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.



old, friend
Sunday November 24th 2013, 12:55 am
Filed under: Berkeley,fall,friends,holidays,memory,New York Tags:

I haven’t turned here for a while, a place to express the things I can’t express so readily in other ways, an unholy cross of a pulpit and a confessional. The long dark drive back on unfamiliar freeways itself a familiar parting. Always the return, the sense that it can’t be held on to forever, that there isn’t and can’t be here. But this time, a coming back to more powerful than the coming away from. These roads of more than 20 years of emotions and lane changes. Her daughter, barely awake, waiting for her bottle to be heated, snuggling in; “rub my back,” she said, those same 20 years ago, even as she now rubs the small body of a child safely encased in striped fuzzy footed pajamas.

The past doesn’t seem to be getting any paster – everything adds up on this end, not the other one. And for all of the waxing and waning of a relationship that was _always_ cyclical, the connection that was there is there and has survived all of the ons and offs, Tuesdays and Wednesdays of a quarter of a life. And it was all, easily, readily on the table, from work to passion to ailing parts to thriving parents to second and third order details. Always, at bottom, are you still you? Who are you now? How are you now? How will you be? Are there whys to make sense of all the paths that have led here and lead alarmingly on by?

Not much wisdom to add via reflection, really. My misanthropy runs deep enough my friends are few. My few friendships run deep enough that it doesn’t really matter. She lives a life that will never be mine, and all the years we imagined how are lives would be entangled, we never could have imagined this. And yet. It’s not so very far from something we might have thought, on a dark day or a good day, on the cycle in or back out again. But it is, in a pragmatic way, but not one that takes away from the magic of the now. It is, we are, old, friend. And there is much to wonder, and so much I can’t even begin to bring up here, can’t confront, can’t discuss, can’t imagine. Tests and more tests and decisions and varieties and versions. We’ll see.

Your children are beautiful.

(Update, a few minutes later. Some lingering through old posts, this gem arose, ” I never really thought of myself as ambitious, mostly just arrogant with reasonably good reason, so it was a touch startling to hear a friend ask, “Was winning enough? Or will you get lost in trying for the next victory, the ever diminishing returns on conventional successes?” And I just fucking might. And is this a bad thing?” Before I go on to wonder about the growing apart of me and my dinner companions this evening. I don’t know if I’m lost, nor how my conventions and returns are doing, but I do know there’s more whiskey.)



A minor
Monday June 24th 2013, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Berkeley,Boozy,change,friends,inner-polish-teenage-girl,seasonal,teaching Tags:

It’s all white keys and it’s sort of wistful. I really must stop being so musically lazy. A friend’s wedding in the desert by the river. A second attempt, this time with friends and family and ritual, rather than Vegas and Immigration. And two who long ago (a decade) stopped speaking to me. For lying to them? For sleeping with her? For being a self-obsessed asshole? I don’t recall (probably because I’d rather not), and though it matters, deeply, I’m not convinced it does. From finishing the last of the last Thursday to a drive on Friday and being back in today, trying to have my stars out, as it were, for the class including her son’s ex-girlfriend. Because “Young and the Restless” ran out of other sub-plots, apparently. And so another six weeks, days of talking and days of writing, evenings of reading and evenings of drinking, and Am, sounding so lovely across electric pianos and synth trumpets with articulations that will never match those in a sampler, but have me facing the keys, not the box. I don’t need analogue, really, I need only to look away from the screen, lean deeper into the headphones, and record with the impunity I lost since the first round of get it out / get it in / get it down came and went again when she wasn’t quite an ex (though I tried to leave that summer) and everybody talked to everybody (in grade school), though the two, so preciously recovered (even if the closeness is not necessarily one of many words, rather than many years) is back as a possibility. Or something. A minor, a ssociate.



xition
Friday March 15th 2013, 11:08 pm
Filed under: Berkeley,family,friends,leaving,New York,nextish,Oxford,tired Tags:

It’s too much, really. Last week’s trip marking progress and stasis, old friends, older responsibilities, newer choices. But between an old friend (the red hoodie and shiny shoes of Saturday, December 6, 2003) and the work of work (newly less work filled, situated on a continuum from Part I exams to retirement by a man freshly retired, another old man on the other side of cancer, and still a third old man, not there, on the other side of a stroke and scared as fuck), part of the trip involved confronting old ?wrongs? mistakes? ?obligations? None quite, really. A man-child, ultimately. And I did as right as I could in the hours there were, not necessarily to make sense of lifetimes, but to be real, to be me now and connect to him now and acknowledge that time has passed and mistakes made and not made, and what nexts. But part of that was always going to entail talking about it. And there, amidst grief I cannot begin to imagine, always that shifting logic, those words that impel compel repel, seduce confuse confound, persuade perdure perform. “What happened to the days of wine and roses,” ask the Wild Colonials, about whom one could ask, “what happened to the Wild Colonials” (or the subsequent two EPs that were promised)? To bed, to brunch, to work, to high school musicals.

[Update a few minutes later, in response to a text to which I will not respond: the door is _not_ open. Those 5 years were not without context; it was I, not my father, who told you I was getting married. Nor did you have PTSD; it was a bad breakup, nothing more or less. Nor are needle biopsies a fucking treatment for cancer, so stop fucking saying that you had cancer. No one reads this, and that’s for the best, but I refuse, absolutely, to do this. I will not go back down the rabbit hole.]