a unique position to tell this story in very clear detail as it happened, sometimes using words I wrote at the time. Those 325,000+ words will mostly get eaten up as I progress through the years. The first couple of chapters covered a lot of material because it's meant as an overview, the "set up" if you will. (That is, if you consider the rest the "punch line".) It wouldn't make sense to start the book with "I lost my wife" without telling you how much Rosa meant to me at the time, would it? So, I cover 30 years in the first two chapters, three in the next, and just a few months in each chapter thereafter, with the final chapters spanning mere weeks. Heck, the chapter about the Grand Canyon will cover only one day!
So, now I begin the descent and tell about the end of my marriage - a story many of you know. Wish me luck...
Tuesday, May 03, 2005
Well, that happened to me tonight.
Al Stewart's new album is coming out soon. Those who know me know that my life is marked by Al Stewart albums. The first CD I ever bought was Time Passages. I opened my first apartment with Last Days of the Century. My first band, Limited Infinity, learned Year of the Cat from Rhymes in Rooms. I love Al's music. I don't think there's anything out there that can still touch that part of my heart burned away by age and bitterness like his music.
And, so, his new album is coming out. You can listen to one track from it, Mona Lisa Talking, by clicking the slideshow on this link... it's nothing that'll shock the hell out of you but it is quite exceptional. I listened to it over and over.
I can't wait until I get the disk...
I'm about halfway through and today, completely out of the blue, something occurred to me that hadn't hit the whole time I wrote the thing.
Throughout the novel, I talk about how the Vampire Society isn't just composed of Republican Senators and Televangelist heretics and corrupt CEOs. The Vampire Society is propagated from the roots. We are all Vampires.
And, for some reason, I recalled the New Testament, when it says, "We are all sinners."
Who among us is without sin?
Who among us has never acted as a Vampire?
And suddenly - oh my god - I realized that I've written an incredibly spiritual book. A self-professed atheist has written a spiritual book, coached in the language of an atheist. But, of course, there's bound to be a spiritual element. It's a love story and how could love be anything but spiritual?
This book never ceases to amaze me and I'm beginning to wonder who wrote it.
However I got a hold of it, it's a wonderful gift.
I can't help but think that this might be the one that catches some traction and maybe actually sells.
Wouldn't that be something?
So, here's a couple of weird things.
The biggest one is that I find it hard to write "Rosa". I keep wanting to write "Vicky". I guess my mind has replaced the woman I love, replaced "Rosa" for "Vicky". So, when I write about being in love, my mind thinks "Vicky", even though at the time it was "Rosa". I find this pretty funny.
The other things takes longer to explain.
After the divorce and after the suffering and after the Grand Canyon and after trying to get Rosa back, all I could remember, the only thought in my head, was how much I missed her and how much I'd lost. I felt completely bereft. But now, I've written about our first apartment:
Robert Sassone, an old, high-school friend of mine, had helped us move but there wasn't that much to help with. We had a bed, my old one from home, and a dresser, mine too. We took my desk and a couple bookcases, which were mine after all; I'd purchased them to house my books. Rosa had been buying things for the place for the past month: appliances, towels, plates, silverware. We moved all of it in the trunks of our cars, and the furniture was trucked over in a shuttle van that I sometimes drove for a job I had at a local hotel. Most of the work was done in short order and the three of us charged out to the grocery store to stock our larder. Rosa and I were filled with the excitement of the new place and Rob was having a dandy time, too. When we got home, Rosa made us Hamburger Helper and Rob and I sat on the balcony, watching the people pass below and thinking of what would be great to throw over. (Common at they may seem, water balloons were the best. You could aim them better. They had more heft.)
I've written about our wedding:
But then, she walked into the chapel, my father walking her down the aisle. Her dress, hand-made, was beautiful. Her dark brown hair fell down past her shoulders, framing her face in curls. And what a face! It was a face I could spend years looking at and continue to crave. Hers was a beauty that made you want to cry. She was the most beautiful woman in the world and, even to this day, after everything that has happened, remains in the top three. I loved her more than any man had a right to love anybody.
I've written about the romantic times:
You see, I'd been there about a month before and I'd spoken with the manager. The balcony wasn't being used by any parties that night and the manager was gracious enough to leave it for me. As we ascended the stairs, we saw he'd put the twinkle-lights on and I turned on the boom-box where he'd planted it. From the speakers, Harry Connick Jr. began to sing "It Had To Be You" and we danced.
Rosa and I would dance often, whether she wanted to or not. I would put my arms around her at the grocery store, in the produce aisle, and we'd dance. I'd come home from work, put my arms around her, and we'd dance. So, of course, we had to dance that night. Our heads were light from alcohol and romance as we danced and kissed over and over, high above Anaheim.
I've written about how she took care of me:
In the end, that procedure did little good. My arm had to be re-broken and a fixation device, which looked like a big rod attached to the outside of my arm and held in with pins, was applied. The device was on my arm for several months. As Rosa finished her nursing program, we actually made an educational video with the school called "Pin Care", for cleaning the holes that the pins went into. Rosa demonstrated. I starred as the arm. Rosa got her RN shortly thereafter and started her BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) program. I needed another surgery on my arm a couple of years later. The doctors have all told me I have a lot to look forward to when I'm old, mostly in the form of arthritis. Sure, I'm really looking forward to that.
Today, I also wrote about buying our house.
And it's helped me realize something. That maybe those 15 years weren't a wash, maybe you can take things with you even if you no longer have the life you once loved. Maybe this is closure. Maybe "closure" means to find the happiness again that you thought you'd lost and you can feel the loss and the love at the same time. I know it sounds like a paradox. It even sounds a bit goofy.
Originally, I'd decided to throw in the years with Rosa to help the story. You can't start it with, "I got divorced" because that doesn't mean anything without context. You can't say, "I was married to this shrew" because then there's no loss, just relief! Originally, I decided to tell about how my relationship with Rosa grew and changed and, eventually, self-destructed because that's what loss is about and it puts the next few years into perspective. But I'm glad to find that I'm taking something else away from it. The whole point of this is to come to terms with my last marriage and the loss of that before I start my next one and, without knowing it, I'm doing that much more that I had originally intended.
Yesterday, as I was paying the dentist for an hour of torture, the receptionist and I were talking about where the wedding would be. She'd known someone who got married at the Hacienda and told me that she loved it. She asked me, "Is this your first?"
And the answer caught in my throat. "No. This is my second."
And now I know the first one wasn't all bad. I wasn't a horrible person.
And the second one will be even better.
Monday, May 02, 2005
Now that you're a teenager, and filled with questions, towards the end of the second decade of the 21st century, I thought I'd take some time out and explain a few things to you.
I know you want to know about things like schools and health care and the world around us. Well, all I can say is, we got Bushed.
Why can't we afford to sent you to high school? Well, when your mother's job moved to Pakistan, all we had was my three part-time, minimum-wage, benefits-free, jobs to keep us afloat. But that still isn't enough to afford even the cheapest high school, even with vouchers. What can I tell you? Between "No Child Left Behind", the killer deficit, and fantastic trade agreements, we got Bushed.
Why can't you see a doctor? Well, you know my work situation. Benefits cost companies too much to offer all employees and I'm beginning to wonder what wisdom there is in keeping everything privatized. With the cuts to government aid, and no real attempt to create a health care system that worked despite all the talk, we got Bushed.
Why are we living in this apartment with so many other families? Well, my dear child, the idea of low-income housing was gone long before you were born, pretty much wiped off the face of the earth long before the 21st century. No attempt was made to keep good jobs here and after our economy was raped back in the first decade of this century, countries like China got rich as our country hemorrhaged wealth and we got Bushed.
But you can always join the army, my dear. I hear they're always looking for bright, young people. And, fortunately, they never reinstated the draft, so it doesn't matter how undereducated or sick you are as long as you can carry a gun. There's plenty of wars out there, for oil or water or what have you. They'll give you health care and maybe even educate you, too. So far, we've Bushed Afghanistan. We've Bushed Iraq. A lot of people got Bushed.
Oh, and sorry about the environment. Sorry, if you can't breathe. People told us, back in the early years of this century, that despite the crazy science we weren't doing any harm to our environment. If you could afford gasoline, you should burn as much as you could.
Sorry, child. We got Bushed.