What was a ba?
Friday April 13th 2018, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Boozy,HelLA,himself Tags:

Three weeks into the move. Much progress – a mirror on a wall, a picture hung, dozens of boxes unpacked into built bookcases. Much to do. Bedtime, always a hoot, as I restrain him to pull on pajamas, ask him if he’s a tiny baby who misses his pacifier. Yes. Do you miss your dummy, I ask? Yes. Your ba? What was a ba, he replied, betraying the total ignorance of his life from, what, a year ago? I don’t recall, frankly.

Apparently there’s a thing that happens at 6/7, where you forget what you knew of your early years. “childhood amnesia,” it’s called, where you forget most of what happened before 3 and a half. To quote (from an iffy source, possibly), “In a 2005 experiment by Bauer and her colleagues, five-and-a-half-year-olds remembered more than 80 percent of experiences they had at age 3, whereas seven-and-a-half-year-olds remembered less than 40 percent.” And though we’re not there yet, we’re there.

“All babies are born singing God’s name.” Thus saith Sinead. Not exactly my point.

What was a ba? What was African-American literature? The pastness of the verb is devastating.

It definitely feels different. The streets are wrong, the blocks too big, the cars too many, the people mostly too plastic. But the boxes will be unpacked. And the hours, hours, hours of more hours, are hours, hours, and hours.



the second shot
Sunday July 09th 2017, 10:42 pm
Filed under: Boozy,himself Tags:

Easy to date, really. A first shot of vodka when he was born. Two, really, one to finish off the bottle the Soviet cultural attache gave my father when I was born, and one to start the new bottle 40 years later, bought from a rather less distinguished spot here in Echo Park. And tomorrow he starts pre-school. It’s not school, but it’s not not. He’s lived in a totally protected world of us, uncles and grandmothers, and our dearest friends (and the occasional sitter for money, one of whom was amazing, one solid, the other two less so), for his entire fucking life. [Got the music in you baby, tell me why. Grooving on the latter-day Mazzy Star album that is Cigarettes after Sex. Though their narrative isn’t really my life anymore, they would have been a nice touch in it all those years ago.] And the taste of the shot. Fuck. I love ice cold vodka. Plus it’s fucking hot and gross out. But two and a half years in the back of the freezer, and that shit is well fucking chilled. The taste almost like the feeling of smoking a cigarette, of a circuit in my brain suddenly completed, suddenly highlighting its own absence.

great blue heronPreschool. !. How the fuck is that possible? Into the world, with all its beauties and its pain, all its tendernesses and all its disappointments, all its joys and all its despairs. [One might say I’m slightly over dramatizing a toddler joining the “kitten room” tomorrow for a day that will likely involve playing with the water table, the cars, some trains, some stories, and if they can figure out how to make him nap I’ll pay them 50% over what they’re asking]. “Protect” isn’t really the right world. I think the most physically protective I’ve felt was walking along the river the other week. A great blue heron guarding her nest three or four feet from us was clearly deeply unimpressed. I pulled himself close, whispered to hold still and move slowly and marvel. She was a big fucking bird (who, after we’d walked a bit further on and turned back, proceeded to cross the road to take a shit before returning to her nest.) I felt a powerfully visceral “back the fuck off” feeling, something close to how I felt every time I saw a person when he was tiny and strapped to my chest.

The vodka has been pleasant sipping, but it’s losing its icy viscosity. Bottoms up, kid. You and I will do shots together for your birthday when you’re quite a bit older. But for now, one for your birth, and one for starting preschool. As you’ll be in preschool for a few years, then 12 years of schooling, then another 4 for college, and perhaps another handful for another degree or three. So this is your life, really, for a loooooong time to come. Cheers. You’ll never know, I suppose, and that’s how it’s supposed to be, how it has to be, but I think even the reflections and refractions are enough.



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.]



Dismayed
Friday March 31st 2017, 10:12 pm
Filed under: Boozy,Old Tags:

To learn that Lea Thompson has a daughter old enough to act as the cute love interest. Which simply means I’m old.



Finishing the bottle
Friday March 17th 2017, 12:09 am
Filed under: Boozy,HelLA,Miscellaneous, Truly Tags:

Which I meant to do, though the size of the full glass is more than I’d imagined/intended. So to justify it, I’m going to write, instead of read, create instead of consume, bloviate rather than ???. I’ve got 99 problems but an empty glass ain’t one. I sit here, he says, repeating a version of a phrase that started every journal I’ve ever handwritten. Which would be hard to know, given that the 93-98 journals, however many volumes that was, got lost in the mail when I moved to Oxenford. I persisted, like Senator Warren, but it never really stuck again after those magical quadrilingual (Eng, Latin, Greek, Russian) years of Peak Pretension ™ disappeared off the back of a boat. Today’s former student worried that she’s only written a single poem this calendar year despite her practice praxis since age 12 of non-stop writing. Hooray, I thought to myself, your juvenalia are coming to an end.

Bowl season almost upon us again. HelLA summer in a pleasant fishbowl, complete with incense-burning tenor guy. I almost felt guilty seeing Herbie Hancock at Disney Hall, wanting to explain to him the props he gets at the other venue. But he probably knows. He probably is a friend to us all. Though YCT’s friend’s friend, whose husband is apparently a misogynistic jazz pianist, given some shit he quoted Robert Glasper saying, who (YCT-friend)when she followed up sitting at a pool (on a cruise) with Terrence Blanchard and someone else, confirmed that I’ve lost control of this sentence, let alone this paragraph, angrily asserted the misogyny of the US boxing press crediential people so cogently one had to agree. Keeping up? Me neither.



This fucking quarter
Thursday March 16th 2017, 11:38 pm
Filed under: Boozy,Work Tags:

Needs to die. Last day teaching today, thank fuck. Pretty books because I was pretty well out of other ideas at this point. Followed by nonstop meetings, from the idea of beauty, to the idea of filth, to alchemical drama. To the circle of toxic hyper-masculine fucktards poisoning the well. To the former student working 18 hours a week at the local museum, who has shared a bedroom with her grandmother for almost 20 years. Because that’s what you do when you and your family don’t have options. A humbling reminder of why and wherefore, despite the contentious search, the rise of assholes in a previously collegial department, the co-editor who might as well eating paste, and the impossible list of shit to do.



twenty weeks was a lifetime ago
Saturday February 18th 2017, 11:19 pm
Filed under: Boozy,himself,tired Tags:

Helen’s congratulations on the halfway point of YCT’s pregnancy greets me every time I log on here – the last approved comment. At 2 plus 2 minus 4 days, “mine own self” over there (tossing and thumping), who today broke out “Yes. OhhhhKaaaay. Hiiiii” and “hidden junction” (!) (too many Thomas/train books) is long past the on-his-way phase.

Pacifiers. The bane of my existence, the chief solace of his. Alas, time to take it all away, particularly before preschool begins in a handful of months (!!!!!). But not today.

Dunno. Drunk. A day of taxes, books, music, walks, and Vietnamese food. There have been worse.



Once more with….
Saturday December 31st 2016, 11:45 pm
Filed under: Boozy,holidays,nextish Tags:

…something. Exit, 2016, pursued by a [Russian?] bear.

Fuck that shit. Thankfully, 2 year olds are super easy.



London bound
Tuesday December 06th 2016, 11:28 pm
Filed under: Boozy,can't make that shit up,holidays,nextish,politrix Tags:

In a bit. Not quite. One TA mired in depression, bits and bobs of work to juggle, a little boy who won’t stay asleep too many nights. An inability to read the news or make any sense of a world I thought I had, broadly, sussed.

Narrative. Good red wine. Better music. The occasional non-occasional poem. Himself. YCT. Sorted.



otsi y dyeti
Wednesday November 02nd 2016, 11:09 pm
Filed under: Boozy,fall,family Tags:

Though technically translated as fathers and children, most western audiences know the book as Fathers and Sons.It’s been a long while since I’ve read it. Something about nihilism. A few questionable decisions. Possibly some sister swapping. Turgenev can bite me.

Old man take a look at your self. Though, for all of the ways I’m a lot like you, there are a million more I’m not. Paul Dano and Robert de Niro, in whatever that movie that I’ve just watched, agree. They, and the director, can also bite me.

I got him a pension. He joined the fucking army 45 days before the Korean War ended. So, he technically served during a fucking war. And so, like an addict enabled one last time, he’s got enough to live on through no fault of his own. Or do I adopt the condemning rhetoric of the lucky and the undeserved that I’ve too often faced? He served. He’s eligible, so why question it? Why shouldn’t he? I have no idea what it takes to enlist in the midst of a war, even at the very end. A hell of a gamble at 19. Who fucking knew that at 81 that gamble would be worth a few grand a month? Who the fuck am I to judge?

And therein lies, as always, the rub. How to judge those who acted as judge and jury and executioner and torturer. How to make sense now of a then that’s increasingly long ago, of scars for which the bruises have so long faded as to be distant memories of vague recollections of the grief of aching ribs once removed. Or something.

“I absolve you,” De Niro said, “I made you but you’re not me.” “I made you.” How many times did I hear that? I don’t think I’ve heard it for a lifetime until tonight. Always a prefix to some second, more ominous clause…”and I can [x].” Note to self: find some other words with himself.