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."