So through most of high school, I was into Paul Simon and Simon & Garfunkel, even his later stuff when he was just having a perpetual mid-life crisis because that’s how he makes money. But I didn’t know, because I was a teenager in the nineties and I didn’t know about all the life that was left to live. In fact, I don’t know if I have listened to anything after the Surprise album. Am I being too harsh on the folk singer who got me through high school and would never know? I am. I know I am. But anyway:
Listening to Paul Simon puts me back in places that even listening to more contemporary stuff from my time just doesn’t. Like I can’t listen to Pearl Jam and go back; I can’t listen to Ten and remember why I ever had a crush on Eddie Vedder. But I can listen to Graceland and Rhythm of the Saints and I can place myself back in my childhood bedrooms in my old house, listening to this kind of music alone because I only had one friend who liked Simon & Garfunkel and that was a strange and intense best friendship that was karmic but rife with its own adolescent madness.
But I was born wistful, and there was no wistfulness in the cynicism and existential angst and helpless that was the rock music of the time. Britney Spears, N’Sync, and The Backstreet Boys were just not on my radar and not even something I was even aware of until maybe my senior year of high school.
I actually saw the world premier of Britney’s Spears “Hit Me Baby One More Time,” and I thought it was a prank, because surely this kind of music was never coming back into style.
Well fuck me sideways and auto-tune my cries of agony because it did.
But I still liked what I liked, and I still like what I like, and when I listen to some music, I can remember what station I was listening to it, on which radio, or if I had the CD, or if I taped it off the radio, and what sort of internal storm I was going through at the time — usually over a boy, over serial unrequited limerence, or if I will ever get to do all the things I want to do, if I will ever become comfortable enough with my femininity to be the woman I want to be.
So why deny the obvious child? She’s still in here.
But I think now, I think even after everything, I finally truly understand the lyrics to The Boxer, especially this part:
In the clearing stands a boxer and a fighter by his trade,
And he carries the reminders
of every glove that laid him down
or cut him ’til he cried out
in his anger and his shame,
“I am leaving, I am leaving,”
but the fighter still remains.
I always thought this was a sad song, and it is poignant because this is pretty much how we all succeed in growing up, but it really isn’t that sad. Did he give up on the promise and allure in New York City, the Center of the Fucking World? No, actually, because he never came to New York City with anything except realistic expectations. He’s still there, in the cold, alone, preparing for the worst — New York City winters are bleeding and leading him, so he’s there for the long haul — even if he’s making empty threats to leave.
Because wouldn’t it be amazing if we could simply leave, if we as humans had the kind of minds in which we could control our memories and just leave chunks of time behind us forever, plucked out with every tendril removed and left behind so that we’re just as we were before any of that chunk occurred?
Wouldn’t that be horrible?
Seven weeks. I have barely slept almost all of those 49 nights. However, on Wednesday, I discovered some knitting needles I thought I had lost, and I ordered some yarn, and then it arrived yesterday, so last night, I found the formula for falling asleep for an entire night:
knitting + Joey Pecoraro + blue dream + seven weeks of not sleeping well = sleeping.
It feels so good to make something with my hands again, even if it’s just stitching and re-stitching because I’m trying to regain the muscle memory.
I wish I had some clay. Or sculpey. Or a pottery wheel and some clay.
But I can listen to Joey Pecoraro all day long, all night long, song after song, and never get bored, never get antsy to hear something different.
I don’t remember all of what I dreamed about, as I have either been dreamless or unable to remember dreams for about two months now, but I remember some pieces. I remember that Rick’s daughter and I were heading on a camping trip with a bunch of other people and there was this giant brick wall of a woman who was acting as an obstacle.
I have never been around Rick’s daughter socially except for at family events. It’s too bad we didn’t get to know each other. She seems like a very intelligent insightful person I would probably find it easy to talk to if I wasn’t both pretty close to her age and living with her father.
It is a beautiful spring day. It’s a beautiful day despite the fact that I scared our building’s monthly exterminator guy by telling him Rick died of COVID in here. It’s a beautiful day because I finally got rid of the chair Rick died in (and it’s by the dumpster, if you want it. Comes with an ottoman.)
I got rid of the damaged paintings that would cost more to repair than I would get selling them.
I also got in a little workout yesterday when I decided at 8 pm to finally get rid of that awful wool area rug he insisted on keeping. It was stained, moth-eaten, and just so not my aesthetic in a million ways, and it just reminded how his attachment to his stuff has taken so much time, energy, and resources, including an area rug that he failed to take care of for years when he was by himself.
I hated that rug. Not just for the stains and moth holes and the fact that he was always spilling food on it, but just the rug itself. The fact that he insisted on cleaning and keeping it because it was expensive, because it was the most expensive one at the store when his ex-wife picked it out, so why she didn’t take the fucking thing I’ll never know. It had a “this is what poor people think rich people have in their houses,” preciousness that just didn’t make sense in our apartment or justify cleaning and maintaining.
It was 7 x 9, heavy, awkward, and uneven. I dragged it out from under the table, to the door, into the elevator, out the elevator, down the hall, out the door, up the stairs, across the parking lot, and then heaved it in to the dumpster myself. I can only compare it to what I think the experience of disposing of a dead body in a dumpster would be like.
The good news is that, should I ever have to dispose of a dead body in a dumpster, I know I can do it all by myself.
Rick would have laughed at that, if he were cognizant of the fact that he’s dead.
Especially if he were cognizant of the fact that he’s dead.
Because you know, it’s been seven weeks, and I haven’t felt his presence, except maybe the morning of his death when I thought he tapped me on the shoulder. I don’t see ghosts, talk to ghosts, telepathically communicate with ghosts, feel ghosts, or have any other interaction with the dead. I did when I was a kid, or so I thought, and that scared the ever-loving piss out of me, and that was really the only way I could live in our house, to just not think about it.
Our house used to be the barn and servants’ quarters for the home next door, which was once a funeral parlor. That was long ago, and by the eighties, the funeral parlor had long since been converted to a small apartment building. The back apartment attached to the garage next door was where they embalmed the bodies, and rarely did anyone stay in that particular apartment for more than a year. Some did tell us it was haunted, and that they heard and saw strange things at night.
Now, granted, at the time I was living there, there was a four-foot space between our garages and the neighbor’s garages full of overgrown plants, grape vine-choked trees, and the remains of what was once metal fencing separating the properties. Then, there was an additional four foot wide space across the length of the yards of the properties on the other side of our garages with overgrown brush and strange debris. This was the no-man’s land we played in as children, and even back then, it was spooky to us.
The hesher who lived in one of those houses would conduct wannabe-Satanic rituals with his other high school buddies. From what I remember, the black masses in that no man’s land were mostly comprised of beer and spray-painting the names of metal bands on the backs of garages. I would think overhearing all of that would be scary, especially since that was during the height of the Satanic Panic, which, hilarious as it is now, did really scare people.
Also at the time I was in communication with most of the people in and out of that apartment, the property was owned by a cocaine distributor who would use the garage to make exchanges. At night, very nice sports cars would come around with no headlights on, go into the garage, and when there were two or more of these cars, men would go into the garage, and then they would come out, and then they would drive away.
Sometimes, the teen delinquent who was a neighbor on our other side would bring paper packages back and forth to that garage.
So that’s scary, too.
But even when the hesher moved away/went to jail/died/whatever, and the owner of that building was gone, people who lived there still claimed to hear voices and see dark shadows and figures.
So have other neighbors. So have people in my home.
But not me, even though the back apartment always scared me, even when I would walk passed it in the daytime, even when it was vacate: it felt like someone was watching us inside. Maybe it was just weird that it had a window that only faced the cinder block walls of our garage and the dark canopy of nature slowly trying to reclaim the area between the garages.
But my own house was apparently haunted, and apparently, people in my house have heard and seen things as adults.
I never heard or saw anything as an adult who wasn’t a relative who recently died. So yeah, there’s another reason I’m hesitant to pick up Rick’s ashes.
So, growing up, I would distinctly hear someone calling my name in voice I didn’t recognize. Sometimes, I’d see children in the hallway out of the corner of my eye, or behind me in a mirror, and then disappear.
My mother told me it was probably god calling me. That was strange since it was scary and god apparently used all sorts of different voices.
This never happened at anyone else’s house or in any other home I lived in. Just in the house I grew up in.
I guess god wasn’t interested in talking to me when I wasn’t in my parent’s house, and when I was an adult in their home, either.
Once, as a child, I meditated on what the house used to be and what it looked like, because I thought that if I could do that, I could place myself back in time or somehow tapped into the past and see what was there. I only knew the house had once been a stable or a barn, nothing else.
I saw blue and white floral patterned wallpaper. I saw a young woman preparing for the day. I saw a boy. I saw out my bedroom window but the house that was there wasn’t there; it was farmland. I saw out the other window and the ash tree wasn’t so big. There was no driveway, no addition where the backroom was, no garage, just a garden and then trees.
I have no idea if any of that was real, except the wallpaper, which we discovered years later when my mother and her friend were clearing out old furniture from the attic.
I have no interest in having contact with the dead. That includes loved ones. I don’t like the idea of passing over and then reaching back. For those of us who believe/tend toward reincarnation, it doesn’t make sense, and it doesn’t comfort us, that the dead is reaching back instead of going forward. It’s abhorrent that someone would cling to this; it’s like the worst of being alive and none of the benefits. Discarnate souls need to move on, no matter the unfinished business.
But I always thought that if someone I loved did die, it would be a Six Feet Under thing, but so far, I just talk to him. Today, I apologized for throwing something out that was important to him. I also told him about the weather, and not to laugh at my sunburn which more serious than I first thought, and about how it’s the first summer-like day and he missed it.
But I also reminded him that he’s been dead for seven weeks, and he can’t go sun himself because he’s a pile of ashes.
And all the time we lived four blocks from the lake, he would never go with me. I would go alone to collect beach glass. It’s fire + earth because it’s glass, but also water and air because it’s polished by nature. It’s also manmade, so it’s got spirit, too. You can find it because it glows when it’s wet. It’s got magickal properties to me.
I have a big handful to my collection.
I’ve got serious work to do.