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.



unbounded or burdened
Monday April 02nd 2018, 9:59 pm
Filed under: calendars,change,HelLA,himself,transitions Tags:

The car, sold. A one car family. My sixteen year old self is horrified. My 23 year old self elated. My 40 something self undecided. She did well, 11 years, 85000 miles of driving there and back again, the ultimate question of vector versus scalar, which bugged me no end in high school. How is it possible to have driven so far and gotten nowhere? A question that returns, as it were, a million miles later, minus the 15 or so I’ve actually managed to travel (vector, that is).

A day without a car, tomorrow. Bicycle and perhaps a park by the beach with a boy. The boy. A new quarter, new classes, busted deadlines. But 8 or 9 hours each week I’m determined to do something with, to not allow to disappear into the daily texture of surviving. Anything. Or a few things. A hobby, perhaps, or even an interest….



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.



Overwhelmed
Friday March 09th 2018, 12:34 pm
Filed under: exit,family,HelLA,himself,leaving,nextish Tags:

A new bed, assembled. Small, really, but large. A blue crib disassembled. The days spent sanding and priming and lovingly painting two coats of that saturated blue, not really knowing the person it would be for. A long weekend spent doing the room, while YCT and the dogs were in Santa Monica. Music loud, paint stained jeans, the familiar rhythms of blue tape and cutting in and rolling out. Labor of lifetimes ago, foundational and fundamental competencies in self-righteous opposition to paternal incompetence, to a self that inhabited the life of the mind easily, the world less so. Years of painting walls and caulking bathrooms, of repairing things and building things.

And now, building a small bed, with small hands helping. He’ll never stay in it, of course, so new exhaustions await. And I doubt a week is enough to help him settle in to it before the Big Move happens. A move to the suburbs, really, something too close to the places you will be from. And he won’t remember, not really, the lake and the ducks and the hike. Hundreds of hikes. We’ll shape a different life, of course, and anything that involves 8 more hours a week of living, not driving, can only be a good choice. Inhabit the space differently. Push the angles and round the curves differently. Discover the small sites of possibility. Ignore the dread.

Dread, though, leavened with the small voice of himself, “thaaaaank you, daddy,” tucked up in his new spot, blankets and animals overflowing, blue eyes bright and improbable hair flopped to one side. Anything.

 

[Update: the last real comments to this ridiculously indulgent nonsense-filled endeavor of mine, were to the post “20 weeks” in August 2014, the weekend I painted the room and the crib. And Helen, saying “congratulations.” Just yesterday I packed the Chagall book you gave me when I left Oxford, following a farewell party at that funny flat. It was your father’s, you said. I had forgotten the inscription, saying I would be missed. Now you are missed, rainbow friend.]



Stalker
Monday November 20th 2017, 11:44 am
Filed under: can't make that shit up,HelLA,holidays,nextish Tags:

Well, I missed a month again. I suppose, in my defense, I’m busier than I ever imagined busy being. But there have been a few times I’ve wondered about coming here. Just back from a final spin class – they’re closing. Moderate sadness over corporate failure – there was, in fact, a community, and even rarer for HelLA, an unprecious atmosphere of real people doing real exercise, the lumpy alongside the glossy, and, for the most part, a sense of collective encouragement.

Thæs ofereode, thisses swa mæg.

Speaking of which, the disturbed young woman who has been stalking me off and on since accusing me (falsely) of all kinds of shit re-appeared, first by email a few weeks ago, and then in my office on Thursday. Fun for the whole family. Oh wait. Even my cop-loathing self got the cops involved (who, true to form, managed to insult by asking, meaningfully, “does your wife know”?).

Time flying; deadlines blown; things passing around again; holidays and 90 degree heat projected for Thanksgiving. Just the season to leave the oven on all day. Sigh.



Pathetic
Wednesday May 03rd 2017, 1:23 pm
Filed under: can't make that shit up,HelLA,himself,myjobfuckingrocks,nostalgia,whatsnext Tags:

I’m headed up to Santa Barbara to give a paper this weekend. The thing I’m most excited about for my most-expenses-paid, two nights in a beautiful beach town with good food and wine, plus a chance to chat with clever colleagues about work I love? Two nights of uninterrupted sleep. How times change.



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.



Zombie
Wednesday October 28th 2015, 11:02 pm
Filed under: Boozy,HelLA,himself,tired Tags:

Frittata. I couldn’t come up with the word. Egg thing that begins with f. Quiche. Quiche with an f. F quiche. Just gone. Other words have gone as well. I lost it 90 minutes into a three hour seminar yesterday. Just ran out of things to think, to say. I rambled unconvincingly. It’s week 5, of 10, and I’m hitting a wall. Two more reviews to write and a DH talk. I’ll get it done, cuz that’s what I do, and sheer force of will and coffee will see me through as they always have. But the ruthlessness that used to make that work is impossible in the face of a smile that glows and vibrates when you nuzzle his neck or chomp on his nose. Or even just look at him funny.

Dunno. But my god I’m fucking tired.



Boom
Friday May 01st 2015, 12:32 am
Filed under: Boozy,HelLA,himself,libraries,talks Tags:

goes the dynamite. Maybe 125-150 people. Nailed it.



Thusly

And so the last weekend of a decade passes thusly. Errands, work, walk, drinks. Eat, narrative, more narrative. Walk, errands, play, narrative, eat, drink. Bustling, walk, music, drinks, eat, narrative, drink.

Much reflecting of late, as the decade ticks around again, but he looks up at me. Not much by way of conclusion, nor thoughts that add up to anything in particular. I’ll take it, I guess.