Thursday, July 31, 2008
If it was congenital, they could be brothers and sister,
and I think of the poor mother
brooding over her sightless young triplets.
Or was it a common accident, all three caught
in a searing explosion, a firework perhaps?
if each came to his or her blindness separately,
how did they ever manage to find one another?
Would it not be difficult for a blind mouse
to locate even one fellow mouse with vision
let alone two other blind ones?
And how, in their tiny darkness,
could they possibly have run after a farmer's wife
or anyone else's wife for that matter?
Not to mention why.
Just so she could cut off their tails
with a carving knife, is the cynic's answer,
but the thought of them without eyes
and now without tails to trail through the moist grass
or slip around the corner of a baseboard
has the cynic who always lounges within me
up off his couch and at the window
trying to hide the rising softness that he feels.
By now I am on to dicing an onion
which might account for the wet stinging
in my own eyes, though Freddie Hubbard's
mournful trumpet on "Blue Moon,"
which happens to be the next cut,
cannot be said to be making matters any better.
- Billy Collins
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
I also quit the book group today. It's a hasty decision and I'm not sure whether or not to go back on it. What happens when there's a great group of people mixed in with one person who you absolutely don't want to share space with? What do you do then?
I give these requests the mechanic's test. They're the equivalent of pulling into my mechanic's shop, popping the hood, and saying: "Change the battery. If I like the way you do it, I may just hire you to fix the radiator."
I've been a professional freelancer for years. I've got clips to back up my abilities. When I'm asked to do free work to prove my worth, I keep my mechanic's business model in mind.
I'm big on self-awareness. I'm always trying to figure out what I could have done better, how I can look at myself to improve a given situation.
But last night, Adam just shook his head. Sometimes I have nothing to do with it. Sometimes it really is just external factors.
It also puts my life in such great perspective. She's known me since high school, which leads me to think about how far I've come since then. I've come a long way, baby!
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Monday, July 28, 2008
On Dec. 21, 1997, I apparently wrote an article headlined "Pastors give Christmas sermon preview." The pull quote: "The world was expecting (Jesus) to come in a palace -- instead he came in a manger."
"That's disgusting!" I said. Then we both busted up like we were in junior high.
She FedExed Patchett her overdue bills (at Patchett's request) and allowed Patchett not only to organize, but to pay them. When Patchett started dating a poet, Grealy supposedly was furious because she was to be the only poet allowed in Patchett's life.
If only we stripped out the not-friends, there'd be so much more room. If we stripped away the flaky friends and the unaccountable ones, the ones who disappear for months on end and the ones who make Saturday-night plans with you, only to flake without a word, there would be room and time and honesty. If we kicked out the friends who sit in our living rooms, eating the dinner we prepared for them, and the next day write emails to our husbands promising I'd totally fuck you, the wedding-caterer-turned-supposed-friend who wants your advice but has no problem ignoring you when you show up for a scheduled meeting, the ones who hug you after a night out and say "Good seeing you", as if you were some distant aunt from Tampa ... if we said adios to these people and meant it, there would be breathing space. There would be time and room for the right kind of life.
I called my regular vet: Berkeley Humane Society, where I also volunteer. I've had good experiences with them for years, but they've been slipping. A few months ago, my vet prescribed aspirin for what she suspected was feline asthma. I should've done my research before we started giving it to Oliver. We're lucky it only made him sick. Turns out aspirin can kill a cat. What the hell was she thinking?
Today I called and the vet wasn't in yet. There are two people who work the front desk: an older woman who I like and a rotating dodobird who I always want to kill. Rotating Dodobird of the Month answered and was very vague about whether I'd be able to bring him in.
I called Berkeley Dog and Cat Hospital and got an appointment immediately. I'm taking him in later this morning. I did hear back from Berkeley Humane, but forget it.
Screw you, Berkeley Humane. I've been one of your biggest supporters, but no longer. I will continue to volunteer with you, but I will never again trust my cat to your care.
Now off to the gym to burn off some of this excess anger. I could use it.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Otis Street yawns for two blocks. It exhales gray. Its bad breath whips the trash like tumbleweeds. Breathe in and it’s like taking a giant cocaine snort of piss. The scent burns up your nostrils and percolates in your septum. You can’t do this drug too often, not unless you want a urinal for your brain cavity.
We're first-time addicts. We’ve taken his car over the bridge and past high-rises, newsstands, people snoring on the street. I’m wearing a skirt and a smile that blinks on and off, like a light bulb burning through the last bits of filament. His hand lies warm on my knee. I ask: “Are you nervous?”
“Are you kidding?”
Boy, does that piss me off. He’s tragically well-adjusted. I run my finger over his palm, looking for a hint of clamminess, but it’s as dry as the Sahara, the Kalahari, Southern California. I need him to share my insanity. I wish he could relate to the spikes that pierce the soft parts of my skull. But he just smiles and brushes my knee again and says: “We’re going to remember this night.”
That's what worries me.
We started in secret. You should know that. We started on a stool at a taco shop, amongst cubicles under flourescent lights, at a bar where he dipped a finger in cider and told me to suck it. I did. From there I fell. I tumbled down a dark rabbit hole and bumped my knee. Now he’s running his fingers along the wound, brushing it all better.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
He is relaxed while I can be frenetic and focused. He accepts while I push for more. Dogs like him better.
We've had fights that no one would believe. When we were first dating, we got into a brawl so intense (most of the intensity, of course, stemming from my side) that I hurled everything within reach: a book, my cordless phone, a hapless laptop. After it all fell to the floor, I looked around in a panic: Nothing left to throw.
He sat next to me, silent and still, scared. "I've never seen you like this," he said.
"Keep pissing me off," I told him, "and you'll get used to ducking."
I've worked hard to mitigate my temper. It still flares and always will, but I'd like to think it's less destructive. Usually, at least. I haven't busted any machinery since that day.
In December 2005, right before we went on our first overseas trip together, we spent a Saturday amidst the holiday crowds in Union Square. Standing in the middle of what was then Cody's Books, I brandished "He's Just Not That Into You." It was meant as an example of a pink book, a chick-lit thing, a literary foible.
Then we got to the "He Doesn't Want to Marry You " section. "Do you feel you're ready?" he asked.
Suddenly we'd spun into something serious. An innocent romp through Christmas-season sales brought us to this. "Yes," I said. Of course I was ready. I'd been ready since the first time we held hands, years before it was permissible and years before we would again.
"I'm not," he said, and I sat down hard on a bench. He sat next to me and curled my fingers in his.
"I'm only doing this once," he said. "I'm going to know that it's right."
My lip quivered. I swallowed around a lump in my throat. I was glad for his honesty, and that feeling, while difficult, was one hundred percent genuine.
I'm glad he waited. I'm glad he came to know, and to want this. I'm the jackrabbit. Adam moves at a slower pace. He came to love me over time. It was worth the wait.
Friday, July 25, 2008
Later, I said I didn't consider myself a typical achiever. He said: "You're an achiever all right -- on your own terms." I like that.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
I miss my Little Girl, my 1987 Toyota Celica, white with a black top. When I chuck the Corolla (and that Corolla's been a good friend to me -- reliable as hell, had it since the beginning of grad school in September '04), I think I'm adding a third convertible to our little family.
Yes, I said third. Don't even get me started on Adam's TWO cars.
I haven't read that far, but two things are apparent to me: (1) Ann Patchett tried to be a good friend; and (2) Ann Patchett was an enabler.
We read Grealy's "Autobiography of a Face" in Wesley's class. I didn't like the book. I found it very self-centered, and that rings true in Patchett's portrayal (hero-worship notwithstanding) as well.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Sightings along the way:
- A woman on BART wearing a T-shirt that read: "No romance without finance." No Romance Without Finance wasn't all that, either. She may get the change from my pockets, but she'd have to suck like a Hoover for it. At 19th Street, the pimpest guy ever got on. Pimpest Guy Ever was wearing a maroon suit and matching shirt and tie. Hell yeah! Pimpest Guy Ever sat next to No Romance Without Finance. No love connection was made. Guess he didn't have good enough credit.
- A woman with a pink bag-on-wheels, obviously coming back from SFO. A pink bag-on-wheels is just funny.
- Near Berkeley High on the way home, I saw a piece of someone's weave on the street. Don't she know there's no romance without finance?
The less their ability, the more their conceit. - Ahad HaAm
Arrogance is a kingdom without a crown. - American proverb
Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself, but talent instantly recognizes genius. - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
All you need in life is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure. - Mark Twain
Monday, July 21, 2008
We got home and I was thumbing through a few books when a yellowed newspaper clipping fell out: a "San Diego At Large" column from the Union-Tribune, circa 1991. Part of the column was headlined "A Sour Taste" and read:
"Food for thought. Announcement headlined 'Sorry' in the Iliad, the Poway High School student newspaper: 'In the last issue of The Iliad, there was an article in the feature section that inadvertently hurt many people. The article, entitled 'PHS Chow: Food or Fatal?', was a lighthearted spoof of a cafeteria review. Unfortunately it was not viewed as such, and the feature editor would like to apologize to the PHS cafeteria staff for this misunderstanding. We are truly sorry.' "
Dumbass feature editor. You think she would've learned, but here she is, laughing at her screwup and sharing it with the world once again.
She screeches to a halt before the last syllable leaves my mouth.
This is it. Either her palm will flash across my face, sharp and stinging, or she’ll indulge in a breakdown and we’ll be stuck on this fucking mountain forever.
Instead, she laughs. High and hilarious. “You think you’ve got it real rough,” she says, “don’t you?”
“No, sweetheart.” Hers is a rictus grin, Ipana-toothpaste white. I feel my heart ratchet up higher than this peak. Anything can happen right now, anything.
Over the Atlantic, off the Eastern coast, over Kennedy Space Center, the Challenger lifts, explodes, and disintegrates. Teachers roll televisions into our classrooms and we watch while digging into paper lunch bags. Tragedy tastes like kosher bologna and Kraft slices set between slices of wheat bread, cooled by Blue Ice. Life is bigger than I am.
I am quieter than a church mouse. I am a synagogue rat. I am a little Jewish rodent chomping quietly on its lower lip.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
I used to think connection would come, and be healthy, if I gave everything. I've since realized that good boundaries make good connections. Once that seemed contradictory. Now I understand it.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Friday, July 18, 2008
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Atrium, Lindisfarne Guest House.
This path also led to the yurt. I like saying "yurt."
My car keeps Noble Silence.
Now that's what zucchini should look like! I've already posted a picture of our sorry-ass little zucchini plant.
View from my room at the Guest House. I switched mid-stay because my reservation was wonky, but I was about 95 percent Zen about it.
A happy dork.
The Wheelwright Center, where I did the majority of my writing. That's my backpack on the couch.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Mitts off! That means you!
In the kids' play area.
Just around the corner from the kids' play area. Adam's theory is that it was a young deer who died here and was buried until after it decomposed.
My room at the Wheelwright Center.
Green Gulch Farm produce for sale during the Sunday Program.
Tea served during the Sunday Program. I was surprised to see coffee -- both regular and decaf -- also available in the dining area.
Green Gulch plant nursery.
As they say: A nice place to just be.
Lavender. Cut it and it'll sprout back. Somewhere in here is a lesson for humans, but hell if I know what it is.
Marigolds and some pretty bell-like things we picked up at Dwight Way Nursery.
A sunflower in bloom.
Zucchini. Everyone in the neighborhood grows it.
Meeting Adam in San Rafael. Someone just reached into my wallet and grabbed nearly $3 for a large steamed milk. I would call that person a thief, but Dogen urges us to look at others as ourselves. Looks like I'm a thief, then, and a greedy cafe-owning dork-off.
Adam and I looked through old pictures while I waited for my clothes to dry so I could pack for Green Gulch. We came upon this one -- some dark-haired guy sitting with Adam's (and my, now) then-infant nephew Ezra, who's about to turn four.
My first reaction: Who's that?
He laughed. How could I not have known? It was September 2004. We'd already been best friends two and a half years and though we didn't know it at the time, would start dating three months later. And if you want to talk times and dates, we met exactly six years ago today: July 15, 2002. How could I have known that that annoying guy with the filthy coffee cup would one day become my husband, and that I still wouldn't recognize him in pictures?
Time is weird. So's photography. That's my answer and I'm sticking by it.
Happy anniversary, baby. I can't wait to see you tomorrow!
Monday, July 14, 2008
Anyway, here came the following exchange:
Subj: I phone extravaganza(don't know if that's spelled right):)
my bad not saying anything,you are at some lesbian retreat and I didn't want to disturb the rug munching in today's sessions. :)
XX regrets moving here from the East Coast. She claims XY pressed her into it so he could pursue his perversions. “He wants to do threesomes,” XX says. “Wife-swapping. I tell him he can play a nice game of Hide and Go Fuck Yourself.”
She rails against his frugality. He buys only what’s on sale. We eat out only when we has a coupon. The coupon is usually expired. When he’s caught, he always has a backup.
“If they were giving away a case of the clap,” XX says, “XY would stand in line and take two.” In fact, he’ll stomp off to Las Vegas a year later. He’ll fuck some woman at Circus Circus. Yes, Circus Circus. There are many fine establishments for adultery in the City of Sin, but XY chooses the Big Top. Then he’ll climb back into his Fury and steer it down Interstate 15. He’ll toss his bag on the bed and demand XX call the doctor.
I won’t believe her until I see the list: Discharge. Itching. Avoid relations with wife? Got to give him credit, though: Drinks at Circus Circus can’t come cheap. At the very least, they don’t come for free. Neither did his fling, apparently.
I moved rooms today from the Wheelwright to the Guest House -- there was a mixup with my booking. Not too much of a big deal, though I miss my private bathroom. One of the monks (staff members? I'm not sure the exact title, though he is a very nice guy) told me that the Guest House was built Japanese-style, without a nail. I said: "That's a lot of duct tape." Then later I started wondering about earthquake safety. Jewish Zen.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
In the free tote bag from the Magnes Museum: a notebook with a straw hat on the cover, our byword for hippies. Come on, how many straw hats have you seen perched in the backseat of your friendly neighborhood Volvo or Subaru?
Also in the picture: a bumper sticker from Moe's Books, my $3 cheapie purse, one of the fake flowers my mother pressed on every female at the barbecue last month, a parking ticket, a bill, some cord or other for Adam's Mac, an external hard drive, and my second-grade journal. Collect them all. Impress your friends.
In it, Tassajara director David Zimmerman writes:
Gratitude courses through this valley and our veins, for we and our community are well and safe, supported in a thousand ways known and unknown by the generosity and efforts of so many beings, so many bodhisattvas, so many buddhas. And finally, deep bows to the fire, whose undeniable dharma teaching of impermanence has earned our awed respect and attention.
What a gracious and respectful way to pay tribute to adversity. Something to ponder throughout the rest of my all-too-brief time here.
Friday, July 11, 2008
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Next month, Adam and I are going to Portland for Dan and Moonrise's wedding. We're staying with Loralee, who lives in one of the best parts of town, and we're renting a hybrid, which is all Adam.
And right now, I just booked a random trip to Minneapolis for a four-day getaway. I'll be there Sept. 13-17 and staying at the Wales House bed and breakfast, which got glowing online reviews. So excited!
According to the Chron article:
San Francisco should do everything it can to protect the rights of young Honduran drug offenders before it turns them over to federal authorities for possible deportation, several activists urged members of the city's Juvenile Probation Commission at its meeting Wednesday.
A choice quote:
Angela Chan of the Asian Law Caucus told the panel that immigrants who commit crimes out of the need to survive in their adopted country should be screened to make sure they have a chance to lead law-abiding lives rather than be immediately deported.
"We should treat them as all the other youth," she said. "They sell drugs because they need to make money. The problem is there are not very many opportunities for these youth. They desperately need the money."
Really, Angela? How should we treat "all the other youth" who sell crack on the streets of this fair city? I had a good friend who grew up poor in the worst part of Pittsburgh. Some may say he had not very many opportunities, and they would be right. Instead of selling drugs for a living, he got a doctorate in computer science from UC Berkeley. There are choices in this world, Angela, and if you make the wrong choice, you should pay. Not us, you.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Monday, July 7, 2008
If I was 17, and a senior in high school, I would like to be a cheerleader for the school’s football team. I would jump around yelling cheers. I may also have a boyfriend on the team. I will want a car.
I also had quite the obsession with HBO and the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and wanted to make someone named Courtney Willson disappear should I get my hands on a magic wand. Courtney, if you're out there, my guess is you may have deserved it.
Any time you talk to my father, you get treated to his opinion. Whether he's saying you did the right thing or what's wrong with you?, you always know where he stands. I was driving while I was telling Adam that and I found myself hitting the gas that much more assertively, steering with a firmer hand. "He always said I went to the wrong school," I said. "Not everyone wants to go to CCNY in fucking Harlem." I sounded defiant and I was glad.
Saturday, July 5, 2008
Another reason I love Ebert!
The man is freakin brilliant, even (especially) when describing a low-rent, big-budget, would-be yankfest such as Showgirls. Adam and I saw this beaut tonight at Peaches Christ's Midnight Mass. While there, we also celebrated the Fourth of July while watching a tranny pull an American flag out her ...
And to all, a good night.
Friday, July 4, 2008
Then, while having coffee at Ritual, a bit of local street color poked his head in to tell us he didn't want our money, he wanted our identity. And then, walking back to 16th Street BART, we came across a circle of lit candles in paper bags, and within them, poets, musicians, and other stripes of artist. Turns out this has been going on every Thursday night for three years. Who knew? It really felt like what San Francisco should be -- a foggy night in an urban setting, all these crazy types coming together to perform. And most of the performances were far better than your typical open mic. Lots of polyamory happening too, which made for fun watching and an interesting conversation on the BART ride home.
Then we had just reached our place when we ran into the cigarette-seeking, Razor-scooter riding women. They'd already hit a cop up for some smokes and decided to try their luck with us. Sorry, ladies. Not tonight.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Really, the only way Burroughs could've improved his book is by copping to that -- saying, hey, my family really was that fucked-up, there weren't many light moments. The book really does get more and more grisly.
There is redemption in the end, though. I'm hoping the same for my own project. We all hope for it for ourselves.
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
ME: Jesus Gets An Office Job. Discuss.
ADAM: Turns Folgers coffee into Blue Bottle.
ME: Turns KOIT into house music.
ADAM: Walks on TPS reports without his feet getting dirty.
ME: Arranges lunchroom tables so they always seat 13.
ADAM: Returns from unemployment after three days.
ME: Gets worker's comp for that gaping hole in his side.
ADAM: Wears a crown of that paper that can give you a really nasty paper cut.
ME: Betrayed by cube-mate.
ADAM: Of course, he's the son of the Big Boss.
ME: Winces when the frat guys talk about getting nailed.
ADAM: Never has to work on his birthday.
ME: He's in finance.
ADAM: Saves on the lighting bill by working off the glow from his halo.
ME: Considered rude because he refers to everyone as "my child."
ADAM: Fed an entire all-employee meeting with one baguette.
ME: Hates Mel Gibson movies.
ADAM: Always gets reminded to turn the volume down on the angels chanting.
ME: Doesn't take "yo mama" jokes well.