By the intensity with which something is being said
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One of the bad storms was on the TV. It was one of the ones that was bad enough that I gather the guys down at the TV store thought they could make good money off of it by showing it on a loop all night with the apartment buildings genuflecting into the surf and the wind shaving the trees bald and all of that and so I sat there watching for hours on a Tuesday only partly on account of that football was dormant. Meanwhile my eyes were darting toward the window every time a branch outside of my own questionably built home groaned in the local and altogether unrelated wind.
Unless all wind is related then never mind.
It was stupid of me to become subjectively uneasy I surmised because the famous TV storm was a thousand miles away and storms aren’t that big just yet that they can touch all of us at the same time. To be fair to me I knew it was stupid to worry about it but I kept doing it like everything else I knew was stupid and kept doing.
Still the sound of my trees bowing outside was like when you’ve woken from a nightmare and the whining floorboards are transposed into an intruder’s footsteps.
Of late I’ve been having the one where I’m a waiter in the weeds again getting sat with five tables at once then ten then fifteen one after the next and I am trying so hard but I simply cannot manage to greet each of them and the layout of the Escheresque restaurant mutates into foolishness. I can’t even water them to buy time and what’s worse it’s my first day but also I'm returning after a long absence and I don’t know the menu yet or anymore and then I burst out of that and gasp and now there’s a psychopath smiling at the foot of the bed like they can see the future in short increments and then I burst out of that and it’s just all of all of this.
Not entirely sure which scenario I’d rather deal with at this point in my life the tables or the killer.
On the TV the asphalt shingled roof of a treacly cocktail blue home was being cracked in half like a chest cavity by a billion year old heart surgeon.
I thought of sitting at the foot of my grandfather’s ottoman on a vulgar musty carpet as he watched the kind of storms we used to have on the kind of TVs we used to have and how the kind of reporters we used to have presented it all in a jargon I didn’t speak and still don’t in terms of wave surges and specific categories of wind power but much like when you’re unequipped to translate a foreign language you can nonetheless glean the necessary information by the intensity with which something is being said. How when you’re a kid and stupid you basically get what all is transpiring with the adults in the room where the yelling is going on. Or maybe when you’re traveling and someone is furious or laughing or scared out of their mind and it breaks through your denseness no matter what language they’re suffering inside the bracketing of.
A person begging for their life communicates in a universal tongue no later living scholar has to worry over to unpack.
I watched just now how this one reporter’s jacket rippled like a blown flag in the gale much like it always would have but some amount more so today. A newer more intense jacket for a newer more intense wind.
Hoho you better get out of that storm Dennis! the guy in the TV studio always used to go and was still going now.
Hoho I will! Dennis would go and was still going now. The atmospheric pressure is… getting real…uh big he’d go or whatever it was he used to say and is saying now.
Listen they should’ve emphasized this nautical catastrophe shit a lot more when I was young I don’t know what to tell you. Instead of that I can tell you all about Ben Franklin’s experiments.
I actually don’t remember any of all of that either.
I could tell you about some of Emily Dickinson’s poems perhaps. I’m not going to but I could.
A colleague right now is posting about whether or not Emily Dickinson had a Boston accent which I don’t think checks out but I’m going to pretend she did anyway because it’s funnier that way.
More importantly all the while there’s Dennis and all of them his news crew or whoever by the news van guzzling down barrels of sea spray water and trying to maintain composure like when you’re drunker than you want to let on to people who don’t love you so it’s easier for them to look the other way. Dennis clenching every muscle in his body and desperately bracing himself on a street pole just a second or two more than he might have wanted to and traveling briefly into the realm where a brave man momentarily becomes a coward. A premonition of his inevitable encroaching blackness.
I just looked away from the storm and at my phone and read something where a famous horror writer I like talked about being in the hospital.
"I’ve had surgery a number of times, and coming back into consciousness subsequent to anesthesia has made me realize just how great it is to lie in a black oblivion. I genuinely hope I die on an operating table."
Buddy. That’s the opposite of what we’re supposed to want. The one single main thing. Even accounting for how a horror type of guy has to talk in public.
It’s the return from the black oblivion that is the euphoria right? I feel like that’s obvious.
The first thing you can taste after the dentist and your jaw has been numbed and then you remember after a while what a potato chip is supposed to crunch like. When a cold passes and you know again how beautiful it is to be able to smell even if what you’re smelling is shit.
I went for a run the other day back on the South Shore back where my grandfather watched TV and I followed a path I was unfamiliar with along the tall reeds down by the unblown still river and stumbled across some horses standing there in their little horse area and the smell knocked me back into fifty different episodes of my life.
Can you imagine if our sense of smell was as powerful as it is for dogs and other animals while our human brains stayed as complicated as they are? Just constantly being hammered with memories of every moment we’ve ever lived all at once every day forever. We'd be cutting our noses off like a man driven insane by the visage of untold horrors gouges his eyes out for relief from the maddening sensory onslaught.
Maybe the wind reporters experience that black oblivion albeit briefly and come to the opposite conclusion than the writer?
I don’t want any of that blackness shit to be clear. I don’t want to die suddenly I want to die slowly. So slowly that you can see death coming for many thousands of miles incrementally on an alien horizon like a sudden foreign moon cresting. From a very young age until a very old age and it just keeps getting closer and closer but never quite reaches you until it does and it’s undeniable. Not much I can do here you’d go.
To finally not have any poor choices left to make is a kind of liberation.
How a cigarette tastes for a person dying of cancer. When they don’t have to have that possibility hanging over them anymore. They're off the hook finally.
Or your friend is dying from something else more blameless and he knows it and you know it but you still want to make him laugh one last time for the road every time you see him for the last time. Are you sure you can’t hang out a while longer bud you go and he goes ah I better be going. You give one last try at it but don’t want to show that you’re thinking about what is happening here as a kindness and he knows that that is what you’re doing.
Maybe it’s like when you know it’s the last time you’re going to fuck someone you love and they know it too but you both still try hard for some reason with the fucking. A retiring athlete’s last game but the fanbase is one single other person and it will all collapse imminently with the entire franchise disbanded and erased from the record books.
That’s all a part of another stupid series of things I think.
Lots of people are sharing a passage from William Shatner’s new book this week. In it he recounts his trip to the edge of space with one of the richest men to ever live. The mysteries of the universe and the hypotheses about how all of this came to be have thrilled him his entire life he wrote but as they left Earth he looked out toward the infinite expanse and “there was no mystery, no majestic awe to behold . . . all I saw was death,” he wrote.
I saw a cold, dark, black emptiness. It was unlike any blackness you can see or feel on Earth. It was deep, enveloping, all-encompassing. I turned back toward the light of home. I could see the curvature of Earth, the beige of the desert, the white of the clouds and the blue of the sky. It was life. Nurturing, sustaining, life. Mother Earth. Gaia. And I was leaving her.
Everything I had thought was wrong. Everything I had expected to see was wrong.
I had thought that going into space would be the ultimate catharsis of that connection I had been looking for between all living things…
…It was among the strongest feelings of grief I have ever encountered. The contrast between the vicious coldness of space and the warm nurturing of Earth below filled me with overwhelming sadness. Every day, we are confronted with the knowledge of further destruction of Earth at our hands: the extinction of animal species, of flora and fauna . . . things that took five billion years to evolve, and suddenly we will never see them again because of the interference of mankind. It filled me with dread. My trip to space was supposed to be a celebration; instead, it felt like a funeral.
After I read that I read a story about how they are starting to find microplastics in breast milk for the first time. That can’t be good you would have to think. Then I looked at this painting.
Elsewhere some guys on my phone were arguing over whether or not they could win a fight against a goose and I believe I could do it although I know that’s stupid too. Just grab its neck they said.
Just easily grab the furious goose’s neck.
Swinging it around like Aaron Judge hitting dingers to the moon.
The normal moon not the one from before that kills us all so slowly as it arrives.
Then I saw that they were sharing voicemails Joe Biden left for his son Hunter in 2018 on Fox News for some reason. Sean Hannity had a graphic up of one that went something like "It's dad. I called to tell you I love you. I love you more than the whole world pal. You gotta get some help. I don't know what to do. I know you don't either."
I’m not sure what sort of point bringing that back up again is supposed to prove. That a guy loves his son? Find me a person in this country who hasn’t said that sort of thing or had it said to them by someone at some point in their life. I want to say it right now to someone I love. Maybe too for someone to say it to me.
It would sure be nice if the president had always displayed such empathy for addicts he’s not related to throughout his career but I guess he’s gotten somewhat better over the decades. Too bad for everyone who got fucked by tough on crime drug war policies over the years although I guess if he actually manages to get marijuana rescheduled I will shut the fuck up.
A very bad storm on the TV is a thousand miles away I just remembered.
I don’t know why I’ve insisted upon bearing witness to this particular storm. I suppose it feels like a form of penance for my reasonably modest good fortune living for now outside of the toothsome biting circumference of a devastating hurricane’s snapping beak and swinging bat.
Or maybe how media consumption has become political expression.
Look at this goddamn asshole my grandfather would say.
Some of the shit in here I’m making up and some of it is true. My grandfather never yelled about anything he barely spoke.
Did they even show storms on TV when I was young?
I was trying to remember something about my family earlier. My other grandfather my paternal grandfather was dead and in Hell before I was conscious of anything. Maybe he was from Malden or Revere or Dorchester. The difference between those places doesn't mean anything to anyone besides the people who are from there. You can’t see them from space I wouldn’t imagine.
The specifics of my maternal grandfather’s personality the guy from looking at the storms basically sifted through my grasp as I learned to learn what the world is like despite having spent time at his shaking foot. The integrity of our respective brains’ functioning were racing in the opposite direction at the same time. Him regressing and me going toward what he wasn’t ever going to be anymore.
I've said this before but my mother had three children by the age of twenty one with my father the first of them stolen away from them both at fifteen and it just now at the age of forty five years old for the first time occurred to me that maybe that moment that singular defining moment of my mother’s life also affected him too. Why didn’t I ever think that? Not that it would excuse the abuse and the menacing that followed but what a weird thing just now just now just now just now to think that maybe he had claim to emotional damage over that theft when he was still a child himself as well.
We do love to reverse engineer motivation for abusive men I suppose but I feel like I would have come to that angle sooner.
I don’t remember any of all of that either way and in any case it is not my problem. Not my most pressing problem anyway.
That’s one of the things that isn’t true in here.
I saw some grade school buddies I still love recently and we sat around a fire and talked about the things you talk about with grade school buddies and unlike them I couldn’t summon the name of one single teacher I had back then not even to make them laugh which is the one thing I care about doing for them and maybe the one thing I care about doing at all for anyone.
My new therapist is trying to tell me that all of that abuse and baby snatching and wife beating led to post traumatic etcetera for me but I was two or three or four at the time and who remembers what anything was like at that age. I barely remember being thirty at this point. What would I have been thinking about on any given day back then? Conquering the world I suppose. The misgivings of thirty year old men.
It’s only been a couple of months since I’ve been seeing this therapist but I have this sense of shame every time we’re about to meet on the computer which is how people do therapy now where it’s like ah shit I was supposed to have turned my life around since last time we spoke. Like how you have dreams still twenty years later about being in school and you didn’t do the reading.
She tells me it’s not like that it’s not supposed to be sudden it’s a process but that’s what sports franchises say when they’ve been drafting poorly for twenty years and ten million guys are so fucking mad about it.
I don’t even know how many guys are mad about my deal maybe like… I can’t even answer that. Not many. Four?
I don’t want to lie to her or anyone so I always say how the last week since we talked went and I go it was just another week of the same shit and then I belabor some social interaction I had to kill time.
Whoops looks like our time is up I go after 40 minutes.
From movies and TV I always thought it was the therapist who would call it a day being the more powerful figure in the duo but in real life I do it myself to kind of maintain a sense of control. Sorry I have to go I go. You can just do that that isn’t illegal.
Mostly it’s just that I want to stop talking. When was the last time you talked to a person for an entire hour?
The only job I remember my grandmother having was “working at the phone company” and after all of that she just flounced around a derelict farmhouse with the poisoned corn fields in the back like a mid century Miss Havisham casting spells on all of us to give us eating disorders and posture dysphoria if that’s a thing.
Look at this asshole standing in the wind I said just now. It might have even been the same asshole from back then for all I knew. It was him now that I looked closer. They let these guys go on working forever. What other job after this are they qualified for?
They poured this guilt into me. Less like a type of compassion than vainglory to be clear. How all distant suffering was mine to collect on at a later date. A man coveting a beautiful car or woman he thinks he is owed but he knows will destroy him eventually. Or how guilt is sustenance. A meager gruel to be sure but when the land happens to be well suited to grow wheat or potatoes the people cultivate wheat or potatoes. And are proud of the wheat or potatoes subsequently. Look how deeply we’ve plowed the field.
The rain just started up here in earnest and it lashed the window and startled me like a thrown water balloon connecting with my face.
Who did that!?
Looking around for the juvenile culprit giggling no doubt now behind a bush.
The storm’s violence bored me at last so I looked at my phone again and read a quote from another writer who said something like “Hope is not optimism, which expects things to turn out well, but something rooted in the conviction that there is good worth working for.”
I don’t know if I fully believe that at the moment. Sometimes I do because you have to. Then again I just saw that Tom DeLonge is back in Blink-182 and they’re going on tour so maybe that’s the sort of thing he meant.
Get inside dummy my grandfather would yell.
We can all see the extent of the storm without the guy standing there my grandfather who never met one of these new hellish winds of his own would yell but maybe the idea behind it all with the guy in the rain is like how you can never fully comprehend how hurting someone you love will actually look until you see them standing there in the middle of their destruction. They can’t walk or speak normally anymore from the pummeling. Every previously mundane task now a heroic lift for them to accomplish and you have to force yourself to watch. To shave off a tiny portion of their ordeal and feel it dissolve in your hand like grasped seaspray. To at least understand the basics of what it will feel like when it’s your turn.