When you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you

Demons and Darth Vader on the Washington National Cathedral

Been sick so the insomnia’s been pretty bad.

Have you ever heard the saying, When you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you?

It’s from Friedrich Nietzsche’s “Beyond Good and Evil,” and the full quote goes:

Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look into the abyss, the abyss also looks into you.

In a nutshell, the idea is that, as you fight demons, you have to be careful not to let the demons affect you so much that you’re consumed by them. And potentially even become one of them.

We see it all the time in literature and movies: Oedipus, Macbeth,  Darth Vader, etc.

It’s an explanation as to why narcotics cops can become dealers and defense lawyers become criminals themselves. It’s why we have to always be on our guard.

But lately, at night when I’m awake, the demons come and sit beside me and tell me that it won’t be ok.

And there’s always a possibility they’re right. So I listen to them.

For now, at least, they seem to be wrong and I hold out hope.

Him: I’ve got some good news!
Me: Man, I could use some. What is it?

A lot of people don’t realize that there is a grotesque of Darth Vader carved into the Washington National Cathedral in Washington DC.

It makes sense, doesn’t it? To have our modern devils beside our historic ones?

Location: an hour ago, still in bed sick
Mood: still sick, but less anxious
Music: I can’t wait, I can’t wait, I can’t wait
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We’re titanium

Riddle me this


A riddle from Good Riddles Now:

Something all men have,
but all men deny.
Man created it,
but no man can hold it.

What is it? – the answer here.

On that note, last week was quite possibly one of the worst weeks of my life. And I’ve had some bad weeks. Got two separate calls for two separate issues; one was horrible, the other merely terrible.

Call 1
Her: It’s the doctor.
Me: S___t.

Call 2
Him: So it’s not good, it’s not any worse than we thought, but it’s still not good.
Me: Let me sit down.

But at some point, you just get tired of being sad/anxious.

So my brother went out to drink, and my wife and I went out to dinner around the way. We sat next to an actress we’d seen a few times on television who was very friendly (good) and very loud (bad).

Afterward, my wife and I took a short walk around our neighborhood.

She also made me some oatmeal cookies, so that’s a plus.

Finally got to have some rum again, too.

Me: We’ll be ok.
Her: We’re titanium, Logan. We’re frick’n titanium.

Location: -3 hrs, shoveling the walk
Mood: deflated
Music: Shoot me down, but I get up
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Gradually, then suddenly

Hemingway summed up the human existence in three words


Went to the doctor’s again this weekend. Not for me but it was just as stressful.

The thing with life is that you expect everything to happen to someone else. Injuries, disease, general misfortune, etc., these are things that happen to other people and not you.

And when it actually does happen to you, you think, What the … ?

Ernest Hemingway had a character in The Sun Also Rises that was asked how he became bankrupt.

“Gradually, then suddenly,” he replied.

And that’s why Hemingway was a brilliant writer. Because in three words, he summed up the totality of human existence.

You live your quiet, banal, little life when suddenly:

Or whatever personal little hell you have to deal with.  And you have to drop everything to deal with it.

And there’s not much else to do but deal with it. Some days you deal with it better than others.

Him: How’re doing?
Me: Well, I broke down crying like a 10-year-old girl on the 7 train the other day; which I don’t recommend. Because of a whole other list of craziness, I haven’t had a drink for 45 days and won’t be able to until next week – when I’m gonna drink the CRAP outta my rum stash. And my insomnia is kicking up so I slept one hour last night. But besides that, not too bad. You?

However, there’s hope.

Because joy also inevitably comes.

And it comes just as unexpectedly and just as suddenly. And so I wait for it.

For the time being, without my rum, but still…

———-

Did get a tiny piece of good news last week, which is that a Facebook Fan site I created for A Great First Date hit over 1,000 likes in less than ten days.

Take a look and maybe hit that LIKE button yourself.


Location: an hour ago, in front of a large needle
Mood: anxious
Music: Someday all this mess will make me laugh, I can’t wait, I can’t wait, I can’t wait
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There’s always room for more down

On my knees again

Doctor: You’re not having a good day?
Me: I’ve had better.
Him: (pause) Well, it’s about to get a lot worse.

So after I wrote the last entry, went on with my day. Later that night, got another phone call for a wholly different reason.

In 40 years, think I’ve honestly been on my knees twice. This is a third time. There are things that one knows but does not truly believe in life.

Like last time, I could handle it all, if it was only one at a time.

Spent the day slogging from offices to offices in the blinding snow, trying to make sense of a litany of things that make no sense; making decisions I’m ill-prepared to make.

Him: Well, you gotta figure that this is rock bottom.
Me: No, there’s always room for more down.

But I went to teach my fencing class last night and for about 90 minutes, I got to put down the things I’d been carrying all day.

It’s a blessing to have things in your life where you can put down the weights you bear.

Student: This wasn’t what I expected.
Me: We’re not here to dance, we’re here to fight. We’re here to struggle. Life’s a struggle we all lose one day. But until then, we struggle.

Never saw that student again.

The thing with leaving things at a doorway is that, ultimately, you have to pick them up again on your way out.

So I do, trudging home in the snow, bearing it.

And I swear that the whole goddamned weight of it all is sinking me deeper into the snow.

———-

If you write or see me, I won’t tell you so please don’t ask. As with last time, I’ll tell you when I’m ready.

 

Location: yesterday, three hours in a frozen car
Mood: heartbroken
Music: It’s true, the suffering shapes you
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Bearing it

Took the bike from my pad on the UWS to my gym on 27th street twice over the weekend.

The first time I did it, it was harrowing. Then on the way back, it was a little less so. And even less the next day.

There’s this saying that I’m sure I’m going to mangle but it goes something like this: There is no situation that you cannot bear if you see those around you bearing it.

When you read things that people have done – trench warfare, the D-day invasion, Thermopoylae – it does seem to explain a lot.

After a couplea large buses whizzed past me, was thinking: What the hell am I doing? Until this little old lady puttered past me.

Laughed at myself as she went by.

Course, there’re times when there’s no laughter and all the bravery you can muster isn’t enough cause it’s something that truly puts you on your knees.

A buddy has a sick family member who’s not going to get better. These are hard words to hear and, obviously, much harder to say.

And there’s never really much to say to someone that tells you such things, just a lotta goddamn nodding. Wish I could offer him more than my condolences and a pat on the back.

In my head, though, I know he’s tough. I know that he’ll overcome the blow even if he doesn’t know it himself. And I wish them all peace.

Later that weekend, I sit in the back of my church and think about all those how and whys.

And then I come home and make some calls for no particular reason.

Him: Hey! How are you?
Me: I’m good, dad. Just thought I’d call. Oh, I bought a bike…

Location: a magical place called Staten Island
Mood: busy
Music: got to push on through but while I’m gone
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Thinking about all the Hows and Whys

Watch time

This woman named Alice Neel once said that All experience is great provided you live through it. If it kills you, you’ve gone too far.

Had enough distance now from my old troubles to think about it objectively. Alla these things I thought I’d never make it past I did somehow.

Suppose that’s just human nature, to survive the blows. And the one benefit of the gut-wrenching is that peculiar feeling that, If I could survive XX, I could survive anything.

Was in the hospital with a close friend on Thursday.

The hows and whys are for some other time and from some other narrator.

My parta the story’s that I was two hours north of the city when I rushed down to hear the news.

Just lemme tell you that there are times in a man’s life when he just wants to cover up his ears like a child and not hear to those impatient things that need to be heard.

But you listen cause you’re not a child. Not for a while now.

And you nod. There’s always a lotta goddamn nodding.

And after all that listening and nodding, you manage to compress all of that agony and fear into a tight little ball and stuff it into some crack in your soul where y’hide that stuff.

Then y’take a deep breath, and say out loud, It’s gonna be ok. Partly for them, mostly for yourself.

And it is, almost always, somehow ok.

But cause you’re an insomniac, you get up in the middle of the night to sit by your lonesome on an uncomfortable couch and, without fail, retrieve that ball you hid earlier. You unpack it, smooth it out, and examine it from a million different angles, hoping for some understanding that never comes.

Finally – despite your best efforts – y’think about all of those hows and whys. Mostly the whys.

Location: Last week, a waiting room at Columbus Circle
Mood: worried
Music: sun is going down but it will rise again
YASYCTAI: Remember that you made it through all the other times. (time/2 pts)
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How a body can fall

Location: room, pacing
Mood: craptastic
Music: Scared of losin’ all the time He wrote it in a letter

Bar in New York City

The ability for a body to get accustomed to things is just mind-blowing. If you ever watch things like The Pacific, y’wonder how a body can fall asleep when people’re trying to kill them and bombs’re going off. And yet they do.

Got another letter and it looks like I’m off to court yet again. While I’ve won or settled pretty much all of these things, it’s still nerve-wracking.

And yet, y’get used to it a little, somehow.

On another point, should just never check my mailbox. Nuthin good ever comes by post, ‘cept maybe my subscription to The Economist.

Wonder if they ship rum via mail.

———-

Started fencing and wrestling again and left my keys at the westling place. Hadta run back downtown to get them. That wasn’t the bad part.

Me: Where’re my keys?
Instructor: Right in front of you.
Me: Where? (looking down at the men’s protective cup on desk) Oh for goodness…I gotta wash them now. (removing keys from cup) I don’t know where they’ve been.
Him: (laughing) Oh you know exactly where they’ve been!

YASYCTAI
: Get up and do it again. It’s all about the @#$@# getting up. (60 mins/2 pts)

Me Again

Location: on my couch
Mood: refreshed
Music: Please allow me to introduce myself

At the enda Interview with Vampire, we find out this once wild vampire’s alive. But he’s a shella himself – scared and scarred.

Hold that thought.

Contrary to what most people think, the fast food fight isn’t between McDonald’s and Burger King. McDonalds has about 31,000 stores across the world but Subway will have more than 32,000 by the end of the year. Cause during this yeara horrible economic times, Subway profits grew by 17%.

It went from number whatever to number one cause it saw it’s chances and took them.

And Wayne Gretzky said that, You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. It’s all about seeing your chances and taking them.

There’s been debate as to JFK’s notion that the Chinese word for crisis is an amalgam of the characters danger and opportunity – but that doesn’t make it less true a concept. Crisis’s when y’can take your shots.

The breakup, the theft, the car accident, my grandmother leaving, and the cancer scare took their toll on me. Once told someone that as a lawyer, a fencer and a kickboxer, wasn’t afraida nuthin. But the last three years, was scared and scarred. Of everything (cept maybe the girlies).

A body can only handle so many crises.

Three years’s enough to not take my shots, to be onea those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.

After three years, a twelveth of my life, not only am I home again, feel like I’m me again.

Gonna be in DC over the weekend. Catch you next week.

YASYCTAI: Take your shots. (0.5 secs/3 pts)

Twilight Heat

Location: my new Montreal Apartment, cleaning and unpacking. The Montreal movers I hired did a grat job, so my work is almost done.
Mood: contented
Music: “Come down now,” but we’ll stay I’ve tried my best to leave


Her
: So what did the guy choose?

My mind plays movies and television shows for me all of time cause, probably like you, I was raised by the cathode ray as much as anything else.

William Shatner was in this episode of the Twilight Zone where he was on his honeymoon but was afraid to leave cause a mechanical doll kept telling them they couldn’t. And he got it in his head that it was right.

Thought about that this week and that scene in Heat where the lead can get it all – the girl, the money, the life, everything – if only he’d leave his old life behind. Just walk away from everything. But a need to equalize something kept pulling him to stay.

The woman that stole all of my coin was seen this past week in NYC.

And like that mechanical doll, the Devil rang me up and told me what I had to do.

Told him that I just wanted to walk away from it all and he said I couldn’t.

Do you know, exactly, what a billion is? A billion is a thousand million or 1,000,000,000. Lehman brothers lost 613,000,000,000 dollars. Kinda puts my six-figures to shame.

Then again, it was my six-figures. One does get tired of having just chili and rum for dinner all of time.

It’s just the cards I’ve been dealt. And sometimes, y’gotta take your cards and let fate deal with the resta it all.

Don’t let anyone fool you, everything comes at a price. And, I’ve learned, if you let a thought bounce around in your head long enough, it’ll drive you mad. Quite literally. Better to let it go.

Besides, who’re we kidding? I love having chili and rum for dinner.

Me: He went back and shot the guy.
Her: (waiting) And? Then what happened?
Me: He lost everything he wanted – everything he really wanted.
Her: I don’t think it’s worth it.
Me: (smiling) Yeah, me neither.


YASYCTAI
: Isn’t it hard to let things go. But y’gotta sometimes. For your own sanity. (apparently 36 years/3 pts)

God help us – Ole!

Location: my pad, all day
Mood: sore-throat-y
Music:
is this the ceremony? I don’t know, well I don’t mind

I’m sick. Not pig flu. Don’t think. Just tired with a horrible sore throat. Send soup.

So I’ve been reading and watching stuff. The above vid’s prob the best thing I’ve seen in a while. I said once before, that being grateful is the key to not being broken. Sorta what she’s talking about.

One other interesting thing was from Heartgirl. She sent me this from the tiny government that manages to cling to political survival in Somalia – it’s their response to the swine flu.

SOMALIA: No capacity to deal with such pandemics due to the prolonged civil war and destruction of medical facilities. “We are not prepared for anything like the swine flu; we don’t have the means to deal with it,” Awad Abdi, adviser to the Somali Health Ministry said. God help us if it reaches here….

How sad and comical is that, all at once?

YASYCTAI: Watch the vid, you’ll thank me. (19.29 mins/1 pt)