I first met Matt, I couldn’t figure out if he I liked him because he treated me
differently or because he acted like I was normal. We all say we want to be
different, but different comes with all kinds of baggage. The kind without
wheels. The kind you can’t lift without asking for help.
Tonight, for the first time in as long as I can remember, I wanted to drive down to San Diego, to some weird perceived version of safety. San Diego, that place of no memory, where so much took place and I'll never recall most of it.
I know,” he says, still holding my wrist, “Is that I’ve seen every side of you.”
we first met I could’ve sworn the guy was blind, emotionally if not in any
other way. I’d seen him around – on campus, at the café where he worked
blending up slow-acting caffeinated poison, in the parking lot where we first
exchanged words. They weren’t nice words. He’d tapped my bumper and like that,
the damage was done. Honda on Honda, CR-V versus Insight. The goody-goody
always gets it in the end.
just saw a fucking exchange on Facebook that made me understand how necessary
BEARDED LADY is to this world. A friend of mine had put a beard filter on her
photo through Snapchat and the idiots went nuts. You can only imagine.
understanding that we are all freaks, therefore none of us is.
You feel rather than hear your parents move,
adult bodies big, cutting the quiet dark;
world a beloved muddle
mostly managed by others,
and you're smart enough
not to yet feel gratitude;
life a moon, incomprehensible,
shining like a nightlight
beside your bedroom door.
The last time I saw Richard was Detroit in '68, And he told me all romantics meet the same fate someday Cynical and drunk and boring someone in some dark cafe You laugh, he said you think you're immune, go look at your eyes They're full of moon You like roses and kisses and pretty men to tell you All those pretty lies, pretty lies When you gonna realize they're only pretty lies Only pretty lies, just pretty lies
He put a quarter in the Wurlitzer, and he pushed Three buttons and the thing began to whirr And a bar maid came by in fishnet stockings and a bow tie And she said drink up now it's gettin' on time to close Richard, you haven't really changed, I said It's just that now you're romanticizing some pain that's in your head You got tombs in your eyes, but the songs You punched are dreaming Listen, they sing of love so sweet, love so sweet When you gonna get yourself back on your feet? Oh and love can be so sweet, love so sweet
Richard got married to a figure skater And he bought her a dishwasher and a Coffee percolator And he drinks at home now most nights with the TV on And all the house lights left up bright I'm gonna blow this damn candle out I don't want Nobody comin' over to my table I got nothing to talk to anybody about All good dreamers pass this way some day Hidin' behind bottles in dark cafes Dark cafes Only a dark cocoon before I get my gorgeous wings And fly away Only a phase, these dark cafe days
Last year you slept peacefully through the appetizer and halfway through dinner. This year you wiggled, whined, and charmed us half to death. Then we went from Napa to Yountville and you put your sturdy little legs to work while we watched you explore.
You told me "I love you" while Daddy went to go get the car. You pointed and said: "What's that?" You smiled. And smiled. And smiled.
I stayed out too late the other night. Adam noted the next morning that I apparently had cereal when I'd gotten home and it was everywhere -- the counter, the floor, the coffeemaker, that last apparently for kicks.
I didn't just drink. I drank. Four White Russians. Count 'em. Anyone who's ever quaffed one with me knows I'm a cheap date.
So I was in fine stumbling form. That is for sure. I had to leave my car at The Albatross and get a ride home.
You would have had your pick, my friend told me as we sat at the bar. You could have picked any guy.
I still have a hard time believing that. But I'm getting closer.
Baz went on the big-boy swing for the first time today. It was awesome. You wouldn't have caught me dead saying that a few years ago, but I don't give a damn. It was crazy cool to push him and watch him hanging on tightly with his little hands, his feet swaying as he figured out how to kick to make himself go back and forth.
can seem like total jerks on the road. They can cut you off, drive dangerously,
and be inconsiderate. This is challenging to deal with if their selfishness is
directed intentionally at you. But even if it is, what does it ultimately have
to do with you? Even if they are being completely confrontational, even if they
have just sped up and cut you off and are screaming at you with veins bulging
from neck and forehead, they have chosen you randomly.
means it has nothing to do with you. So why be reactive?
was actually making an error we all make at one time or another – the error of
taking anything personally. The sad
truth is that most people going through the day, actively pursuing their
business, don’t have any idea you’re alive. Nothing is personal. They aren’t
trying to wound you; they’re too busy protecting their own wounds. Often their
behavior is unconscious. They are talking on the phone while driving, involved
in an argument with their spouse, or overtired from working the late shift. You
are incidental, inadvertently experiencing their ‘jerky behavior’ as a
by-product of their inattention. It is only in referring every event back to
“me” – what that person did to me, how
they cut me off – that one’s personal suffering is created.”
After two and a half years, my mojo has returned. It happened suddenly and after a serious period of energy drought. One day I was dragging myself out of bed; the next I was talking gardening and travel.
I attribute this to a few things:
- Bazzy is holding his own more and more. He's becoming his own little person (not that he hasn't always been; just now he's capable of climbing into his high chair, into his car seat, onto his changing table) and it takes pressure off of me. Not to mention that it's rewarding.
- I'm finding the strength I always had plus the resolve of being a parent.
More and more I'm convinced that love is the way. So why do I still hold anger and speak in angry ways? And is this anything I really need to work on? And why do I have more questions than answers?
I'm not even sure answers are answers so much as they are sort of guidelines in the moment. Those guidelines tend to be flexible. Flexible in the moment, hour, year, whatever. They move with us. They change with the seasons.
This week I said farewell to a pair of people who have played strong roles in my life. Both writers, both guys, one dead, the other alive.
Neither was perfect. Both pissed me off. Both meant something to me. These things are not mutually exclusive.
There is not much else I care to say publicly about that, which is unusual for me, but exceptions may be made for everything. All I will say is that after a long time I made a choice, said what I needed to say, and now I have found some element of peace and closure.
want to tell you a couple of stories about Wesley. The first takes place maybe
a year or so ago. I’d posted a picture of my son and I on Facebook. We were in
the hospital. He was less than an hour old. Still had the clamp in his navel and
everything. Tons of likes came in. Comments like aw, how sweet. Beautiful. Then came Wesley, written in all lower
case: well, that’s kinda pukey. That
Wesley is the reason I wrote my book. I told him about it before I told anyone
else – including my husband – and he simply said, “Sweetheart, go for it.”
Those four words have echoed throughout my brain for the last decade while I’ve
struggled with this project, through the rejections and the acceptances, the
failures and achievements. Sweetheart, go
was Wesley too.
can still hear his voice, so how can he be dead? And yet he is, and we are
gathered here in his memory. He’s up there with a martini in one hand and a
cigarette in the other, and he’s probably telling at least a few of us to go
hope I’m one of them.
here’s the thing: for all the pain he carried, the pain that eventually ended
his existence, Wesley was here. You Are
Here, the name of his book. And yes, he was.
I am a writer and mother to a 10-month-old girl. Sometimes I feel like these two identities are in conflict. Other times, they are one and the same. Who are we without our words, without our family? ... While I grapple with that question, I decided to turn to a community of writers I know who have had children and ask them how they feel. I want to know if becoming a parent impacts the way people write -- if it rewires the way we think.
Thanks for letting me be a part of this, Julia!
I'm a writer and storyteller in Berkeley, CA. If you're wondering where that is, follow the smell of patchouli and skunkweed. There you'll find me with my kickass husband, gorgeous little boy, and manic Lab-Australian Shepherd mix pups. I'm represented by Miriam Altshuler of DeFiore & Co., but of course, my views are my own.