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.

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.

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.

Tuesday December 03rd 2013, 4:57 pm
Filed under: fall,jazz,nextish Tags:

After five months of piano lessons and four months of going to spin classes, my abs are in much better shape than my Autumn Leaves.

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.)

There and back again, again
Saturday November 17th 2012, 10:23 pm
Filed under: Boozy,fall,memory,Work Tags:

Paris. I won’t try to summarize, to reduce and encapsulate. Formative travel half a life time ago. Pleasure and some days of work half a life time later. The general dinishment of intensity not a bad thing, I think, though one that worries me around the edges. A new manuscript library in a new country, not quite as bad as the tales told, but not a stroll, either. So now what? Beyond the dozen recs to write, the 125 application dossiers to read, the graduate seminar to teach, the speaker to choose, the major political decisions to advise, a reading group to organize, and emails to the world’s major libraries to reply to, I think I’m good. Lightly in cups on a rainy eve, Satantango to return to when clarity and urgency are up to it, Sir Nigel to finish despite lingering horror that someone I admire admires this book. Too much to say, really, in the weeks since the vote. Too much that’s still too close to pretend otherwise, but so very differently so that to pretend otherwise is disingenuous. So. Yeah. Right, then.

Three Colors, Third
Friday October 12th 2012, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Berkeley,Boozy,fall,memory,reminiscence,Work Tags:

I can’t recall the first time I saw Bleu/Blue. It must have been at the rep theatre in Berkeley, ’93 or ’94. As far as I can remember, the third time was just now, the second time Thanksgiving, 1996. The Berkeley rep theatre was playing all three films in a one-day marathon, and I boughts my tickets, ditched any familial obligations, and followed it with a coffee at Au coquelet, the too-cool-for-school coffee place just up the street. Juliet Binoche in jeans, black top, long coat, short hair – it makes me miss the 90s. Was the first viewing with now-NY-lawyer? It must have been. But the question that preoccupies me now is how I got there in the first place. I lunched, today, with a high school ex, my first real girlfriend, even. We’ve burned bridges, become friends, burned ’em again, and found our way through to a shockingly nice adult relationship. I said hi to her 16 month-old daughter and her husband before we grabbed a bite with a long, lovely walk on either side. In some ways, we didn’t have that much to say this time – our lives, so different, resemble each other’s in going fucking well, in being in good places, in being shaped around partners, daughters, others. But a mere few hours later, I know that the me that was with her was blind to most of the world, and certainly to anything like Bleu. So how did I get from her to, not much more than a year and change later, to subtitled Polish films in French in funky theatres in Berkeley? How did I suddenly wake to the heartache and beauty of this film, predicated on beauty, which I think I had a hint of, and loss, about which I knew nothing? How did it come to matter enough that I’d spend 6 hours on a Thursday in 96 _hiding_ from people I was related to in watching these films? And how does it still hurt so now? Binoche’s knuckles, dragging across an ivy-covered wall, and then just the stones of the wall itself. I think I learned that stole that borrowed that took that became that needed that from this film, that scene, the moment in that scene that marks the transition. Pain beyond pain beyond words beyond sense and, worse, sensibly in all its senses. I’m not there, now, though a Brodsky intro to a Hungarian mid-century novel I picked up several months ago has me ready. Condemned for being Borges, Joyce, Nadezhda Mandelstam, Solzhenitsyn, and a few others, he was, which sounds right up my fucking alley. (Hi, Ali). A report due today delayed. Not ominous, I don’t think (don’t quote me on this), merely the academic inability to meet deadlines. So, Monday instead of Friday. I’ve had a week with the external letters, read and reread and rereread and rererereread and read again. Sally Fields-style, they like me, and I can’t quite wrap my head around it, can’t quite let it be real until it’s real, and not just Department real but all the way final rubber stamped this time it’s final real, which means there are months to go before I sleep. Which is a bit on the ridiculous side, I’ll be the first to admit, but it won’t be the first time, as everyone I know wouldn’t be the first to admit. This is the endgame of a seventeen year project, give or take a few months. The ending of this phase is, I think, writ, though apparently some of us need till Monday to finish the draft. And two weeks from today a vote. Even while I wonder about openings in distant cities and even foreign shores, thinking about visas and work permits for the first time since I left, not quite with my tail between my legs, but with a passport freshly returned (for several hundred pounds ransom money) from Slough, and a vow (slough) never to return on uncertain terms. And the twist – what of YCTNW? I, perhaps, could go back, but without her I’m (not quite nothing, but much, much, much less). I want a blue chandelier to funk it up fuck it up, remind me of genius and loss and youth. I don’t know what I understood of this then, and have only a vague sense now. Two colors, soon, two colors I liked less, perhaps because I understood less. Two colors, two weeks, two sides to a vote, two places to send materials, two people in a little house that fits just so. Just ask stemmatic editors: two makes sense, three is hard. Three is where confusion sets in, where indeterminacy and uncertainty arise. Three is the magic number, trinity and all, because we’re so good at twos.

pride and despair

An odd mix, really.  The work has been ragged of late.  But the UC Berkeley protests today, locking themselves into Wheeler Hall, home of the English Dept, and holding it for hours, making it national news.  Building on 9/24, but with the added horror of yesterday’s fee hikes.  Not that I’m not proud of UCLA, too, for the few thousand protesters at Covel Commons for the Regents’ meeting, and the occupiers of Campbell Hall (although, the tutoring building?  really?  odd choice, folks.).  Plus a shout out to the Davis and Santa Cruz occupiers of buildings various and sundry (and the Asst Professor at Davis helping organize, the ballsy fucker).  But I don’t know what my place is in all of this.   I don’t know what my untelevised revolution is supposed to look like, at this point.  I long to have been up at Berkeley for today’s shit, but all I did yesterday was sit down with the occupiers of Campbell Hall and have a five minute chat to thank them for putting themselves on the line.  Is that all?  How do I want to be counted?

[update, 3 hours, a bottle of wine, and two generous glasses of fine single malt scotch later.]  An email to a Berkeley long ago ex, and an email to a colleague’s husband, asking if he has an email for a Berkeley long ago friend (who happens to be the ex’s ex, but that’s complicated, not worth telling, and not particularly telling, from a perspective of detail.).  Still proud of the protests, still don’t know what it is I’m supposed to do, but as I was just telling the dog (and, as YCTNW is asleep in bed, I mean that literally) no one  cares what I do tomorrow.  I’m panicked about finishing my book, because when you divide months by chapters, Xeno’s paradox kicks in and it looks as if you can’t get there from here.  The flip side, of course, is that no one gives a flying fuck what I do tomorrow.  I can nostalg (a new verb! hah!), I can email various and sundry whilst in my cups.  YCTNW and I have vague late morning plans, I have a friend to pick up from the airport at half-one, and we have half seven dinner with a coworker + husband of YCTNW’s.  None of which have anything to do with my book, with how I get there from here.  I wanted a life in which process wouldn’t be held against me, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

Tuesday February 13th 2007, 5:49 am
Filed under: fall,scooters,vacation Tags:

All I wanted to say was “good scotch! yummy! I’m glad I’m drinking good scotch again!” But fucking blogger made me fucking upgrade to the fucking new fucking blogger. The upshot? Particularly as I don’t want any real email addresses associated with my whingeings just in case of, I dunno, tenure. A third fucking google account. I have no idea who I am anymore. I was fine with two, but three? Piffle. And no, my love, I’m really not gay. Ooh. Labels. They suggest, “e.g. scooters, vacation, fall.” I think I’ll label this inaugural privacy-robbing post all three of those things. That’ll show ’em….