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A conversation...

with a friend when while he was high.

It's officially 1:11 in the morning here. I'm sitting in my dorm, listening to Miles Davis and I decide to tell a friend about it. Mind you, I know he's high before I start speaking to him, so I bring this upon myself. I'm not high. It starts off as harmless conversation, but somewhere along the line it turns horribly wrong. Eventually I begin to play his game, feeding him bullshit so he can feed it back to me. Harmless fun. Below is the whole conversation, documented for your enjoyment. The names have been changed to protect the innocent. Just know that "C" is me and "N" is him. Enjoy!

C: Miles Davis is my kind of man.

N: i never knew you had a crush on miles davis before

C: I don't. Just his music.

N: that sucks.. he has a hot ass

C: I'm not so sure I've seen his ass.

N: you were drunk

C: Ah.

C: Wish I could remember... Was he playing a trumpet with it?

N: ya.. you were sititng a miniature donkey smoking a huge cigar

N: babysitting*

C: Sipping Cogniac.

C: Out of a party hat.

C: In tights.

N: sippin gin out of a broken lightbulb

C: Eh, same thing.

C: whilst the donkey painted my toenails with its teeth.

C: A yellowish-green shade I believe...

N: and the horse just watches

C: There was a horse?

N: ya.. hes in the corner

C: don't you mean 'was' in the corner?

N: well he had to stay there. he was underneath the blood shower

C: oh yeah. Dressed in Saran-wrap shorts and a construction helmet.

N: with an umbrella

C: feeding ice into a blender that was unplugged.

N: and an empty tequila bottle.. doing a small cooking show for small children

C: I wouldn't put it past him.

N: i didnt. thats why hes getting fired tomorrow

C: Who will ever replace him?

N: the hulk

C: Boy, I didn't think he could come, given that he has so many other side projects.

N: were close. we send each other wires about every week or two.. its been goin on for a decade

C: Oh yeah? How's he doing? And his wife Griselda?

N: he killed her last week

N: he found her cheating on him with spiderman... with his costume on

C: Wow... the end of an era...

C: finally.. that bitch was getting on my nerves... always asking me for money

C: Ah, to feed her drug crazed life?

C: I mean, how else would you be able to accept green genitalia?

N: i never did.. thats why she try to stab me once. i had to kick the shiv out of her hand with my dinosaur skin boots

C: Who can blame you?

N: God did. he said i shouldnt have done it, and that it was a sin. i told him that shiv was made from a cross. he finally came around

C: Nice.

N: ya.. who need God was a man of reason? geesh

C: Exactly.

FIN.

I don't know how many of you know about Nicola Calipari, the Italian intelligence agent killed in Iraq by US soldiers as he was escorting to the airport a recently-freed hostage, the journalist Giuliana Sgrena.

I won't get into the details of that night here, but I've just read an article on the CNN website about a classified US report that tells the shooters' side of the story.

The report, as befits any description of operations in a high-risk area, passed under the censors' scissors before being published in the Army web site. Many parts were blanked out, including the names of the soldiers involved and some tactical details about the setup of a checkpoint.

Shortly after publication, an unclassified version started making the rounds. Italian newspapers talked about a hacker that had somehow decrypted the report.

According to the CNN

The classified version of the U.S. report appeared on the Internet because of a computer error, officials said. CNN is not reporting any details that would risk the security and privacy of U.S. and Italian personnel, including their names.

CNN is telling only half of the story. It seems that it was neither a web site blunder (publishing unclassified.doc instead of classified.doc) nor a high-profile hack of the Army web site.

Quite simply, the unnamed censor used Adobe Acrobat to draw black rectangles over the classified parts, without realizing that the box was drawn on a different layer, and the blanked text was still there, underneath the rectangle. A simple select/copy/paste to a different text editor or word processor made the original report readable in all its glory.

The .pdf file was quickly yanked from the web site, in the best tradition of trying to hide something once it has been on the net.

Some of my colleagues argued that this was a sly move to tell the whole story in an unofficial way. I have my doubts.

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.
(either W. James or N. Diamos)

Love is the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster of the soul.

Except that with the real gargle blaster, you get a choice. Arguably.

So I join this site and I get a nice message from someone who can stay nameless for the time being advising me to read something called Everything FAQ. So I read this thing called Evertyhing FAQ about all the do’s and don’ts and stuff and I still can’t figure out what it is I want to write.

So I message this person and they tell me start off with something called a “daylog” and I’m like “What the hell is a “daylog?” and they’re like “Well, it’s kind of a way to tell something about yourself without really posting it.”

So, I think to myself, “Why in the hell would I want to do that? There’s enough anonymous people crawling around the globe to fill five of the seven continents with plenty of room left over, we don’t need no more of that kind of stuff.” But then I start to thinkin’, “Hey, it’s your house, I’ll play by your rules.”

Anyways, we’ve probably met someone in our lifetime who could wear the title of “silver tongue devil” in many different ways. Sometimes it could be used to flatter somebody and sometimes the term takes on a derogatory tone. Usually it applies to someone who can (and mark my words, will) bullshit their way out of just about any situation. Sometimes you admire them sometimes not. It might just be a matter of timing.

As for me, well, I like the way Kris Kristofferson put it in his song called “The Silver Tongued Devil and I”

I took myself down to the Tally Ho Tavern,
To buy me a bottle of beer.
And I sat me down by a tender young maiden,
Who's eyes were as dark as her hair.
And as I was searching from bottle to bottle,
For something un-foolish to say.
That silver tongued devil just slipped from the shadows,
And smilingly stole her away.

See, that’s the whole about being a silver tongue devil. They can steal stuff right out from under your nose and most of the time and you’d hardly notice. I guess some folks might consider it an art form. Some other folks might consider it a way of life. Others still might think of it as theft. In retrospect, either way it’s a little like laying the charm on, sometimes it’s too thick and sometimes it’s too thin and sometimes it's gone in a heartbeat.

I said: "Hey, little girl, don't you know he's the devil.
"He's everything that I ain't.
"Hiding intentions of evil,
"Under the smile of a saint.
"All he's good for is getting in trouble,
"And shiftin' his share of the blame.
"And some people swear he's my double:
"And some even say we're the same.
"But the silver-tongued devil's got nothing to lose,
"I'll only live 'til I die.
"We take our own chances and pay our own dues,
"The silver tongued devil and I."

Oh, come on now, let’s face it. We’ve all tried to bullshit somebody in our lives at one time or another. Maybe it’s to land a job, a school or get into somebody else’s shorts. It doesn’t matter. What starts out as a little white lie often blossoms into tales that’d make the average person blush. I guess people will go a long way to get what they desire. It’s my theory that as long as nobody gets hurt along the way, well, it’s just part of life then.

Like all the fair maidens who've laid down beside him,
She knew in her heart that he'd lied.
Nothin' that I could have said could have saved her,
No matter how hard that she tried.
'Cos she'll offer her charms to the darkness and danger,
Of somethin' that she's never known.
And open her arms at the smile of a stranger,
Who'll love her and leave her alone.

Like I said earlier, sometimes you can just see it coming. You know when you’re on the other end of some bullshit story but still you listen, rapt to the tune and the telling. That little antenna or radar or whatever you want to call it sounds off in your head and warning signals race through your brain. That’s where the art form for the “silver tongued devil” kicks in. A good con man, if he’s worth his salt, can con just about anybody, even those who share his lot in life. Those of his ilk figure it’s all just part of the game.

And you know, he's the devil.
He's everything that I ain't.
Hiding intentions of evil,
Under the smile of a saint.
All he's good for is getting in trouble,
And shiftin' his share of the blame.
And some people swear he's my double:
And some even say we're the same.
But the silver-tongued devil's got nothing to lose,
I'll only live 'til I die.
We take our own chances and pay our own dues,
Ah ha ha ha.

The silver tongued devil and I.

You see, excluding rapists and killers and other folks who prefer to follow their violent tendencies and wrestle with their inner demons, when you get right down to it, we’re mostly all the same.

We’re all just trying to get along…

Buy you a drink sometime?

Oh yeah, one of the boss folks ‘round here told me I gotta give credit where credit is due. Shit, I ain’t one to steal someone else’s thunder so here goes…

Words to “The Silver Tongued Devil and I” copyright by Kris Kristofferson – a sure fire silver tongued devil himself if he don’t mind me sayin’ so.

(This is nothing but a work of fiction, most things usually are.)

Obligatory Warning: This is an ongoing, solipsistic account of my very own divorce. If you don't like personal stories, why are you reading daylogs anyway? Shoo, back to factuals with you. Go on, shoo.

Also, I am retiring Lucyboo; she feels false and tinny. From now on I will daylog as Mitzi, as Ashley.

I never thought I'd miss the wet spot, but I do, goddammit.

That's the thing. Your mind goes soft when confronted with this much loss all at once. You start missing the things that drove you batshit.

But mostly I miss the warm things, the solid things, the things that provided the framework of my former life. My life as Wife.

He used to wake up with a song in his head. Every single morning. If I slept through his waking I'd ask him later, what was your song this morning? He would reply: When Doves Cry, or I Kissed a Girl or Bittersweet Symphony or Oklahoma! (which mystified us both, because he detests musicals) or sometimes a fragment of Mozart.

He never, ever remembered his dreams; they slipped into the ether along with the stars, they evaporated with the night. But he woke up every morning with a soundtrack. I liked that about him.

I take long showers these days. The memories crowd in on me there, unbidden but welcome just the same. I watch the steam collect on the glass door in a bathroom that isn't mine and I watch the water cascade like temporary diamonds, like a million tiny goodbyes.

A lot of weirdness took place between us in the shower. He kept a can of silly string under the sink, and when I was particularly pissy he would lurk in the hallway until he was sure I was unsuspecting, then bombard me with sticky gunk.

Other less weird things took place in the shower, too. Since he worked at home we had a system where we could go for hours in our own spheres, working and functioning in the same space without ever talking or interacting past the occasional absentminded touch. We'd reconnect in the shower. I'd wander into the bathroom and peel off my clothes and step into the steam. I like the feel of water on my skin, the luxurious amphibious experience of sheets of wetness licking me with a thousand tiny tongues. And then Sam would be there, wordless still and also wet and sleek as an otter and his tongue would join the million other tongues (and I was always, always surprised that I could be wetter and slicker still, but I was, and it was good), and we were suddenly together again and the silence of the day would be washed away, spiraling down the drain, and we would laugh and gasp and laugh some more.

That was nice.

He teased me a lot. I hate that this is past tense, too, because he knew how to keep me from the dangerous kinds of serious. He had a dry wit, a wry way with words. He was an adroit teaser, skilled in the ways of the tease.

He fed me. He was an astoundingly intuitive cook who understood flavors and textures, the sensuality of food. He cooked for me daily. He didn't want my company in the kitchen - cooking was a meditative act for him - but he would dart into the living room where I was reading or writing with spoons and ladles brimful of fragrant broths and tidbits, for me, for me.

He fed me. Do you understand what that means, the barren enormity of that loss?

We had a lot of sex in the beginning. He was a watchful lover, and I could sense him tucking away details for future use. When I touch her there she mews. When I lick her like this, she gushes. His knowledge of me was encyclopedic, it was terrifying.

We dated and fucked for several years before breaking up in our mid-twenties. During that time he met a girl who wrote erotica for a living, and he learned things, dangerous things. (Let us now praise old girlfriends, for they gave us much. Skoal!) When he left her and came back to my bed he was sure of two things: that he wanted to marry me and that I had faked many, many orgasms in the past. He was absolutely right. I have in common with many rape victims an involuntary wariness at my core, something tense and coiled and deeply suspicious that takes effort to soften, to soothe, to placate. His stubbornness is rivaled only by his patience. With time and languid peaceful persistence he coaxed wave after wave of molten pleasure from a place I thought was calcified and beyond repair.

He fed me that way too.

He understood in an instinctive animal way how to touch me. I worried about his silences sometimes - sex with him was a mostly wordless affair - but I came to realize that it was concentration, devoutness, an atheist's deepest and most fervent prayer. He was present in his silence in ways words would cheapen.

I went through a mercifully short phase where I did all I could to get him to spill his fantasies, to let me into his quietness. He looked at me uncomprehendingly and said don't you know that I am here, right here every time, can't you tell that? Why would I need to go anywhere else? And I believed him, and I settled into that truth the way you slip into a hot bath, relishing his is-ness, his immaculate attention, his watchful and rapt silences.

It isn't all misty eyed reminiscence, of course it isn't. He sweated a lot, and not just at the right times. His taste in clothes ran toward t-shirts, some inappropriately ratty and peppered with silly slogans, and tattered jeans. He went commando with utter stubbornness no matter how many types of underwear I pointedly bought for him. He wasn't particularly well-read and didn't much care. He spent too much time on the computer and not enough time on me. He had a keen aversion to doing laundry and left to his own devices would never change the sheets, ever ever ever.

Something that disturbed me deeply: he never called me by name, not ever. Now and again when he was inside me I would chant that ancient creed, pray that ancient prayer, Say my name, Sam, please say my name and he would oblige me, but my name was foreign as Sanskrit on his tongue and I always felt ashamed for having to beg something so elemental from him.

I look forward to the day when the warm memories are ghostly wisps and all that is solid are the Bad Things, the Dealbreakers, the Nights I Cried Alone While He Pretended To Sleep Because He Just Couldn't Deal With Any More Fucking Drama.

But now it is all showers and the slow spreading fire of good scotch and the diffuse light beneath the covers during afternoon lovemaking. It is steaming bowls of homemade pho and the way he always held my hand in the movie theater darkness and the filmlights flickering on his absorbed and watchful face. It is his scent on the pillow and the tangle of our legs in half-remembered sleep. It is rain on windowpanes and breath on my face and when I wake up now in the middle of the night it is the ghost of him not sleeping there beside me.

Some nights I wander. The house is still, the silence broken only by coyote howls and the desert wind in the sparse trees. I wake up thirsty and pad to the kitchen for a drink and then, and then a sense memory jabs me so hard in the ribs I can barely breathe:

We are sweatsheened and flushed and it is velvet dark all around us and we laugh, we always laugh after sex, it is a gigglefest. It is so amazing, this sex thing, the grace and awkwardness ot it all, the bolts and waves of pure pleasure that make us gasp with something like wonder, a benevolent warm musky tide that washes us up here, on this strange and familiar shore, together and laughing and always slightly amazed that we can do this, we can do this anytime we want to because it is our home, our bed, these are our bodies and they were made mostly for this and that is worth a giggle or ten.

And he brings me a warm wet washcloth and a cold sweating tall glass of water (always a glass, it feels cooler on our swollen lips) and he cleans me gently with the warm wet cloth and the water slips down our parched throats and we kiss and our tongues are cold and that makes us laugh again. We light the cigarette that we always share because it tastes better than any other goddam cigarette in the history of cigarettes and it is meant to be shared, like the water, like our sweat. And we drink and smoke in a contented sleepy silence that is more than merely companiable but that is also companionable, and that is sweeter than anything I could have imagined, this comfort, this friendship, these moments that are scented with the musk of us and made sacred by the quiet awareness of we.

And the water I have now in my plastic cup is lukewarm, the temperature of tears, and I am being mauled by this memory, and so I wander and smoke dry and meaningless cigarettes that taste neither good nor bad, that taste like nothing more than smoke.

Sometimes I literally run from the memories, ignoring my smoke-scorched lungs, sprinting in bursts along the riverbank. Sometimes I sing (loudly, off-key, nonsense songs) to chase the memories back into their proper caves. Mostly, though, I sit resigned and let them drift over me with their million jellyfish stings. I stare at the sky and try to empty myself of this emptiness, but it is no use, the emptiness always wins and the memories spiral to an empty heaven like smoke, incense offerings to dead gods.

I hate that he makes me maudlin.

If I forgive him all of this - this abandonment, this leaving, this arctic silence, every stillborn tomorrow - if I let all of that fall from my grip like the first handful of dirt over a coffin - I still and always will never forgive him for making me write bad poetry in tearstained clothbound journals. I will never forgive him for making me sing Dan Fogelberg songs in the shower (Another Old Lang Syne, anyone? Sweet bleeding JESUS.). I will never forgive him for making me cry over 70's power ballads on AM radio. I will hold him accountable for these things.

I hate that he makes me miss the wet spot.

I'm counting up lasts now. I don't have a concrete ETD - too much to do, too much to do - and I never made a list of Things to Do Before I Go. But the lasts are piling up around me nonetheless.

I'm restless. I'm unmotivated. I want to fast forward to liquid lunches and afternoon rendezvous or, failing that, my next phase of employment. I do not, objectively, want to be here any more than I ever did.

Then things like this afternoon happen. First, the drive home for lunch with nobody barking as I rolled into the driveway (Geoff was put down Saturday after a week refusing to eat or drink). Next, the chat with the dogcatcher I was supposed to interview today (he had to cancel, and I nearly found myself asking why he Had to Go to the Landfill while on dogcatcher duty). Then, my last visit to TVCC to visit with the choral director there (and first visit to the performing arts center in several months).

The coup de grace, though: I bought stamps for the first time since my postman died. Penpals and mailorder were a big part of what made growing up in this town bearable for a girl like me. Buying stamps from Post Office Dave (eulogized as "Weiser's Own Jolly Postman") made it better than bearable. He was the sort to learn everybody's name and shout it when you walked in the door (my mother and I, arriving in tandem at quarter of five, were MIZ MCCURDY AND MISS MCCURDY; I was MISSSSS MCCURDY when I came in solo). He wasn't a bad guesser at what types of stamps you liked and what type of weighing/stamping workload you required (one of the other quarter-of-fivers we saw an almost-daily basis was a lawyer's wife, for instance, who always needed about $40 worth of postage to mail a metal basket worth of paperwork). He managed all of this without being creepy or invasive at any point. He was also well-read and chucklesome.

He told my sixth-grade career day group he was going to retire years ago, but for whatever reason, he never did. Then he got sick. Bad, and suddenly: He just couldn't breathe, and was gone within a week.

So there I was today, quarter of five, with Mrs. Walker the lawyer's wife and Bob, Dave's quieter colleague. A familiar but unsettling scene: too quiet. It must have been a month ago now but all we have for each other are forced, funereal smiles and I know if any one of us says his name I'm not going to make it through the transaction without crying.

I make it, but just barely. There was no funeral and I'm not even positive there's a grave, but they did erect a bench on the Post Office grounds. I inspect it, briefly, then get in my car and go. It's a brief cry and a brief drive and presumably I'm ready for what's next now.

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