“I want Pat”
Monday December 31st 2018, 11:42 pm
Filed under: Boozy,HelLA,himself,holidays,nextish Tags:

Not how I thought the year would end, a 4-year old boy weeping, crying out for a stuffed dog over and over and over again, exhausted beyond words between staying up late at a friend’s house while his parents indulged in conversations and too much wine, and the 3-hour jet lag of 2 weeks on the East Coast. But the tears show little sign of abating, a reminder of how necessary and precious a stuffed animal can be.

OK. Went to go drive back to the friend’s house, dog was on floor of back seat. Crisis passed, though after-effects of exhausted hysteria linger. Bring on 20 fucking 19.

Four. How the hell did that happen? Lost a dog, a terrible, terrible thing I’d never known could be so terrible, never having had a dog. Moved house for the first time in 6 years. Saved 9 hours a week, currently sleeping half of them, going to the gym about half of the remaining half, and faffing the rest. Not bad, really.

Not gonna sum it up. My pet theory of “if you set the bar low enough, every day is a good day” has been proven all too true by 2017, let alone 20 fucking 18. So much terrible shit.

Fuck it all. Burn the shit. Off to London in two weeks, and then again, hopefully, in 9 months or so. Rinse repeat for the good stuff, punch the bad stuff in the face. Books, (book), music. The good stuff. Get it in, but also get it done.

Saturday December 15th 2018, 7:46 pm
Filed under: damn,departure,friends,New York,Old Tags:

A particularly fine batch of latkes warming in the oven while YCT sits with himself in the final stretches of bed. “I won’t have any dreams, I won’t have any dreams, I won’t have any dreams” he repeats to himself under his breath, in an anti-tinkerbell litany. A friend, who has been ill in too many ways for too long, in Japan for what is almost certainly a final trip. “So full of life” is so full of cliche, but she was radiant. Is. It’s too soon for the past tense, though it seems inevitable. Pottering about their flat while she waited by the chunky, black, retro phone as her agent updated her with news of a bidding war for her first book. It just seemed…normal, not exceptional, at the time. The sort of thing that happened to the sort of people I sort of knew. In hindsight, I realized, an unbelievably precious moment to share with someone who wasn’t that close, but became so then. 

I had five days in New York Fucking City last year around this time, and saw her. Both of them, briefly, and then she and I talked and talked and talked through dinner, back to theirs, and then some. No. I misremember. Which happens more and more, though the me who remembered everything finds this abhorrent. That was March 2016, the “are you getting a divorce” tour of NY. She visited us in the hood a month later, her mobility scooter a source of great excitement for a very, very small boy.

We sing happy birthday to each other every year. Usually to voicemail. Once to a seriously confused Russian woman when I had the wrong number.

Not ready to say goodbye to green tea whisked and book readings at KGB, to bright red hair and brighter eyes marking papers at Mud. Not ready to have such a good day and have to know the awfulness at the same time.

5 to 7 or bust
Tuesday December 11th 2018, 10:34 pm
Filed under: inner-polish-teenage-girl,memory,nostalgia,Old Tags:

Someone did the glammed up movie of my 20s without telling me.  Very annoying. 

Vanitas vanitatis
Tuesday November 20th 2018, 10:33 pm
Filed under: Boozy,damn,Oxford,tempest in a teapot,tired,Work Tags:

ok, so I’d never heard of lilo.org before – a search engine that apparently finances social and environmentally beneficial projects. I’ve no idea if that’s true. But, new search engine, first instinct is to do some work, see if anything new turns up. I ran three or four searches about the big article I’m slowly working on. Nothing important, but definitely a new slice of info out there. Then, curious/vain, a vanity search on my first book.  Only to find something new – reported statistics for the most-borrowed books from the English Faculty Library, Ford of Oxen. Only to find my book on the first page – the 24th most checked out book in academic year 2016-17.

Really, I’ve no idea how to process this fact. I assume it’s a version of me – one student, renewing and renewing and renewing it 38 times in the year, hoping Roberta won’t notice. Also, there are way too many medieval books on that list, suggesting serious imbalance. 1 and 10 are renaissance books, and 19 is post colonialism. And the rest of the top 25 are medieval, which is nuts.

Anyway, I’m apparently big in Japan, except Japan is Oxford, and that’s fucking mind boggling

(Update: it was totally one person, just the one year  I was big 2016-17, but not even top 200 since then. Missed my own damn 15 minutes, apparently)


The Drive Back
Monday November 05th 2018, 5:25 pm
Filed under: can't make that shit up,himself,inner-polish-teenage-girl,memory Tags:

I don’t remember it. Not really. Which is peculiar, as the drive _there_ remains among the dumber things I’ve done. Not top of the list, certainly, but up there. I suppose it’s not peculiar, really, as 15 years of self-medicating by way of red wine has done wonders for depression, and for taking the edge off. For taking all of the edges off, including what used to be my fairly sharp recall. Himself has it, or possibly even something closer to my father’s photographic memory – it’s fairly astonishing. Any variation from the text of a story prompts correction, even if the story hasn’t been read in weeks, even months. “What’s the word, for the thing on top of a diesel train,” I asked aloud. We hadn’t read the pop-up train book for a couple of weeks, and it was lost to me. Conversation moved on, and suddenly himself chirped up with “pantograph.” Bloody ‘ell.

Anyway, I think I still have the instructions for the drive to Brighton tucked into my London A-Z. Graciously narrated by a friend, as I borrowed a flatmate’s Alfa to drive down for what I thought, what I always thought, was capital-L love. Why I didn’t just take the fucking train escapes me. Money, I assume, though that was the end of the relationship. I remember spending 18 of my last 32 quid with a week left in the month to get down there as the end-of-days (of both the relationship and my life in the UK) dwindled. So, pre-GPS and somehow pre-Mapquest, which doesn’t make a lot of sense, but whatever. So instead a long hand-written list of directions of the “stay left for Epsom” variety got me there. White-knuckling the whole way, as I wasn’t even vaguely comfortable with right-hand drive, and had no clear sense of the traffic laws. Didn’t matter. Took longer than I’d thought, and traffic in Brighton itself was terrible. And I don’t think the weekend was that great, either. But it was a Gesture. A big, motherfucking Gesture.

Apparently, however, not the drive back. Did I get lost? Was the A3 a nightmare?  Was it Sunday night? Monday morning? No idea. I don’t remember.

[UPDATE: Check _this_ totally vague shit out. Looks like I was back the next evening, Sunday, and back to work the next day:  ]

How can I write this book?
Saturday October 13th 2018, 11:08 pm
Filed under: Boozy,Miscellaneous, Truly,nextish Tags:

“Don’t be afraid of cliches,” says Brian Eno via Oblique Strategies. I think that’s the second time I’ve seen that. And thus clearly the way and the light. Though I would have guessed “more sleep”….

“It tastes like poison”
Sunday September 16th 2018, 10:21 pm
Filed under: Boozy Tags:

Who am I to tell her anything to the contrary? A carrier of the gene, whose mother died at 40-something, having endured a hysterectomy a handful of months ago, a double mastectomy last month, and complications that won’t heal that require still more surgery. Standing on her stoop, with my toddler, sick and thus banished days before her surgery, while her 8 year old both manfully expressed opinions about Liverpool’s attack and Manchester United’s midfield, and also sounded words out in a mythical animal mix-n-match book that was astonishing for its use, essentially, of syntactical rules to make the phrases line up across half-pages of independently flipped images/text.

YCT coming home tomorrow (at least I don’t have to declare bankruptcy this time), had observed that none of her crew really drank any more. One recovering alcoholic, so fair enough, but the others just 40 somethings with kids. “Is it us,” she wondered, and I wondered it to Needs An Acronym/Catchy Reference, who has been a spiritual ally as far as the booze go, and she replied, “It tastes like poison.”

I can’t imagine her world, inhabiting her body, looking at her children. But as the music plays and the pages turn and I fucking caress the curves of a large crystal red wine glass, savoring the 9 dollar Trader Joe’s special it displays with a beauty I delight in in ways that cannot possibly be healthy, at least part of me wonders if it _should_ taste like poison to me. I know it’s at the edge of a problem, but is it a disaster?


[Update: almost every post seems to be off by an hour. I’ve updated it manually for this one, and updated for summer time, but trust me,  I don’t write this shit at 8 pm.]

Things You Ask Yourself While Taking the Dog for a Pee Directly In Front of The House At Night While Your Child Sleeps Inside
Saturday September 15th 2018, 9:58 pm
Filed under: HelLA,himself Tags:

Should I lock the door? Unspeakable people could somehow sneak by me as I stand 25 feet from the door, enter the house, and do unspeakable things to my sleeping child. Should I not lock the door? There might be a fire, and while unspecified things stop me from returning from those 25 feet away with the dog and going back up the 2 flights of steps, he might need to flee for his life out the door, and though he’s got doors sorted, he hasn’t figured out the bottom lock yet.

So, death by stranger or death by fire?


(I left the door unlocked. Fire would suck.)

Day 5
Wednesday September 12th 2018, 9:11 pm
Filed under: Boozy,himself Tags:

Send wine.


I’m reduced to watching a dance movie by the creator of The a Step Up series. Sober. And I’m rather enjoying its Bollywoodish  antics. I’d be concerned if I weren’t so tired.

Pretty Good Year/Salad
Saturday September 08th 2018, 8:22 pm
Filed under: Berkeley,friends,memory,narrative,summer Tags:

The pancetta made the salad, really. Can’t think of a whole lot of nights, home alone with time, that salad was the choice, but a box of delivered vegetables forces some decisions.

Day one, solo plus small. No sweat. Tired, but fine.

Just finished a friend’s novel. Apparently I’m doing that, now. I’ve read a bunch of books by a bunch of friends, but they’ve mostly been academic/critical propositions, rather than novels. Not entirely: cancer-NY-now-Boston is a novelist, and I’ve loved her novels, though her memoir-of-disease hasn’t quite been do-able yet. Though a night spent talking long in NY, of bodies redefined by illnesses unknown, and seeing hemophilia and cystic fibrosis through that lens was revelatory. Which is, of course, what friends are for.

But this was a grad school novel, so a bit on the hybrid side. (Next up the German mystery/thriller? Maybe. For shits and giggles and vague resentment at a life lived in Berlin, perhaps.) Plus it was erotica-esque, which knowing the novelist isn’t all that surprising. Her mind/body dichotomy literally staged in the book, her work on the staging of that divide (Beckett, by way of Molloy and Nine Inch Nails, really), and a move from CA to Michigan more than enough to make a person horny and rather thoughtful. But she’s one of the few I know who walked away – who figured out what she wanted to do, and does it, and means it, rather than the treadmill upon which both success and failure are measured. (Though, her point is difficult to swallow, even from the end of the treadmill where I stand, not too smugly, but not too miserably either, I don’t think. But I may be doing this wrong, though that was our academic generation’s imperative, to live through this ™.)

She’s not a friend any more, really, though she was one, and a lover for a while. I’m glad I read it, as it makes me feel closer to her, though we haven’t spoken in 20 odd years, and wonder about my choices, as the best narratives do. But I think I’ll leave it.

Some toys to tidy, some bread to bake. My life got weird.