Friday, October 31, 2008

Got an amusing email from an old friend today. Whenever I hear from him, he always cracks me up. From today's:

Anyway, congrats on getting married!!! That's awesome news. So is this the guy that you're living with on the farm in Berkeley? You effin hippies. You probably got married suspended in a redwood tree, didn't you? Namaste, newlyweds.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Quotes from Adam tonight

You've dug down, you've torn apart, you built up. You built me up with no blueprints.

(On pretentious African art) People aren't going to have pictures of starving children and Idi Amin eating someone.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ran into Rob today. We were chatting about Berkeley and I said: "Of course, sometimes it drives me crazy." He said: "Everything drives you crazy." Good to know an old friend remembers me well.



The NEA.

Residencies all over the country.

Life will be fulfilling if I have to bash it over the head with a club.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tonight's writing

You can call it neurosis, a self-guided training program designed to have me expect the worst. It traces back to the muddy memories of my early childhood, those swollen streams.

Before I learned to walk, I crawled. This was before California, in the house at 11 Merrywood Lane, a split-level in the woods three thousand miles east. I learned the blue shag rug by heart and by touch, with palm and knee. Rooster and Nails were legs and feet, too tall to grasp. I had only one brother then, Adam who called me by my babyhood nickname, Igles, until Rooster snapped at him to stop, that’s not her name.

One night there was a fire. My mother came downstairs to take me out of my bed, to pick me up and rescue me, to take me outside into the cold Connecticut air and let the smoke dissipate from my nostrils. As she wrapped her arms around my little-girl body, I heard her say: “I wish you’d died.”

You can call it deception, a brand of self-burning of the brain. Call it habit. Consider it a running conversation I’ve created between myself and the world. Except only one of us knows it exists.
I skipped the last meditation class tonight.

I just couldn't face the thought of what they call community -- basically, making strangers talk to one another. To me, meditation is a private thing, and I don't want to be forced to share my thoughts and feelings around it with people whose names I don't even know.

I like the East Bay Meditation Center and I want to support them. But I want the choice to create, or not create, community, without having to grit my teeth and smile.

Mark Doty, "Heaven's Coast"

Bill is beautiful to me in the way that Wally was, not in any ornamental sense of the word, but in the way that all things which are absolutely authentic are beautiful. Is there a luminous threshold where the self becomes irreducible, stripped to the point where all that's left to see is pure soul, the essence of character? Here, in unfailing self-ness, is no room or energy for anything inessential, for anything less than what counts.

Paulo Coelho, "Veronika Decides to Die"

During her life Veronika had noticed that a lot of people she knew would talk about the horrors in other people's lives as if they were genuinely trying to help them but the truth was that they took pleasure in the suffering of others, because that made them believe they were happy and that life had been generous with them. She hated that kind of person, and she wasn't going to give the young man an opportunity to take advantage of her state in order to mask his own frustrations.
There's plenty of people I agree with politically, but want to kick in the teeth on general principle. Tough conundrum, that.

Monday, October 27, 2008

NY Times: Marriage lies are on the rise

Thanks to today's technology, infidelity may be on the rise in the U.S. In particular, some researchers say women are using cell phones and the internet to cheat on their partners:

[T]oday, married women are more likely to spend late hours at the office and travel on business. And even for women who stay home, cellphones, e-mail and instant messaging appear to be allowing them to form more intimate relationships, marriage therapists say. Dr. Frank Pittman, an Atlanta psychiatrist who specializes in family crisis and couples therapy, says he has noticed more women talking about affairs centered on “electronic” contact.

“I see a changing landscape in which the emphasis is less on the sex than it is on the openness and intimacy and the revelation of secrets,” said Dr. Pittman, the author of “Private Lies: Infidelity and the Betrayal of Intimacy” (Norton, 1990). “Everybody talks by cellphone and the relationship evolves because you become increasingly distant from whomever you lie to, and you become increasingly close to whomever you tell the truth to.”

Don't underestimate the destructive potential of emotional affairs. Touching someone's heart and mind often matters much more than touching their nether regions.

That's why I have much stronger boundaries in a relationship than I ever had when I was single. I still have plenty of friends. I still share a lot of myself. But there's plenty I also keep within my marriage, and that's probably for the best.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A visit

I was slicing green onions when a breeze blew in from the back door. My aunt stepped inside. "Don't be afraid," she told me.

"I'm not," I said.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Cameras were invented for dorky photos

Drinks "with sac" at Koreana Plaza in downtown Oakland. Bottoms up!
Now that's style.

Adam too.

Sac makes me happy, apparently.
Sliced Ball Tip, anyone?

Oliver studies statistics with Adam.

But it puts him to sleep.

The prolactin conversation

ME: Do you think there's wifi in the afterlife?
ADAM: If there is, it's run by Google.

Friday, October 24, 2008

I just wrote an email to my mother in which I implore: "Don't question MY veracity, bee-yatch!" It's time for a shower and maybe a stiff drink.
Was just emailing Marcus some Santa Cruz suggestions and found myself writing this:

"(Check out) the UC Santa Cruz campus, where you will see deer smoking weed, high-fiving each other, and calling each other Bra. Truly a cultural experience."

The question is not was I dropped on my head as a child, but how many times.

Last night

Sophie and I were at Gaylords. Suddenly a gamine face poked through the door and around the corner: "You two are cute," he said. "Got 40 cents?"

We laughed, but didn't kick down.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


The way to know Berkeley is to walk it.

On the days I don't go to the gym, I typically walk anywhere from two to four miles. Today I walked home from Rockridge, cutting through all the little tree-lined neighborhoods in between. I saw tons of Obama posters, plenty of peace signs, and a handwritten plea: "Stop taking my WALL STREET JOURNAL! You are a THIEF!!!"

Walk Berkeley. You'll find funny stuff too.

Heaven's Coast

I started reading Mark Doty's book last night. Amazing, stellar, everything I've come to expect from Doty. Very informed by meditation, too, though from what I can see he doesn't say this explicitly. I can't wait to read more.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Today's writing

I pull over at MacArthur BART and he gives me the look. It tells me what a bitch I am, what a tease. I have become the woman I never wanted to be. I have hurt someone.

What is the use of unreciprocated affection? What purpose could this possibly serve in the grand scheme of life?

It’s not me. It’s you.

“I’m sorry,” I say. I am sorry. I’m sorry that I couldn’t feel more for this person in my passenger seat, this poet who’s put himself on a first-name basis with the greats. I’m sorry that a relationship came knocking and all I could do was run as if the door were on fire. I’m sorry in that selfish way, the kind that considers one’s own feelings first, foremost, and with finality.

The Papa Principle

Lately I've had a lot of mental tossing and turning about my father, as evidenced by the fact that I'm writing about him a lot here.

My mother wrote this to me yesterday:

I think your "love" for your father is nothing more than "potential" love unresolved and unmet, the never-ending pursuit of and hunger for what should have been given freely by him, but never was. As dark as this may sound, I believe the only relief you will feel from this will be his death, which, by definition will end the pursuit of what is not, and never has been, available to you or to anyone else in his world. Hope I didn't make it all worse for you.

She didn't make it worse. Don't get me wrong -- my mother and I have had real problems in the past, significant ones. I barely spoke to her throughout much of my 20s. We got into it during her recent visit and she sat crying on my couch. Ultimately, though, the fight was productive. My mother is flawed like the rest of us, but she is totally human and willing to try to see other sides of an argument.

Then there's my father. My father brooks no argument. My father is right, whether you think so or not. And if you disagree with him, well, you're wrong.

If it were only that, we'd be all good. As it is, my father is a father when it suits him. He came to my wedding and crowed. He watched me make my New York stage debut and wrote a glowing email to the rest of the family ... Subject line: "A Star Is Born."

When he's nice like that, it hurts so much. That's because the rest of the time it's so painful to be around him.

I want a father. I want a daddy.

From Augusten Burroughs' A Wolf at the Table:

"Maybe you can just work around what’s missing, build the house of your life over the hole that is there and always will be."

I've really gotten to liking having Tuesdays and Thursdays to myself. Between taking meditation classes, going to readings, and hanging with friends, I've had no problem at all filling (and enjoying) the time!
Lunch with Lexine got postponed, so I'm going to have lunch with Adam. He works in Berkeley, but we never have lunch together because he only gets a half hour.

When we worked together, we took ridiculously long lunches. One memorable time, we drove to the city and went to Klein's Deli (RIP) in Potrero Hill. That was a 2-hour lunch right there. I'm a bad influence.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Yesterday's writing

Benjamin Braddock didn’t get his ass dropped off at BART. He got his ass propositioned and jumped by a hot MILF. That was back when no one knew what a MILF was. But everyone knew what Mrs. Robinson was. Not only was she a mother who Ben wanted to fuck, she was a hot mother. She wasn’t a cocktease. She didn’t ask Benjamin to spend his last few dollars for nothing.

Kelly wants to be a nice guy. He does. But the cock also rises. The heart beats. The attraction is extended and if it’s not reciprocated, what then? Just pierce that vein, cut the nail to the quick, and let it bleed? Or sew up the skin and move on?

More on Prop 8

I've been debating this one with a friend who has very different views than me. He believes that the defeat of Prop 8 will hurt children, who will be brainwashed by schools imposing a new definition of marriage.

As a child, I had one definition of marriage imposed on me. If I were a lesbian, I would've grown up thinking I wouldn't be able to marry the person I love. How is that not brainwashing?

Oh yeah, and for the record: As a child, I can't imagine I would be hurt by the idea of same-sex unions. What did hurt me was the continued turmoil between my heterosexual parents, up to and including domestic violence that got so bad the police had to be called and my father escorted off the property. Trust me, that kind of shit damages kids a hell of a lot more than knowing that gays and lesbians can be wed.
Seasons don't fear the reaper
nor do the wind, the sun, and the rain

- Blue Oyster Cult

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Longing

It will always exist.
There is no moment when your lips
do not brush upon my mind,
your touch along the small of my back,
press of your chest against my cheek.

This is the velvet rope set afire.
This is the bond
impervious to all intervention.

An open letter

Dear Dad:

I don't know why you've basically stopped speaking to me since I got married, but I really wish you'd clue me in. You're my only father and I'm your only daughter, so let's get with it and start acting the part.



I'm voting No on 8

Who decided marriage is between a man and a woman?

Why will it hurt children to be taught that there is same-sex love in the world?

Who died and made right-wingers God?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Adam, talking about his conversation with his mom

ADAM: She told me she had to fight to get me to pass kindergarten.
ME (snort): Why?
ADAM: Because of Mrs. Beleaux. (Switches into Tony Soprano mobster tone.) That bitch.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Yogurt Park and hairbands on Oliver's ears

Yes, this is what we do on a late Saturday night. That's the remains of a waffle cone in my mouth, and those are indeed hairbands on my poor beleaguered cat's ears. He doesn't seem to mind.

Friday, October 17, 2008

I want to go back in time and slap the shit out of my 26-year-old self.

She was dumb.

She was so dumb.

In addition to all the many dumb-ass things she did (and we won't go into them here, or more likely ever), she failed to pay a $185 traffic ticket to the Alameda County Court. She didn't believe in things like that, you see, paying off debt.

So now, eight years later, when I'm financially responsible, after I've worked my ass off to get my shit together, I have this ancient ticket come back to haunt me.

But what do I also have?

My sweet cat vying for my attention.

A husband who can help if needed, if only to give me a hug and say: "Those bastards! Nice of them to send you a notice."

Far more common sense and good judgment than I had back then. Sometimes you need a kick in the ass to remind you how far you've come.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Luke found more wedding photos

Do I know you? Does it matter?
Rejoining the festivities after Yichud.

You know how much we paid for those cheesecake taquitos?
A great overview of the gathering. You can see Moonrise giving Adam a huge hug in the top right corner. I'm laughing with my brothers. My shoes have long been ditched.
On the dance floor.
The first dance.
WTF? Luke gets the craziest looks from me. This one's hilarious.
Our first dance. This picture just looks so natural and so joyous.
Now Adam's desktop at work.
I'm astounded by this one. I can't believe the look he captured on my face. Amazing.
Carl, our iPod man, and Adam.
Adam and Gina. Adorable.
Adam's got his first midterms tonight. Kick ass, baby! Meanwhile, Yoko and I will be chowing down at Thai Noodle.

Bridezilla, Two Decades On

What became
of the bride?
You rushed
for name changes,
embossed stationery:
I am someone’s now.

Twenty years
from today,
will you
blame that man?

You stole my identity.


You tossed
it over
your shoulder,
more than willing.

He simply
his grasp.

Oliver for president

Who's with me on this one?

Yesterday's writing

Her soap smells like jasmine and cloves, one part made of air, the rest of fire. I meet my eyes in the mirror and for once I can look at my entire self. There I am, reflected. I am a person. I am fatally flawed, just like everyone else who walks this earth.

Then my hands move of their own volition.

They shake themselves dry

They pat themselves briefly against my slacks.

Then they move to the medicine cabinet.

It opens with the slightest creak, a brief and high noise designed only to be heard by the guilty. I look around. What do I expect to see? There’s no accusing finger wagging in my direction, just lots of Body Shop potions and gilded mirrors. A small window overlooks a weeping willow. It’s actually relaxing, this bathroom. I feel good in here. It’s like a little den of grooming, a place where your body is a temple, not shameful terrain.

I shouldn’t tread on this territory. I shouldn’t abuse the trust that’s given to anyone who walks into this golden bath-house, this apartment’s sacred space.

I peer inside.

Initially I’m disappointed: a stack of Crabtree & Evelyn Botanical Beauty bars (mint, fennel, and ivy), Body Time face cream (otuke shea butter) and antioxident cream (something called hydrating serum), Aromatic Essence Foaming Bath Scrub (buttercream). Mouth-watering finds to be certain, but hardly surprising.

Then I push aside the Honey Dream Hand Cream, and what do you know? The real shit hits.

Here’s Celexa.

Here’s Lexapro.

And here’s Valium.

Damn. Here’s Johnny.

Other people need things. Beautiful, lithe people who dress up their cookie-cutter apartments like Egyptian sex dens: They too have holes to be plugged by pharmacology. Yeah, I already knew this. But I’m not against being reminded from time to time.

All these anti-depressants, these purveyors of serotonin, the mediator of the brain. Serotonin lays a cool hand on the hot head of anger, aggression, sleep, sexuality, and appetite. It sometimes causes you to vomit, but it’s so nice about it.

Why does she pop all these pills? Does she curl up into a sad little comma at night? Does she crave that time-lapse injection of happy transmitters? Are you even supposed to mix all this shit?

Nestled next to the pills are yet more pills: Immodium, Pepcid, stool softener. Stool softener? Couldn’t you just push some body butter up your ass and be done with it?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Us talking about my dad

ME: I don't know what his problem is with me, other than I've made a success out of my life.
ADAM: Well, you're a human being, and that's difficult.

Seriously. If I were in rehab, the man would like me better because he could crow about what I've done wrong. As it is, though, he doesn't have much to say these days. I can count on one hand the number of times he's called me since I've been married. In fact, I'd have a few fingers left over.

I would've made a great Daddy's Girl. Maybe in my next life.

When writing is beautiful

That micro-second when you ponder why a colon is more valuable than a dash in a particular sentence. That's hot.

Anyone need a wedding photographer?

I can't recommend Luke Snyder highly enough. I know I've mentioned Luke here before, but it's worth a repeat. He's not just talented and incredibly energetic -- he's also a damn nice guy. And we have great pictures that will last a lifetime!

The holidays loom

God damn. This finding a decent flight for Thanksgiving is for the birds. So to speak. If my mother weren't completely into her Turkey Day holiday stuff, I wouldn't necessarily bother with going down right on Thanksgiving. But she'll pull out her teeth and throw them at me if I don't show up, so I'm gonna be there.

And it'll be fun. It always is. Just getting down there sucks balls.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Mark Doty, "Heaven for Helen"

Helen says heaven, for her,
would be complete immersion
in physical process,
without self-consciousness—
to be the respiration of the grass,
or ionized agitation
just above the break of a wave,
traffic in a sunflower's thousand golden rooms.

Images of exchange,
and of untrammeled nature.
But if we're to become part of it all,
won't our paradise also involve

participation in being, say,
diesel fuel, the impatience of trucks
on August pavement,
weird glow of service areas

along the interstate at night?
We'll be shiny pink egg cartons,
and the thick treads of burst tires
along the highways in Pennsylvania:

a hell we've made to accompany
the given: we will join
our tiresome productions,
things that want to be useless forever.

But that's me talking. Helen
would take the greatest pleasure
in being a scrap of paper,
if that's what there were to experience.

Perhaps that's why she's a painter,
finally: to practice disappearing
into her scrupulous attention,
an exacting rehearsal for the larger

world of things it won't be easy to love.
Helen I think will master it, though I may not.
She has practiced a long time learning to see
I have devoted myself to affirmation,

when I should have kept my eyes on the ground.
In meditation, there's a lot of talk of empathy automatically arising. I think I'm starting to get it.

"The Art of Memoir"

Last night I saw this panel at Book Passage. It featured David Henry Sterry, Beth Lisick, and Alan Black -- all memorists, and all very animated and fun.

At one point, David named off three requirements (according to Jim Levine, a principal at his agency) for a good memoir:

1) A fascinating, weird story.
2) Wonderful writing.
3) Written by a wonderful person.

Wonderful doesn't have to mean nice. Thank the lord.

Oh -- and Paul Theroux is going to be there tonight! I think I have to skip my meditation class to see him speak. He's like God.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Looking at pictures from Budapest. Aggggh! I want to travel ... NOW!
Since last December, I've been working out 4-5 times a week. I love it. I love how it makes me feel. I love how it's (finally) making me look. I love how it makes me feel alive. It's changing my life.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Local travels this week

Marilyn, my Santa Barbara mom, at Sizzling Tandoor in Jenner, overlooking the Russian River. We spent Wednesday traversing Sonoma County, from Healdburg to Korbel to Armstrong Woods and finally here.
At Spirit Rock on Saturday. Adam and I went to a relationship event and he was good-natured about it, if amused.
May all beings ... what? I can't read the rest!
Found in Fairfax.

He's baaack

Like a toxic bird flying south for the winter to San Juan Cap, KFOG has returned.

KFOG's name is Anthony. We call him KFOG because he listens to that station all day and all night while he sits outside smoking pot and yapping on his cell phone. KFOG is the kind who loves everyone. Especially the many, many people who he likes to call. KFOG apparently has limitless cell minutes. One morning, Adam heard him say: "I just wanted to tell you you're beautiful, man, and I hope that helps get you through your day."

Yeah. KFOG says shit like that all the time. We're unfortunate enough to have him as a neighbor six months out of the year. While the couple next door goes to their weaving studio in Mexico (it's Berkeley, what the hell do you want?), they offer their place to him. For free. Which is good because KFOG's only apparent source of income is his dubious work as a tennis pro. He also apparently attends school, but I can't imagine when he's in class. He's either loafing off at home, on the court, or at The Pub. We see him there quite frequently and he tries to chat us up. It's like having a snake stuff itself down your throat, while the entire time protesting that it loves you, man.

Spring can't come fast enough around here.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Today's writing

Footsteps. I alt-tab again. I’m back to the AP wire and all its dubious interests. She comes into my cubicle. She’s middle-aged, with dyed blonde hair and glasses that are too large for her face. She has a husband at home but no one’s ever seen him. She has a string of poorly hidden affairs. The flavor of the month works at the prison and sends her flowers from the discount shop down the street. They sit on her desk, their stems of necks bowing low, and she beams.

It’s not obvious how she does it, how she earns this stream of attention from man after illicit man. I only know that every eye sees its own set of characteristics, each small gift that strings itself together like beaded jewelry.
ME: Do you think there's going to be a Black Friday?
ADAM (sighs): I don't know. Even the Dodgers lost.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

I got a way with words

I've just been scrolling through old emails, and I apparently wrote this a while back:

"I think I'm gonna wind up putting down dough for the damn book because my workplace seems only to have cat food and access to Hustler as its benefits."
Being in love is a full-time job. And I'm working overtime!
If Adam weren't in school, I would propose we do something wild. Something different. Something amazing.

A grad-school friend of mine is moving to Algeria for nine months. That's what I'm talking about. With the economy in free-fall, is now the time to hunker down or to take advantage of the turmoil?

Maybe in two years.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Work session at The Beanery

Adam snapped this picture and titled it "Douchebags who get no buttsex." Huzzah.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Dear douchebag at Peoples Cafe who apparently is not good at paying his contractors:

Go home if you want to Skype-sweet-talk the people to whom you owe money. No one here wants to hear it.

"Thanks, Jessie. We'll wire the money today. And again, we're most grateful."

Fuck off.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Happy anniversary

My dear, sweet Adam:

Six months ago we stood in front of our loved ones and were married by our brother-in-law. We listened to him talk about commitments and skin disorders, crossed our eyes at each other and made funny faces during erusin, and slid the rings our mothers bought onto each other's pointer fingers.

Then it was done. Then it was begun. Then it was continued.

I love you as I only hoped I could love another human being. With each day we share I learn more about the depths and foibles of the human heart. With each moment I strive to be worthy of your love.

I am yours forever. I love you for always.


Six Months

I rise early
and smile
at the dark.
I sing
my contacts,
a tune
a train
and a gambler.
The man
at the tire store
is my friend.
He’s just
too deprived
of caffeine
to know.
I make
a note:
One red rose.
One card.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

For Ray Crump, In Corners and Along Dusty Walls

We find you on the Metrodome’s fringes:
Is it open?
Let’s find out.

You’re the
clowning younger kid
on the dance floor
at his older’s sister’s
bat mitzvah.
You are free admission.
You are empty,
silent and deserted
and we are the only
two cameras
in your home.
Ray, we thank you
for your hospitality,
your history
with George Carlin
and Hank Williams, Jr.,
he of the sunglasses
and shirtless chest,
sprawled on a bed
while you
and your wife
flashed teeth
for an unseen observer.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Gender wars

Adam and I are watching this guy hit on this girl at Gaylords. Highly amusing and I wish him well, but I'm not sure he's walking out with a phone number any time soon.

ME: Do you relate to that? On a guy level, I mean? Do you look at that and just kind of go, agh?
ADAM: That's the game. It's so far from what I ever was.
ME: So it's not like a guy-relating sort of thing? Like, penis bonding?

Apparently not.

Ted Hughes, "You Hated Spain"

Spain frightened you.
Where I felt at home.
The blood-raw light,
The oiled anchovy faces, the African
Black edges to everything, frightened you.
Your schooling had somehow neglected Spain.
The wrought-iron grille, death and the Arab drum.
You did not know the language, your soul was empty
Of the signs, and the welding light
Made your blood shrivel.
Bosch held out a spidery hand and you took it
Timidly, a bobby-sox American.
You saw right down to the Goya funeral grin
And recognized it, and recoiled
As your poems winced into chill, as your panic
Clutched back towards college America.
So we sat as tourists at the bullfight
Watching bewildered bulls awkwardly butchered,
Seeing the grey-faced matador, at the barrier
Just below us, straightening his bent sword
And vomiting with fear. And the horn
That hid itself inside the blowfly belly
Of the toppled picador punctured
What was waiting for you. Spain
Was the land of your dreams: the dust-red cadaver
You dared not wake with, the puckering amputations
No literature course had glamorized.
The juju land behind your African lips.
Spain was what you tried to wake up from
And could not. I see you, in moonlight,
Walking the empty wharf at Alicante
Like a soul waiting for the ferry,
A new soul, still not understanding,
Thinking it is still your honeymoon
In the happy world, with your whole life waiting,
Happy, and all your poems still to be found.