Got a light?
Monday April 16th 2018, 7:37 pm
Filed under: birthday,narrative,reminiscence Tags:


A windy day, restoring some of the lost sense of possibility that the move has created. A Hal Hartley film and a nice Spanish red, some quiet time alone with an aesthetic that has aged along with me. Birthday greetings from the woman who tried to make me appreciate films. Thank you. I’m sorry NY last time didn’t work.


The books mostly unpacked and on shelves, a few boxes of stuff there wasn’t space for, a box of books to pitch – too awful to donate, even, and the magic neighborhood curbside disappearance program is 12 miles  east of here. We hiked the mustard flowers, but it confused himself. Which should have been obvious

Back to my red.


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.

Friday January 22nd 2016, 11:37 pm
Filed under: himself,inner-polish-teenage-girl,reminiscence Tags:

Just the one, really, but I couldn’t resist the joy division nod. Just shy of ten years since I got a phone call whilst in Westchester on my way to Vermont, the call to offer the job that’s since been a quarter of my life. On the other hand, 13 months to the day since small and opinionated arrived, small and, well, opinionated. I know where I was a decade ago, in some ways, but I struggle to remember the details of the experience. I remember the despair and the elation, but not the grind. I remember the desperate desire to get the job, but not quite how I got there in the first place. I remember the campus visit and the getting sick afterwards, and the buying of the interview tie and the “you won’t be happy doing only this for ever” conversation with Chick in Black Tights, but I don’t know what I _said_, what I talked about or thought about. I know what I worried about, desired, but not how I lived about, walked about.

A quick check of the archive reveals no archive. I was too busy with the present to muck about with the oddly dissociative ramblings about the past and/or desire to make or stake some future in those months. Too broke, too, between the Wall Street sweatshop and the glory of the December construction/January teaching.

It was the “Snow storm of the century” that hit the weekend of Feb. 11, 2006. I’d been in LA the previous weekend, interviewing the 2nd and 3rd and falling terribly ill the 4th. But, back at teaching, and despite the forecast, we went. And went skiing. And Tom called. And I threw my head back in the snow and said “oh my fucking god. I did it.” A lot.

No TPT, but emails. This evening’s re-readings courtesy gmail. And the weeks weren’t particularly smooth. As YCT observed this evening, I was more prickly then. Yes. That. Very much that. Those emails are sharp on re-reading a decade later. Gracious, in places, but sharp. Leaner, hungrier, in literal and figurative senses.

Decades indeed.


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.


Buying him that $14 dollar gimlet was the best money I’ve ever spent. He talked shit. I nodded, smiled. He talked trash about her. I nodded, smiled. I win, motherfucker, and you not only know it, but raised a gimlet to it at the beginning of our evening. Cheers.

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.

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.

Three Colors, Third
Friday October 12th 2012, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Berkeley,Boozy,fall,memory,reminiscence,Work Tags:

I can’t recall the first time I saw Bleu/Blue. It must have been at the rep theatre in Berkeley, ’93 or ’94. As far as I can remember, the third time was just now, the second time Thanksgiving, 1996. The Berkeley rep theatre was playing all three films in a one-day marathon, and I boughts my tickets, ditched any familial obligations, and followed it with a coffee at Au coquelet, the too-cool-for-school coffee place just up the street. Juliet Binoche in jeans, black top, long coat, short hair – it makes me miss the 90s. Was the first viewing with now-NY-lawyer? It must have been. But the question that preoccupies me now is how I got there in the first place. I lunched, today, with a high school ex, my first real girlfriend, even. We’ve burned bridges, become friends, burned ’em again, and found our way through to a shockingly nice adult relationship. I said hi to her 16 month-old daughter and her husband before we grabbed a bite with a long, lovely walk on either side. In some ways, we didn’t have that much to say this time – our lives, so different, resemble each other’s in going fucking well, in being in good places, in being shaped around partners, daughters, others. But a mere few hours later, I know that the me that was with her was blind to most of the world, and certainly to anything like Bleu. So how did I get from her to, not much more than a year and change later, to subtitled Polish films in French in funky theatres in Berkeley? How did I suddenly wake to the heartache and beauty of this film, predicated on beauty, which I think I had a hint of, and loss, about which I knew nothing? How did it come to matter enough that I’d spend 6 hours on a Thursday in 96 _hiding_ from people I was related to in watching these films? And how does it still hurt so now? Binoche’s knuckles, dragging across an ivy-covered wall, and then just the stones of the wall itself. I think I learned that stole that borrowed that took that became that needed that from this film, that scene, the moment in that scene that marks the transition. Pain beyond pain beyond words beyond sense and, worse, sensibly in all its senses. I’m not there, now, though a Brodsky intro to a Hungarian mid-century novel I picked up several months ago has me ready. Condemned for being Borges, Joyce, Nadezhda Mandelstam, Solzhenitsyn, and a few others, he was, which sounds right up my fucking alley. (Hi, Ali). A report due today delayed. Not ominous, I don’t think (don’t quote me on this), merely the academic inability to meet deadlines. So, Monday instead of Friday. I’ve had a week with the external letters, read and reread and rereread and rererereread and read again. Sally Fields-style, they like me, and I can’t quite wrap my head around it, can’t quite let it be real until it’s real, and not just Department real but all the way final rubber stamped this time it’s final real, which means there are months to go before I sleep. Which is a bit on the ridiculous side, I’ll be the first to admit, but it won’t be the first time, as everyone I know wouldn’t be the first to admit. This is the endgame of a seventeen year project, give or take a few months. The ending of this phase is, I think, writ, though apparently some of us need till Monday to finish the draft. And two weeks from today a vote. Even while I wonder about openings in distant cities and even foreign shores, thinking about visas and work permits for the first time since I left, not quite with my tail between my legs, but with a passport freshly returned (for several hundred pounds ransom money) from Slough, and a vow (slough) never to return on uncertain terms. And the twist – what of YCTNW? I, perhaps, could go back, but without her I’m (not quite nothing, but much, much, much less). I want a blue chandelier to funk it up fuck it up, remind me of genius and loss and youth. I don’t know what I understood of this then, and have only a vague sense now. Two colors, soon, two colors I liked less, perhaps because I understood less. Two colors, two weeks, two sides to a vote, two places to send materials, two people in a little house that fits just so. Just ask stemmatic editors: two makes sense, three is hard. Three is where confusion sets in, where indeterminacy and uncertainty arise. Three is the magic number, trinity and all, because we’re so good at twos.