Take A Deep Breath, Please

i've been absent of late ... the fact is, i can't think of what to write that would be even remotely humorous; in the continuing perpetual motion machine of republican depredations, idiocies, and lies; theft, corruption, and deceit; mass murder, mayhem, and thuggery, well .... it's about reduced me to shrieking, FUCK THEM THEY'RE LIARS AND MURDERERS AND PIGFUCKERS AND THEY ALL GO UNREPRIMANDED LET ALONE PUNISHED .....

so just cut and past that into a page for yourself, each and every day, and that'll spare me the onus of having to sit down and be creative ....

but there was something i wanted to say .....

it's been unseasonably dry here in california; by now we should have had inches and inches of rain, but .... we've had nothing; mountain bike rides into the hills, past creek beds that should be foaming brown, show nothing but bare rock ..... so, after thanksgiving, i decided it was time to get some plants in before everything would presumably turn to mud and i wouldn't be able to .... i've been adding a border of flowering shrubs: mexican marigolds, nice yellow blooms with a remarkable fragrance and ..... robin called me to the phone ....

you know these phone calls: you get them and you know what's coming down the line even before the caller says hello; you just don't know who they're calling about .....

this time it was carol kramer, a not-all-that-long-ago girlfriend .... we never were a couple but we certainly were an item .... she was probably the goodest person i've ever known; she wasn't naive or delusional, she was just .... well, good and cheerful and unconditional in her love and she was so positive and upbeat enthusiastic and generous and loving that she absolutely drove me crazy .... it was difficult being with someone that good and that positive and that upbeat; i'm not any of those, nor do i aspire; i'm reasonably content with being embittered and twisted and venomous and cynical and mordant .... but i do like to laugh, and so did she, and we laughed a lot .....

anyway ..... the caller said carol was in marin general, that she was no longer responsive, and that i should get on down there, quick .... and it rocked me, hard; i hadn't realized that she was sick, let alone how sick she was .... the last i'd seen her, a little over a year ago, she'd volunteered to babysit; that's the kind of person she was; it's not like there's a line outside my door, of people volunteering to babysit but ..... but carol did, and she was fine, or so it seemed, and it was a pleasure to be with her again

i did get a chance to sit with her, when she was in the final phases of cheyne-stokes breathing .... that's the stertorous in-out breath, punctuated by a lull, that long hiatus, where you find yourself hanging on, wondering if the lull is going to go on ... and on .... and on .... and on ...... forever ..... i sat like this with my mother; i'd breathe with her, then i'd breathe for her, but that was before she became unreachable, at least in this world ..... and .....

i said goodby, sat outside in the hallway, and she died shortly thereafter .....

carol became part of my life when i was finishing up a psych degree and wondering if i was finished with music .... at one time we flew back east so she could pick up a car for her daughter; we drove back cross country together, visiting some of the places that were part of my not-so-distant past .... we drove through iowa, after stopping in des moines, and i got stopped twice for speeding in an hour's time; that's iowa for you: you want to get out of it as quickly as you can .... we took hot sulfur baths in thermopolis, wyoming; marvelled at the grand tetons, and sped madly across the utah salt flats .....

she also knew my mother and father, something my children will never do ....

she was also a great motorcycle passenger; riding with her behind me was like dancing, effortless and smooth and graceful .... there's more, of course, but it'd take far too long .... i'm struck again how i'm diminished with every loss .... there, after all, goes someone who knew me when and knew me where, who was part of my life in a different time and place; when i lose them i lose another piece of myself, for i've lost someone who could bear witness to those times and those places and those experiences that are a part of me, which you probably don't know about, and which i now tend lose track of if i'm not reminded ....

knowing that, i've been flooded with memories this last week, and not necessarily of carol, just other people and other places, other times and other spaces .... it's been precious: time travel is possible ....

after my mother's death, while cleaning up, i came across a piece of paper she'd put in her olivetti lettera 22 ... she'd written: "i'd like to go back to the house where i was born, where i watched the farmhands bring in the tobacco; the place where we all ate and slept, where grandmother brought me into this world .... "

that became "this old house," from "going home:"

this old house
the place where i was born
i would sit and watch the farmhands bring in the tobacco and the corn
up on the roof on an eastern summer’s day
i would sit and watch the clouds as they would slowly drift away ................

this old house
i’d love to see you once again
if only time and health would allow me
i would surely hop a plane
for this old house
before my eyes grow dim
i’d like to back and see the house where i was born

the place where we all ate and slept
where grandma brought me into this world
it seems like it’s so long ago
my friends were still alive
there were people
who knew me
as a girl ........

she was eighty-eight when she died, and there was no one left who knew her as a girl ......

well .....

death is about as common as catshit, but i still hope to find some meaning or some kind of learning outcome from each one .... well, i do, you know; i really do .... and then the world of the living draws me back in and the lessons become ever smaller, like objects viewed through the wrong end of a telescope ....

still, i think about all the things people write songs about: love of this and love of that; boyfriends and girlfriends and love unrequited; loss and sadness; joy and happiness and booty shaking and an infinite spectrum of topics ....

but breath?

i can't think of anyone who's written a song about breathing ....

and oh!

to be without it ......

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
PETER KAUKONEN, San Francisco Bay Area guitarist, has played, toured, and recorded with Black Kangaroo, Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship, and Johnny Winter.

2 Comments

Steve shaw says:

Hello good doctor, I am so sorry for the loss of your friend. This truly is a time for remembrances of those we cherish and long to see again. I had a friend who on our last time together told me as his wife brought up their month old daughter into the apt "Steve, I really love you man" I told him I did him as well. It was an awkward moment to be sure. A few weeks later the blizzard of Jan 79 hit and he died in an accident. I am glad I had the chance to tell him how much he meant to me. I have always wondered how he knew it would be the time to say goodbye. I am glad he did. I cherish it. A turkish phrase comes to mind, hope I don't butcher it too badly "Getchmis Olsun' May it pass quickly.......graybeard

Submitted by Steve shaw on Wed, 07/16/2014 - 11:16
Nick aka "Enfield" says:

That's the ticket Doc! I worry about you when there are long gaps between your foam at the mouth, rightiously indignant and venom filled editorials. It just aint like you not wanting to bite the head off the nearest Repug.

You are quite right about the beathing bit. Breathing is a good deal even here in Iowa. Just stay upwind of the stockyards though.

Enfield

Submitted by Nick aka "Enfield" on Wed, 07/16/2014 - 11:16

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