Monthly Archives: July 2008

little moments i want to write down before they are lost

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*i was at the dying giant eagle (r.i.p.) in my soon-to-be-former neighborhood, and this intense man came up to me–skinny, crudely tattooed, wild-eyed. he may or may not have been boxcar billy from a few entries back. anyway, we had the following conversation in the frozen foods aisle.
dude: have you ever had the stouffer’s chipped beef? it’s AMAZING?
me: nah.
dude: you put that in your microwave, and then you make some toast! [waves loaf of white bread he is holding] oh, it’s SO GOOD. you oughta try it!
me: i don’t really eat meat.
dude: well, hon, i’m sorry, but i got THE MUNCHIES real bad, know what i mean?
me: [smiles, walks towards cheese]

*the other day at book ’em, the subject of barbie dolls came up somehow. my very favorite ex-con, who’s a fairly rough dude, looked away sadly and said, so that it was barely audible, “i wish they’d stop making them things.” it was, oddly, really touching.

*i was having this intense dream that this furry i used to work with had gotten a map tattooed on his penis & i was watching this pretentious art-skool movie about it. i was awoken by my landlady coming in to show the place (i knew she was coming; i just overslept) to this normal person. in case you didn’t know, my landlady is fucking amazing and one of the funniest people i’ve ever known. and this following convo ensued.

normal person: is this neighborhood….safe?
landlady: oh, yeah! you don’t have any problems, right, ocean? [i nodded yes sleepily]. in fact, this is a ‘weed-and-seed’ community, which means that if you commit any crimes here, you do federal time! so that really cleaned this place up….
me: what?!?! that’s what that means? i thought that meant that people in this community really like to garden!!!
landlady: oh, no, this used to be a really tough neighborhood, but they cleaned this place up. there used to be a lot of prostitutes here, but a lot of them got arrested. of course, they didn’t arrest the fucking johns. they never do, because if they did, there would be no Congress!

*in my endless quest to find not-annoying-but-not-distracting music to listen to while i write, i have turned to AM radio. yesterday i stumbled upon this croatian radio show, featuring a dorky-yet-sweet old man host, wishing people with old-fashioned names like herbert and doris happy birthdays, and cajoling listeners to “give [him] a jingle” at his home phone number! there was something sweet and trusting about that, about giving out your home phone number and address on the radio because you know that there’s probably only ten or fifteen people listening and you can trust that they’re all good people.

*speaking of writing, i cracked page 100 on my book yesterday!!!!!!!! (the book i’m writing, not one i’m reading). wow!

portrait of an afternoon.

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yesterday i came home from a genuinely terrible day; a day where i felt like everything important to me was thrown in the shitter. amongst other things, my ex-love informed me she doesn’t want to talk to me ever again, & i signed the lease on my dream house only to find out, ten minutes post-signing, that my new landlords are x-tian missionaries! and they are, at this very moment, heading to a rez in montana to spread the gospel!!!!!!!!!!!!! i have a very hard time containing emotions, especially horrified ones, and they exchanged a tense look. hee hee.

anyway, i came home feeling utterly defeated and relaxed in my gorgeously green backyard, on my soothing lil’ (actually huge) hammock. the sky was the most intoxicating shade of blue & the weather was cool enough to allow me to pretend that it’s fall. i enjoyed last fall while it was here, but i spent all winter & spring waiting for summer because  i predicted that things would be different & better. now that summer’s here, and it sucks, all i can do is wait for fall. it’s stupid.

anyway, i was laying in my hammock & listening to my neighbors fight with each other. above me, there was a family that is half-charmingly loud, half-disturbingly loud. they were being mostly charming yesterday. the matriarch of the family kept repeating this story that culminated in, “and he said, ‘suck my dick!’, and i said, ‘go home to mommy, little boy!'”

the family to my feet is always having the most disturbing, upsetting fights. the matriarch is this older, worn-out lady who i nickname “old yeller” because she is completely incapable of sustaining a normal speaking voice. all she does is yell, all day, about the most mundane things. she said something mildly amusing yesterday, but i’ve already forgotten it. oh, my pollution-induced bad memory is reaching new heights! or shall i say depths.

in the moments where the families paused in their screaming at each other, i could hear the slight noise that the birds’ wings made when they flew overhead. it was nice, to be surrounded by all this noise & all this city & still hear something like that, something that you only hear deep in the woods, usually.

let the bridge you burned light yr way.

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haiku about today:

“WARNING!: contaminated soil”
that girl hates me now
i was the tree. she was the
ground from which i grew.

haiku about yesterday:

“even when they’re sweaty”
excessively long
walks beat working. the sun’s out.
the city is yours.

haiku about my job:
no one’s coming in.
sad songs on radio. go
ahead. you can dance.

(in case you hadn’t guessed, my heart broke its final break today; my boss never showed up to work so i’ve been alone in the office all day; i’m trying to distract myself from the unpleasant chain of events that my life has become as of late. i need clarity, i need love, i need delicious pizza, i need satisfying hugs, i need a functional bike, i need a moving van, i need strength, i need compassion, i need feedback, i need someone to spoon with in my hammock, i need coffee that won’t make my heart race uncomfortably, i need a massage certificate, i need a new social security card, and i need some more raw homegrown zucchini. )

whee!

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so i lost my wallet like a goddamn dumbass this weekend. after raging about it, throwing stuff around and yelling like my stupid father, going out and getting really drunk and leaving in a huff, i have come to accept that stuff like this happens sometimes. i just went to the DMV to get a new photo i.d. card and it was oddly kind of fun. i saw a hot dyke when i walked into the state office building (who, sadly, was not going to the DMV), i saw a dirty personality-filled tandem bike chained up outside. the whole place had that slightly sweaty linoleum smell that makes me think of elementary school. that 1960’s-public-building smell. do you know what i’m talking about? it made me feel oddly comforted and safe, and i happily read zines until it was my turn. i thought i’d have to do a whole lot of bullshit to get a new card, but they just verified my info and printed me a new one. huzzah! now i’m downtown, at the library, and it’s fucking gorgeous outside. i totally would love to go to the beach right now, but i’m okay with just strolling around downtown, visiting friends at work, looking at hotties, and living life. if i hadn’t lost my wallet, i’d be stuck at the stupid TBH, and i would be missing out on today.

yesterday i went to work and received this voicemail, from one of our craziest clients, at 1 a.m.: “you people are a bunch of evil, evil people. EVIL!” i just laughed. my lawyer didn’t think it was funny, but i guess, as a lawyer, he’s used to being called evil. or maybe he knows that he is kinda evil, whereas i am relatively certain that i’m not.

the other day i was at book ’em and one of the youngest, weirdest ex-cons paused in his packing to read “curve” magazine. i guess someone had thrown it in a package or something, and it caught his eye. his jaw was hanging open and he looked fascinated as i’ve ever seen him. (this is a guy who has a tattoo of his own name on his neck, loves the southside passionately, and is always making extremely obvious comments, if that helps put him into context.) he didn’t look titillated (as curve is not really a t&a kinda mag), just completely shocked at this other world. he seemed vaguely insulted, but he also couldn’t put it down. when he finally tossed it aside, i avoided eye contact. i didn’t really want to know.

tres interesante

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these past few days have been all about delicious smoothies (blueberry-hazelnut! kale-banana! both of which sound gross but are actually DELICIOUS), bike frustrations, good friends, good zines, not writing too much which sucks, etc. i have pretty much given up on my normal-person crush mentioned a few posts back because i discovered that she has a petty dealbreaker, and people with petty dealbreakers are afraid to love. did you hear me? let me repeat myself, in case you didn’t. PEOPLE WITH PETTY DEALBREAKERS ARE AFRAID TO LOVE! and i don’t want to fall in love right now, not at all, but i cannot get into even the casual-est romp in the hay with somebody if there is not at least some aspect of love involved. it does not have to be romantic. it does have to be there. otherwise it will just be unsatisfying and empty and i’d rather be at home dancing in the kitchen or writing my novel or watching “the simpsons” or something, you know? fortunately, i have a new crush on someone who’s a certified weirdo, very intense, and who i click with really well. we’ll see.

but, on some levels, that doesn’t even matter. lately the universe has been giving me all kinds of amazing writing to read about being single. cuz singlehood isn’t this terrible disease, cuz friendships aren’t just a way to kill the time until the next hottie comes yr way. cuz i don’t need anyone to complete me. perhaps the best of this writing was in the zine “hirsteria”, which i recommend that all of you buy right now. (justinn! if you see this and are freaked out and upset, please let me know and i’ll take it down! it was just something i really needed to hear and i wanted to share it with people, in case it’s what they need to hear too.)

here it is:

i read it aloud to pino while we were driving home from tram’s and it was a good moment. my voice, saying what i needed to hear, and maybe her too. driving down the hill. it felt nice.

least favorite memory #1

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so lately i’ve been doing a lot of reading about ACT-UP & the AIDS crisis in new york city in the 80’s/early 90’s. i was around new york in that time, but i was a child being raised in a white middle class heterosexual nuclear family in the burbs, so i was mostly sheltered from that whole brou-ha-ha.

but there was this one time. i was 12 or 13, i think, although i could have been a little younger or a little older. i think i was at that angsty teen stage, which started for me at 10. i was just beginning to realize how fucked the world is, doing a little reading, hanging out with rough ladies who’d already been through a lot. but this was the day i realized, 100%, just how fucked everything really was (and is).

we had some cousins visiting from out of town, the ones from san diego i think, and so we went to the city to do tourist-y stuff. we went to the FAO schwartz store, which, if you didn’t know, is this very opulent toy store in a wealthy part of town. lots of songs, lots of things with faces. normally something i would have enjoyed, even though i was a disgruntled teen.

but outside, on the sidewalk, there was this dude. he was sitting on the sidewalk with a cardboard sign saying that he had AIDS and needed something like 50 bucks to get to florida to see his family again before he died. he was about the age i am now, white, slightly artsy, probably gay although i wasn’t looking for that yet. he was sitting on the sidewalk but leaning forward on his hands. he was crying hysterically, so hard that he was turning red, saliva dripping from his mouth in long ropes. he was screaming, in this truly desperate scream that i’ve rarely heard: “NONE OF YOU PEOPLE GIVE A SHIT! I AM DYING, AND NONE OF YOU PEOPLE GIVE A SHIT! NONE OF YOU HAVE ANY HEARTS! I’M DYING AND YOU JUST WALK ON BY!!” i stood, transfixed, utterly horrified. i think i might have cried a little too, although very subtly (years of being abused left me a very subtle crier, because i didn’t want my abusers to have the satisfaction of seeing me cry). i was just shocked at this raw humanity in front of me, at how bad life could get. my parents noticed, and hustled me away.

my mom said, “just ignore him.”

my dad said, “these people, they just want ya money! he’s not going to florida, he just wants drugs.”

and so we went into fao schwartz, where a gigantic three-story clock sang a cheerful song, where families of all types flocked around gaily, where employees with high pitched voices wished us a nice day, where cute toys smiled at us from every shelf, where everyone was brightly lit and every color of the rainbow jumped out at us. people danced on the giant piano keys and played with acres of legos. and all i could think, the whole time, was, “every single person in here saw that man. every single one. and nobody cares. he’s right, we all have no heart. he’s right.” and every little bit of artificial happiness inside the store made it even worse. to this day, i can’t go into or walk by any FAO schwartz without my skin crawling (ironically, i still love cute things, perhaps to a nauseating degree).

i cried the whole time we were there. again, very subtly, so it just looked like i was being sullen and wiping my face a lot. maybe i found a bathroom and broke down, or maybe i just held it in the whole time, i don’t really remember. all the other kidz in our party frolicked and had fun. i was silent, arms crossed. that guy wasn’t there when we left, but i felt much better once we were back on the cold, gritty streets of manhattan. at least we weren’t being completely utterly lied to. my mom asked me, “everyone had so much fun, except for you. why do you always have to ruin everything?”

no, i don’t want no scrubs.

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last night i sang “no scrubs” at blue moon karaoke with amanda & amy, and it was really gratifying (even if TLC do repeat themselves over and over again). i love that song. i remember one summer when it was popular, me and eric and kastoory were driving around listening to the radio, and that song was on, and we were by this basketball court where all these hot-but-losery townies played ball, and kastoory randomly leaned out the window (of her best friend’s ride) and hollered “GO TO COLLEGE! DO SOMETHING WITH YOUR LIVES!” just as TLC was warning of the scrubs doing just that. well, probably not yelling “go to college,” but you know. it was a truly great moment of synchronicity, and i felt very happy to be living my life and hanging out with my friends.

everything is kind of in this weird space with me. i found my dream house, like utter dream house, but i’m not sure if i’m going to pass the credit check because i have a bunch of unpaid medical bills from my most recent health scare. but i’m not sure if medical bills infect your credit rating. i feel like i read somewhere that they do not. maybe they do. other than that i’ve been mailing out lots of zines, being anxious and scared about everything, watching good 90’s tv shows (does anyone remember “popular”?) making kale smoothies and the best burritos i’ve ever had (hope in burrito form! and you don’t even have to stand over a hot stove!), etc.

my goals for the summer are 1) stop being embarrassing 2) get rid of my backne, which could conceivably fall under goal #1. i am making good progress on the backne. i don’t know about being embarrassing. i feel really bad and embarrassed pretty much every time i open my mouth, but i keep trying anyway. it doesn’t help that while i was walking to the giant eagle yesterday, a middle-aged woman looked at me and very loudly said, “oooooooooooooookay,” which was kind of funny, but also kind of mean.

my current favorite thing is this slab of plywood on eden way (between 44th & 45th. look for it if you’re in the hood). when i moved in, there was this beautiful drawing on a piece of cloth glued to it. then, a few months later, someone wheatpasted what appeared to be a woodcut print beneath it. then, a few days ago, someone put what looked like a print-out of a graphic design. then, a line drawing of birds. then, a few days later, a tag. it is so spontaneous and beautiful. amanda suggested i put up a poem; i’m thinking of it. pictures to follow, once branden gets his ass back to pittsburgh and helps me pick out a quality digital camera!

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i just had the following illuminating conversation with my 78-year-old boss.

boss: [client] is behaving this way because he’s a simpleton.

me: simpleton? (chuckles) i haven’t heard that word in so long!

boss: (not missing a beat) well, he is one. most people are. it is our job to save them from their simpleness.

i think you had to be there and hear our vocal inflections. it was a good conversation though. another client of ours, who could conceivably filed under “simpleton” as well, stopped by in a panic about something and wanted to use my phone. it’s reasonably hot out, but he was completely drenched in sweat. perhaps i should have let him use the other phone, because when he handed the receiver back to me, it was covered in sweat. “sorry,” he said sheepishly. i am not normally squeamish, but i wiped it off with a paper towel.

so! tired! ever since i had a minor freak-out earlier this week i’ve been making myself get up at 8am, no matter how late i get to bed the night before. it’s oddly soothing. and oddly, i don’t really feel that bad, despite the fact that i haven’t eaten or slept properly all week. last night i dreamnt i was in buenos aires, but it was very dull and full of blockbuster video stores. the night before, my ex-girlfriend’s new girlfriend appeared to me in a dream, and god is she annoying. but who has time for dreams? there are novels to be written, tendons to be healed, phones to be ignored, episodes of “the simpsons” on DVD to be watched (thank you, library!), vegetables to be watered, process-y emails to be written, girls to be sighed over, fake tattoos to be drawn, legal documents to be typed, stories to be told, stories to be told, stories to be told. i’ve gotta get them all out before i die. and who knows when that’ll be.

i was feeling like shit all week, really like unlovable uncaredfor untouchable shit, and yesterday i walked for hours. bikey was broken so i walked to shadyside, hugged old co-workers, walked to the library and read for hours, and then walked home. so long. so necessary. the clouds were hanging lovely over the mountains & i walked home at sunset and it was just what i needed. walking home i felt like i’d be okay. whether that’s true or not is debatable, but that feeling is always a good one.

ha! i just wrote something genuine, and i erased it. one of the things i miss the most about being young was how i was unafraid to be genuine, even if it was dorky. BUT i was a much huger dork back then. i still feel as if i am both genuine and dorky, but not to the extreme level that i used to take it to. i like taking things to extremes. i have a crush, very newly minted, on someone who is not extreme at all; a genuinely normal-seeming person. i don’t know how i feel about that! but maybe, hopefully, appearances are deceiving and she’s just as crazed as i am. or, at least, we can bone down and part ways as friends, as wacky memories. keep your fingers crossed for me, gentle reader.

and fling it from the top of the brill building

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new york was good, full of tasty food and old friends, of laughing until my stomach hurt. i got salt water on my face & realized how much i’d been craving it. now all i need is some seaweed in my mouth & i’d be good. riding the train back to the city to meet up with sheena & emily for indian food & then greyhound for the long ride home, i didn’t look out the window at all. i used to be distracted by the window, fascinated by everything. now i can ignore it. it isn’t mine anymore. ironically, while on the train i was reading an essay by sarah schulman about gentrification in nyc and was dumbstruck by this sentence: “i stayed put, and my home left me.”

now i am back home, quote-unquote, and it sucks and i’m not entirely sure why. well, right now i am at work and surrounded by extreme negativity & cloudy skies, but other than that there’s no real reason. the 48 hours or so since my return have been full of friends, intense crusty trannies covering “papa was a rodeo” at a house show & having my hair stand on end because of it, laffs, halfway-decent books, good movies, writing well, cooking well. it’s like, what else do i need. well. it takes a long time for me to react to things that have happened to me. i go through months of being numb & surviving before i can really feel things. & now, all of a sudden, i am experiencing the true heartbreak of this year.

this year has been all about betrayal by my nearest & dearest. it’s been about a month since the last bad thing & now i am finally feeling it all. when i was in the thick of the bad things, i was focused on survival. i was trying to feel okay, and it often worked. but it was distraction. not absolution. i wish i could be honest about what i need, about what i want to do, without people freaking out. this year has been about facing unpleasant truths. this year has been about things that i thought were solved years ago rearing their ugly heads. this year has reminded me that what i thought was over will never be over.