Tuesday, March 03, 2015

It's Personal


It's Personal

The sheer volume of unpublished writing in my archives is astounding --- some of it is pretty good, although, having written it myself, I could not possibly judge which part is crap and which part is good.

When LaConner artist Janet Laurel was not on her meds, September, 2005

Janet Laurel and Dan Stow are tearing up LaConner. What a wild couple. They are disrupting everything and everybody. Their late night shenanigans are followed by early morning poetry blasts. This is nuts, and I’m getting tired of it. Janet and Dan came over to Jim’s house at three in the morning last night. Janet stayed in the car, but Dan walked in to the cabin to get something, not knowing or caring that Zelmar was sleeping in there – had been sleeping there for the past ten days. Zelmar was on a visit from New York City. She’s in her seventies. Zelmar is a Manhattanite and a woman of the world – she did not panic at the silent intruder, but she most certainly didn’t like it.

The day before, Janet had come into the Rexville Store at 7:30 a.m. all wired for sound and raring to go. I couldn’t stand the smell of her perfume. She sat next to me. I had been talking with Alan Messman, a dairy farmer. His farm is at the corner of Chilburg and Dodge Valley Roads. I always look at his cows when I drive by. She interrupted us in a big way and wouldn’t let us finish. She doesn’t usually come to Rexville in the morning, it’s mostly men anyway. But Janet is a guilt-free shit disturber, and she wanted to read me a poem. I said yes, not knowing how long it would be. The poem went on and on. She had a great big book and wrote large words, only a few words to a page, but it went on and on. I couldn’t take it. I got up and walked outside. Alan Messman just sat there in silent amazement. He’s quite a genial fellow, easy going and soft-spoken. I bet he is really good with his cows.
Paul Hansen, the Bellowing Buddhist, back from China, was holding forth at Café Culture last night. He looks well fed and his shoes were shined. Hansen had the chair by the door, the one the regulars always avoid.
Kelly Matlock walked in. She used to own Chez La Zoom, the famous clothing store. Then she married Martin Hahn, the famous chef. Now what does she do?

Old Fred. I’m Young Fred. Old Fred is Fred Martin who has been running the LaConner Drugstore since the mid-fifties. He comes in to Café Culture and buys lattes for his drugstore staff on Saturday mornings.

Wayne Everton, former mayor of LaConner, at the Barber Shop

“So you’re a dickhead,” Gretchen said with a laugh, meaning I had been to the barber shop and Dick Holt cut my hair. “Not so,” I replied, “Tony cut my hair, that way you don’t get so much of a Rotary Club look.” Tony Holt is Dick Holt’s son. They work together.

I am really particular about who cuts my hair. I often have Marianne cut my hair at her Mane Event hair salon, but for two problems – one is that she just retired and the other problem is that it’s not good for a woman to cut your hair – not all the time – it can become emasculating. You remember what Delilah did to Samson? And then he lost all his strength. Women, love ’em, but total trust is not advised.

I was forgetting the Waynemaster, himself, hizzoner, in the flesh, in the chair at the barbershop giving his candid views. I monitor the Waynester’s psychic aura, rather than engage in a conversation with any content. I figure if he’s not acting nervous, or depressed, or pissed off or anything like that – if he’s just relaxed and laughing easily, then our municipal government is in good hands. Reviewing his aura while Tony cut my hair, I gave him a big thumb’s up.

Awful Girl Friend Stories

My kids think the worst girl friend I ever had was either Rosana or Miriam -- they have a point. Rosana was quite fat -- that wasn't the problem. She actually had a very nice figure with excellent proportions, she was just a great deal wider than some other ladies. I liked her figure, she was all extra. That wasn't the problem. The problem was her obsessive, neurotic need to talk about her weight, and her diet, and how she didn't look right. I was made to suffer for all the men who had abused her previously, and all I wanted to do was have fun. I used to beg her, "Rosana, can we have fun now? Do we have to talk about this?"

Then I moved from the Seattle area to Boston, and Rosana and I wrote each other (before the age of email) these wonderful, scathing, insulting letters -- such lovers we were, the letters were actually the best part. All this happened years ago. I spoke with her six months ago -- she is still quite a pumpkin.

So there was Rosana, and I'm the first guy who ever loved her for being fat, and she wouldn't let me. After that I had an affair with a married woman who was also an alcoholic -- really smart. Of course I had a good reason -- me and Nora were both lapsed Catholics and we had to get our revenge on the Pope for inhibiting our adolescent sex lives. And that worked. I'm getting along fine with the Pope now.

To Love and Lose. I don't understand these people who are "wounded and wary." I mean these singletons who have had bad experiences in love and so must be very cautious and must make great effort to be emotionally self-sufficient. God forbid we should ever need one another -- that is the modern mantra. But I reject it entirely.

I follow the commandment of love and know that we are here on earth to belong to one another. Love is wounding and sometimes fatal, yes?

I believe in loneliness and suffering.

I am not “my own best friend.” I don’t believe in self-nurturing, self-fulfillment, or self-actualization – those are just fancy words for being selfish. I’m selfish, I don’t have to try to be selfish. It’s not something I have to aim for. I already am selfish. I don’t get what these people are talking about when they say “self-nurturing.” It’s just being selfish, that’s all.

Go ahead and be selfish, if that’s what you want – just don’t fancy it up like you’re doing the world a favor.

I believe in loneliness. Sometimes I feel lonely – don’t you? Sometimes, when I’m by myself, I’m unhappy and I don’t like it, and I want to be with other people. That’s loneliness. It won’t kill me. …. Hold it, loneliness can kill you. Loneliness can hurt very badly and then kill you – when it gets really bad. I believe that can happen. One time I was very lonely and that went on for several years – I suffered a great deal…. I did not choose to be lonely any more than I would choose to be sick. It just happened, and it was awful.

The point is that loneliness is authentic. It’s real. That’s why I believe in it. And the suffering, and the healing quality of time.

All that was written in 2005

LaConner hasn’t changed very much since then. I moved down to California, Fred Martin retired, and Wayne Everton died……..That’s all.

But there is more, digging deeper into the archives, from 1991...

A Little Story about Ruth and Clyde

"Clyde, I love the way you stroke the water with your oar. I hear each one plop into the water. One hand, one oar, then the other. We're hardly moving. We're going upstream. You pull and you pull. I hear the oarlocks squeak," Ruth said, all air in her voice, wearing extra fuzzy wools leggings against the chill on the river.

"Don't worry, baby," Clyde crooned in his baritone voice. "Just grab a hold of some extra space. Breathe deeply." He spoke very slowly.

The boat was a skiff, 14-foot long. A skiff has a flat bottom. This one had a bit of rocker fore and aft, better for rowing. Painted green with orange and red trim.

"Are we headed straight for the shack, or do we stop at Black Dog's first?" Ruth asked, because Clyde seemed to know what he was doing.

"That doesn't matter,” he replied. ”Why do you always wear white clothes? Your husband has been dead for three years now. Are you still mourning?"

"I don't know," she said. "Isn't it wonderful?" She pulled a little paper painting from her bag, an abstract design, of pastel water colors and gold foil. "It shows the light, don't you see it? My daughter came to see me at the studio. She was in town for a recital. We drank tea and laughed for hours. It was late at night when she left. That's when I made these three little paintings, because they reflect the light.”

The tide was coming in. This slowed the current in the river. Clyde had pulled the boat around Bald Island where the current is strongest. Now he was easing into the slack water by Shit Creek.

"Clyde, it's so hard to tell what you think. Have you heard from your mother lately? Did she send you any money?” Ruth said.

Ruth had silver hair, worn short and rugged. Her cheeks were like roses glowing and her eyes were shining black. She sat in the stern of the skiff facing Clyde as he rowed.

Clyde only grunted, a deep, melodious, poetic grunt. He reached for his jug of wine, the half-gallon size, in his blue knapsack.

She laughed, “I don’t think you’ve been sober for a day in ten years.”

“That’s not true,” Clyde said. “Remember how I lived with Linda. We moved out of the cabin on the sand spit. We got the house at Big Lake. I took auto mechanic courses at the college. I got a part-time job processing claims at the unemployment office. I didn’t have a drop for three months. I was inexpressibly irritable. My friends all hated me. I don’t want to think about it.”

Clyde enjoyed re-counting his personal history to Ruth – how he had been in the Navy for four years. That’s when he started drinking.

“And who are you to talk, Miss Space Case, my Lucy in the Sky, with no place to live, or breathe or cry?” Clyde smiled. “How are you going to pay the rent? It’s due next week. You could just move in with me. I’ll chop plenty of firewood and we won’t be cold.”

Dreaming of Ivy. There was a long, thin strand of ivy inside me. I pulled it out of my fingernail. I kept pulling. It was many feet long. It was pale green and the leaves were tiny, from being inside me and out of the sun. But the root and stalk were very healthy. The ivy could just not live any longer inside me, it must come out. It came out the tip of my finger. I pulled and pulled. It was amazing. I shuddered and groaned. I got goose bumps many times afterwards thinking about it.

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Fred Owens
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