“No matter how careful you are, there’s going to be the sense you missed something, the collapsed feeling under your skin that you didn’t experience it all. There’s that fallen heart feeling that you rushed right through the moments where you should’ve been paying attention.
“Well, get used to that feeling. That’s how your whole life will feel some day.”
Chuck Palahniuk, from Invisible Monsters
Charles Michael Palahniuk, 52, is an American novelist and freelance journalist, who describes his work as transgressional fiction. spent his early childhood living out of a mobile home in Burbank, Washington. His parents, Carol and Fred Palahniuk, separated and divorced when he was fourteen, leaving Chuck and his siblings to spend much of their time on their maternal grandparent’s cattle ranch. Chuck graduated from the University of Oregon with a BA in journalism. He entered the workforce as a journalist for a local Portland newspaper, but soon grew tired of the job. He then gained employment as a diesel mechanic, spending his days repairing trucks and writing technical manuals. It was during this time that Chuck experienced much of what would become fodder for his early work, including working as an escort for terminally ill hospice patients and becoming a member of the notorious Cacophony Society. He was the author of the award winning novel Fight Club, which also was made into a feature film.
It opened with the intention of a feather-light, human touch of good will.
And it hasn’t closed.
Like a snag on your favorite sweater that you keep pulling and pulling.
It was 4 weeks ago.
End to end it couldn’t have lasted more than 7 seconds.
She’s an executive assistant on another floor.
I was passing by to get to a meeting. In a hurry. (“‘Only the sick man and the ambitious,’ wrote Ortega, ‘are in a hurry.’” DK: Which one are you?)
“Good morning x?”
“Really Dave, you’ve worked with me for how long, 5-10 years? And you still don’t know my name.”
“I’m so sorry,” stealing a glance at her name plate. She caught the glance. Damage done. Twice, in seconds.
Later that week, I pass by her desk. And pause.
She talking to a colleague.
“I refuse to speak to him.”
He turns to me: “Wow, what have you done to her?”
Colaianni’s whispers: “When I hear my own name, I have as much a sense of it entering my body through my back or my hand or my chest as through my ears… “
Note to Self: And when I don’t hear my own name or someone calls me by the wrong name, I have as much a sense of it entering my body through the back of their hand to my face, my chest, the back of my head…
“All things are engaged in writing their history. The planet, the pebble, goes attended by its shadow. The rolling rock leaves its scratches on the mountain, the river, its channel in the soil, the animal, its bones in the stratum, the fern and leaf, their modest epitaph in the coal. The falling drop makes its sculpture in the sand or the stone. Not a foot steps into the snow or along the ground, but prints, in characters more or less lasting, a map of its march. Every act of the person inscribes itself in the memories of its fellows, and in his own manners and face. The air is full of sounds, the sky of tokens, the ground is all memoranda and signatures, and every object covered over with hints which speak to the intelligent.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Credits: Portrait: Stephan Vanfleteren. Emerson quote – Thank you Makebelieveboutique. Shakespeare Quote for blog title “What’s in a name?” – Soulsentences. Ortego quote: George Sheehan – Running & Being. Louis Colaianni quote from The Joy of Phonetics and Accents.
I’m on the 5:01 a.m. train to Grand Central.
I’m riffling through two days of morning papers. Without breaking stride, I shift to chopping through a small mountain of emails. I pause. I can feel my pulse accelerating. Work mode. Game time and it’s only 5:45 am.
The train moves through the tunnel. Internet connection is lost. I close my eyes for a moment looking for a few minutes of rest. But it’s not rest I find, it’s restless.
I shift to Kindle.
Elise sent me a link to a book over the weekend. I’m a few pages in. My mind drifts. I worked with her, could it be 9 years ago? Where does the time go?
Describe her in 5 words: Centered. Gentle. Peaceful. Kind. Goodness.
I get off the train. I’m walking briskly down 42th street. City is alive at 6 am. I cross Park. Madison. Fifth. Avenue of the Americas. Times Square. ABC’s Good Morning America is setting up outside on Broadway and 44th street…crowd milling.
I let her down. I remember the look in her eyes. I couldn’t have been more than a three minute conversation 9 years ago, and it’s a piercing tattoo etched in my mind. Thoughtless, wrong, self-serving.
“Your memory is a monster;
you forget —
It simply files things away.
It keeps things for you,
or hides things from you —
and summons them to your recall
with will of its own.
You think you have a memory;
but it has you.”
~ John Irving
My initial reaction to Wendy MacNaughton’s illustration was “Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!” I let it marinate and then returned to it. My reaction shifted to “please, please, please let it be wrong.”
Wendy MacNaughton. I’m a big fan. She’s an illustrator and graphic journalist with a long list of brand name clients including the NY Times, Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, NPR and a slew of others. Some of my other favorite illustrations include:
“If you have no sadness or remorse, you are a liar or a denier, or worse still, you haven’t lived. No one makes it through life without words better left unsaid, poor judgments or thoughtless omissions. I can barely make it through the day without all three.”
~ Erica Brown (NY Times – A Nice Opportunity for Regret)
Image Source: Tigran