Who dies best, the soldier who falls for our sake, or the fly in my whiskey glass? The happy agony of the fly is his reward for an adventurous dive in no cause but his own. Gorged and crazed, he touches bottom, knows he's gone as far as he can go, and bravely sticks...How to die? How to live? These questions, if we ask the dead fly are both answered thus: In a drunken state. But drunk on WHAT should we all be? Well there's love to drink, of course, and death, which is the same thing, and whiskey, better still, and heroin, best of all--except maybe for holiness..."
William T. Vollmann, "Funeral Sermon for a Fly" (preface to The Royal Family)
DISCLAIMER: I feel cheap using that quote from The Royal Family because it is a 700 something page book and I really only read maybe the first 100 or so. However, that quote stood out and I know that every person in the world is gonna be quoting that, because it is quotable and because the book is so long that people will stick with that. It is a smart move to put such quotable material in the front of the book because as we all know reviewers very rarely read the whole book. And neither do I, so...
Really I have nothing major to write to myself tonight. I am saddened by the unholy amount of snow that has fallen. We have about a foot and a half of snow. My mom and I had fun trying to shovel the driveway and after about an hour of getting nowhere I decided it was time to call someone to PLOW it. She tried to tell me you can't just call a snow plow, which I find insane, of course you can call anything at anytime anywhere. So I called all the snow plow services in the book and found two places that said they would do it. And then I let them go and figured whoever gets here first gets paid. My mother tried to tell me I couldn't do it that way and that I had to call back and cancel one and if I was calling I should tell them about the mulch pile at the end of the driveway. Which is like hilarious, a man plowing 8 million driveways is going to arrive here and go "oh right, this is the one with the mulch pile" and besides it is a tiny pile and if it is plowed off the driveway, who the fuck cares? But that is my mother, god love her. And then the long and short of our snow removal woes...our neighbor came over with this industrial-sized snow blower and snow blowed the drive. I told my mother SHE could call and cancel the snow plow then. And she did and now she is expecting ME to go out and shovel more. Huh? Can you say SNOW PLOW contract or why is that WE do not OWN a snow blower? Just cuz they got rid of it when they moved to Georgia and never got a new one, I am supposed to suffer?
The real reason that I am bummed is that tonight was the last Kiki and Herb Christmas show and I couldn't get into the city to see it. I am sad that I missed it. I should have gone back earlier when I wasn't doing anything but staring at my belly button and doing nothing. Like I have moved into such an active phase right now! New Years Resolution Number 1: I will do something... someday...sometime.
It is sort of ironic that we got all this snow, just the other day I was thinking about all the things I've done in my life that I miss doing now and one of them was skiing. When I was a kid I used to have a season pass to this really dinky ski area called "Ski Sterling Forest" and we used to ski on this horrible man made ice stuff but we always had some sort of mad fun. Cuz there is nothing like going straight down one of those dinky runs in a racing tuck. I have no fear of speed. I probably should but I don't. It is one of the things my father taught me. He used to drive at ungodly speeds. He is the only person I know who got a speeding ticket where the listed speed was 120 mphs. I have racked up my own share of speeding tickets so I know that when you are going like 90, the ticket usually says like 75 mph, so, 120 is like INSANE! Thank god I wasn't in the car then. When I drove with him he used to but a cap on it and stay around 100 mph. The really fun thing was when my mom drove with him in the passenger seat which she would remind him was the "suicide seat" and she would accuse him of trying to kill her when he drove too fast or too recklessly (as if we all wouldn't perish at those speeds). If she thought things got too tight she would try and brake with her foot as if the car had dual controls. Always fun to have a family argument at high velocity. See, velocity, skiing, it all relates!
Though my father was a speed demon behind the wheel, he was terrified of skiing. He skied all his childhood, his mother skied, his brother skies, but he broke his leg running into a ski rack at the bottom of ski slope when he was in his teens so he figured all skiing was then a risky venture. He would never participate in my skiing things, like when I would go to get new boots or so pick up my skis from being tuned-up...it was like all some really bad trip for him. Which amused me greatly. But I did once hairline fracture my leg skiing by going over a mogul field without noticing it. I was niteskiing and I was a little tipsy and I couldn't see the contours of the slope and I was like in the air before I realized it and I pitched forward and cracked my shin bone...no biggy. The really fun snow accident was when I was about twelve and I hit a tree sleigh riding. A bunch of my friends and I had our flexible flyers and we were sledding down this hill that had a grove of trees if you went straight down it so you had to make a sharp left turn OR ELSE. After a whole day of doing this, the trail got icy and it was getting hard to turn, but did we stop, NO! So I was flying down the trail head first and I was yanking my sled to turn and it wasn't turning and then all of a sudden I saw this tree. I managed to get my arm up in front of my face and my arm took a lot of the impact and I broke the arm (for the second time) and I ended up with broken teeth, a broken nose, a concussion and blood everywhere. I went to a neighbors house and my friends mom helped clean up some of the blood and then called my mom. And all my mom could say was two things: 1)if you saw the tree why didn't you roll off the sled and 2) I don't have snow tires and you expect me to drive you to the emergency room?
I don't think I ever seriously went sleigh riding after that (risky venture) or at least not head first and on a flexible flyer. We had this cheapo plastic sled for a while and we would, when we got enough snow, go down our front yard. My dad would always let the dogs out to run in the snow. We had two dogs, a huge Aachen Shepherd named Tanya and a brown Standard Poodle named Barney (whose real registered name was like Barnas Barany or some horrible thing that meant Brown Lamb in Hungarian)and they loved to bounce around in the snow. You could make snow balls and toss them in the air and Tanya would catch them in her mouth. Tanya could also catch tennis balls and other stuff in her mouth (like most dogs can), but Barney never learned to catch with his mouth. You would throw a snow ball up and it would land on his head and he would look at you all dejected, sort of like "why in the hell did you you do that to me?" and if you tossed a ball to him it would bounce off the top of his head cuz he had no clue he was supposed to catch it with his mouth. Sometimes if you were lucky he would jump and use his front paws and try and trap it. Poor guy, he thought he was human. The only thing he could ever catch was this little piece of fake lambs wool that came with him from the breeder that he slept with called "his fluffy." But, Tanya was like a dream dog. She was a dog's dog. She would run after sticks you threw and bring them back (you did have to fight with her to get the stick back, somehow "drop it" never entered her vocabulary.) She would also follow you as you went sleighing down the front yard and nip at your gloves and try and steal them. If she got one she would take it and swing it back and forth in her mouth like she was trying break its neck and kill it. Since she didn't get "drop it" you had to have extra gloves or mittens handy. If you ever got the glove/mitten back it was slimmy and ripped and generally icky. The other thing she would do was if you got up and left the sled unguarded she would grab that in her mouth and run around with it and again never getting "drop" you would have to chase her around till she got bored and just left the sled for something better like chasing a squirrel or something.
Now it is December 31, and it is New Years Eve. My friend Creemie and I were supposed to go to New Orleans, but she wanted to leave like the day after Christmas and I got cold feet (not literally at least until tonight) because I don't like to leave my mom alone on holidays. I'm a wimp. But I've been alone on holidays and it sucks (for me anyway), so I sort of quasi-backed out and she went to LA without me and without inviting me (I am still trying to decide if I should be mad about that--the not inviting me thing). And now with the snow, I'm thinking I am going to have to walk to the store to get my bottle of Champagne and my cheese and crackers and assorted appetizers. We have a family tradition that we drink bubbly and eat hors d'oeuvres (or however that is spelled) like cheese and crackers, shrimp cocktail and when my dad was alive steak tartar (which he tried to pass off as a hungarian custom: eating steak tartar and clear broth...ick!). Since I did not believe that this storm was really going to come, I did not do my holiday shopping. If I don't get my stuff, this will really be a wash of a weekend for me.
I don't hold with celebrating New Years in a big way anymore. I've done all that needs to be done in terms of major parties and small parties and now I am happy to sit in my living room in front of a fire and watch the ball drop on television. One year Creemie and I went into the city to watch the ball drop and we got a room at the Royalton so that we wouldn't have to deal with getting back to anywhere. That was a truly bizarre incident. We got into the room, went out bought like many bottles of champagne and liquor and mixers and then we called some of Creemie's friends from school and waited for them to show up. While we were waiting, Creemie dyed her hair in the lovely marble shower. Then some friends from her work showed up and we drank and we waited for her friends from school. They were like HOURS late. It was getting close to midnight so we headed out to watch the ball drop with her friends from work. We could only vaguely glimpse the ball from the spot where we were penned in by the NYPD and it was mobbed in the pen...sort of like a mosh pit at like a bad alterna-rock band show where you just want to stomp on someone's foot or bite their shoulder when their arm hits your nose for the 50th time...so the ball drops, everyone cheers and starts tossing beer and opening bottles of champagne and spraying the crowd. We are like lets get the fuck out of here...so we do. We go back to the hotel and Creemie realizes someone has removed her wallet from her bag. Then it is after midnight, and we are waiting and waiting for her friends because we were supposed to be having a party in the room. Some friends of mine show up and are like where's the party, and I'm like I don't know. So we drink some more and Creemie decides to cut her hair. Then we all go down to the lounge and drink some more and watch really well dressed really drunk people. Sometime around 3am we decide screw waiting for Creemies friends and head back to our room, then they show up with a pile of coke. So at like dawn everyone is buzzed and crazed and we all crashed until about noon and almost had to pay for extra time. That was the strangest experience it was like waiting and waiting and waiting and then having three separate celebrations...
Easily though, the New Years Eve I will never forget was the one that I think took place I think in 1990 at a place called Cuando on 2nd Ave off Houston. It is not a party place; it is this big community center or something and I think was once a school (maybe) and Chip rented it out for this huge New Years party. I had just flown back from Atlanta on New Years Eve after spending the entire holiday with my family sick because I had walking pneumonia...and I ran over to Cuando to work because I was employed by Chip then. And I remember unloading cases of liquor in the freezing rain and cold and I was sick. Then Liz and I were hosting some room or something for women cuz there were all these separate rooms where you could hear like lounge music, drag queens, and our women's room (which sucked cuz it had a broken window pane so it was freezing). There were lots of people in every room, the entire place was mobbed. My friend Ellie was supposed to come and I was sort of waiting for her to show when she showed up a little late and with this woman who was sort of a friend of mine but who I had a crush on and who Ellie was obviously seeing...so that sort of slowed things. In the room where I was stuck for most of the night, there was this strange couple made up of a woman in a prom dress and another woman in a suit and they were sort of together, yet somehow Creemie ended up making out with the woman in the prom dress who forever after became known as the Prom Queen (and through one of those strange twists of fate is now related to me in a way because her grandfather married my grandmother). Prom Queen turned out to be great fun and has this nasty sarcastic sense of humor, but her girlfriend got the unfortunate moniker "bush pig"...I am not sure how that happened. And Creemie once told me that she was Liz's girlfriend for a while. I don't know if that is true, but it would amuse me greatly if it were (and it is not true according to Liz...). ANYWAY, the night was like not going too well, Ellie and her friend wanted to go dance in the main area which was a gigantic empty swimming pool that you had to step down into. So I made Creemie go with me and her job (she worked for Chip too) was to hand out invitations to other parties he was throwing (you know the invite hell if you ever been to a club) so she could leave the room, I escaped. We danced in the pool, it wasn't fun because I was mad about the whole why is my bestfriend sleeping with someone I told her I have a crush on thing and I was sick and by then probably more than a little drunk and X'ed out. So at some point the marble stairs of Cuando got really slippery and Creemie fell down and majorly injured her arm. In fact, I am certain that she broke it. So she gets up tells a friend of ours, and he goes oh you should take some X and gave her some for her arm. Creemie never got her arm fixed, I don't know how she lived with the pain cuz it was hugely swollen. So the night/day finally ended with me, Creemie, Prom Queen, and a couple other people eating slop at the Cooper Square Dinner (when it was a pit before it moved across the street and remodelled)and that was the beginning of a decade that...nevermind.