Saturday, December 29, 2007

On The Big Sur Route

The first day of the mission is under my belt. It felt very lonely, I must admit. Toward the end of State Highway 46, I was hit by an urge to pull over, much in the same sudden way that I would be told to stop someplace when Marcie was driving with me. This, a few miles from the southern end of Big Sur, was what I saw, a panorama from Morro Bay northward:

I did not get as much time in Big Sur as I wanted which means I will pass back through on the way home. I did get a few good snaps, though.

The Elephant Seals! Jane told me to stop and check them out, and I am glad I did. The first thing I saw was the wee babies. This little guy hammed it up for the camera:
Is he flipping me off?

This momma has her hands full. Four of the fat little pinniped burritolings to feed! And yet, fat they were. One of them has already been nibbled on, though, and lays on his side to keep pressure off the wound. He'll be okay. Or, sadly, he'll be lunch. I'll try to check in on him on the way home:

Speaking of lunch, the family bull was about to he handed his but he seemed to ward off the three suitors who came calling for mom. Some of my shots were too blurry, but here is one high-drama moment as two bulls square off. The big one is the daddy:

Daddy swings his head down and knocks back the interloper, who subsequently leaves:

Now, I try not to bother marine mammals, but when they call me out to challenge me, I admit I stop and take pictures while I talk back to them. Is that a felony? Probably is... but it makes for good candids:

Yes, those last two were sunsets. I have more scenshots, which I will post when I am not at a location with crap connectivty.

Night, Folks.


Thursday, December 27, 2007

A note and then Note #3

Hi Folks,

I will share with you about my dreams when I finish the notes. This is the last of them, but it lets you in one where we were in our relationship in that summer fugue of 2004. Sent just before my return, Marcie alludes to our passion and our bliss. I was almost done at school and was more than ready for home and wife.

I think it's safe to say that everything she wrote here, in 2004, translates to now, 2007. Considering my dreams, the picture certainly does convey and her words as well. I miss all those things about her, too. Again.

Night, folks.


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A special treat on Christmas Eve

Christmas was a big holiday for Marcie. Every year, she plotted and planned with her family and her friends to get together the perfect bundle of thoughtful gifts for her loved ones. She started the day after Christmas each year and bought little bits throughout the year, collecting little perfect thoughts that would count for the next December.

So, it has been difficult, missing and remembering how we would spend the few days of peace before the big day and how we would savor the extra time off with drives and little trips or dates. I was thinking of what Marcie and I would have done this year when I went to bed Christmas Eve.

I generally find I am awake and aware of my surroundings when I am in the first stage of sleep or falling into it. As I nodded off in the front room a bit after midnight Christmas morning, I could feel Seamus' fur under my hand as he laid in his little wool bed.

I thought of how Marcie and I, after a good night and while we were in bed pillow-talking, would sometimes end up with Seamus between us, being petted into a stuporous overload of pleasure before wandering, staggering, down the bed and onto one or the other of our feet. I enjoyed the memory and almost caught a whiff of her as I did, deciding it was a pleasant dream effect, even if I was somewhat still awake.

I progressed toward dreamland wakeful in my mind. I felt her hand on mine as I drifted on the lake at the edge of the waking world and felt myself begin to flow down into deeper sleep. But there was something less phantasmal to me which diverted me and as the gentle down slope became a free fall, I startled out of my sleep.

I kept my eyes shut, moving my hand a bit and making sure my other hand was not the cause of the odd feeling of having a hand laid over mine, but it was behind me as I laid on my side, under me, really. I stroked gently at Seamus's fur to see if I had startled him. I hadn't but he groggily motored his purr a bit to signal he was aware of my touch in his slumber.

I waited for the odd sensation of the hand on mine to pass. It didn't at first, so I moved my hand and shook it. It seemed to go away. "It must have been my blood circulating a certain way," I thought. "Maybe it's related to parasomnias or dyssomnias."

I gulped sadly a little after I opened my eyes and saw no visage, not a presence. Just the cold contours of the couch in the front room, beyond Seamus, under my hand in his little wool bed, and nothing more. I sighed and whispered my love for Marcie and settled back in.

I was not asleep when the sensation returned, and I did not move my hand except to pet Seamus. I seemed to feel a little pressure, but I just let myself fall asleep, keeping Marcie and my memories of her favorite season foremost in my mind.

My dreams were extraordinary.

There were seven of them, and I am at a loss of where to begin. I am writing them down. Be it wish fulfillment, my grieving process operating at the near-unconscious, or simple but extraordinary dreaming, her presence was very strong.

My dreams seemed themed, and touched on the thoughtfulness, preparation, generosity, love, enterprise, passion and wisdom Marcie expressed through this special season in her life. They were my Christmas gifts, and I will be proud to share them... Soon.

Thank you, Marcie, if not directly for the dreams and the sensation of my hand being held, then for the memories which shaped them. I love you.


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

I am missing Marcie more than ever this morning, of course. Christmas was a favorite time for her, save for the obligations to be social with either throngs of people (my family) or to sit "in audience" whilst certain characters held court and regaled us with tales of the wondrous "before" (hers). But we managed to enjoy every one of the ones we had together, thank you.

Here's hoping that the tales you listen to are gifts themselves, that the throngs bring you a festive spirit, and that the day and its activities go by at the pace you would most prefer it to. Merry Christmas, folks.


Sunday, December 23, 2007

Letters from Marcie: Note #2

Here's the second of the series she sent me. I am still looking for some of the letters i sent back, but they may be among the many missing letters and her journals still lost. I have not been able to make myself open every box...

That first week, after I got her initial letter, I wrote Marcie about seeing old pals, getting my studies wired and on wheels and just the natural beauty of the place. I had a deer for my neighbor in the dorms and somewhere I still have images of her. I had also called every few nights and was leaving messages between classes with my phone card.

It felt as if I were back in the Navy in some ways, but without the 6-months-or-more madness a cruise means. But the analogy falls apart at most unpleasant points, like hot racks (having to sleep in a rack someone else just left), steam-or-ice-or-both showers, constant loud noise and a plethora of retarded shenanigans going on all around oneself. Furthermore, there was a phone available at less than the price of a whole paycheck and an ass-kissing session with the ship communications sleazeballs.

My roommate, and his girlfriend, by the way, always sat and waited for me to share these notes and the longer letters, and I was proud to. Of course, that meant roommate demanded notes from his love, too, despite their proximity.

There was much mirth in that dorm because of Marcie. People who never met her loved her. The phenomenon continues. Someone told me that her personality comes out in what I write and they love Marcie's spirit. I'm glad I am expressing her well enough to show that part of her. She was my doting spitfire.

At any rate, this one was just a little pick-me-up note from my baby with yet another cute cat scene... it's nice. The letter is somewhere else:

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Note #1- Letters from Marcie

Here is one of the notes I wrote about in this week's earlier, heavier post. It relays some of the love, as do all of them. More importantly, it illustrates the kind of wife and lover Marcie was, romantically speaking. Perhaps most importantly, her notes, letters and communications always told me what was on her heart, not just her mind.

The picture she sent me is the one of her in the green tank top at City College, viewable in the memorial book gallery widget/slideshow. She had not changed much at all, and I told her so. So beautiful...

Seamus was always sensitive to missing people in his life, and he still has a very good memory for people he has liked. He is quick to get close with long-absent pals and slow to take in unknowns. When Marcie or I would leave for extended periods, he would take up the habit of sleeping in the front kitchen window, overlooking the driveway all day and night for a few weeks. This was one of those periods, as she mentions.

Please enjoy. Reading these lately has made me feel at once both very loved and very forlorn.

I know she knows I love her, but I still have to declare it. God I love you, honey. I missed and miss you, too, and more all the time. I could use another note, too.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A little respite

A week from tomorrow I will take be on my way to San Francisco. My trip will meander up the 101 and the 1, including stops to see sights and take pictures of spots like this:

The above image is the lovely postcard I received from Jane today when I got home from work. Thank you, Jane. I love it, and I can't wait to pass through Morro Bay and Big Sur on the way up.

People are chipping in on this one and I want to thank them. Seamus will have a few caretakers. Dean and Joey and Tanya and Shawn have volunteered to watch him, pet him, love him and feed him while I am gone. I am glad I do not have to board my buddy. He's not one for the hospitality scene himself.

Walt and Lisa are at it again, reaching out and offering to share a good spot to stop at. A library of some sort. Lisa got a new gig (good job, Lisa!) and she's pretty busy, but she's very conscientious and loves to share her travel tips, be it Hawaii or little jaunts up the coast, which is nice.

My neighborhood has my back like I have theirs. When I am gone, my neighbor Bobby will be playing a cat backup role and general eye on the place while I am gone. The "dawg pound" will remain on patrol, too. "There'll be no perpetration" when I am absent, or so they tell me.

I'll talk about more specific plans and some back story closer to departure time. I just wanted to share the pretty postcard and clue people in on the plans. Thanks for all the support, folks.



Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A very special gift

Walt and Lisa Soto, our dear friends in San Clemente, told me about this gift, but I was so deep in my grief that it just kind of faded from my mind until the package arrived today. Treepeople is an organization which is helping nature heal our cities.

Now, Marcie will be a part of that effort. A grove has been donated and will be planted in her honor. I will attend a planting and, in my own mind, dedicate the trees I will later visit when I want to do something related to her memory.

Thank you so much, Walt and Lisa.

Much love,


There are others to thank. I will get to them as I can. Tomorow I will share my little cache of notes from my sweetie, dating back to my "second coming" to Humboldt, as she called it. G'night folks.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Tide's Turn

So this is the latter half of the story. NOT FAMILY FRIENDLY!

The Summer of Lust (2)

I first thought of how strongly connected Marcie and I were when I was up in Humboldt alone and relishing those phone calls and letters between my studies. I eventually figured it out to my satisfaction.

The key to making our lust last in our love was in drawing it out, but also in leaving the other one guessing as to who wanted the other one more. We treated lulls like opportunities, building anticipation up with teasing and flirting.

On a more animalistic level, we also both tried to be the most demanding, randiest in the relationship. Lust is a good drug, pastors, practicality and prudes be damned. It is also the only one that seems to get stronger the more you are exposed to it.

But more than all of that high-tension sexuality was the idea that we were a team, we were together, and we stood alone against everything and everyone we had to. We might have setbacks or misfortune, disagreements and uncertainty, but eventually we made it through.

And when it came to handling our opponents, there was a special connecting bond that saw us scheming to conquer or to thwart. Of course, it helped that, whether victory was assured or not, we'd have sex to celebrate its inevitability.

We only lost once.

Marcie was her usual amorous self when I returned from Humboldt State. We were in a good place in many ways. Except one. Seamus was sick. Wherever he went, he would lie on the ground and cough little, pathetic kitty coughs.

We tried everything to get him to feel better, and the veterinarian was stumped. When we were told that he would likely die, it dampened our mood. We worried but he ate, he drank, everything seemed fine save for a cough.

That the veterinarian tried to convince us he may have cancer was not terrible. But that she would not try asthma medication was. After an expensive set of scans and lots of gouging, she finally determined that he had asthma.

The vet got her money, we just had to do three heartbreaking months thinking of our cat as a dying cancer patient. In the mean time, Marcie and I were confronted with moving to a new home as our apartments converted into quite crappy condos.

Our lusty ways subsided for a while as we wrestled with the upcoming move, getting me a job which drew on my shiny "new" degree, and getting Seamus on his feet again. Nothing puts out the fires of lust like a coughing kitty climbing onto the bed.

But our latest sexual renaissance still smoldered nicely in the background. Then, in a new house and after things were on track, Marcie called me into the room. I was expecting a new lingerie set. She had stopped at the hosiery.

"Does this feel different to you?" she asked, looking very afraid as she gestured to her breast.

It did. There was no lump, just an overall firmness I did not remember from before, which was just a couple days earlier. I nodded.

"Honey, you may have an infection," I said. "Was there a lump before this?"

"No, honey," she said, sniffling and biting her lower lip. "I'm very scared."

And so we went to bed but we did not indulge in each other. Later, Marcie called Kaiser while I went to pick up Chinese food. We ate silently and held hands across the table.

Cancer was unthinkable. Marcie told me years earlier that she'd had a fibroma removed from her right breast in her twenties. It was quite a scare for her and the doctor had believed that she was looking at breast cancer. Marcie religiously checked her breasts.

The sexual side of our relationship slowed more that week as I awaited her appointment, which never seemed to come. When I finally asked her why, she told me Kaiser had put her off. I called them up and threatened massive mayhem. They saw her the next day.

The nurse practitioner who saw Marcie performed multiple small biopsies and told Marcie she would be in touch. Marcie was relieved that the practitioner suspected an infection.

Three days later, the phone rang as we tried our best to break our new king-size bed. We ignored it at first.

"Hello Marcie, this is your nurse practitioner at Kaiser," the voice said, not neutral. "Could you please call me at (619) 57..."

She did not have time to answer. Marcie ripped the receiver off the hook.

"Hello," she said, her hand on my chest as she sat back up, steadying herself on me. I held her hips and massaged them.

"Yes, I'm Marcie," she said, biting her lip afterward and listening. "It did? That was fast. what did it say?"

She dropped the phone and draped herself on me, her nose buried in my neck as she sobbed and shook. I heard a faint voice on the phone as I stroked her back now and tried to keep my composure, comfort her somehow.

"It's cancer, honey," she said. "Oh, my God, what are we going to do?"

"We're going to get you treatment," I said, noting the faint voice's apology as the receiver clicked. "We're going to get you fixed up."

I held her there for a long time and whispered my love in her ear, soothed her and stroked her magnificent body, her soft red hair and kissed her tears away. "We'll beat it, honey."

And for a while, it would certainly look as if I were right.

Notes from the Rising Tide

When discussing Marcie, I have been accused of being overly airy or romantic about our relationship by those who I can only consider must have far more concrete and firmly grounded ones in their own lives. That is not an indictment, but I am glad that Marcie and I had what we had.

Our relationship was, to me, always new and exciting, at once both comforting and familiar, yet unpredictable and volatile. I liked a little struggle, deciding in an argument whether to "win" a bitter victory or "suffer" a delicious defeat. Marcie did, too. It all worked out between the lines and the sheets.

But how does one relay that the strength and fire of a relationship over a decade old was not just my own take to the more jaded? By making everyone sick, of course. I know no way of doing that more adroitly than sharing Marcie's and my notes and letters.

I will save the cards and notes she sent me for another post. Instead, I will share an excerpt from my planned book. It's raw, but it's completely honest and puts across where we were and how we were feeling back then.

Not fit for family, folks.

The Summer of Lust (1)

The long days at The Learning Annex in the dark back room, and the ever quieter and increasingly demoralized office could not dampen my ardor for my wife. I blew out of the office every day and flew home.

She told me I was a menace, and I was and knew that to be so, but I could not get enough of Marcie that summer. I was wild, and she was gleefully willing. But Marcie had her limits, if not in principle.

"Look!" she demanded, motioning at the pile of sheets on the floor. "Look at this! Honey, this is ridiculous. I cannot do this much laundry every week. This is one week. One!"

She glared and kept her finger pointed down at the pile of sheets. Two sets in three days, and last week's to boot. I smiled, and I imagine impishly so. "Maybe we can try the floor again?"

No sooner had I asked than I was dodging the pillow she threw at me from the room.

"And that's ruined, too," she said. "Honey, that was a feather pillow, they're expensive. I don’t know why you shoved that under me. You don’t care, though! You just don’t think about these things."

Her eyes narrowed and she put her hands on her hips as she responded to me, a little frustrated, "Oh, the floor, huh? Yeah, so we can enjoy rug burns again? I don't think so. Maybe I'll just cut you off for a while."

She smiled and nodded her head, biting her lower lip. Her protests amused me. I read them as her way of saying, "You have been home 10 minutes. Why are you not all over me?"

I decided that what she needed was what caused the problem in the first place. “Cut me off?” I asked, standing up and slowly sauntering her way. “Cut me off and do what? Hmm?”

She squealed a little as I caught her around the waist when she turned to run into the room. She didn't put up a fight unless you count play wrestling. But she did make me do the laundry that night. It was worth it, all four loads of sheets.

They came and went, these long spells of satyriasis. And at the time, I needed the release, love and lust aside. I had made the mistake of not being attracted to a vain girl.

Having no desire for my rather snotty boss's hipless, assless, breastless and thoroughly unwomanly form offended her, I know. I took that to be her frustration speaking. It's hard to manipulate people who don't want the only thing you're good at selling.

But marital fidelity and indifference to a manipulative alpha bitch's charms had its price. There was grumbling and lying to my supervisor, who did not believe a word of what she said, but he still acted on her feelings. He was a besotted fool.

So, I was usually caged all day and separated from free air by the malice of the vapid bit of fluff in the front office and the dissolute nature of my also-married supervisor. Unless she was home playing sick, as she did about 40 percent of the time, I recall.

I was a menace to anything in Marcie’s social calendar that took place when she was not at work. This would be intolerable to Marcie, except this all involved the one thing she enjoyed even more than being organized and punctual.

Marcie and I were on a major roll in our relationship in 2004. I was working two jobs, but sometimes I had time off to relax and plan for graduate school, and I was taking an occasional course at San Diego City College.

I could tolerate the vain coworker’s borderline personality disorder gone wild, and I could cope with the hectic schedule. But I decided to make a move.

But when I applied for a graduate school slot in the UCSD Communications Ph.D. program, there was a problem. My Summa Cum Laude Journalism and Mass Communications degree from Humboldt was simply not there.

By way of a failed petition for credit, lack of proper documentation and changing general education requirements, I had graduated with a diploma that had no value.

“Honey, you need to go back and finish your degree,” Marcie said in the afterglow of yet another stress-relieving sheet wrecker.

“We can’t afford it,” I said. “I would have to stop working and enroll full-time, and then I would have to spend two semesters at state or UCSD getting enough units to graduate.”

“Honey,” she said, holding my hand under the sheets, “You need to just go back to Humboldt and take the two classes there, and turn in your portfolio. I am sure they will honor your credit from the transcripts if you petition.”

I put it on the back burner until cuts came down to the Learning Annex office. My boss initially chose to cut across the board, but after some wrangling, the bitch got her way. I
knew days before he told me. He had left the document on the public share on our server.

“I’m sorry, I have to lay you off,” he said.

“That’s okay,” I replied. “I have some prospects.”

Shortly after that, I received unemployment benefits. The vapid ex-boss almost boned herself by trying to claim I was fired, nearly committing perjury in the face of contrary documentation, before she backed down.

Marcie set me straight when I started to plan lots of regulatory and detail-oriented awfulness for the company. "Honey, they did not deserve to have you working there, and they treated you like shit. Let them eat shit."

The company tried to hire me back part-time, so I applied for and received underemployment. They eventually gave up, so I suddenly had time to finish my degree, and an income to do it with.

Marcie set me straight when I started to plan lots of regulatory and detail-oriented awfulness for the company. "Honey, they did not deserve to have you working there, and they treated you like shit. Let them eat shit."

Shortly after that, The Learning Annex signed Donald Trump for $1.5 million. "The Donald" lied about the value of the contract, hyping it, but his television show gave the company initial success.

After a year or so of selling Trump the Chump as a motivational speaker to real estate conventions, the bottom fell out of both the convention business and the real estate market. My former supervisor lost his job. The fluff is still there, older, more wrinkled.

I found out that my makeup would only take a single intersession summer “minisemester” to complete. I was enthused. But there was a problem. Marcie had hated Humboldt the first time, and she was not going to entertain seeing that place again as a vacation.

“I am not going to Humboldt with you!” she screamed, leaning forward, face red as her hair. “Jesus, you can’t handle five weeks away? You were in the Navy for Christ’s sake, what did you do then? Cry?”

“Well, I thought you could come up for a week or two and…”

“NO! No, I am not using my fucking vacation time to go hang out with the fucking hippies and those fucking redneck lumberjacks!” Marcie said. “Are you fucking crazy?”

So the plan was in place. I packed for a week, planning every minute and step along the way north for maximum efficiency. I also stocked up on Marcie.

When she came home from work, I had a little Marcie. Before the alarm went off, after the alarm went off “accidentally early,” and after her shower, I had a little more Marcie. And the morning before I left, at 4 a.m., I had a little more.

She saw me out, looking a little tired but happy as I kissed her goodbye. “Honey, I am glad you are getting this out of the way. Look at it this way, you’ll be able to move on,” she said.

Graduate school, a job in the media or perhaps in public relations, continuing on my work at the Annex, it all seemed pretty good, even if I had thought I was already set for that months before. “Okay, honey. I’ll miss you,” I said.

“Oh, I’ll miss you, but it will be nice to get some sleep,” she said. “You just call me when you feel it coming on, mister. I trust you.”

I smiled. Five weeks would pass slowly but make her very hot for me, I knew. The trip to Humboldt was finished before the sun set later that long summer day. I called her from
the motel pay phone to avoid the outrageous in-room fees.

“Honey, where are you?” she asked.

“Arcata,” I said.

“What? Really? You didn’t speed, did you?” she asked.

“No,” I replied. I hadn’t, but I also had only stopped three times, all for gas.

“Well, how was it? Was the drive nice?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” I said, spying the statue of McKinley in Arcata square through the trees as I looked down the block.

“Well, I love you,” she said.

“I love you, too,” I said. “Which is kind of why I called. Call me back, okay? I am in room 114 at the Days Inn, (707) 822-2036. Call me in like two minutes.”

And she did. I had just gotten comfortable and smiled as I answered the phone. “Now, you hussy,” I said. “Tell me what you’re wearing.”

And so the madness continued for five weeks in absentia, with lust on the phone at night and classes by day. I moved to the dorms, wearing long coats and memorizing her dirty telephone tales before slipping into my room, keeping the home fires burning.

But all was not lust. I got to experience a little taste of long-distance love from my baby, in the form of a long exchange of letters and notes via email. What we did not exhaust in our titillating tête-à-tête conversations came out there. It was a time of joy.

More from this little excerpt tomorrow and the notes themselves by Wednesday... or Thursday.


Monday, December 17, 2007

To my anonymous benefactors

What a sweet and wonderful holiday gift. I put up the donation links on my page after I began to explore how to raise funds for my trip to honor Marcie. You have been very kind, and I did not even know it. I received this message in my email today:

Dear frank.pruett(at),

Greetings from the Amazon Honor System.

We wanted to let you know that we have initiated transfer of the
balance of your Amazon Honor System account to your checking account.
It may take your bank several business days to record the transfer.


Here is the receipt for the transfer:
Date: 17-Dec-2007
Amount: $120.47
Last 5 Digits: 27179

There were several transactions, two of $50. Thank you very much. I know that you likely chose not to reveal your names to me, as it would otherwise send me an email with contact informations, but if you did not choose to do this, let me know who you are so I can thank you in private.

We both thank you. I am deeply touched.


Sunday, December 16, 2007

About the notes

The notes I found yesterday are very sweet and come from a time right before Marcie fell ill. If there are any relics which illustrate the bliss we were experiencing at that time, these are they. For now, I am cherishing them. Additionally, I am having some tech issues wit the system and need to just not post tonight. I promise what I eventually post will be worth the wait. Thanks for understanding, folks.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Some More Notes And Memories

So today I was cleaning out the older car for its sale to my sister when I stumbled across my briefcase. Inside were some letters from my revisit to Humboldt State in 2004. Total treasure. I will share some of those times tomorrow.


Friday, December 14, 2007

Social Insecurity with The Bureauman

So, I finally made it down to Social Security today. I have to admit that it was much, much harder than it seemed to be when I set the appointment. I had it set in my mind:

Social Security employee hears I have arrived
Social Security employee invites me in
Social Security employee accepts documents in pile
Social Security business done.

But we all know things that are sad are never quickly dispensed with. No, we are forced to linger over the minutest details in an excruciatingly slow, deliberate process, then wait. So how did the process go?

I checked in at a computer which found my appointment. A receipt printed with a random-looking set of numbers on it. I waited about 15 minutes. The wails of a mentally disturbed man gave a depressing audio backdrop to the pained and sad conversations around me.

"Well, we didn't know we had to apply then, we thought we had to wait until we were homeless..." a woman said to a bored-looking woman in a leopard-print jacket.

"I did buy Medi-gap coverage, and they were supposed to help me with hospitalization," an elderly man rasped ever more loudly to a sympathetic African American man. "I can't pay $15,000 on social security for that bill, and they say they are going to use my check for the next five years. I'll starve! Hell in a handbasket! Hell!"

"His daddy got me 'pregnit,' but he got blasted in LA," one very pregnant Latina told a very Wonder-bread looking intake guy. "I'm supposed to get some money for when he gets born, right?"

I want to correct her, since her boyfriend has been "blasted" and I can't stand ignorance anyway, but I keep my mouth shut. She's suffered to some degree, and she needs all the self-esteem she has.

"Francis Pruett," a voice from an open door calls. "Pruett?"

Finally. I handed the man my papers as I walked up.

"Just hold onto all of that, we'll get to it," he said.

I do and follow him into the maze of cubicles with identical desks, identical computers, identical plastic furniture, identically lacking in personal items, identically sterile, identically institutional, identically empty, identically oriented workspaces. Still, it takes him a long time to find the "right" one for us to sit at, which he motions to.

"Well, Mr. Pruett, first of all, Social Security wants to express to you our sincere condolences on your loss," he says, logging into the workstation with no eye contact whatsoever. "We know this is a difficult time for you, and we appreciate you reporting your loss to us."

I started to ask him a question and he interrupted me.

"We are going to fill your application out and then I will have you certify under penalty
of perjury that all of your answers are correct after you review it," he said, looking at me as if I had planned to lie, suspicion and derision in his gaze.

I nodded.

"May I see a picture ID, please?" he asked.

I showed him my license... he nodded and tapped into his computer as if his first ruse had failed him. "Damn! He has ID!" he must have thought.

"May I see the death certificate?" he asked.

I gave it to him, then my birth certificate, hers, our marriage certificate, which conspired to choke me up. Then, a copy of her memorial book fell out and I reach down... the whole pile of things I carry with her paperwork hits the floor, old pictures, her degree.

I thought to myself "I just spilled my Marcie." I gathered her up silently. The stuff had spread far and wide. There is no help from Bureaman, though. Just his impatient silence.

"Did you live with the deceased when she passed away?" he queried, staring angrily, defiantly at his screen.

"I took care of her to the last minute," I said.

He huffs and moves his head a little. "Did you live with the deceased when she passed away?" he repeated, his hands poised to clack at his keybord.

"Yes," I said. I wanted to add, "Yes, I lived with her as she died, I lived with her as she lived, I lived with her for a few hours when she was dead and I lived with her around fuckers like you who I would rather not let fucking live you fucking nitwit."

I didn't.

"Did you ever apply for Social Security benefits? Did she ever apply for benefits? Oh, I see she had disability benefits. Did she ever serve in the military? Work overseas? Work for the railroads? Work for the federal government?"

Yes, no dice, but they made me work, I wasn't crazy enough yet. Yes, that's what she... No. No. No. No. No, she had a soul.

"When did she become eligible to receive benefits?" he asked.

"I don't know," I respond. "It was a while ago."

"I see," he said, tapping loudly, frustrated that he has to look it up. "She became eligible in 2005. She worked one year on disability and made $13,000."

Wow. Bureaman can do his own homework. Good for him.

"I am going to print out a copy of your application. After you review it, we'll certify it," he said, getting up. He walked a few feet away and snatched each piece as it printed.

I scan the paper slowly and read the details. I notice him drumming his finger and not looking at me.

I nod and had it back over. "It looks OK," I said.

"Good," he said, whipping the paper around and into a folder which he snapped shut as he stood abruptly.

I stood as well but he had already turned and walked to the door, which he opened well before I got there. I took my time walking to it, noting him getting frustrated.

"It will be thirty days or so before your check arrives," he said. "Maybe faster."

Thanks for the $255, USA. Mighty white of you.

Fuck you, Bureauman.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Bah, Humbug!

So, today was a big day at work. We had our annual Christmas Luncheon, which I enjoyed for the most part. Beef, Chicken, Fish... I took a little of all of them, despite my move toward less meat and more veggies. I was not in the best of moods, though.

I could not help but think about how, in the past, I would have maybe had Marcie there to show off. It was one of my favorite things, as childish and selfish as it was. Once in a blue moon, Marcie would bother to go to one of my work events and knock everyones' socks off. It always bought me a little breathing room, and more than a little respect afterward, mostly because of how we were together.

There was no dance floor anyways. I did mention that they should have one next year, if only for the sake of having one for people to use, as people could bring their significant others. But really, there would have been no point for it by me this year.

I won't be doing public things like that for a while, I've decided. *Sigh*

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Messages Out of Time

"Did you find it yet?" she asked, smiling as she flipped through her New Yorker, watching me carefully as I ate my breakfast of omelettes and hash browns. "It's in your wallet someplace."

I looked up at her mischievous smile. Marcie was ever aversive with her pretty eyes when she was being bashful or playful, and always embarrassed at my tendency to look her up and down, drink her in a bit. Even now.

"Not yet," I said. "But I don't want it to be something I dig out, I want it to be something I find."

She shrugged me off "Okay, if that's what you want." It was genuine, it was her. "It will be a surprise when you least expect it. That is, if you forget about it. Look at this."

She showed me a small cartoon in typical New Yorker style featured two men speaking in front of a gigantic television and home theater system. A baby sat wearing headphones in the middle of the screen. The caption read "We're past Baby Einstein. We're on to Baby Bruckheimer."

And the issue of her love note was forgotten for the moment, buried mirth, then in busy days and nights. My wallet grew and was culled repeatedly, her note remaining undiscovered within.

When autumn brought the pain of her resurgent, insistent disease and we ventured out to Julian for a break from the pain, she asked again, "Have you found it?" I knew instantly what she meant as we laid together amidst crickets and owls and dark.

"No, baby," I said. "I haven't looked. It will come up when it wants to, or when I need it."

"I know, honey," she said, settling in and pushing back into me a bit.

And as I cuddled behind her in our little bed and breakfast and stroked her, I was quiet, and so was she. It had been a long day and her energy had waned quickly at the end.

After some time, when I thought her regular breath meant she was asleep, I could not hold in my tears. I let them roll down my eyes but did not sniffle or moan.

"It's okay," she said, groggily, half-asleep. "You'll find it, honey."

And then she slept, and the note was forgotten again, for a little while, at least. And then the world burned around us, and we both struggled to barely breathe.

"Did you find it yet?" she asked, her words so warbled and strained now. She watched me as I busily tried to finish cleaning her up for the second time in a few hours, trying to cover her and give her back some dignity. My queen, my lover, my wife, now my patient, too.

"Yes, I found the pad you wanted," I said, reaching for it. "Do you want to write a list of things to ask the nurse?"

"No, honey," she said. "No, did you find the mm mnogk? The mgogt?"

Realization dawned. "No, I didn't find the note yet, baby. I'll find it, I promise. Hold on," I said, intending to tear my wallet, a gift from her, apart to find it.

She touched my arm, her hand shaking as it had begun to always do. "I love you," she said, nodding as her tears came. I simply draped myself on her and held her there and whispered my love over and over. Her breathing slowed. She slept.

And the note was forgotten once more. And the fires subsided. And then she was taken from me, and I began to write notes to her. And I wished she could somehow write back, but the note stayed forgotten.

Then, December 11, exactly 6 months after she wrote it, the note fell out of my wallet as I looked for a business card.

"Just a note to say hi and tell you how much I love you, during your busy day, my dear," she wrote. "I am always thinking of you, sweets. Your ever-loving wife."

She had added a little heart and, as she always did, she dated the note for me, 6/2007. I found a reason to get up and take a walk outside, around the district headquarters.

I managed to swallow my tears until I got home. And I decided to write her back when I stopped swallowing.

Hi, baby. I miss you, honey, terribly, as I always do when I work. I am always thinking of you, too. I feel like I will now spend a whole life waiting to come home and see you. Thank you so much for your wonderful note. It will help me get through this work and through these very long, very busy days. Love, your devoted husband.


Monday, December 10, 2007

Tonight's Movie

So, first off, “Starting Out In The Evening” was long and it was layered. Certainly, the core story, concerning an author (Leonard Schiller, played by Frank Langella) whose long creative snooze is almost interrupted by ambitious and somewhat manipulative graduate student Heather (Laura Ambrose) is interesting. But it's not that interesting.

Not helping is all of the window dressing going on. Creative death abounds. Schiller's daughter Ariel (Lili Taylor) is a former dancer who now teaches pilates and yoga, which she characterizes as, "what happens to dancers when they die."

Ariel's smashing her head up against a wall of stereotyped 40th birthday female angst and her "Oh, my god, my clock was ticking and I think it stopped" shenanigans provide the movie with more a hoped-for audience demographic than a plot element. Lame attempts to cast Langella's Schiller as disappointed non-grandparent aside, Ariel's newly rediscovered love for, then liberation from, then love for an emotionally distant man-child only serves to set up a punchy line or two between her and her father. Even the cross-racial window dressing is just that.

Ambrose's Heather does everything she can to wring something of quality for her thesis out of Schiller, whose lethargy and doubt in engaging her seem both fortuitous and wise, if boring and lifeless. But when he finally caves in and opens up a little, it comes off as something dirty, and Ambrose's Heather seals that deal for us on all counts. No distance off-camera is off enough in this case, and that is what we get.

When the writer becomes bored with his characters, as both the on-screen and the off-screen and, likely, the screenwriter did, there is a tendency to toss them into tragedy or crisis. Sitting there waiting for it as ham-fisted telegraphing paraded across the screen was excruciating. Foreshadowing my ass. There was a veritable total eclipse every quarter hour with partials on the half.

The end of the movie lingers over small details, which will appeal to the perfectionist whose obsession with endings and closure overrides all sense of boredom. Unfortunately, the "Is it happy?" finish that redirects the movie utterly serves less a delicate touch than a mercy killing that also drags on too long before the screen blackens.

But at least Ambrose was a redhead.

My rating (1-5): No.
Marcie's Probable Rating: "Sorry, honey. That was so bad."

This review does not reflect my gratitude to my coworker for sending me the pass from the Film Commission. Listening to the crowd around me was a hoot, too. Thanks, Elizabeth.

Movies With Marcie

One of the activities Marcie and I made it a rule to do together was see previews. The San Diego Film Commission often sent Marcie tickets to movies (via email) which were in pre-release screening. Sometimes feedback was needed; sometimes it was just an audience reaction observation opportunity for the studios.

When Marcie passed, I lost that source of free tickets with her email account. However, my coworker Elizabeth sends out copies of the same tickets to me, which is nice. So far, I have not been able to see any of them, but tonight I will try to make it to see “Starting Out In The Evening.”

It appears to be one that Marcie would have enjoyed tonight's selection. From the press release and ticket blast:

All that remains for Leonard Schiller (Frank Langella) is his work. His one enduring goal in life is to finish the novel he has been laboring on for almost a decade. With his four earlier books out of print, he has learned to starve himself of the desire for the success he was once so close to, though beneath this practice lives a pull for his work to be rediscovered.

Leonard’s main contact with the outside world is his daughter Ariel (Lili Taylor), a dancer-turned-Pilates instructor, with whom he has settled into an amiable relationship, though he must hide his disappointment that at thirty-nine she is at loose ends, still looking for love and a father for a longed-for child.

We’ll see if, sans guarantee, I am able to pull a seat. It’s at the Horton Plaza 14, for which I am grateful, since there is little parking for some of the others downtown. Marcie and I also had some mischievous moments in that theater… usually because we found ourselves more interesting in the dark than the drivel we often found there. At any rate, without that distraction, I shall endeavor to provide some useful feedback, as she did, later on.

At the least, the synopsis makes the movie sound like a relevant cautionary tale for me… we’ll see. More info later.


Sunday, December 9, 2007

Marcie's Little Qipao (Adult Situations)

In trying to stay upbeat for a few posts, it has occurred to me that I could share some of the fun... within reason. So, as I have alluded to before, Marcie and I had quite the sexual relationship. Come back tomorrow if you don't want ot hear about it. I won't get (too) graphic.

One of the things Marcie did for me that stood out was put up with my various passing fancies. I had a passing fancy for jumping her in while she was in her work clothes, so she put up with that for a year. I went through the stockings and garter phase, she loved that (or pretended to), did the merry widow lingerie thing, etc. etc.

One of those passing fancies that stood out was the cheongsam (or qipao). Marcie introduced me to this sexy Chinese dress with her all-night Gong Li movie events, remarking on how they fit the actress, testing to see if I thought Gong Li was pretty (I did, but she's not my type).

I was soon thinking Marcie would fit one even better, and started pestering her. I had all but given up after a few solid months mentioning it in the afterglow, at dinner, when we woke up and were cuddling in bed against the impending responsibilities of work. Basically, whenever it struck me I had not mentioned it.

Well, Marcie surprised me with her little qipao after a trip to Chinatown in San Francisco. She not only wore it for me, but she went through elaborate hair preparations, leaving her red locks in a chopstick-bun. She could have been quite the arm-candy at a social.

Alas, we never got to put it to use in a social setting. She wore it a few times for me and made the mistake of wearing it after we had been separated by a trip I took to school (5 weeks). The resultant ravishing was too much, and the zipper gave out (meaning became separated from the silk).

But her green-blue eyes really went well with it. Not having her to model it takes a lot away from the dress, but it's still a pretty reminder. I can't wait to ask Jane about that shopping trip when I visit later this month or early next year.

In Better Days We Had Animal Pals

In better days, Marcie and I would take walks around the neighborhood. Generally speaking, Marcie did this every day or other day and preferred to go alone, but it was not uncommon for me to go with her.

It was nice to hold hands, even as they turned sweaty and Marcie grew annoyed. It was also fun to stop and chat with our mutual animal pals, petting the dogs we knew wouldn't bite. Both of us also enjoyed being waylaid by attention-starved "outside" kitties, which invariably ate up a good five or ten minutes of our time.

Marcie drew the animals in. I had always been boastful of my charming ways with the furred set, but Marcie was so gentler and quiet, usually able to suppress her own versions of my sometimes boisterous outbursts of delight at spying some furred denizen of the neighborhood. Consequently, I have many of my neighborhood animal pals because of her and because I was with her when she won them over.

Tonight I took a little walk down the block and visited a few of them before dusk brought the cats' more private nocturnal urges and the dogs' more guarded natures to bear. I wanted to take a walk with Marcie, so I just retraced our meandering neighborhood route.

Each animal I met and pet opened a floodgate. Memories of visits from those better days, those sweaty-palmed, frumpy-comfy walks, washed over me as not one or two or even three, but six separate cats we both had known visited with me tonight. I also checked in on Fred the Bellowing Basset Hound, who bayed mournfully when I was done petting him and moved on. I "feel ya," brother Fred.

When I got home, I turned and looked down the alley I liked to walk home in. Marcie and I both enjoyed visiting with a huge clutch of cats, all feral, who live behind a TV repair shop there. I noted a stunning sky, and thought I would share a snapshot I ran in and got the camera for. It became a "Stunning sky with telephone poles" shot of the alley instead.

Alley of The Cats at Sunset

Friday, December 7, 2007

A Note of Thanks

Last Night, I was over at Tanya and Shawn Aeria's house for some delicious Mexican food. Way to cook, Tanya! The "meat" inside was actually Quorn, a mycoprotein product made from fungus and egg whites, which was DELICIOUS.

Marcie was totally in love with their son Dante, who does not understand that she is gone. He's a sweet kid, and that's likely because Tanya and Shawn are great parents who have a very good support system. He and his little brother Oliver will rule the school someday, mark my words. That, or they will be protectively home-schooled. Who knows?

Thank you, Shawn and Tanya, for that wonderful meal. Perhaps we should all get together with Walt and Lisa as you two mentioned, maybe time it around a visit from Jane, and throw a Marcie meal over at my place. If nothing so ambitious, I will at least feed you folks, just call and ask for your reservations at Chez Francois.

In addition to feeding me, they let me rant and rave in my own very Frank way, so extra points for putting up with it. You're both great sports and wonderful friends.

Love and gratitude,


Looking for Guest Writers

When I started this blog, I had hoped that people with specific memories or good times to share about Marcie might chip in. I know I have been a little heavy of late, so that's likely been a deterrent. I am about to start writing about some of the better times and moving forward with some more uplifting, funny moments from my and Marcie's life together.

If you would love to share something about Marcie and your relationship, please just email me with it. Click on the comment button under this post... my address is on the feedback page and I will post it. I will edit it for typos, but I will not edit content.

Let's start celebrating her life. I'll kick it off with a story (which will likely be inappropriate) tomorrow evening. I will also be adding more pictures :)


Thursday, December 6, 2007

Coping Kitty Quietly Communing

What a comfort Seamus has been to me in Marcie's absence. He's in my lap when needed, playful when he senses a little cheer might go over well, and just serene and quiet otherwise. He spends a lot of time near Marcie's shrine, and has been sleeping under it, as seen below. He was sleeping there a lot before the shrine was done, too... It's behind where her hospital bed was. I wonder...

Just a comfy spot to sleep or something more?

I know how lucky I am to have him here. A coworker lost both her cats in the last couple of months, one just the other day. Cats are friends who choose to stay with you because they deem you worthy of spoiling them. I can't believe Seamus will be 14 in March.

That little pad under him is one of the first things Marcie bought him. It's a heated pad from a catalog. I put it there when I saw him sleeping under her shrine often in the early evening and the morning on weekends.

Marcie's "little lamb" on his "little woolly lamb pad" (Marcie's words, not mine).

Incidentally, this picture was taken with a much better camera than the first, a Canon S5 IS, which I have procured for the trip. You can see a lot more detail when you blow it up, and can tell that the fountain is running by the reflection in the lip of the container.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Some Plan Progress

So, I have been working on book and article proposals in addition to a few other items. Unfortunately, it's slow going with every day spent at work and most people in the media businesses hard at work during the same hours. We'll see what comes of it all, if anything. I still have time.

I have sold one of our DVDs. The Bourne Files, the first two Bourne videos and a bonus DVD in a collector's edition kit, was shipped out yesterday. I also shipped out a package Marcie herself prepared with a relevant find or two she did not have set aside and ready to go.

I'll be picking up some spot work at my old newspaper over the Christmas holiday. I am probably looking at a few days of work and maybe an article or two. We'll see. It all goes into the kitty for the plan.

I am considering either taking the blog private (invitation-only) or promoting it heavily. One plan involves trying to get on "Hey Mom, I am on 91x," using my old connections there to do it and, shaping the whole thing around a time line of songs and artists, then spring boarding off of that if it proves popular with listeners.

The bonus there would be a podcast of my show if Steve West picks me, which I would put on memory sticks for people and post online (here). We'll see. If you have ideas, please email them via or use the comment/feedback function. Thanks, folks.


Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Memorial Book & Visiting Our Old Places

I am going to visit some of the places Marcie and I enjoyed together over the next few days and weeks and take pictures of them. My hope is to capture some images of her favorite places before they inevitably change and are no longer those places at all.

I will post galleries of that when I can. For now, I have a huge post to share. I have modified and corrected, then digitized and reprinted, Marcie's memorial book. I have decided to put it in a slide show for you all, which links to an album on the web.

I will actually be rescanning most of the pictures and redoing the typesetting, but I wanted to post this in its original form for people who never saw it. To read the pages you will need to click on them so that they enlarge. Enjoy, save, share, etcetera:

Monday, December 3, 2007

A Little Note to Marcie

I miss you, but it isn't all the time.

I miss you when there is nothing to distract me.
I miss you after work when I go home alone.
I miss you when I wait for sleep to claim me:
You always come to soothe me
You never seem to worry about the world
You only seem to want to make sure I am fine

I don't miss you when you tell me you're OK now.
I don't miss you when you say I'll be alright.
I miss you when I wake up and I realize:
You cannot make us coffee.
You don't worry that I won't get up for work.
You cannot keep me company when I awake.

I don't miss you when I am busy at my job.
I don't miss you when I am helping out my friends.
I miss you when I check my watch and remember:
You don't need me to call you.
You are not worried that I'm out late.
You'll not be there for me to love you when I'm home.

I don't miss you when I'm running in the canyons.
I don't miss you when I am playing in the surf.
I miss you when I turn to home and face that:
You cannot meet for dinner
You don't want to get out to go see a show
You cannot go with me on little getaways.

I do not know why I force myself to do this.
I do not know why I get up out of bed.
I do not want to wake up when the clock calls:
You cannot wake up with me,
I've forgotten that you're gone until I do
Remembering is another tinge of hurt.

I want to stay asleep and have you hold me.
I want the world to let me have some peace.
I try to reason that I have a purpose:
Finishing another day,
Finding sleep and dreaming of my love for you
Forgetting that another day must dawn.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Another song I think of her to

So one of my favorite singers from the 90s was Welshman David Gray, whose Lost Songs 95-98 and White Ladder were constant companions in the early days of the new century. He's made a greatest hits album, which I generally abhor, but this one came with a bonus.

This song, which debuted as a single November 5th, would have made a great song for Marcie and my anniversary date a week later. I was always looking for songs to dance with her to. I guess, for now, this will be one I just think of her to. That is, unless a little dinner and dance date is forthcoming in dreamland.

The World To Me - David Gray
Started talking and the line went dead
Never heard a single word you said

Babe I said I’d give my right arm,
Every day that I decide on

Baby baby you’re the world to me

I woke up, the room was cold
Looking tired, feeling old
Cursin’ all the changes I’ve to say
The more I cursed into the flood
The less it seemed do me good
Clearer became my mind than I could say
Baby baby you’re the world to me

My head is roaring like a waterfall
Give me everything or not at all
You don’t have to turn the sound up
Babe I want you from the ground up
Baby baby you’re the world to me

Baby baby you’re the world to me

Baby baby you’re the world to me
Baby baby you’re the world to me

You don’t have to turn the sound up
Babe I want you from the ground up
Baby baby you’re the world to me

Iridescent like a starling
Won’t you be my little darling
Baby baby you’re the world to me

Baby baby you’re the world to me
Baby baby you’re the world to me

The first time I heard it, I changed the channel at "went dead." The first few lines brought to mind Marcie's seizure, during which she screamed and dropped the phone. I found her passed out after rushing home. But I am glad I gave it another chance.

The links below point to the single and the album if you want to buy it for your MP3 players/Ipods. I can say that the greatest hits album is a pretty good collection, despite the fact that I generally avoid them.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Watching the Fountain with Marcie

I never thought I would settle down when I met Marcie. I was never one for multiple partners or anything so sordid as that, but I had always been serially monogamous.

I had one great love before Marcie, my first love, and that woman's transformation into a practical and calculating person with little but wants and wounds from what she was had taught me hard lessons. But I was not embittered, simply wary and less willing to put my heart on the line to any dangerous degree.

When I met Marcie, my plan was and had been to simply love who I could as I could for as long as I could. That changed soon enough. I do not think I had been with her a year before I was so besotted that I asked her to marry me, and meant it. She turned me down and said I should slow down.

As yesterday's poem reveals, she had a change of heart. I was unsure of the whole situation, but was glad she had come around. Six years later, that is.

The point of this is that I felt soon after I fell in love with Marcie that I had loved her for a very long time. This was something remarked on by Marcie as well. "I feel like we have been together for a lifetime, honey," she said. "I feel like I have known you since I was a little girl."

This phenomenon many of us have faced and some of us are privileged to experience it every day. The feeling is not limited to romance. Rescuers, Poets, and even Elvis have experienced the feeling. It must have some merit. I am susceptible to an willing to indulge that perhaps I have known Marcie for lifetimes.

Enter into this sentiment-cum-phenomenon the movie The Fountain. Taking place in three eras, it tells the tale of a man seeking to meet eternity with his love and to become one with both.

Marcie rented this from Netflix after having seen it in the theaters. It was a prelude to very difficult talks she wanted to have with me that I had avoided. I watched it with her. She cried and I joined her a little, but tried more to soothe her.

When the chemotherapy drugs and sleeping pills had finally sent her to sleep on my chest, both of us laying on the couch, I absorbed the meaning, the message Marcie was sending and the hope she wanted me to have in my despair. I held her there for a long time, but she awoke and I saw her to bed, holding her in the hot late summer night.

I have added the film to the list of items in my Amazon Store (Left column). Watch it with a loved on, especially if you have that special feeling, as we always did, of having known and loved them forever.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Marcie's laugh and another poem

A recent email about a particular part of Marcie we all loved (her sweet laugh) triggered a lot of good memories. Thank you, friend. A long time ago, I started writing Marcie a poem that wound its way through the stages of our relationship, including that first laugh. I shared it with her, but I intended it to be ongoing, and I would add to it over tiem

I lost it, unfortunately, but there is some hope. Marcie usually kept everything that I wrote to her, and I printed the poem several times. I found new pictures just this week, and I will find this poem somewhere as well, I suppose. For now, I have rewritten it, and I know at least some of it was true to the first version.

I also have decided to update it, and it will remain a work in progress.

In your thrall

I saw you in the castle square
when Amyrillis bloomed red.
You glanced at me and lingered there,
then finally spoke, and said,
"If you would speak to me then do,
but do not waste my ear.
For I have met many just like you,
and know your tricks, my dear."

I took you in, red hair, blue eyes
round hips and ivory skin
Hands on your hips, defiant guise
I saw your fire within.
"Is it a trick?" I asked you there,
"To gaze upon you thus?
Or do you hide some other care,
mayhap we could discuss?"

You flipped your pixie locks aside,
then harrumphed and walked away.
But a smile was on your lips, I spied,
and I saw a playful sway.
To have you then I set my mind
and sought you out each day
Until the stars were thus aligned
and Venus had her way.

You cast your spell with laughter's voice
I pursued you even more.
You played me well, I had no choice
but with ardor to adore.
I had my princess like a thief,
who sneaks through in the night.
Hid in your wardrobe, your relief
My stealth for your delight.

You christened me your cavalier.
and charged me when you toured,
to wait, be firm, to persevere.
You left, I stayed, endured.
You filled my ears with tales of lands,
of places you had been.
I only cared to fill my hands
with your fiery locks again.

When finally I heard the call
to journey north, to learn,
you went there first to found our hall,
and bring the hearth to burn.
Among the giants, in the cold,
you kept me warm but sighed.
Two winters passed and not a day,
not one more could you last.

So south again, where friend and kin
now awaited our return.
And autumn's eve, among the din,
I thought that I could discern
a sadness in my fairy love,
a frown upon your face.
I knew then what you fretted of,
embarrassment, disgrace.

You called me to the parapets
where sullied pennants waved.
You asked me as you waved your arm,
"Is it me who has been saved?
Am I to wait for you, my knight,
until I am too aged?
For you to marry me, despite
our seven years engaged?"

I pulled you close and as you cried,
gently reminded you
That I was he you once denied,
the chance to marry you.
"But if you now believe me worth
a year, a life, an age,
then I will bend my knee to earth
and end this long engage."

We flew, without our friends and kin,
to initiate new life
We swore ourselves and once again
I'd won, this time a wife
"I will not fail to honor you,
nor fail to hold your faith."
"And I will not abandon you,
to wander as you wait."

To family and firmament
we made our union known.
No challenge to our testament
our lives now shared, our own.
We went to battle, and to fair
unbeatable and strong.
My fiery heart, your fiery hair,
and nothing could go wrong.

Until one day as I averred
the wrongs of one corrupted,
your cries rang out and I deferred
my probing interrupted.
You said it was the mark of death,
but I could not believe.
For it was you, to every breath
my soul, my heart, did cleave.

So off again, this time to war,
you were scarred and then rebuilt.
When you flowered in hope once more,
your bloom began to wilt.
I carried you, watched over you
my life, my love, my queen.
And treasured every breath of you,
each day, each night, each scene.

I was your cavalier, my love,
I was your questing knight
but now I quest for remnants of
your red-haired, fairy light.
And though the ashes of our life
rain down around my head
I will not quit my geas, sweet wife
even if I am dead.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Technical Issues

Due to a camera that did not record what I needed it to, I will have to postpone sharing Marcie's last list. Rest assured, it is coming and I am ready to share it. I will also be talking about a movie I watched very recently with Marcie which just wrung my soul out.

Bah. Hours wasted on a file that was corrupt. Bad batteries! Bad!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Treasure Trove is Found

While looking through the closets today after work, I stumbled across Marcie's photo albums. Pictures of her travels around the world, from her youth and her early adulthood abounded. Though I was just hit over and over at how much I have lost, it was a wonderful thing to find. I will post more substantially tomorrow.

Expect selections from her albums sometime this weekend. Good night, folks


Monday, November 26, 2007

Marcie's Shrine

In the days following Marcie's death, I decided that I was going to need a shrine for her. I have finally decided to share it. It has all of her favorite scented candles, scent beads and little items that remind me of her and our times together.

At the risk of creating discomfort, here is a picture of the shrine. To be honest, I was relieved at how the picture turned out. I do not have a digital SLR camera, so it was taken with the same little digital no-name Point and Shoot cheapie the films are shot with.

As a tip for would-be dark photographers with ill-suited equipment, I set the little 5.1 megapixel camera to ISO 200 emulation, flash off, and used a little bean bag to prop it for the shot and keep it steady as the overly long exposure was completed.

The picture of my beautiful bride is one I framed and matted myself, and it is the print from the memorial that some of you may have never seen. The candles, in addition to the hearts and jars from the reception, include all of her candles from around the house, scented or not. The working fountain is one I made her for its calming effect.

Unseen behind the little incense holder in the forground is a collection of Marcie's coins from around the world. The delicate petals on the lower level are the orchid blooms from Jane's mother, which finally fell off this evening, as if to tell me to do this with them.

The runners were her favorites, and they match. Two show from the top of the higher table, and a longer one runs under her vessel and the lower candles, lengthwise. The bowls and the little square saucer contain her scent beads and her bits of tumbled, colored glass.

There is the idea that negative ions feed the spirit and calm the nerves. The salt rock candle is the only way to make those ions without creating ozone and a shock hazard. The ions also apparently feed ghosts in some popular trains of thought. Wonderful.

I always light the lower stage last, and the two stick candles in particular. They flank her ashes, which are encased in their container within the Indian box in the center of the picture. Both have little bells in their bases.

I gave one of those belled candles to Marcie when she was initially bedridden to summon whoever was there to help her. She used it a few times, and she always seemed to smile when I came to her at its call. So, when I am lighting them, they ring a bit, and their gentle little tolls give me a good memory of her, and help to make the whole scene that much more meditative and serene.

In other words, not creepy, just gentle and comforting. I'll get better shots of our Marcie's picture and some shots from other angles of the shrine when I can.

Good night, folks.


Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Few of the Hardest Times

My moments with Marcie toward the end were sometimes soul-crushingly hard for me.

A few which came and went toward the end, beyond their inbuilt painfulness, were simply unmanageable, not because they were happening in general, but because of my baby's nature, and because they seemed to rip little pieces of her away.

They were so bad that I found myself thanking the stars that her mother, her brother, her friends and my family were not there to see it at all. But they have been eating at me, because I did not let people know how much utter destruction I handled alone.

I will simply list them here, so I can write about them more fully later, if I can get it together. They still push me to the edge. I will address them to Marcie, because these things happened at times when she may have been out of reach.
  • When you held my hand and your voice was gone, I am sorry I could not understand. I think you meant to tell me something more than what I could read your lips to say, but that "I love you" was enough, and the rest you put so much effort and sincerity in is a loss I lament and wonder about daily.
  • I am sorry I could not lift you into our room from that damn hospital bed. I was afraid to have you fall out, I was even more afraid to drop you. I should have taken the chance so I could have held you.
  • The night your eyes pupils became different in your size. I saw it coming and I could not stop it. I held you but you I knew I could not hold you here.
  • The day I brought you home and they had not done anything to rehabilitate you. I could not believe how your legs had turned to mush in that nursing home. I cried in private after every time I exercised your legs, and I was shattered when you no longer could resist rangte of motion when asked. But I fibbed, said "good," then kissed you.
  • The night you died. Oh, Marcie. I wanted to force the life back into you, to pump you full of life, to stop the infection in your lungs by sheer will. I should have just held your hand. I am glad I did read to you, but I wish it had another day to.
  • The days we had when you told me that I had to let another woman "experience me," your plans to prepare for death and your wishes for your birthday, to see a movie and have a dinner. The day of our date you had to go to the hospital.
  • The day you told me you could see the changes in me and they made you sad, that I deserved to be happier. Oh, baby. I am so grateful for you, and I will be happy again someday. Give me time.
One evening Marcie "caught" me hiding my tears. I had just changed her diaper as she slept at about 2 in the morning, something which did not bother me in and of itself. Knowing my little Irish queen, my Macha, had that indignity to deal with, though, did.
She woke and caught my eye. I smiled reassuringly as I put her lotion on her legs.
"Oh, honey, you've been crying," she said, taking my hand in her weak little fingers.
I said, "Oh, I'm fine, honey. I just had a tear or two."
She would have none of it, and she sighed and gave my hand a squeeze. Her mumbling, warbled voice was clear, if quietly so, for a minute. "Honey, you've been crying a lot," she said, pouting. "I know. I know because your eyes are green right now, and that's a very rare, very hard cry for you. And I want you to know it's fine. Just let it out."
With another squeeze, she breathed deeply and was out like a light. I hugged her but did not cry any more. I just stayed resting, holding her in her little hospital bed until I heard her lightly snore.

I don't know that anyone will know such small, intimate things as she did. There were so many other little ways we knew each other. My eyes are very green now. Good night, folks.


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Kathy Griffin - Marcie's Favorite Non-Marcie Redhead

Last night, I went up and visited Walt and Lisa Soto in San Clemente. Lisa is one of Marcie's girlfriends and someone I looked up through the internet when Marcie mentioned she missed her. I can't believe that was a decade ago.

Lisa and Marcie had elaborate outings together, each seeming to want to outdo one another with their ingenuity and keen eye for each others' tastes. That's something about Marcie's girlfriends that is paralleled. Who can get the more perfect gift for the other? Who can set up the better girls' out-of-town visit?

Last year, Marcie hit one out of the park. I picked up Lisa and her at 4th and B after a show with Kathy Griffin. Both were huge fans, and they got their money's worth. Kathy went over on time and, even waiting on the street for the ladies, I could hear the cheers and laughs inside.

Marcie never got to join Lisa for last night's show. Lisa purchased tickets to the show well in advance, before Marcie's illness began to overtake her. But, being a fan myself and wanting to enjoy something I knew Marcie loved, I jumped at the chance to see it with Lisa in her place.

Kathy is a comedienne of some notoriety and great humor, but she is not a humorist for the sensitive soul. Kathy is brutally honest. This would not be so fun in most circumstances, but Kathy hammers people who are the least prepared to deal with it and the thinnest-skinned imaginable.

The people she has insulted:
  • Hollywood bigwigs
  • Powerful politicians
  • Disabled children in wheelchairs
  • Oprah (she loves her but cannot resist)
  • Christians
  • Barbara Walters
  • Fox News (especially Bill O'Reilly)
Naturally, I am drawn to her comedy like a moth to a flame. It's like a very bad cake you know you should not eat but you decide you have to. Plus, she is a redhead. Points for red hair, every time.

I had a wonderful evening. I don't think I was nearly as fun as Marcie, with her boisterous and infectious laugh, but I did my best. We had dinner at Lisa's and Walt's, a very special treat in my book. Dinner was outstanding, as was the company.

Walt dropped us off at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. What a place. I admit that I am loathe to say so, but it is a beautiful center. However, it is surrounded by the most overdone plastic, pastel-stucco, neon-laced commercial district I have ever witnessed, playing host to various garish national chain restaurants and light pollution.

Kathy killed. Repeatedly. Her special talent is in making you laugh at things you should not, while also stimulating thought about social priorities on the sly. I love it! Unfortunately, I also heard that Kathy is dating and may marry Steve Wozniak of Apple fame. No more "plan B: Date Kathy Griffin" for me. You know I kid (on the square)!

I knew which jokes Marcie would laugh at and I know she was there with me. Lisa told me later that she was glad I had come, and that she had almost canceled her attendance. Well, I am glad she didn't. That was a very nice moment of Marcie she provided me.

Thank you, Lisa and Walt.


Friday, November 23, 2007

Why My Thanksgiving Needs Marcie

So, I spent Thanksgiving yesterday at my Aunt Mary's. Marcie loved Aunt Mary's on the holidays, and when she went, I could usually count on Grandma Pruett to corral her and conspire, sharing gossip and juicy tidbits in hushed tones. Marcie loved it.

Marcie did not always enjoy the "big dinner" aspect of my family's holidays. The whole "dozens of cousins" motif was way out of her league for crowds in tight quarters. But she got used to it, and when she did go, she learned a little about our family every time.

When she finally started to relax and enjoy herself in the herd of bustling family my grandparents' 17 children made for, Marcie opened up. She would pepper me with questions and observations on the ride home, overstimulated and stuffed to the gills with the hearty fare my family cooks up.

I remember the day she finally started to process it all. She was driving home one Christmas evening, having enjoyed a good dinner. I had played softball after breakfast, a ritual she watched and enjoyed, then we had dinner and headed for home.

"Now Robert was the one who was bellowing at your grandparents' house this morning, right? What do you call him, his nickname?"

"Yes, that was Robert, and we call him Bugs," I said.

She laughed a Marcie laugh, a cackle followed by a falsetto, "Oooh, my god, that's so funny. Okay, okay... your grandma told me he's a little nuts. Why did she tell me that?"

"She just wanted to make sure you knew, I guess, I don't know," I said. "He's alright."

"Oh, he seems very nice," she said. "But he's definitely a crazy pants. He is a character."

Down the roster she went, associating little bits of wisdom Grandma imparted about us all, or sussing out some snippet of overheard gossip. She cataloged it all, so I knew we'd be back, because nothing tickled Marcie's fancy like scandal, gossip, and people watching.

And nothing was more fun than relaying the rich family history behind the nicknames and the personalities, the family myths, legends and folklore, and just generally the Pruett (and in the early years, the McNab-Craigg) culture to her.

Grandma's death was very hard on Marcie, as it was on many people. Last night, I looked at the seats they used to sit in at Aunt Mary's and wished fruitlessly that they were there. It made me sad, but I distracted myself by chatting people up.

Grandma and Marcie weren't there and I will not get to live in those particular moments again. But I guess that, if the whole idea that she and grandma's souls or spirits or energies live on is possibly true, then there is also a possibility that they were sitting somewhere, watching.

Maybe they were cackling a bit together. Either way, it was comforting to be with family on Thanksgiving. The trip home was not easy, though.

It was hard to drive home in that silence after seeing so many family members. It was hard not to be able to share a little more of my life with her, to listen to her gleeful accounts of her gossip with grandma for the day.

I turned the radio off as I drove home last night. When I pulled into the driveway and noticed it had been off, I wondered why I had. Then I that it was my habit to leave it off when Marcie and I visited my family. I just automatically expected questions from her and the practice formed.

I know that habits are habits. But then, Marcie may have been right there with me all day and on the way home. I think I'll leave the radio off when I drive home on holidays, just in case.