Blues Run the Coming of Age Game
Sunday June 24th 2018, 7:49 pm
Filed under: inner-polish-teenage-girl,Old,reminiscence,self-indulgent,summer Tags:

What is it about coming-of-age movies and me? It’s not like I’m fucking cookie dough any more. I fear this is fully fucking baked, even if the recipe needs tinkering with. Two nights, two movies of angsty young men in a tangle of desire and books and struggling how and who to be in the world. I’m only 19 minutes into this evening’s fare, and quite enjoying it, but wanted to pause and wonder. (Also, owwwwwww. I went to the fancy gym, and now I fancy hurt.)


Hours and hours today wasted on blood relatives; another bunch waiting for a call back, alas. Drinks with a sort-of-old-friend (we’re 50-50 over two visits over 5 years) who is leaving LA, finally off the market. (Amusingly, for a place I applied to in the dark years. I think, no, I’m dead fucking certain they’re the ones that sent me a rejection in AUGUST of the FOLLOWING YEAR, 10 months after I applied for a position, and weeks before I started submitting apps again. Who fucking does that? {Side note: I had to work with fucking lawyers, but it was updates-a-go-go with the search I helmed}).


Fuck it. Returning to my regularly scheduled visit of fantasies of different but all too recognizable versions of 20-something me, who was miserable, except when he wasn’t. I was something in those formative years, as she sang and I could never not feel they’d already passed me by.


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.

Regularly scheduled

Tonight’s regularly scheduled Nostalgia-Fest(tm) has been delayed due to eminently foreseeable circumstances. A contract offered, yesterday, an early morn and the closure of an exam today. One to London, one to New York, one here for a bit before heading to San Francisco, one to the Air Force and another back to his baby boy. They don’t tell you, not the places you’ll go, but the people you’ll say goodbye to as they go to those places. And so, flint (as is apparently the case with my Reading Abbey wall fill rubble) to the tinder, movies of promise and regret and loss before it’s lost to spark the few bits of fuel not already consumed.

a week and a day and a life

Last fricking Saturday night, I was drunk, angry, grieving, and singing along to an “in concert” performance of one of the few shows to have a break away pop hit, to Anya’s consternation. And now the creaks of a a rope mid-28-minute-long track of surprising emotional intensity for almost wholly wordless electronica remind me of how long it has been, really, since a single week has seen this much uncertain anxiety for me. Not quite charmed, as I reject that interpretation (and ‘lucky’) utterly. But, the last half decade has been very very very different than the one that preceded, not in terms of what’s being done, but the price being paid. I suppose I don’t know what the long-term cost will be, and perhaps that’s the difference, and what was troubling me so at the beginning of this calendar year. Prepositional angst: what’s it all _for_? what’s it all _about_? where does all this lead _to_? But when the lesser came through after the greater largely dropped out, and moreover made it abundantly clear that, as long as I was basically on board, I was welcome on board, the smaller questions seem answered while the larger recede. Between enjoying composing the response, and being able to mentally compass getting back into a place where I can undertake the work I propose (which is much greater, really, than that they require), and a colleague’s helpful suggestion to hire a graphic designer to solve the ugly-cover problem, there seems like a path forward again. And, perhaps that what was lacking last weekend. For all of the clarity of the end of non-end a mere two years from now, the partiality of last week’s shit, rather than either the wholly unknown or the mostly known, was a limited un/certainty that hasn’t been so damningly present for a long long time. Or something. Yet the part of me that will accept the way forward in exchange for the dramatic black-and-white binaries that drove me here (the conviction that I’m smarter than they are, the work better, more important) precisely the part I wonder if I’ve lost, sold, swapped. And whether I only care a few glasses into it, alone of an evening or a morning (usually not so much with the booze in the mornings), with time to think that I have tried to put in the service of everything and anything else but this, but though filled remains unsolved. Maybe it’s because we have a telly. Perhaps that was the dividing line in all of this. Not YCTNW, but cable. Hmmm. Fuck ’em all and burn the shit, unless I’m trying to sleep and it burns too brightly, in which case get off my lawn.

On the one thousandth playing of Metheny’s Map of the World
Friday January 14th 2011, 9:47 am
Filed under: calendars,damn,HelLA,self-indulgent,sober,whingeing,Work Tags:

1000 since I moved to HelLA, that is, some 4 1/2 years ago. And what I really feel is not much of anything. Tired. Need more coffee. And need to get out of this, out of here. Sucking it up to get through the almost despair-inducing silence while I wait for word, while I wait for words that will performatively seal my words in the ten point type of public voice for public consumption, rather than the weirdly hybrid project here. And while i wait there is no simple waiting, but the mad and manic drive go produce still more public words, even while wondering how long the silence will run, how much it can erode what seems to be a much more fragile confidence (arrogance) than I’ve realized for a while.

And this town. Another balmy day in winter, the comfort of the sun at odds with the dark and bleak of my world, the welcoming climes in contrast to my sense that living is a battle with a hostile because indifferent world. And, the joy of a dog who, because a dog, is rapturously happy to greet the day with a squeak toy and me. Time to move on. 1000 mornings in three apartments, but only one town. Come august, I’ll have lived here as long as i lived in Berkeley, as long as I lived in the UK. And that, i reject. Soon it’s time to add years to a different place, to live life on a different clock. This one wears me down.

what i knew, part 2

The archaeology of my existence continues this evening. There’s a folder in the box, a lumpen, misshapen folder, over-stuffed with the most precious pictures, letters, notes, postcards, mixtape liner notes, and some random random shit. A folder of the much better known, but this evening’s slightly more careful excavations had some major surprises. Letters from an ex-friend that are still too painful to read, lengthy testimonies to one of the few bridges i burned, burned, burned to the ground without having meant to do so (and, incidentally, much more effectively than those i did intend to eliminate.) A note from an oxford friend and a picture of us together mid-laugh, saying my days were suddenly a mystery to her but she was calling my name on the wind, and wondered if I’d hear it. I wonder if I cared, then – I do, emphatically, now. A long letter from an ex-idol’s ex-girlfriend (though he probably was still my idol then, and she was certainly still his girlfriend), a graphic description of a night I almost remember, though it resembles so many others, and is largely over-written by a later night she and I had, same intensity, same red wine, same pretentiousness, but this time with bad (and, thank the gods of stds, good) decisions.

The pictures from Wisconsin, and from Michigan Girl and her Van (GHV henceforth), include one of her as a child with a tarantula on her hand. A black and white photocopy mounted on brightly colored construction paper (unlike Cat Eye Glasses, who sent me, long after it was imaginable or excusable to do so, some of her most precious childhood photos. I have them safely, but they’re a burden.) I didn’t know her (GHV, but either of them) as a child, didn’t know the little girl in this photo, but it’s no less compelling for that. We were children, really, me 20, her maybe 22, but I recognize the girl of 13 or so in that photo. I don’t have any other photos of her, but the woman she became is clear in the child she was. Months later i would sit at a fold-out table on a fold-out bench in a perfect Victorian apartment, wondering how the young man with ink permanently injected under his skin and piercings in his ears, nose, face, burns on his arm and hands, scars that ran deep and were still angry red, could be the child who had loved books with a fierceness and willfully myopic innocence that seemed implausible impossible, let alone maintained through sheer force of will those many years. Wondering what I knew then, even then.

The summer must start before the year ended, with a woman i never understood, but never really cared to, much, either. There had been some others before her, and after Her. (She shares her name, and middle initial, with a celebrity, which rendered her functionally invisible on the web for many, many years. “what ever happened to so-and-so,” we would ask. And now, they don’t ask, with Facebook and the web so deeply integrated in the world. Our generation, it’s a bit harder. Not impossible, but harder.) Of those before but after, some were crazier (or, less neurotic) than I, some not so crazy. Now-Runs (why not?) was a nice girl, a good girl, right? Right. Not that she didn’t have something of a darker streak, but I think i was determined to keep it a bit lighter for a while, a shockingly unselfindulgent approach. There’s a picture of us at a party (that surfaced on the web not too long ago), her arm around me, me looking back at the camera, grinning. Toothy, eyes bright, vibrant, fuck yeah, smiling. There are very, very few photos of me smiling, let alone like that. I worked very hard over many years to eliminate that smile.

Now-Runs was the first of the three week girls. There were other girls before her and after Her, as the letter postmarked January 25, 1995, with “Lolita” as the return address, suggests. That story stretches out to the next apartment, however, so needn’t concern us quite yet. Speaking of which, there’s a he that needs to be worked into all of this also, and though the genesis was the weird/good summer, the denouement was fall and even winter, so I’m going to hide behind the vagaries of the academic calendar and clarify later. Three weeks. One gets into a rhythm, whether playing a solo, walking down the street, writing or talking or shucking or jiving or painting a wall or doing the fucking dishes. There are rhythms. And I fell into a rhythm that summer, one that would last me for years and years and years. A week to fall in love, a week to be in love, a week to break her heart and leave her. A week of perfect, passionate, incessant, unsustainably bright, pure, intense love, a week wondering what love was while going through what suddenly felt like motions, and a week to get up the balls to break up with her, not knowing what I wanted or who I was but believing that it wasn’t it. And yet, what I knew then….

Tuesday March 02nd 2010, 11:08 pm
Filed under: blah,Miscellaneous, Truly,self-indulgent Tags:

Your Ghost, In Spite of Me, The Killing Moon. Unexpected, the “bard of San Diego” and his guitar, singing my songs in a voice not far from what I imagine mine to be, but isn’t. A historical novel that isn’t trash (Booker Prize! It’s trash, but not! Though, judging the Booker by its cover [props to Sean for that, ages ago], this is one part Strange and Norrell with its black and white, three parts trash with its faux medieval font for “a novel”, Holbein portraits embedded in letters, etc.). That I’m enjoying. The Polish war novel just wasn’t doing it for me, had me stalled out on the reading for pleasure. Not that I expect a whole lot of pleasure between now and March 28. I have a chapter to write. It can be done; it’s been simmering, in various ways, on various back burners, for months and months on top of years and years. And it’s time to write the book that I will write, rather than the one I might have hoped I might write, at the cost of skipping the one before me. I’ve been entirely too sensible, too sensical on this site (recently renewed! no more domain squatters here, beyotch.) for quite a while. The charm of the enigmatic, hell, of the pretentious, diminished. Maybe I need to use more big words, as it were. While being fitter, healthier, happier, more productive, of course. So there it is. Airfare to the ford of Oxen in 2 1/2 months arranged, hotel in the city of the Palio arranged, and in the place, apparently, the Italians use as the placename for Bumblefuck. Which is charming, really. That was the day that wasn’t.

6 Years ago
Wednesday February 24th 2010, 10:23 am
Filed under: calendars,memory,self-indulgent,sober,Work Tags:

End of Feb, just re-read the month’s archives from beginning to end. The last month in a charity-room in one London flat, moved to the house, quit the job listening to calls, and Started Writing. At long last, I started fucking writing. I’ve already started, this time, but then I’ve also stopped, which is something I’ve gotta fix. Not gonna go for a run, and am contemplating starting smoking even as I radically diminish drinking, but I know precisely What Is To Be Done, just not How To Get There From Here. Other than head down, ass in chair, hours upon hours until the question is answered, is made moot (in the American sense, not the English sense). Fuck me 6 years ago reads like a lifetime ago. My heart bleeds for my grad student who got rejected by the British Library last week. So much rejection in this thing we do – no one every really warned me or told me, but even warning her, telling her, I can see how much she’s hurting. As I did, do, will.

the habit of rejection

I’ve gotten out of it, rather surprisingly, and thus this morning’s email from Big Grant Awarding Body, the polite decline and the boilerplate on how competitive it was, rather has caught me out.  And yet, the rather familiar ache in the pit of my stomach, the sense of “don’t those fuckers know I’m bigger, better, faster, more,” the rage and the grief all come rolling in.  Muted, of course, and yet not, which is confusing.  As this one isn’t a deal-breaker, a be-all and end-all scenario – there’s a mini-round on that in October, and the real deal in 2 years.  But I’m rocked slightly back on my heels, wondering why people don’t see – again, a familiar litany of emotions, frustrations, a long list of grievances.  I received a catalogue for a tiny, inconsequential press at home the other day.  The truly amusing part, and the reason it comes to my home address rather than the office, is that I applied for a job from this minnow school yonks ago.  Not only did they reject me (in 20-20 hindsight from a lofty good job, I can with full magnanimity say “fuck you, but good call – we would have hated each other”), but they added me to their fricking mailing list.  Minnows gotta grow somehow, I suppose, but the lack of taste is impressive.  Anyways, rejection with a twist, knowing it’s not the end of the world, having done this shit enough to know that this-too-shall-pass, and of course, always the timing, knowing I have too much to do in the short and medium term to let this stop me from getting done the work, use the muted grief to fuel rather than excuse, evade, avoid, (drink). It fades even as I get distracted while writing this.  I wanted to check TPT last night to figure out what time I was up and out of the house to the BL from April-September, 2004, the 6 months in which I wrote the vast majority of my diss.  But in checking it today, it’s not clear (despite my memory of such) that I posted before leaving the house to sit on the 9/10 bus crawling along Oxford Street,  reading literary theory and the occasional trashy novel, and sometimes Proust.    Whatevs.  Coffee, shower, read, write.

what i do
Saturday July 11th 2009, 1:45 am
Filed under: HelLA,holidays,Miscellaneous, Truly,seasonal,self-indulgent,tempest in a teapot Tags:

What I do will never be as obvious as what is done on a footie pitch.  You’ll never watch me on stage, even surrounded by other talented musicians, but playing with that little bit extra, that lick, that chord, that look that pulls a crowd in and doesn’t need explaining as to what you’ve just done.  I’ll never walk out of a library and be able to explain that I just read the hell out of a manuscript, or come out of the classroom or lecture hall with a pump of the fist or primal roar of triumph or victory, cuz it just don’t work that way.  And it would be a bit embarrassing, in the latter cases, at least, cuz nominally it’s about them, the students that is, and not about me.  I never liked team sports, and in hindsight I wonder if that’s because 1) other people tended to be better at them than I was, and 2) other people tended to be worse at them than I was.  Back to the middle ground, the too lame to be cool, too cool to be lame, too mediocre to be a jock, too good to be a nerd.  Stuck in the middle with a you I didn’t know or have, as it were.  Individual sports, though, and individual pursuits, at least when I lost there were no excuses, no compromises, and no blame to distribute beyond myself.  So, too, what I do, but the contest is slow and complicated, the game of reputation and advancement takes place on many fronts, and much of the time has very little to do with what I do and everything to do with what other people think it is I’m doing or have done.  Which is far more difficult to control than appearances, say, where a nose ring and a bunch of earrings, long hair and a leather jacket, a motorcycle a marlboro red and a cup of black coffee pretty much hold down one end of a very particular spectrum.  But that’s what I do, now, I guess, and it’s both enough and not.  Which is always the case.  I’ll never be satisfied; I know this about myself.  The key is to use that gap, that empty, for good.  Or at least to move forward.