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.

The greatest city in the world (or, empty fridge)
Wednesday December 13th 2017, 5:43 am
Filed under: New York,nostalgia Tags:

There’s nothing in the fridge. Nothing in the cupboards. At first I was annoyed, but then I thought about living here, and I can safely say I don’t think I ever had all that much in the fridge, either. Why would you? It’s ALL there. Right Fucking There.

I fucking love this town. It speaks to me in a way no other city, not even my beloved London, ever has. I can’t afford it (and never could), and it occurs to me that I’ve never managed to live in a city I wanted with a job I wanted, but fuck it. One out of two isn’t bad. And this isn’t a kvetch. Despite being ass cold outside (or, more accurately, quite chilly combined with insufficiently warm clothes, as I just don’t own that shit any more), I found a 1) cozy pub with no TV happily thrumming along for 9 pm dinner and a few pints of Guinness and 2) a specialty market beyond your wildest imaginings open until midnight. Not only that, but I walked less than half a block each way.

The cold air seeps in through windows, as I drink my mud coffee (packaged nostalgia. perfect). The noise also seeps, but that’s what I get for not knowing the place was _on_ 14th st until after I booked it. Fucking AirBnB.

The only spot free at the bar was a big table surrounded by couches. I had it comfortably to myself for an hour or so, quietly reading quite a good book over pints, before a group of three colonized the other side/corner. Fair enough. Then a woman who worked at the bar came out – trans, fabulous – to be greeted by hugs from two of the three and an introduction to the third. She then turned to me and took my hand warmly, expectantly. “I’m just the guy in the corner,” I said, “I’m not with them.” “Darling,” she said, “you’re with me,” giving my hand a squeeze. She stayed, chatted for a bit, and then said her goodbyes. As she was leaving, I looked up from my book, “Don’t I get a goodbye, too?” She leaned down to give me a hug, “Always.”

I fucking love this town. Off to look at some books (after I buy a hat).

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.)

Friday March 15th 2013, 11:08 pm
Filed under: Berkeley,family,friends,leaving,New York,nextish,Oxford,tired Tags:

It’s too much, really. Last week’s trip marking progress and stasis, old friends, older responsibilities, newer choices. But between an old friend (the red hoodie and shiny shoes of Saturday, December 6, 2003) and the work of work (newly less work filled, situated on a continuum from Part I exams to retirement by a man freshly retired, another old man on the other side of cancer, and still a third old man, not there, on the other side of a stroke and scared as fuck), part of the trip involved confronting old ?wrongs? mistakes? ?obligations? None quite, really. A man-child, ultimately. And I did as right as I could in the hours there were, not necessarily to make sense of lifetimes, but to be real, to be me now and connect to him now and acknowledge that time has passed and mistakes made and not made, and what nexts. But part of that was always going to entail talking about it. And there, amidst grief I cannot begin to imagine, always that shifting logic, those words that impel compel repel, seduce confuse confound, persuade perdure perform. “What happened to the days of wine and roses,” ask the Wild Colonials, about whom one could ask, “what happened to the Wild Colonials” (or the subsequent two EPs that were promised)? To bed, to brunch, to work, to high school musicals.

[Update a few minutes later, in response to a text to which I will not respond: the door is _not_ open. Those 5 years were not without context; it was I, not my father, who told you I was getting married. Nor did you have PTSD; it was a bad breakup, nothing more or less. Nor are needle biopsies a fucking treatment for cancer, so stop fucking saying that you had cancer. No one reads this, and that’s for the best, but I refuse, absolutely, to do this. I will not go back down the rabbit hole.]

silky black humor
Saturday June 06th 2009, 12:58 am
Filed under: bastard,Boozy,HelLA,jazz,maudlin,New York Tags:

Or something along those lines, a review of Gaiman’s Graveyard Book.  I should read children’s books more often, and perhaps this heralds a re-read phrase, a re-reading phase.  An evening at a hipster poet / computer poetry digital artist’s show, a two night affair with an opening night party and a closing night party.  Maybe 15 people, an odd mix of 20-something hipsters, many of them students (including the one who shyly introduced herself and said she had been in my large lecture course 3 years ago) and 30- and 40-somethings, mostly artists, poets, the authentically creative, and oh yeah, me and YCTNW.  Claws that leave burns behind, as my saying goes, and now epee points leaving marks that won’t really scar.  An album of impossible past, Parlan and Shepp, the soundtrack to falling asleep for hundreds of nights, years of my life.  Candlelight and red wine, historically speaking, which reminds me that we have dozens of miniature oil lamps and my life demands more candlelight.  Mood lighting continues to thwart me, although dimmer eyesight softens the brighter lights necessary to function.  Things mostly wrapped up, now, a day of work even – I know more about something I knew very little about at the start of the day.  My instincts are good, too, as there’s plenty of room to operate in an under-thought-through, under-studied area that not only dovetails, but in fact is coexistent with, the main body (historically speaking. hahahahahahaha.) of my work.  New York in just under two weeks, a touch of solo time before then with YCTNW in NY for a friend’s bridal shower, for a visit to a past that is beloved, that actively loves back.  And work to do, for me, but increasingly in manageable bits.  Write this chapter.  Expand and revise.  But the fine, lead crystal glass of single malt is now empty, and it’s late enough and my consciousness unsharpened enough (Photoshop functions as a metaphor for life?  I’m unimpressed.  But last year’s illness might be Gaussian, and I’m grateful no one has neon-ed me or craquelured me.) to go to bed.  The last tracks of the album unlistened, vague memories of a man with thousands of CDs, many of them jazz, bought with the insurance payments from his dead older brother.  What I would have given, not having ever had a brother.  Now, loss looks different, even those losses I haven’t lost.  Father’s big weekend, fourth year running.  Fingers crossed he fucks it up a little bit less this year, if only to make his miserable fucking life a little bit easier.

another title in another hall
Wednesday May 27th 2009, 12:28 am
Filed under: Boozy,libraries,New York,Rubbish,self-indulgent,tempest in a teapot Tags:

Just finished Obama’s first book, Dreams from my Father.  Powerful shit.  I might have enjoyed it more if it weren’t a work read, a trained bear gig for some dinner for those who donate, the ladies who lunch, in just over a week. A follow-up ready to contextualize Obama’s books – Gilead, and maybe Netherland, and if I get really desperate, some Shakespeare – for those who lunch.  It’s not how well the bear dances, it’s that the bear dances at all.  And thus I’ll choke myself with a necktie, do the gel-based equivalent of brushing my hair, and appear as a bright-young-thing for the donors.  Got my NY tickets, so those of you reading there (don’t think any, actually), open a slot in your calendars, as I’m there to work (once I apply properly to the fucking Morgan.  Tomorrow.  Really.) and there to drink and wander and even be a little alone.  Once a year, maybe, last time to Ingerland a few weeks before YCT (YCTNW? Yummy Co-Teacher Now Wife?) arrived for weddings et al, and we gallivanted, most pleasurably.  (Apologies to the grad student who gets sputtery everytime I accuse her of gallivanting when visiting home.  It’s so uncharacteristic yet so apt as to be irresistible.)  Alone.   Not that I’m ever alone, nor that I really want to be alone.  Merely that there’s so much me that sometimes some time without the safety of the us to return to is necessary.  Having lived so much of my life without a safety-net (not that you’re safe), that the seemingly simple act of walking a sidewalk without someone to turn to, immediately, is a reminder of all that came before, all that’s both past and infinitely formative.  I don’t know if I can describe it, babe, and I know you’re likely reading this, or will eventually.  It’s like music, I think.  I don’t create it all the time (and certainly not as often as I’d like, but that’s a different fucking story), but when it strikes, it’s something I have to chase.  For the certainty of the uncertainty, if anything, for the knowledge that I’m unjudged, there, excessive commas and all.  I can work on the manuscripts, drink and dine with the friends, and wander familiar landscapes alone and unalone at the same time, and it’s not that it’s more me, there, not that I can find something I don’t have, but rather be reminded of the vibrancy of all that I do have, of the validation of all the decisions I made and make and believe in.  He says, putting “London Bound” from the album “Black Fingernails, Red Wine” on.  (And, could you ask for a more me title, a more me album?  Hah.  Fuckers.  That was mine. You owe me one.)  I dunno.  A bottle in but only lightly tipsy, a day of petty productivity, but productive nonetheless.  The poor shadow of philoboozo tomorrow, a solid theory book a chapter at a time with a solid friend, but lacking, somehow.  He’s up to it, I’m up to it, and it lacks all embarrassment or self-consciousness, but it really needs a third to give it that swing, and it just ain’t got it quite yet.   “Englishman in New York” says random.  Nicely played, random.  And thus to bed, really, a book down, a day older, tickets to a place that is a past but not The past, even as belief in such a thing slowly fades and is replaced by the impossibly beautiful present of The now with love, Love, and everything in between.  I go not to find, but to remind and remember, I go not to be judged, but to continue a life that I don’t need to judge.

fear, hope, withdrawal
Tuesday May 26th 2009, 9:53 am
Filed under: change,friends,libraries,New York,politrix,seasonal Tags:

The endless nicotine dance continues.  Starting a little bit earlier for a few days, then fighting to hold it back until later.  A tiresome cycle in so many ways, but most of me doesn’t really want to care.  I’d rather just keep the fight going, get fit Mondays and Wednesdays and smoke Thursday through Sunday, pay the piper as and when appropriate.  Oh yeah, gotta refill my asthma drugs.  Moron.  Speaking of, fucking CA Supreme Court.  Supreme Courts generally, in fact, piss me off.  Since they don’t agree with me, always.  Didn’t you know that was the touchstone for whether a judicial institution is doing its job?  Agreeing with me.  Funny how so many people seem to implicitly agree with me on that one.

New York trip plans afoot – a few mss there I actually do need to see, along with a few friends I fancy seeing, and some time to visit before it feels lost to me.  I wonder if that’s what’s behind some of the urgency of the rapidly conceived (and shortly to be implemented) trip – NY feels like it’s fading, a bit, like I might stand and wait at a street corner rather than just crossing the damn street, that I might not know how to change my walk ever -so-slightly between the UES and the LES and points in between.  That its impossible, complex, polyrhythmic rhythms might elude me, or feel strange, or even find them imperceptible or incomprehensible.  So, I call the travel agency, slap it on a not-yet empty account, and off I go.  London feels more recent, even if it has been since last August; we’re planning a return in Dec, as well, a timely if not hasty retreat from the relatives of blood and “I do” who might not remember that I’m me, and not always prone to playing along.  But NY, much longer, and of the four great locations of my life (here, up there, all the way over there, and there), and the shortest of the four, it needs tending. Like a fucking garden.  I have my reasons.  Trust me.

for fucking feather
Saturday May 23rd 2009, 3:45 pm
Filed under: friends,HelLA,memory,New York,nostalgia,reminiscence,seasonal,self-indulgent Tags:

I sometimes stalk those who got away.  There aren’t many in that category, really, and I’ve dug up most of them over the years.  As against those who dug me up, an entirely different category that almost immediately disqualifies them from a position of interest.  (I generalize, so don’t get your knickers in a twist.)   Anyway, of the few who got away, one has been generally localized, several years ago, but a new one caught my fancy not all that long ago.  It was proving difficult (which is to say, on at least two or three occasions, late at night, and drunk, I tried googling around, scraping the obvious sites, and nothing came up).  But a little extra elbow grease (what does that look like for keyboard-based activities?) turned her and her music career up, not unexpectedly, in New York Fucking City.  So I’m on the delightful and frustrating edge of nostalgia for multiple times – the very last moments of the me before Berkeley, already at work on becoming Berkeley me, and New York me, the first moments of after-Oxenford me, the first moments of job-having, the last moments of pre-YCT, the first moments of YCT.  And to her infinite credit (well, exploiting the rather charmingly fey middle name is savvy, but the radical de-Jewing that goes along with that choice a touch disappointing) she seems to be living the dream.  A teenage girl, strumming a guitar, and singing along to the Beatles and What’s Up at the top of her lungs, now a woman, strumming a guitar, singing her own songs.  I have no idea what her life looks like, of course, and knowing the gulf between the lyrics and the lyricist I fight the urge to analyse all the words until I can backfill 17 years of silence.  It cheers me to know she’s out there, doing something she so obviously loves.  It cheers me to know I’m here, doing something I so obviously love, but it’s hard to express that love sometimes, hard to find ways to communicate it.  Particularly when the job itself dissolves and devolves into so many sub-parts, many of which suck.  I remember still another mentioning that I never talked about my work, and certainly not with enthusiasm.  In part, it doesn’t lend itself to ready conversation, but that’s not entirely true – there are enough people I do share my work with who aren’t academics to disprove that.  An unwillingness to overcommit?  The constant of my adult life, the suppression of unseemly enthusiasms for ironic detachment, or at least passions appropriate and inappropriate carefully chosen for carefully chosen audiences.

I think I’m going to try to write more, here.  The list-making of the year-to-come might be conducted more publicly before it becomes that-was-the-year-that-was.  Not quite summer, but the anxiety of time passing, of chapters to write and work to do, but also the fear that I’ll fuck it all up, stress about work without getting it done, and not get anything else done in the stress.  I imagine finding out when she has a gig I can somehow get to, showing up, stand leaning against a wall or a post or pillar, drink in hand, and wonder if recognition would come, what it might look like in her brown eyes, eyes I remember staring into from inches away one long, and long ago, and very short summer.

categories and annexes
Sunday February 22nd 2009, 1:32 am
Filed under: Boozy,exit pursued by a bear,memory,New York,nostalgia,Oxford,reminiscence,self-indulgent Tags:

A friend (?) asked.  Well, an ex, really, an ex who preceded all the exes, and therefore isn’t really an ex.  My first girlfriend, qualified by “real”, as the first girlfriend was batshit crazy, setting a trend it took a long time to recover from.  Someone I treated much worse than she deserved, which is hardly unique, but definitely came far earlier in my life than I’d realized.  Anyways (and a wave to those, not reading, who are greeted there), slightly more than chainlink-fence style, I decided to let her “in” as much as this shit is in, and pointed her, well, here.  And the first question was “What happened to April 05-March 06?”  There are procedural answers to that – in direst poverty, I let the domain lapse because I couldn’t afford the 30 bucks, and hadn’t turned back to blogger yet.  (I used to date my life by girls I was dating, or failing that, apartments in which I was living.  The last almost 3 years (!) have required far greater granularity, what with the YCT for all of ’em, and functionally the two residences since Aug. 06.  Crazy, that).  Apartment-wise, we’re looking at the UWS for that April,  via the West Village, a spot on everyone’s floor or couch or aerobed by July (Thanks Lis and Jax) to the East Village by the end of it, call it Sept to May.  Geography aside, it was the end of admitting I wouldn’t get the jobs I thought I would get through to the job I got, minus all the drama of the moment, the life experienced.  There was an awful lot of booze, and an awful lot of forgetting, and a very little remembering, as well, along with decisions that echo through until today. I’ve known for ages that I write in moments of transition, and the March 06 writing marks the transition of YCT entering my life – the “six weeks to capital T trouble” that has me (yay) getting wed in less than five weeks.  In less time than a handful of “relationships” I’ve had, and less than double of a much larger number of what I term those, I’m getting married.  And it is good.  But what happened before then?  A letting go of England, a killing of hope, a letting go of pride, a reconciliation between the me I’d left behind and the me that had left in the first place and the me that came back (three really awkward guys stuck in a room without much to talk about), peace with what I had done and who I had become, the answers to what I’d learned from a relationship I never thought would end that ended, and the letting go of a place that is always there but never lets you in.  What happened when I stopped writing, other than I had stopped writing?  As well ask what happened between the loss of my journals in Oct 98 and the creation of TPT in 2k3 a few months before I left Oxford the first time, even if the journals were functionally dead well before their loss in 98.  As well ask what happened in all the long months where there has been much to write about, and I haven’t as those in which nothing much happened, and I didn’t.  Perhaps what pissed me off most about Slumdog Millionaire was the idea that memories had use-value – how convenient your mother died in Muslim/Hindu violence – therefore you can answer this question.  How awesome you were abused and abducted by sadistic capitalists, because now you can answer this question.  I cherish my life, written and unwritten, known and unknown, for precisely its lack of value.  I wed with no secrets, knowing, even, that the continuity of existence is solipsistically inexpressible, but that doesn’t bother me any more.  What happened in that year?  Really, not much.  Really, everything that explains where I am now – I got the job, I got the girl, I moved from radical contingency and the despair of uncertainty  to the tidy safety of my well-sheltered existence, from defiant outsider to respected insider.  And both are true – not much, everything. 11 months….who knows. Probably doesn’t matter.  But I’m glad they happened.

Monday March 10th 2008, 7:06 am
Filed under: Berkeley,friends,maudlin,memory,New York,reminiscence Tags:

A low boil, even, on the back burner.  The realization, after some basic maths, that come late August (which, admittedly, is a full 5 months away) it will be 15 years since I met a friend. An ex-friend? A friend past? South African lawyer friend.  Tuesday passed (or Thursday. Is it bad that I’ve forgotten even the specifics of the “day” that indicated things had gone too far without resolution? Is it indicative of some friendship carelessness, or worse, some fundamentally self-involved issue?)  To be honest, I don’t really care. I suspect there’s a gesture to make.  Not that anyone in New York seems to be talking to me at the moment, although I’m unclear on what I’ve done (other than being a self-involved drama queen, but, surely, that’s not new…..) or how I’ve offended, or even if….Maybe things just fade, and then faded, fade again, and my own tendency to reminiscence is a liability rather than an asset, a ball and chain rather than a claim to a more thorough understanding.  Anyway, a gesture. A letter, a mix CD, a Stoppard play.  Handwritten, perhaps, rather than typed or emailed.  Packaged and sent rather than Amazoned.  Not because it even matters, to some extent, what her reaction is (although, of course, that’s not quite trivial).  Mostly because I’m feeling my bright and shiny future seems to have lost just a bit too much of my past, and that there’s value, there, beyond the dark and dismal, and to the happy bits that happened, too.  So many people have loved me over the years, and I them, and it feels that I’m in touch, I’m connected, with so few of them.  That pains me.  I never meant, never expected, things to end up that way.  South African Lawyer friend, I know you don’t read this, which makes it easier to let you know that there is, someday sometime soonish (post April 18, most likely) a letter coming your way. Although if you forget my birthday, there may be a brief delay while I forgive you, yet again.