Wednesday, December 30, 2009

We'll Take A Cup Of Kindness Yet For Lives Gone By

It's almost New Year's Eve. New Year's doesn't really mean much to me anymore, least not the way it used to. When I was young, New Year's always meant new beginnings. The older I got, the more it came to define the passage of time, the concrete indicator that there was less sand in the hourglass and the chance of eking out a shred of happiness and create an actual meaning to my life was getting slimmer and slimmer.

This is no longer an issue now that I'm dead and becoming an angel has given me the opportunity to make something of myself. So what should this new year mean to me? Well, it's the first year I'll start off dead and the first full one in the kingdom of Heaven. And this new year won't be the usual reminder that the end is coming 'cause my end already came. Then again, it's just the end as I used to define it, because I found out the hard way this year that death was only the beginning. I guess that's what this year is: the ultimate new beginning, the first year that never knew me as anything less than an angel.

But the other important thing is that this is also a new decade. When I went back and looked at all the events leading up to my death; all the abandonment, breakups and misery that lead me to all the bitterness I entered Heaven with, I realized that the vast majority of it happened over this last decade. Boy, what a fucking horrorshow that was. Getting hit by that car seems like the least of my troubles compared to all that crap.

So, instead of being sad that a whole decade has gone by, I'm just happy to see it go. Does that mean I'm glad I'm dead? That's a really tough question. I'm much happier that I was when I was alive; at least right before I died. I mean, you're supposed to be happy, you're in fucking Heaven for fuck's sake. But it's not just all the superficial joy stuff here, like the apartment, the Tagalong cookies and Disney World, it's people in my existence now that make it all really worth it. If I could have had that on Earth without getting a piece of my head ripped off, I think that's the route I'd have rather gone. But I didn't, and I'm fucking dead, so there we are. At least it all worked out in a way I can live with (so to speak).

Goodbye 00s, fuck you very much, and thanks for everything.

Happy New Year everyone.

Monday, December 21, 2009

'Tis The Season To Be Moody (Fa La La La La, La La, La, FUCK)

Well, Chanukah's over and Christmas is almost here. Believe it or not, this is our busy season. A lot of people don't realize that depression runs rampant around the holidays. It's a time for family and loved ones; as a result, lonely people feel lonelier. The shorter days don't help either; people get depressed without sunlight. Most people associate the holidays with joy, which does indeed exist, but the suicide rate is higher in December than any other month. A Disease Of The Week screenwriter couldn't script it better; the worst emotional trauma is never without a crushing blow of irony. Looking back, if I had to die, I'm glad it was in autumn. If I'd made it to December without Shannon, who knows, maybe I'd have sent myself here. Then I wouldn't be an angel.

Anyway, it's been pretty damn busy lately. Not quite as bad as the first two weeks in February (Valentine's Day is to an angel what April 15th is to an accountant), but pretty intense nonetheless. One of the problems is too many people feel guilt for their depression. Since it's particularly strong this time of year, it has a greater impact on the victim's life and thus can feel relatively new. Some people are compelled to compare it to the major strife around the world and feel their emotional well being is not worthy of healing. I've felt this way in the past about things in my life, at least until the night Marley told me that everyone has a right to their own pain.

So if you're sad or disappointed, don't add guilt to the mix. Even if it's just over the fucking DVD you didn't get for Christmas, just know that something has take away your joy, and that's not fair. You deserve to be happy.

Happy Holidays.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

She's Not The Human Race

So I've been shadowing Randall for a little while, popping up every now and then as he went to his local places. Marley found out from following his fiance that the wedding was actually a few months off, so we had time. You can't take too much time; you want to set your inspiration in before his doubt gets too great, otherwise you risk letting them go beyond help. It started with a conversation over the football game that was on. He's a Giant fan, like me, and we've both been a little frustrated for a lot of the season. Good thing he's not a Dallas fan; it was hard enough accepting the idea of helping people, I don't think I'm ready to extend it to someone who actually likes the Cowboys. So, I tried to steer the conversation towards girls and relationships, but he was a little more guarded than most, even with a few drinks in him. This was gonna take some time.

Anyway, after that, I'd see him from time to time, and usually I'd just swing by and say hello while he was rapping with his friends. Then one night, when I saw him by himself, I appeared and struck up talks. Finally, he told me he was engaged.

"Wow! That's awesome dude!"

"Yeah," he said. "It's not easy though. It's a big step."

"But you're ready, right?"

"I guess so."

"You guess so?"

"Yeah. I mean, you always wonder, right? It's like, I'm thirty-two. I've never been engaged before, but you know, years ago, like, just a couple years out of college, I met a girl I thought I was gonna marry. Man, I was so in love with her. Then, I had this job, I was a writer at a travel magazine, and we got downsized after 9/11. A few weeks after that, she dumped me."

"Because you were unemployed?" I asked.

"I don't know, at the time I didn't think she was shallow like that, but the timing was pretty suspicious."

At this point, once you've figured out what the problem is, it's often better to say it before they do. It makes them feel like you really understand. So I said, "And you're worried that if you get married, what if your wife flakes on you when there's trouble."

"Exactly, man! It's like, how can you trust anyone?"

"Well, you know, ask yourself, have you ever dated anyone who didn't bail when things got rough?"

"Well, nothing that bad ever really happened before."

"Anything though. Even a minor crisis can say a lot about how people respond."

He said, "OK, then, yeah, sure."

"Well that's what you should base things on. Not to cling to hope based on the slightest glimmer, just to know that not all people respond with such negativity." Then I went in for the kicker. "If you base your life on your worst experience, you're never gonna find any satisfaction for yourself. You might as well give up now. Go hole up in your room and try to forget how alone you are by playing video games. I've been there, done that, bought the t-shirt, and I'm telling you, if there's a risk, it's NOTHING compared to the chance of letting that happen."

He smiled, and asked, "You got a girl?" I grinned too and said yes. "How long you been together?"

"A few months now."

"Going well?"

I smiled again. "It's forever."

I looked up and Marley was there in spirit mode. She looked at Randall and gave me the thumbs up sign. I finished my beer and left.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

You're Supposed To Have A Ph. D. For This

Been spending a lot of time lately in this one assignment, and it's been a pleasant reminder of how great it is to not have the burden of an energy level to maintain. It's a guy who has cold feet before his wedding. Sounds simple enough, but you can't underestimate the level of fear before a major life change. Fear changes us, and this fellow, we'll call him Randall, is depressed, acting distant to his friends and family and slightly beligerant to his fiancé. We're spendinga lot of time on this one, mostly late nights at bars posing as friendly patrons. One of the reasons this works is because some subjects will be more honest with a stranger, since the opinion of someone you'll probably never see again doesn't feel as important. Now, the reason I said "we" is because I had to pull some people on this one. First, I took Marley with me to find out if he really wanted to get married, because for all I knew, he could have be pressured or pushed into something he didn't want. "No, he wants to marry her," Marley said. "the idea of committing for the rest of his life has him terrified."

I took a look at him and figured, "Probably worried about there being hotter girls his could bang."

She took another look and said, "Hmmm, no, that's not it. There's something in his past that's left him afraid of commitment."

So there's something of a mystery to unravel. Stay tuned.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Three Drumstick Turkey? Sure! It's Heaven!

So yesterday was my first Thanksgiving away from home, and I thought it would be nice to have a Thanksgiving dinner with my new friends. I invited everyone from the Angel Training class, but as I figured, most of them were having dinner with their dead relatives. So it was me, Marley, her mother and my grandparents. I invited Sashial and Lira too, of course. When I told them we were gathering around 4pm, Lira asked, "You forget how to tell time? That's a little early for dinner."

"Well, first we're gonna hang out, relax, watch some football," I said.

"You fucking kiddin' me?" asked Sashial. "You really think we want to go up to Heaven for any amount of time just to socialize?"

"Kind of sounds silly, when you say it out loud like that," I conceded. "Dinner's around six."

"For you, sweetie, we'll be there," said Lira.

"Just one thing," said Sashial, "and I mean no disrespect, but make sure your grandparents don't try to give us any more fucking candy."

"Fair enough."

After that, I had an idea: I invited the guys from class over for a Thanksgiving lunch at 1pm during the the first football game. Roy and Patty still couldn't make it, but Tony and Suzanne stopped in. I thought it was a nice thing to do, Suzanne on the other hand, acted like I'd written a Health Care bill that everyone agreed on. "Oh my god, this was such a great idea!"

"Thanks," I said, "but it's just lunch."

"It's not just lunch though. Holidays should be spent with the people you care about. That's my family. But you guys are my new family. This way, I get to spend time with you too!"

I know it sounds cheesy, but it seemed kind of cool that we had a holiday tv special moment like that. Even after she and Tony went back to their families for dinner, with that memory in mind, the holiday seemed that much better. And that's on top of it being reunited families once separated by death. Just imagine what December's going to be like.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Feel The Burnout

A big time disappointment can lead you to what I call a depression attack, a fit of sorrow that plunges your mood in a matter of minutes. A lot of these fade, because it's basically a shock to the emotional system, like jumping into a cold (or sad) pool; you adjust/get over it.

Smalltime chronic depression is more of an issue of longterm damage. Nothing hits like that initial mood punch, but if a mild discomfort NEVER goes away, it eventually starts to eat away at your overall mood and your average temperament slides farther and farther down the hole.

Which brings me back to this fellow who was working late. I went back a few nights later and there he was again. I didn't say anything, but the next day I went back and brought Marley. He was there again, and Marley said, "He's not good." I brought her back a week later, and there he was. Knowing what I was gonna ask, she looked at him and said. "He's getting worse."

I came back in janitor role. "Evening," I said. "'Nother late night I see."

"Yeah, had quite a few of those lately," he said.

"Must be hard. All those hours. Gotta tire you out."

"Yeah, it sucks. It's a bummer. The other night, I was looking at my sleeping pill bottle, and I was like, 'All I have to do is down that whole thing.’”

“Oh, jeez dude!”

“Ha, I’m just kidding.”

I’m sure he was, but the fact that his mind went there was a sign the work was taking its toll. I said, “You know, when you’re working really hard, a lot of people will say, ‘At least you’re working,’ or ‘if that’s what it takes to get the job done . . .’ and stuff. But you’re allowed to want something better. Not a better life per se, but, just know, if work gets you down, you don’t deserve it.”

He said thanks and I left. Maybe I helped, maybe not, all I know is, that guy needs to take a step back; a day off, a long lunch, hell, a simple five o’clock day, whatever it takes to pull the mood level up. It’s his choice, but if I nudged him in the right direction, my work here is done. For now.

Friday, November 13, 2009

My Office Job

Everyone has a right to their own pain. Marley taught me that, and I've tried to impart that to both other angels and some of my assignment subjects, because acknowledging your need for help is important, and feeling worthy of it is also a first step. Case in point, an employee who's working late. May not seem like much of a big deal, but it is to them. People who are overworked can become depressed, and depression doesn't care how great or how little it affects the world.

So last night, I posed as a janitor and went to an office at midnight. There were a few people there; some of them were merely disappointing to be there, that's not as bad. They were waiting for work to come their way and killing time by watching tv shows on their computers. My real target was the guy they were waiting for, the one whose work they needed to check. It was taking hours longer than he expected, and he was frustrated with himself, felt guilty about the people he was holding up, and overall tired and sad.

When people are working late, they're grateful to see anyone, so just appearing creates a calming presence. Chatter is particularly helpful here: people in general at this point just want to be left alone, so you need to be short and to the point.

"You know, late nights are tough, but you wouldn't be here if you didn't have the skill for what you're doing. Lots of people couldn't hack it. But you've made it this far, and you know what you're doing, you know what you need to do. Not everyone does. You've got to be in the home stretch by now, and even if you're not, I admire your dedication"

I get a smile and move on. Back to Heaven, now MY job is done. Another good day.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


So I'm sure you know. Everybody knows, of course, it's big news that the Yankees have won the World Series and again are champions of baseball. But if you're here, then you're no doubt wondering where I was that night, as the culmination of nine years of frustrated passion was finally realized.

For game five, I went to Mickey Mantle's Restaurant (heaven version) with Marley, Tony, Suzanne, Sashial and Lira. Playing in the road stadium against the Phillies' best pitcher, I wasn't too confident about the game, so a dinner out with the gang with the possibility of a victory was all I was expecting (plus promise of a meal was the only way to get Lira there). When the Yankees came up short, it was disappointing, but no big deal.

The night of game six, on the other hand, an hour before the game, I had an odd queasiness about me, like I knew that was it, that that was the night a decade of hoping and wishing was going to be realized. I told Sashial I didn't want any parallelism. I wanted everything to be one-hundred percent earth, one-hundred percent real. She said, "Well fuckin' A! Let's go down to the stadium then! We'll just go down invisible in spirit mode and sit on the dugout. Best seats in the fucking house!"

I said, "I don't want to be hiding when it happens, I want to be out there, among the fans, with the people. Let's go to that bar in my neighborhood."

"The one where we had the celebration for you?"

"Yes," I said, "but not the Heaven one, the real one. The neighborhood is seven subway stops from Yankee Stadium, it's a big time Yankee bar, it'll be packed wall to wall with Yankee fans."

"You know I fucking hate crowds," said Sashial.

"You can still go to the stadium," I said, "Just swing by after."

She looked disappointed, which was very odd to see, because I'd never seen that expression on her before. "But it won't be as much fun watching them win without you there." When she said that, I thought back to when we met, and how dumbfounded I would have been back then to see her like that.

"Just come to the bar," I said. "Yes, it'll be crowed, but trust me, it'll be crowded with instant best friends." Sashial agreed, threw on a Nick Swisher t-shirt (her favorite player) and we shot down to the bar to watch the game. And of course, not only was she instantly surrounded by dozens of friendly allies, her trash talking soon endured her to the crowd even more. In one of the early innings, Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino misjudged a fly ball and it short hopped his catch, resulting in a base hit instead of a fly ball out. Above the whole crowd, Sashial yelled, "Nice fuckin' hustle, douchebag!" which made her an instant favorite among the cheering throng.

When the Yankees won the game and thus, the series, Sashial and I were ecstatic. Maybe her a little more, because she'd never experienced it before, plus after some of the humans I've saved, even the thrilling of sports events falls a little short of the personal gratification. But nonetheless, after years of frustration, to have things finally work out was a special kind of joy. Specially because, this time I didn't have to create it. Originally, when I first became an angel, it was just the opposite, but now, experiencing a cathartic pleasure without ever having the responsibility of it looming over me was both jubilant and liberating. I hadn't seen Sashial this happy since the last time we celebrated at that bar. This wasn't as big an occasion, but least there wasn't an unpleasant reality we'd have to succumb to facing this time.

"Where's Marley?" Sashial asked. "I know she's not exactly a baseball fan, but I thought she'd at least want to celebrate with you."

"She will," I said. "She's at the stadium right now."

"What's she doing there?"

"You'll see."

About twenty minutes later, Marley showed up at the bar, getting a big hug from Sashial before gripping me so tight, it was like she was trying to keep my soul from being dragged away. "So how was it?" I asked.

"Oh my god," she said. "Such intense joy from nearly 50,000 people. It was like waves and waves of it washing over me. It was so beautiful. I just hope that collectively, they're not as equally sad down where the the other team is from."

"What, in Philadelphia?" Sashial asked. "FUCK them."

And that's them being them. God is good.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Starter Needs A Reliever

Sashial, Lira, Marley and I went to the parallel baseball game last night, hoping it would be the last and we'd be celebrating victory. Lira had finally relented and came to a game, given the promise of a celebration, but she only lasted a few innings. "Humans actually watch this? For real? Forty thousand humans have nothing better to do than watch a bunch of rich guys play in the grass?"

"Yes," I said, "I've been going to games for years."


"It's fun."

She gave me that "I feel sorry for you if you meant that" look she gets, and said, "If this was your escape, then no wonder you were depressed down there. I'm outta here."

She disappeared and the game continued. If you watched it, then you know it didn't go so well for us. Marley was never exactly enthralled by baseball; she went to games with me every once in a while because she likes sensing the joy in me when things go well. If they don't, and she feels my pain, it gets pretty tough to get her to come back for a while, which is why Sashial makes the better ballgame buddy.

But tonight was especially bad, and not just because of me. When our starting pitcher fell apart and was ousted in the early going, Marley started to cry. "It's ok," I said. "The game's not over."

"It is for him," she said, referring to the pitcher. "He's so sad. I can feel it so strong, and it's not even really him, it's the parallel him."

"What would you say to him?"

"Try to remind him we're on his side. He thinks we hate him because he's a failure, and so he's ashamed. You have to let him know that people understand. Not everyone of course, but those quick to land blame on him entirely don't have realistic ideas of how human beings are. They're in for more disappointment and unhappiness. Chances are we'll end up seeing them for one reason or another."

"That's a lot of people to see," I said.

She smiled and answered, "We have time."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Inspiration, Aisle Six

I was on Earth in the Mall of America with Marley and Suzanne the other day, and after a hour of listening to Suzanne go on about all the new clothing lines and Marley nodding her head, we wandered into the FYE store at my behest. A U2 song came on, and Marley tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to guy over by the wall. "It's weird, the song is making that guy over there get really annoyed, but not in an angry way. It's like he's sad for himself."

My angel's instinct kicked in, and I wandered over in his direction, and eventually said, "Love this song."

The guy said, "Yeah, it's a great song." She was right, he sounded defeated when he said it.

"Doesn't sound like you like it."

"Oh, I like it, but it's like, you know, I just, I know this dude at work who's a big Alarm fan."

"I didn't know there were any."

"Oh yeah, this guy is like all, 'They're so much better than U2, U2 is so commercial. Their fans are so phony, they only like them because they're popular.'"

I said, "So?"

"Nothing, it's just like, yeah, they're really popular, so, like..."

"You're pissed because the guy basically called you a phony to your face."


"And now, that's what you think of when you hear this, instead of, 'This is a great song.'"

He had a look on his face like he hadn't quite pieced that together before I said it, "Right! Yeah, right."

"Well, who the fuck is he? I guy who loves The Alarm? He knows their success is nothing compared to U2's, it's like he's so insecure about his own taste that he has to lash out for no reason. Sounds pretty pathetic. I mean, how sad is his life that he needs to feel superior by inventing a bullshit superiority over a fucking rock band?"

"I guess."

"I mean, do you like them because they're popular?" I asked.

"No, I've loved them ever since I was six." He looked about thirty, give or take, so that's about twenty-five years of devoted fandom. "I had an older bother who got me into them. We used to fight all the time, listening to U2 was the first cool thing we did together."

"So what the fuck do you care? He doesn't know you. And he only sounds more ignorant by spouting that kind of bullshit." And I started to wander off.

He nodded his head and said, "Yeah. Take it easy." I wandered back to Marley and Suzanne, and asked Marley, "So how's he feel?"

She smiled and said, "Better." Suzanne didn't say a word, she just motioned for us to leave the store. When we were out of the guy's view, her face lit up and she yelled, "HIGH FIVE!"

It's nice to have a job where you can get a high five for doing good work. God knows I didn't when I was alive in that damn office. Inspiring in music store, now that's living.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Angels Who Hate Halos

There's an interesting concept in heaven that I like to call Parallelism. Not the literary device, I'm done with all that crap, school is completely done now. This is like live, in person simulcasts. See, I've been going to bomber games down on Earth all year. I get tickets the old fashioned way; buying them for real. I wasn't sure if I should do that at first, I don't have a paying Earthbound job, so money has to be created. Technically I guess that makes it counterfeit, but if I create it to be real, it's just as real as any currency. My only worry is the capital I introduce into the system, which they say lowers the value of the dollar, but I think a multi-billion dollar budget can survive the price I shell out for tickets to the fucking ballgame. The fuck am I, an economist?

So, I like to engage in the real deal, but it's different in October, when the games are sold out. I can't in good conscious take a seat away from a living human who needs it, so what I do instead is just have it replicated. I don't recreate the whole thing, I don't have enough power to do that, it's more like a live action simulcast: it happens down there, I happens up here. Maybe there's a slight delay, but that's what happens in tv too. So imagine it's like watching the game on a tv so large, it's all life size, and you're sitting in it, kind of like what the hi def tv ads say watching their sets is like, only for real.

Sashial and I went to the games in California this week, ironic team name and all. It was her idea, I personally find it sickening to wade through enemy territory. But she loves it, it must be her antagonistic nature. And she's unapologetic in her affiliation; I prefer to look neutral, but she comes in her full bomber regalia. Usually, nobody says anything, especially after they see what she looks like, and if course, god help them if they do. When I asked her why she would even bother with the live experience on the opposition's home territory, she just told me to wait. After the game on Tuesday, she said, "See? There's nothing like getting fourty thousand jerks to shut up."

"I thought you like mankind."

She said, "I do, sweetheart. But right now, they're the enemy. They're jerks, and I love each and every one of them."

Fair enough. Sashial continues to surprise me. I thought she'd be furious after the loss the other night. But when the game ended, she just smiled and nodded her head.

"You're not pissed?" I asked.

"Not really. We're going back to New York, where we can celebrate for real instead of tens of thousands of simulated whiners."

So wise, so wise.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Weather The Changes

I wonder sometimes if we're missing out on the human experience in Heaven. I was thinking about this the other day when I was on assignment down on earth. The weather was lousy for several days straight. You know, there are certain things about the human existence that make you realize there's a problem with the concept of destiny, the weather, being one of them. People often don't like the idea of having a predetermined fate, because it means, on a certain level, they're not in control. But there's your future, on tv, right there on the weather report. The man in the suit without the meteorology degree is telling you what your day will be like on Saturday, quite possibly dictating your likelihood of having a good day or not. He's telling you rain. Damn. Who the fuck is he to have that power? Well, not absolute power, you can have a good day on the rain. It's like with the dreams; there are no fates, only paths.

No such problems up in Heaven, perfect weather whenever I damn well feel like it. Is it making us soft? Do we need to hold on to the belabored conveniences to keep identifying with our assignment subjects? But what are we really losing? That which makes us human? Our irritability? Maybe we should lose that, or we have to. We're not human, we're angels. This is probably why we can deal with the animosity that plagues our subjects and why we can help them instead of giving in to it.

Or maybe the bottom line is, I've earned good weather. I'm fuckin dead.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Overtime Under Heaven

It's been a little while since I've posted, so here's whats been going on. Sashial, Lira, Marley and I have been working some real overtime lately. I don't know what it is, I think maybe it's the time of year. Summer is ending, the temperature is cooling and the daylight is getting shorter. Since autumn is my favorite time of year, this was always uplifting for me, but lots of people find the darkness and chill depressing. It's probably the same across the country, I can't even tell, I haven't seen Tony or Suzanne for a couple of weeks and Roy and Patty I don't even know about. All this disparity can be pretty grueling. Thank god for the heaven restaurants. The four of us have been getting together for late dinners, so much so that we've been branching out from the Upper East Side diner we usually go to, even though Lira loves the vanilla martinis there. Even though we don't get intoxicated, she says the mix of the sharp bit of the alcohol and the sweet vanilla appeals to her. My theory is the taste describes Lira herself, though I doubt she'd admit that. Sashial just says give her a beer at the stadium any day, I guess the drink of choice for fans who shout from the cheap seats is what speaks to her.

There was one person in particular who was pushing my limits. SO negative. Faced the slightest shred of adversity with such a sense of horror, like the slightest thing was so tragic. Trying to constantly put a positive spin on someone who brings you down at EVERY turn is really draining. I'm starting to wonder if I can help this person. Are there people you just can't reach? It hasn't happened to me so far, but you never know. Until then, I just didn't think it was possible, now I'm not so sure. Sounds like this person is pushing me to despair. Not good for an angel, but at least I have my support system. Marley reminded me, "Don't forget you're still human. Maybe not in body or spirit, but in mind. It's inspiration, not magic. But you have an underlying belief that you can help anyone. I can tell. Just remember that."

I do forget sometimes. The reminder always helps.

Monday, October 5, 2009


I can always lean on Marley. Sashial and Lira are great teammates to have. And Tony and Suzanne will always have my back. It's refreshing, and maybe this is just another aspect of heaven but nobody's let me down. It's different, because I'm sure not used to it. People abandoning you is one thing, but when someone's indifference makes your life more difficult, it's more fuel to the fire of misanthropy. When people who are supposed to help you don't, is it worse than those who treat you maliciously? I think maybe. You don't expect anything from your enemies. When an ally won't give you the help you're meant to have, it's like you've been teased and tormented by having your deserved complacency given then taken away. There's been many a night at work when I've wished eternal hell on people I still think the wold of. On Earth, I mean. In Heaven that never happens.

Then again, these are not people I'm working with, they're angels. Shouldn't angels be better coworkers? They're angels for fuck's sake. Maybe it's the generosity that comes with the job; apathy is essentially a manifestation of selfishness. Then again, don't we all get selfish at times? Maybe more when it's 10pm, you're into your thirteenth hour of work and the last think you want to do is even think about anything that's going to give you more fucking work, even if it won't be that night. Maybe that's the core to the angel's generosity: we're spirits. Not alive, we don't get tired, and we're not given to petty fucking self-interest and free to think about other people. I'd be more than happy to think about myself, but hey, someone needs to be helped, and that's why I'm here. Stop shirking you fucking slacker.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Hope Springs Internal

Loss can be an unusual thing. Can you feel loss for something you never had? Say you were really hoping for a new job, and you were dying to work at, I don't know, say, Google. And you applied, but didn't get the job there. Then one day, you hear Google is closing its local office and shifting its entire work force to California. You'd feel pretty bummed, right? Why? You never worked there. What are you losing?

What you're losing is hope. As long as they were there, you always had a hope that things would change, that a situation would arrive where you'd get your chance. You know, when I was alive, and very unhappy, I used to say that I was a lot happier when I deluded myself into believing I could get what I want. That ended when I finally met Shannon, but we all know how that worked out. But hope is a very positive emotion and your positive outlook is just as much a thing to grieve for as anything else.

As an angel I try to explain this to people all the time, sometimes it helps and sometimes it doesn't. But at the very least, if it can't alleviate sadness it can help with the anger and resentment that can come with it. I should know, that's all I used to feel. Wish someone he told me that back in the day.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The War Of Keeping Peace

So much of what we do amounts to playing the role of peacemaker. I know that we're not meant to intervene, but very often we get what we call "chronic interactive strife," which is exactly what it sounds life; people in a long term, continuous state of tension. We get a lot of families; children who can't find peace because they can't get along with their parents. I'm usually there for the children, but honestly, I don't know who I'm helping more. I suppose I like to think it's the younger generation because I'm biased, more likely to think that they're not the ones creating the problem.

But the more you play this role of moderator, the more it raises the debate about at what point intervention becomes interference. That incident up at the stadium could have gotten out if hand, but didn't. But that stabbing by the post office in Manhattan, that poor kid, he just bumped into somebody, now he's dead. If I was there, would I have been able to stop myself from stepping in? Lira told me, "Different rules apply if it means you can save a life. I know, baby, It's not easy to tell, bit you develop a sense for it. Just use your best judgment."

I asked Tony what he thought about that incident in Manhattan. After what happened to him, he said, "you do what you can. Sometimes it work out, sometimes it don't." I asked which he thought his incident was, he said, "Both."

Thursday, September 24, 2009

How Did I Get Here? And I Don't Mean The Crosstown m21 (Or Do I?)

I fucking hate people who sit sideways on the bus. You know what I mean, some idiot wants to feel like he's in his fucking living room, so he has to lounge around, and stupid you, if you want to sit in your chair normally like a civilized person, have to look at the guy's fucking face. Or else, stare intently out the window. Now, the window's not bad, but what if I don't want to look out there? What if I want to sit forward? Who are you to dictate what I do?

See, Heaven gives you the freedom to avoid all that. In many ways, the earth bus is a microcosm of the earth itself. This is especially true for angels, because most of the dead are done with the bus, angels deliberately get on,knowing there will be this frustration to deal with. So why get on the bus at all? The rewarding destination? Is there a fear of general malaise? Is the litmus test for angelhood simply being so masochistic that we define our existence as pain, and need to "escape" the divine euphoria by jumping into the emotional frying pans of the damaged living?

I don't know, I haven't been an angel long enough. But if this asshole in front of me can stir up existence pondering and not make me want to punch him in the fucking face, maybe I've come a long way already. But still, I beg you, GET OFF THE FUCKING BUS.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Swing For The Fences

About ten years ago, I was driving my grandmother to the train station, listening to some oldies on the radio. An upbeat, big band Sinatra song came on, which made grandma a little nostalgic. I told her, "You know, swing music is very popular right now."

She asked, "You mean young people like it?"

"They love it."

She smiled and said probably the greatest thing I ever heard her say, "If I live to be a thousand, I'll see everything come back."

Grandma didn't live to be a thousand, in fact she died about five years later. Becoming reacquainted with has been a real joy. When you're a child, the age difference seems more drastic, yet the idea of losing them someday seem so foreign, it's simply not a possibility and certainly not part of your future. The older you get, the feeling that your relationship is on borrowed time increases, but this blind faith persists. It gets harder to hold onto, but it never disappears, and usually doesn't until the beeping turns into a steady buzz.

I reminded her about what she said the other day. She laughed, and I said, “How about in 990 years, I’ll take you to a Brian Setzer Orchestra concert? She said, “How about we get grandpa and go see Frank Sinatra and Count Basie right now?” I said sure. Great night.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Kanye You're The Devil, You're Leading Me Astray

The other night, a few of us were gathering, and Sashial said, "Did you see what that motherfucker Kanye West did the other night at the MTV Awards?"

I said, "Who gives a fuck? It's the MTV Awards. It's not a critical touchstone, it's a big giant music industry wackoff."

Lira smiled and said, "I like how he breaks it down like that."

Tony said, "Hey, I love Kanye. But he went went over tha line."

"What did he do?"

Sashial turned on the tv and brought up the clip of his hijack and dis during Taylor Swift's acceptance. I've never heard her music, but you take one look at her and you can't imagine her deserving something like that. I said, "Yeah, that really sucks. But, you know, like I said, it's just the MTV Awards. Not like it's important."

But Marley was gazing at the screen, looking like she'd watched a dramatic silver screen death scene. Obviously, being Brian's Songed meant that she could see it a little deeper. "It doesn't have to be important to us," she said. "It's important to her. And he ruined it. Now she'll never get that moment back."

And that's how a scene from a pointless celebration of pretension epitomizes Marley. Not just her empathy, her perspective. I can only hope to be half the angel she is someday. Then again, she says I'm too hard on myself. All I know is, next to her, salutatorian is the best I'll ever do.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Power Of Positive No

Being a "nice guy" is often a nicer way of saying you're "too nice" (Just don't mention that to Christian Bale. Yes, we still get entertainment news up here.). One of the major symptoms of being too nice is having trouble saying, "No." You're too focused on the other person's feelings to even remember you have feelings of your own. There's a lot of, "Sure, I'll do that," "Yes, that's ok," and the pathetically proactive, "You need a hand with that?" People who do that often get stuck with responsibility, and sometimes fancy themselves as the good Samaritan. It's a little more appropriate to use the term "martyr," because the reward for all good deeds is usually the labels of "sucker," "chump," and the inevitable, "loser."

If you think I'm being overly harsh, then just think about how I feel. This is my attitude, and I'm an angel. My feelings have lightened considerably since I died, but I feel more in the joy of saving than the inherent good. I save humans in part because I feel they need to be saved; if they were inherently good, they simply wouldn't need us as much. And the "nice" stigma is something I still have to deal with.

I think that's why I relish the opportunity to say "no" to people. I don't do it for the sake of it, it's when it comes at a time when it's beneficial, and I just leap at the chance. Sometimes people need to hear what they want to hear, sometimes they need to hear the truth. Learning when to do what has been a continuing education process. The other day, I was watching over a lawyer. He was sitting at a bar, depressed because he was prosecuting a man he felt was innocent, not so much to further his career but more for the sense of loyalty to his job. He didn't tell me this, I'd been watching him in court, but when I sat next to him at the bar and started to chat over the score of the baseball game on the tv, he asked, "Do you think you always have to do what you believe when you're not believing what you do?"

I said, "No." The man was later found innocent. Did the guy throw it? Don't know. But it looked like he felt better, and regardless, I moved on.

Friday, September 11, 2009

And In This Corner . . . Some Suburban Dildo

I saw a fight nearly break out today. People are so fucking selfish. It's like you get cut down merely for showing respect. You know when you're walking at a sensible distance, but because more than an inch of space separating you from the person in front of you, some fucking whacked out asshole fuckwad insists on making it a walking space, because their time is just so much more fucking important than yours, and cuts in front of you? I was down there with Lira after an assignment, and we saw this guy have that done, not by one guy, but three. Older guy and two younger guys, his sons maybe. A whole family of collossal douchebags. So the guy cuts in front of them, the old guy shoves him, he shoves back, old guy shoves him again and they have a stand off where they're shouting "What the fuck!" over and over again. I think the old guy was drunk, because one of the young dudes patted him on the shoulder and said, "Let's just go." Then the guy who was the victim yelled, "Yeah go back fuckin' New Jersey," which the asshole family presumably did.

I asked Lira about what happens when things escalate like this nearly did. Are we supposed to intercede? Do we aid by cutting a situation off before it comes to blows and bodily harm is inflicted? She sneered at me, and said, "What's the matter with you? You know, after everything you've been through, sometimes it's like you haven't learned anything. You do possess memory, right? How 'bout a test, can you tell me your name?"

"Lira . . ."

"We're not peacekeepers, you got that? We're not living these peoples' lives for them, you have to let them choose their path or else they're just puppets; no emotion, no sadness, no joy. Then when they've gone to a place where they need guidance, then you step up. And if you haven't learned that by now . . ."

And I stopped her with, "Lira, you could have just said, 'No.'"

She smiled and said, "I know, baby. But you know that's not my style."

Can't argue with that.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

St. Manners

Cruelty is a fascinating concept. What is the genesis of evil? Insecurity? Anger? Frustration? You know, even in my worst throws of misanthropy, I was always courteous to strangers. They could be jerks, and being human, they probably are. But if you haven't actively shown any hostility then there's no reason for me to not be polite. My problem was always this idea of proactively coming to aid of the people I don't know, again, because of the same assumption I'm making about their character, simply on the basis that they walk the Earth. My point is, what the fuck happened to the concept of manners?

Marley and I went to a show in a little black box theater in the East Village. It's great, still being able to go down to Earth for entertainment on the slightest whim. You can replicate anything in Heaven, but if you're gonna work in the trenches, you might as well play there too. She was uneasy about going back there, she'd had some bad experiences there when she was homeless, but I assured her the area's changed a lot. First thing we see when we get there was a crowd of yuppies smoking in front of a bar, babbling about insipid crap no one with a brain should give a fuck about. "Which is worse?" I asked. "Then or now?"

She looked at me with her usual disapproving but nonjudgmental blank stare and said, "Then." Good thing, I needed to be kept grounded.

Anyway, this older guy in front of me was using the chair next to him like a leaning post, ignoring the fact that the crowded venue was growing short on seats. He kept leaning back and pushing the chair back into me knees. I endured it, but soon he gave the damn thing a shove and it banged into me. I finally told him to stop it, and he just stared at me. He did stop, but what the fuck is it with old guys and staring? Why can't they say a damn word when you confront them? What is the genesis of either their lack of consideration or obliviousness towards those around them. I'll try to break it down another day, right now I'm off to find something joyful.

Monday, September 7, 2009

It's Not You, It's The Douchebag

Sometimes on days I have no assignments, I like to just hang out in the subway. Subway platforms are a great way to pick up unassigned jobs, 'cause there's never any shortage of human animosity or frustration. Today I saw something really blatant. On one side of the platform is the local train, the express on the other. This young guy had just gotten on to the express train when the local pulled in. Apparently he preferred the local, because he got up to run out when the door closed. Hoping the door would reopen before it closed for good, he waited by it on the left hand side, as there was another man standing in front of the doors on the right. The man looked rather innocuous, fifties, portly, glasses and overall relaxed demeanor. But when the doors did indeed open and the first guy jumped out to catch the local, the older man reached out with his arm bent and hit him with his forearm. Not hard, but since the kid was moving fast to catch the other train, it made a bit of an impact. He was fuming, but unable to retaliate without missing the local, which he furiously jumped on.

I'd seen the whole thing, and followed the guy onto the local. Sympathetically, I said, "Wow, I saw what that guy did." And he goes, "What the fuck? I mean, why the fuck would he do that? It's not like I'd ran into him or anything."

So I said, "You know, you have to wonder what's going on in that guy's life that he would feel compelled to do something like that." The kid goes, "Yeah," and I just continued, "He's probably really unhappy. Or just went through something frustrating. It's actually kind of sad. No normal person would do that. The guy's suffering somehow."

The kid smiled and said, "I hope so." So I said, "You know, it's not really important knowing why people act the way they do, it's just recognizing that they're the ones with the problem. I know that sounds like bullshit reassurance, but trust me, whatever he's going through is gonna take a lot more to fix than a shot to your arm." The kid looked intrigued and shrugged his shoulders and I just got off at the next stop. I think it eased his temper, I wished Marley'd been there so I could know for sure. When I told her about it later, she asked, "What would you have done if that'd happened to you when you were alive?"

I said, "Probably screamed 'What the fuck?!' and pounded on the door." She smiled and said, "Yeah, I know you would have." She loves seeing how I've changed, especially since she helped make it happen.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


In baseball there is no clock. Kind of like being an angel. There's no stopping when the whistle blows or punching out at 5pm. Boy, there's an old term. Do young people even know what that means? They probably think it's just an expression, no need to think about the origins. Hundreds of years from now, I might be saying, "And when you were done for the day, you pushed the card into the machine, and it punched the time onto it so that they knew the time you left. Hence the expression, "punching out."

But I digress. Anyway, being an angel is not based on time, it's based on deeds, based on subjects. Usually, we meet our subjects, help an immediate crisis and leave, but every now and then you get someone who recurs. You do have to take breaks from time to time. You don't tire out, but fuck it, Heaven is still Heaven, you have to allow yourself time to enjoy paradise, even with the fulfillment being an angel brings.

So what do you do if you know someone might hit crisis but you want to, say, spend a few days at Disney World. I don't feel that comfortable having someone cover my subjects for me. Say Suzanne offers to help, which she always does, she'll jump at any chance to find a human to aid. But as confident as I am in her ability, I feel uneasy about relinquishing control. I worry about what happens, like I need to be in control, I have to know for certain that this person is being saved, and it's like the only way I can do that is doing it myself. Then I realized that there was once a time when I didn't want to help humans at all. Now look at me being overprotective. I guess paranoia is an unexpected sign of caring. And for me, a sign of growth. Never would have guessed that.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

SIMPLIFY . . . simplify

I was talking to one of the older angels today. I was telling him about the person I was helping, and this was a pretty common one, just a person with a drinking problem who was beginning to alienate his children. Not from abuse or anything, just from not being around, being unable to see the family relationship as the positive reinforcement to avoid the need for vice escape. Happens all the time, no big deal. But this older angel kept on going on about, "Well, first, I set up a chart. I cross section all the person's weaknesses with their strengths. Then their likes and dislikes to increase likelihood of response. Then, I set up another chart of "Guiding Statements," and I plot reactions. As the results get more positive, I set up a . . ."

And at that point I told him I was just going to talk to Archangel Michael and left before my head exploded. First of all, I wasn't asking for any input (got that?). Second, whatever happened to just talking to the fuckin' guy? When we were at angel training school, we were basically harnessing our abilities, not really acquiring skills to put into practice. Inspiring the living shouldn't be mired down in procedure like that, if you need to put that much thought into it, chances are, this is not something you're made for. Obviously this guy was made to be angel since they made him one, but I've said this before, you can't teach talent. I'm not trying to be vain, but if I didn't have a talent for this angel business I would have never started doing it in the first place. Helping people should come naturally.

Then again, maybe angels are meant to be as different from each other as the humans are. I'm just glad I wasn't made like this guy. If I had to do all that crap everyday like he does, I'd fucking kill myself. And that's saying a lot, coming from a guy whose already dead.

Monday, August 31, 2009


Roy, Patty, Tony, Suzanne, Marley and I went out tonight. It was the first time we've all been together since Angel graduation and it was good to see everyone again. Actually, I still hang with Tony and Marley hangs with Suzanne, so sometime the four of us chill together, but it was nice to see Roy and Patty. I didn't realize it would be like that until it happened. I couldn't stand Roy for such a long time that even though we started getting alone before angel training ended, I was surprised that I was happy to see him. I guess it's part of learning that you have to give people a chance and not make your mind up about them too quickly. That's part of what being an angel is all about.

Anyway, we were talking about some of our recent cases and it was interesting how everybody started coming up with suggestions of courses of action before each person revealed what the solution was. I like how we work as a group; maybe someday it'll be interesting to see if we can all work together, I don't know, like an angelic Justice League or something. Since we're spread out across the country on Earth, that's a little tough. Maybe we can start smaller. Chicago's about halfway between Los Angeles and New York, maybe if Marley and I meet up with Suzanne there, then Tony can come out from LA. It's just a matter of scheduling, I'm sure Suzanne would be up for that. She'll do anything if it means healing more humans.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Hail To The Senator

Senator Ted Kennedy arrived up here the other day. A few people seemed pretty excited. I talked to grandma and grandpa and they seemed anxious to see him. The general impression is that one one wants to bother him for a while, they're respectfully waiting until he spends some time with his brothers and nephew. I asked gang what they thought; Marley didn't really know much about him but Tony seemed interested and Suzanne couldn't wait to meet him.

I had some mixed feelings about the whole thing. In Heaven, since you can go anywhere, I guess that means you can go to where ever any given person is if you want to meet them. Doesn't that get tiring for a celebrity? I mean, everyone's in the directory, they're all a phone call away. Maybe we're less disposed to actually use those numbers, and that's part of what heaven is about for the celebrities. I've only used the directory once so far, Suzanne asked me who I called, and when I told her, she smiled and said, "Aww, that's so you!" I figured it was a compliment and then Marley told me it was. I figured as much, I can't imagine Suzanne doing anything malicious, at least not since I've known her. I'm glad I didn't before she died, I could never stand people like the one she used to be. At least I didn't at the time. I wonder who's changed more, me, Marley or Suzanne? I don't know, but maybe evolution is why we all get along so well.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Valiant Effort

Sashial and I went to the bombers game tonight. They fucking lost, which was disappointing. Doubly bad was they made this huge comeback, scoring four runs in the ninth inning when they were down by five, blowing it on a popped up bunt and an unassisted double play. I was pretty bummed, but you should of seen Sashial. She just stood there and went, "Oh MOTHERFUCKER! MOTHERFUCKER THAT FUCKING MOTHERFUCKER!" I'm not sure if she was talking about the guy who hit the ball or the guy who caught it, but with her, you learn not to ask these things. The weird thing is I don't even know which she likes better, the bombers or the excuse to scream and curse. That's the reason she got into the game in the first place, and she only likes the bombers basically because I do. It's kind of amazing, to think baseball's been around for over a hundred years, but in all her travels and tribulations, nothing brought her to it until I did. Then again, it's not like she needs a reason to yell, she certainly doesn't care what anyone thinks of her, much less the humans on Earth.

She did something interesting before we left, though. After she calmed down, she looked at me with those puppy dog eyes she gets, and said, "I'm so sorry, honey." I told her I was kind of bummed, but it wasn't that big a deal, and when I tried to explain their healthy position in the standings, she shook her head and whispered, "I don't care." That is so her. Then she asked when we could go again. I asked if Lira might want to come next time, and Sashial said, "Don't have faith on it. See thinks watching people swing sticks a ball for three hours sounds like punishment in hell." That's so Lira. Those two are the best.

Monday, August 24, 2009

It Really Takes It Out Of You

Being good is really fucking exhausting. I don't mean physically exhausting because we don't get tired or sleepy. Thank god, because being an angel is tougher than any kind of office job you can imagine, good thing it's more rewarding too. You know, when I was alive I never really slept much, especially not towards the end after Shannon left. Whenever someone would get on my case about it, I'd say, "I'll sleep when I'm dead." Now I'm dead, and I don't have to sleep, I only do it for the dreams, that and the sense of intimacy. Like the lady said, it's a free ride when you've already paid.

Anyway, being an angel is not your job. I know I once said it was but I was wrong about a lot of things back then. It's who we are; not what defines us, but more like our purpose, or our entire state of being. You can't shut it off like when you come home from the office, no matter how late you worked that day. And it's mentally taxing. People's problems don't go away when the whistle blows, so neither can we. And sometimes we're called upon to go above and beyond, which for residents of Heaven is really saying something.

So why do we do it? For Marley, it's just her nature, for Suzanne, it's more redemption. I've never quite nailed down what drives me. I think it's just my status as a nice guy. On Earth you get mocked or abused for that, which is what led to my misanthropy in the first place. Up here, it's like, I finally get the chance to use to achieve something. I've never experienced that before. So is my being an angel motivated by a selfish need for fulfillment? I hope not. I got into this originally for spite, I like to think my motives are more noble now. Hopefully time will tell. After all, I'm new at this.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Why Do They Test Me?

I tried to assist someone today, and not only did he show resistance, he made things more difficult by lying to me about what his problems actually were. You know, sometimes I think I'll never understand, these people just don't get that I'm trying to help them. Lira once told me that humans will do anything they can to hold themselves back. I thought she was just doing her usual tough love motivation, but then again, I wasn't an angel back then. Now that I've logged in some angel time, I can see how right she was. This guy had grown children he said he couldn't connect with because they weren't around. I wasn't sure what to do; after all, you can't really bring people together when they're never in the same place. Marley's a little better with family issues than I am, so I brought her with me when I went back to see him. When she read what he was feeling, she pulled me aside and said, "He's not malicious, but he's not telling the truth." When I reminded him what he said, he goes, "Oh. I was kidding."

You know, when you're kidding about something, fucking say that, eventually. That's what makes it a joke and not a fucking lie that makes me look like a total fucking idiot. I was ready to just abandon him, but Marley said to not give up on him. Thank God she's around to keep me grounded. Can you say "keep me grounded" in Heaven? Maybe it should be "keep me clouded," but that's sort of the opposite of what I'm saying.

Anyway, I've said before that humans aren't worth helping, then admitted I was wrong. So I'm still gonna try and help this guy. Just hope it's worth it.