Thomas Wictor

A very rough day

A very rough day

Yes, it was a very rough day. I finally returned to a project that I’ve been neglecting because it represents so much negativity. Murder, lies, being played for a fool, mental illness, evil, injustice…

But enough about my marriage.

No, I was never married. I did ask one woman to marry me, and she said, “Maybe. Ask me again in a few months.”

But then she drove me away. I told her my secrets, and she couldn’t handle them. Still, she gave me the three happiest years of my life, so I’m grateful for that.


Here’s an interesting question: If the love she claimed to feel for me was fake, and she was just pretending because she thought I was going to be a big deal someday, does that mean that my three years of happiness were also not real?

To clarify: My happiness was real, but what if I felt that way only because she was a brilliant actress? What if she totally fooled me?

I don’t actually struggle with this question. It isn’t important to me anymore. For twenty years after she drove me away, I felt incomplete, but now she’s become an abstract. I remember everything perfectly, including the emotion. However, the memories are like exhibits in a museum.

I own one piece of original art. Deep Thoughts of a Pilot, by Leslie Ditto.

When I was going through Ditto’s Website in December of 2009, the painting leaped out at me, and I bought it without thinking. I saw it, and five minutes later, it was mine. It sat in my closet for three years. After I reestablished contact with “Carmen,” the woman I call the Cardinal Ghost in my book Ghosts and Ballyhoo: Memoirs of a Failed LA Music Journalist, I asked her to send me a photo of herself. I’d reconnected with her to ask for permission to talk about her in my memoir.

She told me I could write whatever I wanted, and she sent a photo. The image is identical to Deep Thoughts of a Pilot. Carmen was even wearing a scarf. Though she was unaware of the painting, I know that she’d carefully chosen a picture of herself with that expression. The reason I know is because I know her. It was a message. She wanted to tell me that she’d made a mistake. Guess what owls in art mean?

The owl symbolizes Anath, a middle-eastern goddess called the Lady of Birth and Death, who represents a simultaneous blessing and a curse. She was fertilized by the blood of sacrifice, war, and murder. An anathema is a death-curse pronounced over any sacrificial victim, a person who is both holy and accursed. Anath’s owl is a symbol of a blessing that destroys.

Here’s the second photo Carmen sent me.


So owls represent Anath, who herself represents the sacrifice of someone who enters a marriage that results in that person’s destruction. Although the marriage is blessed with children, wealth, and social status, they all come at the cost of the death of the one chosen for that union. In the Christian gospels, the curse “Anathema Maranatha” means “The bridegroom comes [to his death].”

Almost every culture has a tradition of a god or person chosen for a sacred marriage that leads to the cursing of that individual and his or her subsequent death.

What could Carmen and I say to each other? Nothing. It was far too late. After she approved the manuscript for the book, we stopped communicating. That was 2013.

But now she’s receded even further. The painting no longer means anything to me. Neither do my memories. When I move from California, I’m going to sell Deep Thoughts of a Pilot, as well as the Carmen Bass, an instrument that she had custom made for me in Japan.

I thought I’d keep them forever, to remind me of the three happiest years of my life. Well, they’ve become mere objects. Clutter.

This is what happens when you break through the wall that you’d put up around things that were too terrible to face. The only analogy I can think of is the sort of isolation that veterans of combat feel. They’ve killed people, maybe in hand-to-hand struggles. When they look around at the peacetime world, everything seems trivial and alien.

It isn’t the fault of people who haven’t experienced awful things. I’m not envious or angry. But there’s just no connection. I’m on one side of a line, and they’re on the other.

My brother Tim and I make outrageously insensitive jokes about our childhoods. But only about what was done to us. We never laugh at what was done to others. What we discuss is the turning of convention on its head. We imagine being at a fancy dinner and telling everyone what happened, just to see their reaction.

Years ago a black comedienne was talking about domestic violence in the black community being minimized. She did a routine featuring a couple fondly reminiscing about the good old days.

“Remember that time I cut you?” And then she laughed and wiped her eyes.

That’s what Tim and I joke about. Laughing and wiping our eyes as we tell people things that will make them run screaming from the room.

If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend the Danish movie The Celebration. An adult son decides to use the occasion of his father’s birthday to spill family secrets. It’s all your nightmares come true, presented with a stunning, low-key grace and horror.

I’ve put off working on the project that I restarted today because this is the third time that I’ve tried to realize it. It fell through twice before due to ridiculous clowns who have no idea what it means to be alive.

“As I told you, I don’t believe in psychiatry,” one of them said to me.

No. He never told me that. But when someone says they don’t believe in psychiatry, it’s because they’re terrified of finding out what’s wrong with them. I can tell everyone what’s wrong with them. Immediately. This guy, for example.

He’s a Twitter user who hates Jews. It’s called “displacement.” He’s displacing his hate for someone else onto Jews.

Can you guess who he hates?

I don’t blame him. I’d hate the person too. But time is running out for me. I can’t waste even a second on vain, non-sentient assemblages like him. He got upset at me when I said, “You don’t give a damn about Palestinians. To you they’re just props, the deader the better.”

“Who are you to tell me what I think and feel?” he wailed. In writing. He was obviously wailing as he wrote.

Well, I’m me. Cartoonish, limited, bereft, belligerent oafs aren’t a mystery to me. If that guy lived to be a billion years old, he would never have a single thought that surprised me.

A few days ago, however, I got a message from someone I deeply admire.

I find your story very interesting. One of the things that still inspires me in life is the random possibility of new people, ideas, information falling into my lap.

I would enjoy having you as a friend. I too have had a rather unusual and remarkable life.

The future is still unwritten. It should be interesting.

This person has not had an interesting life. It’s been a magnificent, outstanding, jaw-dropping exploit, lived for the benefit of others. And out of the blue, the person reached out to me.

So I continue. The future is still unwritten. I’m an optimist who’s currently trapped in the dark, but I don’t expect it to last forever. Nothing lasts forever. That used to sadden me. Now I find it comforting. Transience makes the good things all the more precious.

As my bathroom doorknob would say, “Oooooooo!

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