I know what my biggest fear is. You ask anybody that (if you're lame, you'll ask them on your first date with your "I don't beat around the bush" face on), and they will think for a minute, and then describe something tangible: spiders, black dogs, plane crashes, Goldie Hawn... I disagree with these answers. I think fear should be measured by the damage it does to your life, long term. Like, when I'm watching an M. Night Shamalamama movie and suddenly--- no wait, I'd rather stir fry my own feces than watch another one of his holey Twilight Zone ripoffs ---Ok, it's like when I see that scene in Peewee's Big Adventure where Large Marge's face gets all bug-eyed and clay-like. My breath hitches, I jump up a bit, maybe even urinate briefly, but overall the scene ends, Peewee bar-top dances to Tequila, and life continues... after maybe a few weeks of nightmares, it's forgotten. I don't believe there's any serious, life-shortening damage - no more than a fleeting moment of happiness (say when I find out that one of my chocolate-covered bananas had survived a fall to the sticky kitchen floor) makes you live longer.
To me, true fear is able to affect your life path. I think you know fear when you're in the front lines of a real-life war (like Iraq! :) ). I think you know it when your girlfriend is coming home later and later. I think you know it when you run guns in Haiti. I think you know it when you've worked at a major label all your life, and suddenly Napster happens. It's a gut thing, it's cancerous, and you can only put a name to it when the room is entirely empty except for you and it and you're sludging about like Arnie's mom when you know you weigh only 140 lbs soaking wet.
More than death, more than love, more than financial success, more than Clint Howard, the fear that has eaten away at me since I was 15 is the fear that I'll be a bad father. Yes, it sounds kind of like something Alan Alda would say in a made-for-TV movie, but it's true. Fact is, I am not happy with the performance my father gave. I find it decidedly insufficient [he's making efforts now, sort of, and I'm trying to understand him better and why things went the way they went and I think that I haven't given him much credit for what he's been through, but then I don't really know what he'd been through 'cause he's never expressed it]. But truthfully, I don't know many people these days who are happy with their father's track record. And I have to admit that I have a genetic makeup that would facilitate patriarchal failure: I have tunnel vision when it comes to making music. I can forget to eat for an entire day if I'm pushing a song in the right direction. I could forget to pick up my girl at work if I'm excited about a drum track (that's hypothetical - I would never offer to pick my girl up from work). There is an intense selfishness in the creative process of writing music. [I've always felt like people will call you "selfish" if you aren't successful---in the traditional sense of the word, not the spiritual sense---and "self-assured" if you are. People's perception of whether that selfishness has a negative or a positive connotation is entirely determined by how much money it makes you. Either way, it is that selfishness that allows me to create as much as I do, for better or for worse]
Lately, Lu(cifer) has gotten into the habit of reminding me to take him out - he walks up, noses my thigh, then jumps on my lap, all 66.6 lbs of him. I've never forgotten to feed him, and I'm not saying I would forget to feed a more hairless offspring, I'm just saying I'm terrified that I could end up as that guy in the movie who misses his son's big game and the wife keeps saying, "now you're not just letting me down, you're letting down YOUR SON!" and he's working on a serum to stop cirrhosis or something and in the last scene when he's receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, his son is for some reason smiling and clapping, maybe from all the meth he's on, and the overall message is "S'all good!" But I know it's not. Even if they do discover that my music cures cirrhosis, I don't wanna live my life waiting for my kid to eventually forgive me, population-saving lifework or not. I'm determined to improve my DNA. Sometimes I think that this is why I'm turning all these albums out at breakneck rate: I'm trying to clear my creative calendar so that I can put my all into a daughter's Halloween costume. I don't know if I should give myself the option of parenting and writing hits, because the two won't like each other, I think (Will Smith is perfect proof of this). Eh, maybe everything would be fine, and I would just raise my own Castleton 5 or something... The point is, I fear it. I know I do, and I'm lucky to be able to put a name on it. But it is a scary cloud to carry.
And today, folks, these fears in me and of me were justified. I saw the potential failure I'm working so hard to avoid - I will be a bad parent. How do I know? Because this happened:
Today, while Lumas and I watched our doorway swallowed whole by our ladybug friends, one landed on his nose. A LADYBUG LANDED ON LUMAS' NOSE, HIS EYES CROSSED, AND THINGS STAYED THAT WAY FOR WELL OVER 30 SECONDS! I ask you, if our brave new world of cross-media gadgetry, built precept upon consolidating precept in order to answer the increasingly immediate needs of our collective narcissism, exists for any reason, is it not to capture this all-too-CGI moment of reality? Read it again: A LADYBUG LANDED ON LU'S NOSE, AND HIS EYES CROSSED. HE DIDN'T EVEN TRY TO WORK HIS TONGUE TOWARDS IT. THEY HAD A CROSS-SPECIES TEA PARTY ON HIS SNOOT, AND I DIDN'T HAVE A SINGLE CAMERA THING WITHIN REACH!!
Now, If that's not providing for your child, I don't know what is. And people, today, I failed him. I failed him, you, myself, and the good people at Walt Disney. And I failed this blog.
There was a 34 year old woman living next door with her boyfriend. She had terminal cancer, and it was very visible. She loved horror movies, chain smoked, talked about Johnny Depp and how much she loved her cats. One night we were sitting on the porch, talking about both subjects and I asked the obvious question (facetiously), "What would you do if Johnny Depp came over and threw your cat against the television set?"
She was noticeably put off by the question but answered that she would get postal on JD. The next morning I got a call from her at 7am asking me to return their Mission Impossible 3 DVD right away. "Just leave it in the doorway." Things got weird, and I sort of pulled away from interaction with them after that. She never ever went outside, so we didn't really see each other for months. A Few weeks ago, the lawn that her boyfriend always kept well manicured began to get jungly. Their tent/car port thing blew over and nobody uprighted it for a week. A few days later, he came over to tell us she'd died. His face was a warzone - so much hurt and yet this whole blossoming relief thing. It was strange and beautiful. He'd loved her so much and so well that he'd spent every minute of the last two years taking care of her and placating her and getting her every Johnny Depp collectible possible on ebay. Their house had become an air-conditioned cave, he'd lost all his friends, he was anesthetizing every day with the product from his parents' vineyard. They spent their nights regulating the pets' calorie intake.
She hated chemo, had given up 6 months ago, and if he loved her, he had to let her do it. How do you watch someone give up on life in front of you? How do you handle knowing you are not enough of a reason for them to try to live longer? I'm not blaming her, I'm saying - if that situation was in my life, I don't know that I could bear it. This guy is the strongest person I've ever met. His name is Al, and his knowledge of fear makes mine look... like that of a college student?
And the reason I mention her at all is because the ladybugs showed up the day after she died. And I'm not saying that they are her, I'm just strongly suggesting it. And maybe I'm trying to be gentle with them because I should've been more gentle on that night when I pushed her two worlds together.
Our tiny fleet has been multiplying rapidly. They now arrive around noon in the hundreds. They leave promptly at 5:30. We only realized it today, because we checked the clock when we saw they were gone. I don't know quite how they get in or out, but I have in my head an image that I can't shake until I see for myself that it's only my imagination (I will know tomorrow at 5:30):
Do they exit out of their prospective entrances in single file? Do they indeed have tiny insect briefcases and punch tiny time cards? How else could they be so punctual and efficient? Where do they have to be at 5:30? Are they making house calls? Have any of them ever got the nerve up to joke, "Ladies first!" while holding the door for the next?
It is precisely this mass exodus that keeps Lu and I calm when they're swarming. They've infiltrated the bedroom, the studio, the kitchen, the bathroom, and the vestibule. I'm kidding, we don't have a vestibule - who do I look like, Daddy Warbucks?
We are trying to be accommodating, but today I found one in my pants and I really feel like that's my personal space.
This morning I saved 19 from a showery grave. I lost four, and had to cut my shower short because they refused to recognize the peril of the drain. Even with my helping toes angling them towards higher ground, they insisted on turning completely around and marching towards their death. This was my Schindler's List of Beetles, my Atlas Complex at it's greatest: "if I could've saved just one more..." I'm surprised how much it upsets me, but then when you live virtually alone you start to value every guest like they're your last.
Speaking of living virtually alone, my roommate, who fits the profile of a serial killer, has moved out. For the last two months he was coming home less and less, until he would only be here 2 or 3 times a week, and usually from 3am to 7am. He slept only on the couch, never on his bed. He never mentioned moving out, I only heard about it from the landlord, who said that my roommate was having financial issues and would have to leave. Even the night before he left, he didn't mention anything, just talked about the Red Sox. I heard him loading stuff out until 11 this morning. Now, we've never had a tense word between us. I know that he probably thinks I'm a homosexual due to my complete lack of interest in the Red Sox and barbeque, but I honestly don't think he has any ill will towards me. That being said, I find it strange that he never said goodbye, just left his key on the counter. It's not me, right? That is abnormal... right?