Americaphiles

The Story Of My Fucking Life

Eighty-three

Posted by ilbebe on February 3, 2012

You know, there’s plenty of good lyrics to support the notion that every day you live is one day closer to death, but one of the most fucked-up and hopeless is “My friends that aren’t dying are already dead,” from ‘Constructive Summer’ by the Hold Steady. And every December 23rd, raise a toast to Saint Joe Strummer to commemorate the anniversary of his passing. There is emerging evidence that Mother Theresa of Calcutta routinely overlooked grave human rights violations committed by those ostensibly under her oversight; why then not Sainthood for the man who said plainly that he was bored of the U.S.A.?

And so speaking of remembering those who have passed, the day I started writing this marked six years since the passing of PRGallagher, my friend Casey’s Mom. That was two days ago. Take a moment for her, she would still take one for you; for all of us. Since the day she died, I’ve been trying to write her a song, but all I have is the sound of the world being ripped apart in white noise and the lyric Hey Patty, Just Tell Me It’s Nice. Maybe the song’s finished. I dunno.

About a year after her passing, I wrote a song about Casey, and how he had changed since she moved on.

You say

Things are gonna be okay

You say

We’ll see a brighter day

You love to lie

You never used to lie

You say

It’ll be okay

You say

It’ll go our way

My friend, you love to lie

You never used to even try to lie

This started when your mother died

It started with a spiderbite

You say

Things’ll be okay

You say

We’ll see that brighter day

You need to relearn to try

I know you never used to lie

I can see it in your eyes

I can see it in your sighs

We will put an end to these cries

You say

We will see that brighter day

I say

It’ll be okay

I recorded a really lousy version of it a few months after first writing it. The digital tape was created at my friend Garrett’s house in Phinney Ridge, Seattle, on his then-girlfriend now-fiancee’s birthday, 7/23/07. I’ve never heard that recording, I don’t know if it still exists. But like myself, Garrett is an excellent archivist, so I would bet it’s still floating around somewhere. You’ll hear it someday, if you didn’t just hear it here, now.

The difficult thing is that you can only save the people you still can. A few years ago I met a guy in San Francisco named Octavian who was trained as an emergency first responder. He showed me all of his equipment. It consisted solely of four packs of colored armbands. Since he had no significant medical training beyond basic first aid, his job, in the event of an emergency, was triage. His job was to assess people’s need for medical care and put a band on their wrist signifying to trained medical professionals whom to help first. His primary directive in this activity is to work as thoroughly yet as quickly as possible.

Green means yr fine. Probably a waste of a wristband, really. Once you recover from shock, start helping.

Yellow means you’ll be fine. Just breathe deeply and try to stay out of the way. You can probably help yrself.

Red means you fucking need help, and I swear someone is on the way to give it to you. Stay calm. Think about your happiest place. Hopefully you have one. If you don’t have one pre-selected, think about the beach. Any beach.

Black means that even if your heart is still beating, we have determined that you are already dead.

We might be able to help you, but we’re not going to.

Black means either you better help your fucking self, or tell Jimi Hendrix to come pick up his dog.

My friend Stephanie saved my life once. It was the winter 2000-2001. I was depressed. I had broken up with my first love, and I didn’t realize how much it was gonna hurt. My first love lived with Stephanie and five other people at 1876 Iverson Street in Arcata, the house with the red door or the Good Ship Iverson. I had come over on a Monday to hang out with people, since I was friends with all seven of the people that lived there. There was a handle of some cheap San Jose vodka.

I showed up, poured myself a drink, and asked Stephanie where everyone was at. She said she didn’t know; hadn’t seen anyone all day. We had a few drinks, shot the shit, and then about an hour after I got there, my first love came home. She went straight to her room, barely saying hello to either of us. It was then that Stephanie’s resolve broke and she told me She Was On A Date.

I finished the handle and blacked out. I guess I fell asleep on my back on the front room floor, and in the middle of the night, Stephanie was awoken by a terrible sound coming from that direction. She found me choking on my own vomit. She rolled me over and saved my life. In the morning I woke up on my side and found myself covered in puke. I kinda went SHIIIIIIIIIIIT… and fled back to my dorm room. Later that day, I ran into Stephanie on campus, and causually asked her how the rest of her night was. She explained what had happened to me.

Oh, I said, Then I Guess You Saved My Life?

Yeah, I Guess So.

Wow. Thank you.

My message is this: Save the people you can. And if someone saves you, say thank you. Saying thank you, in whatever manner suits you best, is the simplest gift you can give in return to someone who has given you anything whatsoever, let alone a new lease on your own life.

And you’ll feel that pressure drop, oh pressure drop, oh pressure’s gonna drop on you.

It is you-hoo-hoo.

Oh yeah.

Peace.

-12:44PM, 2/3/12, home, pressure, what’s that?

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