The Outbreak: September 2005

Thursday, September 29, 2005

I wonder when we will next get to see Amy's family. All this business with my ___ lately has made her miss them more, and more vocally. But Colorado is a long way away. If there's a flight we can get on, great, but what are the odds?

I used to get commenters around here all the time, you know. From the stories they told I'd guess they're mostly dead now. Including my old friend Bill from high school. He was the best Dungeon Master I ever knew. Well, he was the only Dungeon Master I ever knew, or ever played with I should say. But he was good. I had the biggest thing for his girlfriend back when I was a, what, freshman in high school and he was a junior? That's how we met. I "did not impress him as a person" at that time. Yet we're still friends, and where's the girlfriend I wonder now? I don't wonder too hard though because you never know what the answer is and more often than not you don't really want to know. It's like the time--I have this t-shirt "class of 1992" from middle school with the names of all the kids in my class on the back, and sometimes I'd forget I was wearing it (as a pajama shirt or workout shirt mostly) and Amy would be behind me and go "Oh, hey, what about Joe Schmoe? What's he up to these days?" like she knew who Joe Schmoe was but really she's just reading it off the back of the t-shirt, and I'd start to answer before I realized what she was doing. Anyway, one time she asked that about someone, and my answer was that he was killed on 9/11. I've heard of some more names on the shirt since this all happened so I don't really wear it anymore.

I'm frustrated because I wonder if this is the end of my hopes of one day being a famous and successful and rich comic book writer. Don't laugh, it could have happened, it had been happening a lot more often these days I would think. At any rate I'm now 27, older than Kurt Cobain when he died, which he did when I was a sophomore in high school. I'm now years past when many people have already made their mark on things. This is not a novel observation but what do you want from me? If I had novel observations to make I'd already be a rich comic book writer and we wouldn't be having this conversation. I'd be safely ensconced in my rich comic book writer estate with armed guards and shit. "Socks and shit--" "oh, things I came up on lootin'!"

I'm just going with the flow, just flowing in the breeze, is what I'm doing.

Look! There comes one of them now!

Monday, September 26, 2005

I have a family member who is not eating, not sleeping, completely apathetic, 180-degree turn from the normal personality. I feel helpless now. More helpless than when it started, or with my cousin, or with Josiah, or with my grandfather's actual death. I think things are getting better, but who can say? They shouldn't have to have gotten this bad to begin with. It makes me so sad. Helpless.

They're not going anywhere, and it's time everyone faced up to that. And by everyone I mean "me." Surely I'm not the only one, though, who was holding out hope that they'd starve to death or decompose or re-die in some other way eventually if they couldn't get ahold of things to eat? I don't know why the government decided to make the announcement now, just days after the Gulf. Well, yeah, they wanted to justify it. But it's really just more awful news, isn't it? Enough already, for Christ's sake, how much can we take?

Today i was waiting on line for gas and there one was, waddling down the sidewalk a few blocks away. It looked like someone from a group home, which happens. By the time I gassed up she'd already been shot down, bagged, and taken away.

Friday, September 23, 2005

God help me, but I'm semi-tempted to join an fantasy football league. It'll give you something to do, and it's the only game in town.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


I found out last night that one of my old co-workers was killed/came back yesterday. By coincidence I called another one of my old co-workers to see how he was doing, and he'd just heard from someone who'd heard from someone. There aren't really any details, beyond "it was someone in the next apartment" who got him. My favorite memory about Rich was bumping into him at the Harvard-Yale game in Cambridge last year. I was dressed up as a real blue-blood and drunk as a lord. He found it very entertaining. Now that I think of it I don't even know if they put him down or if he's still at large.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

radio silence

Things are much worse now. Not in terms of the amount of revenants that you see--that doesn't appear to have changed much, and there's no real reason why it should. But everything's harder to come by and more expensive to acquire when you do come by it. People travel less--the road to my grandfather's wake and funeral was nearly empty, and that was the L.I.E. Everyone's bracing for the winter, too, though it had been much warmer for a while there. And the shellshock from the Gulf and the 9/11 anniversary is still setting in. My cat also got very sick. I find I don't have much to say.

Saturday, September 17, 2005


This is what I read at my grandfather's wake this past weekend.


My mother ended her eulogy for my grandfather by referencing his frequent use of the phrase "men of our talents." He’d use it in contexts like when I was little and he was helping to put together a big G.I. Joe vehicle or playset or something like that: “I’m sure we can figure it out, men of our talents...” That was always my favorite saying of his. He was a man of many talents.

One of these was his adventurous intellect. He was always borrowing the latest mysteries from the library (his nightstand, as my mom pointed out, never had any less than three books on it), checking out the latest movies at the theatre (he went to the movies a lot more often than I did, and I was a film studies major), following the latest series on TV (we'd often compare the relative merits of Vincent D’Onofrio on Criminal Intent and Tony Shaloub on Monk), trying a new sport or hobby (when he had to give up basketball because of his heart back in the ’80s, he switched right over to golf, and he was also quite the bocce player, and there wasn't a word game in the newspaper that he couldn't solve). He's always been such an inspiration to us grandkids as we discovered our own interests through the years, and there was no one better to have a conversation with about them at family gatherings than Pa-Pa. Even when there stopped being new books and movies and TV series and even newspapers for a while, I always looked forward to having new topics to mull over with him.

Another talent was making us laugh. I remember in their old house in Franklin Square, he and Grandma had a fridge with the freezer on the bottom, which he explained by saying Grandma got really angry one day and punched it so hard it flipped over. Then there were the passionate debates he and I had over the reindeer decorations in the basement around Christmastime, from which Rudolph had been omitted—he insisted that Rudolph was just a myth, not real, as opposed to the other eight flying reindeer. More recently, he cracked Amy up in the motorcycle shop in Port Jeff when he read aloud the words on a t-shirt: "If you can read this, the bitch fell off," he said in a deadpan voice, before explaining to Grandma, "See, hat's the back of the shirt, Joan..." (Pretending to be exasperated with Grandma was another one of his talents. I’m sure he was always pretending, though.)

I am sad that he's gone, sad for all of us that no new memories will be added to the list, no new evidence of his talents will be produced. But I'm also happy, because more than anything, bringing happiness to everyone he knew was Pa-Pa's real talent, and that happiness will never leave or dim or fade. He will always be there for me and with me, standing at a party and quietly cracking jokes with a bunch of unsalted peanuts in his hand, or working on word puzzles in the newspaper with golf on in the background, or telling me about the horse operas he'd go see at the movies when he was young. I will always remember the smile he wore as he made us smile too, and even today I'm happy because of it. I hope all of us keep that smile in our minds and in our hearts. A man of his talents deserves no less of a remembrance.

Thursday, September 08, 2005


My grandfather died yesterday.

It wasn't the nightmare scenario; my grandmother was able to get away in time, and neighbors did what had to be done, though even then I'm told there was no sign he had succumbed.

Amy and I had gone to see them just this past weekend. It's harder to get out there than you might think but it's not impossible, and we'd been meaning to do it for a while, so finally we did. We had a wonderful time, just sitting around, fixing lunch, chit-chatting and listening to music. Grandma and Pa-Pa also knew Josiah, so they were able to relate when I told them of my worries, worries now confirmed of course. But aside from that unpleasantness, it was just delightful. He was so funny--a jolly fellow, as Amy likes to call him--and seemed so healthy, though we knew that his health problems would be serious bad news if they recurred now.

I'm doing okay, really. Even on top of Josiah and the whole gulf area. My family dealt with this with my cousin and we'll deal with again, I'm sure. And as I said, things could have been so much worse. I know I will always be so grateful for that last visit. It just breaks my heart to hear all the "grown-ups" in the family, as I instantly retreated to calling them, so heartbroken and devastated. Days after caring for me I now have to care for them, and wonder how much the human heart can take. I'm ready to remember the past and be glad of it, but I think I'm alone.

Monday, September 05, 2005

maybe there was no other way. That's what I'm telling myself. As they execute Josiah, and my old work buddy from New Orleans's best friend who according to my old work buddy was sealed up in his police station, and however many hundreds of thousands of other people who were actually still alive. as they turn the entire Gulf Coast into Dresden.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

They don't really swim, but they can float. They can float right into large groups of people, actually. They can also just rest there, underwater.

I heard from my friend Sean, who managed to get ahold of Josiah's parents. Josiah and his girlfriend are holed up in the veterinary hospital where she worked (on a volunteer basis for the last five months), alone, surrounded by the stranded animals. I couldn't make that up if I wanted to. I tried the number of the hospital but I only got the same beepbeepbeep I hoped I'd never hear again.

The Guard was already stretched to the maximum down there, dealing with the revs. Now, nothing. Watching it spread through the big groups, that's the worst, that's the absolute worst--just like 3/27, but worse, since now we all know where it's headed. We're not watching the TV anymore. We don't need to be told what this means for us up here. We know. We can see the guy at the gas station.

The tipping point?