No words
Friday September 20th 2019, 9:48 pm
Filed under: change,himself,summer,tired,vacation Tags:

Really. They all fall short. He whimpered in his still-shallow sleep, maybe thirty minutes ago. The velcro that holds the front part of his sling had come off, so his arm was a bit free, and he was rolling his body around trying to get comfortable. And it hurt.

Such animals, we are, in pain, or near the end, or at the very beginning. Awake, he has all the words. He charmed the doctor (who already loved him, bless her [literally]), and the three nurses it took to get the bandage wrap off. 5 nights, six days, and all is, from the outside, about where it should be, though that offers no real reassurance. But the tricky tacky bandage, which clearly should have been taken off some days ago, needed 4 and 6 hands to hold and lift and unwrap and brace. We kept saying “brave.” That’s not the word, really. An exceptional, unwarranted, unearned response to being put in pain by people you know to be helping. Honest, and not afraid to express what hurt (and, afraid of being hurt), but gracious and grateful and mindful of it being needful. I struggled to watch the struggle. He doesn’t have a choice, and his little soul (and arm) bore up under what had to be done, and he never really stopped talking.

What comes next didn’t happen today. And today’s silence probably means it’s not Monday. And so the urgency of the now is not met by the arrangements for tomorrow. My adrenalin-fuelled imperative to Get Shit Done Now is unhelpful in the marathon we face. He faces. The tragedy of creating another person is rather Proustian – he’s his own person, lovable but unknowable. I don’t know what he will or won’t remember of all of this. I will never forget the terror of that night. But that doesn’t matter for the pediatric orthopedic surgeon we will or won’t see today, Monday, someday.

The long night was long. But after he, with his splint and sling, bounced back to being himself, the two moments that brought me to my knees and near to being sick to my stomach were back in London – once, playing with a boy and a dog in a back yard, once slipping on a stair in a playground. I was right to worry, as we learned today from the doctor, right to be concerned that now is the time things can get really fucked up. No school next week, which we had blithely assumed would carry on per usual. As term begins for us. Scheduling is gonna be a bitch, but it’s just that, time in small or medium blocks, swapped about in a fucked up game of emotional capitalism.

To my knees, on a bright sunny day in Richmond. Not an Indian Summer, as the Uber driver after assured me, as that requires a frost first, which London hasn’t seen. Just a late September sunny day at a wonderful playground that made clear how different it is. I remember Christo’s gates in Central Park, the saffron i-beams and little fabric drapes (which were themselves smaller than I’d anticipated from the drawings in the newspaper and the web), made a place that was a bit familiar become radically unfamiliar, and then did so again when they were removed. That’s how I see him moving through the world, now, and presumably will ever after. A world that, even on the hilltop of a small town after a lovely meal, when you fall to the padded rubber safety surface, can still expose how very breakable he is, how very temporary his body could be in this world. That his temporary might not be the same as the temporary we all share (even as Humpty, of the previous grief/anger post, has returned, miraculously (snort) to the living yet again).

Dunno. No words. Really. And I imagine the feelings will dull. “You scared me and I broke my arm,” he said, and I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed.

Monday September 02nd 2019, 10:42 pm
Filed under: Boozy,can't make that shit up,change,family,HelLA,holidays,summer Tags:

Can’t say in my wildest imagination I would have anticipated that watching a YouTuber now on Amazon with a narrowboat and a totally non-teleological vanity project would become the soothing and reassuring put put put put put put soundtrack to waiting for my father to die. Off to Ingerland tomorrow. It seems fitting. Put put put put.

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.


mostly dead
Monday August 20th 2018, 9:18 pm
Filed under: exit pursued by a bear,family,summer Tags:

It is, I suppose, not an unreasonable description of all of us. So, again and again, headed to a hospital to see a skinny old man under too-thin sheets look old, feeble. Not the one but the other, this time. Still, they just celebrated their 22nd anniversary. I know shit happens fast, but that’s a long ass time. And within a year or two of how long the first round lasted.

But it gets one thinking. Shocking, right? Who knew near-death could get the middle-aged thinking? Hard to find time to reflect, really, in the non-stop-ness of keeping up with a creature for whom reflection makes no sense. Hard to find time to find value in time spent reflecting, even. The few days when YCT and he were gone were nice; the flipside, solo plus boy for 10 days, looms a bit. A few weeks, yet. Anyway(s). He’s not dead yet. Though I fear the domino effect, the other old man thrusting his fist to the heavens and saying “I did it!” only to keel over himself. So it all goes, so very quickly.

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.

Both hands. Please use both hands. No, don’t close your eyes.
Thursday June 21st 2018, 9:44 pm
Filed under: Boozy,can't make that shit up,friends,holidays,seasonal,summer Tags:

Both hands – neither carrying a child. The enormous amount of energy worrying about someone else’s bladder for the last month is lifted, for a week. And so here I am, lady and gentleman (actually, I think that’s an accurate summary of my audience), deep into the red wine after a dinner of ridiculous home-made pizza. Gotta work on the transfer to the newly arrived pizza stone, and the dough was too thick, but the cream/onion reduction sauce was pretty killer.

A tenure track job for an old ?friend?. Acquaintance? I don’t know what the fuck he is. He’s been in LA for years and years, and we’ve had drinks twice; once sucked, once was delightful. And now he’s off to a TT job in an East Coast College Town. This is the man who, over drinks in Chicago, as we drank for the second time in a decade, told me that his then-girlfriend-now-wife had only ever known him on the market. I lack words to imagine that as a sustained existence. I don’t think I realized, quite, the person I was to the people who knew me 2003/4-2006. Nor those who know me for the next 7 years. I’ve always gotten it done, and though I’ve studiously (ha) avoided facing the price, I know it’s been substantial.

Drinks with one of my oldest friends before YCT and Small left. Mid-afternoon beers after a morning co-oping at the small’s preschool. As I try to get better at this tenure shit (though, 90 minutes of cooking for one this evening was probably overkill). He described it as something he described to others as the Robin Hood trick of shooting a bullseye and then splitting the first arrow with a second. Someone I underestimate occasionally, and who occasionally reminds me not to underestimate.

Since my last, San Francisco, sushi, City Lights, Berkeley. Un-processable experiences, almost, mid-May, a lifetime/month ago. Joy with a friend. Uncomplicated pleasure in places where the pleasure of youth was mixed with a lot of the suffering of youth. Long walks and long talks and a _friend_. Not my strong suit.

A mixed day of work and errands and different errands and different work. And cooking. And music. As you would, if you could. And I can. So I did.

Platitudes and Attitudes
Sunday June 18th 2017, 10:39 pm
Filed under: Berkeley,myjobfuckingrocks,nextish,seasonal,summer Tags:

20 Fucking Years. 20 years ago, it was outside, in the Greek Theater. A hot fucking day, particularly by Bay Area standards. I don’t remember much – the guest speaker was one of the founders of the ?Center for Independent Living, a heavily disabled man in a full body respirator who had finished college. It was inspiring, in principle, but very difficult to understand. Add a flask of vodka and the buzz of it all on a hot ?late May day, a party which followed, and some complicated, possibly questionable decisions that followed that, followed by a paper on medieval religious history, followed by a series of even more complicated, definitely questionable decisions over a summer neither weird nor good, just next (oh! And a lost pair of expensive sunglasses! At Wall Berlin, no less), and, comparatively, today was much easier. Dog poop, child poop, trains and duplo and kicking a ball around, a few speeches, a handful of hugs, a commute on freeways through a city I still resent but have also grown to appreciate, rely on, inhabit. Fancy medieval clothes in scarlet, a sense of pleasure on behalf of the students and families.

Is it enough? We certainly try to justify it to ourselves as such. That what we do is much, much more than doing nothing. More than buying things, selling things, building things, fixing things, marketing things, or organizing or negotiating some aspect of any of those activities. I’ve no idea, really. It makes it easier to sleep, thinking the university matters, the public-ness of it matters, that teaching them to read, speak, and write critically about words and ideas matters. (Or, trying to. I don’t need them to love what I love. I do need them to care about something.) Everything rings a bit hollow on these days, overshadowed by the realness of the experience they’re having. So grown up and so young, so excited and so somber. Was I wearing the pull-chain choker? Or the one made out of nuts and bolts wired together? That picture with the Campanile in the background the last known whereabouts of those sunglasses. Gone. Like this impossible year, and like that summer 20 years ago, things happen fast.

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.

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.

Saturday August 02nd 2014, 9:31 pm
Filed under: Boozy,HelLA,holidays,jazz,nostalgia,summer Tags:

You would think the fact I’d been on on a small green rock in the middle of the fricking Atlantic where the locals wear, I shit you not, foul weather gear to go shopping in JULY when the rain and the wind pick up a bit, that I wouldn’t be quite as pleased to listen to the rain outside as I am. An odd summer (not of the ‘good summer/weird year; weird summer/good year’ debate) of West Coast humidity, plus drought, making the rain welcome, and the variation all the more soul filling as Donald Byrd sings “get in the groove” manfully as the Blue Note 75 radio station shuffles through its absurdities. (Ooh. Ornette Coleman. Those earings! Water tanks on the skyline!)

A few weeks of rustling and bustling follow the crazy of the work. If I could do that 20 weeks out of 50 I’d be a star, I suspect. Maybe I’ll aim for 15. Himself only a few weeks further along, 18 on Monday. Apparently we can be heard, which makes me want to curse a lot. And make the dogs bark, to habituate and make things easier upon arrival. As if anything can be made easier on arrival. Not so dramatic nesting plans, sanding and priming and painting the iconic piece of new arrival furniture, boxing books and moving bookcases and priming and painting a room somewhere in a shade of the welcoming palette. A shelf for speakers, the keyboard tucked under, a japanese screen to divide, or really suggest the division of, the room. 6 more weeks of teaching begin on Monday, then 2 weeks with the books in their native habitat, then an entire year, give or take. Plus the minor changes coming. None of which have been as frustrating as my attempt to buy a bike that’s neither a midlife crisis nor a dadbike. But the bitterness has faded on yesterday’s dire dirge, despite the meh of my attempt to re-embrace a taste for the popular at the Bowl last night.

Check Out Time, Ornette proclaims. At the Bowl last night, the incense burning tenor player was at his usual spot at the tunnel. “I’m a friend of [mumble], and I know he’d want me to say hi,” I said. He stopped, got up, came over to shake my hand, and said “I’m also a friend of Herbie’s. He’s a great man, Herbie, but he’s got time for us all. Any friend of Herbie is a friend of mine” Blink. Wifeblink. “Kirby!” I shouted, “the guy whose wedding you played a bunch of years ago. Kirby.” Pause. “Oh. Not Herbie. Herbie Hancock? Oh. Kirby? Kirby. Aaaah. Kirby. Any friend of Kirby’s is a friend of mine,” he offered charitably, no less warmth in the renewed handshake. It didn’t seem right to put money in the case, then.