Thursday, February 14, 2013


Sunday, February 10, 2013

not all fates are created equal

going through boxes of letters written and received in the past sixty years, i'm humbled, especially by letters from girlfriends. how young and confused we all seemed in 'youth'. i'm getting over viewing my own so negatively. actually, i find myself grateful for my parents. and i don't mean simply forgiving. no, very appreciative of the adventures, the lessons, and the care. true, i wanted more. i knew my father attached to my sister, my mother both the nurturer and disciplinarian, which made romantic relationships forever difficult. 

and the oedipus complex! good gravy, i'm finding freud right about so many things. i suspect revisionist discussions of him have more to do with being politically correct than real knowledge. yet, none of this seems to matter any more. it did sabotage the romances related in these letters. that said, being young and impatient and driven by sexual desire had more to do with it. 

as sappho said in my last communique:
                                  Don't prod 
                                               the beach rubble

                                       if you're squeamish.

and now i feel it was foolish of me to search the web for what happened to guys and gals i've had the privilege of knowing. yes, i spent yesterday on the web, searching, picking up viruses and bad cookies along the way. at the moment i'm trying to clear the computer and my head.

i did find success stories: a couple of lawyers, a young actress who grew up into a very successful costumer on broadway with a huge shop. nobody should get married before thirty and my sagest advice: do everything you want to do in life before then. be a dancer, sail the world, ride a motorcycle to tierra del fuego. the rest will be a piece of cake, not undermined by unsatisfied desires. 

i did find two tragic deaths, and the second i'm still reeling from. their obituaries will follow. peter a tscherning i met on the island of rhodes, a classical scholar about twenty-two. the letter i have from several years later when he's back at harvard, hints at  his going through a terrible trauma. i have no idea what it was.  i mixed my own history up with his to created the main character in my only novel, visible, detailing the adventures in lindos, greece among the travelers. obviously his fate saddening, and a part of my own, having combined my story with his. 

the other far more shocking to me. i met amina agisheff on an icelandic flight from luxembourg to nyc, the cheap way to travel in those days. the plane took off. barely over the water, it had to dump its gasoline. the airline put us up for two days. amina, a fellow from seattle named randy, and i palled around, and in the end drove a dealer car to the northwest. i left them in seattle, though amina and i had become entangled. at the lookout, after several weeks, randy brought her down and drove off into the night. i realized it had become a triangle. 

i won't go into the rest of the story out of respect for the departed. obviously, from the article, she'd overcome a lot of wildness in her salad days to become a mother of two, and teacher, and eventually at thirty-five the victim of a serial killer. i've never experienced a death like this, even though it happened thirty years ago and seventeen after our last meeting. no, the longer you live the more you realize life is not fair. the only counter to this showed up on my daily zen calendar: 

                                 Life is painful, suffering is optional. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

don't burden the future with anything but fragments!

egad, either i do it for myself, or it will be done for me. on new year's day i told my friend susan, 'i'll just leave all this writing stuff for someone else to deal with.' with a sad, wry smile, she said, 'no one will want to.'  an epiphany!!!  i immediately realized the truth of her mona lisa look. i've seen too many people throw out the baby with the bathwater when a relative died. to quote lenny bruce once more, 'when you die, all your precious possessions become junk.' 

okay, i shifted into high gear. at my storage unit i tackled the copies of manuscripts collected over the past fifty years, tossing everything scanned (and probably throwing out a few tikes), box after box, until the back of my pickup literary loaded. they didn't fill the dumpster however. so much for a life's work. boy, nose to the grindstone, i wonder what i missed? certainly the life of a mainstream person, which i was terrified of falling into. 

ah, you say, what a shame to lose it all. alas, i haven't. i've fifteen boxes of spiral bound notebooks, for example, everything written by hand: diaries, scrapbooks, a million one-liners, original manuscripts, etc. i've given myself til april 1st to get this all in order, a fast document scanner arriving tomorrow. have no fear, i will boil it down to the diamond dust. 

one reason to leave your daughter one precious teapot and not a whole house of furniture and knick-knacks. this treasured bit of history may survive, and a diligent family historian like my niece dawn bryant may come up with what she wrote on facebook this morning: 

Dawn Pease Bryant recommends an article on CNN.
5 hours ago ·

the irony, of course, every civilization kills off the last one, and the curious root in the rubble, trying to put it all back together. more power to them: fragments are more fun. i've read we're all pattern-makers, happiest with puzzles rather than definite answers. true, last week islamic fanatics burned an ancient library in timbuktu. i can't count the times i've mourned the loss of the library at alexandria (burned by christians). yet..yet, the other day i realized i wished i'd written the fragments of sappho, more than anything. 

                                       If you are squeamish

                                       Don't prod the 
                                      The beach rubble. 

                                                                                         *(see note below)

everybody grabs the photographs when the house catches fire. my sister not so lucky, my mother a family history fanatic, thousands of old documents and photographs lost. sad, you say. no, now dawn has to dig even deeper, coming up with remarkable facts from the past. may you do the same!

more photos posted. another vision of the eclipse last spring: 

and these from a surviving box of pictures of a mysterious relative, esmeralda. i hope dawn eventually can piece her biography together:


**and i suddenly realized: i did write my own sapphic shreds: