Screaming in the desert


The brain is besieged with memories. They never stop. Day and night, even in sleep where they are called dreams. Good and bad. The good glorify, the bad bedevil. You can’t concentrate to read a book. When you watch movies on TV you turn the sound down and just let the scenes roll by. It’s just company to have someone else in the room. Actors never die. Marilyn Monroe will never die. She can be summoned into the room at anytime. Clark Gable, Montgomery Clift, Thelma Ritter, Eli Wallach, the entire cast of ‘The Misfits.’ In the room with you, riding buckin’ horses and getting drunk and roping mustangs and Marilyn screaming in the desert and Gable practically having a heart attack ropin’ horses and two days after shooting ended actually having a heart attack, but he didn’t die and Marilyn wasn’t murdered and the others and so on and so forth, they are all listed as dead but they are alive and they are in your living room keeping you company, not that you’re really listening to them and only half watching them because your brain is under siege. The memories of S. never stop, the great and the grisly. Not that you want them to stop, you just want them to calm down. Alcohol and weed and pills cannot slow them and when you finally sleep the memories become frenzied dreams. The life you lived together is an endless movie of flashbacks and shock cuts, reality contorted into horror scenes that never happened or maybe they happened in a subconscious other-world, an undiscovered state of wave-being. Someone tells you to see a psychiatrist but why would you do that? Let a shrink mess with your head and put you on a bunch of brain buckers that turn you into a zombie? Hell no! You want to be relatively conscious, drunk and stoned maybe, but at least aware if and when this endless movie ever ends.

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What’s important

The meaning of life came to me in a slow moment of panic. I finally figured out what’s important. The only thing that really matters.

You need someone to care about. And who cares about you. You need someone to worry about, and who worries about you. You need someone to look after when they get sick, as they would look after you when you get sick. You need someone to share your life with. Just having yourself is not enough.

The people you used to care about, worry about, share your life with are gone now. They come to you in dreams, and in that surreal other world you have your life back, only to wake up in the same void of reality. It becomes hard then to get up and face the day without them, without any of them, not one.

There are bloggers out there who despise me for my pitiful — and to them, pitiable — posts about loss and loneliness. One posted a nasty poem about me “bemoaning my fate… boo hoo…” She erased it right after but not before I had read it.

She writes constantly and voluminously about her love for God, and I think what really set her off was when I lamented the continuing absence and silence of God in answer or non-answer to my prayerful entreaties for help. It’s funny how some of the nastiest comments I get are from so-called Christians, who tell me in most unchristian terms what they think of me. She pitied me in my “godless universe” and told me to drown my “sorrow in another glass of wine.”

First of all, let me set the record straight: I do not drink wine — I drink gin and rum and bourbon, so please, madam, do not add insult to injury.

Secondly, take your self-righteous sanctity and shove it.

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Ah, New York!

In this cloistered age of Covid, I sleep a lot. Most days I sleep until noon. The best dreams happen in the morning just before waking. Today I had the most marvelous dream.

I am walking along Fifth Avenue. Many people are strolling the avenue — not rushing and bustling as they do on 42nd Street, just ambling, enjoying the sunshine and the camaraderie of the city.

I am the age I am now, in my seventies, and wearing an olive green shirt, tan suit, a camel hair coat and brown fedora, and a polished pair of tan shoes. I am a boulevardier. 

I come to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, climb the steps and go inside. It is quite crowded. A lovely civilized and relaxed gathering of people walking about in thoughtful contemplation.

My attention is immediately drawn to a beautiful young woman with black hair who is seated at an information booth. I walk over to her and ask her directions to something or other, I forget the details.

Aging boulevardier and pretty woman

We engage in a tête-à-tête. She seems quite taken with me and becomes beguilingly amorous. We talk about the city and its many charms.

She tells me she lives in the Village — Greenwich Village — and she tells me the address — 421 Tweet Street.

Tweet, I repeat, like a bird?

Like a bird, she says. Now I hope that odd street name has nothing to do with Twitter and “tweeting,” which would mar my wonderful dream with mundanity, so let’s say it has nothing to do with Twitter and everything to do with birds. I picture a quiet cobbled street bordered by trees.

She suggests that if I’m ever in the neighborhood to drop in. I say something to the effect that she is quite young and I am rather old — but she appears to care not, about that.

I am in the foyer about to leave, but I am without my hat and coat, which I apparently removed at some point in the dream. I see them in a chair by the door. I don the coat and place the hat on my head and go outside into the sunshine.

I stand at the top of the steps and look at the people and the taxis on Fifth Avenue.

Ah, New York! I remember it well. I long for it now.

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