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Sunday, Feb. 13, 2005 - 4:19 p.m.

Editor's note (added 08-09-05): Once upon a time, The Measure was briefly taken over by a rabbit.

The grizzled narrator: Arrrumph.
Oh yes…the winter of '05.
It wasn't so much the ice storm, though that's what the tulips remember. It wasn't the run on Miller High Life down at Joe's Grocery, though some folks' eyes will tell you otherwise. It wasn't even the months-long wait for the sound of the New Year's fireworks -- we all saw the bursts of light, but are still straining to hear the pop-pop-pop we know is coming.
It wasn't any of those things. What it was, only Gerard can tell. And Gerard likes to dress up small truths in ornate clothing.

Gerard: Ornate, indeed! I'm told by many that my discursive manner is excessive, but never have I employed so contrived a literary burden as a narrator. Things have certainly gone downhill in this venue.

The grizzled narrator:
And whose fault is that, rabbit? The place was left under your charge. Explicit instructions and all. If you don't like the change of direction…[hacks into the back of his sleeve] Excuse me. If you don't like the change of direction, maybe you should ask yourself why it's come to this.

Gerard: Surely you know only a drastic circumstance could have kept me from my sworn duty to maintain this hallowed space! I was kept away…nay, torn away by obligations even greater than a promise to a friend.

The grizzled narrator: This had better be good. Quick, too.

Gerard: Very well -- I will be succinct. My correspondents doubt my capacity for it, but when the situation calls for it, I can indeed quite directly expound upon…Don't look at me like that! Spitting, grunting old thing. Oh, this is wearisome.
A synopsis, then: Bertrand was sickly, and I had to come to his aid. I have been nursing him back from the very brink of collapse these past weeks.

The grizzled narrator: Bertrand?

Optional Interlude: A brief flashback sequence.

Gerard: ...and that, my friend, is what I have been doing.

The grizzled narrator: That's touching, rabbit. But why didn't Eva send a replacement while you were away?

Gerard: A replacement? Why, I assumed that was you. Do you mean to say you're unauthorized?

The grizzled narrator: A narrator needs no authorization. In fact, we're the ones who do the authorizing. I saw this space had been lacking a narrative for quite a while now, so I stepped in. That's what I do. Then YOU showed up.

Gerard: So you haven't spoken to Eva either?

The grizzled narrator scratches his nose with a trace of shame.

Gerard: Well, we ought to call her, I suppose.

The grizzled narrator: Very well. But who will narrate it?

Gerard: Eh?

The grizzled narrator: If we're going to do more than talk, someone has to tell the audience what we're doing. And it would sound very odd if I were to narrate my own actions. Besides, the union won't allow it. We'll have to call in another narrator.

Gerard ruminatively wraps one ear around his paw.

Gerard: Wait, who said that? Who's there?

The grizzled narrator: What?

Gerard: Who said I was wrapping my ear around my paw? Did you say that?

The grizzled narrator: Ah! A narrator. It sounds like Jones. He must have been there the whole time. That's the thing about narrators -- if they're good, you don't even know they're there.

Gerard: Why isn't he answering us? How do we know he's reliable?

The grizzled narrator: Well, you see, he can't say anything, because then he would become a participant instead of a narrator, and he'd have to get a third narrator to tell everyone what he was doing. It can get quite complicated.

Gerard: How contorted my mind is! I sense this will be an excellent topic for future musings. However, we have business to attend to.

So the rabbit and the grizzled narrator picked up the telephone and called Eva. She answered on the third ring.

Eva: Hello?

Gerard: Ahem…am I speaking with Eva?

Eva: Yes…

The grizzled narrator: We're calling from The Measure. This is the grizzled narrator, and I'm here with the rabbit you left in charge last November.

Eva: Oh, Gerard! How are you, Gerard?

The grizzled narrator: Falling down on the job is how he is. Hasn't updated since December. That's why I'm here -- I was trying to pad things out a bit. But we realized neither of us knew where you'd gotten to, so we thought we'd check in.

Gerard: Yes, my dear, where have you gotten to?

Eva: Oh, you know. Work, food, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Some freelance editing on top of my day job. Some band practice. Nothing, really.

Gerard: That certainly doesn't sound like nothing.

Eva: I know that. I know it's something, but it doesn't feel to me like anything. It feels dull. Certainly hasn't felt worth writing about.

The grizzled narrator: But that's not the point. I've read the guestbook here. People wonder how you're doing. You don't have to wow everyone with every word you write. You really just ought to check in sometimes.

Eva: So, is this like an intervention? A Very Special Measure?

Gerard: No, darling, but I have been worried about you.

Eva: Okay.

A clarinet plays a few long, low notes before being joined by a synthesized string section.

Eva: I've been worried about me, too. I haven't had the best of winters. It hasn't been dramatically bad -- it's just been lame. New, but lame.

Gerard: How do you mean?

Eva: Turns out being sad for no reason as an adult is nothing like being sad for no reason as a teenager.

The music swells.

The grizzled narrator: Oh come on, Jones. The music swells? Does it swell hackneyedly?

The music pulls back somewhat, not swollen in the least.

Eva: I thought I had sad memorized: every diary entry, every sudden awareness of the bulge over the waist of my jeans, every certainty that nobody would ever touch me again.
And then adult sadness showed up, and it wasn't very interesting.
Self-loathing is a form of self-love: as a sad teenager, you are convinced you are worth hating, convinced that this self you are dealing with is not you -- something has gone wrong. But once you stop believing your own hype, once you learn to get along with yourself most of the time, then your brain has to find other ways to shut you down. So it doesn't turn on you anymore. It turns on the things you care about, which is the long route to the same end. For me, that's music, writing, and the people I love. I haven't been able to get to them in months.
So that's me. I got sad, and it was a devious, new kind of sad. It was boredom. A Tedious Night of the Soul, if you will.

Gerard: I note your use of the past tense, which brings me joy, yet I also detect a lingering malaise…how, may I ask, are you now?

Eva: I'm not sure. I feel like I'm gathering my strength to participate in the world again. I've hardly talked to anyone in months, nobody but L and my band and coworkers most weeks. I quit writing to and calling my friends -- even quit calling my parents for a while. I walk around feeling horribly guilty about not talking to the people I love; I want to talk to them, but somehow I feel like I can't. My inbox is full of unanswered emails, and my laptop is full of half-finished responses. I didn't even call Mary on her birthday last November.
But I think it's about to get better. For one thing, I'm going home in three weeks. I didn't go home this Christmas, and I think it really threw me. Also, the tulips have buds now, so that's something.

The grizzled narrator: Well. That certainly is an excuse of sorts. All of it, I mean. But you know, this is one of your homes. You should have come here sooner.

Eva: But that was the whole thing. I couldn't. I really felt incapable of writing a single thing here. But now…and look, you've tricked me into it. I was about to say I felt ready to try it again, but here I am already. I'm back.

The grizzled narrator: Well, then.

Gerard: Well, then.

Eva: Well, then.

Gerard: Ahem. I'm not certain how I ought to broach this…Being of the old world, I am somewhat mistrustful of the New Science of the Mind, and even of the psychoanalytic revolution, for that matter…but I understand there are measures one can take to remedy the sort of thing you've been experiencing?

Eva: Well, yes there are, and I plan to talk to somebody about that. I'm nervous, but I'm working on it.

Gerard: That will do, that will do. I just felt I ought to inquire.

Eva: Thank you, Gerard.

The grizzled narrator: So that's settled, then. You're back.

Eva: Wait, no-- I'm not sure I'm ready to be back back. Not like this. Not all at once. Not alone.

Gerard: But we have to move on. Our stewardship has been temporary; it can't last indefinitely.

The grizzled narrator: You'll have to try.

Eva: But…what do I write about?

The grizzled narrator: Write about tulips. Write about doing your taxes, for god's sake, or about that cat I hear whining in the background. Write about the conversations you're going to have with your friends.

Gerard: I met several of them in the guestbook -- Bettina, was it? And Brent, and Chris? Isaac? Liz? Russell?

Eva: I can do that. I can write about Shop Road, too. And the show tonight -- I'll write about that.

The audience hears a tiny click.

Eva: Hello?


Eva: They're gone. They didn't even say goodbye.

Eva: I think even Jones is gone.


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