I Guess My Name Will Never Be an Adjective

The whole blogging every night during Lent thing? I’m sorry, but it isn’t going to happen. I don’t have the inspiration to risk it, much less the mental fortitude to fail. Moreover, I don’t feel like I have that much to say.

That paragraph sounds far more dismal than it should. I’m doing fine. It’s my weekend, and I’m relaxing with a few nice movies. It’s Florida-cold outside, and I have a warm cat snugged into my left side. I’m sure this is more for his benefit than mine. Selfish, handsome bastard, like a Meow Mix-eating Marcello Mastroianni.

Speaking of whom, I just watched Fellini’s “8-1/2.” Fellini made this film when he found he didn’t know what to do for his next film. The story concerns Guido (Mastroianni), a noted film director who finds he doesn’t know what to do for his next film.

Fellini obviously knew how people saw him and his work. At different points, we delve into Fellini’s childhood, his love life, his relationship with the press, and his own very odd imagination. After Guido clears his head of tormenting naysayers, here comes the perfect Fellini touch: a marching band of circus freaks (plus one nicely uniformed little boy, representing the director’s childhood), along with a parade of everybody who’s been in the movie. Everyone joins hands, and dances in a merry circle around the marching band. Eventually, Guido gets up, joins them, and dances along, until they all parade happily into the dark.

It was, for lack of a better word, a “Fellini-esque” ending.

That’s sort of where my head has been. I’m hard-pressed to focus on one capital-t Topic every night. I’m feeling less-Abyssy than I have in many moons, and it’s not that I have writer’s block. I just couldn’t try and focus on the same thing from different angles, night after night for 46 crazy nights. Next year, maybe I’ll revisit “Casablanca” again. On the other side of a depressive breakdown, that could be sort of fun.

Fellini had this way of translating his weird brain into films. I guess that’s sort of what I do here, writing these sometimes tedious, sometimes whimsical Dispatches.

Toward the end of “8-1/2,” I paused it to go grab a fresh Diet Pepsi (and to offload an old Diet Pepsi). I came back, and–during my own little intermission–I went to check my e-mail. I opened my browser, and instinctively clicked the tab to open my e-mail, but I saw something on the main news page that struck me. Former country music star Mindy McCready shot and killed herself Sunday.

I sorta-kinda met her years ago. She once dated a former friend of mine, and they remained good friends.

That’s an odd expression: “a former friend of mine.” It almost sounds like we were once friends, then he did something, and now we’re bitter enemies. It’s not like that at all. It goes back to my comet theory. I am like a comet, and my relationships with people are generally like the relationships between comets and planets. I’ll be a faint blot on the horizon initially, then approach to burn bright in their sky for awhile. Once we naturally move apart, I gradually fade into a faint blot again. I’m okay, and they’re okay. We’re just moving in our respective orbits, and our time together was kismetically fleeting.

That’s how that friend and I were. We were friends, then we drifted apart. It happens.

Anyway, one time, Mindy McCready called him to chat. Sensing a long call, he got up to grab his beverage. He said, “Here. Talk to Tom for a second.” He handed me the phone. “It’s Mindy.” Our conversation was very limited–an exchanged volley of “Hi, how’s it going?s,” and “Good”s, followed by a “Well, here’s Paul again. See ya.” I wasn’t star-struck, because I didn’t listen to country music at the time. I’d never heard her sing. I still don’t think I have. After knowing him, I was, however, aware enough of her to notice every time she made headlines. She did that quite a bit. Sophocles would read Mindy McCready’s biography and shake his head. “Nobody would ever believe that one person could go through that much shit. THAT is a tragedy, ffs.” She made Oedipus look like “Seinfeld.”

I’m not sad tonight. I feel bad that she felt eating a bullet was her only solution. I know time had not been kind to her, but still, that’s such a permanent, irrevocable choice to make. As Chris the Shrink put it, “a permanent solution to temporary problems.”

I am a comet, and we comets persevere.

What’s been strange my past couple years of cometry, has been reconnecting with girls from decades past. Calling them “girls” isn’t unadvised, either–they WERE girls when I knew them. My oft-derided and mocked Facebook facilitated these odd reunions.

KK was my first girlfriend. We did little besides hold hands and hang out, but I felt all tummy-knotted and turned into a blathering gomer whenever I saw her. She had the most beautiful brown eyes, too, like firelight through a snifter of really good Cognac. She changed schools suddenly, and I never saw or heard from her again. I always wondered what had happened; I never forgot her. I wasn’t obsessed or stalkery–I moved on with my life too–but because I didn’t know, I always wondered. Until she found me on FB. In catching up with her the past couple years, I’m sure we’ve learned a Jupiter’s worth more about each other than we ever did during our bus stop conversations.

Jenny and I were never boyfriend and girlfriend. We loved each other as friends, and trusted each other with a lot. No sex or anything–we made out exactly once–but I think she was my first soulmate. We knew each other when I was at FSU. She worked at the same radio station I did, and we’d spend every Friday night (and most Tuesdays) getting completely stoned, watching movies on cable, and creating extremely odd creations to sate the munchies. She was five-foot-nothing and about 98 pounds, and I was six-two and weighed about 2.5 Jennies. When I was still in college, she and I had some grand adventures. Some cold winter nights, we’d drive out of the city, way beyond the lights. Then we’d smoke a joint, lie on the hood of my Corolla, and look up at the kabillion stars glowing above us. One night, we got sent to man our station’s booth at the North Florida State Fair. We basically had to sit there and hand out bumper stickers or something–we didn’t stay there more than a few minutes. It was too bright, and we were a bit too high to be in that expo hall. PLUS, we had to interview a singer whose lone hit was so old, that WBGM wouldn’t even play it. This was one of the worst interviews in the history of radio, and I don’t think it ever aired. Seriously, when I interviewed Art Garfunkel, it helped that I could name–and sing his harmony parts on–two or three dozen songs. This guy at the fair? No such luck.

Anyway, J and I kept in touch for a few years, at least till 9/11. I knew she was in NYC, and I found out she’d gotten married to a New York-based Australian. Now–on this cometic pass-by–I find they’ve actually moved to a tiny seaside village in Oz. She encountered her first seven-foot-long python the other day. I’d have passed-out, but she took a picture (she may have passed-out after, though).

Welcome to Oz, J.  (Photo Credit: Jenny)

Welcome to Oz, J. (Photo Credit: Jenny)

SO…

After a period of years, my cometary orbit has brought me back into these two women’s lives, as we comets are wont to do. Maybe, writ sufficiently large, my orbit would cross Staceypunkin’s, or some other person I’ve left bitter in my stellar dust. It’s impossible to know where life will lead you, especially if–like me–you have absolutely no idea where the hell you are now. The relationships in my life have all been pleasant surprises, where someone I had no idea existed quickly becomes one of the truly important people in my life. Sometimes–like KK or Jenny–they never fade from my memory. Other times, I can’t remember a person’s name an hour after I last see them. Some people I’ve known all my life (or all of theirs), but only because I’m related to them. I wish them well, but I can’t force friendship solely based on sharing genetic forbears.

My Sunday night was a good one. I watched one of Fellini’s best films, his passionate testament to whimsy, depression, dreams, fantasies, childhood and adulthood, and relationships both good and bad, waxing and waning. I noted sadly the untimely death of a very passionate woman–she was passionate in love and hate, substance abuse, music, and living too fast.

I note their passion–Federico’s and Mindy’s–even though I’m one of the least passionate people I know. I was passionate about drinking for many years, till I broke up with it. Now, I guess my only true passion would be writing. It’s not an overarching, kd langish constant craving, but when I write, I do so passionately. I hate when I read something I wrote, only to adjudge it lame or, worse yet, limp. I may write tedious inanities, but by Christ, my semicolons will be used correctly; incorrect semicolon use galls me.

Most of all, I’m passionate enough about writing, that I won’t force myself to do it just to do it. “Lent in Casablanca” was a blast to write, but there were some nights where the prospect of writing another post about that movie was horribly daunting, and I was in reasonably good mental shape at the time. Now, I feel like I just had the mental equivalent of major knee surgery, and I’m recovering well. I can walk mentally, but playing 46 consecutive nights of brain rugby would be pushing it. (Plus, at some point during Lent, I may comet my way periaptic to some hot chick, and I’d hate to have a blogligation hanging over my head.)

So, my apologies for wussing out on my original Lenten commitment, but look at it this way: it’s 800 fewer words of crap for you to read each day.

I’m sorry; and you’re welcome.

Oh, SHIT! Tom's back from the damned Oort Cloud already?

Oh, SHIT! Tom’s back from the damned Oort Cloud already?

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3 Responses to “I Guess My Name Will Never Be an Adjective”

  1. Lent is overrated. Besides, if you were Catholic or Lutheran and living in Minnesota, you’d be giving up chocolate. Because that’s considered a big deal out there. 😀

    (Seriously: when we were going to an Episcopalian church, aka Catholic Lite, my daughters’ Sunday school teacher encouraged them to give up something for Lent. The girls chose chocolate. Then they began to stockpile Easter candy for a month. On Easter Sunday they had a massive chocolate binge that led to them missing school the next day, they were so sick. So those are my thoughts about Lent.)

    I think many of us are comets. Facebook seems to allow more people to keep tenuous contact with each other, but I don’t like social media, so a lot of old friends have fallen by the wayside. (Hey, I sent them Christmas cards and the like, but they never responded. If they moved and didn’t have the courtesy to even tell me, then fie on them.) People also grow in different directions; a person whom I thought was a secular humanist suddenly became “born again” and began ruining gettogethers with his “Have you made friends with Jesus?” spiel. Another left her husband and two adopted daughters and took off with a younger man. They moved to Wisconsin, which meant we were never going to speak to each other again in this life. (I kid, but it felt like that.)

    It’s sad. But I guess that means we should make the most of the times when we’re able to enjoy each other’s company.

    I like listening to Green Day’s “Time of Your Life” when I think about old friends and acquaintances. The song summarizes how I feel about them.

    • That’s a perfect song for reminiscing. I don’t “celebrate” Lent–although, how you can call 6.5 weeks of deprivation “celebrating,” I’ll never understand. I don’t think God would want us to be miserable over one-ninth of the year. Were I required to give up something, I’d be torn between giving up my IV heroin habit or marathon running. These seem like I could live without them pretty easily, since I’ve never done either. “Lent in Casablanca” was just an experiment to see whether I could do it. Mostly, I did okay–I think I managed 32 posts in 46 days, or something like that. Some were good; others were cop-outs.

      I liked the idea of doing it this year, but I couldn’t come up with a solid topic, nor do I think my brainz could handle it. There’s pressure, ya know. Like dem good Lutherans giving up lutefisk for Lent.

      I marvel more at my friends who got married in and just-after college and are still together, than I do those who’ve gone a little cray-cray. Sadly, perhaps, the happily married/good parent ones are in the minority.

      I’ve noticed something I call the “Facebook Fenomenon” (sic: I think FB allows people to be less literate, so I’ll go with the cheap alliteration in their dishonor). Time and again, I’ve connected with someone from high school or an old radio station, and we shoot each other giant “I’ve been up to ___/What have you been up to?” messages. Each volley gets shorter, till after two or three exchanges, you end up never speaking to that person again. By gods, you know where they are–right in your friends list–but you realize that for the past 20 years, you really weren’t missing them, that your life is no more enriched for having them reappear, that you don’t really care what was happening to them, and that they don’t really care about you either. It’s the novelty, the “Whoa. I haven’t thought of ____ in forever, and now…” “I just wanna scream, `Hello!’ My God, it’s been so long. Never dreamed you’d return. But now here you are. And here I am!”

      (Pearl Jam’s “Elderly Woman” is another, more cynical personal reminiscing song 😉 )

      I guess I didn’t give up being a snarky motherfucker for Lent, did I?

      Happy Presidents’ Day, Professor Gozen.

      • Thanks, tom, I hope you had a good Prez weekend too.

        I had to add something re social media. I joined Linked In at the suggestion of my kids, who thought I needed to “network” more online to get a job. (It hasn’t worked.) Shortly thereafter, a former co-worker “friended” me or whatever they call it on a professional site. I was so excited, I sent him a “Hey! How are ya!” email. After that, nothing. He never responded. He didn’t even offer me a job, the rat. I think I was just a cheap hookup on the innerwebs for him. *sniff*

        I love “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter…” My favorite Pearl Jam song. I listened to it as I was driving into Washington State to visit my son. There are a lot of small towns along I-5 as you drive towards Seattle, and the weather can be gloomy and sunless as a grunge rock song. I can’t imagine growing up there, let alone staying the rest of your life.

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