Saturday, December 30, 2017

Winter resting, lobster and love...

"Looks like you got a lot of snow."

"Yeah, we have had a few storms so far this year. Snow hits the ground and stays there til it thaws out in the spring."

"That's how it should be," says Hellion from next to me. 

"Where are you all coming in from?"

"New York City."

"That gets a fair amount of cold, too. This your first time in Maine?"

"Yes, I wanted to take a short vacation, and this seemed easy and close enough for a quick break."

"Well, you came at the right time, some things are still open." 

We drive in the crisp cool afternoon as the sun gets close to setting on the horizon. This close to Christmas you would expect the traffic not to be very bad, however, we run into a few bad drivers on the road. 

She mutters under her breath and the bad driving. 

"Sorry, I don't mean to talk back at them, just sometimes they can make me so angry."

"Don't worry about it, my Dads are pretty aggressive drivers." Hellion launches into a story about driving, swearing, and chasing down people that might give the fingers after cutting someone off.

"Oh, no, I wouldn't chase someone these days that gave me the finger. You can never be to careful and I don't want to get shot."

"That's right, Maine's an open carry state, right?" Hellion knows far more about this than I do, so I sit back and listen as we take in the snowy scenery on the way to the hotel. 

"That's right it is. I usually have my gun on me, but I don't always take it with me on trips when I drive like this. But I have a special pocket for it in my bag and everything so I can reach right in and pick it up. My little gun, it's a 9mm."

"That's not a very little gun."

"I know how to use it to, I go to the range on a regular basis."

They talk guns and eventually switch over to local points of interest as we drive into downtown Portland, Maine. The little hotel looks over the harbor and is right across the street from restaurants that promise wine and food and good times with good people. The city was perfect for a one day trip, easy to walk to everything, lots of seafood. 

In the morning we wake up very, very late and get out of bed much, much later than that. We decide on the chowder house across the street after a quick online search reveals they serve chowder in bread bowls. I get a lobster stew that is really just a glorified excuse to eat lobster claws in a thin broth. The place we ended up at was full of locals, and the locals were asking about the lobster twin meal. 

"Well, that's two lobsters for 31 dollars and you can share it if you want to."

"That's a good deal," says Hellion listening in. 

"This is good lobster."

We take the day to wander, going about a variety of shops, looking at cards, local knickknacks and specialties, walking arm in arm through the 20 degree weather. 

"The weather is so perfect." 

"Yes, it is," I can't help to agree. 

"I could totally live here." I can't help but to agree with that either. 

As the sun starts to fall we hit up an oyster bar to stave off hunger until dinner rolls around. We liked the lunch place so much we went back for dinner and got the twin lobsters. We drank wine and lay in each others arms until late into the night, before dashing early the next day for a very early morning flight. We napped in bed together back in New York until it was time for Hellion to work, and for me to check into a hotel and read. I spent three days reading and being with someone I adore, even if I'm not particularly fond of New York city, good friends and good people make it easier. 

The lobster is now but a brief memory, but the love isn't.

Friday, December 29, 2017

The Pick Up Lines

There is a disconnect when trying to meet people in a time when meeting people means meetings strangers because there are no real communities anymore, all those old institutions for interacting with new strangers who can become new friends are slowly foundering. Meeting and creating meaningful social interaction is frowned upon in bars, in bookstores, in theaters, at work, even at those old places of worship. The world has become a thousand tiny cliques and the only way to break through the fortress walls and motes that everyone has built to protect them from everyone else is through apps and websites and shots fired via electrons in the ether.

In this, there should be some grand amusement, "I have built an impenetrable wall that protects me from all these strangers who may want to do me harm and I shall- Ooo, someone swiped right, let's be new best friends!"

It is actually about that bad. In this, though, there have been some interaction that are better than others. As I have explored the ravished wastelands of one of the few ways to meet new humans I found myself in the pickup line trap. I had not realized there was such a thing, in my naivety as a forty-one year old I actually thought a person had come to cleverness. Alas, this was no clever choose your own adventure, it was merely lines and lines and lines, harvested and used with the hopes that those lines would land. 

The first time this happened I was surprised it was a ruse, but amused enough to see if the person using such a ruse would be interesting. 

They were not. 

The second time the ruse was so complex I thought for sure that anyone who could hold all the parts of that in their head would be entertaining. Rather, they ended up being so creepy that I had to physically reject (I was safe because I am strong, but I feel badly for another woman who might have ended up with that exceptional creep). 

I've come to hate the lines, and there are so many lines. There are the simple vulgarities like:

"Do you have a comfortable place to sit?"

Imagine, mind you after delivering a line, there is always the wait for the response from the party that the pickup artists hopes to pursue. Your response doesn't matter because it will always come back to...

"My face is pretty comfortable."

Some of the random lines I've had this month include: 

"Do you like crunchy or creamy peanut butter?" The answer, regardless of what you say, will be something about how they would like to spread your legs. Yeah, ewww. 

"Do you like pancakes?" The answer, regardless of what you say, will eventually get worked around to, "How about IHOP? Because I'd like to hop on the ass." Also, yes, very ewww.

"What would you rather have: 
A. A nice date?
B. Meaningful intelligent conversations?
C. Multiple orgasms?"  

The setup is sure to have you asking if there is an option D, which means you have walked into "Oh, so you want the D?"

Yeah, it is really that awful. 

From Wednesday: "Are you my appendix? Because I don't know how you work but I have a funny feeling in my stomach and I want to take you out."

This gem is from yesterday morning: "So I just go ta new set of silverware, but I'm missing the little spoon. Can you help me out?"

There are a billion of them, they are constantly there, ever present and before long it's easy to be drowning in a thousand bad lines. At least in the old times you could see the look of revulsion or the smile of a "well-played" in person, but how or why these have transferred, often poorly, into the digital medium is beyond me. 

And yet, the lines keep coming. The lines work better than the walls of the fortress in a way, as they manage to be thin and predictable and eye-rollingly painful, but they manage to keep me away most of the time. The thing I've learned most from the users of pick-up lines is that there is nothing creative on the other end of such a line, the line is a map drawn to a hole and the hole is a chasm of narcissism, psychopathy and disrespect. There are no good people behind the good lines. 

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Higgs Boson Blues

The space is small and I putter around it while he finishes writing out cards to his friends and families to mail for the holidays. I could have stayed in the hotel, reading, drinking wine, waiting for the evening but I wanted to do something, and more, I didn't want to be alone.

He plays music on his phone, some of it I know, some of it I don't know.

Nick Cave, I always know. Things I remember, the first time I played Nick Cave for him when I realized he didn't know. We sat on my couch and I found a song that I thought might be most interesting to a young man who had a passion for both thrash metal and Lady Gaga: No Pussy Blues.

He came upon Red Right Hand on his own. One afternoon, as we were laying in bed, holding each other, loving each other, he pushed me back into the bed and told me not to move. The guitar riff was impossible for me not to recognize, and I laid back and allowed myself to be immersed in him, and the Higgs Boson Blues.

In his small cramped basment apartment I heard that riff come out of the tiny speakers on his phone, but it mattered not as the song filled the room, as only some songs can manage to fill an entire room.

By his bed, tidying up, trying to make myself useful in his life, for a moment, for a minute, not wanting to be alone, not wanting to be away from him for longer than I have to. There are so few minutes and I want them all to mean as much as they can.

It was then that I felt his arms warp around me, he stood behind me, trapping me, for a moment I tried to pull away, and then he started to sing along and hold me, hold me tighter, hold me to tight to pull away from him, hold me in place, this place, our place, our moment.

I've been sitting in my basement patio
It was hot
Up above the girls walk past
Their roses all in bloom
Have you ever heard about the Higgs Boson Blues?
I'm going down to Geneva baby
Gonna teach it to you
Who cares, who cares what the future brings?

Shaking, trembling, I stood there in his arms and for that moment, didn't care what the future could possibly bring.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Historical Perspective

It’s not that I’m not okay with everything currently going on related to talks of sexual harassment and abuse. This is important, this needs to be done and people, especially those that used there personal and political power to lord over those that were vulnerable or beholden certainly need to be held accountable.

I’m not against it. Have fun with it.

But stop looking in my corner and asking me, or any other person who lived through sexual abuse, degradation, humiliation and torture to get on board and tell stories because “now is the time.” Just because everyone is suddenly talking about it doesn’t mean now is the time.

There was never a time.

There will never be a time.

It’s impossible to chronicle all these things that you would define as horrors that are instances in a chain of instances that started sometime back in the early 80s. For the average person who has been fortunate enough to experience the average of sexual harassment and abuse the horrors are almost too horrific.

It’s not just a timing thing.

Three years ago I went to see the last of a set of family groups I was working hard to try to maintain a relationship with. I drank wine and sat outside with one of the members and we talked. They asked.

I told.

They asked me to stop talking, but you see, once you start talking it’s a torrent, a wave, a flood, a tsunami and you can’t just tamp it down and bottle it. It all comes out and spills over and even when you see the actual terror on the face of the listener you can’t stop talking because sometimes you just can’t bottle it up and tamp it all down.

It cost me the connection with the family.

With all the exposure, there has been no reach out to consider a reconciliation and try again. There is no interest, because the horrors were to difficult to understand and the feeling of culpability because “we always knew something was going on, but who were we to interfere” becomes too great.

That’s the thing, at least for me, as I watch this movement happen. The sense is that people really only care about the titillating horrors that can be processed, felt, a shared experience of “I understand, I went through that, too!” The thing is, for me, for those others like me, we don’t get to share at the same level because our histories go beyond titillation and cross over into the levels of story book trauma so tragic and awful and evil it can’t possible be true. While the world screams for everyone to share their story, the reality is only the okay stories and the comfortable stories and the ones others can relate to. If you do have real tragedy is has to be mega tragedy (abducted and abused for 15 years, tells all) because a mega-tragedy indicates that it is a rare occurrence. It’s okay to recognize that very, very bad things happen, but only if those very bad things happen rarely.

It’s not okay to know that, right now, somewhere, a young girl is sitting in her uncles lap and he’s telling her this is okay and Mommy won’t mind, that somewhere right now, a girl locks her door at night so she can sleep and knows that won’t be enough to keep her father or her brother or her mother out. Somewhere, right now, there is a teen who wets the bed because he knows from experience that it is going to happen again and it might never stop and the only way out might be death. Somewhere, someone, is going through the pain of trying to process both the guilt, the shame, the fear and worst of all the reconciliation of the body that processes experiences as pleasurable when the mind tells you they shouldn’t be. It’s hard to know these things. Harder to write them. Impossible to read them comfortably. Those of us with these stories, we walk around knowing, and even when we don’t know, it’s never as far away from our lives as we would like it to be.

At this point I’ve had 22 years to process my tragedies and yet I am still broken.

Those horrors have happened before. They are happening right now. For some they will keep happening. When their voices are finally discovered they will feel like I do, I think, sitting here and watching a movement I can have no role in because our experiences are so far beyond the pale that there cannot be any hope they will ever be fully understood.

When I seek out therapists I have to find those that specialize in the real horrors, because I feel guilty talking to someone who has never heard these things before. I don’t want to hurt them, you see, with the things I am going to have to share in order to get whatever help it is that I need. When I share the things I’ve been through, I want to be sure the person I talk to can still sleep at night. Most nights, I can’t and I don’t want to do that to someone else.

This is not a casual admonishment to those who are driving the movement, no, I respect and cherish that in some aspects of life things are changing enough that we may actually see a great deal of improvement in how people are treated by others. Keep sharing, keep burning down the walls that are used to protect all levels of maliciousness. Just a reminder, that there are a lot of us out there with entirely different perspectives who are working to try to understand and praise others while not rocking the boat to much by dumping in tragedies and nightmares that will topple and sink the ship. For us, each new story is a constant reminder of all the things we haven’t share, and won’t casually share, with the rest of the world. Appreciate the favor of that silence and what it costs so many of us personally to maintain it. For us, there simply isn’t a level of sympathy, empathy, or understanding that is sufficient.

Saturday, December 02, 2017

The Room

This is, in fact, about the movie The Room. 

Having been abroad there are a great many of things I got to do that most people who haven't spent a lot of time living overseas will never really fully understand. 

Not living in the US means there are a lot of things that sort of missed me until they are on my radar than I become very curious about them. This is especially true of anything that is a cultural phenomena. I'm still trying very much to catch up on cultural phenomena (literally just learned that the fluffy dog meme is called Dodge, so yeah). 

The Room came on my radar because of the Author (may he burn in hell for this). I watched the trailer and sort of sat staring in awe at my screen for the better part of what felt like 10 years, wondering why in the hell this was a movie people watched. 

Later, in a small movie theater in Indiana, I noticed a box office poster advertising a midnight showing of the room. Literally, in nowheresville Indiana. What the fuck was up with this movie. It started, then to catch my eye more frequently; theaters in New York with midnight screenings, theaters in Chicago with midnight screenings, theaters in nowheresville Baltimore with midnight screenings. 

I asked Hellion if he had ever heard of The Room. 

"Don't waste your time, it's the worst movie every made."

"Have you seen it?"

"Of course."

Curiouser and curiouser. 

Then I noted, via the internets a trailer for the new Franco/Rogan comedy. Since I rather enjoy the bromance movies they put out, I was curious and watched the trailer. Even with limited knowledge of The Room, I understood pretty quickly that this was going to be a film about The Room. 

"Did you see the trailer for the Disaster Artist?" the Author shoots me a text. 

Me: Dude. I still haven't seen The Room. 
Author: Don't think it's a requirement. 
Me: I feel like I should. 
Author: It is really, truly awful. I have seen it three times. 
Me: Dude. Let's go to a midnight show. 
Author: Ugh. 

I knew he'd be in, if I could find one that would work with my schedule, and finally the Music Box accommodated on December 1st, the opening day of the Disaster Artist. 

Considering how bad this movie is, I figured the theater would be busy, given the new movie tie in, but probably not that busy. Surely not show up to line up an hour before the show busy. How, very, very wrong I was. 

We got to the theater just before 11 and it was already packed with people waiting in the lounge to get in. We grabbed drinks while we waited and I let Hellion know I was going to see the room. 

"Get very, very, drunk."


We didn't have time for very, very drunk as an usher came around to announce to use waiting in front of the theater that they would be seating the line that had formed outside the theater first, so if we wanted to be in-line we needed to go outside. The Author and I looked at each other, tossed back our drinks and stepped out into the cold to wait. 

The line was already halfway down the sidewalk when we joined, and it was getting longer by the minute. There was a line watching party happening across the street. It was one of those lines that has power as passerbys began to wonder if they should get in the line. A group walked up behind us and bought tickets online while they waited. Another group stopped them. 

"What is this line for? What are you all doing?"

"It's a line to go see the movie The Room."

"Wow, this looks like an event, like a party. What is the movie about?"

"It's pretty much the worst movie every made."

"Oh." The passerby ended up getting out of line and going on their way. 

"Shit, I forgot to bring spoons!"

I looked at the Author.


"You'll see."

"Wait, your serious?"

"Yep. I even had some spoons."

I looked down the street, the line was now so long the end as not visible. 

"What the fuck have you gotten me into, dude?"

"You'll see. It's truly an awful movie."

A quarter to midnight they let the throbbing swarm into the theater. The Author and I grabbed some nice isle seats near the middle and he enjoyed the starry night and clouds of the main stage theater while I got a some sparkly and popcorn and beer. 

The theater, when I returned, was rowdy and full of people. There were groups of men tossing around a football. One pair of guys sitting up the aisle and to my left had a pile of a dozen boxes of plastic spoons next to them. 

"That's fucking impressive!" Someone commented as they walked by. 

The menagerie that was the audience fascinated me. I think I had anticipated a rather bland, single palette audience, i.e., a lot of white dude-bros. For some reason, the film struck me as one that would bring out that crowd, but this was not what the audience looked like at all. In reality, the audience was as diverse as the crowd at the Hump film festival. Queens and queers, black, white, brown, purple, pink, the fascinating diversity of it was refreshing and comforting. I was happy to have been proven so wrong. 

As the lights finally went down, I dug in and prepared myself for whatever this was about to be. 

It was something else. 

There is such a weird, fascinating energy in the crowd as the movie very slowly played out. I mean, my gods the epic novels you could write about how bad this film are have already been written. This is a horrible movie. At the same time, this was an epic fucking crowd experience. The comparisons to going to see Rocky Horror are not off the mark at all. The vibrancy as cars cross over the Golden Gate bridge. The hilarity of the spoons swimming like salmon almost every time the camera is in the living room, the complete inability to hear a single line, but the audience reciting them all anyway. The weirdness of random characters and the ever so easy to fall into callouts and clapbacks made this not only fun but also spiritually satisfying. In some way, we are all in this theater torturing ourselves with this painful, painful movie, and we are all finding in it some type of redemption that turns black and white into a kaleidoscope of color. 

The Room is a horrible, horrible movie whose existence serves a far greater purpose. 

For that, I'm happy that it exists and that I got to see it. 

I'll still take the Author's name in vain for several weeks, though. 


Thursday, November 23, 2017

Dating Game

There is a game that is being played here, both of us realize the nature of the game, neither of us acknowledge it.

Reductions of human interactions to the first smile, the first handshake, the first touch of a hand upon the shoulder, the first half lidded glance across a table, the first half veiled innuendo, the first laugh, the first uncomfortable silence, the first dropped dress, the first unzipped pant, the first soft sighs, the first collapse into bed…

There is something about this game that appeals, especially the first volley played out between two individuals that feels like a date, even though it’s probably not a date, even though it’s really just public foreplay because we all want it to end the same way, but neither of us is willing to acknowledge that.

Meetings like this, over a shared bottle of wine, shared storytelling, sharing the little ins and outs of lives that we imagine make us fascinating people, half lies, half truths, half time which is really all time designed to lead up to time in embraces, and naked and warm and close, and leaving all the happy little lies and half truths, and half stories along with the pile of clothes upon the floor.

In theory there is no winner, and there is no loser, and there is no hero, or saint, or sinner in this little game we play out here.

Time, however, keeps a different scoreboard. Time, is the worst referee, as it never calls the fouls, doesn’t offer any replays, and will not communicate the actual score.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Dealing with Privilege: She Wants Revenge

On the stage, another concert, another corset, another Friday night on the ground and not on a plane. Taking advantage of life, living life, being in the present with life.

The current moment is a difficult one where everyone is in the process of trying to understand what it means to be a decent human being and realizing that moral ideals are impossible for anyone to obtain. Look hard enough and we have all failed at our moral ideals.

We only punish the visible targets, while so many people continue to be the embodiment of all that is awful and there is almost nothing we can do it about it.

On the stage at a concert, on the stage at another show. There is a boy hoping for sex who has shown up to impress me with his ability to appear in my presence. His desire for sex is palpable. My desire not to have sex with should be as well, but the mere fact that he took the time to show up means that I will have sex. I can read it in his face and his body language. He’s going to be very disappointed.

There are girls all around me, this show attracting the dark goth girls, and the emo girls, and the girls in black because they don’t know better, and the girls that want to wear dark eyeliner, and the girls who want to wear low cut dresses, and the girls without girlfriends, and the girls with girlfriends, and the girls without boyfriends and the girls with boy friends, and then the girls like me with the hovering date who thinks he is going to get sex.

Then there were the other ones, the privilege men who are angry at everything, especially the political moment, especially the women, especially the girls, and especially the boyfriends. Possibly the boyfriends they hate most of all because they believe that have been robbed somehow of the available female that was owed to them.

Like the sex they thought they would get just because they showed up.

I was standing on the stage and waiting for the band to come on, making small talk with the guy that showed up and actually enjoy being surrounded by the dark goth friends, all the goth girls at the goth concert, a pleasant change. I’m leaning against the stage when walking privilege approaches me.

He starts to push to my left, and I just look at him saying no with my body.

He pushes again.

See, I lift hard, I workout hard, I do close to 100 push ups a day, I kick, I jump, I scream, and I’m not fucking small. When I’m dressed in black, wearing a 20 pound corset made of leather and steel, wearing four pound Docs, and pleasantly full of tequila, I’m not someone anyone should want to fuck with.

Privilege, however, was having known of it.

“Get out of the way.”


“You’re a bitch.”


He starts to push into the girl next to me to try to move her. Her boyfriend looks up and looks away.

“You’re being inappropriate!” I shout out him. I’ve been wanting to shout these words for days, to this asshole with privilege, to all the assholes with privilege, to the world for getting away with it, at the world that will continue to get away with it because at the end of the day I’ve never been assaulted by anyone well known enough to make it really matter.

“You fucking move. I want to be on the stage. This is my favorite band.”

He dives at me again. I don’t move. The guy that showed up looks away and melts towards the back of the crowd, kicking his feet nervously.
He goes at the girl on my right side. I step in.

“If you were a man, I’d punch you. I’d fucking punch you.”

“You’re being inappropriate!”

“This is why you don’t get laid. This is why no man wants to sleep with you. Cause your a fat, ugly, bitch.”

I smile at him. Poor Privilege. How it must hurt to be defied and to be wrong.

“I”m not going to fuck you now. What do you think about that. Move. Out. Of. My. Way.”

“You’re being inappropriate.”

“If you weren’t a man…”

Privilege is a broken record, spinning the same tired words, thinking that somehow he has found a way to hurt me. Perhaps, I am supposed to melt and cry. I certainly can’t have cut the figure of an inviting target, but here we are.


“You’re being inappropriate.”

“Fuck, fuck…” Finally the boyfriends from either side of the stage turn and look at him, and finally he huffs and puffs and goes away.

The one that showed up returns behind me, “That was pretty amazing you know, yeah, that was pretty good.”

I just look at him.

The band comes on stage.

There's nothing to see here, people, keep moving on.
Slowly their necks turn, and then they're gone,
No one cares when the show is done.
Standing in line and it's cold and you want to go.
Remember a joke so you turn around
There's no one to listen, so you laugh by yourself.

The guy who showed up gave me a ride home after the show. His face was a face of wonder when the car door closed and I faded into the darkness without looking back.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Not White

"It's hard given the current administration?"

"How can you not love the current administration we all have jobs because of it."

I'm listening to the conversation between these two men. 

"Yes, but...I mean...look at -"

"I'm conservative. This administration is conserving things, it's good for us."

He looks at me.

"You know how great it has been for our industry. You are at the top of it."

"There is industry and there is what this administration represents," I say to both of them, "I understand the pros and cons, but honestly, the cons are very con."

"But, you have to know how bad it would have been if Hillary had won?"

"No, I don't."


"I probably wouldn't have been told to go back to Mexico so many times."

"But your white."

"I'm not white."

"Well, what are you?"

"It doesn't matter"

"Like you look like there is something there but it's probably exotic, you know. I did 23andme and I thought I was 100 percent white Italian, but apparently there is 10 percent Greek in there. You should do that and find out. Maybe you are not what you think."

"My family is descended from devils and conquistadors."

Blank stares. 

I know enough about my genealogy. One half of the family is from Puerto Rico. Descendents of the Taiano and the conquistadors. One half of may family is decedent from Deborah Leeds. Leeds, famous as the mother of deformed 13th child that would escape into the pine barrens in New Jersey to become the Jersey Devil. I am an amalgamation of devil, sorcery, destruction and occupation. 

"You look like your, like your Romanian. You shouldn't worry. You're probably not as Latino as you think." I identify myself as Latino to the mostly Italian. 


"I would have said like, Hawaiian. Maybe you are Hawaiian."

"You are missing the point."

"Where were you when this happened. When you were identified as not white?"

I answer. 

I should not have answered. 


"Atlanta, really? No, they are so progressive. It was just tourists. People from Atlanta wouldn't say something like that."

I stare at him after that. I don't know what do say. He excuses himself to get a drink and I move away from the venue, dropping my glass on a tray before I hit the escalators and escape away from the crowd, the assumptions, the underlying thought...

Saturday, November 04, 2017


"What's it like to be in zero gravity?" I ask.

"It's hard to explain because NASA pumps you full of-"

There is a quiet pause here, eyes connecting, waiting for the sentences to finish. Hand on my foot with little electric shivers up my spine.

"I'm sorry can I kiss you. I'm just really distracted by your lips." Statement.

Distracted by his words, distracted by this hands on my foot, on my legs, kneading out tension that has been building over the last few days on the run. Muscles are tight and unwilling to relax even under the skillful pressure. Sounds fill the space, pleasure or pain is an unknown now, just the freedom of being able to relax...

Talk of space and science and programming and...

"Like a gravity powered engine?"

"Not like that."

"We know so little about gravity it's like magic." Magic like his hands on my thigh.

"We know a lot about gravity."


"We know it is a wave. We know that now." Listening to the explanation, voice in the void, his hands on my body, his words filling up the spaces in between with something more. He has a voice I can listen to for hours. I don't want to talk about anything, just be in the here and now and this moment is...

Somewhere in space a star is contracting and expanding, contracting and expanding, contracting and taking everything in the surrounding space into it, a fast process a slow process, sucking up all the space around it and filling itself with all the ethereal matter, dark and light, stardust and moon dust and particle fever.

It fills until it contracts to nothing, tightness, wound up deep, solid, until explosive light fills the void with the universe open and receiving as the tension winds down.

There is cool air in the void around us, lying intertwined in whiteness, discussing the universe and life and the magical variety of human entanglement.

Sleep comes much later and I am full of warmth and content and the stars.

Friday, November 03, 2017

Marie Christine

A random text message on a Saturday morning from Mr. Spanker inquiring if I might be interested in joining a club in Chicago like the one I used to be a member of in New York. The club helps put you in seats for shows with a fee of basically zero.

"I'm in."

Twenty minutes later I had a text with an offering of tickets to an off-Broadway Chicago production called Marie Christine. Half awake, half amused, recalling a conversation with Calembour only a few days ago about how I wasn't a fan of musicals or musical productions.

The gods do love irony.

Since I had so kindly been gifted Violent Femmes tickets, I returned the offer in kind and ended up with a date for the show on Saturday. We got to the theater early enough to grab tickets and found the best fucking fish place in Chicago in the process as we wandered about looking for a quick lunch.

Having never heard of the show before I had nothing to go on but the most basic abstract: Marie Christine, daughter of a slave and a plantation owner, falls tragically in love with a future Chicago politician. She ends up in Chicago, in love, with two sons and a husband who wants her to disappear, tragedy ensues.

Honestly, there wasn't that much to go on so I wasn't exactly sure what to be prepared for. In a year where I am making more of an effort to connect with my own status as a latina, explorations of culture, race, and identity are high on the list of interest. I probably should have dug a bit more into the story though being unprepared made the entire experience better.

And before I languish in poetic descriptions a quick note on the production: everything you would expect from a fully on Broadway show in a small Chicago theater. An orchestra was tucked into the backstage providing beautiful live accompaniment to the amazing acting and vocal production happening on the stage. Choreography was exquisite, as was the staging. The prop master and costume designer deserve some credit as well. I've paid a couple of hundred dollars to see traveling productions that weren't even close to this well put together though they probably had seven times the budget. This was phenomenal example of what theater can be when everyone puts in their hearts and souls.

Hearts and souls were in the story.

Random internet abstract did not really do justice to the story. Marie is not some childish whimpering half pampered plantation princess with a muddied past and a Juliet future. She is already a powerful, demanding woman, voodoo priestess, seductress, mistress, power embodied female. Fearless and unbound and uninterested, with the flaw that many fearless, unbound and uninterested women sometimes harbor; bottomless capacity to love and to love wrongly.

I see in this woman seduced by the chase, the belief that it is her and not her money or power or small amounts of influence, but her that is the center of the universe for that brief time. Count down time on your fingers, love clock ticking with the loves you desperately believed loved you back for a evening, for several years. What was the root of that commitment in the end but times passage, stories to tell, and memories only one person harbors. Feelings to deep that the pressure looking up from the bottom of a memory well is crushing.

Down there I watch this play, this show and I am wrapped in her enchantments and seductions and desperation for the right decision among wrong decisions. She exits as she enters, a power, older, wiser, but not undone by her entanglements.

And this is a feeling I know.

It was cathartic to watch.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Violent Femmes at the Vic

Apparently the end of October was all about music from my youth. In the last few months I've been downsizing my closet onto a practical body double and teacher who can use some clothes. During the last swap we both discussed our interest in going to shows and the tragedy of buying two tickets and having no date.

"For example, I have tickets to the Violent Femmes on Saturday."


"No date."

"I'll go."


"Let's do it." 

And so it was set. I immediately felt like an ass for not getting two tickets to Tori cause I could have had a date for a change, but didn't mind taking advantage of the extra ticket to the Femmes. The teacher picked me up around 6 so we could get dinner and shenanigans would ensue from there. 

The Femmes are in that music zone of not so much rebellion but survival. The last few years that I lived with El Diablo Madre were perhaps the most fraught with the danger that I might not make it out alive. Books and music were my refuge and the Femmes came into my life as a best of compilation that covered most of their music from 80 to 90, which means, basically, all of the first album and then some nice outtakes like I Dig the Black Girls, American Music and Cowboy Death Song. Pair that up properly with the grunge scene, the alt-indie scene I somehow managed to discover and a hearty, heaping helping of Beethoven and Bach and you have the soundscape that got me through the things. I'm almost 41. I made it out alive, but I recall that time and there were days when that was a near thing.

Which is why when I saw the Femmes were touring Riot Fest I was on the stage rail for damn near four hours so I could be upfront for that show. It was a good show but somehow the Gordon seemed faded at the time, like the energy was there but it was a slowly deflating balloon. During the musical death cull of 2016 I wondered daily if Gordon Gano may not be listed among those that would not make it out alive. 

At the end of October 2017 I was happy to see that he was still kicking, and that the band was back together and touring. I wasn't sure what to expect at the Vic but I was excited to see the show, corseted to the nines and giddy with the combined energy of so many concerts in a single week. We had tickets for seats, which later would seem like a tragic mistake, but during the opener allowed for relaxed enjoyment.

Brett Newski was charming and talented on the guitar with excellent story songs that were a great way to warm into the Femmes. Certainly someone I hope to see again, as his albums are going into the rotation. If you like humor, charm, and handsome Polish boys from Milwaukee, than you should give Brett a Listen. Gordon even joined him for a track. All over a good show. 

It was a nice way to work into the Femmes. 

Then, the lights go down, the lights come up, the Femmes come on the stage. Stacked with everything you would want to see, saxaphones and drums and a motherfucking grill. There is a sudden tension in the audience and I have this moment where I can fully understand someone getting on stage and shouting "You can't fuck with the Violent Femmes, you can't fuck with this band."

Sliding slow into the full set and starting with Confessions, they build into the sound, creating on the backs of the screams of the audience a wall of powerful music. I don't know what changed in the two years between the last time I saw the Femmes and now, but holy fuck. I don't know if Gordon and Brian are draining the blood of young virgins or sacrificing clowns or unicorn framing, but sweet merciful goddess where they on point. 

I personally thought the last album was brilliant and they do a great job of weaving in tracks from the entire catalog. By the time they get into Blister and the Sun, the whole theater is on their feet and form there I could not sit back down. This was an electric show with the Femmes providing every ounce of wattage. Thrashing and stomping and swaying about mixing big band sound without the peripheral weirdness of Zappa, this was good music, this was a good set. I was fucking ecstatic. 

Whatever they are doing, I hope they keep doing it because this was borderline orgiastic and I'm very hopeful to hear more new music and see them again in different shows. 

This particular rock out in Chicago should definitely go on the permanent record. 

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Tori Amos at Chicago Theater

Tori Amos put out her 15th study album in September and announced her tour just around the same time she announced the album. The amount of press around this tour has been rather quiet though, considering the lengths she went to with the Unrepentant Geraldines tour. I'm wondering if it doesn't have something to do with the album itself.

I have been a die hard Tori fan since her Little Earthquakes, and I don't see that every changing. Sometimes you just need to listen to Tori. That said, her latest album didn't really catch me and that is a first as I've found something to love off of pretty much everything she produced.

My love for Tori is a emotional though and I've barely listened to the new album, so perhaps the feelings will come. I remember all things Tori. I remember all the sensations from the first time I heard Little Earthquakes on some four in the morning MTV music round of for obscure alternative artists. I remember getting the cassette and plugging in the first time.

The album.

  • Crucify, the first time I realized it was okay to be entirely disenchanted with my family and family life. 
  • Girl, the realization that I had never really considered a world in which I live for myself alone. 
  • Silent all these years, I'm listening to myself, even if know one else is listening. 
  • Precious Things, there are not words. With this song there are only all the sensations of abuse, loathing, self-hate, self-doubt, self-shaming, and the desperation to try to find acceptance in the hands of abusers and how fucking pointless it all is. Precious Things if forever. 
  • Winter, if know one else is going to, I better learn to love myself. 
  • Happy Phantom, don't stop being happy because everyone around you wants to be miserable. 
  • China, it all changes, whether I want it to or not. 
  • Leather, you can be bold, and a badass, and you can still be down and suffering and in the end be strong for you. 
  • Mother, better than my own and comforting to think of how you can create a connection with nurturers that are not around you. 
  • Tear in my hand, there is power that I didn't know existed. 
  • Me and  Gun, I just cry, I still cry, I still feel every word of this song. 
  • Little Earthquakes, give me life, give me pain, give me myself again.

Yes, well, yes.

The album is a scensescape of colors and dreams that a young girl who was oppressed, abused, and abandoned needed. The words, the music provided strength, and still do, have, for years and years. Each building album since then adds new words and sounds and colors and feelings to those original ones. It is a pleasure to sit and watch her on stage, to sing along, sing my heart out, and feel for a moment connected to someone how helped me survive the dangerous times of my life in a way I cannot fully catalog or express.

In her most recent incarnation as a mother earth princess, she plays the stage in Chicago with ease. Working the audience up to a fever pitch by starting off with Ieee off of Choirgirl Hotel and then moving seamlessly back and forth and up and down the most popular offerings on her catalog. I know the words to ever song and I sing and I shake and a clap and I stomp as I listen. She is so perfect and so powerful, even now.

This is the third time I've seen her and I swear to all the gods above the next time I will be center stage to watch her. It was too good to take pictures, as that would have been a distraction and for this particular night, I did not want to be distracted.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Speed Racer

One day, while scrolling rather hopeless through new features on some website or another I paused at the picture of a rather charming fellow who sported on one arm a tattoo that read "Comic Sans" and on the other arm a tattoo that read "Helvetica" and while I'm fairly sure both these tattoos were in Arial font (a point of contention) it mattered not, because I spent a good five minutes laughing before I sent a message, which turned into an exchange of messages, which may have devolved into a conversation about how to torture graphic designers with bad kerning.

And so, a friendship was engaged with Calembour. Among the many benefits of this particular entanglement include learning about good cocktail bars in the city, far to many puns, understanding how twitter works, and exploring alternative facets of popular culture, literature, comics, games, and movies. During one conversation of films we had engaged in a bit of a round about concerning the film Speed Racer which I have never seen. 

"It is a beautiful film."

"It's Speed Racer the movie."

"You have to watch it."

I let that sit for awhile until somehow on a random late night trawl through the etherwebs I stumbled across a top ten list that included, among other things, Speed Racer. For some reason, it was enough to make me cave. 

"Can we watch Speed Racer when I get back?"

"We can make time for this fine film."

Considering the amount of travel and the number of shows I had scheduled for the week, you would think I'd leave this off for another time, however life and movies wait for know one so I squeezed in movie watching on Thursday night before Tori on Friday and the Femmes on Saturday. 

Thursday was a round of good drinks, a lovely home cooked meal, and the movie Speed Racer. 

A thing I had possibly known and forgotten, though it's just as possible that I had not known, is that this is a Wachowski movie. Sadly, a pair of directors that can be very hit (Bound, Matrix, Sense8) or very miss (what in the actual fuck was Jupiter Ascending?). 

This film comes somewhere in between for me and, for no readily apparent reason which I am almost certain will warm the cockles of Calembour's heart, I will most likely need to watch the film again. It was interesting to see something so visually disarming especially after having seen Loving Vincent only a few days earlier; the effects work in an entirely different way, and yet are perfect for the story as intended. 

It was an odd thing. I only vaguely remember Speed Racer from my youth (thinking it was the 90s corrected that it was in fact the 80s, recalling that I did in fact exist so far back in time) as anime that was interesting but not something I was overly fussed on. I fell into Saturday morning book reading and hiding from el Diablo Madre at some time between 86 and 88. Aside from Thundercats and Spartakus and the Sun Beneath the Sea*, and the collected Loony Toons, I only have vague interactions with many of the cartoons people recall as being important. Reading was really that big a thing. 

However, I know the theme song, was familiar with the general characters and had at least a sense of what Speed racer was so as to not be entirely out of the loop when sitting down on a couch to watch the film. 

The overall sense is, truly, it is a visual spectacle. However, it is not overdone, but somehow manages to work with the overall aesthetic of trying to be a live action anime. The colors are designed to be poppy and vibrant and work to maintain a cartoonish sense while still being somewhat mature. The story line makes sense and works with the overall plot, the acting is on point. 

It actually works very well as a film, though there are two key elements that really keep it from being a great film. First, it's over-scored. Can someone just put down the need to play some sort of orchestral tidbit over every second of every frame? Sometimes silence is a beautiful thing (see: Eyes Wide Shut, The Shining) and music can work if you manage to get it just right but don't overdo it (see: 2001, Clockwork Orange). 

The second thing, and honestly I think this is probably why as a film it was not as popular as it could have been as there is aesthetically very little to complain about, is that it's not a car race movie. The entire point of Speed Racer is, you know, the car races. Car races and car race movies are super popular (see: Fast and Furious 1-1000). 

This is not a car race movie. In fact, this is almost the antithesis of a car race movie. The Wachowski's really play up the story arc, the human element, the dark (but not to dark) features of Japanese Anime, with just the right amount of silly in the form of little brother, monkeys, and candy humor. It works perfectly as an archetypal coming of age story where they younger brother must not only emerge from the shadow of his brother, but more, salvage the family legacy from a legacy on the cusp of ruin. These things Speed Racer does very well. Car racing, really it's just a the background of the human drama. There is no linger over the perfect car, no musing on the hum of the engine or the human/car bond that becomes the car as an anthropomorphic character. Speed Racer is about the family of Speed, the trials of challenging expectations, and the potential to overcome. The car race, not so much. 

Like Loving Vincent, it is a visual feast, but differs in that the story is much stronger and the discuss of that becomes more important than how pretty it was. And this made it fascinating for me in many ways which is why I was struck at the end that I was most likely going to have to sit down at some point and watch it again. Which, for me, has always been one of the hallmarks of a quality film. 

*I was a really weird child and 4:30 a.m. had some very strange television. 

Monday, October 30, 2017

Chelsea Wolfe at the Metro

Chelsea Wolfe is a mild obsessions. I discovered her long after Zola Jesus and it took a while for her first album to sink in, but everything about my goth sensibilities found Chelsea Wolfe to be acceptable. From the dark pulsating rhythms to the ethereal voice. What is not to love? At least once I had sat on my couch with a younger music-phile playing all the music we should be listening to each other in-between make out sessions.

"Whoa, this is really good. Have you heard of, do you know, like, Dead Can Dance and stuff."

"Darling, do stop talking."

 A few of my dates go that way.

Knowing that Chelsea Wolfe was touring I bought tickets ages in advance, which was one of the reasons. I thought Abyss was a magical album and I truly enjoyed Hiss Spun, though perhaps not as much. Either way, I was a fan and I've managed to continue to miss Zola in her latest touring this seemed like a thing.

I love a good show.

To pre-game I checked out the opening band, Youth Code.

I can see this about Youth Code. The female lead singer is on point. The music is fast and pulsating and woven together with the giddiness of not giving a fuck and also wanting to tear the motherfuckers down.

Sadly, not my kink. I do like speed metal, but it's not an easy sell for me. Since the show as later and on a Tuesday I took my sweet time getting ready for the part of the show I was most interested in and decided to show up to strategically miss most of the opening act.

Arriving at the Metro around 8:30, Youth Code was still shout singing into the microphone as I was nearly strip searched by the security at the Metro. If I didn't have to live and breathe security theater I might have been more annoyed, but as it was I sucked it up, managed not to be and managed not to be a smart ass. My favorite was when they decided to wand me.

Because you know I was going to go goth to this show. And you can best your sweet ass I was going to wear the gothest corset in my collection. In other words, steel boning, bitches cause sometimes I am goth as fuck.

Needless to say, things didn't go so well with the hand scanner.

They let me in anyway.

I caught the end of Youth Code and while this is not a band I would ever sit down and chill with while drinking some wine, this was a band that was on fucking point on stage. At one point DJ Scary lady Sarah, who was watching from the balcony while putting together mixes, look down and exclaimed "They started a mosh pit."

And so they had.

The energy in the crowd was volcanic, thrusting and pulsing; turning on the dime as the vocalist howled her rage and indignation and violence into the microphone filling the floor with that energy. It was great lead up to the main event.

Unfortunately, the main event didn't hold a candle to the opener.

I will say this for Chelsea Wolfe though, she knows how to walk onto the stage. However, I her performance was studio perfect, so much though that nothing she did on stage captured the audience or really created more of a feeling. She looked good on stage, picture perfect even, with her ethereal voice and her ten in platforms, and her goth sensibilities. I wanted her outfit.

The performance though, was utterly bland.

What was worse was it became rather obvious very shortly into the show that she was not so fussed on the Chicago audience either. Granted, I will say this, the theater did seem to be full of a rather strange collection of concert goers, very few who were half as goth as you'd think they would be. The audience interaction with the band was rude and I found offense in the constant prickish shouts of "We love you" and "I fucking love her shoes." There was a weird undercurrent of objectification that I took umbrage with. I can't blame her for finishing her set in less than an hour, including a two song encore.

Perhaps the next time, it will be better. I've heard good things, so it was a sadness that this did not live up.

Loving Vincent

After fighting for almost two months to keep the last week of October open, the last week of October arrived. This week included way to much stuff and things kept getting added to it and I don't have a complaining bone in my body as it all ended up being perfectly well timed after almost an month spent traveling for business purposes. 

I kicked off festivities with the New Yorker, who was hanging in Chicago and chilling as I got crawled back in from the west coast at 8 a.m. and promptly went to bed. Sometime in the afternoon, I woke up and we coordinated the evening. 



"When we doing this bro-face?"

"Whenever you are ready, bro-rella."

"Duck place. Let's do dinner around 5:30 and go to the show after that, bro-meo."

"5:30 is when old people eat dinner bro-ette."

"Yeah, but the movie is at 7:00 bro-dude."

Fixed on a time, we met at the "duck place" also known as Sun-Wah and chowed down while catching up over the best Chinese food in Chi-town. Life has been rolling for both of use and we are equally busy with work type things and also equally busy finding ways to work through life type things. Since art and music have always been our most common interests, going to a painted movie seemed like a great way to spend the evening. 

"Where are we watching this movie?"

"The Music Box. You'll love it."

After dinner we jumped in a car to be whisked away to the other side of town to get to the theater for the show. The Music Box has become one of my great loves this year, which is why I picked up a membership. It gets me out of the house and I check to see what is playing there before going to see another "comic book origin story big explosions good time movie" at a big box theater somewhere else. It's encouraged me to see some films I might not have otherwise seen, and for that the membership is more than worth it. I came to know about Loving Vincent because of this. 

Last time the New Yorker and I caught a film we went to see The Handmaiden, a perfectly executed Park Chan Wook film. It was a sensual visual feast for the eyes, and held to Wook's particular Korean aesthetic for both sweeping camera work, extreme realism, and perfect pacing. Loving Vincent certainly had the visuals going for it and was a perfect way to spend two hours in a movie. 

We watched as the camera swirled in an out of Van Gogh's singular painting style, moving causally from the vibrant blues to the primary and pastels or into the more hyper realistic black and whites. A familiar yellow hat and yellow jacket walking through fields that swirled in movement, bending as if on an artistic wind with stroke after stroke following the actors through the tale that is both a summary of the life of Van Gogh and an effective discussion of the mystery of his last few months on earth. 

The colors dashed across the screen and we were both lost in a whirl of stars, drifting into a space time and just letting go with the experience. After the show we hit the Music Box bar for a drink and a bit of time to chat. 

"That was exquisite."

"I just want to get a copy to play it in the background without sound on loop forever."

"Do you have any idea what the story was about?"

"Not a clue, I was too busy watching everything else."

A perfect film. 

Outside, as we rushed into a car on the way home the rain came down like pellets of black and white pain and the city seemed more like a vibrant canvas that usual. 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Sara Progressions

Sometimes I feel like I am living in between extremes.

Too much travel and too much times spent at my job. Weeks, weekends, months, a string of time that is lost to the places in between and so much work. So much performance. So much being on.

Pendulum swing.

A week on the ground in Chicago. Let's go do a million things. A movie date, a concert, a concert, a  concert, a show, a review, lunch, dinner, dates, etc.

Filling in the downtime with a thousand things takes the pressure of the fact that I'm not on the road and balances out the uneasiness that comes from looking down the barrel of a few days without work. This year has been a lot about trying to figure out the balance between work, life, love and play.

This is not a thing I have discovered yet, but I believe that it is possible. In the heart of the space is the person that I am becoming for this next bit of time. This new one to replace the old ones that have come and gone and been retired again.

So many facets of Sara, that it's only possible to really understand me fully in the moment in which we began. I respect change, though, and the friends, lives, and lovers that have managed to weave themselves into the fabric of who I am are the most cherished because they are capable of working with a Sara at any stage.

A way of looking at oneself that can seem overdone, but it's true and I have the evidence captured in over a thousand pages of words that is the journal. In lines and spaces and the ether are all you need to know to see the bits and pieces and how different some of them can be from the now.

In the middle is the current me, centered in a maelstrom of activity, living life as if the world is no longer watching or at least like I no longer care, swing between furious work and furious play and being amused by the stories gathering.

There is much to tell. I want to try to catch up before I get pulled into living a bit too much again.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Duck, Duck, Duck....

Randomly I was in the middle of nowhere Baltimore earlier in the year. Not even the city proper just in what would best be described as the middling suburbs of Baltimore, Maryland. Away from the ports and the ships and the sea.  I wasn't happy about it and I really wanted to get away from it and get back home again.

There was nothing around the hotel, making my isolation feel even more complete. I could get around by asking for a shuttle and I spent way to much money at a Chili's to get some food and drink before heading back to the very lonely hotel in the middle of nowhere.

Not much to write about. I do the job and decide I want to go home. I get back to the hotel and ask for a shuttle the airport, which the hotel happily provides. The driver is a jolly, plump man how is happy to take me where I am going.

He wants to chat and I'm doing my best to listen, though I'm feeling fully self absorbed in my burning desire to get away and to get back to Chicago, and to get back to my bed, and small dogs, and the infinite quiet that is home.

As we prepare to exit the parking lot a duck crosses our path.

The driver sees the duck and without asking slowly stops the car. I'm in favor of not running over ducks so I don't mind so much.

"Well, I gotta go check on my ducks."

I register this, I hear him say this. I wonder what it means to check on ones ducks, waiting in the back seat for the shuttle to accelerate.

Is this like getting one's ducks in a row?

It is ducking out?

Is it an elaborate metaphor, extended off the presence of small ducks crossing the road? Thinking about ducks, how they grow and change, perhaps and ugly duckling with the potential to be a swan. Perhaps he is pondering the internal mystery that is the cycle of life, represented by a duck crossing the road to get to the other side, to continue on some journey of its on making: live, eat, procreate, die, continue, repeat...

Then the door opens.

The man gets out and goes to check on his ducks.

The amusement breaks me out of my self serving reverie and I smile all the way to the airport.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Don't You Fall

I fall in love easily. It’s a flaw and a feature. Sometimes this works out very well for me and sometimes it does not. Such is the nature of love, and where avoidance might reduce the amount of sorrow it would also remove the joy of experience.

This year, I’ve fallen in love at least three times. At least two of those times ended in an experience shaped like heartbreak, but there was a sweetness there that made both worth it. The frailty of human entanglement is as engaging as it is chilling. A constant series of never beginnings and never endings that should grow old. Instead each interaction is new and deja vu, if it exists, is fleeting.

When I was half the age I am now, I worked under the table in a bookstore down the street from the school. Three days a week I would walk down to the shop, open door, arrange books, create strange promotional to encourage people to come in. There was always hot coffee in the shop, a quarter a cup for a styrofoam cup full of brew. As with any bookstore, eventually you end up with regulars, coming to sit on the couches picked up off street corners, and curl into a corner with strong coffee and a book.

Only occasionally did anyone but the books. Sometimes people would come in with requests, sometimes people would come in and ask for recommendations. Sometimes I wouldn’t see another soul in the store. I’d sit on a couch, listening to the Cranes sit reading whatever philosophical text was the assignment of the day. It was a good way to pass the time and make a small amount of money on the side to make life more bearable.

It was February when the homeless boy first entered my little corner of the world. It was cold and snowing. He smelled like unwashed body that had gone too long, his hair matted, his green military issue coat pulled tight and a dirty bag.

“How much is the coffee?”

“It’s free, but we take quarter donations if you have it.”

He poured a cup and filled it with cream and sugar.

“What are you reading?”

At the time it was some obscure text by some obscure author so I just provided the easiest answer possible.

“Something for class. What are you looking for?”

“I just want to get a book. Something to read.”

“And what do you want to read about?”

“I like Kuerac. I like things that make me think, you know. Do you have something that will make me think?”

Since my undergraduate study was philosophy I had a lot of things that I could present that would make one think. A copy of Flatland may have end up being the choice, I don’t really recall. I remember I handed him a book, and we talked and he told me barely nothing about his life. I knew he’d be in town for around a month or more. I knew he liked to read.

Before I closed that night I’d given him a pile of five books and told him I’d be back again on Saturday.

“Can’t do Saturday’s. That’s when I go to the methadone clinic in Evanston. You are here on Wednesday’s though?”

“Every one.”

And so it was that he came in every Wednesday and I sat on the couch talking to him about what it was like for him to live on the streets, about what it was like for me to study and be dirt poor. He drank free coffee and kept me company. At lunchtime I’d order us greasy three dollar meals from the Chinese place down the street and we’d eat and laugh.

He asked me what was the favorite philosophy I read, and so we sat in the store one afternoon and I put on Richard Strauss and we sat back on separate couches and listened to Also Sprach Zarathustra while snow was falling in the late spring. Never touching each other, but somehow deeply connected.

“I don’t understand, you know, how people win. It’s like a constant game of manipulation. Even on the streets, when we should all just help each other, you know. I just want to love my fellow man. But we are always at odds. Sometimes I wish I knew how to push people towards good.”

“That assumes good.”

“What do you mean?”

“Have you read The Prince?”


I found a tattered copy and put it in his hands. He finished the pot of coffee and drifted out into the night as I cleaned up our lunch from that day and made a fresh pot of coffee. I stayed at the shop til almost 8 studying eventually working my way back to may campus apartment.

I’d decided that day if he came back again, I’d take ask him to stay, take him home and get him a shower. Let him sleep on my couch. Give him a break for the night from the streets. Or take him into one of the buildings I had access too at the time, so he could take a bath. I didn’t really have a plan, aside from kindness and emotion. The me that I was then at twenty-two still didn’t understand the specific feelings I had, but somewhere over the four Wednesdays I’d fallen in love. With him or with the fantasy of helping him, I cannot tell you even now. But I’d like to think it was with him.

I never saw him again.

I never forgot him either.

The feelings remained long after.

Monday, September 25, 2017

One Year

The cumulative total of all pictures of dogs over the last year (if you include everyone that has snapped a picture of these two mugs) has topped at least 1 billion. From day 1 to yesterday: a collage of cuties.