Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Repeat this to yourself

You cannot change other people.

When you know someone, you know what you can expect from them. Don't expect this to radically shift.

Adam and I have been talking a lot about the people who just disappear into relationships. Oh, you may still see them. It's not about frequency, really. It's about who they seemed to be and who they let themselves become, and how aggressive they become when you call them on it.

When he and I first got serious, I was summarily dumped by a long-term friend who, I think, decided I was boring because I was happy. If that's the case, David, then fuck you very much and I hope you get your tacos on your own from now on.

Another friend told me I was no longer "crazy." Again, if that means I'm happier and more sane, I'm better off for it.

I changed, sure. I was less accessible, yes. I didn't run for the phone every time it rang. But I did call back. And if a friend needed something, I was there. I may not be there at the exact moment they called or emailed. But I made sure to be there.

You cannot change other people. You know who they are and what to expect.

It's true. Fucking frustrating, but true.

"Don't fact-check the soul"

A beautiful blog post by Roseanne Cash. Very worth the read. In part:

Sometimes songs are postcards from the future. Often I have found that a song reveals something subtle but important about my own life that I was only vaguely aware of while writing, but that became clear as time went on. I wrote “Black Cadillac” six weeks before a rash of deaths began in my family. The day I finished writing it, I played the completed song to myself, as a kind of last run-through to check for rhyme scheme errors and syllable scanning, and a tidal wave of anxiety started rising in my gut. I knew I had given myself a message.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Go Oliver!

Our wonderful vet, Dr. Gordon, this morning:

"His heart sounds great. His weight is stable. I keep thinking I'm going to find something, but there's nothing."

At nineteen, Oliver's biggest crutch to bear -- besides a touch of feline asthma and a bit of arthritis, which we're treating -- is a neurotic owner. The guy is feisty as hell, which Dr. Gordon says helps keep him alive. That's my boy!

When we got married, we asked for donations to the Berkeley Humane Society -- where Oliver's vet also is -- as well as Habitat for Humanity. Netted them some well-deserved cash, we did.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Three weeks

Tomorrow is my three-week wedding anniversary. Baby, I adore you!

I pasted and saved this one

From Craigslist's LTR forum:

A question, perhaps rhetorical, you decide. < seeker0075 > 04/23 22:58:07

When do we stop thinking about deal breakers and start thinking about forever?

I noticed that some (not all, just some) posts in here often garner a response along the line of "Get a divorce (break up, what have you) this is a deal breaker for me..." regardless of the length of the relationship. My wife and I have had a great relationship (not anything for the record books, but pretty awesome in both of our opinions) and I think part of the reason is that we don't think in terms of what isn't allowed, what isn't acceptable, what we will not tolerate, what is an absolute deal-breaker; but more along the lines of what we can do to overcome the next obstacle, how we can improve on what we've done already, what goals we'd like to build toward, what things are deal-makers.

I can't help but think that the amount of negativity that I have seen from people actually in LTRs on this forum would eventually poison any relationship that a person is in. I understand that sometimes people have off days, I'm not talking about the negative comments that sort of catch people off guard because they're out of character, I'm talking about the negative comments that are given consistently. So back to the question: When do people go beyond the point where they stop thinking about marriage (and LTRs) as a temporary state of affairs and start thinking of it as something that is worth working on because it should last forever?

I'm quite sure it depends on the person and the relationship and a million other factors... Like I said it may just be a rhetorical question, but I think it's a question each person in a LTR should ask themselves. I believe that if more people asked themselves this sort of question we'd have far less posts in here about petty arguments and whether or not it is okay to cheat, throw things, expect someone to do something for you that you aren't willing to do, etc.

Friday, April 25, 2008

I always thought I'd found out Adam got married by looking for him online. I imagined finding out in some way or another and feeling that electric buzz of shock and sadness. I'm sometimes surprised it didn't end up that way.

It turned out better than I'd expected, obviously. But I'm just saying. Maybe I'd find the Flickr pictures of his honeymoon or stumble across his updated Facebook status. Sometimes putting your foot down and telling someone what you want has the best results.

The power of truth

Why can't we just call people who are crazy, crazy?

Why can't we tell toxic people that they're toxic and need to buzz off?

What is stopping us?

What is stopping me?

Yichud at the herb shop

After our wedding ceremony was over, Adam and I spent 15 minutes in Yichud, which took place in the herb shop adjacent to the Cafe de la Paz courtyard. When we got in and closed the door, I totally freaked out with happiness. I jumped up and down, yelling and shrieking and kissing him while he laughed. I wonder if anyone beside my mom heard me?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Confidential to the girl at Village Grounds with the "Feel free to share table" sign: You're cool. That's a nice thing to do.
Last night I heard a fairly prominent writer speak. I'll leave aside my views on her work and instead discuss the name-dropping that was a constant throughout the the question-and-answer session. Very offputting, though I seem to have been one of the few in the room who got bored after an hour. Lady, I don't care about your prizes and reviews. Tell me a story, and save the rest for your Wikipedia entry.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

To the squirrel who stole the seedling from my oak tree

Dear Squirrel:

Do you not understand I control nature?

You shall pay.


The person whose oak tree you ransacked.

Monday, April 21, 2008

"Who were you? Who killed you?"

This is why I like the New York Times. When a typical cut-and-dried journalism story might have sufficed, they get more than a little style into the writing. An example:

The summer of 1998 baked on. Autumn arrived to rain-swell the creek and send skull bits floating down the bed of silt and stone. Winter followed to skim the mesh of gray twigs and pale bones with a veil of ice. Then, one February morning, two hunters running their beagles were stopped cold in their tracks; the living, finally, took notice.

Beautiful writing, I think.

I'm reminded of the story I once wrote for the Fairfield Daily Republic about a migrant worker killed as he ran across a dark Suisun Valley Road at night. I started out all lyrical and, shameful to say, not nearly as articulate as the Times writer. I was the butt of more than one joke at the critique session that day.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Today's writing

At the bookstore I don’t much look at the happy couples. They don’t interest me like the ones just come from dinner, fighting with doggy bags still in their hands. It’s those couples – the ones terse with tension, strained by the unspoken, hissing with rising steam – it’s them. I watch their fraying wires grow ever thinner, taut with tug o’war.

Their fights. Oh, their fights. Their glorious fights, the intimacy, the intricate complication that has brought them to argue in the Home and Garden section. They have sown this anger, they have watered it and tended it, clipped it, designing with sharp bladed edges. And I – sometimes I alone – am here to witness its bloom.

Friday, April 18, 2008

I'm writing an article on the rise of women in the REIT industry for NAREIT's Portfolio Magazine. Looking at the biographies of these women is amazing -- they've done so much in their careers. Interesting story.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

"But richest of all, perhaps, is the London for book lovers."

This article made me want to go back to London! The mention of White Teeth made me remember when I first bought that book. It wasn't in London, in fact. It was in either Alicante or Valencia, Spain. I was traveling and bored and in need of English-language literature, so I found White Teeth in a bookstore and bought it. Only later did I learn that Zadie Smith was the new prodigy out there. I was ahead of that trend!

Exercising the cat

When he climbs up on the table in pursuit of birthday cake, put it on the couch. When he climbs down to the couch, put it back on the table. Repeat.
In the city. It's so beautiful and vibrant, so alive. If we didn't absolutely love The Farm, I think Adam and I would already live here.

I love Vienna!

And for the record, they have one of the best metro systems I've ever seen. Now it's even better:

The world has never been more connected, but in some corners, it's developing a real hang-up over the ubiquitous cell phone.

Taking a cue from France's national railway, which offers phone-free "zen zones" on high-speed trains, Austria's second-largest city this week began ordering public transit commuters to keep their phones on silent mode.

When will this happen in the U.S.? I'm counting the days.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

What I'm writing today

I spend nights in bookstores. It is not for edification; it is for sanity. I can choose to stay within my own smudged ivory walls or to go outside and seek human contact.

It’s not a tough choice. I go mad if I stay home for too long. If I remain within my own walls for several hours at a time, my eyes roll up in my head. My eyebrows run riot and I grow claws and fangs. Green lightning shoots out my mouth and ears. Obviously, I must drive to Borders.

Borders is great entertainment. First off, it’s free. All the best entertainment is free. It’s open from early in the morning to late at night. And it’s a rotten ugly bastard corporation, so I can stick that in their collective faces if they try to toss me out after I’ve been loafing around for six hours or more.

Not that I’ve ever been threatened with involuntary departure. I behave myself while I’m at Borders. I keep quiet and entertain myself. I fly below the radar of the booksellers and baristas. I am a good houseguest, even at the corporate bookstore.

I asked my mother if she'd noticed the changes in me. "Of course," she said. "I noticed right when I noticed your new haircut."

I told her I'd waited for someone to take me aside and say: "What the hell happened? What a difference!" I hadn't been hoping for it, but I'd been expecting it.

She said: "It's like saying to someone who's dropped 200 pounds: 'You're not fat anymore!' It just doesn't feel right."

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Inside my apartment, seated next to each other on my battered blue couch, so cat-scratched and thrashed that wood pokes from the fabric in parts, we kiss. He tips my face to his and takes my lips under his gently, with tender feeling, with a cautious tongue.

My mind has gently pulled away, untangled itself from his arms, picked up the keys and walked out the door.


I call him Junior, alluding to the four years that lie between us. He has dark hair, close-cropped, hair that strains to be curly but can’t quite slip its bounds. His eyes are blue and merry, his hands warm and real. He is home right now, in an apartment in Oakland, with his girlfriend Stephanie and his cat Toby.

I kiss Bill with all that borrowed love. Just for tonight, I will transfer the feeling.

What is community?

Living in the Bay Area, you can't stand in line to order a latte without hearing talk of community. It's the steamed-milk community. If you go shopping, you're part of the Berkeley Bowl community. (And if you shop at Safeway, you're nothing.)

Last night, I attended a meditation class and heard lots of talk of community, or sangha. This led me to wonder: What is a community? Are we a community because we have come to sit together? What is the quality of a community made up of strangers? Is there such a thing?

I have a much more intimate definition of community. It's made up of those closest to me. My inner circle. There are lots of other ways of addressing external community, but then again, I wouldn't use the word community. Group, maybe, a gathering of like-minded strangers. But community? How can you be a community when you don't even know each others' names?

Monday, April 14, 2008


Sing happy Tax Day birthday to me!

More photos I forgot to post

Vive Nicolas Sarkozy!

Text-messaging while meeting with the pope? This guy's hilarious!

Adam says: "Imagine him and Bill Clinton for a weekend!"

I have a Yelp review of the day!

God, am I a nerd or what? It's on the front page today, and afterward you can check it out here. Rock on!

Ain't I a woman?

I've never felt like much of the typical girl. In fact, there's not much girl in my soul. I watch women as they talk together, groom each other (and if you doubt that they do, watch two women friends talk and you will near-inevitably see something going on with the hair, the nails, the outfit), and swap tips and gossip. At my heart I'm more of a loner. I've met women who are like me, but not many.

Like Leah Garchik's "Overheard", except it's us

ADAM: You think at a porn star's wedding, they say, 'You may now buttfuck the bride'? And then they do?
ME: I don't know. Let's give this question the 30 seconds it deserves.
ADAM: It's one of life's great questions. Like, what's the meaning of life, if a tree falls in the forest, what happens at porn stars' weddings.

Okay, just a few more

Even more wedding photos

More pictures from Adam and Gina

Wedding pix from my brother Adam


I have seen others on my block react as ECO BRAT drives by. A few pretend not to notice, but all of us secretly wonder what we might be doing wrong. Did he see me walking out to the garbage with some evil dish soap that isn't called Happy Planet or Green Clean? Is he aware I just chucked some perfectly good lettuce-washing water down the drain? Can he tell I don't use Tom's of Maine? I believe he can.

David Curran rules!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Carrie Fisher on grudges

"Holding anger is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die."

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Uncharted territory

During the intermission at Carrie Fisher's solo show, I turned to Adam. "A few months ago," I said, "Maybe I could've used the men's room and gotten away with it. Not anymore."

I've only very recently started joking about this stuff.

At the wedding I waited for someone to take me aside, slip into their confidential whispers, and ask me about the changes. Then I think about what Adam said: It always mattered more to you than it did to anyone else.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Nearly 27,000 words

“We’re already in a relationship,” Bill says. “You realize that, don’t you?”

I’m holding my cordless phone, the one that starts to falter after a half hour and die twenty-five minutes later. I’m balancing on one foot on the battered, stained carpet in my living room. The other foot is tracing a pattern on the coffee table, a spiral, in and then out, the repetition a source of strength. I’m swinging a shoelace at my cat. He bats and hisses, then slinks off to lick himself and glare happily.

“I didn’t get the memo,” I say.

“You think this is a joke, don’t you?” I picture him in his own home, surrounded by the detritus that gives him inspiration for his art. He works in metals and moldings, throwing in fire for the random danger of it all. “I jacked off thinking of you today. You think that’s not love?”

My stomach is sour, my brain flattered. The intersection is a familiar place. It’s a bottomless black pit, a sucking hole of emotion and need.

Approaching the chuppah

Thursday, April 10, 2008

From tonight's Arlo Guthrie show at Zellerbach

Among many awesome tunes, he made a few great points:

- People he has more in common with are the ones who give a damn -- regardless of what side they're on

- If we took care of our own personal pieces, maybe peace would take care of itself.



I'm so amazed at the positivity and love that we've felt up to, at, and after our wedding. People have been so generous and complimentary. Cynical Allison is still here and made a bit of an appearance at last night's Philosophy Cafe (and I like her!), but right now is a time to simply smile and enjoy.

From an email to Dave tonight

You know, I've thought unkindly of myself from time to time. I've had horrific prognostications of dying alone, decrepit, and eventually eaten by something named Muffy.

It's true, dammit. Don't laugh. Okay. You can laugh.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

We're famous!

Rinky started a thread about Adam's and my wedding on Yelp -- how sweet!

"We didn't DO it -- we ARE doing it."

Adam and I were talking over some Turkish food today and we both found ourselves saying that we didn't get married, we are married. It's a lifelong climb, a challenge with many rewards along the way and chances to take in the view from a vista point where you stop and catch your breath. Okay, the metaphor is courtesy of me, not him.

This occurred to me later while I was on the elliptical machine at the gym. When I first started looking at pictures from the wedding, I thought: My God. Fat fat fat. I've always struggled with my weight. Maybe it's genetics, complications from PCOS, luck of the draw, whatever. But then I started looking at the pictures again. I look radiant. Adam looks thrilled. Everyone was so happy to be there, and everyone loved how intimate, low-key, and friendly everything was.

Does that mean I was a skinny bride? No. Does that mean I wouldn't like to be a few sizes smaller in the future? Absolutely. That's why I've been going to the gym regularly ever since we got back from Tokyo.

So the pictures. No, it's not skinny skinny skinny. But it's happy happy happy. And life? It's an active thing, not a passive thing. What helps? Honesty -- as in this post -- as well as optimism. I'm excited about continuing to move forward in every way.

Olympic torch protests

This is why I support those who speak out against the carrying of the torch across supposedly peace-loving cities across the world. The Chinese government should be ashamed of itself.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

"(Wild Things) has a little bit of everything, including ominous shots of alligators looking as if they know more than they're telling."

I love Roger Ebert!

My grandfather

He visited me last night. The man's been dead for more than a decade. But I was lying in bed thinking about how time spools by and how we can never relive a moment. I'll never again be in the middle of my wedding ceremony.

My grandfather came. And I felt, rather than heard, him speak these words: Enjoy the newness.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The night before

It is now 2:30 am, April 6, 2008. At 5:30 this evening, I will marry the best person ever. YES!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

More writing

Black and white is a misnomer. I don’t want to believe that’s true, but it is. There is no such thing as dark and light, right and wrong, There are only hazy, murky, sometimes-ugly shades of gray.
In three days, I'll marry Adam. Tonight we're sitting at Peoples, just chilling. It's so great.

Harry Chapin, "My Grandfather"

My grandfather was a painter. He died at age 88. He illustrated Robert Frost's first two books of poetry. And he was looking at me and he said, "Harry, there's two kinds of tired. There's good tired and there's bad tired."

He said, "Ironically enough, bad tired can be a day that you won. But you won other people's battles, you lived other people's days, other people's agendas, other people's dreams, and when it's all over there was very little you in there. And when you hit the hay at night somehow you toss and turn, you don't settle easy."

He said, "Good tired, ironically enough, can be a day that you lost. But you won't even have to tell yourself, because you knew you fought your battles, you chased your dreams, you lived your days. And when you hit the hay at night, you settle easy, you sleep the sleep of the just, and you can say, "Take me away."

He said, "Harry, all my life I've wanted to be a painter and I've painted. God, I would have loved to have been more successful, but I've painted, and I've painted, and I am good tired, and they can take me away."

Now if there is a process in your and my lives in the insecurity that we have about a prior life or an afterlife, and God. I hope there is a god - if he does exist, he's got a rather weird sense of humor, however.

But if there is a process that will allow us to live our days, that will allow us that degree of equanimity towards the end, looking at that black implacable wall of death to allow us that degree of peace, that degree of non-fear, I want in.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

If you have time and patience ...

Here's all my photos from Europe. There are a lot. Don't say you weren't warned.
Yesterday Adam and I walked with Catherine up to Cafe de la Paz to show her the wedding venue. On the way there we were ambushed by this aggressive guy wanting money. "Come on, man," he said. "Anything helps."

"Sorry," Adam said.

"Sorry won't help."

"Fuck you, then," Adam said, and kept walking.
A group of third-graders plotted to attack their teacher, bringing a broken steak knife, handcuffs, duct tape and other items for the job and assigning children tasks including covering the windows and cleaning up afterward, police said Tuesday.

The plot by as many as nine boys and girls at Center Elementary School in south Georgia was a serious threat, Waycross Police Chief Tony Tanner said Tuesday.

Apparently the teacher offended these kids by scolding one of them for standing on a chair. What a bunch of sick little fucks.

Yes, Virginia, I am writing

We’re on the porch, on each other, tearing, close to ripping, nearing the pain point from which there is no turning back. My skirt is up to my hips. My sweater is askew, a slice of skin exposed to the night air, puckering up with goosebumps. The front door opens and then quickly closes. Chirps of giggles, gossip, emerge from the cracked windows.

“I’m parked over there,” he says. Inside the stereo has been hijacked by house music. I know without looking that throngs of Piedmont Avenue girls are dancing around MacArthur Boulevard Gregory, and that he will bed one of them tonight, and that one may not be Medea.

His is a 1960s-era American car, a classic model that I’ll wager was a Corvair. It has wings and chrome and inside is a giant fucking mess. As we slide inside – him opening the door for me first, then slamming it shut and trotting over to the driver’s-side door – I remember one of the few things Medea told me about her friend Bill. He lives in a loft in Fruitvale, she said. If you took the H-bomb and dropped it, just chucked it down repeatedly, it could only help matters.