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.



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.)



Yeshyo
Sunday May 26th 2013, 11:39 pm
Filed under: Boozy,change,inner-polish-teenage-girl,memory,nostalgia,reminiscence,scooters,seasonal,whatsnext Tags:

Or, as The Bird and the Bee would have it, again and again and again and again / do it again. Nina Simone playing in the background, a nod to the same coming of age/romance films that have occasioned alarmingly much of the little writing found here in the last handful of years, 1995, 2004, and the latest before movie on the docket for tomorrow. For all of the ways in which I don’t want to live here, I’m rather reliant upon being able to see such films upon demand, before release, or to go see Joss talk after a screening of his latest. Entitlement meets indifference, sprezzatura meets traffic, soul meets mate. “Unexcited”, the cover of the nyt magazine reads (though, apparently, according to yctnw, it’s a matter of female sexual desire / drugs for same in one’s 50s+. I had thought it was a larger ennui / late life boredom issue. Which I suppose it is, in some ways – things not working? Things not exciting? Take drugs.) Anyway_s_, he said, with a nod to the boy who is now a young man who should really call his bloody mother, these damn movies. A student, a few years ago, talking about growing up the same age as Harry Potter, identifying beyond protagonist to deeper transitions and dilemmas of self. And these movies, I think, broadly appealing similarly – what it is to be young and in love, 32 and both in love and not in love and somewhat successful but not done, and above all being not 23. And, tomorrow, though I’ve assiduously avoided spoilers, to the point of reading no press or interviews or previews or even adjacent press on the matter, the 7-up for my romantic soul, the self that wrote, with the dark and biter passion of 18, “love, and I wish I could say always, but we both know it can’t be so” (or something vaguely similar. I’d have no ask her to dig the copy of R&G off her bookshelf and read me the ?incriminating? inscription), though I can’t remember seeing either film in the theatre, to the point of rather wondering if I did, or if it was blurry VHS and second run at the Sunshine or the Angelika. So with new 88 keys and hours of music made in the last few days, we’ll go see tomorrow if it resonates then as it has resonated for so long, whether they have something to say beyond what I’ve known, or are just a travel-porn version of lives i actually have lived. Or something.