Preface/Postscript to Love & Other Madness


You may have noticed that I no longer use this blog as my sounding board. 

It began as a place for me to sound off about the weirdness in my life.

My marriage  was failing, and my step-daughter Maya  had just undergone treatment for a brain tumor. I felt that I still loved my wife Linda, but she had become almost impossible to live with since her daughter had been diagnosed with the tumor. I say this now, but at the time, I simply couldn’t understand her coldness to me. She was depressed, of course, about Maya’s illness, and feared she was going to die. Even after Maya was operated on, experienced the hell of chemotherapy, and then had been through radiation treatments, Linda continued to be depressed and refused counseling. She believed that Maya would die. She drove me and Maya crazy with her obsession with that, despite the fact that Maya had survived and was found to be free of cancer. Her cancer had been an extremely rare brain tumor, one that had not spread to other parts of her body, and Maya’s blood and spinal fluid were free of any cancer cells. In short, there was every reason for optimism, but Linda would not let her fear go.

I learned, through the experience, that I loved Maya fiercely. I had lived with her about 13 years as she grew from girl  to woman,  and I had been shocked and scared as well that we would lose her. It was this possibility that Maya would die that hit me over the head with the fact that I loved her dearly. I hadn’t thought about it before. It was new to me that, (1.) I loved someone else besides my wife, and (2.) it was an unconditional love for another human being, and (3. ) she might die, and (4.) I didn’t want her to die. After she began treatment, I relaxed.  It looked as though she would survive. I felt something new: joy, joy that she would survive. I had been so depressed at the prospect that Maya could die, that the idea that she would not die came as the purest feeling of happiness I’d ever experienced. Up until that epiphany, I had never known such a feeling existed in reality.

In fact, I had been unhappy. Life with Linda had become difficult. Her negativity, her constant put downs, and her coldness were not new. She had been that way all along, and I simply didn’t care. I loved her, so I made excuses for her abusive behavior and her lack of human warmth and kindness to me. I was making do. During sex with her I felt closest to her, but sex was not something she cared much for. It was as though she allowed me to have sex as her duty as a wife. It was not something important to her. I had known passion with other women in the past. I loved Linda passionately, I felt, but she did not, could not, respond in kind. Such is life. I became accustomed to that, but I felt trapped. I wanted more from life. I was willing to accept that Linda gave me all she could, and my love for her was enough. Sometimes I felt that I deserved no better than that.

However, one day, when Linda roughly pushed me away when I touched her, I made a decision, a decision based on years of being pushed away, without explanation or gentleness: I was no longer going to stay committed to monogamy. This was the one relationship I’d had where I had actually felt monogamous. I hadn’t wanted other women. Other women were pretty, but not sexually attractive to me. My life before this marriage had been one in which I was always seeing or meeting women I felt physically attracted to. Being in love with Linda, I found her to be the only woman I wanted to be with. Now, I was tired of longing for her and being rejected over and over. I could have tolerated little or no sex if she had been respectful of me, of my opinions, my feelings, my hobbies. She was not. If she had given me any comfort at all during Maya’s illness, I’d have been happy. If she would have touched me sometimes, with a caress, or hug, or a warm kiss, I’d have stayed happy. But, there was none of that. I’d begun to feel as though I existed in her life only to provide entertainment, and pay the bills.

Having made this decision that I was open to other women, I began to notice the women at work, and notice that I could be attracted to other women than Linda. I spoke with a woman who worked in the department office, and found her appealing. Her accent and manner reminded me a bit of my brother Pat’s Texas wife, who he is now divorced from. She was very pretty. I lightly flirted with her, but she didn’t appear to be interested, although she was single and quite friendly. One day, at an office Xmas party, I was introduced to a young woman who worked part-time in the department: Karen.

Karen and I hit it off right away, discovering that we had an unusual but strong affection for a science fiction TV show,  Babylon 5. Trekkies didn’t seem to like it much, and although we had both been interested in Star Trek at one time, we had both been much more fascinated with the Babylon 5 universe created by J. Michael Straczynski. Karen pointed out articles and blogs by Straczynski, which showed that his politics and beliefs heavily influenced the show, and that those politics and beliefs were the same ones held by Karen and myself. This was beyond belief to me at first. I’d had never met anyone like her.

Over time we discovered a mutual admiration for certain science fiction authors, of the characterization in Marvel Comics, of Japanese Anime, and a love of peace, and justice. I came to believe Karen was like a soul mate to me, trite as that phrase is now. I fell in love with her. I desired her intensely. I lusted for her. She is quite sexy. Two major problems: (1.) I was married, and (2.) I was much older than her. At first, I was not that interested in Karen except as a friend; she was just too young. Over time, I decided, self indulgently, that I didn’t care about her age. She was in her middle 20’s and quite old enough for me after all. I found that, although I felt I still loved my wife, I wanted Karen. I loved her too. Initially I wanted both women; something very selfish, and very impossible. Karen made it clear she wasn’t like that. She would never be a married man’s lover. (In theory, since we rarely talked about anything personal). In fact she did not want to know anything about my wife, or hear me speak of her at all. I wondered about that; in my delirium, I thought it meant she was jealous of my married life, perhaps of my wife. I hoped it meant she cared for me. However, she never wanted to meet except  for lunch. Lunches with Karen became very exciting for me.

If you’ve read the entries in this blog, you know that things got worse and worse for me. Linda and I divorced. I briefly hoped that an obstacle to at least dating Karen was gone, but no, Karen told me that even going to a movie together (Silver Surfer) that we had both planned to see was like a date, and a date was inappropriate. After that, our relationship (we had been eating lunch together every Friday for about four years) deteriorated. She was more and more often busy, and just didn’t have time for me as often anymore. Our lunches became rare and awkward, and pretty much stopped. Between Karen and my divorce from Linda, I was often sad, and becoming more depressed by the day. My job no longer gave me any satisfaction, and I wanted out. The divorce had resulted in my loss of the house I had jointly owned, and all the money and time I had put into it. I had previously sold my own house, paying off debts Linda and I had accumulated, so I didn’t think I could retire, as I had no money left to buy another house of my own. I had been close to paying off the house Linda and I owned, but she got the house and I got to keep my pension. After two years, and giving it a lot of  thought, I said: “Fuck it,” and I retired anyway.

I didn’t see my ex-wife again for four years, and I never saw Karen again. I came to understand that Karen may well have been a substitute Linda, for one thing, in that I hoped to have my feelings for Linda reciprocated from Karen. I may have simply transferred my feelings for Linda over to Karen. But, there is an odder possibility that I spent much thought upon. Since Karen was just slightly older than my step-daughter Maya, and initially there was the possibility that Maya could die, perhaps I unconsciously began to substitute Karen for Maya? What that said about my feelings for Maya troubled me, but I came to believe that I wanted Karen more than anyone in the world, that I would die for her, that I would do anything for her, and she was all I ever wanted in the world anymore. It was, I believe, a psychological illness. I was loony tunes, out of my head (well, trapped in my head to be accurate). I no longer had any anchor to reality. Impossible things seemed possible, and the possible seemed false and unreal. I spiraled into a deep depression, and I really did want to die. There just didn’t seem to be any reason to live any more.

It took some time, some brief counseling, and a bit of antidepressant, but I lost all interest in Karen; I can no longer believe I was ever interested in her. It shocks me to think I thought I loved her. I loved my ex-wife Linda, and still do. I love my step-daughter Maya. Nothing else ever mattered; nothing else matters now. I have tried dating, but without success. A woman I used to hike with was very nice to me, but the relationship never went anywhere, and appears to have died out. I was initially extremely lonely and often horny, but all that seems to have faded away now.  I do not find most women attractive. Recently I found myself interested in another young woman, a model I took photographs of,  but that was brief, stupid and doomed to failure, for the same reasons my relationship with Karen was never going to go anywhere.

I once wrote, in the short story, The Boy Who Rode His Bicycle Into Manhood, that I spent the rest of my life simply walking the ditches around my neighborhood, reflecting on my life, and never interacting in any meaningful way with another human being ever again. It seems that pessimistic and depressing ending of my story is actually coming true! That is my life now, although it is not as depressing as I thought then. It just is.

What prompted this sudden return to this blog? I went to a salsa concert the other night. I was enjoying the music, and watching the dancers, and then Linda walked in. A friend of hers recently moved here and they share our old house, so they came together. I think they both saw me, but neither acknowledged it. They looked in my direction when I was the only one in that direction (up on the balcony above their heads).  I was shocked to see Linda, and that she looked really good to me. I considered going over to where the two sat down, and asking Linda, or her friend, who I had been friendly with, to dance. But then I saw Linda dancing with someone, and having a great time. It reminded me of how much we loved salsa dancing and how often we went: usually once a week, but sometimes twice a week, and for most of the 14 years that we had been together. It wasn’t unusual for Linda to dance with other men at the club we went to. Most were friends she had danced with before meeting me, and other times she just liked to dance with the experts. That’s the way things are in these salsa clubs and dances. Even if people come with a date, everyone dances with everyone else. A man usually asks a woman’s date or husband for permission first, and after a few times it is understood without asking.

So, I was not jealous seeing Linda dance with another man the other night. It was a feeling of sadness, terrible sadness, that I was no longer part of her life, that I could never dance with her again. My feelings so overwhelmed me that I stayed rooted to one spot for an hour. Then, I considered jumping off the balcony. Obviously I didn’t. I never asked anyone to dance, never went over to Linda and her friend to say hello. I just listened to the music, watched the other dancers, and drank three beers. I am not part of Linda’s life and can never be again. We could not live together anymore anyway, but my desire for her is no less, after four long years of sobriety, soliloquy, and solitariness. Oh, well. That is most certainly the way life can turn out. I had a good run. I stay busy these days, hiking in the mountains, reading, watching old movies, and helping make wine at a local winery. All of it distracts me from my sadness for brief amounts of time, so I’m optimistic that I will actually find happiness in just living again. I used to want passion in my life; now, I would just like a reason to live. Love & Other Madness was a small slice of my life, a time when I slipped the bounds of reality and dared to dream of greater happiness and passion. In so doing, I lost everything I cared about. I make the motions now, do things, talk with people, get some exercise. It’s real.

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Message FROM Karen


Well, hey, I finally got a reaction from Karen.  I had asked her to just email one word, like “No” and she’d never hear from me again.  She didn’t respond, hasn’t responded to anything I’ve written her, which is response enough, but being the hard-headed type, I wanted to hear it from her that she really wanted nothing to do with me anymore.  We had been friends for years at work, eating lunch once a week together. At first, it was a simple friendship, despite a big gap in our ages.  We talked about anime, and Sci Fi, and writers we liked, and the world of animation, comics and manga.  We traded books and videos.  It was great.  I was, unfortunately, married when I met her.  Before long, however, I was in love with her.  We stayed friends, even after I was divorced.  She considered the idea of the two of us meeting outside of work to have dinner, or seeing a movie together, as dating, and dating was, in her word: inappropriate.

Still, up until I left that job, we still ate lunch together, but the weekly ritual had lessened to an average of every other week, sometimes less, sometimes more, depending on her work schedule.  That was fine.  I missed the regularity of our lunches, but I was still in love, albeit unrequited, a strange state of being, an alternate reality where there was a slight chance we might connect some day, even though I knew how unlikely it was.  The psychology people call it limerence.  I was crazy, basically.  I felt I got over it, and let Karen know what my feelings had been all along, how I’d gotten over it, and how I wanted to resume our normal lunches.  By this time she seemed to be avoiding me.  After that, she was avoiding me, even to the extent of spinning on her heels and going the other way.  Well, I left that job anyway, so I didn’t see her again.

I didn’t, however, stop thinking about her.  Recently I watched a fascinating movie, Mary & Max, about an older man in New York with severe Asperger’s Syndrome who ends up as a pen pal to a little girl in Australia.  Despite the difference in ages, they strike up a real friendship, and write regularly.  It is a great comfort to both, because neither have any other friends.  Well, I bought a copy and had it sent to Karen.  I wanted her to watch it.  Unfortunately, after I did that, I noticed that, although the movie was in English, it was only formatted to play in Australia.  I quickly sent Karen an email, saying I’d made a mistake, but maybe she could still view it in her computer’s DVD drive.   Not getting a reply, I found another copy online, and had it shipped to her.  This time I made sure it was the correct region for US DVD players.  No word from her.  After a period of time, I was going to write to her, ask if we could be friends again, just like Mary and Max, writing each other, and sharing events in our lives, what we were reading, watching and doing. Her 30th birthday is approaching, and I was going to wish her a Happy Birthday also.  Hell, I thought, maybe she wouldn’t think I was a pervert anymore. Yeah, she’s way younger than me, but it wouldn’t be that perverse of me to be interested in a sexy 30-year-old woman.  I mean, she is an adult, right?

Today, wonder of wonders, I got a package from Karen.  I knew what it was before I opened it: the two DVDs.  Sure enough, they were both in there, and neither had been opened at all.  She hadn’t even thought enough of me, or is so disgusted with me, that she didn’t even try to watch the movie.  And, a note fell out with the movies:

Well, that was plain enough, even for someone like me.  I just had to have it spelled out clearly, without any possibility of misinterpretation.  Thanks Karen. Message for Karen.

Bicochitos and Beer


December 28, 2009

My blog had abandonment issues.  Ha!  I have not been posting lately.  I’m not sure why.  No compulsion to write I suppose. Having retired means several things:

1.) I no longer see Karen, even accidentally.  There is no possibility of ever seeing her accidentally or otherwise.  I sent her an email before I left my job; told her it was going to be my last Friday there.   She said: “Was at a potluck/staff meeting today just got back, and now have to do my document run.” Accepting that, I decided, three weeks later, to ask if she’d like to meet for lunch anyway.  I figured that, since she used to come in just to have lunch with me, before she got the job she has now, then perhaps I could do the same, and go there just to have lunch with her.  No response at all this time.

So, I’ve finally had to give up the fantasy for good.  I don’t understand why she responded to the previous email at all, if she was going to ignore me anyway.

2.) My life is pretty boring now.  I either get up early and laze around, drinking coffee and doing nothing, or I turn over and go back to sleep, getting up late, and then having coffee, making something to eat, and checking the mail.  Sometimes I have to run to the store, or to the Post Office when someone buys something from my Half.com, eBay, or Amazon accounts.  Most weekends, I will go hike in the mountains Saturday or Sunday.  Lately I do easier hikes.  Only hiked three hours yesterday, climbed up about 1650 feet; no danger, reasonable pace, no exhaustion. Donated blood today.

3.) No works means no tension, no stress. See #2 above.  I eat when I want, sleep when I want. I read, watch movies, or play games on Facebook.  Once in a while I still pick up the guitar. My life has little meaning without a purpose.  No more union meetings.  No worrying about other people’s problems, or the union, or the University job, or the University itself.

4.) I met someone new, much closer to my age.  We’ve hiked together. We’ve eaten sushi together.  We watched movies together.  No romance. No sex. Just friends, like Karen must have always expected me to be.  She invited me to her house for Thanksgiving. I met her mother. After her mother went home, we watched TV movies until late, and then I went home.  We made a batch of beer together one week later.  When it was time to bottle it on Dec. 20, we met at the brewery, had a great time bottling, and split up our beer.  She had been planning to make some more cookies but changed her mind.  I said I wanted to make chocolate chip cookies and had all the ingredients.  We dropped off my share of the beer at my house and picked up everything I had for the cookies.  Back at her house, we had eggnog with rum, and I made the cookies while eating some of her biscochitos.   I had just received an old Hitchcock mystery, so we watched that when the cookies were done, had some more eggnog, and then watched another old movie on her cable until we were falling asleep. No indication from her that she wanted me to stay.  It was really late, but she clearly expected me to go.  Gave me some biscochitos to go, and a present!  She had a present for me.  She said to put it under my tree.  Unknown to her, I had bought her a present.  It was/is under my tree.  She asked me if I wanted to go to her friend Kathy’s house on Christmas Eve.  So, I planned to open my present then, and give her the one I’d ordered and wrapped and put under my tree.  I was beginning to have some nice fantasies about her.  Wondered if we could go to my house after we left Kathy’s, since it is only blocks from my house.  Wondered what might happen.  She has such a pleasant voice when she calls me; she seems to like me, to want to talk to me.

Stupid me. Just before I left her house the night after making beer and cookies, I tried to kiss her good-night.  She turned away, and my lips brushed her forehead.  Didn’t hear anything from her for days.  Finally called her, just to see what time we should meet and where on Christmas Eve.  She didn’t answer, so I left a message.  She returned my call next day; said she wasn’t going to her friend Kathy’s after all.  She said her mom wanted her to come by and help her cook a Christmas turkey and help her with other things.  I asked if she wanted to come by after that.  Interestingly, her mother lives just down the street from me.  This is the neighborhood she grew up in.   She said she didn’t think so, since she would have to go back to her mother’s house early in the morning to help her out some more.  She said she’d call me, let me know about getting together.

She never called.  I left her another message on Christmas day.  Wished her a Merry Christmas. Asked about getting together to open presents. No response.  Next day I left another phone message. I invited her to come by for her present; told her I didn’t want to open mine until she came by.  No response.  The weekend ended.  Today I sent her an email, asking her what’s up.  Told her I was still waiting for her to get her present before I opened mine. Apologized if my attempted kiss had offended her.  If she hadn’t taken offense, then I asked if she’d like to go dancing on New Year’s Eve.  We had previously talked about going Salsa dancing but haven’t done so yet.  No response.  Perhaps the 14-year difference is still too big of a gap for a relationship?

It’s not a tragedy, unlike Karen’s total disaffection for me – that hurt a lot, even more than my divorce.  I’m saddened, but not that much.  I do wish women could say what’s really on their minds.  I wish I knew what it was about me that made women want to break away clean, without even giving me a reason or ever wanting any further contact.  Ha! Women, it seems, are like life itself.  Things in life often happen for no reason at all.  Why should women be any different?

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

UPDATE: 12/29/09

Well, I heard something after all:

Sorry I have not been in touch (i.e. returning your phone calls).  Christmas was very hectic, trying to help my mom, etc.  In fact, I was so exhausted on xmas day that I didn’t stay out too late, I just went home.  I have just been laying low; I still feel exhausted and I have a sore throat – I feel like I’m coming down with something.  I might take a day off this week before New Year’s to rest.   I normally don’t do much for New Year’s Eve.  I just stay out of drunk drivers way.  My friend Gaby is coming out for the weekend from CO and I think we are just going to hang out at my place.   We will get together as soon as I feel better.

So, I opened the present she’d given me: 64 small chocolate bottles with various liquors, like Jack Daniels Old No. 7, Cutty Sark, Grand Marnier, Cointreau, etc.  The best looking thing is probably the Borghetti Caffe Espresso (31% alcohol).  What is so very odd, is that my old girlfriend, who introduced me to her, also gave me a Xmas present of 48 chocolate bottles in a little wooden crate: Jim Beam, Stoli’s, Remy Martin, and Grand Marnier. Very cool stuff, but now I have 112 of these things, and I don’t drink much anymore.  Perhaps my step-daughter can help me with these things.


What does death taste like?


The_Sweet_Taste_of_Death_by_JasonGoad art by jasongoad.deviantart.com

I wonder what death tastes like.  Does it taste like the blackened bits of carbon that burn forever on the sides of a cast-iron pan?

Does death taste like brown and yellow agglutinated crap served cold?

Perhaps death tastes of the rotting, putrefying meat of dead animals slaughtered for food served steaming hot?

It is often said that the stench of burning human corpses is sickeningly sweet.  Perhaps death brings an overwhelming flavor of sweetness with it?  Burning corpses layered with fatty oils, burning, smoking greasily, filling the air the nose the lungs the tongue with a cloying odor of blackened leather?

Is death sweet? The aroma of almonds, dead and broken, cut in bloodless slices, layered with caramelized sugar; does death taste like that? Or sweeter still, like the honey of billions of dead flowers?

Or could it be, could it taste like bitter astringent pee? the pee on her labia, like a sharp spice around the honey within?

Oh. Back to her. Her, she, the one who makes me long for death.  Her of the twisted mind and tortured soul like me, the one I longed to be with for these wasted years?  What of her? She is life itself, and smiles and joy and soft flesh and music and reading and video and laughter and companionship.  And death. She is death for me. To long for her is to long for death. O, to taste her would be joy!  Joy denied. Love denied. Laughter denied. Companionship denied. The sweet look in her eyes.  The poetry of her hands moving about in space, the hands I long to touch, to caress, to feel warm in my hands….  A_Day_Without_You___2nd_Phase_by_Beloved_Creature A Day Without You by Beloved-Creature

Zombie Karen If she were a real zombie, I’d rush to her, embrace her, kiss her, and die.

But it is death!  It is death to touch her, to want the untouchable.  It is death to taste her, death to want to smell her honey, taste it on the end of my thrusting tongue probing her sweetness, stirring our flesh into spasms of delight and ever more desire, fevered heat on every part of our skin, and all is sensing and touching and smelling and tasting without thought.   Sugar Skull: Dia de los Muertos Karen

And there is la petit mort also.  That is the death I would taste.

The Lover


I wander through my house tonight. Calm. Introspective. I rented The Lover, a 1992 movie set in 1929 Vietnam, then a colony of France. The Lover I rented it because there is a 15-year-old French girl at a boarding school in Saigon who meets a 32-year-old Chinese aristocrat. There is love and sex and passion, but the relationship is doomed, because, in 1929, this was an interracial coupling, and such things were not approved of. Inappropriate. Ha ha. Of course, I thought of my friend Karen, 30 years younger than me, and the dreams I used to have about her. Her word: inappropriate. It seems so insane now. There was never going to be more than a casual relationship, and I knew it. Still, I imagined we might be lovers, even if we couldn’t marry. I’d have married her.  Our mutual love of children would have meant we’d have children, something I would still like. Karen was adopted herself, and she spoke of wanting to adopt a child, but she seemed open to the idea of having one of her own. I don’t know why we talked of all these things. She said she’d like to get married in Vegas by an Elvis impersonator, even as my heart skipped a beat imagining that we’d go to Vegas and get married. I’d have adopted with her, married her, fucked and kissed her like crazy. I was way too old for her to even consider as more than a casual acquaintance, but I felt I knew her so well. I have never met anyone in my whole life like her, someone who reminds me so much of myself at a younger age. I felt she was as strange as I am, that I’d find true happiness, a rare connection with someone who went through life in her own private world, much as I always have, and still do to some extent. In truth, I wanted to escape; to escape responsibility, to escape stress, to escape from my life and live in hers. I wanted to watch Science Fiction movies with her, read comics, graphic novels and manga, and watch Japanese anime. I wanted to see her every day, even if it meant we never went out much, if we just stayed in with our computers and movies and books. I was so crazy in love with her, nothing mattered anymore, except her. If she’d been a crazed drug addict, I’d have joined her. If she’d wanted to live in a fantasy world, I have done that, pretended we were children in a never-ending Halloween, with costumes, and props and a horror-themed home. Our home. I’d have robbed banks with her, killed for her, died for her. I wanted to die anyway, because if I couldn’t have her, even for a few years, months, weeks, or days, life was no longer worth living.

I can’t imagine why anymore.

I feel more like my old self, whoever that is. Except, my zest for life, for love, for sex, for passion in all things, for living at all, is gone. It went away. Went with Karen. Went with my ex-wife, the Dragon.  I’m slowly coming around to maybe starting to believe I could ever feel that way again. It’s possible after all. I couldn’t have believed that a few weeks ago.

Perhaps it is possible to come back from that obsessive, compulsive, delusional fantasy world I invented for myself, without giving up life and passion and emotional highs and lows.

Perhaps I will care if I do.

The Moon Has a Reddish Tint Right Now


moon I watched it heading west on my way home at 3 a.m Friday morning in the western hemisphere, North America.  It was not full, but the light it reflected on a clear night was spectacular.

It reminded me of the scenes on the red surface of Mars in the movie I just watched. Watchmen.  The only movie I’ve watched in a theater in over a year.  The only movie I’ve ever gone to see the first showing of, and at midnight to boot.  I read Watchman, the graphic novel, many years ago.  Still have it lying around.  Impressed me then, and the movie impressed me even more.  Damn, that was a spectacular movie.   Special effects aside, the graphic depiction of human nature qualifies it as literature, in my opinion, so it ought to be hailed as such.  That was one movie that surely tapped into the words and made them even more visual than the two dimensions of the flat page.  Of course, imagination has no bounds when reading, so the pictures, the colors, the artistic vision are not necessary, and so neither is the movie. Nevertheless, this is how we entertain ourselves, and ideas must be presented as entertainment.  The story, the book, the movie: all are superbly murderous, bloody, violent, tragic, lusty, depraved and, yet, somehow more than that, and much more than entertainment.

Such a story.  Is it a tragedy? It ends with horrible destruction, them hope, and finally, a theme that runs through the entire movie ends it: mankind sucks.  We could do better, but we don’t.  Even the noblest among us would sacrifice millions to save billions, and lie about it.  And the lie provides the hope for humanity, and, in the movie’s ending,  the lie is about to be exposed.

Of course, I had hoped to have seen the movie with Karen.  She’d heard about the graphic novel, but it was out of print.  She hadn’t tried to read it sooner because it was DC comics and, not Marvel.  Growing up, of course, I knew about the superior writing in Marvel comics, the multifaceted characters, the gray areas of truth and right and wrong, and the real life, love and rejection, paying bills, death, and jobs and tiny human dramas on the sidelines of every larger action.  The stuff that goes on even if you’re a superhero. Karen admires that about Marvel and doesn’t care for DC comics. I told her it was worth reading.  By the time I found my copy, it has just been reprinted, and she had already bought a copy.  She hadn’t read it last time we spoke of it, so I’m not sure what she thought.  We have similar ideas about war and peace and science and fiction and religion. We’ve read many of the same books, seen many of the same movies, and admired the best of humanity in all of it.  Unfortunately, the difference in our ages prevents us from seeing something like Watchmen together.

When I asked her if we could see Silver Surfer together – that’s when she let me know.  She said, “That would be like a date!” with a look of horror or disgust on her face.  “Inappropriate.” That’s the word she used many times.  Inappropriate for me to ask her out, to want to meet her after work, see a movie, have a drink, give her flowers.  Even leaving aside my romantic interest in her, she can not even think of me as friend outside of the workplace.  I rarely see her anymore; we work in different buildings, for different departments, but, occasionally have lunch still.

As intriguing as the movie is, I still found part of me wishing I could watch it with Karen.  I didn’t ask her.  I know it’s beyond her to imagine going somewhere with me.  She’d rather go to a play, like Monty Python’s Holy Grail, with her uncle than with me.  I guess old men are OK if you’re related to them.   It’s not even sad anymore to think about. It’s something I’ve had to accept, like my former wife telling me I had to move out, or she’d call the police, tell them her life was in danger.  Very effective.  Very legal.  I could have challenged it later, but by then, I’d have been out, and why would I want to live with someone who’d done that to me?  And Karen.  How nice it would have been to tell her about all that, to have a friend I could talk to, who would listen. She wouldn’t listen – it was also inappropriate to speak of anything personal.  I’m not really sure why.  I could understand a woman not wanting to hear about my disintingrating marriage or the end, when it came.  But, even later? Long after the divorce, she wanted to hear nothing of it.   Of course, sometimes I think it was just because she didn’t want to encourage my inappropriate feelings for her.

But, life goes on. Sort of.  In Watchmen, life goes on, but the underlying tensions are not gone.  Even the deaths of so many millions can ultimately have been for nothing.   I understand the characters in the story who speak of the pointlessness of it all, that we have exactly the society we wanted.  We are violent and selfish and greedy and murderous.  Perhaps we’ll never change.  We cringe at horror, but do little to stop it.  We even participate in our own little ways.

And me? I go on for some reason. Inertia? I don’t know.  I move along with work, with my union activities, with reading, and movies, and guitar, and hiking, and it’s not doing a whole lot for me.  If it were doing something for someone else, perhaps I could accept that as my motivation.  I’m just not really sure I care about anything anymore.  I was happy enough being married to someone I loved, even if not every day was a good one.  I could have gone on that way for a long time, maybe forever.  When it fell apart, and, abruptly it was over, I found myself insanely in love with Karen.  I felt so good, so alive, so ready to fall in love all over again.  It was exhilarating to believe in love, to think I could actually have the “in love” feeling again. That would have given me a real reason to enjoy life and want to go on.  The chances seem slim now.  I feel a great sense of accelerated aging, of death coming soon.  I don’t fear death.  I would like to be happy while I’m alive, but perhaps it’s just not possible anymore.  I don’t even know what would make me truly happy.  Karen. Well, there’s her, and my feelings for her. I’d certainly be happy being with her, but it cannot be.  So, I seem to be rejecting all possibilities that come my way: the old girlfriend back in my life, the other former lover living close by, the union sister who tried to interest me in dating a friend of hers, or even herself – why am I so withdrawn, so quick to misunderstand, so quick to push people away?

Finis to Karen


No email from Karen about lunch today; I waited until 1:15 and then headed to the cafeteria before they closed. Saw Karen outside, which was odd as she usually won’t sit outside. I said hello, and remarked on her being outside; she said it was too cold to sit inside. She was dressed in light summer clothes, showing a lot of skin. I gawked a little at first, and looked away. I ran inside to get lunch, assuming I’d sit with her, but when I came out, she was long gone, not even walking away. Probably ran as fast as she could. She was the reason I got my new “Sad” tattoo, and I didn’t even get to show it her.

C’est la vie.

But, actually, it still matters. To me. Hurts. I keep wondering why she said what she did a couple weeks ago about friends taking her out to do things. So, I’m not a friend? Everything I’ve ever suggested is inappropriate to her, or like a date. Friends make dates, but I guess that’s an old, outdated meaning of the word. I have no idea if she meant it would be OK to do something together, or she was just saying that she has fun. It’s so odd to me that she has friends she’ll hang out with, but for all the things we used to have in common or talk about, she doesn’t consider me a friend after knowing each other over four years. I just have a hard time understanding this, and why it is so important to me.

– (More graffiti art. Photo by Paul Armstrong, who took the photo in Minneapolis, Minnesota at an abandoned wheat grain elevator near the University of Minnesota)