“There is no later. This is later.” ~ Cormac McCarthy

 

 Old Red Barn (December 2009) by L. Liwag©

“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.” ~ Buddha

Not going to write about Haiti tonight. It’s too emotional, and three posts in a row are enough, for now. Like my friend Maureen at White Orchid, my mind has been on the past lately, although I am not certain as to why. Well, the genesis began with a contact on Facebook from a person with whom I used to work at the Museum. From there, though, my mind has been traveling down different paths, and I have been dreaming of different people, so I thought that I would make tonight’s post about some of those people, not all of whom I would like to see again.  

For various reasons, I will not identify these individuals by name.  

“You never really know your friends from your enemies until the ice breaks.” ~ Eskimo Proverb

Frozen Stepping Stones by L Liwag©

First there was the gay man who I used to love. I knew that he was gay, but that did not stop me from loving him, from thinking that we could be together in one of those strange but true platonic relationships based on friendship and mutual respect. When I first met him, I thought that he was funny, talented, and kind. It was only later that I realized that yes, he was funny when he was high. He was talented at making people believe that he was what he was not, and he had a vicious cruel streak that spared no one.  

Why would I spend time with someone like that? I asked my therapist the same thing. She said, and I agree, that my marriage to my ex was so strained by the point at which this man entered my life that I was starved for attention, and my gay friend certainly gave me that. He took me to dinner, bought me things, even gave me a job when I needed one. But what I did not realize then but realize now was that there was a cost for everything.  

Yes, my marriage was already in trouble when I met this person. My ex and I were spending more and more time apart and with our separate groups of friends, but I know that spending time with this person did not help an already-strained situation. In the end, I finally broke with this person when he revealed his nasty true self by involving my mother in a situation over which I had no control.  

When Corey and I got married, I wanted to use my friend as my caterer. I gave him a $1,000 cash deposit. Our wedding was small, and we wanted to keep it intimate, so the catering was pretty straightforward. One thing that I did not count on was that when Corey and I went away for our honeymoon, my employer’s payroll company direct-deposited my check into my savings account. As a result, the checks that I wrote to the caterer, florist, and someone else (cannot remember who), all bounced.  

This was not my fault. I had no way of knowing that my money had been deposited into my savings account as I was out of the country. When we returned from our honeymoon, I walked into a firestorm. This person, my supposed friend and one-time companion, had been calling my mother, telling her horrible things about me. The worst part was that she believed him (of course). I haven’t seen him since my wedding, and as far as I’m concerned, hell can have a raging ice storm before I would give him the time of day.  

Is that gracious of me? No. But I have a long memory, and some things should not be forgiven.  

“It takes your enemy and your friend, working together to hurt you to the heart; the one to slander you and the other to get the news to you” ~ Benjamin Franklin

Winter Stilllife by L. Liwag©

Then there was the friend who was a friend but then she wasn’t. I know that most of you have had this kind of person in your life. To be honest, I have found that when it comes to other women, in most cases my relationships tend to be more complicated than say my friendships with men, and this particular relationship was incredibly complicated. This female friend and I grew very close from working together on so many projects. We spent time together outside of the office, and she became very involved in my life.  

But it was a taxing relationship. To her credit, she was going through a bump in her life, learning more about herself and her own marriage, but it caused her to be needy, and I tried to help fill that need. Let me pause here to say that this is precisely how I get into trouble in almost all of my female friendships: by trying to be there for them to the point that I begin to lose myself or to have my judgment clouded.  

Anyway, the thing was that she talked about me to other people, and I knew this. She also never hesitated to let me know what other people were saying about me. It bothered me, of course, but my response was passive aggressive: Do nothing but be hard to get along with. Another thing about this person was that she was extremely judgmental and did not hold back with her pronouncements. Granted, I was pretty judgmental myself back then, so that part of our personalities probably meshed well.  

Our relationship didn’t exactly die; it frittered away. We stopped working together on projects, and what had brought us together no longer served as an adhesive. My relief at not having her in my life is a sad reflection on my own state of mind at the time. Instead of working on the relationship, I just let it go. When I think back on my state of mind at the time, it was precarious at best. It was just before I made the final decision to end my first marriage, a long, painful process that had only one possible outcome. The truth is that it was just too hard to be around some of the people from my past. What that says about me I don’t know.  

“The greatest good you can do for another is not just share your riches, but to reveal to him, his own.” ~ Benjamin Disraeli

Bird Feeder in the Snow by L. Liwag©

And then there is another woman from the same time period with whom I became friends. What I remember the most about this woman was her grace. She was (probably still is) intelligent, articulate, and calm. Oh, she could get riled, but in the face of some pretty nasty situations, she always held her own.  

What I remember most about our relationship is that she truly nurtured me, and we respected one another. She told me that I was talented, and she gave me a forum in which to express my talents. People like that drop into our lives seldom, but how they affect our lives stays forever.  

As with most people, we drifted apart more from circumstance than anything else. Our jobs took us into different places, and she moved out of the area. I have since learned that during the time that we have been apart she has been very productive. I wouldn’t expect anything less from her.  

“Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.” ~ Oprah Winfrey

I’m not exactly sure what made me make that little trip through the past. I believe that it was Lee Iacocca who said that when you die, if you have five good friends, you’ve had a good life (or something similar).  I agree.  

People come and go throughout our lives. Some things are constant, and some people are constant. Some friendships last a year, while others last a lifetime. The length of the friendship does not determine the quality. What makes the friendship valuable, worth the time that you have invested, is if when you think of that friend, a smile crosses your lips and your heart feels a sense of peace. Otherwise, what was the point? I only know that “in my life, I’ve loved them all.”  

More later. Peace.  

(More pictures from our December trip to Ohio in the blizzard)  

The incomparable, divine Bette Midler singing “In My Life”  

   

  

   

                                                                                                                                   

Lyrics to Lennon & McCarthy’s “In My Life”  

There are places I’ll remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places had their moments
With lovers and friends, I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life, I’ve loved them all
  

But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new
Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life, I’ll love you more  

Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life, I’ll love you more

The Endless Cycle of the Domino Effect

These Are The Words I Never Said 

blue-domino-effectOne of my earlier entries was entitled “The Domino Effect of Small Things,” and apparently this entry struck home with many people because it has been one of my more popular entries; however, I tend to think that’s because I mentioned “event horizon” in the entry, which in and of itself is an interesting topic for an entry. But I have already begun to digress from today’s topic: The Endless Cycle of the Domino Effect.

I was trying to classify the effect as eternal, but then I found myself delving into the whole realm of eternal time as ontological versus the entire nature of time as a space-time continuum and the entire aspect of physics and linear versus cyclical versus simultaneous, and it was beginning to make me dizzy, so I just decided to classify domino effects as being endless cycles and hope that you would allow me this little liberty and go with it.

What actually took me back to the whole idea of Domino Effects were two very disparate things, well more actually, but I’ll begin with the two main things: the thirtieth anniversary of Jonestown, and Annie Lennox’s song “Why.” I’ll try to break it down for you.

Why Don’t You Ever Learn To Keep Your Big Mouth Shut

I had honestly forgotten what it was like to grow up in a daily newsroom when real, earth-shattering news happened. I mean, I learned so much about what it is to write at The Ledger-Star. I learned how to hone, how to write on a deadline, how to discard, how to listen, how to edit. But I was also there for the beginning of a few great careers and for a few truly momentous new stories. Jonestown in Guyana was one of them.

When the number of bodies first started to come over the wire (and it was still wire then), we were all horrified. No one left the newsroom. The numbers kept getting higher. The details came in. There were sick jokes about Kool-ade at first. Then we heard about the children, the infants, the gunshots to the heads. There were no more jokes. It was one of the first times in my life when I was there as new was truly breaking; I was still a teenager, but I did my job like everyone else, with the gravity and respect that the news deserved. And then I cried all of the way home.

The other night I watched the special on MSNBC. I heard the words of the survivors, and then I heard something I had never heard before: Jim Jones’ laugh. I swear if you have never heard his laugh, don’t. It isn’t human. It is like a hyena, almost. It made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, and this was a recording from thirty years ago.

What does this have to do with the Domino Effect? People like Jim Jones are still collecting people and still effecting people. Still amassing people and still getting them to do their will, all over the world. We have cults, and we have people all over the world who are convincing people to give their lives for insane causes. They fall like dominoes, as if they are nothing more than playing pieces in some madman’s game.

Why Can’t You See This Boat Is Sinking?

“I may be mad
I may be blind
I may be viciously unkind
But I can still read what you’re thinking
And I’ve heard it said too many times
That you’d be better off
Besides…
Why can’t you see this boat is sinking . . .”

Someone once told me that Annie Lennox’s song “Why” was written for me. Now some of you out there might think that I would have been insulted by this, but actually, I knew that they were right. I chose this particular passage of the song because this is the passage that was playing when he told me that the song was a perfect description of me, and I actually had to agree with him.

I have been accused of being vicious once or twice, but I have mellowed considerably in recent years. I used to abide by the rule that “revenge was a dish best served cold,” and for those of you who think that Khan made up that line in the second Star Trek movie, sorry, it’s from Moby Dick. And I’ve never denied that I’m madder than I god damned hatter, but that’s what gives me my je ne sais quois. Comprends tu?

So when I am feeling terribly down, put upon and just plain as if “Some things [would have been] better left unsaid/But they still turn[ed] me inside out, I wail out “Why,” either at home or at karaoke, although not at karaoke so much any more since our favorite place has changed so much and doesn’t feel like home any more.

Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid, But They Still Turn Me Inside Out

So in the past two weeks, I have experienced an unparalleled nirvana on November 4th when Barack Obama took Virginia and won the election to the highest office in the land. And then I hit reality smack in the face when I found out the tickets to the inauguration speech were unobtainable and not a single hotel anywhere within 50 miles had an available room. Every single newspaper was sold out by 10 a.m. I knew that the week wasn’t going to get any better.

“This is the path I’ll never tread
These are the dreams I’ll dream instead . . .”

circular-domino-effectI spent the twentieth anniversary of my daughter’s death in a hospital because I had to take my mother for an outpatient surgery, which only reinforces the cyclical patterns of life. Then I came home and had a major crash only to have a disastrous encounter with my eldest son who seems to have lost any kind of ability to feel anything for anyone besides himself, and I’m not sure if I can continue to chalk it all up to the fact that he is 17 or if he has become so self-absorbed and egocentric that I truly don’t know him any more. Said son informed me on this day that I am one of the most selfish people that he knows for divorcing his father. Thank you for that information. I’ll file it away with the hairshirt that I’ve been wearing for the past nine years. Thank you very much. There is not nearly enough guilt in my life, and feeling like a failure as a parent hasn’t entered my head in oh, nearly at least a day.

“How many times do I have to try to tell you
That I’m sorry for the things I’ve done . . .”

My health insurance will be completely restored once I manage to go out in the backyard and grow $1200 and pay it all by the end of January, only to start the whole cycle all over again, not to take into account the increase in premiums that will begin in the new year, which I have not been informed of, but have read about on the website. I have not been informed of this increase because I cannot get anyone from the oxymoronic entitled Human Resources department to return my calls.

They are playing Christmas music in the stores and Christmas commercials on television. I haven’t made it through Thanksgiving yet, which is a tremendously hard holiday for me because it is the anniversary of my father’s death. I have to go out in the backyard and dig up the buried treasure for holiday money because that’s the only way there’s going to be any ho ho ho in this house house house. I told Corey that I’d be happy with some new Christmas socks, and I meant it. That’s another thing that I’m addicted to like black boots: socks with penguins and snowmen on them. I’ll wear them all winter. Matters not to me. A box with a few new pairs of Christmas/holiday socks, and I’m good.

Can we skip Thanksgiving this year?

“This is the joy that’s seldom spread
These are the tears…
The tears we shed
This is the fear
This is the dread . . .”

These Are the Contents of My Head

I looked in several places for a picture of glass panes that had been lined up like dominocolored-glass-paneses because that’s really the kind of domino effect that I’m feeling: one little push, and everything doesn’t just fall over, it falls over and explodes, shatters. I thought that colored glass panes would be more effective. A different color to represent each heartache, each trouble, each worry, each thing that consumes me, that tears at my soul, that keeps me up at night, that causes Corey to spend more and more time of each and every day fretting—a color for each of those things—and then, possibly, as they fell and shattered, the curse that each bore would be broken and carried away with the wind.

But that only happens in the movies, or in songs.

“And this is how I feel
Do you know how I feel
’cause i don’t think you know how I feel
I don’t think you know what I feel
I don’t think you know what I fear
You don’t know what I fear.”

There will be more later. There always is. Peace.