Wednesday, June 14, 2023

There's No Time

“The truth about the world, he said, is that anything is possible. Had you not seen it all from birth and thereby bled it of its strangeness it would appear to you for what it is, a hat trick in a medicine show, a fevered dream, a trance bepopulate with chimeras having neither analogue nor precedent, an itinerant carnival, a migratory tentshow whose ultimate destination after many a pitch in many a mudded field is unspeakable and calamitous beyond reckoning. The universe is no narrow thing and the order within it is not constrained by any latitude in its conception to repeat what exists in one part in any other part. Even in this world more things exist without our knowledge than with it and the order in creation which you see is that which you have put there, like a string in a maze, so that you shall not lose your way. For existence has its own order and that no man’s mind can compass, that mind itself being but a fact among others” (Judge Holden, Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy).

Don't believe in horoscopes, palm readers, or voodoo of any kind.   Nobody knows what is going to happen. Nobody knows anything.  The Judge is right about one thing, though--"more things exist without our knowledge than with it. . . ."  We can never account for the twirling of every atom, the manic vibrations of every subatomic particle.  There is just too much, and that is what we call God--everything that happens.  Why people need more than that, that giant metaphor for the entire universe, is fear.  One must either live in fear or resist it.  Fortunately (or not), we can change our minds, and we vacillate between the two and we recognize it as comedy.  But all we know is all we know and for most people that is not so very much, and as empowering as it is to be ten percent smarter than anyone else in the room, it is also a frustrating heartbreak.  Knowledge is not power.  Power is.  In the end, the Visgoths hold all the cards.  

So it has been a bad week.  First Astrud Gilberto died, then Cormac McCarthy.  Astrud's influence, I've already written about. McCarthy's began in 1985 when I was in my old college town with my dead ex-friend, Brando.  I am no longer clear why we were there.  It was something about his daughter, who was living there, and her upcoming marriage, something that never happened.  We stayed in a beat Best Western near the University, and other than being at his daughter's house, I recall only two things.  One was eating lunch at a student bar on a Saturday.  It was cool and dark and no one else was there.  The barmaid was young and beautiful and took a liking to Brando.  A Steely Dan song came on and Buz said he hated them.  Much to my surprise and chagrin, the barmaid adamantly agreed.  I guess types attract.  

The other thing I remember is taking Brando to a great bookstore unfortunately called Goerings after the owner.  The bookstore was of medium size but packed with only the best books of every ilk.  I knew all the employees from the time I spent at the university, much of it in this store.  It was run in the manner of the college in that there was an employee in charge of ordering books for each discipline.  They were paid on a college scale and were able to earn tenure.  The fellow who was in charge of fiction had, of course,  a degree in lit.  I hadn't been in town for awhile, but when I walked in, he remembered me and came over to say hi.  And it was he who said that I HAD to read "Blood Meridian."  It was the best novel ever written, he said.  Brando and I each bought a copy.  

And it was true.  In grad school, I tried to convince my profs of such a thing.  

"All other writers can put down their pens," I said.  "This guy is better than Faulkner."  

Of course that was an outrage, and they scoffed.  I leant that book and several others to my favorite professor, a fellow who was considered a genius at Berkeley while working on his Ph.D.  A while after I graduated, I came home one day to find the pile of books on the front stoop with an apologetic note that read, in part, that it had taken him a long time to get around to McCarthy.  He didn't know why he had resisted, but he agreed with me, McCarthy was the thing.  He signed off, "Bad Taste Bob."  

I went through much the same struggle in my Ph.D. program.  But now we know how it all turned out.  McCarthy has been hailed by academic critics to be one of the most important American writers in the pantheon including Melville and Faulkner.  

Now he has gone to meet Elvis.  

"His death was confirmed by his publisher," I read.  There is something terribly sad about that.  

So. . . I guess I just rode McCarthy's coattails there a bit.  Stupid.  But so is the rest of this post.  

You may recall that I reported a fantastic astrological June for me.  Romance and career and money galore.  Ha!  I found out yesterday that the event that I thought might happen and believed wouldn't didn't.  My replacement at the factory has taken a job elsewhere and is leaving at the end of the week.  Every factory worker I talked to asked me if I would come back to be foreman again until they could hire another.  It will take awhile and probably can't happen until after the new year.  But. . . yesterday I found out that they are going to let another foreman run two departments until they can hire a replacement.  I thought they might do as much, but still I am disappointed.  I wouldn't want to be the fellow who made the decision, though.  The tide is about to turn against him, and he is going to have a rough time of it.  


Nothing romantic has happened, either, but I am going to a farewell party for my replacement at the end of the week. . . who knows?  

I'm sure to be disappointed there, too.  

Trying to help matters, though, I have been eating only once a day.  Just supper.  It isn't really that hard.  It is easy to skip breakfast, and I only start to get hungry around midafternoon.  But I'll look at the clock and think, "you only have a couple more hours."  And it is true.  When I tell people this is my diet, they all shake their heads no.  "Why not?" I ask.  Your metabolism shuts down, they say.  You should eat six small meals a day to keep it revving.  None of these people, though, have anything close to a degree in nutrition.  Not even science of any kind.  How do they know that, then?  They read an article, that's how.  If they read the one about fasting, they might say something different.  Here is what I am finding out through experience, though.  My stomach doesn't want so much food at one time now.  Last night, I ate a big salad while my rice and stewed beef and asparagus were cooking.  And when I served that up, I ate only a few bites before I was full.  

It doesn't matter, really.  I'm just trying to give my June horoscope a better chance.  I'll be back to full hog soon enough.  

Last night, after dinner and after drinks, I got a call from my mother.  She couldn't find her cell phone.  She'd looked everywhere for it.  She called it from the house phone but didn't hear any ringing.  She just got a message that she should leave a message, she said.  She wanted me to call the phone.  I did.  It rang until the leave a message message came on.  I called back on her landline.  I asked her if she had taken the phone when she walked.  Did she sit down in the park?  Maybe she left it there.  She drove down and looked, but if she had left it there, it would be gone by now.  Nope, she said.  She didn't find it.  So I asked her to go to the computer.  I was going to have her do "Find My Phone."  No matter how I talked her through it, though, she couldn't do it.  She talked over me most of the time instead of listening.  She talked in that hillbilly way, that barking, angry, accusational tone that is part of the hillbilly patois.  And, I am afraid and ashamed to say, it brings out the hillbilly in me.  

Fuck it.  I poured a whiskey, got in my car, and drove over.  

When I pulled up "Find My," the computer wanted a password.  My mother, of course, had no idea.  She brought me a couple pages of notes with about forty passwords she had written down.  I tried them all.  My frustration was rising.  Why?  Why?  It matters not how many times I tell her how important passwords are. . . . 

Finally, I clicked "forgot password," and fortunately, I was able to change it.  "Find My Phone" located the phone. . . IN THE HOUSE!  I hit the button that would let the sleeping phone ring out a signal.  My mother walked in with her phone.  

"Where was it?"

It was right where she sits all day on a shelf.  Without sweetness or sugar, I got in my car and left.  

I hated myself when I got home.  I wasn't an asshole, but I acted like one.  It was late now.  I poured another drink and put on "Selling Sunset."  I needed to watch people dumber than I, meaner than I, more fatuous than I.  It is one in a number of dumbest shows ever made.  They all have surgical breasts, surgical noses, surgical skin, therapists, drama. . . .  It is just like the world I walk into whenever I leave my house.  

It didn't cheer me up.  

And of course. . . Trump. 

I'm trying to reenvision myself today.  I had been picturing myself going back to work for the next six months.  It would have been good for me, I know.  I need to break this losing streak of doing nothing, of lethargic drinking and sleeping and growing ugly.  I need a purpose of some kind.  And so, that is my project today.  Rethink, reinvent, reconceive, reconceptualize. . . . 

I am going to this thing on Thursday, the farewell party in the Factory Town, and I think that it will be my own farewell, too.  Two of my group of friends are leaving the factory, and as lovely as they have all been for including me for this long after my departure, I think that I am done.  I have held onto too many things for too long now, and one by one, I am letting them all go, letting them all drift into the wayback sifted and sorted by that famously unreliable thing. . . memory.  

“I think the notion that the species can be improved in some way, that everyone could live in harmony, is a really dangerous idea. Those who are afflicted with this notion are the first ones to give up their souls, their freedom. Your desire that it be that way will enslave you and make your life vacuous” (McCarthy).  


Painted over the walls,
The saddest color of blue.
Posters covered in glass.
Favorite curbside grab.
Red Valentine's card,
Stuck on the mirror to keep.
Record player made of tubes,
Spinning Tommy by The Who.

There's no time to waste.
There's no time to wait.
Keys on the hook by the door,
For the truck sold years ago.
Standing guitars in the case,
Filling up closet space.
Vintage forties wardrobe.
Pink Emerson radio.
Old lace dress I bought in the store.
Motorcycle boots on the floor.
There's no time to waste.
There's no time to wait.
Sirens up on the street,
Smoke is burning my eyes.
And the neighbors are screaming at me,
I can only carry one thing.
I can only carry one thing.
There's no time to waste.
There's no time to wait.

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