Wunderluster


A Postcard From Martin
February 13, 2008, 4:25 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Last week I went by the library to find a book to read, as one does at a library. After realizing that I’ve read nearly every interesting book there is, I remembered several recommendations for Don DeLillo’s “Underworld.” Apparently, it’s his magnum opus. Frankly, I find it a little forward for Mr. DeLillo to show everyone his magnum opus. Seems a bit scandalous. ANYWAY.

With modern American fiction not at the top of the library circulation list in New Zealand, a helpful librarian of middle age found a copy buried deep in the annals of Dunedin Public Library. Books about cricketers and eco-tourism abound, but you can’t get a seminal work on modern Americana on the available shelves in New Zealand.

But what should I find but a handy little bookmark in the form of a postcard within this buried text. Being in the intimacy-starved state I’m in, I was overjoyed to have a window into somebody’s correspondence. On the front of the postcard was a black and white picture of an aquarium janitor squeegeeing an underground see-through window of the whale pool.

Wicked intense and interesting, eh? Well, not really. It’s an untitled photograph from Garry Winogrand from 1963. It’s a Winogrand! A Winogrand! No, I don’t know who Garry Winogrand is, either. I’m just trying to spin a yarn here. 

The postcard is addressed to:

The Keans

448 Highgate

Maori Hill

Dunedin

New Zealand

The postcard is dated 7 June, 1991 and was stamped in London. The text is as follows:

“Hi there! Thanks for your card from Honolulu, hope you get a nice tan! Did you go back to that bay where we went snorkeling? Can you send me Rosemary’s address? Mike — I’m half way through a letter to you — thanks for your last one. Dad — it’s too late for the stuff to be organised for Andrei and Inga, they are leaving here in a week with as much as we have organised — They should be alright. But they may pop in for a visit if they get to Dunedin. I’m still cooking and doing a bit of law clerking for solicitors. Doing some more lighting for plays, too, and starting to edit Cakekitchen video. More soon, love Martin.”

Ok, so nobody is admitting to murder, talking about a lost love one or venting about heartache, but I found this long forgotten memento fascinating if only for one reason.

This postcard was mailed in 1991. “Underworld” was published in 1997. So, for six years The Keans kept this postcard to remind them of something or someone. Probably Martin. Rosemary was probably his stepmom. Dad is dad. Who’s Andrei and Inga? Who’s Mike? What on God’s green earth was the Cakekitchen video? More importantly, why did this postcard matter?

Well, memories are funny things aren’t they? I’ve made no secret of my own difficulties with dealing with loss and moving on. It’s not so much that I don’t want to move on, it’s just that anything can set off a memory. A familiar smell, a long lost love note, a blanket, a pair of pants, a picture or perfume. They’re all an immediate transport to somewhere else. Without moving on, life can be suffering and stagnant. But then again, throwing away pictures, gifts and memory saturated THINGS doesn’t feel right either. It’s almost sacrilegious. It’s some holy shit. Like chucking a Bible in the trash.

When Ms. X and I worked our way through the final stages of separation she asked me how to stop remembering things we went through together. Every memory and familiarity had immense context. While I’m no shaman, what I said was fairly prophetic and accurate.

To paraphrase, I said “to move on we can’t sit and think about how we’re dealing with the past. We can’t make coping a conscious choice. We can’t actively forget each other. The only thing we can do is to totally look forward and let new experiences replace our old memories.”

For my own poetic peace of mind, I’d like to think that Martin never came back to Dunedin. Something happened. He fell in love…or into a coma and never returned. And for years, Mike, Rosemary and Dad suffered without him and kept this postcard to remind themselves of their beloved son, cousin, brother or friend. But at that perfect moment, the one only fate can decide, the attachment to his memory was dissolved and “Underworld” was returned to the library and somebody was OK with forgetting to snag Martin’s postcard.

See, coping with loss isn’t about defining and ordering what happened in the past and coming to some kind closure.

 Nah, it’s about finding something better to think about.

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A Drag King
February 5, 2008, 1:54 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I’ve passed several ideas around on how I could envigorate this journal. But for one, let me say this: the highlights of this place are my grumbling contemplations and borderline whining about things that have happened, meaning past tense, in my life. My travel writing is pretty poor, if not non-existent.

Now, Wunderlusting, as it were, doesn’t necessarily demand the topic be about seeing penguins, eating exotic meals or seeing a girl naked in the hostel bathroom. Wunderlusting as I understand is about looking forward toward adventure. As we all know, there are several types of adventures

 There’s professional adventure, for instance.

 

 I am on one of these now. My grip is white-knuckled. Coaching on the professional level is a constant poker match between players, coaches and other teams. You’re constantly trying to measure what the other one is holding without, of course, giving up what you’re stashing. I’ve found that I’m holding many intangibles: eagerness, wit, being personable and an ability to observe both on the human level and on the basketball court. That’s pretty good I think. But I’m up against people who’ve been to the rodeo more than a few times. My challenge is to show these cowboys I can ride having not ever really corralled a bull before. There’s a lot of posturing and it’s fascinating. I wish I could get into specifics, but I’ll have to wait and write a “Ball Four” – like masterpiece.

I’m learning at my job at a furious pace. The position, plus my relative lack of practical experience, demands it. Understanding the wave you’re riding is probably the first key to any great adventure. This brings me to the biggest black mark on my life so far. I have been on a great adventure in the past, but I didn’t really know it at the time. Sure, I had a look at what I was saying and what I was doing and I admitted that it was all pretty cool. But when I look back, I was weighed down by trivialities. Triviality is the business of the righteous and I have been Pat Robertson incarnate in the past.

Now, you probably want some sort of explanation as to what the fuck I’m talking about. But try as I might, I can’t tell you. See, I’ve tried to repay my debt for taking a good thing for granted. (This is not to say that this good thing was “the right thing” or “the only thing” for me, but rather that it wasn’t fully appreciated at the time). I mull over where I could have done better. I have dreams replaying opportunities where I went overboard with zeal. Yet, there will be no respite from this ghostly curse until I kill it.

But there’s the rub. How do you kill something that’s not alive and not dead, either. Sure, you can talk about loss, grief, death, guilt until you’ve run out of words. But what does that do? At a certain point, those topics become central to one’s day-to-day inner-monologue and engulf so that other adventures go further unappreciated.

On the other hand, you can always try to ignore regret, but I always know when I’m distracting myself.

And that’s the cycle that I’m in. Regret has the best of me. That’s why I can’t update this blog regularly. Writing about what really burns me is only going to feed the monster.  

Let me clarify: this is where I want to be. This is right. This is a good start. It’s progress. But as for this cursed cloud that hangs, well,  I just don’t know what other penance is left to pay.

(P.S. — Anyone who suggests this is all just cyclical, self-fulfilling thinking can kiss my ass and will be banned from this website.)

(P.P.S. — Anyone know the score from the Super Bowl?)



Loss Means Learning (Abridged)
February 1, 2008, 11:39 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Hey, it’s me. You know, the guy who pooped on his friends in his last blog post and didn’t bother keeping in touch for the next two and a half weeks. Yeah, it’s me. Sorry about that, but I’ve been a little swamped.

 It’s a good thing though. There’s been plenty of stuff going on at work and I’ve been about fishing, hiking and the like. The basketball season, well, proper practices and such start on Monday. So the great odyssey is upon me. It’s all so very exciting.

 I’m going to be short and honest here until I have the time and inclination to talk at length about other interesting stuff: I meant what I said last time. Friendship is a drag. And adulthood can be quite lonely. But a byproduct of accepting these facts is not taking for granted when good friends and good breaks enter your path. I’ve been lucky to have both good fortune and good mates (NZ word for “friend”) in my life and now I feel more equipped to take care of them. Loss means learning.

 I just don’t have anything that interesting to say right now. Just bear with me, I’m putting it all together and working hard and living very happily. In the mean time, find someone to love on Valentine’s Day and don’t forget that I’m a Pisces.