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.

 



shower, knife
Sunday June 24th 2018, 9:22 pm
Filed under: Berkeley,Boozy Tags:

I took the knife out of the wall (there was jewelry hanging on it, maybe a dream catcher) and walked down the hall. “Put the knife down,” they shouted. I walked into the bathroom halfway down the hall (shared, mixed gender, of course) and walked into a shower. I turned on the water. It must’ve been cold, though I don’t remember. And then she and I went for a walk. I don’t quite remember how that part worked – did I walk to her? I have shadowy memories of concrete and gardens closer to mine than to hers. I know there was a walk. That’s what we did. So brave, that first walk, down telegraph to ?Ashby or beyond. For HelLA me, it was beyond scary. But that night, damp, without the knife, with the simple news that they were moving out to a house without me, I walked, I talked, I grieved, I wondered (aloud) what was wrong with me and what would happen to me, and _everything_ seemed to matter.

 

(I’m enjoying this movie, even if I keep pausing it.)



Addresses

I used to know them. Possibly all of them. Sometime after moving to HelLA, when Google Earth was still a new product, I made a flythrough of all the places I’d lived. A few were approximate, and I’m sure I started only notionally in HelLA before the litany of addresses in the Bay and UK – Unit 1, women’s co-op, Dwight, funny summer sublet that the dead guy from Sublime had rented, Piedmont/Oakland, MLK couch, the Mission, Ward, Warehouse, Fyfield, Iffley, North Oxford, (redacted), Goldhawk Rd, West Ken, LES, UWS, West Village, East Village, Brooklyn, aaaand back to WeHo. And then the list continued – midcity, Silverlake, Echo Park. And now, my ultimate fear, back to the suburbs. As if all the in between places didn’t happen. (Apparently, I do in fact know them all still. But that’s not my point.)

Which of course isn’t true. This isn’t the leaving of Ox, or even the leaving London despair of present and future purpose (though return still looks slim). This is a move cross-town to save time, lots and lots of time, for people large and (more importantly) small.

The tangible scars of my past can live again. Not the burns or pierces or tattoos – the BOOKS. No longer in boxes in the basement, the selves that rose and fall, lived and died, and folded tens of thousands of pages over to varying depths. Who failed to read, and failed to fold, chastened, even humbled, by the staggering expanse of unread pages. On bookshelves, freshly ordered for delivery in 10 days.

A walk up in the wet from a bar I’m fond of, but never lived at. A last hike tomorrow, I think, more meaningful, a thousand loops later. Likely without the 35 pounds, though. Toddlers don’t experience nostalgia, I don’t think, in the ways I do.

Though, I think we’ll come back to look at the mustard flowers.



malware and memorials
Saturday September 30th 2017, 10:31 pm
Filed under: Berkeley,calendars,exit,fall,memory,Miscellaneous, Truly,reminiscence Tags:

How the frack did that happen? Most annoying. An email with a list of PHP files that needed to be deleted. I doubt I’ve successfully cleaned it by hand. Changed the WordPress password, the FTP passwords, deleted all but one of the files (permissions issues, but renamed it) so we’ll see. Be a shame if TPT had to be wiped.

Not at the memorial in Berkeley today. Couldn’t face it, emotionally or practically speaking. Last time I was there they treated me like shit. Up to the Christmas Eve “do you think you could revise the whole thing beginning to end for next Tuesday” ending. Also made complicated by all of the animus that “she hates me because I’m younger, prettier, and smarter” used to bear to her. Who the fuck knows. Other people’s insecurities are unfathomable, sometimes.

So I raise a glass to yet another dead friend, teacher. Since the upgrade to iOS 11 my phone keeps reminding me several times a day that I have an un-listened-to voicemail from Helen. I know it’s there. If I wanted to listen to it, I would have by now. But thanks for the ghost-in-the-machine nudges, 2+ years later.

Apparently they closed the Bear’s Lair, where you could buy a fucking quart of beer on campus. And those glorious wood desks from Wheeler Hall offices are piled on the steps, to be destroyed. Relics of an age where big desks meant big dicks, they were gorgeous. Possible too big to remove from the offices without some additional demo. I wish I’d known – I would have rented a uhaul and rescued one. Over a quart of beer.



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.



Kempton
Saturday August 22nd 2015, 10:51 pm
Filed under: Berkeley,Boozy,Miscellaneous, Truly Tags:

Twenty years since an under-aged me had the perfect studio apartment in Oakland. Hardwood floors, high ceilings, claw foot tub, Murphy table, deep double sink, hexagonal bathroom tile, improbably large closet. And now I find myself in a very similar place, perhaps a mile away, but for a hundred plus bucks a night via AirBnB, as the small snoozes in a travel cot that fits in one of the large closets. Following the drag-tastic wedding of the most emphatically Bay Area scene it’s possible to imagine. Nominative determinism commune-raised half-sister-featuring lesbian marries drag king /q in an all-singing all-dancing wedding with a drag troupe for comic relief and a baby-watching nap space minded by volunteers.

Oakland is different. I imagine the $450 I paid for that flat pales – maybe 2k now? I don’t regret taking that glorious/ugly eight foot couch from the lobby with the Scientology fliers, though. And it’s nice to visit. Including a kick-ass pizza from the workers collective bakery named after the basque Marxist. Busy joint. And a farmers market with organic vegan Himalayan food. But it’s not going to work at the moment, which is a profound shame. I still love it here. If I could, I would. But it’s complicated.



Just Like Moving
Saturday November 22nd 2014, 6:28 pm
Filed under: Berkeley,fall,hangover,HelLA,himself,holidays,memory Tags:

Except, not. But digging through desk drawers of files and rubbish, the final step in getting rid of the desk and reducing my profile to a shelf and a book case. Extracting boxes that lived in the closet, rather needlessly in one case, and a protective sentimentality in the other, both relegated for now to the garage, and then at least one probably moved back to the basement. Where my bicycle will soon no longer live, so that there’s a place to store the stroller easily. Cuz, you know, everyone needs one of those.

Fuckfuckfcukfcukfcukfuck. A shitty lesson this morning, Mozart at speed not at all my thing, and all the more dismaying as I thought I had it much more solidly than I do. Followed by the mild hell of big retail on a weekend during the holidays.

But the other box, with a few pictures (of me in Cardiff, on a visit that hovers around the edges of memory), and a piece about the lack of pictures of me. About Blondie, and the train wreck of a few parties at the delightful coach house I could never really enjoy because I could never really afford to be living in London. The trainwreck that was my life a decade ago, the last few months between submission and the viva make for grim reading. But the reading, which I’ve been doing in between typing these sentences, isn’t really what I wanted to go on about.

WHat was it? Long walks of past selves. Wandering through Berkeley (and wincing at what I thought constituted long. HelLA’s child, indeed), through Oxford. Up and down NY on Christmas day, from starbucks to starbucks for caffeine and warmth. Of walks up various hills to various co-ops, across the Parks and across the Park, past the Mission and past the river. Most of them punctuated by the rhythms of the cigarette, the pause, the infinitely repeated action and like nothing else on earth sound of my zippo. Even as one dog frolicked and gamboled and did all those impossibly joyful dog things that make dogs dogs, and the other trotted along, eyes and nose and mouth open to greet the world avidly, a different long walk. Only two months since long waks in London – the genre isn’t lost, merely adapted to new realities.

And in 4 weeks (fuckfcukfcukfuckfuckfuckfuk) there will be a new reality to long walks with hardware.



Gimlet

Buying him that $14 dollar gimlet was the best money I’ve ever spent. He talked shit. I nodded, smiled. He talked trash about her. I nodded, smiled. I win, motherfucker, and you not only know it, but raised a gimlet to it at the beginning of our evening. Cheers.



Allowed
Thursday July 10th 2014, 10:18 pm
Filed under: Berkeley,damn,family,HelLA,something new Tags:

How crazy is it that just fucking anybody is allowed to do this? That there’s no age limit, beyond 14 or so, no you must be this tall to ride this ride, no sobriety check, no banned substances check, no interviews of your friends or neighbors or your high school English teacher. No moment for everyone to say “he was quiet, kept to himself, mostly” before you go on the biological rampage that changes everyone’s fucking opinion of you.

My ?second cousin and her girlfriend in town, choosing to visit. A Bay Area duo if there ever was one, though natives, which is fairly unusual, particularly these days. If the Bay is artificially authentic, and HelLA authentically artifical, they’re just a drag king and a nice nurse (cue nominative determinism of the most remarkable variety, however), living their thoughtful, political, community believing lives. And they’re both awesome with the smalls – my two over-one, down-ones were beside themselves wiht trust and love and enthusiasm after maybe 30 minutes. The under 6 crowd can be surprisingly tough, but they were all in.

And articulating to them, in a brief interlude, the bigger, more awkward questions. On how to do this different. On how to do this so it matters (and not, a la Ms Plath, so it feels real, so it feels like hell. I worshipped that line at 16. How to do it so he doesn’t?) How to believe in interacting with others, as well as consuming narrative? Or does it not matter so much. We all turned out interesting enough, and I can’t think that any of the people in the world who mean the most to me had a particularly straightforward time of it.

So, perhaps, like cereal, there’s not so much you can do to fuck it up, or make it better.



Communio
Saturday June 07th 2014, 10:21 pm
Filed under: Berkeley,memory,reminiscence Tags:

Mozart’s Requiem, my less contentious recording, in the background, and the shocking realization it has been twenty years since that summer – quitting fencing after Nationals, a blade that wouldn’t break in a co-op room in Berkeley as I wept and wrote and smoked., some-of-us-are-bugs and I in the first flush of summertime young love (a Memorial Day three hand picnic with the physicist, down at the marina, which in hindsight should’ve registered as more meaningful), the post-nationals prelude to letters and long nights and Sherman drama. 19 and Paris by summer, a place to stay with Curro-esque that never manifested, the travelers cheques (!!!) lost, the flower seller on pont Neuf who believed homosexuality was wrong but gave me francs and smokes and a lighter, Bernard the architect and the Tuileries. Construction and return, cheesecake in north Berkeley and milk routes. Arvo Part and Blues & Roots the nightly soundtrack to sleep, and candlewax I can smell in burgundy and black on an African print fabric.

I wasn’t so tired, then, I don’t think (though I could never get out of the hostel before midday). Teaching done, though a spot of grading still to come. And another year, seasons less powerful than the academic year, has rolled around.