Just so nobody takes it personally, I’m pretty much this way with everybody.

 

I’ve been like this for the last 10 years. Where mostly I just want to sit alone by myself and think.

People regularly send me letters or messages: “Ace, I’m gonna be in town next week. Let’s get together. I’ll buy you a beer. Take you out to dinner.”

I’m flattered and honored that people would want to be with me. But I turn them all down. I’m not sure why. I guess I just feel more comfortable when there’s no one around.

When I was younger I had friends. Best friends. Casual friends. Social friends. Friendly friends. Sometimes I was in the middle of these big scenes, a part of these different social circles. Knew and related to people from all different walks of life and all the different strata of society. Nowadays I mostly just hang out in the woods with just my feral cats for company.

I’m not complaining. It’s just how it turned out. And how it was meant to be.

The Ballad of Micro Scaredy and Mini Scaredy

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When Micro Scaredy was 4-months old, and still very much a kitten, her mother got pregnant with a second litter of kittens and pretty much abandoned her to deal with her new litter. So her half-sister Mini Scaredy — who couldn’t have kittens (two miscarriages before I had her fixed) — adopted Micro Scaredy as if she was her own kitten. Which was great that Mini Scaredy got to fulfill her maternal instincts in that way. And Micro Scaredy and Mini Scaredy have been inseparable companions ever since.

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They sleep together ever night, nestling against each other. And they romp off into the woods together every day. And every evening they’re waiting together in the darkness for me to show up at my campsite.

 

 

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Mini Scaredy and Micro Scaredy are pretty similar physically. But their personalities are opposite. 

Mini Scaredy is easy going, happy to be there, and never causes disturbances.

But Micro Scaredy has a mean streak in her. She’s always been that way since she was a kitten. This morning while I was sleeping, Micro decided it was high time I got my ass up out of bed and fixed her some breakfast. So she did her routine where she starts jabbing at my face with her claws. She’s relentless. And she enjoys being a prick, too. She’ll be purring loudly while she’s constantly harassing me. Ha ha. And today she went too far and drew blood with one of her jabs. It’s a pain in the ass, but I mostly just put up with it. I don’t want to discourage her from being aggressive when it comes to approaching humans for food. Someday I might be gone and she might need to approach somebody else.

.20190125_082531.jpgOne thing I enjoy about my cats. They’re incredibly happy. And it’s always nice to get a little happiness in your life. I think one of the reasons they’re so happy is, they got the best of both worlds in a way. As feral cats they’re free to romp around in the woods and completely indulge their basic cat instincts without being restricted by the man-made world that most domesticated cats live in. But they also get to enjoy regular meals and nice warm blankets to sleep on just like domestic cats. Best of both worlds.

They’re definitely a matching set, Mini Scaredy and Micro Scaredy.

Me and Duncan and Vince

 

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Back in the ’80s and ’90s this used to be an IHOP. And it was right across the street from the apartment building where I lived. So me and Duncan and Vince used to go there all the time.

IHOP had “the bottomless cup of coffee.” So me and Duncan and Vince would sit in our booth and drink endless refills and prattle on and on about our hopes and dreams, and the latest exciting projects we were working on, and the latest beautiful women we were madly in love with, and all the incredible things we were going to accomplish with our lives as soon as we got sufficiently jacked up on the coffee.

On my 30th birthday Vince treated me to a cup of coffee at IHOP. Later, when we went back to my apartment, I opened the door and all the lights were out. When I turned the lights on everybody shouted “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!” This women who I was living with at the time, Teresa, had arranged a surprise birthday party for me, and all my friends were there. Duncan snapped a photo of me and Vince just as we walked in the door. In the photo Vince has a bemused smile on his face and I have a big smile of surprise and happiness. I’m wearing a pink “Clockwork Orange” T-shirt (of all things), and I look so young and strong it makes me sick to my stomach just to think about it

Everyone should get at least one surprise party in the course of their lifetime.

Me and Duncan and Vince were the Three Amigos back then. We checked in with each other every day. If only to get the latest gossip. And then at night we’d sort it out over endless cups of coffee at IHOP.  It’s funny.  Back then I used to think of those nights at IHOP as  the uneventful periods in between all of the very important things that I was doing.  But in retrospect those were the best times.  And one of the things I miss the most.  . . .

Both Duncan and Vince are dead now. So I guess I’m the One Amigo now.

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Friends

FRIENDS
plural noun:
  1. a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations.
    synonyms:  companion, soul mate, intimate, confidante
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I’ve been grappling a lot lately with the issue of “friends.”  Sometimes I wonder if I really have any friends.
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Don’t get me wrong.  I know a lot of people that I really like, people that I feel friendly towards.  People that I’ve known 20, 30, 40 years.  I’m happy they’re a part of my life,and I hope they always will be.

But I’m not really close to anybody these days.  It started around 10 years ago.  I started getting more and more withdrawn from other people.  It’s like my defenses went up and I got really guarded.  Instead of revealing my real to others, I started putting up this façade.  For protection, I guess.  But it added this superficial quality to my relationships.

The irony was:  In my art and writing I got more and more brutally honest.  While getting less and less so in my real relationships.

For most of my life I had “best friends.”  People I could be myself with.  Which maybe is one definition of authentic friendship.  But one by one, those friends died, or drifted out of my daily orbit.  And I never got around to replacing them with new friends.

 I wonder if part of it is a symptom of growing older, and getting closer to death.  Realizing:  “You’re born alone, you live alone, and you die alone.”   Maybe as you age you realize more and more that you’re “not of this earth.”  That all too soon your soul will be taking a solitary journey to another part of the Cosmos.  And none of your friends will be traveling there with you.

 

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I Can’t Believe How Empty My Life Has Become: Part 3

(Originally published Halloween 2005)

I’ve seen them come, and I’ve seen them go.

I had one friend who jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge (what a cliché). 1979.

I had another friend who jumped in front of a train and sliced himself to ribbons. 1994.

I had another friend who hung himself on his fire escape. 1999.

And I had another friend, he was a registered nurse, so he got in a bathtub and injected himself with some drug that conked him out and then he slipped under the water and died (I had to give him points for finding such a clean way to go out). 2004.

I knew a bunch of other people who wiped themselves out on drugs and drink and despair. You couldn’t technically call it “suicide”, but it certainly smacked of self-destruction. Maybe you could call it suicide by the scenic route. I knew this one woman, around age 60 she just gave up on life. She sat in her dusty apartment alone all day with her two Siamese cats, staring blankly at her television set and guzzling down endless six-packs of tall Budweisers, washed down with Nyquil cough-syrup chasers. “I’ve been waiting all my life,” she said blankly. She never quite articulated exactly what it was she was waiting for. But I guess I kinda knew.

There’s this emptiness that can drive you nuts. Most of us are pretty ham-fisted when it comes to being philosophers or religious spirits. We read a couple self-help books, try to do a little home-made psychological therapy on our brains. And then figure: “What the fuck.” Sit there and stare in space. Watch the world go by.

You can fill up your time with an endless series of distractions: “I want a cup of coffee.” “I want a jelly donut.” “I want to buy a new CD.” “I want a cigarette.” “I want to slam a big shot of crystal meth and masturbate non-stop for 48 hours”

ANYTHING to fill that gnawing hole in the pit of our souls. (It can drive you nuts, that goddam gnawing emptiness.)

Nothing really fills it. I’ve tried “success” and I’ve tried “failure.” I’ve tried “sensations” and I’ve tried “renunciations.” Nothing quite does it for very long. It’s just sort of existential I guess. It’s not even tragic (though feel free to feel sorry for me and give me plenty of good sympathy). It’s just the goddam human condition.