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.]



the corner
Wednesday July 26th 2017, 9:51 pm
Filed under: damn,himself Tags:

It got rounded. Fast. I was texting “I’m fine, 11 of minutes of howling.” But that got interrupted, and by 13 minutes I was shouting. Loudly. The corner scares me, a bit, and how fast it got turned. Remember. Learn.



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.



“Cry all over the place”
Thursday May 04th 2017, 4:42 pm
Filed under: himself Tags:

From the mouths of babes. Or toddlers, really



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.



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.



A play
Sunday July 31st 2016, 11:13 pm
Filed under: change,himself,magic Tags:

Not a book. And a typo on p 258 – “there are things that death cannot touch. Paint…and memory….and love.” Who knew paint was so powerful?

But the words are, however juvenile, however past the selves who read the books, first with other smalls, then alone, and someday again with him. I want him to know this feeling, of being deep inside yourself, ranging across past and present, making connections between things that didn’t seem to be connected. Feeling fragmented and whole, exhausted and awake. A book, finished. Because that’s what you do.