february 2003 -
The negative crap in my life, my daughter's health issues, the time constraints, the preclusion from normal social activities, that whole big lump of baggage on wheels has now grown so familiar to me as to be tedious. On one hand, this progression into tedium demonstrates that I am made of stern stuff covered with an impenetrable Teflon shell. And while for the most part I do believe that a man is just about as happy as he makes his mind up to be, with such an impermeable psychological layer of protection surrounding me, the things I find funny or worthy of interest do grow a bit more, um, specialized in my insulation. The loss of a more normal life isn't mourned so much as fondly missed, mostly because there is so little room left in the heart for grief. And attention paid to my own specialization expands to fill the spaces left after normal life moved out of Stevetown.
Metaphorically speaking, sometimes I feel as if I'm on a long mission in a diving bell and I'm becoming more amused daily by the whimsy of, oh, say a starfish who inhabits the sand outside my only porthole. I'll begin to interpret its movements and schedule, and given enough time I can get to the point where teaming up with the starfish for a Vaudeville act once we get back up to the surface seems like a perfectly viable idea. Some people call this focus. Others may use the term coping.
The most difficult part is knowing deep down that the audience for my Starfish Extravaganza is a very slim demographic. Even amid the unusual atmosphere of my environment, I do still remember the big normal world up on the surface where starfish behavior is left behind in favor of the feeling of a day let loose, freedom, calm winds, a relaxing patch of shady grass, all so well kept, and accessible to handicapped parking.
Never a cure, but usually an accommodation or a modification; that's the best we get, usually, and I am easily prone to envy and dreams, so many of which are beyond my control or ability to schedule.
In a more optimistic vein, we seem to have found a more effective medication for Amy's epilepsy. She's gone nearly a month now without a seizure and she seems more present and alert in her interactions. She's happier and more curious about the world in general. Her ability to distill humor has improved as has her verbal delivery.
Yet, after such a long period of ineffective medications and learning setbacks, I am not yet close to anything like celebration. I'm happy she seems to be leading a more comfortable life and is acquiring a better nature and depth in friendships among her peers, but my own downheartedness has been so long with me that its roots have gone deep and a good hope dashed now would be eviscerating. So I guess that's the extent of my optimism these days.
For positive shift to occur in my life I've noticed I require a specific combination of change of venue, days of uninterrupted selfishness, and freedom from guilt that I should be doing something else. To this end I am planning a 7-day solo Harley trip through the Southwest beginning at the end of this week. I'm most interested in Southeastern Arizona and New Mexico. Tejas, or Texas to you imperialist mercenaries out there, will be gleefully bypassed because I truly believe that no one ever really needs to go Texas on purpose. The Go/NoGo is purely weather dependent, so this may or may not happen, but then again let's remember those poignant words sewn upon my current battle flag: Hope Shmope. Whatever Happens Happens.
And then of course on top of all this, I'm married. I've had a relationship with Viv for 24 years now, and I don't think there is a word, at least not one in English that I know of, which can connote the mix of immense acceptable enmeshment that filters through and beyond the thin net of codependence and overall heat-seeking peril that lurks in wedlock. Marriage is a glorious danger and a dangerous glory, with an immune system dependent completely upon conscience. This is work. It's good work, if it works. It's important work for things like kids and communities and law and peace.
I've noticed as our marriage matures, and Viv slowly makes her long march toward parity with my keen sense of interpersonal relationships and trust, that the comforts no longer need to be announced as if the announcement were a proof of confirmation. The communication is more subtle now - a nibble here, a quick caress there, thoughtfully leaving the ugly burned pancake for the late sleeper, pretending to be asleep while the cat knocks over Viv's lamp in an effort to get fed at 4:00am, or that fun game of putting away the measuring cup under the sink back behind the dozen or so empty tubs of magarine and Cool Whip that I can only suspect will serve as a handy arsenal of containers to transport her stale spice collection to a condo she may someday mention, in passing, is owned by a certain Raul or a Jacques or a Sven, some recent acquaintance, some tanned fellow with prospects she feels it may behoove her to pursue. She would call it mentoring, of course. And I would believe her, of course.
And this seems like as good a place as any to throw in War. Things seem pretty tense right now, don't they. Politics. Guns and butter. Sacrifice, stupidity, religion. It's really all just so goddamn big right now, and I look into history for some period that's comparable and there just isn't, not when one includes the technology capable for unthinkable global horrors. It makes one consider that perhaps the best place to be is in a diving bell watching a starfish.
"Hansel and Pretzel" -- Henri Rene and his Orchestra -- COCKTAIL MIX: BACHELOR'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY
"When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago."
- Friedrich Nietzsche