Monday, July 28, 2008

Look Back

A friend of mine from college died last month. Other people have done a much better job of writing about him, his life, and the people he left behind. You should really go read that instead.

Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun
-Roger Waters

I want to write of fire and rain, of carbon destroyed by the very pressures that briefly turned it into diamond, of supernovas and chaos, of disappointment and love. The truth is that my limitations as a writer make it impossible for me to do justice to the complex individual that was Matt Reagon.

Matt was chaotic and fabulous and terrible and brilliant and destructive and charming and arrogant. He was never invisible. He never swallowed his pride and he never tempered his rage because circumstances demanded he do so. He never took the easy way. He fought, even when fighting was ill-advised and he struggled with demons that most of us can barely imagine. There was never a middle ground, you loved him or hated him.

I thought I could just write down all my memories of Matt, in the hopes that a collage of experiences might allow glimpses into who he was
There was a brief period of time when we called him Pleasure Boy (his high school girlfriend had visited and written something on him and Zil had teased him saying she must have written “hands off, Matt is my pleasure boy”—or maybe she actually wrote that and Zil saw it, I can’t remember). Then we stopped because too many people started doing it and it felt wrong.

We saw the film, Damage, and found it to be pretty awful. At one point, Jeremy Irons, with perfect PoMo inarticulateness, choked out, “I’ve never felt” and Matt shouted out “An erection.” Immature, yes, but if you have ever seen the film, it actually rings true.

Matt, aware that I was afraid of rats, would chase me around the room trying to get me to pet Finnegan, Tracy's pet rat.
But really, these are just funny stories from when we were practically children, they don't really tell you anything about the man he grew up to become. Really, they just are about who we were back then, or maybe who we thought we were. Who was that? Tracy said it best when she said that we thought we were Bukowski. We thought we were living in 1930s Paris and we looked to Anais Nin and Henry Miller as role models for relationships. It never occurred to us how totally fucked up that sort of life could be. All we saw was the intensity, the brilliance, and thought that the real life lived by most people was boring.

And part of my problem is that so many of my memories are about Tracy and, maybe, the whole story of Matt, as far as I am concerned, is about Tracy. Because while I was friends with Matt, I didn’t connect to him the way I connected with Tracy and we might not have stayed friends after college except that he was married to Tracy. Even before their separation and subsequent divorce, my relationship with him had devolved to small talk if he happened to pick up the phone when I was calling her.

Fred says he can’t imagine a world without Matt in it. I thought it an odd thing to say, considering Matt has not really been a part of our lives for years, but the more I think about it, the more true it seems. In a way I can’t articulate, I never stopped being Matt’s friend and I hope he never stopped being mine. And the world seems a little more empty now.

I don't really think I can do him justice in words. So why am I here, pretending he is Seymour Glass and I am J.D. Salinger? Because I am remote, my loss is not concrete, so I must try to define it for you as I try to define it for myself. The truth is that I didn't know the man who lived and died in 2008, I am mourning the boy I knew years ago and our shared past. However, I can say the Matt I knew was restless and that didn't change, so I hope that Matt’s soul has found the peace he was not able to find in life.

Please note, Tracy created a website where people can go to remember Matt, read the obituaries, and see pictures of him and the non-traditional family. As she noted in the Reed obituary, Matt viewed the creation of this family as his great accomplishment in life.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

"To you, this is just a job. To me, it's my entire career down the toilet unless you make me look 80."

Years ago, when I first met Joel, he mentioned that Julie's parents had not let her watch Golden Girls when she was growing up. "Because of Blanche?" I asked, in a very disbelieving tone of voice. He confirmed that they thought it was "too racy." I was floored. There are many words which I would use to describe the Golden Girls, but "racy" is not one of them. If ever there was a show one could confidently watch with my extremely religious grandmothers, it was the Golden Girls. Also keep in mind that my creative writing teacher at my Jesuit high school showed us an episode of Golden Girls as an example of really great writing. However, even if I didn't feel the Golden Girls had been sanctioned by the powers that be, I found it impossible to consider Blanche risque or to take her sexy Southern Belle act too seriously because, unlike A Streetcar Name Desire or Gone With The Wind, there was the character of Sophia to take the wind out of her sails. It's hard to rely on the comfort of strangers or to flirt with the Tarleton twins when there is a little old Italian lady at your elbow making snarky comments.

Estelle Getty waited a long time to achieve success in her acting career (In this obituary she is quoted as having said, "I knew I could be seduced by success in another field, so I'd say, 'Don't promote me, please' "). It is only fitting that we should still be watching her in syndication twenty years later.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Oh Yeah!

I am so glad to see citizens are not standing idly by and allowing the Kool-Aid Man to get away with the destruction of public property.

Also, in case you thought it was a hallucination caused by all the drugs you did in college, You Tube provides us with proof that we are not misremembering the seventies. Back then, advertisers did encourage children to wreak havoc upon their neighborhoods (or rather, call upon others to do so) as a means of demonstrating their extreme thirst and discomfort.

And people wonder why the kids today are not allowed to roam their neighborhoods unsupervised.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Bang Bang

I had planned to write down some of my thoughts regarding the Doctor Who finale. But it is late and I don't even know where to begin. So, for now, I will table all those thoughts and talk about my hair.

Today, my mom was holding a box of medium brown hair dye and said, "I can help you with this, if you want."

To which I replied, "Is that a hint?"

She revealed that she was surprised by the amount of gray hair I have.

I revealed that I haven't dyed my hair in five months because I want to see how long I can go and how much gray I really have (because when you dye it regularly, you can lull yourself into thinking you have less than you actually do and then, before you know it, your whole head is different color and reminds people of Bozo the Clown's dyejob). The truth is, I have lots of white hair (not gray, white, except in a few places where it is silver) at my temples. All I need to do for Halloween is crimp my hair

I am terribly vain, afraid of aging and becoming unattractive, but for some reason, I just can't get worked up about the gray hair. I mean, I know my skin has too much yellow/olive undertones to really make the gray hair work, so I will dye it eventually, but I just can't get all that worked up about it. But before you start thinking that this is some sign of maturity and growing acceptance who I am, you must remember that I have been going gray since I was seventeen years old. It is hard to think of gray hair as a signifier of age when one has had gray hair since before one was legally an adult. Also, I have bangs, which according to a very popular blog (way more popular than mine...this one got a book deal, after all) means people should befriend me because I am probably the most popular. Who knew?

The thing the Stuff White People Like blog fails to take into consideration is, when assessing another person's coolness, something like great hair can and often will be trumped by a something like a person's abiding love for science fiction. Or even an unfortunate nose. What I should have said to my mom was that fabulous hair will only take you so far in this world and summer is too short to waste any time breathing in ammonia fumes (at least, that is what I say now, next week, I may be saying something else).

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Argh! Technology Foils My Evil Plans! (or maybe not)

The above clip is not the clip I wanted to post here and talk about. I wanted to talk about the classic Sesame Street segment There's A Hole In The Bucket (Dear Liza, Dear Liza), about how I loved it so much when I was a child, how beautiful I found the cycle of the song and how I empathized with poor Liza, how she must have been driven mad on an hourly basis by Henry. However, no one has uploaded it to YouTube and a quick google search is dashing my childhood on th rocks (what do you mean it isn't original to Sesame Street? That song is ready made for Muppets!)

So I give you Cookie Monster's brilliant appearance on the Colbert Report. I tried uploading this a few weeks ago, but failed for some reason (say it with me: argh technology!) However, I am getting it to work now (at least, it seems that way at this precise moment in time) so perhaps we should all give a shout out to our robot overlords.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008


A story about the Voyager 2 spacecraft merits a blog post, even if it is just a post linking you to the article. Because when I was growing up, the only things which could possibly rival the Voyager spacecrafts in terms of absolute coolness were Volcanoes. But whereas my fascination with exploding mountains did not inspire dreams of studying lava flows, I saw the photos and information sent back by Voyagers 1 and 2 and planned to be the first girl on Jupiter. Except that I imagined it would be difficult to maintain a successful acting career with an astronaut's schedule, but what really worried me was the increased gravity of the red planet and the extra long time it would take to get there--your whole body, internal organs and everything, would be pulled into your feet--how do you make a space suit to counter that sort of thing? I couldn't even handle a week away at sleep away camp, how could I handle being away from my mom and dad for six years? And I look back on these concerns and realize that my entire life (and not simply my entire adult life) has been plagued with fears over weight and distance.

And just as it would be hard for me to jump in the TARDIS, it would be next to impossible for me to travel to another planet. But when I was seven, I never would have believed more than a quarter century would pass and we would be no closer to having the opportunity to do so.