October 6, 2008

And "their heart closes down"

Damn. Berkeley Breathed is ending Opus. I have a personal connection to the penguin from Bloom County. I remember seeing him speak during college. I read every Bloom County strip. I bought the books. I have two stuffed Opus, er, figures. One I gave to SOF. I won't read the last strip. I can't. I won't.

I think I do grief badly. Perhaps you need no more proof than the fact that I teared up hearing that Opus would be no more. If I grieve an imaginary penguin, what do you think I do with losing people or animals close to me?

This day has been sad and melancholy. I am prone to that. I know it. The weather grows a little cooler; the days a little shorter; and my mood darkens. I have felt that today with an intensity that I don't enjoy, but have become familiar with. Don't get me wrong. It is not clinical. I am not stopped from doing my work, or connecting to SOF or my friends. I am not bedridden.

I am just sad.

Listening to the interview on NPR on the way home from the store, I found myself tearing up. Discussing his new children's book, Breathed said that he wants children to know that sometimes adults are sad for a good reason, but sometimes "their heart closes down" and they are closed to new experiences and new relationships.

I understand that. I haven't done that, but I understand that. There are times I am jealous of those who seem to be able to box their emotions into some inaccessible space and forge ahead. I have never been one of those people. I really don't think it is healthy. But sometimes it seems like it would make life a little easier. After losing a very sweet dog last year, I feared I would harden. She represented so much for me about what was good--that losing her was harder than it, perhaps, should have been. But her loss was connected to so many other losses--friendships, relationships, dreams, etc.

I have no pithy answers to my own grief. I know that I have pledged to not close down my heart nor lock myself away from other people. And I hope to keep that pledge and make myself available and vulnerable to those around me.

But for me, Opus will live on forever in a world where irreverent humor meets childhood innocence. If that is denial, then it is the one I am willing to live with.


Bootleg Blogger said...

Sheesh! Has it been this long since we were anxious to get the day's Collegian and catch the latest Bloom County???!!!! My stuffed Opus didn't survive this long. Thanks for the heads up on Breathed.

BTW, speaking of retired characters, if memory serves were you not the real life inspiration for Calvin?

Later- BB

Streak said...

No, you got it wrong. I was the inspiration for Hobbes.

Though, frankly, I would take either. I will gladly recall the days of Bloom County and Calvin and Hobbes--the two best strips (aside from the Far Side) ever to reach the daily news.

steves said...

Somewhere I have a Billy and the Boingers t-shirt. They will be missed.

Sara said...

I listened to the same story (and teared at probably the same precise moment) on my way to my local mechanic. I had something hanging from beneath my car and there was an ominous burning plastic smell. I was thinking, oh great, my car's falling apart, it'll probably cost $500 that I don't have, I'll have to get a new car, and it wasn't long until I got to, I'm falling apart, the country's falling apart, McCain will probably win and so on.

I went to my beloved mechanic who after a few moments came back to report that the smell was coming from a plastic bag I'd run over and the thing hanging he'd hooked back up and that there would be no charge.

I tell this not because this mood thing is comparable...just that we all seem so close to a tipping point and it is so easy to forget those moments where something happened that did go right.

Don't forget that fall also means pumpkin pie made by your beloved, football, and specialty beers. And don't forget it is the visiting season of those who live far away and miss you and look forward with great glee the prospect of talking late into the night over a fabulous meal with exciting political news to discuss for the first time in too long!

Streak said...

Thanks, Sara. I am looking forward to your visit.


Bootleg Blogger said...

No, Streak. The screams, the rants, the occasional melancholy, the disregard for authority, the cute little bare tooshie on the way to the tub- you're Calvin, dude.

On a melancholic note, your post reminds me that it has probably been since Calvin and Hobbs or Bloom County that I've experienced gut busting laughter from a comic strip. I probably need to find one of my anthologies and read a page each morning.

JoeG said...

Wow. Totally bumming news for the morning. Like you, Streak, I have an Opus DOLL :) proudly displayed on my computer desk, next to my Speedy Gonzales bobble-head doll. I own every Bloom County anthology ever published. I still have my Billy and the Boingers 45 record album that came with that anthology! I can still hear the rhythms of "U Stink But I Luv U"! I can't believe he's finally giving this up for good. Like BB, I need to start pulling out the anthologies and reading them again for old time's sake. It'll be depressing at times I'm sure, knowing there will be no more. But I'll move on, always remembering the words of the great philosopher Bill The Cat:
Aack! Phthth!

Tony said...

This is enough to make a preacher cuss. I literally wept--seriously--when Bill Watterson retired. I still pull my C & H anthologies out and read them from time to time.

Bloom County did not hold the place in my heart that C & H did, but still loved that strip. If it wasn't for the occasional Doonesbury (even Trudeau isn't that good anymore) and Hagar the Horrible I wouldn't even open the comics.

ubub said...

Are Opus-praying-before-the-Cross window stickers far behind now?

Tony said...

No, we will have Opus urinating on various, assorted, and sundry things.


Calvin was mischievous and curious, but never mean.

zalm said...

Big Berkeley Breathed fan here, too.

I remember crying when I read the final Bloom County cartoon. In the pre-move purge, we reluctantly decided to get rid of 3 of our 4 stuffed Opuses (Opii?) and my Opus phone.

Honestly, I haven't followed the newer cartoon all that closely. I was excited when it first launched, but it was newspaper-only, and we didn't get a paper. I saw the first few months illicitly, but then it just got too hard to keep up. So I kind of lost track of it. Still, it's always a sad day when Opus leaves.