Monthly Archives: March 2013

Aside

hello again from the insomniac kitchen. i’m making chili with like half the necessary ingredients, pondering watching that lena dunham movie on netflix even though it is pretty much guaranteed to piss me off, and mostly posting because i want to share this beautiful thing that lynn breedlove wrote on his facebook. lynn was the singer for one of my fave bands ever, tribe 8, and wrote a book about a butch dyke bike messenger and has a way of capturing a moment. and i want to save this, mostly for myself before it floats into internet land, lost in the swirling pit of all that is out there. (oh, and homobiles is a SF-based cab company for queers, with the intention of getting us all home safely)

here it is:
“tales from the homobile:

6pm. dinner rush. a boy calls frantic, emergency! gotta go home now! it’s a restaurant at dinner time. i pull up, finally. he’s very worried, small, beautiful, still in his wait staff suit, in front of a famous italian restaurant, he brings his own sick bag, and lies down in the back for his long ride home to the east.
i say whats the matter?
he says he is positive, and he cant get his meds, and he hardly drank at all last night, but it doesnt agree with him.
i thought of chester who swore he wouldnt let this thing change him and drank til he got tired of fighting it, whom i never helped through his sickest years.
i played some sweet music for my passenger and said do you still have a mom?
a plaintive noooo… came from beneath his jacket.
do you have any friends who mother you?
nooooo… came the forlorn voice again.
i said well homobiles is here for you. parents on wheels!. his voice smiled back weakly. yes you are.
for all the loves we didnt show up for, there are always new loves to show up for.” –lynn breedlove

this makes me more than a little misty-eyed, and it all comes back to what a powerful mysterious force told me from her deathbed: take care of each other. no isolationist bullshit. take care of each other.

 

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don’tcha know i can’t sleep at night, but just the same…

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life is so funny. so strange. right now i am baking kale chips and cookies. it’s 3am. i could blame this on my erratic work schedule, where i usually get off work around 8:30 am and go to bed around 10 am. but i haven’t worked all week, so i have nothing to blame but myself, my brain, and my life.

i am listening to pandora internet radio, set on the carpenters. the 70’s lite rock that i despised throughout my whole teen-hood is coming out of my boyfriend’s laptop. the young me would be flabbergasted: “why are you listening to this shit! ughhhh, i listen to it all day, every day, it sucks”

my dad plays the radio constantly, every room in the house set to the lite FM radio station. bland hits. resistance is futile. at one point i ranted about how much i hated it, and he said, “how the hell can ya hate a SONG?!”, completely dumbfounded at the act of hating music. a song, no matter how trite, means something to someone somewhere.

i think the young me would be disappointed in the current me in a lot of ways. this week i realized that i have been using the name ocean for NINETEEN YEARS and i still have not legally changed it. the teenage me was so certain that i’d get it changed once i turned eighteen. so sure that i’d have a new york state ID card that said the name i know to be mine, “OCEAN CAPEWELL,” in all-caps helvetica font. but i didn’t even look into it until i was twenty, to learn that it cost hundreds of dollars. at the time i was making $6 per hour, no support from anyone, struggling to pay my $210/mo rent and eat at the same time. no fucking way.

now i make twice that hourly wage, which is not a big accomplishment when adjusted for inflation and the city i live in, which is far more expensive than the one where i lived in then (although i have lucked out with absurdly cheap rent, at least for now). a legal name change for an adult in the state of california is $435, not including the cost of the newspaper announcement.

in the village voice. i used to read the legal notices. and silently wish them well. and burn with envy. i just never got my shit together. i haven’t been that poor forever, but when i had money there were other more pressing concerns. i thought i could deal with the albatross of this ill-fitting, triggering legal name. thought it wasn’t a big deal. it would hurt my parents, it would be weird to explain to people who knew me under that name (dwindling every year, mostly people from straight jobs). but now i think i might just do it. i think it’s time. i will be 31 in two weeks, i have been using this name since i was twelve. nearly 2/3rds of my life. maybe i should get hitched to myself. maybe i should make it official.

anyway, that was a tangent, and the point i was making was somewhat tangential anyway. who would have thought i’d be here, in 2013, listening to music that originally came out on vinyl shuffling through the ether, digitized and cold but somehow still so real. it’s 3:30, i’ve been baking. my friend gave me his foodbank excess which included 4 bunches of kale, which is a lot even for me, so i made some kale chips, and then figured i’d make cookies while the oven was hot, so there you go. it’s better than staring at the wall, for sure, even if it feels a little weird and slightly crazy. dear younger self, maybe you hate the music, but isn’t it nice how there are no parents to yell at us to go to bed? by far the worst thing to happen will be my boyfriend coming out to pee and asking sleepily, “oh, you’re still up?” and maybe you couldn’t have imagined the music, but could you also imagine this peace and freedom and tranquility? no, don’t even answer that, i know you can’t, because you don’t have any reference points, you’ve never experienced it anywhere really for more than a few fleeting moments, but don’t worry. someday you will have all the reference points you need. love, ocean

farewell, bikey. 1998-2013.

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here is a shitty picture of me and a good picture of you, at the beginning of our biggest adventure yet–crossing state lines, living in the woods, really going somewhere. but that was in 2010. let’s start at the beginning.

my dad got you for me when i was sixteen, which was sweet of him, but i didn’t ride bikes then because i smoked too much and worked too much. my town had too many hills. i could walk to work. i could make it back up the hill on foot but not on bike. so i let you languish in the garage for two years. when i was 18 i had a change of heart. realized that one could bike everywhere. that shitty winter, you showed me the magic and fun that could be had on long island. we biked through the drive-thru and all the mcdonald’s employees laughed. i took you on the LIRR, every day, three stops, to a town seven miles away. the conductor always talked to me because of you, and didn’t take my ticket.

i got kicked out. left my family behind and moved to memphis. for the first time in my life i lived in a city. i got pretty much everywhere i needed to go with you. i’ve never known how to drive, always been dependent on other people or public transit. but with you i slogged through the humid heat, in the bike-hating south. my co-workers called you my cadillac, and i smiled and said you were better than one.

i fled back north, to philly. your tire blew out the same time the towers were getting hit a hundred miles north. i pushed you home in a crowd of weeping, panicking philadelphians. i’d spent my last dollar that day. waiting for a sketchy check to get cashed. i tried so hard to repair that hole with no money. patches, duct tape, friends’ old tubes. it just would not work. i got my money and spent $15 getting someone else to fix your flat & felt so stupid. eventually i learned how to change tubes, patch flats.

you were my favorite for so long. so many good times, too many to list here. sharon and i ran a red light to beat that snarling motorcycle and laughed in his face. amanda and i decided we were going to be social. we went to a party despite the snow but the most fun part of the evening was biking by the river singing “parentheses” by the blow. or when we rode around the whole city with aaryn and branden. i know these memories are mostly good because of the people in them, but you were there too.

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you were crappy, ornery, after tens of thousands of miles, too many lousy fixes by people who didn’t quite know what they were doing (mostly me). when i brought you into the fancy bike shop to get tuned up before our big journey, the mechanic called me at work to yell, “i can’t fix this thing. you shouldn’t be riding this. i can’t believe you haven’t gotten killed yet! you’ll never make it to DC, never.” i got my ex to pick it up for me and drop it off at a more low-end shop. got a new chain, and made it all the way to DC with only one flat tire. all the long, slow, heavy miles. we learned something then, but i’m not entirely sure what. about strength, endurance, something, maybe. i don’t know.

the years wore on. many people tried to convince me to give up on you. but i wouldn’t. then i moved to the bay area and everything went to hell with you. brakes, pedals, spokes, seat. 9 flat tires in 6 months. i bought a new back wheel because your spokes wouldn’t stop breaking. as i handed the bike guy my credit card i thought, “this thing’s gonna get stolen.” and i was right. 3 months later, it did. right out of my own backyard.

i’d promised myself, after the wheel, that i was done putting money into this shitty bike. with the amount i’d spent since moving i could’ve bought a new, infinitely nicer bike. i would borrow my housemates’ bikes when you weren’t functioning & i’d get jealous. i’d fantasize about getting a new bike, one that wasn’t so old, so heavy; one that would let me fly. remember how we used to fly?

i guess it makes sense. you were so much a part of my youth and i guess i just don’t feel young anymore. like wild dance parties will never again be a part of my regular life. like biking down the street isn’t an adventure anymore, now it’s just what i do. now it’s just how i live. now you’re in the basement and i won’t ride you again. the last time i rode you was fun, sleep-deprived, heading home from a good show. i guess you (usually) never know when something’s gonna be the end. whitney houston and jawbreaker shuffling on my headphones. i don’t remember too much about this particular ride, just that we were happy.

undeveloped

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a very sweet boy was recently overheard complaining, “agingriotgrrrl never updates her blog anymore!” and what i think he already knows, but maybe you don’t, is that the privacy of this blog has been violated several times by several people in the past year–the last, too big to even dance around, too paralyzing to mention–and of course it is public but i still cannot help but feel violated. and it makes me want to not write anything about my life. and a lot of the things i do want to write about are a confidentiality violation & so i can’t.

but. there are still a lot of things i could write about. right now i am thinking about a photograph i took ten years ago that never came out. 2003, or 4, i can’t believe that a decade (or a near-decade) has passed since then. all my shoes had holes in them. i was cash-poor but privileged, freshman year in college on borrowed money, a safe haven from the world i’d been thrust into years before. i was madly in love with ________ back then, walking from grand central to penn to see her, that walk that is too long to be convenient but too short to justify taking the subway, when i saw it: a sign, with large stenciled letters, resting against a trash can on some anonymous manhattan street corner. it said, simply, “I DREAM OF SO MUCH.”

it stunned me with its truth and beauty. i took its picture with the shitty disposable camera in my bag, not bothering with the flash because it was still light out and i thought i didn’t need it. because i hate flash photography, generally, and i didn’t want to draw any more attention to myself. a tall, scruffily dressed boy/girl–i already got enough attention & it wasn’t good. i waited for months for this picture, for the roll to be used up & money to be scraped for developing. earlier i’d had scams for free pictures but they all fell through. & when i got the roll back, this was the only picture that wasn’t there. i looked in the negatives, and the edges weren’t defined enough. the machine probably thought the picture was blank, an accidental pocket-shot, and skipped right over the picture like it wasn’t even there. i had been a 1-hour photo technician for a lot of my teen years. i knew exactly how to develop it. but it didn’t happen. i still remember that sign & maybe it’s better than having the picture.

on a mostly-unrelated note, here’s a postsecret that i haven’t been able to stop thinking about since i first saw it about a year ago:

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maybe it’s an internet hoax. some annoying idiot. but i am fascinated by this. someone whose friends, family, life, job all sucked. or maybe they didn’t suck, but maybe they just needed a way out. and this was their way. sending out a tiny glance behind, a look over their shoulder at the life they left. why did they leave? how? how did they get out of NY, how did they access their banking records? did they just take all the cash out of their ATM and begin a new life? did nobody care enough to try & find them? or were they just that good at hiding?