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).



Database paths
Wednesday November 29th 2017, 2:47 pm
Filed under: Miscellaneous, Truly,Rubbish Tags:

Really? That’s what I have to spend my time on? When GoDaddy changes (without any warning) the path to the database? Glad I finished reading other people’s job applications (there but for the grace of god, etc.) before I spent time fiddling with that.

Old dogs, dead dogs, farting dogs. And a comment from a dead friend celebrating 20 weeks of pregnancy. Literally and figuratively lifetimes ago.



Stalker
Monday November 20th 2017, 11:44 am
Filed under: can't make that shit up,HelLA,holidays,nextish Tags:

Well, I missed a month again. I suppose, in my defense, I’m busier than I ever imagined busy being. But there have been a few times I’ve wondered about coming here. Just back from a final spin class – they’re closing. Moderate sadness over corporate failure – there was, in fact, a community, and even rarer for HelLA, an unprecious atmosphere of real people doing real exercise, the lumpy alongside the glossy, and, for the most part, a sense of collective encouragement.

Thæs ofereode, thisses swa mæg.

Speaking of which, the disturbed young woman who has been stalking me off and on since accusing me (falsely) of all kinds of shit re-appeared, first by email a few weeks ago, and then in my office on Thursday. Fun for the whole family. Oh wait. Even my cop-loathing self got the cops involved (who, true to form, managed to insult by asking, meaningfully, “does your wife know”?).

Time flying; deadlines blown; things passing around again; holidays and 90 degree heat projected for Thanksgiving. Just the season to leave the oven on all day. Sigh.



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.



Eleven
Thursday September 28th 2017, 9:19 am
Filed under: nextish,teaching Tags:

One louder, one more year, one more fall, one more class, one more bunch of bright-eyed, ever-younger students wondering why the fuck anybody reads Chaucer.



Food hall, street food
Monday September 11th 2017, 1:11 pm
Filed under: libraries,myjobfuckingrocks,something new Tags:

“Copenhagen Street Food,” it said on the map. Clearly a ridiculous place, I thought, and well worth avoiding. But the guide on the first-ever-tourist-boat-I’ve-ever-fucking-taken-don’t-judge-me-you-try-traveling-with-a-two-year-old suggested it had a good vibe, and the bodies were packed (on the admittedly unusual sunny day we managed for said boat). Cue happiness, in the form of duck-and-fries and a fine dark ale. Go there. Eat well. Be warm and festive.

The “treasures” exhibit was empty. I hadn’t really thought through it – Marina Abramović’s “Treasures” at the Royal Library. I’ve worked my manuscript mojo there, and done the doing that needed doing to make this trip the done thing. After handing my watch and my phone (“Marina wants you to be outside of time”), and taking the key, and then using the second key for a cubby hole for my boots (“Marina wants you to be comfortable”), I went in…..and it was empty. Me, headphones, voices in my ears, and the treasures of the Danish Royal Library. Saxo Grammatico, the Inca conquest book, Maimonides and Gregory of Tours, Soren K. and Ghandi, Tycho Brahe and Linnaeus, Mozart and Audubon, some sagas and some other shit. Apparently a timer rings after 80 minutes, but I was keenly aware that I had to get back to YCT and small. As luxurious as it was to just listen. But it made it clear how much of a premium time is. All those thoughts, all those journals, all those years traveling and hunting authentic local spots for a beer, and a book, and a corner to write in my black journals – an abundance, a hyper-abundance, an embarrassment of time (a murder of crows). I listened. I sat on the chairs, climbed on the elevated bunkbeds, farted loudly and scratched my feet through the holes in my socks. And eyed the 7th century Gregory, the 12th century bible, the 13th century Jewish philosopher, the 19th century large printed books, the intimate letters from Soren K. to whomever (5 degrees from the Nippel somethingorrather bridge (which I’ve crossed daily since arriving) through a spyglass) and H.C. Andersen (his ardent but restrained passions undone slightly by this weekend’s Guardian article featuring letters in which Dickens declared him a bore). Dunno. YCT, small, totally new city. Time together, time lived in the present without the extra time to meta-present, to reflect. A few more days, remarkably, followed by another country/city, even more remarkably.

More art. More gray. More time.



Stress, and grief

She said, to answer my question what points she was working on. Also, where your spine meets your ribs, so, a major parenting spot. Not really an empty center. And her “hot hands” (shared, apparently, by her 11 year old daughter but not her 11 year old son) healing. And also disturbing, working through old and newer ambitions and desires, aspirations and intentions. A Greek meander left to right, hyper rational and logical, and all I am, a Celtic knot, mystical and magical and all I’m not very good at being and have, frankly, neglected. And a not very empty center.



the corner
Wednesday July 26th 2017, 9:51 pm
Filed under: damn,himself Tags:

It got rounded. Fast. I was texting “I’m fine, 11 of minutes of howling.” But that got interrupted, and by 13 minutes I was shouting. Loudly. The corner scares me, a bit, and how fast it got turned. Remember. Learn.



the second shot
Sunday July 09th 2017, 10:42 pm
Filed under: Boozy,himself Tags:

Easy to date, really. A first shot of vodka when he was born. Two, really, one to finish off the bottle the Soviet cultural attache gave my father when I was born, and one to start the new bottle 40 years later, bought from a rather less distinguished spot here in Echo Park. And tomorrow he starts pre-school. It’s not school, but it’s not not. He’s lived in a totally protected world of us, uncles and grandmothers, and our dearest friends (and the occasional sitter for money, one of whom was amazing, one solid, the other two less so), for his entire fucking life. [Got the music in you baby, tell me why. Grooving on the latter-day Mazzy Star album that is Cigarettes after Sex. Though their narrative isn’t really my life anymore, they would have been a nice touch in it all those years ago.] And the taste of the shot. Fuck. I love ice cold vodka. Plus it’s fucking hot and gross out. But two and a half years in the back of the freezer, and that shit is well fucking chilled. The taste almost like the feeling of smoking a cigarette, of a circuit in my brain suddenly completed, suddenly highlighting its own absence.

great blue heronPreschool. !. How the fuck is that possible? Into the world, with all its beauties and its pain, all its tendernesses and all its disappointments, all its joys and all its despairs. [One might say I’m slightly over dramatizing a toddler joining the “kitten room” tomorrow for a day that will likely involve playing with the water table, the cars, some trains, some stories, and if they can figure out how to make him nap I’ll pay them 50% over what they’re asking]. “Protect” isn’t really the right world. I think the most physically protective I’ve felt was walking along the river the other week. A great blue heron guarding her nest three or four feet from us was clearly deeply unimpressed. I pulled himself close, whispered to hold still and move slowly and marvel. She was a big fucking bird (who, after we’d walked a bit further on and turned back, proceeded to cross the road to take a shit before returning to her nest.) I felt a powerfully visceral “back the fuck off” feeling, something close to how I felt every time I saw a person when he was tiny and strapped to my chest.

The vodka has been pleasant sipping, but it’s losing its icy viscosity. Bottoms up, kid. You and I will do shots together for your birthday when you’re quite a bit older. But for now, one for your birth, and one for starting preschool. As you’ll be in preschool for a few years, then 12 years of schooling, then another 4 for college, and perhaps another handful for another degree or three. So this is your life, really, for a loooooong time to come. Cheers. You’ll never know, I suppose, and that’s how it’s supposed to be, how it has to be, but I think even the reflections and refractions are enough.



Two girls, in a van
Thursday June 29th 2017, 10:54 pm
Filed under: Boozy,can't make that shit up Tags:

One girl, in a van. Retrieving plastic but stemmed wineglasses from the back. Me, two poodles, going for a night time walk. A second girl, in the van, stretched out on a thin mattress in the body of the van, head on elbow, dressed for bed, inasmuch as bed is the back of a van parked on Echo Park. Me, two poodles, going for a night time walk. Enough eye contact that one tiny part of me wants to hang out with these girls, the way I hung out with two girls in a van from Michigan. The other part of me wanted to make sure they were OK, but resisted.

My van girls were from Ypsalanti, I believe. They came to Berkeley and one of them wanted to hang out with me. The other got arrested in San Francisco for possesdion of pot, which posed all kinds of challenges. They simply found me at Wall Berlin, as you did and as you do in a world without mobile phones and the internet. I recall being taken aback at how easy it was for two random girls to find me in Berkeley – meet someone once at a gathering for Waldorf youth at a biodynamic farm in East Troy, Wisconsin, and apparently they can just show up a month or two later and find you at your local cafe in a college town. Who fucking knew? She lived with me in a summer sublet for a few months. Jen. I don’t remember her last name. She took one of my favorite photographs of me, ever, sprawled asleep after the nightshift, face down, tattoo across jutting shoulder blades. She had a ying-yang tattoo on her neck, high, just below the hairline. It was remarkable at the time. She had a flat midwestern accent. She was kind, and didn’t eat people. (Oh, wait. That’s not my story). She lived in a van, then she lived with me, then she went away, then I visited her once in Seattle, then I never saw her again.

[30 seconds pass while I dig through old emails. This jen predates email. But _this_ fucking turns up: “Big events happen for me in even years; happiness is more likely during odd years.” Seriously? This was me in December 04? Calling the job in 06, tenure in 12, child in 14? (I’m looking at you, 08 and 10). Things, apparently, that you write to the person you went on a trip to Seattle with after you’d basically broken up to visit her gay uncle, and took a side-trip to visit van girl while you were up there, everything ends even worse than usual, silence and 7 odd years ensue, and then you hook up in New York. I fucking love that town.]