Night anthems of a ghoul


…or what was intended to be a tribute to the great Veva Purvious, who recently announced her impending departure from my law firm. Eyes on stalks and Mini-me in tow, she is making her way to the door, has very nearly now passed through the door, even as I put down a few remarks here.

This is not a tribute to the great Veva Purvious – not anymore, as anyone can see, as you can see – because in truth, it is completely beyond me now to write on a predetermined topic. Anything at all. Like the time I set off on writing about a business meeting of some import and it came out a musing on the size of a woman’s face.

It just gets away from me, somehow.

If it were in me to be a writer, really, a writer, staying on topic, well, that’s a must. Also it could be helpful, I believe, for me to know colors, and plants, and architecture. Extremely important in the way of descriptions, I am told, if you read them. Do you read descriptions, I wonder? Elmore Leonard, who was a writer, gave some advice for other writers, and he said, “Leave out the parts that readers tend to skip.”

I tried to read a Thomas Hardy novel once, a long time ago, I don’t remember why. I know it was called The Return of the Native. The first three pages of The Return of the Native were nothing but words about a landscape. An intricate description of, I guess, shadows and shades and of the subtle shapes of the various leaves. I thought to myself – and what a line that is, because who else would I think to? – “I probably won’t be finishing Thomas Hardy’s The Return of the Native.”

And I did not. Finish it, I mean. Because all of Thomas Hardy’s novel was parts I tend to skip.

What’s left, then? Honesty. Certainly, honesty. If not colors and not plants and not architecture, then at least honest emotion. Fearless and unblinking feeling. But here again, as with staying on topic and with descriptions of the various sorts, when it comes to honoring the great Veva Purvious, I find myself lost. A complete failure.

It is not for the reasons you’d think.

It is not that I lack the bravery. It is not, I believe, that I fear looking foolish when in fact I am nothing but looking foolish at each turn, practically all of the time. Rather, when it comes to the great Veva Purvious, my honesty collapses only out of a stubborn refusal to embarrass her in the unlikely event this blog ever somehow comes to light.

Tonight, on the eve of her departure from my firm and, let us be honest, likely from the rest and residue of my life, I will say this. I do say this:

Veva Purvious, it is not too much a thing to say you saved my life. When you texted me that night. When you sang Radiohead’s “Lucky” at the top of your lungs all the way driving me to work. When you inexplicably came ‘round to my house in order to roll loose change. When you wrote in your journals each morning just to tear them into tiny pieces each afternoon. When you used the word “pussy” in a joke to a roomful of old ladies, I stepped back from a not-too-metaphorical ledge. You are a force of nature, a paradox, and also you saved my life. To Hell with the rest of them, they are who they will always be, and to Hell with your own self-doubt – go ahead and wear the damn brown suit. 

Honesty is exhausting. 


Comments

  1. Replies
    1. I've done pretty well with using actual events and emotions in recent posts. The one dealing with Shane, the one where I flipped out on a co-worker, the one involving my dad. It's a whole new sort of writing for me.

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  2. Sounds like a good colleague and very dear friend. If she read that paragraph about her, it'd probably be "what anyone could've done". But she actually did.

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    1. Veva is pretty great and can change your life with her personality alone. It feels like a loss, having her leave.

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  3. Speaking of descriptions of plants... as well as other formations in nature, I felt the same way about "The Lord of the Rings.". I didn't like it one bit, but I trudged through it, stopping to look up another boring word that was just another description of , say, a plant on top of two logs. I would have stopped reading it, but I somehow felt that it was important for me to finish it since most everyone I knew ranted over what a wonderful book it was. It was crap.

    The Radiohead song is pretty trippy. I liked it.

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    1. It's from Radiohead's "OK Computer," which is the only album by Radiohead I like. I believe Veva knew the song because it's on the soundtrack to some show... "6 Feet Under," maybe?

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  4. A wonderful tribute. Also too, staying on topic is overrated.

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    1. Thanks. I tend to try and keep my posts neat and on point, but a lot of my favorite bloggers make no such attempt and their stuff is great.

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  5. "I thought to myself – and what a line that is, because who else would I think to? – “I probably won’t be finishing Thomas Hardy’s The Return of the Native.” "

    You could have thought it to Veva Purvois. Because she's apparently telepathic?

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    1. Veva is the one person in my offline, daily life who knows about this blog. I don't know that she's read this post, but I suspect she probably eventually will. The fact that i have a partial photo of her on it would tend to get her attention, i suspect...

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  6. I can usually make myself read the things I have convinced myself I should read, so long as I can stay awake for it, but when I was in High School I was assigned to read "Anna Karenina" in a European Novel class, and I got to a description of a wagon slogging through a muddy track, and it killed me. I couldn't do it. I tried six or seven times to read it, using strategies like starting five pages before the scene and trying to get up enough momentum to power through it, but nope. Never finished the book, got the only bad grade in an English class I ever got.
    I imagine I could read it now, if I decided I wanted to, but I can't muster any enthusiasm for it.
    My friend Robert tells me there must be something lost in the translation, and my friend Mark says that suffering is the entire point of Russian novels, but I have it down to a personal failing: I didn't like the book.
    But what of the eyes on stalks? Leave it to me to be curious about the eyes on stalks.

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    1. I wish there was a deep reason for the "eyes on stalks" line, and I can think of one if pressed here.

      Sometimes, when I'm writing posts that are a little hazy in the topic department, I use phrases I've been collecting in a notebook. This time out, I had the title (which I got from a Michael Cisco novel) and the random phrase "eye stalks."

      If I were a real artist, I'd say that it has to do either with the fact that she has some issue with one of her optic nerves (which she does) or that she embarrasses everyone so badly with her off-handed remarks that everyone around her is usually big-eyed in shock when she's around (also true).

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  7. One can't help but admire a person who shocks an entire room with a joke about cats. Really. ;) And, of course, there is the singing... that is magic, every time.

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    1. Making me uncomfortable in publlic is her super power.

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  8. Thomas Hardy, Herman Melville ... skip it!

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    1. Haha. I've never read "Moby Dick" and it's always been on my bucket list, but so many people I've known have complained about it that I suspect I'll never get around to it now.

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  9. Veva Purvious sounds like a good egg and I can see why you are going to miss her. Glad she was there for you when you needed someone.

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    1. Me too, Mr. Shife. There just aren't many people who I look forward to being around and who make things better.

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    1. She texted me a little while ago after reading it (I don't know why she didn't just comment) and said something like "The post started off confusing but pulled it together in the end."

      Which pretty well describes everything I do as well as anything does.

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  11. The problem with leaving out the things people skip is that we all skip different things, therefore, the page would be blank. Much like my mind. Leave nothing out...cram it all in there.....something for everyone I say. Best of luck to Veva as she journies on.

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    1. I go back and read my blog posts from 10 years ago and they seemed very crammed with words. Or at least maybe too many ideas. Maybe now I just have fewer ideas. I hope I get around to everything eventually.

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  12. Its great u have a best friend in her craze.I missed ur blog for a long time,Sorry.I love this post as it evokes soft,pleasant feelings in my mind though i dont believe in best friend anymore,atleast not to me.

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    1. Hey there, Arun! Good to see you around again. I don't know that I have a best friend, or anyone of that type. It sort of feels to me as though everyone is along in their own head. There are people who we can spend time with, and good time, but we're basically alone.

      That might be too simplistic, but it's how I operate, and I'm generally fine.

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  13. Staying on topic is highly overrated. I tend to skip those parts.

    Kidding aside, I recently read an entire series of popular YA books in a single day, simply because I noticed a pattern: the author inserts walls of useless description, followed by chunks of dialogue that actually further the story. So I read nothing but the dialogue and completely understood the entire story. I had no confusion at any point, despite sometimes skipping entire pages. Maybe someone should send him an Elmore Leonard book.

    This is a great tribute to Veva. She's a far better person than I. Not that that takes much, mind you, but she does sound pretty awesome.

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    1. My writing gets a little top-heavy from time to time and when it does, I go back and read Kurt Vonnegut or else a children's book, none of which is too heavy on description, and it tends to make me write more sparsely.

      I have a hard enough time getting people to read my stuff - I don't want to give them other excuses. Your YA author situation would be a nightmare to me.

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  14. I love this! A beautiful tribute Harry!

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    1. Thank you. Veva read it and seemed to like it, too. I'm not able to say nice things to people very easily very often, so this is a big step, haha...

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  15. Yep. Honesty is exhausting. So is dishonesty. And I don't have time for the bleeding landscapes, especially in the hands of Thomas Hardy, whom I consider a rank misogynist. I prefer leaves that hold some emotional content. Like the ones that flash by too fast and mean that you've just stepped off the deep end again while trying to drive.

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    1. Someday, I'm going to really work on adding more descriptive color to my writing. I do it here and there, but it still needs a lot of work. Your approach seems reasonable - no descriptions for descriptions' sake but rather descriptions that further emotional content. I'll work on it.

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  16. Sometimes for me the parts readers skip are the parts that draw me in most. It's a rare writer who does that, but I figure they must think like I do. I tend to get sidetracked a lot.

    Lee
    Tossing It Out

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    1. I know that at least as regards musicians, there are a few who, when their work became more focused, seemed to lose something for me. Sometimes the random decorations are the good part.

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  17. Have a nice weekend, Harry Hamid.

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    1. Thank you, Mr. Shife. It's been kind of a mixed bag so far, but if I can manage to write today, then I'll consider it a success.

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