If you have just arrived at The Library in Purgatory, the first chapter is here.

"I never found the girl, I never got rich. Follow me."

~Leonard Cohen

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Chapter VII.6

FROG (prince) of Cornwall

Autumn Quietly
And he waited
for her there
     long after she had gone
     long after he knew that
     that she would not
Till one day,
   brown and orange
   leaves crumbling
   dry in his hands,
   he could no longer
   see her
   hear her
   or remember
   the words she had written
   to him.
And he slowly stood up
  with a sad little sigh
and quietly walked
towards the bittersweet
burning up the western


0125—Bad Drunk

I want so badly to call Gwen right now—am having a hard time thinking why I shouldn’t, but don’t know what I’d say if I did.  Instead, and this is a very fucking distant 2nd place, I am going to pass out on my sofa instead.

Why the Hell isn’t my Life Like the Myths, Legends, Hollywood, or Anything?

I have looked at what started on the trip to Denver  as an anomaly—I didn’t understand how I could have reached the moment of “catharsis” without having the corresponding moment of “struggle”—damn you Hollywood!  And now, having gone back and read some of my old journals—I never faced off vs. the “giant monster’ but I faced a million small ones—the fact that I’m still alive to even write this is a testament to my courage and inability to give in.

I always thought that there would be some “earth-shattering” revelation that would, somehow, put it all in perspective, tie it all together, unite the disparate parts into a (self) coherent whole, and set me free.  Instead, just like Parzival, I one day realize that I have “won through”, without knowing how or why.  For so long I have struggled under the banner of “looking for something” that it is hard to let it go.  However, was reminded today of this from 06JUL99:

“…it is also one of the styles of the psyche to pretend that something in the past literally caused something in the present.” (source unknown)

Screw it.  Just talked to Mikey for an hour—that kid!  I would fly out tomorrow to stand in for him at his own funeral.  And yet, his advice is this, “Hey, how are you?  Haven’t heard from ya in a while.”  Fucker.

What I was trying to get at last night was that things did not/have not happened the way I thought they would—which is not necessarily a bad thing.  However, it led me to question the results, the process.  Further, it is possible that this childhood “tragedy” was a construct of my psyche (or my own ignorance/misunderstanding) just to get me moving, on the path, and that I shouldn’t worry about not “getting to the bottom of the issue.”

So I took Mikey’s (possibly bad) advice and called Gwen last night.  Fortunately, she didn’t answer and I got her voice mail—didn’t leave a message.  I don’t know if it was the right thing to do or not.  The fact that I called really means that I likely need to follow it up with another call.  Should I have waited to call her?  I had hoped that she would call; now, who knows.

Surprisingly, I really feel like just walking away—why?  Likely because I figure that I will talk to her (me calling her, not the other way around) and find that nothing has changed, or worse, that she hasn’t thought of me at all.

We are at an impasse, before last night I mean, and I am tired of being the “responsible” one, the one who cares.  It has always been me reaching out to her; but as I write that, I know it’s not entirely true and I have to wonder, how many times was that a factor of me having walked away?  I want to be seen as having some “worth”, some “value”—not that she can ignore me and that I will just come back.

Yet, at the same time, I have to wonder just what “being bold” in this situation entails—is it staying away and letting go or seeking reunion?  It strikes me that, after all my learning/revelations, this is my first “lab”, if you will—test.  And it occurs to me that it was a night or two ago that I first really felt like calling her.  I’ve missed her every day, but this was the first time I really wanted to call her.  In any case, as I see it, because I called, and she has to know that I did, I have to back it up or not talk to her for a longer time.

I must be the luckiest fucker in the world!  Called Gwen last night—no answer.  Now what do I do—called her tonight, twice, with no answer—now she has to call me—inshallah—but none of that matters—now, it’s on her shoulders.

In the Margins:
-“Anyone can be angry—that is easy.  But to be angry with the right reason, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way—this is not easy.” ~Aristotle
-I woke up this morning, tired, so tired that sleep would never be able to relieve it.

“If you find your life tangled up with somebody else’s life for no very logical reasons, that person may be a member of your karass.”

“They were, I think, a flawless example of what Bokonon calls a ‘dupress’, which is a karass composed of only two persons.”

“’The people of San Lorenzo,’ the father told me, ‘are interested in only three things: fishing, fornication, and Bokononism.’”

                                             ~Cat’s Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut

So, called Gwen last night—twice—and no answer.  Not exactly sure what to make of that.  Three different times over two nights and she doesn’t answer on any?  What are the odds of that?  Crazy.

Anyway, it doesn’t look like a fluke “drunk dialing” incident, or maybe it looks like two.  I think I’m off the hook, so to speak, in that regards and it will be back to whether or not she wants to call.

Last week, reading journal from the time frame spanning ’97 Med Cruise till I first moved to CO, which encompasses my initial meeting of Gwen and the “meat” of our relationship, or at least time together.  It’s funny how you forget some things and come to believe others, not incorrectly, but not exactly factual either.  And the thing that really strikes me—reading all this old stuff—is the unbelievable parallels between then and now:  the frustration with her silence, not knowing where she “was at” or where the boundaries were, lack of communication, etc.  It is actually fucking crazy because my thoughts then, at least in regards to her, are damn near the same they are now, which is almost unbelievable to me—so much for progress.

Even then, I was writing about “letting her go’, not knowing what else to do, and being afraid of “clinging” to her.  I couldn’t let go then though and ultimately drove a great deal of space between us.  I had forgotten all this stuff and rereading it, it’s like I have already done this, lived all this shit once before, which makes me wonder what I didn’t learn the first time and what I am s’posed to (try to) do differently this time around.  It also makes me wonder, given that I’m seeing damn near the same things from Gwen, some eight years later, if possibly this isn’t a sign that maybe we should not be together at all.  I don’t know, can argue it either way.

But again, am just surprised that things I wrote eight years ago I could just as well have written two weeks ago.  It is just amazing.  This needs more thought.

 We've Been Here Before?
Woke up this morning, tired and blah—not a good night of sleep and felt down; haven’t been able to shake it much all day.
Gwen has felt very far away today and not on my side of the fence.  Don’t ask me why.

Given how things were back in ’98-9 I am surprised that I wasn’t more afraid this second go ‘round, that it was as easy as it was (relatively speaking) to do the right thing and let her go.  This in-between stuff though is killing me.  I can’t do anything other than work on me, which sucks, as I’d rather be working on us.

Going back to rereading old journals: am struck that there may have been more to this “voice” than I most recently thought.  I had forgotten the extent to which I had felt “guilty” for something but never knew what or why; only that my blood, pain, or death could atone for this sin.  In any case, below are some quotes from various sources that I have recopied down, them striking me as relevant now as well as back then.

Somewhere between Vietnam and a bottle of whiskey my nightmare began, with scratches of line and bursts of color.  I have tried to rid myself of that nightmare and its long-reaching effects.  I have tried to draw a map for myself from the past to the present, from sickness and anger to peace and health.  Everyday I have to work because the truce I have with darkness is delicate and peace requires constant maintenance.”[1]  ~Richard Bartow

There was a time, actually a long time in my life, when I buried my deepest feelings somewhere in the ocean of my mind.  I did not want to feel or see myself.  I was afraid of what I would feel inside, afraid to reexperience the horrors, to relive the violence that I was capable of.  I became a Spartan, not allowing myself pleasure although going out of my way to help others.  To do otherwise, I felt, would weaken me.  Looking back, I see that was very selfish.[2] ~ Michael Brostowitz

Children who endure such abuse can become hyperalert to the emotions of those around them, in what amounts to a post-traumatic vigilance to clues that have signaled threat…many such people are gifted at sensing what others around them are feeling.”[3]

“The only way to communicate what happens when a man stands next to the waters of his own life is through metaphor.  Entering into the depths of the psyche can be overwhelming and dangerous.  Rites of initiation intentionally put people at the edge, where they must sink or swim with the capacities and resources they carry within themselves.  When there are no prepared rites, the psyche of a person will take any significant interruption of the daily work and throw a person into the realm of ordeals and trials.”[4]

The effects of this return from the castle of the water of life are not at all straightforward.  The youngest brother has changed radically, and all the relationships to which he returns must change as well.”[5]

There are two parts to the rediscovery of the place of genuine.  In one we sense the golden light of the flame in ourselves; in the other, someone else must see the flame in us.  Both are necessary for the fire to grow.  When both occur, there is an outbreak of spirit that changes the course of our lives.  If neither of these things happen, we may die, either literally or inside.  If others see the flame in us but we don’t recognize it, we will burn just for them and eventually burn out.  If the flame cannot find a life-enriching way to be seen by others, then it will burn a line towards death in order to be noticed before it goes out.”[6]

Couple of things I wanted to touch on here as I’ve been thinking about them today. 

First, Think I am still between the “prize” and “return” points in the hero-myth cycle and I’m not sure what it is I need to do next to effect a/the return and the completion of they cycle.  Second, does Gwen play a role during or at the “return” and what do I do in regards to either answer?

As I think I’ve already written, it really struck me just how unable I was to see Gwen’s side of things back in ’98-9.  And although I was not able to see her side, I could at least see, in my writings, our interactions and how much she tried.  This time, even more than the last, I have no idea what is going on for her—no comms between us.  But, as crazy as it sounds, I think I am getting a little (and by little, I mean “little”) idea of some of what may be going on for her since I’ve been watching Gilmore Girls.  Hopefully you’ve stopped laughing by now.  The show has been a guilty pleasure since the morning after I last talked to her.

So, last night, am thinking hard on the questions I led off with, looking for an answer(s).  It was a poor night of sleep and there seemed to me more “tossing and turning” than sleep or dreams.

In regards to the first question, I was left, not so much with a picture or dream, but rather the “feeling”—words: and this is what they were:  “Dip him in the River Styx.”

In regards to the second question (Gwen), it was even more telling:  “Throw yourself in the river.”

WTF over?!!

Okay, I can see the benefits of furthering my armor by “dipping” in the River Styx…just like Achilles.  Up-armor your character vs. everything—kinda like getting rustproofed.  I sound cynical?  For one reason—how?

As for Gwen—what does that mean?  Let her go more?  Call her now?

Am struck overwhelmingly (possibly stupidly) that this directive means NOW—even though it is in the middle of Lost.

Instant feedback—straight through to voicemail.  Nothing.  There’s nothing to think about.  This will make the 4th time I’ve called her on three different nights; I will never call her again.  How, why could I?

Woke up “feeling” the fact/truth that I have not “returned” yet…not from my quest or even ‘Astan.  I still want “me” time and realize that I am still having some, not so much problems, as hesitancy getting back into the “real world”.   I have been taking steps to help the process along, often unwittingly—getting my place and moving, and now, buying a car—come to mind.

Little things still seem overwhelming—like buying ceiling fans, a kayak, or just going to the store sometimes.  I want to do some volunteer work but have put it off, mainly because I don’t want to have a commitment to anything right now.

Have a lump in my throat and a pit in my stomach and just feel like curling up and bawling, but I don’t know why.

Six months ago today, also a Friday, by coincidence, I stumbled home about 0500 or so and typed up a short email to Gwen babbling about something or other and asking if I could call her…before falling into bed.

I had really hoped that there would be such an email waiting for me when I got up this morning—sucks to be me I guess.

Unsent Note to Gwen:
Woke up this morning and sat at my bar with a coffee and the pic you sent of yourself from DC—have no idea why you sent it— Funny that, because it suddenly struck me that it was 6 months ago, to the day, that I stumbled home in my Jeep and wrote you an e-mail asking if I could call you.

Only 6 months?  Shit.  It seems like years, lifetimes in Afghanistan—hate to say it because it sounds cheap—but since we’re not talking if not true, if I was a better man, would have died in an appropriate manner to show you I wasn’t making that crap up.

But no, all that is wrong, the fact is, for reasons I can’t explain…For reasons I don’t understand still I “met” you, have felt like I always knew ya.

All right—gave up last night, er, rather this morning—too much champagne.  Shit happens I guess.  Will have another go at it.

MoP asked Miss Kayte to marry him last night and she said yes.

I’m going to chalk this up to the champagne, but there was once, maybe twice, where Kayte glanced at me with this look of loss and sadness, like I was s’posed to have asked her and there was still time to do something about it.  And as I write this now, and picture Kayte and the look on her face in my mind, I now see more of Gwen’s face than Kayte’s.  Hmm…not sure what to make of that.

            Letter from Kayte dated 22JUN06
Dear Frog Prince,

Thank you for the great book.  I look forward to reading it.  I always can use a good laugh.  I appreciate you being part of such an interesting evening.  Thanks again.  See you soon.


There are some days that I wake up and feel like the biggest chump in the world for believing, for saying that, somehow, Gwen and I will work out; feel like a pathetic loser hanging onto a ship that has already sunk and gone down.

Conversely, there are those days that I wish I could bottle; where I feel honorable, strong, and knightly.  Most days, I think, am somewhere in the middle on the side of optimism; though I have to admit, it hurts, some days more than others.  Honestly, it is the difference between seeing a challenge and being a victim, between basing my worth on myself or on her.

I remember when Shane showed up here some 5-6 days a couple of days after thanksgiving.  We stayed up and played pool till like 0500 the next day.  I had Gwen on my mind and he asked me about her.  I remember telling him, though I’m not sure that this had anything to do with her, how, here I was with all this “prosperity” and yet I felt dead to the world; that I hadn’t been alive, truly alive, since Charleston. 

Shane advised that I call Gwen and then fly out to see her.  I couldn’t see it happening simply because I assumed that she hated me.  Two weeks later, J. convinced me, at about the same time of morning, to do the same thing.

My life, again, changed that day.  I suddenly felt alive—after she said yes of course.  That suddenly, I was of some worth.  Until then, I had felt like about a million dollars of unrecoverable treasure, or a million dollars of worthless metal—Librarianasium—a million bucks, yes, but of little or no value at all.  Worthless.  Useless.

It would be easier to just walk away; to completely let go and not look back.  It would have even been easier to cling on, to grab, wheedle, whine, and make a right proper pathetic ass of myself—peddling whatever remained of my pride and dignity till she loathed even the sound of my name.  And yet….

No two days are the same, except that I miss her; but even that varies from day to day in type, amount and intensity.

Of late, she seems further away and I know that I miss her but I don’t remember “why” so much and the ache doesn’t feel as strong as it once did.  It’s like she is slowly fading back into a “symbol” where our separation has been so long (or long enough) that I don’t really know who she is now anymore. 

There are likely things about her personally, her character that has remain the same, changed little.  But, as a living, dynamic, creature…I no longer know as well as I did who that beautiful creature is, and that gap, that space, that “unknown” continues to grow with every day that passes.

And on one hand, I’m glad that I’m letting go.  In some ways, it means that, cumulatively, everyday that passes, it gets a little easier to reclaim my life and to see new possibilities.  And yet,  I said, at least to myself, that I’d wait…but I don’t know how to keep her alive for me, from becoming an empty symbol of something that no longer exists; which is bad as it means I am more likely to pigeon-hole her or completely miss/overlook/misunderstand a new, better Gwen.

What is it about someone that you “love”, and how do you keep that alive in your heart when you are no longer in proximity to that?

And as I write this, I am leaning towards the idea/feeling that the flame is going to fade and finally die; which is as it should be.  All you are left with is a few embers, which you keep alive by blowing on them with your breath, until you can combine them with hers, should you meet again, and can rekindle the flame together.  That feels about right to me; can’t say why it does, but it does.

Autumn Suddenly
He stood there
at the crossroads
Spring had turned
   into summer
      and then into autumn
orange and brown leaves
pushed about by a chill
creaking wind
blowing forlornly
about his legs.
The flame he carried
  had gone out
  a long time ago
as she faded
from a fantastic creature
to a bittersweet
glowing like an ember
in his heart
and kept alive there
with his warm breath
   till the day when
   would seek him out
   and rekindle that flame
   with the fire
   of her love.

Had a crazy thought the other night—there’s just no accounting for me.  What if these inexplicable moods I sometimes get—not related to my own strange moods—were me pinging on Gwen’s vibe?  Again, I’m pretty sure that this came out under the influences of Gosling’s but it was important enough for me to jot down a reminder to write about it; so it is the least I can do for “Last-Night-Frog Prince”, who can write no more.  And, although crazy sounding, it is an interesting idea…for reasons that I don’t totally understand.

Lying in bed this morning, thinking; I seem to be on two tracks: finishing my quest and Gwen.  One I feel stymied by and the other I can do nothing about other than work on the former in an effort to be a better person.  That’s where I’m at.

As I have thought all along, but is really sinking now, this is a chance for me to grow, a lot, especially with everything else that has been going on.  I am not in a position to influence her…but I can influence me, and it is an opportunity.  And the crazy thing is, I can’t lose.  Either by fate or because I fucked up, Gwen is beyond my reach.  If I improve myself and she comes back, I ‘m better for it; if she doesn’t come back, yeah it stings, but I have triumphed rather than wilted in the face of adversity and have more to offer and will be in a better position to offer that to someone else.

This is an opportunity and the only way that I lose is if I piss it away.  I have been leaning this way for the last month, but this is the first time that it has sunk in so concretely.  Of course, there have been and are going to be hard days, down days…but I can’t just give in and give up.

The quality of any relationship is determined by the one who wants it least, not most.”[7]

Started Tristan last week and just barely started getting into the meat of it yesterday and today—have been highlighting like mad.

If Parzival was the analogy for my quest, there are parts of this (Tristan) that are for Gwen and me—crazily so.  Will start jotting down some quotes below—the first couple are from the prologue and first chapter, which deal with generalities and the meeting and romance between Tristan’s parents.  The really telling quotes will come later.

Joy and sorrow were ever inseparable in love.  We must win honour and glory with the two or go to perdition without them.”[8]

“…I see so few who, for their lover’s sake, will suffer pure longing in their hearts—…”[9]

But since he was uncertain of her motive—whether she acted from enmity or love—he wavered in perplexity.  He wavered in his thoughts now here, now there.  At one moment he was off in one direction, then suddenly off in another, till he had so ensnared himself in the toils of his own desire that he was powerless to escape.  …His entanglements had placed him in a quandary, for he did not know whether she loved or hated him.  No hope or despair did he consider which did not forbid him either to advance or retreat—hope and despair led to and fro in unresolved dissension.” [10]

God, I know this so well!  It is me, back in ’98-9, and this year as well.  You look so hard, searching for any clue, trapped in no-man’s land’ unable to press on because you are unsure where her lines/boundaries are and reluctant or unable to retreat.  It is a living agony; and you are certain, that if you just had that one little sign, clue, you would know perfectly what to do.

For the greatest distress in which any man can be is to see his deadly enemy before his eyes, day and night.  Such peril grips at one’s heart and is a living death.”[11]

Actually, reminded me of the stress of being in Iraq and Afghanistan.

At one point in the story, Tristan has fought and killed a dragon (had been on fire—h/t to Bly and Iron John).  He retreats to a pond where he submerges himself completely except for his mouth, and then passes out.  He is found by the two Isoldes and Brangane:  When the three beauties, this radiant company…” (p. 165).  I was reminded of the time I stumbled home from McD’s—drunk—junior year in high school.  I passed out somewhere, a couple of times actually, along the way and had a dream or vision of three women, all in dark robes with the hoods over their heads.  They were all beautiful and my recollection is that they were all blond, though it has been so long that I can’t be sure.  They didn’t do or say anything and all I have is the picture of them—from the shoulders up.  However, I was left with the impression that they were “sisters of mercy” (not the band!), for lack of a better term—to help, protect, teach, and one (possibly) to marry me.

So, reading about the three “beauties” pulling Tristan out of the drink (drunk) tweaked my memory.  Of course, it could be nothing more than strange coincidence, if you believe in that sort of thing.

“…you love that which hates you, and that which you desire does not want you!...you keep on telling us that you desire Isolde and that she will have none of you?  Such is her nature: who can change it?[12]

These words were spoken to the deceitful steward, but there’s a part of me that can’t help thinking that they apply to me as well regarding the current situation with Gwen

Those two conflicting qualities, those warring contradictions, womanhood and anger, which accord so ill together, fought a hard battle in her breast.  When anger in Isolde’s breast was about to slay her enemy, sweet womanhood intervened.  ‘No, don’t!’ it softly whispered.  Thus her heart was divided in purpose—a single heart was at one and the same time both good and evil.”[13]

The last quote, struck me as the fight between Gwen’s head and heart with me, my fate, at least regarding this thing called “us”, hanging in the balance.

Nevertheless I detest you, since but for you I should not have a care in the world.  You and you alone have saddled me with all this trouble, with your tricking and deceit.  What spite has sent you here from Cornwall to my harm?[14]

This struck me as possibly how Gwen might have felt, in part, when I visited her in San Diego.

I was struck by how Tristan, having met her, Isolde, I mean the first time in Ireland, didn’t fall in love with her, or seem to take much notice of her at all other than to note her beauty; and that even as they are sailing back to Cornwall, he is still not taken with her but tries to be her friend.  It is not till he drinks of the love potion that his eyes and heart are opened and he falls irrevocably in love with Isolde, then tries to deny it, fight it, as she is betrothed to another.

It is eerily similar to the day in KW.  I could not have cared less about Gwen before; she didn’t mean a thing to me other than she was nice to me, fun to drink with, and the wife of my best friend.

Now when the maid and the man, Isolde and Tristan, had drunk the draught, in an instant that arch-disturber of tranquility was there, Love, waylayer of all hearts, and she had stolen in!  Before they were aware of it she had planted her victorious standard in their two hearts and bowed them beneath her yoke.  Who were two and divided now became one and united…They shared a single heart.  Her anguish was his pain: his pain her anguish.  The two were one both in joy and in sorrow, yet they hid their feeling from each other.  This was from doubt and shame.  She was ashamed, as he was.  She went in doubt of him, as he of her.  However blindly the craving in their hearts was centered on one desire, their anxiety was how to begin.  This masked their desire from each other.[15]

First off, a part of me has always thought that I was crazy, that there was no way I could simply step between a woman and a bum and fall in love with her, totally, completely.  It made no fucking sense; so I either had to be crazy, deluding myself, or horribly, horribly confused.  The fact that she was my buddy’s wife only made it worse and the more far-fetched.  And yet, the above describes exactly what happed to me and how I felt; it is the only time in all the years since that I have seen anything comparable.  The only difference here is that I can’t account for Gwen’s feelings and am quite certain that she did not fall in love with me (at that time), if she was even aware of how I felt.

When Tristan felt the stirrings of love he at once remembered loyalty and honour, and strove to turn away.  ‘No, leave it, Tristan,’ he was continually thinking to himself, ‘pull yourself together, do not take any notice of it.’  But his heart was impelled towards her.  He was striving against his own wishes, desiring against his desire…As is the way of captives, he fixed his mind on an escape and how he might elude her, and returned many times to this thought:  ‘turn one way or another!  Change this desire!  Love and like elsewhere!’  But the noose was always there.  He took his heart and soul and searched them for some change:  but there was nothing there but Love—and Isolde.”[16]

Holy Shit!  Here is a story written some time after 1210 AD, whose earliest version is approximately, excuse me, circa 1150 AD, that perfectly portrays my state of mind following that Valentine’s Day in Key West 1998!  I stepped between a woman, who I had never given a second thought to, and a bum, and as surely and quickly as Tristan, my life world changed forever. 

My love,
Heart of my heart,
Soul mate…
you were wrenched away
from me
and I was left
Not a day goes by
that I don’t feel that
in a million—
seemingly infinitesimally small—
Where are you
lying tonight
and why aren’t I
How long must I
  go on
    separated from
from my own soul?
The agonies of Hell—
at least as I have
heard them described—
have nothing on the pain
I feel every morning
   to awake
   not at your side.
How do I find
  my way to your
when it is I
who am lost
to you?


[2] Ibid, p. 36
[5] Ibid, p. ??
[6] Ibid, p. ??
[7] David J. Lieberman, PhD., Make Peace with Anyone, p. 165
[8] Gottfried Von Strassburg, Tristan (A. T. Hatto translation), p. 19
[9] Ibid, p. 43
[10] Ibid, p. 52-3
[11] Ibid, p. 65
[12] Ibid, p. 172
[13] Ibid, p. 176
[14] Ibid, p. 193
[15] Ibid, p. 195
[16] Ibid, p. 195-6

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