I'm not going anywhere, ever

SATURDAY — My strep throat still hurts a lot, and I'm still sucking cough drops and chewing toxic amounts of Aspergum. Doc couldn't give me something for the pain? The antibiotics are working, but barely and slowly.

Called Maggie again, instead of seeing her, because — hello? — I'm sick and contagious and all. She's still being nice, which is still off-putting, and I still feel weird for being off-put. We had a short conversation, because talking on the phone hurts my throat.

Then I saw a double-feature at the U.C. Theater in Berkeley: And Now For Something Completely Different and Monty Python and the Holy Grail — two movies I'd seen before, but they weren't as funny as I'd remembered. Maybe it's because the there were only seven people in the theater. Maybe it's because the theater is run down, smells funky, and is generally a depressing space. Or maybe I just wasn't in the right mindset for comedy.

♦ ♦ ♦  

SUNDAY — Another nice phone call with Maggie, who flies home tomorrow. She lived in Seattle when we knew each other, but now her home is in the wild prairie lands of eastern Washington, in a small apartment complex, which she says is several miles from the nearest small town.

"I'm a country girl," she told me on the phone. Subtext: She's declining my invitation to stay with me in San Francisco.

"I'll be here," I said in response. Subtext: My invitation stands, because god knows I'm not going anywhere, ever.

I mean, take a look at me. There's nobody who'd want to get close to this hunk of flab and flatulence. There's been no other woman in my life in the 3+ years since Margaret and I were sort-of dating, and there's no-one on the horizon, no back-up plan, nobody I'd even consider asking out, and certainly nobody who'd say yes.

So Maggie and I are finished, probably, but I don't think it'll take me long to recover. It might take me longer to recover from the strep. She's someone I like, maybe borderline love, but she gets on my nerves, and she's actually been violent lately. Maybe it's for the best if she's a memory.

♦ ♦ ♦   

There'll be plenty of time to be sad later, but now I'm going to BART under the water for another double-feature at the U.C., Scaramouche and Ivanhoe.

♦ ♦ ♦   

And I'm back five hours later, after two terrific action-adventures. I didn't infect anyone at the theater, because there were only three other people and I sat nowhere near them. I like being nowhere near people. It feels normal. It feels like the rest of my life.

♦ ♦ ♦   

I forgot to take my evening antibiotic, and two hours later my throat is as painful as it's ever been, and it's been painful since Wednesday. Not sure how I can afford not to go to work tomorrow, but I'm not going to work tomorrow.

♦ ♦ ♦   

MONDAY — Here's a new breakthrough in modern health care: I stayed home in bed and didn't go to the movies today, mostly because there was nothing particularly interesting playing at any of the remaining theaters that show old movies (RIP, Strand). And also because I'm just generally blue.

I napped, took my antibiotics, read a good book, and started a second one. My throat is feeling better. I know you were worried.

♦ ♦ ♦   

Margaret is in the air right now, flying back to Washington. I didn't see her off at the airport, but we said goodbye on the phone. We both said we'd call again soon, but 'soon' is amorphous, like Maggie and me, and I think we're over. I can't repair her, while I'm broken myself.

A week ago this morning was the last time we saw each other, maybe ever. I didn't know that at the time, but now it feels like it was obvious.

From Pathetic Life #1
Saturday - Monday,
June 25, 26, & 27, 1994

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.


Pathetic Life 

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  1. Your story with Maggie isn't exactly like the story Leonard Cohen tells in his song, "Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye", but it's close enough for jazz, and Leonard has always, despite rumors to the contrary, been a jazzer.

    I have my own story, that I'll briefly? add to yours, then post the song and lyrics.

    In 1968 my high school sweetheart headed off to college in Corvallis, Oregon, 5+ hours by fast car from my home in Tacoma, Washington, where I was attending one year of community college before jumping to a four-year college.

    My Yamaha 80 got me to school and to my part-time job, but topped out at 43 MPH, only fast enough to get run over on the freeway. So visiting presented a problem. I could take the Greyhound, with a bus change in Portland, about a 7 hour trip, or beg and grovel to borrow my parents' car, and gun it for a 5-hour trip.

    I ended up doing some of each that first year, but it was mostly Greyhound; Sharie was living with a roommate off-campus in a smallish apartment. I'd ride my Yamaha to the Greyhound depot after classes on Friday and arrive in Corvallis mid-evening and walk a couple miles to Sharie's apartment. Then, Monday morning, we'd get up and walk a mile or so together on the straight, clean sidewalks of Corvallis before Sharie made a left to go to her first class and I made a right to go to the Greyhound terminal.

    Leonard Cohen had released his first album, Songs of Leonard Cohen at the beginning of 1968, and Sharie and I both fell in love with the album. As we walked on sunny Monday mornings, (in my memory it was always sunny in Corvallis) and made our steps rhyme until we parted, we'd occasionally sing a song on Leonard's album, "Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye." We didn't allow the undeniable fact that neither of us could sing deter us.

    I will continue to grow older until I die, and I will, somewhere in time, always remain 18 and walk with Sharie, our steps making time on the sidewalk, getting ready to say goodbye.


    Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye
    by Leonard Cohen

    I loved you in the morning, our kisses deep and warm
    Your hair upon the pillow like a sleepy golden storm
    Many loved before us, I know that we are not new
    In city and in forest they smiled like me and you
    But now it's come to distances and both of us must try
    Your eyes are soft with sorrow
    Hey, that's no way to say goodbye

    I'm not looking for another as I wander in my time
    Walk me to the corner, our steps will always rhyme
    You know my love goes with you as your love stays with me
    It's just the way it changes, like the shoreline and the sea
    But let's not talk of love or chains and things that we can't untie
    Your eyes are soft with sorrow
    Hey, that's no way to say goodbye

    I loved you in the morning, our kisses deep and warm
    Your hair upon the pillow like a sleepy golden storm
    Yes, many loved before us, I know that we are not new
    In city and in forest they smiled like me and you
    But let's not talk of love or chains and things we can't untie
    Your eyes are soft with sorrow
    Hey, that's no way to say goodbye


  2. Aw, man, that's a story as beautiful as the song. I pity the fool who thinks men aren't supposed to have or share such happysad memories.

    Live link to the soundtrack of the above.

    1. If I'm a fan of anybody, it's Leonard Cohen. If you watched the video Doug kindly linked to, you might have noticed that there were an inordinate number of "old Leonard" photos and a dearth of "young Leonard". Of course, as someone progresses in his/her career, there are going to be more cameras clicking, but that usually happens in the subject's 30s and 40s. Why all the "old Leonards"?

      The answer is, that for all of Leonard's greatness, for all his fine albums, for all his global touring, he had what he described as "a modest career". He was a modest guy. Few of the world's best singer/songwriters don't and didn't have Leonard's work toward the top of their playlists but he lived simply and frugally in a modest cottage in LA, and managed to amass, over his career, nearly five million dollars: pretty good for a modest career.

      However, his lifelong, trusted financial manager absconded with all but $150K if it. Leonard discovered it when he was in his late 60s, and hadn't toured for nearly a decade. He had pretty much faded from public view. The little money he had left went to his lawyers, and he literally couldn't pay his utility bills.

      He tried recording an album with his girlfriend, but it didn't sell. So he decided to get the old suits out of the closet and go on tour: An old man singing songs he'd written 20 or 30 or 40 years before and more.

      Leonard's tour of 2008-2010 was astounding. It was supposed to be a short tour, suitable for a man of 75, to recoup some of his financial losses and provide a financial legacy for his two adult children and the charities he supported. In Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia, all the shows sold out. Leonard reasonably assumed the world had forgotten about him: turned out the world had been missing him. The tour was extended, and lasted two full years, with every show sold out on every continent. His most rapturous audiences, as always, were in Eastern Europe, but in London he was hailed as a musical hero and ticket scalpers were, in some cases, charging a thousand pounds for a good seat. Two years of constant touring, and, at each stop, Leonard's standard three hour show.

      He returned home, now 78, with a nest egg.

      Amazingly, he toured again in 2012 and 2013, this time because the demand was overwhelming and because he was enjoying himself and his world-class band on stage.

      Leonard died at age 82, hours before the results of the 2016 election came in. He wrote the song above when he was about 30. Obviously, he was just getting warmed up.


    2. I discovered Cohen in the 1980s. Never knew he'd dropped from success and had to hardscrabble his way back. Always he was a superstar to me. Poet, in the best sense. I don't know who's alive and young and doing Cohen-level work. He was better than Dylan, who loses points for not being able to sing.


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