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.]



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.



Moral calculus
Tuesday May 23rd 2017, 11:26 pm
Filed under: fear,grief,teaching Tags:

They were unconvinced. It is, frankly, not Lakoff’s finest. There are some truths, but he’s too eager to make them systemic, totalizing, rather than doing his best work – poking small holes in other people’s bubbles. So, moral economies, positive actions and debt repayments. Before frames, even. So we did an analysis of the Manchester bomber’s possible calculus. And the horror of seeing everything as quantifiable, the cost (metaphor not intended) was too much.



“Cry all over the place”
Thursday May 04th 2017, 4:42 pm
Filed under: himself Tags:

From the mouths of babes. Or toddlers, really



Pathetic
Wednesday May 03rd 2017, 1:23 pm
Filed under: can't make that shit up,HelLA,himself,myjobfuckingrocks,nostalgia,whatsnext Tags:

I’m headed up to Santa Barbara to give a paper this weekend. The thing I’m most excited about for my most-expenses-paid, two nights in a beautiful beach town with good food and wine, plus a chance to chat with clever colleagues about work I love? Two nights of uninterrupted sleep. How times change.



This Great Big Hill
Sunday April 09th 2017, 9:31 pm
Filed under: birthday,can't make that shit up,nextish,Work Tags:

(Nearly) [42] years of my life and still / trying to get up this great big hill / of hope / for a destination.

Or something. I’m suddenly in the absurd situation of having 8 months to spend a grant that can only be spent as research money. Which is lovely, but I had wanted to _not_ do research this summer, and instead get some fucking writing done. Instead now scoping trips to improbable locations in September. My life is weird.

Which I suppose was the point.

Not that I give that many fucks any more. The glory of the forties, really. The fucks not given.



Dismayed
Friday March 31st 2017, 10:12 pm
Filed under: Boozy,Old Tags:

To learn that Lea Thompson has a daughter old enough to act as the cute love interest. Which simply means I’m old.