Notes From The Flip Side: 11.30.2003
"Even the death of friends will inspire us as much as their lives. ... Their memories will be encrusted over with sublime and pleasing thoughts, as monuments of other men are overgrown with moss; for our friends have no place in the graveyard."
Henry David Thoreau
The Dude Abides.
Many years ago, Douglas Adams wrote in one of his novels that he never could get the hang of Thursdays. And Thursday, November 13, was a hellish one. I had to take Dude, my Great Dane, to the vet one last time.
I'm writing this several days after the fact. I'm doing a little better. I'm more able to face the reality of what I had to do. I'm better able to remember feeding him treat after treat on Wednesday night, knowing that I didn't need to watch what I fed him anymore, knowing that when he curled up next to me that night that it would be the last time. I'm better able to appreciate how he dozed on every couch in this place, how he would lie down on the floor for a few minutes, then get up and lie down somewhere else, almost as if he couldn't believe how much space he had for lounging. I'm better able to remember how he made me laugh, how he'd chew on my ear, how silly he could be. I'm starting to be able to focus on the joy instead of dwelling on the sorrow.
Dude was, for all intents and purposes, my best friend - at times, it felt like he was my only friend - for about a year and a half. He always slept in the bed. As winter came on, he slept under the covers. I spent more on his vet bills than I did on my doctor visits and his food bill was usually higher than mine in any given month. He slept on the couch while I watched movies. He was my buddy.
And like I'd expect my friends to do for me, when the time came, I made sure it was quick, as painless as possible and that he didn't go alone. I'd like to believe that it said something about my dog that the staff at the vet's office - including all the vets who had treated him - came in to say goodbye. Even if they hadn't been there, I would have been. I made a promise to myself many years ago that I will never let a critter that shared my life die alone. And as much as it hurt then - and as I write this, for that matter - I kept my hand on him and kept talking to him until his heart stopped beating.
Like my mom, my last words to him were simple: "I love you." And with that, I got up and walked out of the vet's office. I'll square up with them later.
And even now, I keep expecting to hear the click of his nails on the kitchen tile and sloshing water as he has a drink in the middle of the night. I keep expecting to hear his tags jingle as he shakes and stretches after a nap. I keep expecting him to step on me when he turns around in the middle of the night or kick me while he's dreaming.
And I'm not sure that's ever going to change.
I'm moving. Packing up my shit and dragging it two blocks away to a larger apartment for about the same rent. It's the same town and even though it seems like most of the people I know or talk to here are leaving, apparently I'm going to be here for a while so I might as well live in a place with a little more space.
I hate moving, but it always gives me a chance to clear things out - to effectively clean while I move and leave parts of my life that I no longer need behind. This time around, I bought a shredder. Since last Saturday, it's subsisted on a steady diet of pay stubs from 1991, gas bills from 1998, phone bills from 1996, old letters of resignation, car loan statements, credit card receipts for accounts that don't exist anymore and so forth.
In going through my files, I stumbled across a folder filled with receipts and paperwork and bills related to my engagement back in 1998. Credit card slips. Credit applications. Thousands of dollars tied up in bits of rock and metal that someone once said were valuable - and so have they been ever since.
I had held on to these things because, as the engagement split up, she had told everyone that I was lying, that we were never engaged and so forth. When people asked me about it, it was far easier to show them a countersigned credit application for an engagement ring with her writing on it than it was to explain everything. That application pretty much explained it for me.
I don't know why - besides my obvious packrat tendencies which led me to retain paystubs for 12 years - I kept those things around as long as I did. No one had asked about that in years and, honestly, if someone did, I didn't particularly care whether they believe what I say. And with that realization, I knew that not only did I not need that file now, I hadn't needed it in years.
I didn't feel anything as I fed it into the shredder, sheet by sheet.
Off The Top Of My Head ...
- Pavement's "Slanted + Enchanted" reissue. In order to understand how stupendously bad-ass this album was (and still is), you need to know that most of the music at the time was navel-gazing, no-self-esteem rock made by shaggy mop tops with a penchant for effects pedals. It was grunge, shoegaze and other easily identifiable scenes which tended to result in major labels descending on cities and signing every band in sight. Back then, the racks at the local college radio station were filled with a lot of shit that I can barely remember now - indie rock that wasn't that indie (or rocking, for that matter), bands that labels signed as tax write-offs and so forth. And then there was "Here." It's still one of the best songs I've ever heard. It wasn't that we hadn't heard these ideas before - we just hadn't heard them put together quite like that.
- The Jam on headphones. If it doesn't floor you, I suspect you don't have ears left.
- Jonathan Carroll. Since Mark Helprin seems to be on a very extended hiatus from releasing books, Milan Kundera is about as prolific as J.D. Salinger and Italo Calvino is dead, Jonathan Carroll is one of the few reasons to read contemporary fiction. His works consistently begin in the realm of the normal and make a sharp left turn in front of oncoming traffic to get on the on-ramp to the freeway of the weird and magical. Utterly astonishing and about as transcendent as a cinder block to the head ... in all the right ways.
Coheed And Cambria. Over My Dead Body. Jaga Jazzist. The Rapture. Radio 4. U.S. Bombs. The Crimson Curse. JR Ewing. Aesop Rock. Black Dice. Kid Dynamite. Against Me. The GC5. Cursive. Pavement. The Clientele. DFA Compilation #1. Give Up The Ghost. Melt-Banana. Richard Thompson. The Blind Boys Of Alabama. The Beach Boys. The Band. Slowdive. Chet Baker. Radiohead. The Explosion. Skinny Puppy. Joseph Arthur. Kate Bush. Cocteau Twins. Freddie Roach. Adrian Sherwood. Rachmaninov. John Patton. Grant Green. Ryan Adams.
"Leon: The Professional," "Lilo And Stitch," "Finding Nemo," "Ice Age," "Monsters Inc.," "Supertroopers"
Jonathan Carroll, "The Marriage Of Sticks"; Jerzy Kosinski, "Pinball"
Paul Avrich, "Anarchist Portraits"; Umberto Eco, "Island Of The Day Before"; Alan Lomax, "The Land Where The Blues Began"; Peter Guralnick, "Lost Highway" and "Sweet Soul Music"; Thomas Wolfe, "You Can't Go Home Again"; Andrew Feenberg, "Questioning Technology" and "Alternative Modernity"; Steven Heller, "Graphic Design History" (edited with Georgette Ballance); Gunnar Swanson, ed., "Graphic Design And Reading"; Daniel Guerin, "No Gods No Masters"