Friday, April 11, 2008

Catch 22

It’s been a long time since I read Joseph Heller’s masterpiece. But it might be the perfect time to introduce it to a younger generation. After watching the Patraeus and Crocker testimony I keep thinking about Catch 22. We don’t know what victory means, but we’ll know it when we see it. In the meantime, we’ll just keep making the same deadly mistakes over and over in the same old way, and hope for a different outcome. Did you hear it differently? Immediately I thought, Catch 22. It must really exist somewhere in the military bureaucratic code book that is in charge of this SNAFU.


Well, it’s true. Confession is good for the soul.

Thanks to those of you who read and have the courage and compassion to comment, I have received some excellent advise and consolation. I called my dear friend. We talked for over an hour and talked about my fear and cowardice, and her love and understanding. We talked about our other friends and we talked about politics. We talked about blogs and the joy I find in this interesting, intelligent community. Now I am relieved of the burden of self loathing and can pick up the pone any time and reach out. Once I get my car running again, I’ll go visit. Worse comes to worse I’ll call a cab. Worse comes to very worse, I’ll start walking her direction and do what I did when I was young and fearless, and stick out my thumb and hitch a ride.


My Administrator has returned. Thank God. Now that he’s back home I’ll probably soon be able to link those wonderful sites that inform and teach me, as well as the sites that make me laugh so hard I think I’m going to choke and die. But more important than the rest of you, I will be able to link Linda at Ramblings of an Ageless Hippie Chick. Linda is the source of the Rebel Grrrl Award. My first ever award.

So here’s my confession. While Phillip was over here tinkering around on my computer, I talked incessantly about my life, my prize, my libido, paying no attention to what he was actually doing, I blurted out, “Oh god Phillip, don’t die or anything, I couldn’t get along without you.” Phillip lives in San Francisco and has never met me, but we talk, often late at night. Today when Phillip initiated a “chat,” my neighbor’s dog was visiting, and the odd sound of a man’s voice inside my house must have made Roscoe think we had an intruder. He got into full guard dog stance, straining forward through his powerful shoulders, and barked ferociously at my computer. I had to send him home, so real was his perception that a strange man had entered without even a knock on the door. See how I keep drifting away from this confession? It’s hard to admit when you know you’re a selfish asshole.

I view the threatening mortality of my friends and loved ones as assaults on my own well being. How dare they! Now I’m starting to view my fellow bloggers the same way. E doesn’t know it, but if anything happened to her I’d be devastated. I’m afraid to read back through her past posts to discover the reason for her having to take cortisone. I vaguely remember something about her mentioning needing bone marrow. The possibilities terrify me.

And yet among my own very small circle of fashionista friends one has MS. She is the Devil Wears Prada of our set of retired models. She was our boss. The woman who auditioned us, determined what we wore, and how we moved on the runway during the biggest shows of the season. When we first met her she terrified us all. I worked more closely with her in the beginning and we got to be friends, got together for lunch, had a cocktail after work, and as I got over the initial fear, I never for a second, lost an ounce of respect and admiration for her. When I lived in Santa Barbara, she, of all my friends, was the only one to come and stay with us for a few days. We became the kind of friends who might work and live halfway across the country, but kept in touch.

And now she has MS. Not only that, but her only child, her grown son, was walking home from a restaurant one night this winter when some total stranger stabbed and killed him. I can’t say this without starting to cry. I can’t comfort myself. How could I begin to comfort her? She is getting close to needing a walker and then a wheelchair. And I am not helping her in any way. I rarely call, almost never. And I have only the rationalization that caring for my crazy mother for five years killed every bit of tender mercy I ever possessed. But there is no comparison. My mother who was always cruel to me lost her mind but her body keep going, long after there was anything of “it” left except the eating, excreting, and the flipping of the bird, the lunatic grin, the mean glittery eyes, and her final words, “fuck you.” The day she stopped saying “fuck you” was the day she stopped being able to chew or swallow, no more shuffling up and down the hall, trying to pinch or pull the hair of some unsuspecting passerby. True to her inner self until the end. Three days later she died. Christmas morning about the time Santa would be climbing down the chimney. Thank you Jesus. I felt her hatred from my birth till her death. But despite every therapists advise to turn my back and walk away from her, I just kept trying.

Now I’m so glad it’s over. My life has never been better.

But I’m not ready to face the loss of a woman I really do love. Smart, sardonic, acerbic, kind, generous, well read, funny. In her case it is the body that is dying, by inches, moment by moment. The mind is as brilliant as ever. And she is now isolated by the inability to hop in her car and take herself where ever she likes. Of all our friends, I’m the one with the freedom to visit often, run her errands, hang out. But I don’t call, don’t go. There is no excuse. Last time I saw her I said, “If there’s anything you need or want, just call.” Sometimes even I can hear the bullshit in my words.