I follow a blog written by a woman whose friend scored tickets to the New York Film Festival this year. So, naturally, she has been writing posts about all these fabulous films she has seen over the past days – the new HBO two-part documentary George Harrison: Living in the Material World, directed by Martin Scorsese; Béla Tarr’s The Turin Horse; Lars von Trier’s Melancholia; and others.* I mention this because my recent film viewing experience has been quite dissimilar. To wit, just the other night, I finally got around to watching The Phantom of the Opera for the first time, the movie musical, on DVD. It is the first time I have witnessed the story of The Phantom of the Opera in any form. I have not read the book. When I lived in Los Angeles, I had wanted to see the performance at the Shubert Theatre in Century City. I heard that the phenomenon of the chandelier coming out over the audience was quite, well, striking. But I never got there. An L.A. friend took me to lunch around that time. As soon as we sealed ourselves into his sleek, black sports car, he said, “Listen to this.” He reached forward and pressed a button on the dash. He maxed out the volume: The Overture</font size> to The Phantom of the Opera. I fastened my seatbelt. Wow! Some catharsis.
The phantom of the opera made me think that here you are. You may be padding around in the alcoves, chambers, catwalks and labyrinths – in the latter, among whom Stephen King calls the boys in the basement – of my blog and I do not know you are here. You are here watching me. You are here learning and knowing all about me while I know nothing about you. You are The Phantom of My Blog. You may be teaching me, even, and I receive your teachings mystically. While I may experience a presentiment of your presence, I do not know for sure that you are here. You? I listen. The power of the music of the night.
Emma may experience something similar when our chaplain and our music therapist visit by her bedside. She will, as they come near her, stretch a leg, open an eye, and then turn her head away and close her eye. The chaplain observes that she is probably entering into a beginning new phase, the cocoon phase. We watch over her, watch her spirit, know who she was, where she came from, the songs she sang, the music she played, the pictures she painted, the parties she hosted in her lifetime, and try to discern where she is now, where she is going. She won’t verbalize it for us, she just turns away, but it appears she experiences a heightened sensation of our presence.
Here at home I’m dealing once again with the phantom Hospice aide. Granted, she requested time off; but no one told me – until late afternoon yesterday when our Hospice social worker/bereavement counselor, Geri, emailed me to see if I had been notified that this aide would not be showing up today nor for her following two scheduled visits. No one is coming to replace her. Fortunately, I have the state Attendant Services health care aide coming. She and I have to cover for the work the Hospice aide does. Some things won’t get done. But, at least I will have someone to bathe Emma and turn her in bed, requiring more physical strength than I have. In any event, I am not paid. I could be editing and publishing my book so that I can market it and you can buy it, but I am attending to health care instead. This could be worse. Up until two and a half months ago, we had no Attendant Care Services. If such circumstance yet existed, I would have no one. This is stressful. I make plans: I made plans a week ago for someone to take me to the store on one of the days the Hospice aide will be absent. I have to rearrange my schedule and that of the person driving me; this is why, when I go to the store, I must ensure that our provisions are well-stocked, just in case. If I had a car, I could be more flexible; but since I don’t get paid…. Maybe they’ll change the rules so one can buy a car on air rather than with money – or given our weather conditions since August, buy it with raindrops.
Well, I’m getting a bit jaded presently. Sometimes I just tire of it all. I think the Phantom of the Opera was jaded, too, after the abuse he’d endured in his lifetime. I liked him. I thought it sad that in the movie Christine went off with her noodly childhood boyfriend. I thought the Phantom had more character substance. He could be a bit nasty at times, though. Maybe it’s because he got impatient.
The ghost existed, wrote Gaston Leroux, whose characters recount the story. Workmen, when digging in the substructure of the Opera, found his corpse. I know this, as you may, because I just downloaded the story to my Kindle, free from Amazon.
I’ve tended to enter into my own cocoon phase recently. The dumbing down of America gets to me. My Attendant Care Services aides, who have to document their hours on a time sheet, mix the forms of hours and minutes (i.e., 21:15, twenty-one hours and fifteen minutes) with hours and fractions of an hour (i.e., 21.25, twenty-one and one-quarter hours), and then try to total the columns. I correct the figures and then fax the sheets in to our fiscal management organization accountant (?) who gets the figures wrong and misspells our names. Then, too, faxing is not that streamlined for me, given that my fax machine was unearthed from an archeological dig. Our circus people neighbors running rings around us, back and forth, back and forth diagonally across the street between their two houses and proclaiming empty calorie conversations at stage voice decibels to the person seated next to them on the porch across the street make it a good thing Emma is hard of hearing and her ears are impacted with wax.
I shut my windows and go to my studio in the room upstairs at the back of the house, sit at my keyboard, and look out at the dogwood tree with the vermillion leaves, absent of the berries the birds took, and the squirrel bouncing up and down on the branch in the wind. I look in at my blog and contemplate your presence. I listen for the music.
–Samantha, October 14, 2011
*Lame Adventures, http://lameadventures.wordpress.com