John Wetton died today.
I am ill.
These things are not at all linked, but as I sit here crying and listening to Starless by King Crimson, I’m trying to categorize the chaos inside my head, and sometimes it helps to make a list.
I’m not well right now. January has not been kind to me. I had a virus that kept me in bed for about 5 days, and a week ago today, I went into the hospital with a kidney stone. If you’ve never had one, or never given birth, it’s a pain beyond my ability to explain. Writhing on the floor, flapping like a fish out of water, vomiting until you start seeing things in the toilet bowl that you are sure you ate months ago.
And now John Wetton is dead.
That’s not why I’m writing this. It’s just that John Wetton’s dead, and there’s a maniac in the White House and tonight I had to pull the whole “Eat your beans, honey, there are people starving in the airports of the United States who would be happy to have you beans” bit. Then I had to explain mass racism to a six-year old.
And I’m ill.
I’m struggling mentally.
I want to delete everything and disappear. I want to go to bed and pull the covers over my head and never come out.
I had a thought today — that I don’t know if I can handle another thirty years of this.
Make a list… make a list…
I’m in love. And I am loved, more than I ever have been, by a wonderful woman who smiles as me as I weep, and tells me it’s okay to feel like this, and that she loves me.
I have new friends who encourage and support me.
I have all sorts of projects I can, should be, and will be working on for 2017. Lots to keep me busy.
And yet I sit, a weeping mess, frozen and unable to move in any direction. I find myself snowblind once more, and if I step out my front door and look up at the sky, I am sure that I will find no stars to light my way back in the right direction.
Here. Have something poignant. I don’t have anything left to offer but re-runs and leftovers.
The Countess Penelope of Arcadia had been up for two hours already, watching Scooby Doo and eating Cocoa Cheerios in chocolate milk as if she were six years old and not twenty-something.
I crawled up the stairs, sleepless and only barely awake, and certainly too tired to either care or adequately defend or explain the contradiction inherent in that statement. I followed my nose (it always knows!) to the coffee pot, and poured myself a cup.
I rubbed my eyes, pushing them into my head with my fists, and when I took my hands away, everything looked bright and white — I was snow blind, and I closed my eyes and wished for darkness, but the bright corona wouldn’t fade — I’d just have to wait it out.
“You ever notice that there’s never any stars?” The Countess asked me, and I wasn’t even sure what to make of that question.
“In Scooby Doo,” she explained. “There’s always a big full moon, and clouds and fog and whatever, but there’s never any stars. It’s like they live in an entirely starless universe.”
“Huh,” I said, sipping my coffee, holding it with both hands so the warmth permeated my skin. “Well that’s depressing.”
“I know, right?” The Countess Arcade agreed, crunching her double chocolate concoction.
I kept blinking, trying to get my eyes to clear, but everything still looked bright and washed out, like an overexposed photograph. Outside, it was still dark and equally as dully coloured and starless as a Scooby Doo cartoon from the 1970s.
“Do you think that was an artistic choice or a limitation of the animation budget?” The inquisitive Countess queried.
I mumbled something unintelligible and non-committal. Then I tried pressing my fingers over my eyes to make the snow-blindness go away.
“It makes you wonder if maybe they were making a statement about the existential dread of being all alone in the universe — the decline in faith, the crucial end of childhood belief in magic. No stars to gaze upon, ergo, quid pro quo, e pluribus unum, no stargazing, no dreaming.” The Countess Penelope of Arcadia (which was, apparently, somewhere near Vienna in the late 19th Century) proposed.
I must have grunted or made some other noise that signaled my agreement or approval, though I don’t recall doing either, so Penny continued.
“I mean, the entire crux of the show is the disproving of the supernatural. It’s all about destroying children’s illusions that there’s something magical out there to inspire awe and wonder. It’s never a real ghost, or ghoul, or vampire — it’s old man Withers in a rubber mask! How utterly….”
“Depressing?” I suggested.
“…Disillusioning.” Penny finished.
“It’s a cartoon, Penny,” I said blandly, and without any inflection in my voice. I sounded washed out and drowned. “It’s teaching kids that there are no such things as monsters.”
“Well, this is turning into a cheery breakfast conversation,” I sighed and rubbed my eyes again, trying to make my vision clear, but to no avail.
Penny kept talking, something about Velma and Shaggy making a cute couple; or maybe it was Daphne, I don’t know. I think I heard her say something about Rob Ford being like a Scooby Doo villain, and that someone was going to pull his mask off and underneath was going to be Bill Clinton, smiling a big Ah shucks grin and reiterating that not only did he not smoke crack, but that he also did not have sexual relations with that woman. Her train of thought moved through rhythms I couldn’t keep up with. From Scooby Doo to Rob Ford to Bill Clinton back to Scooby Doo and Shaggy’s perpetual munchies back to Rob Ford’s appetites and whether or not he had enough to eat at home. Everything felt blurred around the edges, and nothing made sense. Words sounded like they were coming from far away, like I was underwater, and everything drifted…. drifted… faded….
This would become a metaphor for the rest of my day, darlings. Everything washed out and unintelligible, with no stars to guide me; sailing through frozen waters, snow blind and starless.