The Lives of the Dead

Some of the most interesting people I meet are dead…

Archive for the month “February, 2020”

The Rule of Anarchy

Originally published March 26, 2015

Kha

In the time and place when I last lived it was impossible to tell the righteous from the evil.  Sometimes,  your enemy could be kind or generous or offer you aid in your time of need; and sometimes your own friends and family betrayed you.  Trust was a luxury in which no one dared indulge, not even in love.  Allegiances fluttered like leaves on the trees; showing first  one face and then suddenly, with a slight change in the wind,  exposing their pale, veined undersides to the sun.

I worked hard to avoid aligning myself with either camp, but this proved nearly impossible. I pretended to be feeble-minded so they would not demand too much of me; so they would not press me too often into service for their cause. If I could not be relied upon to do their bidding, I would not be asked. Or, if I were asked and I failed, I would not be thought a traitor.

But what was a traitor? A traitor to what? What was left to betray? Nothing was black or white, up or down, right or wrong. Everything was a muddy dun-colored pile of string. You could not tell from looking if it was comprised of one long one strand or a hundred short ones. But it did not matter if it was it was all connected or not. In the beginning,  it had all been of one piece. Chopping it apart did not make the parts manifestly different from each other.

They all liked to believe they stood for something unique but there was no difference. People ostensibly chose sides but in reality, loyalties were too easily bought and sold for sides to have any real meaning. People stood with whomever could best provide what they needed most at that moment…food,  protection, shelter, weapons.

There was no law…not of government, not of God, and not even most natural laws of man. Society did not exist, only quotidian anarchy.

This was all I ever knew in that life.  My ruse of playing the fool worked to keep me  out of any political tug of war and away from accusations, but it could not save me from random violence. I was killed by a bomb, along with the guilty, the innocent and the undecided.

_____

Buy the book!

 

If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have just started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!
-Adrienne

Control Freak Marie

Originally posted 5/9/15

control freak https://thelivesofthedead.wordpress.com

 

Marie  (I got names on this one)

Margaret called me to tell me the news. I’d been expecting it for months; always on pins and needles waiting for the call to say that Mum was finally gone. She’d been deteriorating for a couple of years, but since the previous winter, when she’d taken a nasty spill on the icy sidewalk in front of her house, she hadn’t been herself.   She was mentally closed in. She didn’t care about anything any more. She’d lost her appetite for baking, for her favorite TV shows, for Bingo – for any of the small things that had previously brought her joy.

I’d tried to plan my life around her inevitable and impending passing. I knew when the time came, I’d have to go back home for a few weeks to help Margie sort things out, sell the house, settle the estate. I never committed myself firmly to any social plans that I couldn’t back out of at the last minute. I made sure to carefully document everything I was doing at work, so anyone else could step in and pick up where I’d left off.   I didn’t leave anything for the last minute, but instead made sure I was ready to go at a moment’s notice. I even had a packed bag stowed in the hall closet.

I liked having everything under control. People thought I was uptight and anal, but I found a kind of comfort in having no loose ends, planning for every possible contingency.  I had no patience for those who were caught unaware because they hadn’t thought things through. That was just sloppy living, as far as I was concerned.

I lived conservatively, saving as much as I could so I’d have a nice nest egg when I retired…in 30-something years.   I kept my resume up to date and made sure I was current on all the newest industry news and technology, just in case my employment situation changed. When I took a vacation, every hotel, every activity, every transportation connection, every moment, was planned.   I was not a spontaneous kind of girl.

So, when the Margie’s call came, I called the airline (I’d already done the research on bereavement airfares) and made my reservation.   I told my boss that the time was finally here. (She already knew I’d be gone for a few weeks, and knew how to retrieve my updated files and worksheets.) When I got home, I called the funeral home to set into motion arrangements which had already been made. I booked a car service to take me to the airport for my 10 a.m. flight. I called my neighbor who had my key and had already agreed to water my plants.   At 6:30 a.m. I pulled my bag from the closet and threw in a few last minute items. The car arrived at 7:00 and off we went. It was only a twenty-minute drive to the airport, but I wanted to be sure I left myself plenty of time, just in case there was traffic.

In the back of the taxi, I was sad but calm. Everything was under control.

I was searching through my handbag, mentally calculating how many people we could expect at the house after the services, when I caught some movement ahead. I looked up, curious, to see the side of a huge tractor-trailer coming at us at 50 miles an hour.   In actual fact, the truck had jack-knifed and wasn’t moving at all. We were the ones going 50mph.

The next thing I knew, I was here. Like this. Looking back.

I realize from this perspective how much of my life I wasted on planning. I should have taken more chances. I thought I was protecting myself from risk, but in fact, I was just boxing myself off from growth. Perhaps it’s just as well that I died young. I’m sure I never would have changed, and it would have been another fifty, sixty years of mere existence, and what’s the point of that?   At least now I have the opportunity to start again.

 

—-

Buy the book!

If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have just started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!
-Adrienne

Coincidence or Communication from Beyond?

Yesterday, I was thinking about an old boyfriend, L.  I met him in my twenties and we had an intense yearlong affair, then he moved out of the country, back to where he was from.  We stayed in touch. We both had other relationships but in between, we always found ourselves back in touch.  Every few years, we’d meet up somewhere, spend a week together.  The old feelings and passion were still there for both of us.  He was the only man, until I met my husband,  who ever “got” me.  We adored being in each other’s company.  But he was deeply flawed — he cheated on every woman he’d ever had a relationship with.  He lied.  He was emotionally uncommunicative.  He drank too much.  He took advantage of everyone’s kindness and patience. He was selfish. We were good for short bursts but I knew that if we ever lived together I’d quickly be miserable.  He, however, held on to the hope that someday, somehow, we would end up together, maybe grow old together.

Then I met my husband.  Initially L assumed this was just another affair that would burn itself out like all the others before (because how could I ever love anyone more than I loved him?) He expected he and I would go back to the way we’d always been. I assured him that M and I were forever.

Although I’d loved L, I hated that I loved him. He had hurt and disappointed me so often,  it was a relief to finally feel nothing for him.

Even after M and I were married,  L would call me now and then to see how I was doing (maybe checking to see if M and I were still together).  He was living in Miami by then, and I in NYC. We’d become Facebook friends and kept in touch with occasional text conversations.  He asked me several times if I’d come visit him — with M.   He just wanted to see me.  So, when M and I went to visit his mother in Florida, about nine years ago,  we took an afternoon drive to  meet him and his girlfriend at the Hard Rock Cafe in Hollywood.  It was a surreal place to meet.

I almost didn’t recognize him.  It was shocking and sad to see what he’d become.  He used to be absolutely stunning;  a smart, savvy businessman with a deep soul, who could always make me laugh.  Now he was a mere husk of his former self.  He sat there inert, barely speaking. She did all the talking. He wasn’t senile.  He simply had no spark.  This was a man who used to ooze mojo. Women would fall at his feet. (For me, it had been love at first sight.)  Now he was an empty shell with no life force. For as long as I’d known him, he’d been on anti-anxiety meds and anti-depressants. That, coupled with the heavy drinking and the fact that he didn’t take care of himself, had all taken their toll.   Health-wise, he was a mess. As a human, he was barely there.

Although he’d still text me via Facebook, over time his messages become unintelligible word salad.  He’d call me on the phone from time to time, but was nearly incoherent.  I eventually stopped responding.  I didn’t know if it was a permanent condition or if he only reached out to me when he was drinking and feeling sentimental. Either way, it was difficult and unpleasant to converse with him.  I no longer wanted to make the effort to peer inside him to understand what he was feeling, something I used to do so easily.

One day he called me and for some reason,  I picked up the phone. Surprisingly, he sounded like his old self.  Smart, funny, sensible.  He said he realized that if he didn’t stop drinking and get his shit together, he was going to die,. He’d started a program to get healthy.  I was truly happy for him.

But, as always, it didn’t take long for him to sabotage his own life and go back to his old ways. He was always one to take the path of least resistance.  His tragedy was that he was smart and deep enough to understand himself, and recognize what had to be changed, but he was lazy about actually doing the work.

Then, one evening about seven years ago,  I got a call from his girlfriend.  A few months prior,  one Saturday evening,  in their living room, he’d had a heart attack and died.  He was 60.

By that point, he’d alienated everyone in his life,  Even his own children didn’t go to the funeral.

I felt sad because I felt nothing.  After having loved him so deeply for so long, what did it mean that I felt not even a wisp of sorrow at his passing?

Back in the early days, when things were hot and heavy, we always promised each other that whoever died first would find a way to communicate with the other.  But that was forty years ago and I didn’t expect he’d remember or keep his promise from the other side.   He certainly didn’t keep any promises when he was alive so why would he keep any now that he was dead?   Besides, I didn’t want to “talk” to him. I had nothing to say to him, not even in my imagination. I was still angry at him for having thrown his life away.  I could not forgive him for squandering our love.  I was not at all open to hearing from him.

But yesterday, I thought,  I wonder…if I give him the opportunity, would he communicate?  Had I forgiven him enough to at least listen? I have learned that hearing the dead requires, at the very least, the willingness to listen.

So I said to him, wherever he may be,  “If you’re listening,  give me a sign.”  I thought about what that sign might be — it needed to be something significant to us but not so common as to be mere casual coincidence.  I thought about it.  We used to have an inside joke about Charlie Brown so I said,  “if you’re listening, show me Charlie Brown. That will be the sign.”

This morning, I woke up, opened Facebook, and one of the first posts on my feed was big picture of Charlie Brown

So, what do you think?  Mere coincidence or a message from Il Mondo Beyondo?   (I shall give him another opportunity soon.  See what happens.)

-a
—-

P.S.  Since I wrote this,  I saw yet another Charlie Brown meme on FB.  And then,  a couple of days after that, when we went to our local transfer station (aka “the dump”), and on the “take table” somebody had left a small framed panel cartoon of Charlie Brown and Linus.  And then again, somewhere else.  Charlie Brown seems to be popping up everywhere.

I don’t know if it’s because I simply wasn’t paying attention before, but honestly,  I don’t think I’ve seen any pictures of Charlie Brown in ages, and suddenly they seem to be everywhere.

Then,  to add another layer of weird,  yesterday, I was contacted by a client in LA (I have a party entertainment business,  www.bubbygram.com) whose name (first, middle, last) is the same as L’s second son (although he’s no relation.)

So, I’ve said, into the ether,  “OK, L.  I’m listening.”  Let’s see if he has anything interesting to say.

 

—–

Buy the book!

If you are enjoying this blog, please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days). When you think of others who might enjoy it too, it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media. Email a particularly apt link to a friend. Even better, talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also, I have just started a discussion group on Facebook, for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts. Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself. I would love get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!
-Adrienne

Bully Bait

originally posted 5/6/14

prison cell block

Le

Life works in mysterious ways. At first, I couldn’t wait to marry her. At the end, I just wanted her dead. I wanted her mouth shut; her body rotting in the ground, where it belonged. I’d been helplessly in love with her and she had betrayed me; turned me into a cuckold; made me a fool; built huge, flashing arrows pointing to my weaknesses.

If anyone had asked me, I might have said I loved her, but I guess the hatred and resentment was always bubbling beneath the surface. I hated being in her power; hated myself for not being able to break free. She baited me all the time: Compared my “assets” to those of my best friend, who, I was often reminded, had a “much better set.”   Mocking me for every mistake, large and small. Belittling me just because she could.

Maybe I should have just left, but when she’d torment me, she would always say, “Look at you! You aren’t man enough to do anything about it!” and because I knew she was right – I wasn’t man enough – I obeyed and did nothing.

She was beautiful and a bit exotic.   When I met her, I couldn’t believe a woman like that would be interested in me. When I’d ask her why, she told me I was her “diamond in the rough.” She said she would teach me how to be a man, and I believed her.

In the beginning, she doted on me and built up my ego. I didn’t feel like merely a man; I felt like “The Man.” Ultimately, however, no matter how much she tried to polish me, no matter how nice a setting she put me in, I was always the same old hunk of worthless rock. Soon, she hated me for it. She believed, if I’d only loved her enough, I would change. My apparent inability to grow a spine was a slap in her face.

In our dynamic, every time she gave me a challenge and I failed to live up to her expectations, she was elevated in my esteem; and I was debased in hers. With each of my failures, the chasm between us grew.

It was a brutal transition between her believing in me and her no longer giving a damn. I ached for the early days. I still believed I loved her because I remembered how she used to make me feel.

She took so much pleasure in tormenting me, and I accepted it. I believed I deserved it. My thinking went: “At least she’s still here; at least I can satisfy her in some way.”

I was pathetic. I wasn’t even man enough to stand up for myself.

And then one day, I snapped.

My father had just passed away a few months before. I hadn’t had much contact with him since I’d left home years earlier. I had no use for him. From boyhood, he, too, belittled me. At the time, I would not have said I was deeply affected by his death.

It’s funny, but I can’t remember the exact words she said that set it all in motion, but it was something that cut me so deep, it opened up all the wounds from my youth.   Every last scab was ripped off and they were all stinging and bleeding again:  The existential fear of my own worthlessness.   The self-loathing because I didn’t have the confidence to stand up for myself.  The inability to trust my own judgment in any situation, thus deferring to anyone and everyone, and never having a voice of my own.

In that moment, I remembered the bullies who used to tease me, especially the day I came out of school to discover they’d set my brand new bicycle on fire. I remembered my father whispering to family members and friends, and them looking at me and laughing. I was never sure exactly what he was telling them, but I felt it had to do with my most recent failure at sports or at school, with the way I’d mishandled a chore or errand. Nothing – and I mean nothing in my entire life – had ever impressed him. Even when I got married to that beauty, he made sure I knew he didn’t believe she really loved me. She must be some kind of gold-digger, he suggested, then corrected himself. “Nah, you’re never going have enough money to make it worth any gold-digger’s time.”

“Maybe,” he then suggested, “she’s going to take out an insurance policy on your life and kill you for the money” (the subtext being, “because what else are you good for?”)

She and I were standing in the living room, next to the fireplace. She was on a rant, haranguing me with the entire catalog of my flaws and weaknesses.  After a while, I didn’t hear the individual words; I just felt the toxicity of their intent.   I couldn’t breathe. The poisonous cloud was enveloping me, choking me. I had to make it stop.

I picked up the heavy, metal mantle clock, and without thinking, hit her with it on the side of the head. She crumpled in a heap. Dead. Oh yes. Definitely dead.

Panicked, I ransacked the house to make it seem as if there had been an intruder, then I called the police and told them I’d found her this way.

It didn’t take them long to figure out the truth. She was dead and I was crying crocodile tears. I had motive and opportunity. It took about ten minutes at the station for me to confess the whole thing. I was actually relieved that it was over.

At least in jail, it would be free of her incessant emotional assault. In jail, I’d be a disappointment only to myself.

I forgot, though, about the bullies. Prisons were full of them.

I was in my own private hell. It was as if every torment in my life had been distilled to its very essence and applied here. There were no lessons to be learned, only pain to be avoided.

After about four years, with another 20 before I was even up for parole, I wanted to die. Ironically, in prison, they do their best to keep you from killing yourself.   They prefer you alive so they can take their retribution one cut at a time.

So I committed suicide by bully.

I knew what to do to provoke them, and they did me a favor of literally beating the life  out of me.

Next time, I would like the confidence to stand up for myself. I would be interested to see where that might lead.

—-

Buy the book!

If you are enjoying this blog, please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days). When you think of others who might enjoy it too, it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media. Email a particularly apt link to a friend. Even better, talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also, I have just started a discussion group on Facebook, for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts. Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself. I would love get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!
-Adrienne

 

The Blowhard

first published 4/30/14

https://thelivesofthedead.wordpress.com

Ar

I used to think I knew everything. I was a famous man, and people listened to what I had to say, as if I were a credible conveyor of All Truth. In my defense, I have to say I did know quite a lot. I had a very sharp intellect and piercing wit. People paid to hear me speak and I expounded freely. How I loved having an audience! I believed I was better, smarter and understood more truth than anyone else.

I had no respect for anyone who didn’t agree with me. They were either blind or stupid.

Only now do I understand how little I actually knew. Here, I can see the absolute vastness of all I do not know or understand. Perhaps my soul never will.

I hope I’m not so insufferable the next time.

 

____

Buy the book!

If you are enjoying this blog,  please click the link above to subscribe and receive posts via email (new posts every three days).  When you think of others who might enjoy it too,  it’s easy enough to help spread the word! Post your favorite stories to social media.   Email a particularly apt link to a friend.   Even better,  talk about the concepts with others (whether you agree or disagree. )
Also,  I have just started a discussion group on Facebook,  for conversations about any of the concepts/issues in the posts.  Honestly, these are things in here which I don’t fully understand myself.  I would love  get your thoughts on this…even if you think this is all a bunch of hooey!
-Adrienne

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