Tuesday, May 25, 2010

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I am now completely absorbed in the epic mindfuck that is J.J. Abrams' Lost. I don't really want to give much out right now, because my theories are so young, but suffice it to say that it is a great show and I highly recommend you watch it.

I know a lot of people like to clown on it. They are wrong. Don't listen to what they say; listen to what I say. If for nothing else, check it out for the fucking clinic Michael Emerson puts on every time he opens his mouth. Whenever the camera is on him you will be transfixed. Seriously, every bit of that Emmy was deserved. If you like TV that will really deal with big themes about the human condition and make you think, Lost is your animal. Don't be like me and say no to it just because you've seen people get too wrapped up in it. That only happens because it is so good. I know it's on ABC, but this is definite Must See TV.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


I lost a friend this month. I wish I meant that we had a fight over a girl we both liked, or I stole his guitar, or crapped on his car, or something like that, but no such luck. No, my buddy Paul is never coming back, because there's nowhere that he's gone.

I met Paul in second grade. We were both in the GATE program and Phoebe Hearst. At Phoebe, GATE was a separate class, and there was only per grade, the result of this being that you essentially had the same class from second through sixth grade. Luckily, I had good friends for those years: Brian, Chris, David, and Paul, with later additions of Johnny and Stephen. Now, when I say we were good friends I really mean that we were around each other all the time. Every recess and at lunch. We put our desks together whenever we could. Every birthday party, we were all there. Sleepovers, the whole gang came along. We learned about girls together. We taught each other how to curse. Hell, Paul even said "Fuck this shit!" right to our sixth grade teacher and walked out. He was a pretty boss fellow.

After Phoebe, we all went to Sutter. Well, everybody except David. We all still hung out and stuff, but not as much. The vibe definitely wasn't the same. I had a few classes with Paul here and there, and I'd go over to his house occasionally, but there was definitely a change that happened in the relationship of the seven of us. After that, we mostly split up to go to different high schools. A bunch went to McClatchy, Paul to West, and I to Sac. And from there we really didn't see each other that much. We'd go to the river every now and then to drink some beers, but we all had our new friends that we were making at secondary. But even through all that, there was still Paul.

Paul has always been a musician. He was the first one of us that started playing guitar, and he went the furthest with it. The guy's been worshiping at the altar of Billy Corgan since before he even knew what a power chord was. That was one thing that always kept the two of us together. Every now and then I'd bring over a guitar and a bass and we'd jam it out. He'd play me the stuff he was working on, and I'd show him what I was putting together. Even through the college years, we'd still jam over summer break; he'd e-mail his demos he was putting together. The music helped keep us close. I think that was the key; we had something to bond over, something we could use to try and push the other.

I could tell you stories until I'm blue in the face, but I don't know if I could ever convey to you the kind of guy Paul really was. He always had your back. He was a very chill, soft-spoken fellow, but you always knew where he stood. He had an irreverent sense of humor that could put some people off, but really it just served to separate the wheat from the chaff. We were once talking about religion, and he expressed to me how he didn't like that he had an apostolic name, given how he felt it was all bullocks. He ended up deciding it was okay because "Paul changed everything and deluded everybody. I'm okay with being that guy." Paul was never one to put on airs of superiority or omniscience. He much more preferred to deal in the nitty-gritty of things. He wanted to get his hands dirty. He wanted to talk about the most human things about us, not how we should cite references or hold teacups or say prayers. Paul was the most human in us.

For the last year and a half or so, he would have random seizures that they didn't really know what to do about. They would ebb and flow, and he said he just realized there wasn't much he could do about it. It was ultimately one of these seizures that took my beautiful friend, but I can smile because I know that he didn't lose any time in the years he was with us. He laughed about the seizures, about death, and about the afterlife. He wasn't afraid of death. Not that he wanted to die, but he knew this is the only time we have and you can't let anything take it away from you. Not fear, not faith, not pain. In my head, he's still laughing at death, though I know that's the only place he can be now. In my heart, and in the hearts of all us who loved him.

The pain of the cut has now subsided, but the hole will remain. I know that it will get easier to deal with, but he's never coming back. The times it will really hurt will be when I think of going to hang out with him, and then remember I can't and that he's gone. Gone. I still have his number saved in my phone because I can't believe it's real. I keep waiting for him to come out from where he's hiding to laugh at the joke he's pulled on all of us. Facebook suggests that I post on his wall because he hasn't heard from me in a while and I can't grip that he'll never hear from me again. I listen to Pumpkins and tell him we need to put together a rendition of this song of that one, but know I'm really just talking to myself. Perhaps it will feel final at the funeral, but now it's just like he's in the Peace Corps and I won't see him for a while. We were supposed to go crap on each other when we were old and fat, not be cut down two weeks before graduating college.

I'm a complete atheist, but there are times when I really wish I were wrong. This is one of those times. Paul, I love you. I'm so happy that the last time I saw you we were both smiling and laughing. That's how you'll forever be for me. I miss you, buddy. Have fun at that great gig in the sky. And save me a seat.

Paul Eugene Smith
12/24/87 - 5/3/10