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Some Things I've Gained From Everything2 These Last Five Years

  • My writing is pretty much crap, but it can be improved with some work.
  • I don't know a god damn thing.
  • I have some illogical obsession with the northeast.
  • I have the full Fast Show collection now.
  • I've had some books sent to me by nice noders.
  • It was a good idea to quit my web journal
  • I used the Hacker Diet and lost 60-odd pounds.
  • I know more about small or mid-sized Midwestern towns than I ever thought I would.
  • I can make valuable contributions to group projects. Go me.
  • Falling asleep around noders is done at your own risk.
  • I got to see some wolves.
  • I learned to think in pipe link.
  • I am able to survive shitty jobs if I have a good distraction going.
  • I learned something I probably should have known.
  • I discovered the the useful phrase "I make unwarranted assumptions."
  • I grabbed a copy of This American River.
  • I met tons of noders, eaten their food, and slept on their floors.
  • I bought a bunch of CDs that I wouldn't have normally.
  • I learned how to smoke a pipe.
  • I gained a hero or two or three.
  • That little panic attack I get right before I post a w/u never really goes away.
  • I look at Holland a little bit differently than I did when I lived there.
  • I've read uncountable brilliant nodes, some lost and some re-found.

    To each and every one of you, thank you for the last five years. It wouldn't have been the same without you.

  • After much procrastination on the part of myself and my family, we've decided upon a place where my father's ashes should be interred. This Friday, at ten in the morning, he'll be laid to rest in a lovely old cemetery that dates back to sometime before the civil war. My brother stumbled upon this place when getting ideas from the funeral director. We were astounded that there were still available plots for cremains.

    The cemetery, when my brother and I were in our high school years, was a famed spot for the quiet partyers to go to drink, smoke, and generally hang out. Back then, it was surrounded by farmland. Now, enormous homes with pitifully small lots have been erected in those lovely old fields. Many of the stone walls which rambled around the hillsides have been removed; yet the cemetery's walls are intact.

    No matter how hard I tried the Veterans' Administration couldn't find the personnel to do the firing of the guns nor the playing of taps. Nowadays, they're all deployed in the middle east. Perhaps that's better. The only thing I find troubling about it is that my father, in his last days, became more vocal about his service to his country during World War II than he ever had. Despite the horrors of war, he remembered his wartime comrades fondly. And he reiterated that although he thought war was a horrible thing, he was proud of his service.

    A handful of his friends will be there to say final goodbyes. It's been six months since his passing, and I think that the initial shock of losing a guy we thought would live forever has worn off, and this will, hopefully, put a cap on the intense grieving; leaving the holes in our hearts to begin healing. I was delighted to hear that these friends would show up. Someone said something like, "There are friends, and there are friends who show up." It'll be delightful to have just the folks who show up around for this.

    I'd like to think that dad's looking down upon us. My Buddhist sect believes in reincarnation; I, personally, am not so sure. I'm not really sure about much at all these days. I heard a baby crying in the restaurant and my wife said "that might be your daddy; that baby's only six months old." I wonder.

    Just a day before he died, he spoke frankly with me about how he was at peace with death. I selfishly asked him to give me a sign, if he could, that he's okay wherever he is. "If I ask you for a fan you'll know where I am." He was funny right up to the last.

    Mother, whose illness has been a burden on my brother, myself, and all who interact with her, has recently, to our amazement, shown signs of grieving. I hope her burden is lessened by the closure provided by this simple ceremony. My brother, an emotional coward, asked that dad's minister officiate. She couldn't; she'll be out of town. So I wrote a few words and offered to run them past him, but he said to just say what I need to say and "get it over with fast." Timed, my speech lasts 14:30. Fourteen minutes and thirty seconds; the distillation of 83 years on this earth.

    Dad's funeral in September took an hour. Half of it was a polished, heavily-produced multi-media affair I put together from old family photos, movies and slides; and photos sourced from others. And his favorite tunes. It's a work of art I dedicated to him. Creating it was cathartic. There was no need for anyone to say much else. The rest was music; that's what he wanted.

    This Friday, in the old cemetery, there will be no technology, no amplifiers, no microphones. There'll be no music, but for the wind rustling the leaves of the trees and the song of the birds. I think I'm gonna try to cut a few minutes off the speech, and let nature do the talking.

    Sometimes, when you are feeling low, and all your problems are piling up, and it seems like there is no way out, a flash of creative genius may suddenly come out of nowhere and change your life for the better for ever. That is what happened to me a couple of days ago.

    My problems were three in number:

    1. My left shoulder was more or less immobile and my left leg was hurting as a result of a nasty bicycle accident I had a couple of weeks ago.

    2. I was short of intimate female companionship, having spent the last couple of weeks in a foreign city, far from the arms and charms of the mother of my progeny.

    3. The weather in said city was less than optimal. At the time of which I speak, a thunderstorm presented me with a choice between remaining for an indeterminate length of time in the United Nations building (a fine piece of architecture, but lacking in attractions for a young man wishing to relax after a hard days' work) and getting soaked on the way to the bus stop.

    While I was watching the thunderstorm, a poem by Goethe came into my mind. I imagined how much fun it would be to stand on top of a mountain roaring defiance at the storm in the words of this poem. I imagined how dramatic this would look, and how attractive to women, particularly intelligent women of culture who still appreciate strength and bravado in a man. My imagination wandered further to consider the possibility of being struck by lightning during this exercise. Suddenly revelation struck: the power of the lightning could be used to heal my injured left side! After all, if Dr. Frankenstein could awaken dead flesh to life with the power of the lightning bolt, surely it would be a mere bagatelle to use that power to fix up my acromio-clavicular joint and get rid of the bruise on my thigh! There would probably even be enough energy left over to dry my trousers afterwards. Obviously, this would require a fairly high level of psychic control and the like, but since I once read something on the intarweb about tantric sex and since I went to some yoga classes a few years ago, I didn't think this should be a problem. I leapt into action at once. And at once I realised that the realisation of my plan would require resourcefulness and ingenuity.

    The first challenge was that the closest mountain was some distance away. However, the Palais des Nations is on top of a hill, so I decided that climbing onto the top of the building would probably do the trick. Until a few years ago it was easy to get out onto the roof and enjoy the view across the lake, but since the September 11, 2001 attacks in the US, the doors have been shut and sealed. Presumably so that no-one will fly a plane through them. On reflection, I decided that I would just have to break the seals, like the unconventional rebel that I am.

    The second challenge was that if I just went up onto the roof and got zapped while declaiming, the chances of anyone noticing this were remote. No-one with any sense was outside in the rain, and those that were were keeping their heads down and moving as quickly as they could to get out of it. I called the local CNN office and informed them of my intentions. Later on in the evening, when the images appeared on the television in a bar of my acquaintance, I would casually let slip that that was me, and my success with the womenfolk would be assured.

    The final challenge was the poem itself. I did not know it by heart. I quickly found a wireless hotspot and found the text of the poem. But then it occurred to me that if I was going to be appearing on an English speaking television station it would be more appropriate, and indeed effective, to declaim the work in English. I found some translations, but they lacked the power of the original. I decided to make my own.

    Translating poetry is not an easy task. Although the first line: 'Bedecke deinen Himmel, Zeus', is easy enough ('Cover up your heavens, Zeus), the second already presents the serious translator with a knotty problem: 'Mit Wolkendunst!'. Hmm. 'With cloudy vapours', as in the translation I had found on the net, was not really ideal. Goethe was referring to thunder clouds, known for being thick and threatening, but in preparation for his later mockery of Zeus and the gods in general, he coined this word that implied that these clouds were in fact made of thin and flimsy stuff. Very difficult to render in English, and indeed it was not surprising that other translators had felt the need to settle for more or less unsatisfactory solutions….

    After a couple of hours spent attempting to produce a translation of at least the first five lines of the poem which would be sufficiently impressive when roared in defiance at the storm, I realised that the storm had passed, that the setting sun was shining, and that the birds were singing. CNN had presumably given up and gone home. But when the next storm comes, I will be prepared.

    I am two weeks away from leaving New Hampshire and returning to Florida, the long way, via a trip that will likely take more than a month. The important part is that I am leaving here and that I have resolved something that long nagged at me. It was more than just a nagging, really, it was a haunting that in my heart, mind and soul had nothing to do with the rest of what my life had become. What I needed to resolve had to do with my past and how someone I deeply and truly loved had disappeared from my life quite suddenly, without any real explanation, and who left me with a sense that she was in very grave danger when she vanished.

    At times I can be very good at convincing myself that everything I sense, everything I feel and everything I know needs to be pushed aside for what I simply must do. When this happens, disaster is rarely far off. A part of me knew I could never truly be at rest until I knew and understood why someone who had been so close to me and meant so much to me would vanish.

    In truth, all I really wanted was to know she was alive and well and to be able to maintain regular communication with her. It was then that I allowed her to manipulate me into returning to New Hampshire and to believe it was all that I truly wanted. As much as I deluded myself into thinking otherwise, I never really wanted to come back here, at least not for anything more than a visit. I left New England for many, many reasons... many of which have come back to remind me of the "whys" and I know I let my pride, vanity and ego allow me to be manipulated in the way I was. For this I cannot blame the manipulator, I can only really blame myself. I went to great lengths to convince myself, and others, that I was doing everything I really wanted and needed to do. For a while I even convinced myself and others that I had fulfilled a dream. The dream was only a subtle undercurrent of the nightmare.

    In the beginning there was much rejoicing, and for a while there was peace, tranquility and a sense that this was what was always meant to be. That illusion melted away in July of 2005 when she who once was The Muse made her first attempt at suicide. And well, if I am an expert on anything, it is suicide. Despite all the claims she later made, having certain pride in thinking herself the most insane, self-destructive madwoman on the planet, she never had the balls to do what it would take to kill herself. She never took quite enough pills, leaving all too many unconsumed, never cut herself deep enough to truly put her life in danger... so on and so forth. It was always just enough to bring the police and the ambulance and merit a stay in the emergency room, and on her last attempt, a stay in the ICU.

    There is a certain method to The Former Muse's madness. She tempers it with a certain amount of apologetic neediness that brings out a great deal of pity and sympathy from those who are close to her. Those who have been her closest friends over the years maintain a great amount of distance because of it. The woman she considers her best friend only sees her once every two months or so. As this woman has told me, it is simply too draining and takes too heavy a toll in her own life, and while she cares and loves this broken creature who is her friend, she simply does not have the time or energy to deal with her on anything approaching a regular basis. This is her "best friend." When it all sorted out I came to realize this broken creature is one who has two broken wings, but while others can help you mend your broken wings, if you are obsessed with breaking them in as many places as possible and then asking others to fix the breaks so you can break them some more, you'll exhaust everyone in your orbit in a fairly short period of time. Unfortunately, The Former Muse has a gift of drawing new people into her orbit all the time and taking her time in wearing them out, usually while waiting for someone more energized to come along.

    It is a very sad story, and as someone who loved her more than anyone else ever will, it was even sadder.

    Alas, there can be redemption in destruction. It requires that you accept your own role in the events that transpired and led you to destruction, through the choices you've made and the direction you've gone in. And sometimes it takes a little bit more.

    And you will come to know three queens
    They are the pattern of your life
    The pattern is for you to understand and to move beyond
    The first will always stay just out of reach
    The second will grant you great joy and pleasure, but only in the short term
    The third will appear when you need her most, when you are at the edge of ruin

    Is there a fourth queen?

    The fourth queen does not exist.

    So, there is no fourth queen?

    Only in legend.
    It need be your deepest hope that you never find her.

    There are two primary paths to destruction. One is slow, evolutionary destruction that over time erodes everything that you are, everything that is good and true about you, and leaves you sinking slowly into a kind of quicksand. This slow, evolutionary destruction is the kind that can be nearly impossible to overcome. Time is one of the most powerful weapons of destruction. Once you get used to being in an ever darkening room, you forget how to turn on the lights.

    The second path is that of sudden, blunt force trauma. It slams you to the wall and keeps slamming you against the wall until you get so angry you start fighting back, and then you forget all your own rules, all your beliefs, all your standards and you fight with everything at your disposal. I reached this point in January. What was a slow, evolutionary destruction that was eating away at me for the better part of two years changed quite suddenly into violent blunt force trauma. There was no longer any subtlety to it, and had it not been for this change, The Former Muse might have broken me and turned me into a mere shadow of myself, without any dignity or self-respect, for this was the path she was taking me on.

    Over the course of my journey that began in 1994, I've had certain intense dreams and visions that told me of things that were to come. A running theme was that of a pattern in my life, the pattern of the Three Queens. Most of the time I embraced the pattern and loved the pattern, and eventually I had two sets of three queens, causing me to often remark that I was playing life with a pinochle deck. What I most often ignored was that I was being instructed to break the pattern as it was something that controlled and limited me in this cycle of life.

    While many think I should be experiencing regret and wishing I had never made this little side trip back north in the course of my journey, I've come to realize that it was this little trip that allowed me to break the pattern. Unfortunately, it wasn't broken very smoothly.

    The story of the Fourth Queen started to grow from a kind of small print section of the glossary of my personal mythology into something that was playing a major role in my dreams during the summer of 2004, and I was never sure why. Most of the time the dreams went on about how she didn't exist, so it became a whole question of, "Why are you spending so much time explaining something that doesn't exist?" Well, just a couple of months later, I got back in contact with The Former Muse and the Fourth Queen continued to be mentioned in my dreams. It was an ongoing thing that just wouldn't stop, "Would you invoke the fourth queen?" and "Do you know who the fourth queen serves?" It was a theme that would not go away in my dreams, much like the theme of the beautiful blonde woman waiting for me in the cabin in the woods went on without end until I met Tina in March of 1997. This was something that if I was not slowly falling into despair (and working to convince myself I wasn't) I would have realized was trying to tell me something very important.

    For a while I deeply hated the Fourth Queen. My slow descent into madness with The Former Muse brought her out of a state of not existing, past the state of being merely a legend, and into a real, flesh and blood form. It began as a strange sort of three-way relationship, where all of us were supposed to be equally invested in each other, something I haven't got the time or words to truly describe as I barely remember now how it was supposed to work. It then became a new weapon by which The Former Muse could break my spirit and drain my strength and energy. You see, The Former Muse was given over completely to self-destruction and a life of ongoing ruin and she would be damned before she would let anyone who was her consort have the ability to be anything other than what she was. She needed someone to be in a lower state of being than herself in order to feel any sense of power. I have a theory that this is why she's collected so many animals as pets over the years, and regardless of how she would swear to the contrary, why she treats them quite poorly while professing great love for them.

    People, you see, also needed to be her pets, as she is unable to truly relate to anything else.

    The Fourth Queen was a pawn, at the onset, in this whole game of manipulation and control The Former Muse must play in order to keep people in her orbit. It could not be something where all three parties in this relationship were equal, The Former Muse had to be the center, and the most expedient way for her to do this was to slowly push me aside and to make me compete with The Fourth Queen for her attentions and affections. Sort of like why she has never been happy having only one dog. And this began the period of blunt force trauma. When I tried to walk away, there were two additional suicide attempts and a stay in the locked ward of a psychiatric hospital. Then there was the insistence that I help her to recover and to become in some way "whole" again. She would cast out her demons one by one, stop drinking, stop abusing prescription pills, stay on her medications as prescribed for her bipolar disorder, explore alternative therapies and treatments, stop engaging in all kinds of hypersexual behavior... the list goes on and on. And so I stayed and worked with her and she became the actress, showing devotion to these things while lying to me as she continued a secret affair with The Fourth Queen behind my back and only half-heartedly embraced her stated recovery program. And it all took a toll on me, reflected in my work at my job, caused me to overlook things I would normally pay attention to, which related to how the engine seized in my car... and how she lied about paying the rent, put off paying bills, including our utilities, and pushed me so hard against the wall I can still see the pattern of the bricks in the flesh of my chest.

    The Fourth Queen, you see, was not my enemy, no matter how hard The Former Muse worked to convince me that she was, and that she was somehow manipulating The Former Muse into betraying me and into losing sight of what she needed to do to commit to her recovery program and dedicate herself to overcoming the cycles of self-destruction that dominated her life.

    The Fourth Queen saved me from slow, evolutionary destruction. Had it not been for her, I would likely still be where I was before she appeared, barely noticing as my heart, mind and soul sunk into wretched oblivion.

    And to answer a question someone asked me not so long ago, this is how terrible events and bad times can actually be good things in disguise, and how sometimes bad things can happen in order to wake you up and force you to change direction. I was forced to change direction. My life was, in many senses, saved by The Fourth Queen.

    And the pattern of the Three Queens is broken. The Former Muse is called such now because she has been excommunicated. She no longer has any power or bearing in my life, except as a lesson of time past and a path that has been forever planted over. She was once The One Queen. The Second Queen has exiled herself from my life. I came to know her in the last two months before I moved to Orlando in 1997, and at the time she wished more than anything that I would not leave, that I would stay in New Hampshire and be with her. I don't think anyone will ever love me to the depths of her soul the way The Two Queen, The Toad, did, but I broke her heart, not in leaving, since she knew I was going to leave before she even met me, but because I returned here for someone else when I would not stay for her. Of the second set of queens, Tina is a story that has been resolved for this lifetime, and I doubt will rise again. Our last farewell closed the book on the parts we were to play in each other's lives. Christina passed away more than four years ago, and while I hear her speak to me in dreams and in visions, she is gone from this world.

    The Three Queens play different roles now. Some people misunderstand my Muse Theory, as the purpose of The Muse has always been to provide inspiration when I write. I do not write well unless I have a specific, tangible "target" for whom I am writing (which is why I often dedicate certain things I post here to certain individuals). I had written for The Former Muse since I was nineteen, and much of it was based on the belief that we would never consummate our relationship and always be as very close friends and nothing more. That dynamic was destroyed, fairly slowly, after I moved here and my more creative fiction projects outside of here have greatly suffered from lack of drive and inspiration. As Tammy once longed to read anything I wrote and listen to anything I said, she was the most logical choice to assume the "office" of Muse. And after I did that I spent two days writing, by hand, the entire first draft of a young adult novel with the main character based on Tammy... and I wrote it until my hands cramped three times over and blood was dripping from my cuticles (and I mean this quite literally). I was filled once again with inspiration and drive, and I saw that it was good. As far as the other Three Queen, she is the only one I still talk to, and the last time I saw her she was giving me The Look from the window of a hotel lobby after I said goodbye and left her to come here...

    It is a hell of a way to break a pattern. There is so much shattered glass all over the place if I slip and fall you'd think I was in the grip of the stigmata.

    That is my way of saying, amidst the ruins, my faith is returning, my strength is coming back to me, and I am finding my way through the weeds to The Path once more. She who guides me warned me about this for many years, but she knew I had to face it and that I had to know. She cried for me when I first came back to New Hampshire and now I know why.

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