Two girls, in a van
Thursday June 29th 2017, 10:54 pm
Filed under: Boozy,can't make that shit up Tags:

One girl, in a van. Retrieving plastic but stemmed wineglasses from the back. Me, two poodles, going for a night time walk. A second girl, in the van, stretched out on a thin mattress in the body of the van, head on elbow, dressed for bed, inasmuch as bed is the back of a van parked on Echo Park. Me, two poodles, going for a night time walk. Enough eye contact that one tiny part of me wants to hang out with these girls, the way I hung out with two girls in a van from Michigan. The other part of me wanted to make sure they were OK, but resisted.

My van girls were from Ypsalanti, I believe. They came to Berkeley and one of them wanted to hang out with me. The other got arrested in San Francisco for possesdion of pot, which posed all kinds of challenges. They simply found me at Wall Berlin, as you did and as you do in a world without mobile phones and the internet. I recall being taken aback at how easy it was for two random girls to find me in Berkeley – meet someone once at a gathering for Waldorf youth at a biodynamic farm in East Troy, Wisconsin, and apparently they can just show up a month or two later and find you at your local cafe in a college town. Who fucking knew? She lived with me in a summer sublet for a few months. Jen. I don’t remember her last name. She took one of my favorite photographs of me, ever, sprawled asleep after the nightshift, face down, tattoo across jutting shoulder blades. She had a ying-yang tattoo on her neck, high, just below the hairline. It was remarkable at the time. She had a flat midwestern accent. She was kind, and didn’t eat people. (Oh, wait. That’s not my story). She lived in a van, then she lived with me, then she went away, then I visited her once in Seattle, then I never saw her again.

[30 seconds pass while I dig through old emails. This jen predates email. But _this_ fucking turns up: “Big events happen for me in even years; happiness is more likely during odd years.” Seriously? This was me in December 04? Calling the job in 06, tenure in 12, child in 14? (I’m looking at you, 08 and 10). Things, apparently, that you write to the person you went on a trip to Seattle with after you’d basically broken up to visit her gay uncle, and took a side-trip to visit van girl while you were up there, everything ends even worse than usual, silence and 7 odd years ensue, and then you hook up in New York. I fucking love that town.]



Platitudes and Attitudes
Sunday June 18th 2017, 10:39 pm
Filed under: Berkeley,myjobfuckingrocks,nextish,seasonal,summer Tags:

20 Fucking Years. 20 years ago, it was outside, in the Greek Theater. A hot fucking day, particularly by Bay Area standards. I don’t remember much – the guest speaker was one of the founders of the ?Center for Independent Living, a heavily disabled man in a full body respirator who had finished college. It was inspiring, in principle, but very difficult to understand. Add a flask of vodka and the buzz of it all on a hot ?late May day, a party which followed, and some complicated, possibly questionable decisions that followed that, followed by a paper on medieval religious history, followed by a series of even more complicated, definitely questionable decisions over a summer neither weird nor good, just next (oh! And a lost pair of expensive sunglasses! At Wall Berlin, no less), and, comparatively, today was much easier. Dog poop, child poop, trains and duplo and kicking a ball around, a few speeches, a handful of hugs, a commute on freeways through a city I still resent but have also grown to appreciate, rely on, inhabit. Fancy medieval clothes in scarlet, a sense of pleasure on behalf of the students and families.

Is it enough? We certainly try to justify it to ourselves as such. That what we do is much, much more than doing nothing. More than buying things, selling things, building things, fixing things, marketing things, or organizing or negotiating some aspect of any of those activities. I’ve no idea, really. It makes it easier to sleep, thinking the university matters, the public-ness of it matters, that teaching them to read, speak, and write critically about words and ideas matters. (Or, trying to. I don’t need them to love what I love. I do need them to care about something.) Everything rings a bit hollow on these days, overshadowed by the realness of the experience they’re having. So grown up and so young, so excited and so somber. Was I wearing the pull-chain choker? Or the one made out of nuts and bolts wired together? That picture with the Campanile in the background the last known whereabouts of those sunglasses. Gone. Like this impossible year, and like that summer 20 years ago, things happen fast.