Day 275: I Can Feel It

I was at the lake and a memory occurred to me briefly. I intended to jot down the thought before it escaped me, just to write down a few words as a mnemonic to remind me of the rest of the memory. I never wrote it down. I cannot remember what it was.

This happens all the time– I have the memory of remembering something, and I know it is important, but I do not know what the original memory is. A few months ago, I would panic and it would eat at me. I have learned that memories come and go. They flit in and out. It will come back and the impression may be different next time, but it will come.  If it’s important, it will return. The thought may hit me when I have a chance to write it down and explore it past the first impression and relive it more fully. I know it will come back. I have plenty of time to wait for it.

Day 246: Goodbye Bread

I went to Williamsport last week to pick up the final few rolls of black and white film that Ralph Wilson had developed for me. We collected all the rolls of undeveloped film that Miles had siting in his room– in drawers, in backpacks, in boxes, in cameras– and Ralph helped us figure out what to do with them all. He was able to develop the black and white rolls.  We are so grateful for his support.

But it was very sad to go up there and get the negatives. We gather up everything we found.  It is possible that we may find some more here and there. It is possible that we will discover a few hidden in some pocket or hidden in a drawer. The finality, though, of getting the last rolls was sad. The finite limits to what exists in Miles’s hand or in his words or with his own cameras or from his own eyes is difficult to comprehend.  It is heartbreaking to consider.

As a kid, infinity was a concept impossible to imagine. And now as an adult, I am having trouble with the limited and the known. I am struggling with the finality of everything in Miles’s wake– the final rolls of film developed or the final zine I recreate. Six thousand four hundred and fifty eight days. A number in a series, a finite series of days and nights.

Day 240: The Clock

Miles and I read Secret Wars, the Marvel comic book series. We loved it. I read it aloud to him every night for a week or two. We loved it. I loved having him experience it for the first time while I read it for the first time in years. I was excited with him.

The story is great– an all-powerful creature called the Beyonder puts a bunch of Marvel super heroes on a distant planet– the Avengers, Fantastic Four, X-Men, Spider-man. He also puts a bunch of villains–Dr. Doom, Galactus, the Wrecking Crew, Kang, Lizard, Molecule Man, Klaw, Absorbing Man, etc.– on the planet and tells them that whoever wins gets whatever they want in the world. It is really well written. It came out at a time when Marvel was doing a lot of 12-part limited series.  Secret Wars was twelve issues and we loved every moment. Very dramatic.

I can imagine myself with Miles in the crux of my arm reading Secret Wars on his bed before going to sleep. It was a great time.

Day 237: There is No Tomorrow

It is hard for me to write this.

The wheel fell off my car one time in early April on my way to Morgantown. My car had 199,000 miles on it. I was on the interstate. I thought I had a flat tire, so I pulled off I-68 at Friendsville to check it out. No flat– weird. I got back in the car and the tire still felt wobbly as I drove, like it does when you have a flat tire. I did a 180 to turn back toward the interstate. My car suddenly lurched to a complete stop and I saw my left front tire bounce down the road away from me. It rolled to a stop in the gutter on the dark quiet main street in Friendsville, a town of fewer than 500 where no one was awake on this Friday night.

Owen was supposed to go to a pool party at the end of his soccer season. He loves to swim but he did not want to go. So we went home instead. He went to his room and played games. I sat in the front of the house in the sun room and I read. It had been overcast all day but it had not rained in hours. Out of nowhere, BOOM!, a huge thunderclap and lightning at the same time. Soon, sirens. I found out later that the lightning had struck the pool at the pool party where Owen was supposed to be. Everyone was out of the pool, but the lightning radiated through the water and the roots of a tree. It struck a woman and a boy. The boy was in the hospital for three days. He remembered nothing. The last thing he could remember from that day was the soccer game.  Owen would have been there too, but he decided at the last minute not to go.

Miles and I were downtown together in the evening in the early fall. He was about seven years old. We went to our favorite pizza place at the top of High Street. There was a parade that day– Morgantown has lots of parades so it was not really a surprise to stumble upon a parade downtown.  I forget what it was all about.  Miles and I ate our pizza on the street and we watched the parade.  It was mostly fire trucks. They blared their horns and flashed their lights. I looked down at Miles and he was choking. He took too big a bite of pizza and he was choking. “Help” I said and I waved my arms to the fire truck.  he was choking. My little boy was choking and couldn’t breath. What do you do? The men on the fire truck ignored me, thinking I was hailing them in the parade.  I ran back to Miles and a young woman who stood by the pizza place walked two steps up to Miles and performed the Heimlich maneuver on him. I found out she was a nurse. The pizza popped out and he breathed. He was fine. We were both scared but Miles was fine. He was safe. We hugged on the sidewalk and we both wept in fear and relief.

There are so many close calls.

Day 218: Gold on the Shore

When we held the Memorial Service for Miles in Lewisburg, I occupied myself with compiling a playlist of songs I thought Miles would have liked. I discovered this song by Ty Segall, and I have loved it since then.

Ty Segall said in an interview with Marc Maron that he did not think much about the lyrics. But I like these words because they fit together so nicely.

A kiss in the wind, tonight, girl
This is the rose that I gave you before
A sweet summer breeze is out there
These are the showers that latch on the door
These are the plans in our hearts
Made in the sun and the gold on the shore
This is the grain in our lands
That fall like the sands and will fly evermore

A kiss in the wind, tonight, girl
This is the rose that I gave you before
A sweet summer breeze is out there
These are the showers that latch on the door
These are the plans in our hearts
Made in the sun and the gold on the shore
This is the grain in our lands
That fall like the sands and will fly evermore

So far away into the sun
And let your minds lead our eyes wrong
Don’t fear change, live some!

Day 166: Thank God for the Sinners

I was up in the attic and I found an old suitcase. Miles collected old suitcases, the Samsonite hard-shell suitcases like the gorilla threw around in the old commercials.  He would make pinhole cameras out of them. There are a bunch all over the house.

I opened up the suitcase and it was full of books. I am not sure why he filled the suitcase with books. The attic is full of books. He may have been moving them from the attic to downstairs, and he never got around to taking it downstairs. Or he was moving from his room to the attic and he never unpacked it.

There are hundreds of Miles’s little tasks around the house that will never be completed. I leave them be if I can. I stumble on them sometimes, but I am finding fewer and fewer. It has been a long time since I made this kind of discovery.  I like these little reminders of his activity and resourcefulness. It reminds me of his presence.

Day 118: The Singer

Marc Maron interviewed Ty Segall on his podcast, WTF. It was good to hear from the (young) man himself about his music. When Maron hosts musicians, he often asks them to play a song at the conclusion of the interview. Maron records his interviews in his garage. It is just two microphones, Maron, and his guest in Maron’s garage talking about how they got where they are and what makes them tick. Maron has interviewed some of the greats of comedy—Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Steven Wright, Robin Williams, Will Ferrell, Jonathan Winters, Louis CK, and hundreds more (580 total as of this week). It is a great podcast, and I have enjoyed many hours of humor and insights.

At the end of Maron’s interview with Ty Segall, Segall played “The Singer.” The studio version is really good. It is from Segall’s newest album, Manipulator. I highly recommend it. It was released on August 25, 2014.

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Day 117: The Picture

Ty Segall is not known for his lyrics. I heard him on Marc Maron’s interview podcast, WTF, and he said that he never cared much for the lyrics for a long time so many of his songs are not as well crafted as they could be. I think he said he was even embarrassed by his lyrics.  I like “The Picture” for the words and the sounds both.

I have read a lot of Allen Ginsberg and I have studied him a bit. One of his beliefs as a poet was that the first thought is the best. He would record his initial words and do minimal editing. He believed that speaking or writing extemporaneously reduced the friction between what you believed and thought and ho you said it. There is less noise interrupting the signal from your heart and subconscious, so let it happen and let it stand. Editing and crafting language can serve only to remove it farther from the truth of what you believe. It may be more pleasing or more diplomatic, but it does not get to the heart of what you really want to say. Sometimes we don’t know what we want to say and writing or speaking freely can help us say it.

I talked to Miles about art and expression and I know we talked about this idea. I know we talked about Ginsberg. I know he took all of the little City Lights Ginsberg books I had on my shelf and put them in his room. I know he read Howl and Fall of America. I know he had an inkling of this idea, and I wish he had more time to explore in his own art. I can see it in his pictures. I can see it in what he wrote.

When Ty Segall writes a song and does not put much care into it, then I think he taps into some deeper currents of our existence than maybe he anticipates. There is a rawness in the music but also in he words.

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Day 116: The Keepers

I listen to Ty Segall a lot. Miles and I really loved his music. Ty Segall is super punk rock. But he is also capable of more than that. I like this acoustic version of his song, “The Keepers.” I could not imagine the Ramones doing an acoustic version of one of their songs.

Music seems to come so easy to Ty Segall. He comes out with multiple albums each year. He tours a lot. There is not much comes easy to me. When I think about Miles I think that he had gifts. Some things came easy to him. Snowboarding and skating. He was a really good writer. He had a great eye and technical understanding of cameras and film. He was kind and creative. Some things came easy to him, and I hope he had the perspective to see he had gifts. I think he did.

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