5 to 7 or bust
Tuesday December 11th 2018, 10:34 pm
Filed under: inner-polish-teenage-girl,memory,nostalgia,Old Tags:

Someone did the glammed up movie of my 20s without telling me.  Very annoying. 



The Drive Back
Monday November 05th 2018, 5:25 pm
Filed under: can't make that shit up,himself,inner-polish-teenage-girl,memory Tags:

I don’t remember it. Not really. Which is peculiar, as the drive _there_ remains among the dumber things I’ve done. Not top of the list, certainly, but up there. I suppose it’s not peculiar, really, as 15 years of self-medicating by way of red wine has done wonders for depression, and for taking the edge off. For taking all of the edges off, including what used to be my fairly sharp recall. Himself has it, or possibly even something closer to my father’s photographic memory – it’s fairly astonishing. Any variation from the text of a story prompts correction, even if the story hasn’t been read in weeks, even months. “What’s the word, for the thing on top of a diesel train,” I asked aloud. We hadn’t read the pop-up train book for a couple of weeks, and it was lost to me. Conversation moved on, and suddenly himself chirped up with “pantograph.” Bloody ‘ell.

Anyway, I think I still have the instructions for the drive to Brighton tucked into my London A-Z. Graciously narrated by a friend, as I borrowed a flatmate’s Alfa to drive down for what I thought, what I always thought, was capital-L love. Why I didn’t just take the fucking train escapes me. Money, I assume, though that was the end of the relationship. I remember spending 18 of my last 32 quid with a week left in the month to get down there as the end-of-days (of both the relationship and my life in the UK) dwindled. So, pre-GPS and somehow pre-Mapquest, which doesn’t make a lot of sense, but whatever. So instead a long hand-written list of directions of the “stay left for Epsom” variety got me there. White-knuckling the whole way, as I wasn’t even vaguely comfortable with right-hand drive, and had no clear sense of the traffic laws. Didn’t matter. Took longer than I’d thought, and traffic in Brighton itself was terrible. And I don’t think the weekend was that great, either. But it was a Gesture. A big, motherfucking Gesture.

Apparently, however, not the drive back. Did I get lost? Was the A3 a nightmare?  Was it Sunday night? Monday morning? No idea. I don’t remember.

[UPDATE: Check _this_ totally vague shit out. Looks like I was back the next evening, Sunday, and back to work the next day:  ]



Pretty Good Year/Salad
Saturday September 08th 2018, 8:22 pm
Filed under: Berkeley,friends,memory,narrative,summer Tags:

The pancetta made the salad, really. Can’t think of a whole lot of nights, home alone with time, that salad was the choice, but a box of delivered vegetables forces some decisions.

Day one, solo plus small. No sweat. Tired, but fine.

Just finished a friend’s novel. Apparently I’m doing that, now. I’ve read a bunch of books by a bunch of friends, but they’ve mostly been academic/critical propositions, rather than novels. Not entirely: cancer-NY-now-Boston is a novelist, and I’ve loved her novels, though her memoir-of-disease hasn’t quite been do-able yet. Though a night spent talking long in NY, of bodies redefined by illnesses unknown, and seeing hemophilia and cystic fibrosis through that lens was revelatory. Which is, of course, what friends are for.

But this was a grad school novel, so a bit on the hybrid side. (Next up the German mystery/thriller? Maybe. For shits and giggles and vague resentment at a life lived in Berlin, perhaps.) Plus it was erotica-esque, which knowing the novelist isn’t all that surprising. Her mind/body dichotomy literally staged in the book, her work on the staging of that divide (Beckett, by way of Molloy and Nine Inch Nails, really), and a move from CA to Michigan more than enough to make a person horny and rather thoughtful. But she’s one of the few I know who walked away – who figured out what she wanted to do, and does it, and means it, rather than the treadmill upon which both success and failure are measured. (Though, her point is difficult to swallow, even from the end of the treadmill where I stand, not too smugly, but not too miserably either, I don’t think. But I may be doing this wrong, though that was our academic generation’s imperative, to live through this ™.)

She’s not a friend any more, really, though she was one, and a lover for a while. I’m glad I read it, as it makes me feel closer to her, though we haven’t spoken in 20 odd years, and wonder about my choices, as the best narratives do. But I think I’ll leave it.

Some toys to tidy, some bread to bake. My life got weird.

 



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.



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.



oh, lympics
Saturday August 06th 2016, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Boozy,leaving,memory,obits,reminiscence,summer Tags:

I remember the late afternoon I decided to quit. I remember lots of wood in the room – bunk beds for a corner room, though I had it to myself, but the exposed 2x4s and 2x6s and a cedar-y smell. Possibly the sandalwood incense I burned along with the marlboro reds. A stereo – ?Koss – with its three CD changer. I don’t remember the music. Jane’s Addiction? That was a summer of falling asleep to Arvo Part every night, so perhaps Berliner Mass? Dead Can Dance? Tori Amos? 1994. I wrote it all down, but that journal got lost in the mail. I’m sure there were tears, and ash, and sweat, as I wore black paint-spattered jeans, unlaced doc martins (surely with the leather thongs for laces), and a fencing mask, as even in the darkest moment of (?contrived) despair, I didn’t want the blade to snap and blind me. Safety first, kids, when you’re trying to make the transition from doing a thing to not doing a thing.

I was good. Not that good, but good. The details are a bit blurry, but I was certainly top 10 in my age group. Probably top 30-ish overall, which sounds impressive until you realize the gulf between the guy squeaking through at 32 and the top 2 or 3.

I’ve written this all before. What disturbs me, after watching a day of women’s epee in Rio (!!!!), is I don’t remember why I quit. Not exactly. I probably didn’t know exactly. I could have taken the summer off after nationals, started up again in the fall. Hell, 2 years later I’d move 8 blocks away from the club in San Francisco and celebrate how fucking cool I was for living in the deep Mission in 1996. Rather than resenting the walk to BART and the train there and back again once? twice? a week. If I’d had a car, would I have made the same decision? Or, was the answer just female – now-lawyer and some-of-us-are-bugs? A general fear of missing out, on the 5th floor (before they left), on college itself.

I don’t know what i wrote in the black bound book that day, with the sweat and the tears and the loud music and the cigarette ash. Possibly some candle wax. Had i stayed on, I might have squeaked through to the Olympics, only to get my ass handed to me, coming home a proud 119th in the world or something. Maybe in the 220s. Dunno. And don’t know what the opposite was – what was I choosing? What did I _want_, beyond what it was I no longer wanted to do? Still unclear.



10 years
Thursday February 11th 2016, 1:20 pm
Filed under: memory,myjobfuckingrocks Tags:

Ten years since he called, a few hours from now. But when I logged in here, a reminder that the last comment was by Helen, much missed. Trying to get work done, and the small leaves rather less time for reflection than used to be the case. A phone call from a reality TV production company making the day slightly surreal, though not as exciting as last week’s Pussy Riot spotting. Fuck it. 10 years. “I can’t fucking believe it,” I said, “oh my fucking god,” I said, throwing my head back and staring in wonder up at the sky. I had a future, then, a thing that came next. A strange thing not to have had before then, really. But so it goes. Cheers, all.



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.



Boxes
Tuesday August 05th 2014, 2:31 pm
Filed under: change,himself,memory,something new,summer Tags:

Packing, again. But not to move, not this time. To move things around. To make space. To echo the space himself is growing into. Books, of course. Not that there are so very many books in the little house, particularly mine. I have an office. Hell, come October I’ll have two. As I sweat and wrestle packing tape and dusty boxes, I’m reminded that books are a necessity, but space to live alongside them is a luxury. And each book or cluster, of course, an impossible series of memories. Too many memories, even in a few boxes, of too many mes over many many years. A boarding pass, casually sticking out of a volume of Proust, for a flight from San Francisco to New York, as I exited, stage left, to go back to England and try again, rather less casually.



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.