It is an odd day when you decide to photocopy your dead friend's letters to his daughter.
It was May when David gave me the bag. This 70s grey naughahyde looking thing, bursting at the seems with I don't know what. It wasn't heavy and so I the contents seemed likely to be clothes. He had left his old apartment and was temporarily staying in a furnished place. He asked me to store it for him.
I took the bag and chucked it by my door. Months passed and David was still without permanent housing. Periodically I would remind him I still had it, in case he forgot. He was seventy-one after all. I'm only thirty and I forget half the books I've loaned out to people. I would just casually tell him, "I still have your bag. Let me know when you need it."
I am, by nature, a curious person. Ask my mother. She will tell you the Byzantine measures she has resorted to in order to hide my Christmas presents. If you've left me alone in your apartment, the odds are I have poked in your medicine cabinet. Nosed in your drawers. Leave your journal in any kind of easily discovered place ( like a desk drawer) and I'll read it. If you have left me your bag to guard, I have taken a peek. But that grey bag sat by my door for half a year without so much a shake or a gentle probe.Even when David was sick, I did not open the bag. Bland Lawyer remembered the bag when David got sick. "What's in it?" he asked. "I don't know. I don't feel right opening it." The word yet was implied, but not spoken. Bland Lawyer let the matter drop and went about stirring his tepid coffee.
But then David died.
Even then it wouldn't have occured to me to look in it. "Maybe," Nutreena, who had joined me to visit David, "maybe it has some of his sketchs and papers." His daughters had never bothered to visit him in the three months he languished in various hospital wards. David was a writer. If there were papers in the bag, could I trust them? Could I just hand over David's papers without so much as a look? Could I trust that perhaps those papers wouldn't vanish? Could I give away what I had left of David to these women I had never met? That they would do what was right by his writing? These women who seemed so little invested in their father?
I went home and opened the bag. A flashlight. A yellow cableknit sweater with a crewneck, favored by David, Oxford man that he was. A pair of shoes. A few library books. And then a great stack of papers in no discernible order. Letters to the Editor. Legal Documents. Photocopies of checks. Several drafts of three page stories. Letters to his daughters. Notes on an invention. Photocopied pages of books. None of the stories were dated, and all of them were written on computer making it impossible to know which draft was first, which was last. I sat and looked at the pile. The letters were also typed. Often there were several different drafts of one letter. Sometimes there was a date. Sometimes there was not. About 500 pages in all.
There quite a few books that are based on an individual suddenly finding himself in charge of a deceased friend's/associate's papers. From Lolita to the Sorrows of Young Werther to the less traditional Ravelstein in which the narrator finds himself writing a dying friend's biography while he is still alive albeit with a terminal illness, there is a romantic sheen to finding oneself the guardian of some great literary works. In reality, it is awful and awesome, likely to induce several runs to the bathroom to literally try to expell the sense of inferiority, the sense of "I am not the right person for this", the sense of "I am going to fail to do right by this reponsibility" and then you wipe your mouth and return to sorting the papers into various piles. After the piles are sorted, you organize them by date.
I set aside a set of the stories to photocopy, so that they would remain preserved, but also with the thought that I should submit them for posthumous publication. David was always saying he was going to look into such thing, yet his correspondences revealed he actually had an agent for his art and could have had one for his writing. Would it be a violation of wishes or the the culmination of them?
But the bag had been left in my care, and since there was no will, I suppose I could claim that David intended for me to have the contents of it, papers included. He insisted that I would be a great editor. Perhaps the bag was intended to teach me just such a lesson, by managing and organizing his work, finding an agent who would publish the stories in a small collection or in various magazines, I would embrace my latent talent.
But what of the letters? They were more like extensions of his stories. There was almost no personal detail. He spent most of his letters detailing little NY stories,a student driver too timid to push through pedestrian traffic marrooned at an intersection, the cat at his favorite coffee house, a conversation with a child in front of his favorite chocolate store. These vignettes might have prompted me to copy the papers as it was, but he wrote about films and books he read. He offered thoughtful analyses on court life in the 17th century.We talked many times about books, films,and histories, yet I could not remember many of the titles he recommended. And that is what prompted the photocopying. So that I, in finding these books and films, something I neglected when he was alive, I would still have David with me in someway. He could continue my education.
At the memorial, I handed one of his daughter's the bag. I had placed the papers, now organized, at the top. When I handed her the bag, her eyes filled with tears. "Thank you" she said "I have so little from my father.Perhaps now I will write a book about him." I smiled looking at this woman with unwashed red hair and hazel eyes, this woman who had not called or visited for the three months her father lay slowly dying in a hospital, this woman who had only showed up after he died, having not seen his eyes glazed over, hands puffed with swelling, three blood soaked gauze bandages on the floor, the machines living for him, the inner workings of his body suddenly externalized. She had not sat and held his hand, when he was unable to talk or even blink. I had. I had dragged myself there not as often as I liked, but I had gone, and I had stood in the hallway after and cried. And even having sworn I would not go back, I could not go back and witness him, eyes filmed over with cataracts, his whole body pulsing with his heartbeat, I was preparing to return to the hospital the day his death was announced.I smiled at her without mentioning the photocopies, and poured myself another glass of red wine.
Bad Bunni posted at 3/11/2005 04:44:00 PM
Disco Meme for a Cause
Look I'm just trying to get out of the freakin' office so follow the link
to understand the rules. Fellowbloggers take note, you only have until THIS FRIDAY to join the wacky madcap fun.
My song? My Way by Sid Vicious
Bad Bunni posted at 3/09/2005 05:03:00 PM
What's Your Favorite Scary Movie?
Lately I've been on a scary movie binge. Here on some random notes on the some of the scary movies I've been watching lately courtesy of Netflix.
I recently saw the Grudge, a remake of Ju-on, this weekend. It is an interesting horror movie. I rather liked the utter lack of morality. You are trying to do the right thing, help the dead find peace, save a drowning boy, take care of a catatonic woman, that's great, you have still won a fate worse than death-don't you wish you died being a hedonistic materialist scumfuck now dontcha? You also get to see a man scream, ok it's Ted Raimi, but he still counts. Sure, there are the usual horror movie pitfalls (even in Japan avoid attics and closets), but I found my body relaxing when the final credits rolled.
Now I could go on about the imagery and the symbolism, but, well I'm tired and there is a snowstorm outside, so let's keep it short and to the point so that I can get to see Cursed
to tonight (it's Wes Craven-the man who brought you Scream) and then curl up with kitty and have cocoa.
On the cast and crew commentary, either the producer or the script writer, made the comment that "There really hasn't been a horror movie where the house itself has been the main character." Uh, Amnityville Horror? And if you squint you could also involve movies like The Shining, The Haunting, The House on Haunted Hill, and 13 Ghosts. (Dare I even mention Ghost Ship?) It's a good movie guys, but you aren't reinventing the atom.
The most impressive part is realizing that there is almost no CGI involved in The Grudge. Almost all the tricks involve make-up (including "bloody" eye drops) , a contortionist, theatrical tricks (trap doors) and trick camera work. Many shots took hours to line up, and some of the japanese actors worked up to 18 hours because they aren't unionized. On the other hand, Sarah Michelle Gellar and other cast mates spent a great deal of time enjoying the beauties of Japan as well as copious amounts of sake (hey she admits it herself) courtesy of SAG.
Netflix Spoiler:Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Just a quick line about the twit who writes the liner notes on the cover of Netflix movies. On the coverof the Texas Chainsaw Massacre the first line reads "Sole survivor Jessica Beil. Yeah, thanks for the info, fuckwit. It makes the movie significantly less scary when you know who is going to liveand who is on the express checkout lane for bloody miserable limb hacking death. Still it's worth a view. And the creepy kid from the Ring
is in it as a bucktoothed inbred little freak.
Comings soon:Indepth analysis of Red Dragon and more adventures with the Amazon, Arthur, and Texas T...Plus a very Indecent Proposal
Bad Bunni posted at 3/08/2005 04:30:00 PM
"The courage which scareth away ghosts, createth for itself goblins...I no longer feel in common with you." the Peachy Book I Chapter 7 Thus Spake Zarathustra
Snapper Creek is the kind of bar that induces philosophical thinking. You sit here and look around, at Cap'n Ron composing biology lessons over his fifth glass of chardonnay, Kevin O'Rourke in the midst of his coke high jumping off a barstool, and Jacob shyly slinking behind his Rolling Rock and think "Why am I here? Why am I here? Why am I here?"
"What are you writing?" Texas T has showed up and she, the Amazon, and Arthur are all curious about what I am scribbling on napkins. I emailed the Amazon the lobster story and now she is determined to be consistently blogworthy. She is watching what I write wondering if she is destined for the blog again. The others have no idea why I am taking notes and do not ask. Still I begin to write my notes in code. The next day I will have no idea what I meant. I begin to write comments from famous philosophers Nietzsche, Machiavelli, Marcus Aurelius.
Arthur is playing pool. "So ladies," says Texas T chewing on a stirrer and twirling her hair. "What with things with Arthur and I being...strained, I was wondering if you were angry with me." I look at the Amazon who looks away.On the top of the napkin I write, "What would Machiavelli do?" Some twit has written a book on the subject, but I wonder if Niccolo and I were sitting in this bar, what would he lean over and whisper to me. I laugh, and the Amazon joins me. "Of course nothing is wrong." "Oh I guess that's just my paranoia." Later the Amazon remarked "That's how stupid she is. She believed it." "No," I'll correct her," Arthur TOLD her what we said. It was a test. To see if she could trust us." Clearly she can't. What she doesn't know is that I know I can't trust her either. A confederacy of liars.
My gay husband and I had taken a walk earlier in the day. "So Texas T and Arthur are back together." "Oh no,"I retort, "he told us on Wednesday night, he's just being nice to her. He had some sort of revelation after the heart attack." "Don't you believe it, honey. They were back together on Sunday. They made love" and inwardly I cringe at his use of the word "making love" just days before they were trading break up notes like 14 year olds "they made love that afternoon. They were in shower together at his father's house when he passed out."
There are times when my Mona Lisa like expression has its advantages. I looked out towards the water and contemplated what I had just been told. Arthur had sex with his girlfriend in his parents house and then passed out naked with his girlfriend in his father's shower. His father then had to take his unconscious wet son and his hysterical wet girlfriend to New York Presbyterian hospital. I didn't even smile. My gay husband and I walked side by side in silence for a bit. "Those two, neither one of them, they don't know how to tell the truth." I look at him, "It's because neither one of them really lives on this planet."
Arthur is drinking vodka cranberries. He now has the seal of Marchosi on his arm. It peaks out from under his t-shirt as he plays pool. With all the information I have at my disposal, I think what I could do. I could tell her what Arthur told the Amazon about the unsatisfactory sex. I could tell her about how he, of his own freewill, referred to her behavior as stalker like and psychopathic. I could tell her how we all lied last week about where we were to avoid her. I could crush their happiness like an ant on the sidewalk.
Instead I order my first drink of the evening and wonder what am I doing here with these people? Why am I wasting my life in this pathetic dive slowly transforming into Cap'n Ron with people I don't even like? In order to solve crimes the police often have to sift through trash to find clues, to find objects of use. I have turned into that trash sifter. Arthur sees me write this on a napkin picks it up and says "You know the police really do that" as if the second part of the sentiment isn't even there.
Chocolate Thunder (who gave herself that name) sees my quotations written on napkins. She begins to talk to the Amazon. All I over hear is "I am one philosophical bitch." I decide that should be the title of my first novel.
Before Texas T leaves the Amazon takes her aside and tells her that we were lying. They talk for half an hour. The Amazon comes back and tells me what she has done. I have node desire to rectify our relationship. I want the relationship terminated. Suddenly now the Amazon has sympathy for her. "I remember what it was like to move here with nothing." So do I. I'm not so old as not to remember that. I also know that even in Texas they have manners.
Chocolate Thunder, Texas T, Arthur, all saunter off to their own respective cubby holes. Although the Amazon wants another drink she asks of Sean, our diabetic bartender, to "persuade her to be smart." I write this on a napkin and underneath she writes "The Amazon Speaketh." She asks if it will be on the blog.
The next day I wake up and read some of One Hundred Years of Solitude. I am struck by this line "The best friend a person has is one who has just died."
Oh yes, provided he doesn't come back.
Bad Bunni posted at 3/07/2005 03:24:00 PM