Thursday, October 2, 2014

These Are Words That Go Together Well

One of the main reasons I started thinking about blogging again, only really more of just pointless writing, storytelling, was that a song was haunting me.  And that song brought with it a lot of memories.

When we were in eighth grade, our little clique was incredibly focused on The Beatles.  I clearly remember a sunny afternoon, sitting in the grass along the sides of recess, discussing in detail the meaning of the French lyrics to Michelle.  Keep in mind that this was in the 80s and we were a bunch of suburban middle class kids who wouldn't start taking language classes until high school.  We collectively read all of The Beatles books in the public library (Harrison's I Me Mine was my personal favorite).  I even wrote a paper for English on the whole Paul is Dead conspiracy.  We were an odd little bunch, but we made it work.

The next year most of us headed off to high school, and through class schedules and sports teams, our clique started to loosen at the edges.  Some of us started to float off to other groups, but Ben and I were solid.  He was one of my closest confidants, and perhaps I his.  I know he had a crush on me, and I know that I abused that crush.  But that's another story for another time. 

Our sophomore year Ben and I sat diagonally in our mandatory college prep English class, alphabetically my B to his C, with Mrs. Desmond.  Mrs. Desmond of the born again religion, of a rumored come to Jesus moment involving an out of control Winnebago.  Mrs. Desmond who spent a lot of time rallying against Guns and Roses and Coed Naked whatever Team t-shirts.  We were collectively an extraordinarily annoying bunch of kids - all too smart for our own good, and already too smug in our futures to really care about authority, even at that age.  I suspect we were her nightmare.  At the time I was infuriated by her Friday lesson plan, but as an adult I suspect it was really just a means to give her a period of peace.

So every Friday she passed out journals.  And the only rule of our journals was that we had to write for the entire class period.  Her claim was that what we wrote would be private, and that she'd never read it herself.  That the important part was writing, not content.   But we were suspicious.  We didn't trust anyone.  We were teenagers.  Some of the more creative folks wrote fiction. Some of us (*cough*) wrote lists and lists and lists.  But Ben, Ben was a genius.  Ben spent each class period writing out the lyrics to the entire album of Abbey Road.  He slipped me his journal once on the sly, and as I read We would be so happy you and me -No one there to tell us what to do - I'd like to be under the sea - In an octopus's garden with you I knew he was brilliant.  Genius.  He was there in class, scribbling away, to all appearances the most dilligent of us all.  And what could Mrs. Desmond say?  She couldn't call him out on it, because that would prove that she was reading our private journals.  Genius.

Eventually he filled the journal.  He moved on to Rubber Soul next.  And then I think the White Album.  And then bad things happened, and he left us for good. 

So over the last few days of September, I heard Octopus's Garden almost daily on my commute home.  Across a variety of stations.  And that song always makes me think of Ben.  And of writing in secret, writing for myself, writing on the off chance that _maybe_ someone will read it, but not really caring.  So for myself I'm going to try to blog every day this month.  Tell a silly story, some memory from the past.  So hey Ben.  My belle. I need to make you see, oh, what you mean to me.  Thank you for the inspiration.  Always.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Birthdays & Beginnings

When we moved back to Pittsburgh, my first library job was at a nonprofit where I was technically a cataloguer.  There was a non-degreed subject expert that acted as the primary librarian, and I was part time support staff that did things like manage the serials subscriptions and organize donated collections.  All pretty typical tasks, but one of the quirkier aspects of my job was that the library held the only computer with internet access, and we managed the generic @organization email address.  It's been over a decade, so I don't remember the particulars, but one of the things I remember was printing out emails that were addressed to particular people or departments and physically putting them in mailboxes.  Which is how I learned things like that John in the press room played deck hockey with one of Matt's fraternity brothers; that the super cuddly looking guy on the first floor was really a gun nut; that one of the guys in training was shopping for a motorcycle. 

The library was also on the same hallway as the coffeepot, which is how I met two of the editors, girls who shared an office together farther down the hall.  They'd both poke their heads in on the days I was there, to say good morning, the beginning peace offerings of friendship.  They were both tech savvy enough that I never had to print out emails for them, but they both occasionally would stop by to use the internet terminal.  We'd chat about random things, and one afternoon they asked me to go out to lunch. 

Now, I'm the first person to admit that I watch far too many detective shows, but I'll never forget that first lunch - a trip through the countryside to the back roads of the nearest village, to Dairy Queen.  I honestly had no idea where we were.  And there were brief flashes as we drove through the woods thinking "my god I really don't know either of these people.  They could kill me and dump my body and no one would be the wiser."  Because I'm crazy. 

Regardless of my crazy, I passed the lunch test.  And got invited out for drinks.  Terrified.  So incredibly nervous.  Our first trip to the pub, the pub that became our Winchester.  Matt and I, the editor girls, and one of their husbands.

That was close to fourteen years ago.  Innumerable new jobs for all of us but Matt; the opening and closing of their art gallery, across three locations; new houses, new pets, ringing in the new year together, years of amazing beach vacations; the slow painful death of friendship with one of the girls; the solidifying of friendship with the other. 

Over the years I can say that Amy (yes, another Amy.  She's the AW1 to my AW2) has become one of my dearest friends.  I've learned so many things about her, slowly, surely.  The right way, through friendship.  That she's a sucker for kitties wandering in the woods; that she's got a stack of New Yorkers she'll eventually make her way through; that she looks like the kind of girl who likes fish (quote from a drunken admirer); that you take your chances when she recommends a book to you.  That she's trained herself to drink her coffee black; that she's been married more years than you'd think because I'm pretty sure she bathes in the blood of virgins.  That she truly believes that the Red Viper is a character that's pure of heart; that I can trust her to lead me to the best parts of Chicago; that fig flavored vodka can be her undoing; that her shortbread is amazing.  That she's beautiful and pale and proudly Scottish; that she'll indulge me when I send her Star Wars or Jaws related pins on Pinterest; that she packs more CDs for a road trip than I may even own.  That she's the hub to all of our spokes of friendship and most importantly that I can count on her.  That she's an amazing friend; that today is her birthday. 

So happy birthday Amy.  I'm lucky to have you, and to know that at this point if there were any bodies to be dumped, she'd be around to help me dig the hole.  Happy day lady.