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About a week ago, Violet and I bought a bunch of fish. We wanted ten or maybe even twenty but then the fish-sales-guy did this crazy up-sell and talked us into twenty five. I don’t know how and I don’t know why we agreed but we did and so we have. We got back into our car with a big bag full of fish and as we drove they swam.
The pond has been empty for a while. I’m not an easy repair with a broken heart but when spring started to spring this year I knew it was time. Last month I bared the grief and drained the pond completely. I scrubbed it out and have since attempted to “balance” it and get it ready for new fish life.
I still think about and miss, very much, my best fish-guy and am not the kind of person who likes to replace. I would much rather dwell on how much I miss Fraidy and how no fish could or will ever take that fish-love-spot in my heart. But, this pond is actually just a well-kept mud puddle of standing water when there is no life inside- so.
So, now there are twenty five little fish dudes and dudettes swimming around, trying to find there place in this new home. Like I mentioned briefly in my last post, I have yet to make any new fish friends but I do enjoy seeing that calm and beautiful space filled with flippy, splashy, swimming life.
Just today, just now, I went out there to give the little guys and gals some food and maybe even try to get to know them a bit. As I scattered the fish flakes, all of a sudden, one of the little baby fish came swimming towards me and then very dramatically turned the other direction and splashed away. It reminded me of the way Fraidy would show off in the evenings when I’d get home from work and come to say hello. I then noticed that minus the lipstick-red lips, this little pint-sized baby showoff fish had almost the same markings as Fraidy.
It’s no big deal really, except that it made me pause and realize, that somehow, somewhere along this way, some repair has happened. And of course, I want these little baby fish to swim and thrive and have the best little fish lives that they can. But beyond that, I am also willing to consider, at the very least, the notion of, the potential to and the possibility of, loving, differently, again.
Friday, December 11th 2009, 1 p.m.:
When I saw him, through the kitchen window, too close to the surface for this freezing weather I ran to the door, flung on a pair of Violet’s shoes and ran to the pond. It was like time froze. It looked like Fraidy was trapped in ice. He was on his side and he was not moving at all. I panicked. I ran to the shed and grabbed the axe. I ran back to the pond and I started to hit the ice with everything in me. As specks of ice were flying everywhere, I did realize, somewhere, that my efforts were most likely in vain. But I rarely, if ever, accept the things I cannot change until I have proof, a lot of proof.
I threw the axe at the ice as hard as I could, with more of me than I knew I had actually, about six inches to the left of him. I hacked and hacked at the ice block until several inches down I finally hit water. I did this in a circle around him. It took quite a few minutes and all of my might. I felt panicked and out of breath.
As I was hitting the ice block over and over I saw that nothing at all was happening to Fraidy but I still didn’t believe the worst could be true. Or maybe I didn’t believe that there wasn’t still something I could do.
Finally, I had carved a full circle around my friend and as I lifted up several inches of ice, Fraidy slowly floated to the top, on his side, like he was dead.
I ran inside and grabbed a bowl, filled it with room temperature water and ran back outside. I picked Fraidy up with my hands, touching and holding my friend for the first time ever, and put him in the warmer water. Maybe he just needed a break from the cold, who doesn’t? Maybe he had slowed down his breathing so much that he looked dead, like he’s done year after year now, that the human eye just can’t recognize at first. Maybe he just needed a minute. Maybe he would thaw a bit, gasp for air and look at me like, “What the hell am I doing in a salad bowl, you crazy son of a bitch?” Anything. I was looking for anything. I was panicked and shivering and whispering to him over and over, “Come on buddy, all you have to do is breathe, ok? I’m sorry.”
He didn’t. I sat on the frozen ground, beginning to freeze myself, for more than 15 minutes, just staring at him with a sort of attention I have never found before. I would have seen it, if anything happened I would have noticed. I started to feel heavy and dizzy and awful. I started to sink but the ground underneath me was so hard and frozen I had nowhere to sink into so I just sat there and loathed myself for being so devastated.
I realized, then and now, that being this hurt, this broken apart, over a little fish does not fair well in the scheme of things, in my ability to cope with the world. But really, I don’t want to, not like that. And I hate when the world makes me feel like I need to buck up. I tried, I try, but I couldn’t feel less. One of my favorite ways to spend my time was with a fucking goldfish and now he was gone and so now I felt broken and I get, maybe more than is good for me, how stupid this sounds and that only made me more upset. So I sat there, shivering and crying, just staring at him, angry that I felt this sad, angry that he was gone, angry that there was nothing I could do and even more angry wondering if maybe there had been something I could have done. My brain kept yelling at me, “IT’S JUST A FUCKING GOLDFISH!” and my heart argued back, “He was a friend.”
A few hours later I had plans to meet up with a buddy of mine. I decided, in my loathing, that I had no excuse to cancel. He is a good guy and when I eventually told him about Fraidy, whom he knew, I could tell that he got it, and that made me feel a bit less crazy and it made me love him more, for getting me like that, for getting Fraidy like that.
I came home around 4 p.m., later than I meant to, and grabbed a shovel. I tried to dig a hole but the ground was too frozen. I didn’t know what to do so I left him in a fish net, in the pond, his home, that quickly refroze. Fraidy looked like a picture of himself.
– – – –
On Saturday the ground was still very frozen so I took the axe and all of my angst to the ground this time. I started to carve out space for my friend right next to the pond. It was exhausting and it felt good. The ground was frozen solid for almost a foot. I wrapped sweet little Fraidy in a cloth and before I put him in the ground I said, “I’d kiss you goodbye but I don’t kiss boys. I love you though. A lot. And I know your little fish brain is the size of a fish food flake, but I know you knew that. Goodbye.”
Rest in peace Fraidy Phat, my sweet little fish friend.
You will be very missed, especially in quieter moments.
And thanks little guy, you know, for everything…
(In order to preserve and maintain the high level of faggy queerness that I have very intentionally injected into this series, please click on the video below and count to fifteen before reading the final credits – it is just so gay and perfect that way, trust me.)
. . . . .
…And like every adventure that ever was, eventually there is – The End –
. . . . .
Tour of Fabulous: Final Credits (in order of appearance):
The oh so amazing and lovely, long time leading lady: Violet
My four legged shadow: the Seal
The reason I didn’t miss my flight: The SeaTac TSA lady that kind of hated me
Red backpack: As itself
Best hair product in the world: Not telling
Sexy smooth dude/ Ol’ school best buddy: Sinclair Sexsmith
Sweet girl that put up with Sin and me all week: Kristen
Partner in many a late night crimes, one of my very favorites, Park Slope pool survivor: Mikey
Crowd of fabulous on Friday night: Everyone that did not try to beat me up
Pool shark: Barb
Pool shark’s drunk friend: Suz
Very cool dude who threw an awesome party: JessHeIs
Lady who hypnotized me with her eyes and then fed me breakfast: Tina-cous
Snazziest dressed (by a long shot) at Jess’ party: Dr. Leo MacCool
Wonderful, sweet new friend willing to talk with me all night long: Freedomgirl
Doppelganger-Shane from the L-word: the DJ at Jess’ party
Lovely girl behind those green eyes: greg
greg’s dress: As itself
New long distance bff: greg’s girlfriend
. . . . .
TOF Director: Sinclair Sexsmith
TOF Producer: jesse james
TOF Executive Producer: the Seal
TOF Editor: Fraidy Phat the Fish
TOF Fact Verifier: Marcus the Raccoon
“Tour of Fabulous” Title Credit and Most Missed Blogger: Lady Brett
Onset Chef and Makeup Artist: Kristen
Windsor Tie Knot Maker and Hair Validator to jesse james: Sinclair Sexsmith
Cherday Sponsor: Thursday
(endless) Support Crew: Violet
Best Boy Grip: That’s what she said
*A special thanks to Sinclair Sexsmith, one of my very favorite people on earth, for putting me up and putting up with me for a week. You are a host with the most and one of my favorite ways to spend my time. And to all of you along this amazing vacation adventure, thank you for being so kind and wonderful and welcoming. I am very lucky to have met you and to have you all in my world. And thank you all for getting through all four parts with no one screaming “LIAR! I can’t believe you just said that about me!”
I very much look forward to TOF: The Sequel.
with love, of course,
As fall begins to fall here, quite suddenly I might add, Fraidy Phat the Fish and his new gang are slowing down quite a bit. The pond water tempature has dropped suddenly which signals Fraidy to start getting winter ready. He’s moving much slower and is eating twice as much. He’s like a bear-fish getting ready to hibernate.
This will be the gangs’ first winter and although they are all full grown goldfish now the winter tempatures can go on and on and on here making it hard for a greenhorn pond fish to make it.
I love these fish (a bit more than what some may see as “healthy”) and am doing my best to help them prepare.
I’m feeding them fishfood everyday now, turning on the little pond fountain daily and cleaning out the leaves and things at least once a day. I even made a pond canapy to keep the falling leaves out. I’m also hoping at some point Fraidy will tell them what to do when times get winter-hard: swim to the bottom, stay really really still and wait until it’s warm again.
Seems simple enough but I’m guessing their little fish brains aren’t even the size of a piece of lint and so I’m banking their chance of survival on instinct rather than reason. But what kind of instict does a little petstore-bred goldfish have? This is my concern and this is why year after year when the spring springs Fraidy is the only one left standing… or swimming in this case.
I have at least another month to fatten them up but then they’ll be on their own. All I can do at that point is wish them luck and hope to see them sometime in March.
I was talking to my godmother, Ruth, about the fish and she said she didn’t realize Fraidy was so much bigger than the rest. I guess I’ve never made that clear so I took a few photos for her and am posting them here too.
The fish gang are all the size of your average goldfish and as you can see, my man Fraidy is the super sized king of his pond castle.
I have so much I could write about that it has actually kept me from writing anything at all. Well, that and I have the flu.
- Can you imagine how much Cher Thursday I have to catch up on?!? Cher in a musical with Christina (thanks greg.. and what!what!squared!) Chastity now Chaz! This is some big news and all of it quite exciting.
- I saw Marcus for the first time in 8 months a few nights ago. He is easy to pick out being tailless, and he is bigger and fluffier than ever. It made my heart swell to see him so healthy and as happy as a raccoon can present himself. He strut (is ‘strut’ the past tense for ‘strut’? Strutted? Strought? This fever is getting me) through our back yard at dusk like a man on a mission, huffing like a big ol’ tough guy. It was great to see. He even stopped to pee on his (and now the Seal’s) favorite tree to pee on.
- Fraidy has 5 new fish friends that Violet paid way too much for at a charity auction. I will get some photos up soon and see if you all have any name suggestions. So far there is Goldy and Lox but three no names and I could use some help with that.
- Zoe’s mom passed away about a week ago and I have no idea what to say about that yet, if ever. Not sure I will say anything but that it has been hard. Really hard. For a lot of people.
- I was in MiddleofNowhere California last week and after a few drinks at a motel bar I ended up on stage singing happy birhday to a woman that I had known for all of 5 hours. Her speaking voice sounded just like Dolly Parton and I just couldn’t get enough of her. (Yes, I kicked in a little of my best Cher towards the end). That was a good time… until the next day.
- It is pride weekend and Violet has never been to one before. She asked me what I was going to dress up as and I replied, “Um, me.” She then asked how to register to be a dyke on a bike. I explained that the bike in this situation is not actually the kind of bike she has but that motorcycle doesn’t rhyme with dyke, hence the slogan’s usage of the word ‘bike’. She was fairly disappointed but went right back to the ‘well then, what costumes should we wear?’ conversation. Um, seriously. No.
- Last night I met a woman that is a veterinarian… for elephants. ELEPHANTS. Ummmm yes, what you just read is correct. I am totally infatuated with this woman’s career at present and am scheming up ways to try and make her think I am half as cool as she so that maybe we can hang out again. My two very favorite animals on earth ever (besides the Seal) are elephants and octopi. I could go on and on… and on about this, like I did last night with the rad elephant vet lady, but I wont here. Right now at least.
- At present, like I mentioned, I have the flu (ah! that is why this post is so flat and without personality, you say? Yes. That is why.) and I am hoping to find enough energy to participate in the gay weekend with mild flare at least, sans costume. I will let you know.
The catch-up-with-my-blog-list goes on and on, but as this flu has zapped my ability to sound even remotely interesting, I will leave it like this for now.
Happy gay Friday.
I’m a few hours away from leaving for my vacation with Ruth. I have made the bold choice to go on this vacation sans computer. I want to see what time away from staring at this screen may or may not do for my soul (is it really sucking it out or does it just feel that way? We shall see). Not to say I won’t jump at the chance if there happens to be free internet somewhere along the way. But, in case there isn’t, and I am internet-sober for this entire trip, you may not hear anything from me for a week or so.
This also means that the staff here at jljj is off the hook for a bit too. Violet, Fraidy, Marcus and the Seal can all rest assured that any and all follies, cute gesture, slip ups, and pooping of clothing will go undocumented for a brief bit of time. Is this to their relief or less reason to get up in the morning? They will have to figure that out and let me know. Regardless, I will be back soon and will promptly begin to overly observe and document my little family… and then, I’ll blog about it all… like I do.
And just remember, although Thursday may come and go a few times, Cher loves you.
He is a good friend, and not just for a fish, but in general. He’s a great listener.
I’m starting to realize that the ears hear but they’re not what listen. Which is a good thing for Fraidy and me. (Do fish have ears? Huh. Even if they do, which they must, right?, that’s not how Fraidy listens.) I feel it. I know it. And he always responds accordingly: If I’m bored he shows off for me. If I’m tired he just chills out with me. If I’m telling him things he paces slowly, back and forth, taking it all in, swimming to the top every once in a while to offer eye contact, as if to say, “Huh. Very interesting, jesse! And how did that make you feel?” And then I tell him and he continues to swim slowly, around and around… and around.
And I listen. I know he doesn’t like it when I scatter fish flakes just any ol’ place. He prefers that I sprinkle them in delicately, on the far left side, where the reeds are. He feels less vulnerable there and the flakes float longer when I am gentle, which he likes. He would prefer that I clean out the debris as often as possible, and I do. It annoys him when he mistakes a cherry blossom for flakes. He spits them out with such a scowl. It’s the closest he’s come to raising his voice at me. He doesn’t mind the Seal, but this doesn’t mean he likes her. The distinction is obvious… and important. Is he jealous? Maybe. But unless he feels like elaborating his reasons are his own. None the less, I get it. I make sure to go out there without her sometimes for a little jesse/Fraidy time, which we both appreciate now and then.
And the fact that we trust each other is mutually obvious. He has watched other fish in that pond learn hard, hard lessons for swimming to the top. I mean, sometimes the decision to swim to the top is a life and death decision. And Fraidy got his name because he hid from me for so long. That’s why he’s still around. He doesn’t just swim to the top for any ol’ shiny thing that might be food but could be a raccoon paw. What we have is a slow and authentic building of trust.
And now, there’s something about me that he recognizes and trusts, and vice versa. Regardless of whether I come baring fish flakes or not, when he sees me he immediately swims to the top and gives the top of the water a few little fish kisses, like his fish version of the French bisou, and then starts to flip flop around like an excited puppy, happy to see me.
There is no doubt with him because I have given him none, and none with me for that same reason. I can’t explain it, nor can he (because he is a fish. And although I am not sure about fish ears, I am sure of their inability to speak in a way that humans could literally understand. If that changes I will surly let you know and I will also be rich and famous when I do).
The fish gets it and I appreciate that more than his little fish flake sized brain might ever understand. So, I ramble on and on… and on, while he swims around and around… and around. And this how we roll (swim, ramble) and this is all we need.
My routine with Fraidy has been much the same every day, including weekends. Only now it involves Fraidy, dog and me. And on the weekends I switch things up a bit and go out to see him right after I’ve made myself a cup of coffee.
I grab the mug, the fish flakes and dog and I go out to the back yard. I clean the pond with a net, which gets Fraidy all worked up, dog watches Fraidy flip around, which makes dog’s ears perk up and flip around, I toss in some flakes and watch the fish-shark hunt his flakes.
This Saturday, I woke up a little earlier than usual, made my jo and out to the pond we went. There is a little wire fence around the pond that becomes electric at night so that Marcus and his crew cannot go midnight skinny dipping. This fence has obviously worked… until this Saturday. Dog and I stood over what was an unusually still and clear pond and could see all the way to the bottom. I looked around, which is not much to look around at and saw no fish. I panicked for a second and continued to look under the few hiding places – poked the net around and no fish flipped.
I panicked even more. I looked around and noticed that part of the wire fence had been knocked down and it looked as though someone (Marcus?) had made a little ruckus around where the fence had been knocked down. My disbelief admitted to my brain that Fraidy had been found… and potentially eaten. My heart and the plastic can of fish flakes fell to the ground. I looked at dog and asked, “Where’s Friady!?! Huh?!?!” She galloped around the yard, nose to the ground and looked everywhere, including under the deck, which made me wonder if Marcus was under there sleeping with fish on his breath.
I stared at the pond for what seemed like too long before I just started to chant, in a whisper, “He’s gone. Fraidy’s gone!”
I went inside and immediately Violet asked why the long face. I told her. Her first reaction was light hearted denial. “No, he’s just hiding. That’s what he does.” I told her I looked everywhere, which wasn’t a whole lot of anywhere to look and he just wasn’t there.
I got on with my day as best as I could. Every few thoughts or so my brain would say, “Your fish is gone! Is he really gone?… Knock it off, he’s just a fish.”
My heart hurt. It really really hurt. He was such a good guy. And although I’ve battled with whether or not Fraidy gave a shit about me or not, he did. He really did. When I would come out there he immediately swam to the surface and smiled at me. I know you’re wondering if a fish can smile and I’ll tell you, right here, right now, yes, they can.
So, my day went as it did. Violet and I, ironically enough, went out for sushi that night and it was a wonderful date. I tried to get him out of my head over a few shots of sake but as soon as we got home dog and I ran back outside to stare into the still, lifeless pond… and… there he was. That little shit of a fish was just swimming around like, “Oh hey Jesse, wassup with you? Nice weather we’re having, huh?”
And thank the fishgods.
A general, choppy, update on life:
Violet has a ton of work stuff going on, my job has been slammed with real work to do and Violet’s parents are coming into town this weekend. So, I have been spending my time doing actual work stuff (instead of blogging), helping Violet with some of her work stuff, and preparing the house for parents, which we all know means hiding some things and digging out other things to put on display as if they are always there.
Spring is very springy and I am ready for summer.
I haven’t seen Marcus and am assuming it’s because he is a healthy raccoon with hurt feelings and has a grudge against our lack of edible garbage (we compost almost everything worth scavenging. He’s smart enough, he’ll catch on eventually.)
Fraidy is the raddest fish that has ever lived and we have developed a cool little routine that goes:
I go out to see him as soon as I get home every evening. I scoop out the never ending fallen cherry blossoms with a net. He gets all flippy-floppy trying to dodge the net, inevitably working up an appetite. I sprinkle in some fish food flakes in the same place every time, wiggle my finger in the water where the food is, which is his food-cue that he quickly caught on to. He dives to the bottom and acts all coy (yes, bad pun, and he is actually just a remarkably beautiful goldfish). At first he is very methodical, like a hungry shark, attacking one piece of food and then diving back to the bottom. Eventually, he starts swimming around more furiously, striking at several pieces in a row until he just starts striking at anything and everything. Every once in a while he gets a cherry blossom or a little piece of moss and then shoots it back out with force and with this grumpy fish face like I tricked him or something. I watch, laugh, and then go inside to recount the whole scene to Violet.
She’s not terribly willing to have long conversations about our goldfish but she is sweet about it and listens.
I will up my blogness frequency again soon. But for today, that’s the news from lake Woebegone… or Washington, I guess… where the women are strong, the raccoons are good looking, and the fish are above average.
Also, as we all know, Thursday is Cherday. If you have any great Cher-ness, do cher. You can send anything and everything Cher to firstname.lastname@example.org
This is Fraidy. Fraidy Phat the Fish. It’s not the clearest picture but that’s because when the sun is out he is cruising all over his pond at warp speed, making a clear fish shot hard to catch.
A few Saturday’s ago, while Violet was gone, I set up camp right next to the pond with a book, some coffee, and nothing to do but sit in the sun with my fish. I hadn’t seen much of Fraidy until then. I thought he was just really shy and afraid of being seen (hence the name). But as it should turn out he’s cold blooded, just like all of the other fish in the world, and so during the winter season all he’s really doing is hanging out at the bottom of the pond, freezing his little fish balls off, trying to stay… not frozen.
But now that spring has sprung, Fraidy is a fire-fast, fat and happy, flippy little fish. A cute little red head, as you can see, with a ring of red around his lips as well (I’ll do what i can to get a picture of that). I have grown to love him rather quickly and pretty seriously. And now that he actually does stuff you can count on regular fish updates- meaning, if the fish, the raccoon, the girlfriend, and/or Cher bore you, you will most likely lose interest in my life.