Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Language Confusion

I do enjoy traveling south of the border, but it always seems to be impossibly hard looking the way I look with a second language that is Korean, not Spanish, not Portuguese. It always feels like I've done something very wrong to end up where I am, talking as I do, and not fitting in even though I look the part more than anyone else. 


This was the trouble with showing up in São Paulo. My coworker meets me at the airport after several various farces in communication. 

"I'm at the Starubucks."

"I'm standing in front of the Starbucks."

"But you are not here."

"It's across from the Red Lobster."

"What is a lobster of red?"

In other words, it took awhile but we finally met. He went to work and sent me on to my hotel where I hoped to check in and get food. 

Things I forgot about Brazil. Eating times. Brazil eats between 12:00 and 15:00. Then everything closes until 19:00. It was now, 11:30, I'd just gotten off a 20 hours flight where my last meal was easily 18 hours ago, I was hungry, tired, an little fatigued and still, in spite of trying, didn't speak Portuguese. This means, of course, additional waiting and additional frustration and me getting hangry which all boils down to, bad time. 

Finally, I sulked in my room until noon and then ate the only thing on the menu I recognized which was frozen ceviche (not exactly how that is supposed to be done). This makes me smile and think of a note from the Guitarist ("I don't like to eat seafood when I'm this far from the sea.") 

Later I do what I am good at doing before being left on my own to feel like I'm bad at what I'm doing. If my goal is to make English more accessible, than why oh why do I keep ending up in places where everyone invests in the language but no one can speak it. 

Do I need to do more? Probably. 

In the meantime, I have cold fish, cold booze, and a country to play in. 

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Up and Over

Sitting in an airport lounge on a Sunday afternoon, when I would really most rather be sitting on my couch under a pile of dogs.

Sitting in an airport lounge watching the temperature tick up to 100 in the windy city.

Sitting in an airport lounge, working my weekend away.

Sitting in an airport lounge looking down an almost 20 hours flight.

Sitting in an airport lounge typing away.

Sitting in an airport lounge thinking about all the things I miss in this city when I am not here. All the things, all the people, all the places, the little pieces of this place I want to be home that I am starting to think of as home.

Sitting and waiting to fly.

Such a familiar feeling.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Past


She had a history, but she had not past. 



It's a funny thing, to see all the words here. This is all history. Theoretically, it is even my past, but it doesn't feel like the past. It doesn't feel like the life I lived. It's the story of someone else's life, while mine just goes on and one. It's just words like rain, falling in the dark, making wet puddles on streets of memory I refuse to travel on.

Laying in bed with the Guitarist, trading stories of our histories, my history rarely goes back more than ten years, his history goes back so much further. And there in lies the difference between me and everyone, history has always been a safe place, but not the past.

Somewhere, somehow, I lost my past in favor of my history and the pursuit of who I am. Somewhere in the sunrise ahead lies a future I cannot predict. Tomorrow I wake up inside history that I am living, moments that will become history and my interaction in those moments is as meaningless as a butterfly floating currents in the wind. Float for word, never back words, let the past be dust and the history be sand floating through the never ending hourglass that turns, and turns, and turns, and turns.



Friday, June 15, 2018

Fitting

A thing I think I have learned that has merit is that there are different ways people fit together physically. That half of our lives and our loves and our obsessions are around how we fit together as humans. If you don't take a chance on trying everything you want, you miss the deeper problem of how people relate, how they fit, how they work together.

This is the thing that I have fully understood, and it's a strange thing to comprehend.

It's about connection.

"It always seemed you had the best time with the ones you connect with," Calembour described it once.

This was a correct description. I can tell it from reading through myself, every time I write about an experience it was because there was a connection. These connections were always fleeting and they disappeared so quickly. Until...

This is the difference between now and then. Then I needed to know so much more.

Now, I want so much more.

The desires is only satisfactory to such a small degree.

The connection is the thing that makes living meaningful.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Dull Life


This was the only interesting thing to happen today. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Visions

There was  some kind of breakthrough. I don’t know how to describe it. If it was something in me that was finally seeing clearly, or something in you that was finally projecting the right way, but there was a moment when there was suddenly  a complete and utter openness into your soul. Like blood magick, like sex magick, there was almost certainly magick involved.

“Do you mind if I burn sage?”

“Not at all.”

I watch as you swirl it around yourself and I think about the smell of sage and what it means to me. The memories that the smell evokes. Deserts from my youth, rituals from my youth. Cleansing out the ghost of the past. Opening ways for the future.

You pass the sage to me and it is in my hand, white sage. This is as familiar to me as time. Breathing in, breathing out, the warm salty, musty cedar drifts in front of me. This piece I hold, watching the ember burn close to my fingers.

“It’s really hard not to invoke the four corners with this.”

“Oh, you practiced magick?”

“Practice. I still do. I hate to be a stereotype, but here I am stereotypical. A goth girl, bisexual, pagan, hedonist. Stereotypes exist for a reason.”

“Sometimes I think I’m a stereotype.”

“Which one?”

Sage is burning in my hand and I can’t help myself, I hold it to the four corners and close it in the Earth sigils and then I ask where I can let it burn. Dangerous magick, intuitive magick.

There is something waking up inside of me that has been denied for so long and I can’t tell if it is you or the other events in my life. We are perfect together. We are entirely mismatched. I talk too much, my loquaciousness seems to fill a space of silence; inadequacy bubbles under the surface. You tell a story with a parsimonious usage of language that I envy in the moment.

I babble before you like a brook.

“Can we look at the stars now?”

On a bed, we lay back and look at the glow of the stars shining above us, in the crook of your arm, safe, contained, vulnerable. This time is quiet, there are no words, either yours or mine. I’m comfortable with this silence. We listen to the music droning on in the background and the stars thrum overhead.

“What are you thinking about?”

“That I want to sketch you.” And it’s true. My fingers have traced the lines of your muscles and your views pulsing under skin, looking at your profile thinking about the turn of your muscles as you bend, as you stretch, exhausted, invigorated.  

Later, I exhaust myself over you, you with a view of me, my hair a strange dark cloud around my face, the room full of the smell of sex and sweat and sage, and as I feel like I’m about to finish a marathon and achieve my goal, desperate to keep my eyes open, I am suddenly very far away. In your arms and not in your arms, in your bed and not in your bed, in my mind and not in my mind.

And then I have a vision.

Across my mind, I hear myself screaming out “I can see again.” And I know what I mean as I watch my vision unfold.

Vision
Flying over a field of trees that unfolds before me, there is smoke rising up in spots from the trees and large mountains in the distance. Music punctuates weird places of silence and there is such strange tranquility. I am the bridge floating above this,  a breeze. The air smells of human smoke but none of this feels threatening. I glide out into the forest, confronted by the sea, oceans slamming and cresting against a shore and suddenly there is the blackness of a city eventually, but somehow in the city the connection is better, the connection is stronger, the city doesn’t feel quite so foreign the city feels even more like home and homecoming is not bitter. There is connection here.

“I’m sorry.” I come back from my vision in tears. I don’t know how long I have been gone, I don’t know how to explain to you what has happened.
“I’m sorry,” as I lay next to you and curl into your arms and let the tears happen because I am so happy in this moment because it has been decades since I have really seen and I’m overwhelmed. I’m not entirely sure I understand. But I do. And I can’t explain without words.

Something, something, something, opened, like a Rosetta Stone, interpretation happens and it all falls into place. Earlier I had said, rashly, rudely, that I didn’t know how to read you. That you were beyond my ability to read. I am a good read of people. I have to be for my work and my life, and everything that I do. I was wrong, I was being belligerent, I was closing myself off to something obvious, to the communication that was there. I wanted words.

Words mean nothing.

Actions mean everything.

This was what I learned in my vision. That, and more. There is much in this vision. It has been so long, so long, since I have had a vision in waking time, not in dream time. It’s easier to ignore dreams. It’s harder to ignore what you know in your waking time.

You were communicating. I was ignoring you. This is what I learned from my vision.

The moment was so much, and too exhausting for me to process fully there. Only later could I appreciate all that we had said. Not just because we had talked but because there was so much communication that had nothing to do with talking and I wasn’t listening. I processed again, listening to all of it.

Somehow, this is part of the fabric of what I need. Not the only part, but an important part.

I can finally hear it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Ghosts of Korea

Sitting in Chicago and watching the news is wrenching. I can't even really describe all the feelings I have around this. Thirteen years Korea was home. There is so much I learned there. So much I learned incorrectly. So much I got right.

So much love.

So much laughter.

The quiet joys of sharing a home.

The quiet joys of adopting a dog.

The quiet joys of weekends spent driving through the mountains.

And then the bottom fell out and it seems like five years I was living in Korea, but more like I was chasing Korea. Trying not to let it get away from me.

Not.

Just.

Yet.

Then a cafe in Itaweon overlooking Seoul.

Then a plane.

Then a new job.

Then dissolving for three more years.

The funny thing is I moved out of Korea, but it wasn't until three years later that I left Korea.

The relationships.

The entanglements.

The memories.

An ability I now have is to encapsulated the experiences of a dozen years in one bullet point on my resume.

Now, three years on, I feel free of Korea, and yet, it is hard for me to read the news, look at the news, see the news and not think of what North and South Korea from my very personal experiences of North and South Korea.

Watching JSA.

Hording Ramen.

The first nuclear test.

The first test launch of a missile over Japan.

Threats, and threats, and threats of a turning my home into a sea of fire.

The fishing boat.

The tunnels.

The death of Kim Jong Il.

Watching Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol while waiting to see if the bombs would drop.

Updating an evacuation plan once a year.

Kim Jong Un.

The murders.

The strikes.

There is so much that can happen in thirteen years. Lives made, relationships that are practically grown adults, grown over time, shaping, learning, maturing, changing, like the relationship itself. Moving together in some ways. Apart in others.

I moved close to Korea, I loved Korea, I had a passion for shin of the land built over time and acceptance. It was a place of many feelings.

The news is worrisome. Dictators moving and shaking and building up new powers and new joined forces and the implications of this terrify my. Looking back on the past in a place I loved, wondering if it is strong enough for what is coming.

Change is inevitable and Korea is about to become the fabled river of Heraclitus. The news upsets me because I don't know what is coming. It upsets me because it make clear how much as changed. Lends the realness to inability to ever traverse places that have ghosts to haunt me.

The new ghosts could be so much worse.



Monday, June 11, 2018

Waves

Thunderstorms have been rolling through the area for days, bringing odd flashes of light all times of night. Lying in bed, staring out the window, thinking about the moon, I listen to the rain falling against the house and the warm soft sighs of my sleeping puppies. It feels like a trance, lying in bed, watching the lights make shapes in the black.

Heart.

Hand.

Eye.

Nose.

Mouth

Strangers

Around me the are has that gunpowder smell. The smell of ozone and power and strength that is the smell of a Thunderstorm.

I remember,

I remember,

I remember,

Once when I was eight I remember standing in the middle of a dirt road at the top of a mountain. Wearing various sundry rags, legs scratched up from climbing trees, my fingernails a ratty dirty mess. The sky boiled that day, grey on black on grey with hints of green at the edges. The winds were not whipping yet, it was that quiet lull before the storm. I stood and inhaled. Exhaled. The dirt, inhale, the summer exhale. The ozone smell, the thunder. A little girl wondering what it would be like to ride a lightening bolt to safety. 

Waves break me out of my trance, keeping me from going back to far. I listen to the waves beat against the lake shore, loud and angry and forced by wind. Power, there too, boiling under the surface of the water, like the memories that float on the front of a thunder storm.

Lighting in the sky above.

Cool rain falling.

The ever restless motion of the inland sea.


Sunday, June 10, 2018

Time Processing

Here in that place now where I'm almost fairly sure I am madly in-love again, or maybe just mad. Madly maybe. There is nothing wrong with it though, the mad process of thinking about the difference you think now about they way someone snorts when they laugh and the first time you heard it. Or the reply that is so subtle in its shade of meeting while being just slightly out of reach if you are not paying attention. Or perhaps the way one flips their hair. The tilt of a cap at you. The smile. The way the eyes open when they see your eyes. The first time someone leans back into you and your body holds them, together, silent, touching, just being there.

That place constructed of mad emotion documenting first connection for playback on fiftieth, sixtieth. It's all part of a little fabric that creates the beginning of those little bonds that weave into a fabric that is wonderful, strange, and forever lasting. Even when the threads are frayed, they are still there.

Isn't that, right there, that thing that we create in our loves and our communities and our lovers and our obsessions, isn't that the thing that all the best stories are built on: that moment when, after years, two people look into each others and a lifetime falls in place?


Saturday, June 09, 2018

Drunken Russian Princes

Lying in a bed that is not my own, watching the host of the party tell stories to a small captured audience, his silhouette is Elvis Costello with a better nose, I smile and drift and...

Later we sit in a different room, talking thrums back and forth and...

"I should probably go," I whisper, maybe whisper, my voice sometimes feels like it's there and not there and too there.

"You sure?"

"Yes."

It's part exhaustion from the thrum that has been my week, part too much wine, part too much socializing, part too much figuring out how to socialize.

"Alright, let's get your stuff."

A call a car as I carefully place it foot down unfamiliar stairs, spill on to the street. Wait.

The car pulls up and I hop in and we start to move but about half a block away he suddenly pulls over. I worry a little, wait, wonder a bit...

"I'm sorry," he says with a slight accent.

"Is everything okay?"

"My last passenger. This girl. She was really drunk. Too drunk. She left her bag." He holds it up over the seat at me.

"Oh."

"Do you mind, she was so drunk I should have checked twice she had everything. do you mind if we take this back to her house?"

"No, not at all."

"She was just so drunk-"

"It's really okay."

"Thanks, thanks so much. I'll give you a free ride home."

"You don't have to do that."

But he insisted. As he started to drive he passed the bag back to me to see if I could find anything useful and confirm her address. He had a sense of where he had just been, but the information no longer being useful he had to try to recreate it through his upset.

"I have a license and an address. Ugh and her phone." It will be fun when she notices that is missing.

"Good, Great."

I navigate and in less then a few minutes we pull into one of those old Chicago townhouses, immaculate garden, beautiful Floyd Right influenced prairie style. White flowers were twinkling in the soft garden light that made the front of the house look as if it was full of fairies.

"I'll be back in a moment."

"Actually, maybe I should. A surprise woman may be less surprising at 1 a.m."

"Yes, yes, good idea."

License in hand, I took the stairs and walked towards the classic artdeco stained glass. I could see in: light shining down from a glass chandelier on hardwood floors, a table, a vase, flowers. Immaculate, perfect. I wonder what kind of life it must be to live in such a polished place. So finished, without small piles of books and magazines and letters and the daily ephemera of a life that is being lived. When I see these types of homes I always think of antiseptic, a place scrubbed so clean it is free of everything including living.

As I stand peaking through the windows into the little castle in the middle of the city, the must be owner of the purse, her shoes in hand, she teeters a bit as she shuts the door. I knock on the door. She pauses and looks up. I hear a dog barking somewhere. She doesn't turn around to see me, but I can still see her.

I knock again. The dogs suddenly bound into view, two humongous Great Danes, running up to investigate their resident and the sudden noise. I knock again, this time on the window. She turns and the dogs run at the window. Squinting at me, I think she might decide to call the police, so I slap her ID against the window. Eyes wide she comes to the door.

"Yes," stronger accent. Definitely Russian, given the last name on the ID.

"You left your purse, your bag -"

I hold up the small clutch.

"Yes, yes, thank you, yes."

She reaches out to grab it allowing the door to open and suddenly the two Great Danes leap out at me in the dark and the night. It didn't even occur to me to react, I just stooped and started saying 'puppies' while petting the friendly waggly dogs.

"Yes, shhhhh, yes yes, thank you, in in in, yes, goodbye, okay."

And with that she works to usher the dogs in and shut the door.

I stand on the porch in the fairy lights a moment and watch her sneak upstairs and realize that she must be an escaped princess from this little castle, out on the town and wanting know one to be the wiser. I suddenly feel like the hero of a modern epic, for surely, by running the wallet up to her door I have saved her any amount of endless trouble in the morning. I am epic and might. I'm terribly amused.



Friday, June 08, 2018

Kickstarting

I fell out of the habit again,  but it's more like words are mush in my mind and I can't get them to string together properly to capture the moments and the feelings and the spaces I want to capture.

The heartleaping joy of trying to figure out how to navigate new connections.

The crushing depths of unhappy news that I have no ability to control or influence.

The minor success.

The minor random strangeness that comes and goes in my life.

And without the documentation it is all missed and it all disappears into a memory chute that only occasionally activates when I have the chance to tell a story one more time. It is a bad habit to fall into.

There has been travel and there are stories there.

There is the weird and the wondrous and the woefully ominous, and the augury that makes me want to know what is coming, and the fear that makes me want to hold carefully back.

I have been busy.

I have been lazy.

I have been lost.

I have been found.

I have solidify through silence a love that is so deep and powerful and overwhelming that silence became a deafening blackness bringing clarity to everything.

There has been clarity.

There has been unfocused madness.

And then there is just me still swimming.

Sometimes it's the little things, the quick rambling action that helps to kick start everything else.

And so.

Kick.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Machine Overlords

It's after dinner and my body is currently doing it's own version of Battlestar Galactic, and I'm pretty sure the humans are going to lose this time. The pain is epic, but this is the pain that I have learned to live with because, short of just having my inconsiderate lady bits removed, there is very little I can do about this. Once, every thirty days, I will drink more wine then usual, curse the physical discomfort and carry on. So, you know, a day in the life of most women.


As I exited my favorite comfort bar, it occurred to me that I had no chocolate. Chocolate is a most sacrosanct reward for the suffering of all women and the thought of having to go through this without chocolate was sacrilege. 

Chocolate must be acquired. 

Fortunately, I knew of a pharmacy nearby where I could stock up on the sweet surcease to ease my body and this, then, established the trajectory of the evening. 

In the far too well lit store, I stood out, too well defined in fluorescentes, in front of a chocolate display. 

50 percent off chocolate: the display read. 

"Yes, please."

I proceeded to grab a solid handful of chocolate.

Ask for the additional 1.00 dollar off coupon at the counter. 

"I will!" 

Having thanked the small sheets of paper willing me towards cheaper chocolate I eschewed the self pay and proceeded to a counter. 

"The chocolate told me to ask you for a dollar off coupon."

The lovely young girl behind the counter paused for a minute before her eyes, wide, suddenly pointed to a big red machine. 

"Oh, no, not me. You ask the machine."

"I want the chocolate. Just tell me who to ask." Because I am in pain and because I don't want to deal with life I'm ready to give in, but she is sweet and kind and wants to help me.

"Just come over here. What's your number?"

Of course, as soon as she asks a rumbling earthquake of pain hits my body and so through gritted teeth I rattle of digits and hope she catches them all. The red machines stands there, like a sad cousin to Robot, rather then decrying danger, instead spitting out coupons for cheaper chocolate. 

We walk back to the counter together and she processes my rewards, bringing the total cost down from 40.00 dollars to 17.00. Clearly, a worthwhile venture. She rings me up and I dutifully insert my card. 

"Do you want to keep the other coupons?"

The red machine had spit out a number of coupons, but I just assumed the coupons were for the chocolate so I looked at the young lady rather perplexed, having just come down from the most recent round of thrashing pain. 

"I don't know, what were they for?"

She looks at the paper slips in her hands. She looks down. She looks at me. She looks at the paper. She looks at me. 

"Uh...two dollars off tampons, a dollar off a bottle of wine, two dollars off pain killers, and a dollar of pads."

We make eye contact over the counter. I hold it a moment too long. How can you not?

"So, clearly our machine overlords understand what is happening in my body right now."

We laugh for a moment, but she stands there awkward with the slips of paper. 

I smile at her and break the tension. 

"Which brand?"

"Any, it's general."

"Well, it's clear I can use them."

I take the stack of slips and slide it in my bag next to the large, less expensive stack of chocolate and laugh merrily to myself as I walk out the door on my way home. 

Monday, May 07, 2018

Creative Grief

"How does grief aid in creativity?"

"It doesn't." - Nick Cave, Murmrr Theater, 5/5/2018

An interesting thing to listen to an artist talking about the creative process, especially those artists that you love, respect, want to emulate. The question was fascinating but the answer...

There is something in the answer here that was so powerful and resonating, so exactly right. The answer really was in some way perfect for an artist who wonders about the role of grief in art. Isn't life supposed to be pain, and pain supposed to be art, and grief and tragedy and loss and loving and losing and yearning and longing and searching and seeking and loving and losing again, again, again.

Isn't that supposed to be-

Art?

The dark and the trauma and all the things that shape the soft curves and rough edges of your life. The pain you feel on the page, or in the fabric, or in the brush, a manifestation. When you touch the thing you bring to life and you feel it there for a moment, whole and real and wonderful. The loss, the grief, the tragedy manifest, isn't that supposed to be art? Wasn't there supposed to be something more meaningful than 'it just felt right'?

I agree with the statement that grief does nothing for art.

It's not the grief.

It's the living after the grief.

It's the picking yourself up day after day.

It's the knowing that the dark, dark, dark is there.

It's the knowing the thing that shapes you.

It's in having looked at the evil in the world and watched it mold you.

It's in the knowing that there is unstoppable hardship, but that you do not stop.

It's in the going on, the going through, the going by and getting past and getting on and getting along.

The art is after the grief.

Waiting for grief to make art is the most pointless thing in the world. The art comes from other places.

"Sometimes, you feel so anxious and depressed. You feel like a failure. Like a fraud. And that builds up, you know. It just keeps getting bigger until suddenly you breakthrough it and it's like an epiphany and then you suddenly have this burst and you make something and it's brilliant, you know? You can just feel it. In the way the words line up together. The way they play off each other..." 

Encapsulating the thing that holds you back, the block that sits on top and suddenly you lose it and it all explodes on the page, through the fingers, through the paint, through the words, through the body, and in that moment the creativity takes you and you are all the creativity and you are everything and nothing and light and the void and it is amazing. Euphoria that burns to the core.

Revelations.

The never ending spike of thinking and feeling and knowing and wanting and dreaming and going on.

Going through.

Creating.

Wanting.

Being more.

Doing more.

It's not the grief, you see. It's never been the grief.

It's everything else, and the art, that is the release, the realization, the moment when you know that in whatever it that you just did, there is something that no one else could have done before you and no one else can do in the same way after.

That's creative.

So far beyond grief.

Maybe somewhere in the madness of the process itself lies genius, which is a comforting thought. The rest is, really, a madness.

The madness is the hardest part of art, and possibly the best part of art, and possibly the reason to keep doing the art at all. More so than love, or the muse, or the passion, or the pain, or the grief.

The madness.

I am a mad artist.

Sunday, May 06, 2018

Nick Cave at the Murmrr Theater

 At this point, I feel like I spend a lot of time writing about Nick Cave, though in the history of all my public writing, there is barely an nth of it dedicated to the fine workings of Mr. Cave and the Bad Seeds. Of the artist that I love it is true that I have seen Nick in concert more often than the rest. I saw him again last night. I'll almost surely see him again in the future, even if I have to brace myself to do so at a large stadium style venue. It is Nick Cave and it is worth it.

This trip was planned to align after another stint in dreaded Baltimore, but a lovely train took me to New York city and the lovely Hellion kept me housed at his cozy place to prepare for the lovely event that I would attend in the evening, thanks to a friend who knows me well enough to know that an extra ticket to Nick would not go unused. I had a ticket, I needed an outfit and I wanted to prepare. Having been on the road for the better part of a month with no ability to be myself, my true, authentic, real, wild, goth, alternative, dark, strange self, I packed a corset and dress specifically for Saturday. That corset went on at eleven in the morning and didn't come off until well after 1:00 a.m. I have not a single regret on that front. I felt I looked the part for a Nick Cave shindig, with a corset that harks to almost Big Tent Circus feel, being both goth and carnival amusing at the same time. Someday, I shall surely get myself a top hot fascinator to match.


This particular Nick event was a bit different from other events, following on from some of his early experiments with Q&A events. Essentially, it was rather like an Ask Me Anything session on Reddit, the overall concept was Nick having a chance to sit down with the audience and let them ask him anything they wanted to know, and he would do the best to answer.With all the preparation and thought put into what I wanted to wear I felt right for the event,  I felt right about my life at that moment, and I felt very good about a question I wanted to ask.



Perhaps because I was feeling all my weird, strange, unusual, mysterious goth girl...perhaps because I've spent far too much time this year reading science fiction, but the question I wanted to ask was one I was fairly sure Nick hand't heard before and the answer to which I was genuinely curious. My goal was to ask something different, unique, but also something that would engage a response that couldn't simply be boiled into a yes/no or rehash something that had been said in different ways before. Since have my work life is around composing open ended questions that require engagement the question construction process was easy enough, it would all be in the execution.

The event was down in Brooklyn at the lovely Synagogue/Theater called the Murmrr. I met my friends outside and after some shenanigans we call get in and all got seated. The stamp on my wrist almost looked like Hebrew script, which worked with the overall effect of the venue. Low, wooden, seats that folded out, cross cut, almost prairie style trellises across the ceiling, thick deep brown stained glass on all sides, a small stage in front, a piano on the stage, a lamp, a chair, microphones. It brought to the event a religious reverence that many in the audience almost certainly embodied as they sat to listen to a god, a man, a ghost, a guru.

There was a piano on stage and I already knew from all the internet groups there would be singing. I took my seat, buzzing with excitement, anticipation. The lights fall, there is nothing but darkness, the sounds over the speakers of a poem filling the space with words, lyrical, soft, interpretation, and as the poem finishes, the lights go up, Nick at a piano and he begins with a song.

From there it is on to the question and answer. The girl who gets the first question is not far away from me, her question, to summarize, is really "Why are we all here, Nick? What is this thing you are doing?" And the answer, without being flip, but in a direct, self effacing way is "I'm not really sure yet."


He thinks through what he wants to say though, this much is clear. It takes him time to work it out, to talk through it. This is so different from a concert gig, so much more intimate. The veil of power and light is stripped away and he is simply a tall, thin, older man who is still trying to figure it out, day by day, whatever the various circumstances might be. The good, the bad, the all to painful to live through.

By chance, by crook, by fortune, I had the second questions. I slipped easily into my public speaking self to quiet the butterflies in my stomach and make it easy to project into the microphone, engage with the audience, and as the question, perhaps silly and without a point (secretly, I hope brilliant and memorable) that I had come to ask:

"So I wish had something sort of meta to ask you but I've been thinking about this for a few days and the question that I wanted to ask is: given that we have a satellite that is probably going to spin out into infinity that has a gold record on it full of music, I was wondering if you had the opportunity to pick a song from your catalog, from your collaborations, something you yourself have written, anything, that might exist in the universe, into infinity, on a satellite that may eventually  be intercepted by other intelligent beings, what would that be?"


To which Nick responded, "I'll play it."

Then he sat at that beautiful piano and into the microphone "For the aliens."

She was a catch,
We were a match
I was the match that would fire up her snatch
There was a catch
I was no match
I was fired from her crutch
Now I sit around and watch
The mermaids sun themselves out on the rocks
They are beyond our touch
I watch and watch
Wave at me
They wave at me
They wave and slip
Back into the sea
All the ones who come
All the ones who go
Down to the water
All the ones who come
All the ones who go
Down to the sea
I believe in God
I believe in mermaids too
I believe in seventy two virgins on a chain (why not, why not)
I believe in the rapture
For I've seen your face
On the floor of the ocean
At the bottom of the ray
I do drive a relentless course
I do husband alertness course
I do mermaid alertness course
Watch them out on the rocks
Wave at me
Wave at me
They wave and slip
Back into the sea
All the ones who come
All the ones who go
Down to the water
All the ones who come
And all the ones who go
Down to the sea
For all the ones who come
And all the ones who go
Down to the water
All the ones who come
And all the ones who go
Down to the sea - Mermaids, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

I was pleased and amused, and even though it was probably an off the cuff answer, there is so much here that makes so much sense. As I unpacked it to Hellion later, "It's a brilliant choice. It contains everything you need to understand the strangeness that is life on earth. From our ridiculous obsession with sex and sexual pleasure, to the small finite amount of time a relationship lives, to God and religion and salvation (two religions in this song at least) and mermaids. All our beliefs in fictional narrative and the power that lies in then taken to the nth degree. And then, of course, the sea, the stones, the rocks, and the time we spend as creatures, idle, waiting, watching, coming and going. It was truly a perfect choice."

Clearly the question resonated as later he would come back to it just after explaining the relationship between Blixa and Anita Lane. Just before laying into the chords he says, "I'd put this one on the space capsule, too."

My questions, of course, were not the only questions he answered. The journey was somewhat circular and some of the questions being asked were questions that had been asked, but there was powerful meaning there for artists and creative types. It struck me and consoled me he talked about not keeping a journal or writing notes about everything. It struck me and consoled me when he said that creativity like his, was a job, like any job. It struck me and consoled me that he still wasn't exactly sure what he was doing.

There were other things.

But, one that stuck out was his thoughts around his art and grief. The question was along the lines of the role that grief plays in the creative process and his answer encapsulated something it is hard to admit but known to many of us that must create: be that through writing or music or other....

Grief has nothing to do with the creative process. It's not the grief. As an artist it is the constant questioning, the anxiety, the depression, the ever impending sense of worthlessness, the internal feedback loop that says you can't do anything of value that builds and builds until suddenly, epiphany. Creative breakthrough. The moment of something new in the time and place that was ready for it.

He said more, and it can be broken down in a hundred different ways, and we will all take with it our own moment of meeting. In the back I ran into SugarSkulls, my lawless partner who helped gate crash the Chicago stage with me a year ago. There were others from the online cults, of course, and those I came with. Our takeaways were each different, the concert our own, the meaning we make of it the meaning we want.

In the end, it was an unusual, intimate and vibrant experience. An artist working to transcend just the body of work, to be more, to be human. Not a god, really, or even a guru, just a father, a husband, a human walking the earth, looking for mermaids in the water and trying to master existence along with the rest of us.


Thursday, May 03, 2018

Travel Heat

It has been a day. The company continues to shoot me around the world.

I date myself: like Tommy playing ping pong, I am blind and deaf and dumb and yet I do it anyway.

Six hours in an airport lounge connecting with a human I want to know is barely enough to mitigate the fracture. I'm pleased with myself for being...something. Worthy?

A friend?

A human?

Other?

I don't know.

Processing is a pretty penny and not all the pennies have dropped.

What I do have is being in Baltimore again. I hate Baltimore.

I don't want to hate Baltimore, but I do. Baltimore, a neglected city. I recall watching The Wire with the boy and needing the subtitles to follow along to the almost Shakespearean qualities of the language (that the series itself becomes entirely Shakespearean is almost secondary).

My taxi driver calls me stupid. I only took a cab from the airport because I didn't want to jump through ride share hurdles at 10 at night when the city is warmer than a sauna.

Forty minutes later I am in an alley.

"This can't be right?!" I say.

"This is the address you gave me."

The driver has an accent. English is not the problem here,  it's the address. Being a respectable man from the region that is most likely Indo-Paki he doesn' want to leave me on the street. Nearby five people sell drugs, three sex, one pimp waits in shadows.

"No Ma'am"

"I want out."

"I'm not leaving you."

"I'll be fine."

I'm being polite to myself here, but I am barely holding it together. I was supposed to fly at 6 a.m. A flight pushed back to 3 p.m. an arrival pushed back til 10 p.m. I am tired. I am cranky. I am exhausted. I am getting out of  a cab surrounded by sex workers (respect sex work, it's a thing). The driver is concerned, but I keep insisting on the bill. I want to be done. I trust these women on the street to help me. Perhaps I am naive.

Perhaps I am that experienced.

"Excuse me, are you looking for -"

I look across the street. While I was trying to find the hotel I had called and while, less helpeful then a Korean hotel, it was clear I was nearby. When I exited the cab the intention was to walk.

"I'll come get you."

And here he was. I get into the hotel and there is a line. I go into a corner to breathe and calm down. There are so many emotions under the surface I am not allowed to express. I want to cry, I want to collapse, I just want some food!

It's been a long day. My own fault.

I refuse to eat the proffered Lean Cuisine and go to the noisy bar up the street. I have to many bourbons.

I feel better.

I am entirely alone.

Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow will be better. I live for tomorrow to settle the pains of today's long hot night.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

With Strangers

There is an invitation to a dinner party. In my head I believe the only reason I have been invited is that my dogs are adorable. This is true, the little cousins of my dearly, departed monkey are cute as hell. There is an understanding I have that this is also me trying to make excuses for the fact that I have become a somewhat normal person on the outside and the construct that is my identity is one that has some merit.

Construct.

Identity.

It's not the "who am I?" question, as I have a fairly good understanding of who I am. The trouble here, is in the facets of me and trying to figure out where the edges are around the thing that I still can't help but to see as normal.

Where are the edges of the polite conversation and where do I need to plug in. Which part of me do you really want to interact with.

Most of the time, all of me is far outside the bounds of what can be considered desirable.

I believe this.

I'm most likely wrong, but I can't help thinking that the group I interact with that "knows me" contains some sort of special skill that allows me to be entirely who I am without and subtle shifts away from conversation or obfuscation of the essential pieces of me that polite company cannot handle.

It seems like madness, but the truth about me has ended more casual friendships than it has started. Truth is difficult for most, suspect, keep it to yourself.

In the closet in my mind where the abused girl still lives I hear the shadows of the old epitaph "you never speak about what happens here to anyone else." I am a vessel for secrets, for that which cannot be acknowledged, that which cannot be true, that which cannot be fathomed. I hear about the abuses and the trials of others and outwardly I say, because you must say, because you are demanded to say, because it is always important to say "that's so awful, I can't imagine."

Internally, I don't just imagine but I relive to an extant that requires desperate measures to minimize. I smile, feign shock, sadness. The only thing I don't pretend to is the empathy. I understand, but how to share my understanding without minimizing the experiences of others.

And how to engage with a cultural of, for lack of a better description, normal when "normal" cannot know, understand, or desire to explore those depths of what made me, the reasons my edges are so sharp, the wit is so funny, the observation so practiced and weaponized. The things that made me break normal. They always do.

Once I sat outside a fire pit with a family member. It would be our last interaction. As we drank, I let down the walls of all those things. She expounded on what she thought had happened when doors were closed and the small whispered conversations of the possibility of what might be going on. The wine loosened my tongue and I corrected the assumptions with the reality. "I don't, stop, I don't want to know this."

"I want you to know."

My letters are returned now and we will never see each other again. The door is completely closed. The reality was so much worse than the whispered imaginings, the reality was never as dark as anyone suspected. It was so much worse.

People guess at the pain in my past but the reality is so much more difficult to face. Yet, here, in the words, the endless pages upon pages in this public diary I keep, I have explored this often. It's not that I have an issue with the things that I have lived, it's that I understand the audience here. In the professional circles, I understand the audience and easily define the lines that cannot be crossed, the separate between functional, societal contribution me and me. Just me. Just who I am.

Even overseas, it was always easy to know exactly where the lines were, and with whom the lines did not exist.

But, casual interaction with strangers. A group that I do not know, that I have no ability to interpret yet, that I don't have some sort of pre-defined construct of boundaries: I find this daunting and terrifying and look for excuses for reasons, for a knowing to explain "why would you want me here?"

The truth is so much simpler. I am a human and other humans have invited me to interact, without agenda, without some usury purpose. This is a normal thing that normal people do, and so I look for motivation behind it because this is how I keep myself safe from the normal world.

With change, perhaps this is the thing I am most afraid to confront. Being simply, normal, human, flawed, honest and real without pretense or a desire for protection. In the exploration of all those emotions, I'm frozen about the decision, but in the end willing to constantly challenge myself to do more, to understand more and to be better.

This self actualization, above all other things, is as close as I can get to the boundaries of normal.

Saturday, April 07, 2018

Juxtaposition

“You kiss me, With your kiss my life begins. You spring to me, I things to me, don’t you know you’re life itself.” -As Sung By Nina Simone

I sit and wait for a boarding to London, going again.

The last three weeks have been fast paced confusion. The dogs have been pleased because I am home. I am pleased because I love the dogs.

In three weeks I have acknowledged more than I think I was either ready or capable of acknowledging. I am in love again. I am in love again. I am still in love. I am loved. I am loved.

Have I ever been so well loved as I am now.

Am I the only person who doesn’t love me.

I see only my flaws. The things that make me fundamentally not good, not right, not a creature who can be loved. This goes so far beyond the physical stereotypes. I’m not talking about beauty or societal attractiveness.

The thing that holds me back most is in my mind.

I find myself, fully 22 years past my childhood, haunted by my childhood. I realized, in the arms of a most gracious lover last night, that my childhood colors so much of my life. That the impact has been so long lasting.

Here is a thing that is difficult to discuss but that must be discussed.

I love people wanting to love me. To give me more than I give to them.

I enjoy the sensation, I enjoy how it makes me feel. I enjoy losing myself in a lover that wants all the parts of me, and not just what I can do for them.

But…

but…

but…

In order for me to even remotely enjoy myself I have to surprises 5 years of trauma. I have to force through, on occasion, a sudden shadow of my eight year old confused self who was being abused. This is what they do not talk about when they talk about childhood trauma. That half of the process is reclaiming something from the hooks of evil set at a very young age.

I want to be an adult woman who enjoys losing herself in loving.

I am an adult woman who has to make sure my mind doesn’t go in the wrong direction when a generous lover offers more to me, than I to them.

The worst is the moment inside of sexual moment when I realize my mind has slipped it’s bonds to go somewhere bad and dangerous and upsetting.

My lovers, those that love me, those that have accepted their role in my life and love me as I love them...I think I’ve told each to an extension, but…

But…

I continue to strive to be more than a broken women, but sometimes I only feel broken.

Today, I will board a flight to London because I have become accomplished.

“It’s not unattainable”, my lover says last night.

He is right.

What I want, is attainable, and I’ll find some way to attain it, even if it means accepting all the horrors with only a laugh and circling in the embrace of those that I can love without want, or lack, or loss.

Thursday, April 05, 2018

20 days

I've been on the ground for 20 days.

For 20 days I have been asleep in my own bed.

For 20 days I didn't board a plane.

For 20 days I saw the dogs.

For 20 days I ate what I wanted to cook.

For 20 days I saw the people I cared about.

Around day 9 I felt the itch. The "what am I doing here".

The ground confusion.

The stable confusion.

The why am I not going confusion.

Love the dogs, take a shower, workout, eat the food, see the people. Repeat.

Repeat.

Repeat.

Is this what it is always like this like. The day in and day out, the one place, the one thing, the one time, the ground, the ground the ground.

Feelings around me and I look at myself in the mirror and I feel most exhausted and most offput and mostly on the ground and I want to

The dogs are so cute, in bed snuggles and warmth and I fall down around them all snuggles and warmth and I look out the windows all chill outside making the snuggles and warmth more snuggly and warmly and I


2 days.

It is 2 more days and I am gone again.

2 more days and up and down.

2 more days and movement.

2 more days and it is coming.

And no dogs.
and no bed.
and.
and

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Strong Emotions

The one thing that has become more challenging for me as I've gotten older is strong emotions.

Mastery of bottling my feeling, level 100.

There is no emotion here. I am nothing.

An unfeeling creature.

Logic and reason. These are things I can fully embody. I feel nothing. For this. For that. For me. For you.

For you.

For you.

All of this is a lie of course. The reality is that I feel so intensely that there are times when it is absolutely overwhelming. I cry alone in a bathroom and hope you don't notice a slight swelling to my eyes or the rasppiness to my voice from choking back tears. All of this is contained in all moments, but contained. Contained.

The world is a tidal wave of strong emotions and I am cresting on the surface, riding, sometimes riding with, sometimes crushed beneath.

My outward appearance is nothing.

When you say you love me, I die inside and I want to bury my head and deny it. I want to grab your clothes and pull you against me and make mad, fierce love. I want to hold you in my body and in my arms, pull your hair, pull your lips between my teeth, pull your tongue into my mouth, pull your arms around me. When I come I want to roll away and cry and lose myself and forget my name until you grab me and whisper my name in my ear and tell it will be okay and hold me until the shaking has passed and I know you are not leaving.

You will not run away because I am broken.

And I will not be any less worthy of your love because I am broken.

I am broken.

And brokenness is worthy of affection.

The world was dark and grey today and full of wanting, and missing, and fretting and dark emotion, and the tendrils of love riding on the tips of the wind slapping the trees and in the fullness of the raindrops that crash against the window pain making a spattering sound that makes me think of what it must be like to hit my heart when it is breaking.

Broken hearts are real, and yet I do not shy away.

And I love you, and I feel the strong emotions, and I don't bend, or break, or run away in the face of them.

I don't know who that makes me.

Sunday, April 01, 2018

Moonlight

The loud-quiet sounds of panting are filling the room as we pull apart from each other, sweat cooling suddenly in the room; the space between us seems suddenly so vast and the light in the room so bright.


Cord dangling from my hand and I pull and pull, lifting up the blind that blocks out the night sky, an evening free of obfuscation and clouds, an evening full of talk, laughter and embrace. 

"Here come hold me, look."

Arms wrapped around bodies, back to front, front to back, and the moonlight in the window shining down on both of us, throwing blue light that combines with the candles to suddenly make the bed feel bright. There is no darkness here now. 

Warm breath against my neck. 

"A full moon."

"Yes, making love under the full moon, surely there is lunacy in that," I respond and snuggle into a warm arm. 

A small laugh. 

"Have you ever wondered why the moon gets such a bad rap. Lunacy and lunatics and the madness of the full moon. Beware the full moon, for it brings out the crazies." 

"Because it changes. We don't like change."

"That's true."

"You can see it changing, going and coming back, and going again. Predictable but changing. Never quite the same."

"I suppose that is true. The sun is constant."

"The sun never changes, never leaves us. Maybe that's why the sun doesn't go hand in hand with madness. We are used to seeing it float there all the time. Always watching, never letting us get away with anything."

"Which explains why there is so much madness when the sun does change."

"Yes."

Lips against the back of my neck, and arms around me. Eyes closed and the milky white moonlight presses against the thin membrane, making shadows that dance against the pressure of my closed eyes. 

"Yes."

And here, in this evening I am changing again, and it is lunacy, and it is madness, and it is terrifying and full of the ever oppressive fear and risk of change. And the hands around me, and the quiet conversation, and the laughter, make it all the more interesting to embrace the change. 

Friday, March 23, 2018

Business Carding

I'm walking down the street lost in thought, working through the anxiety that comes with the appointment I'm about to have. There is always anxiety in anything that involves body contact I cannot control, even if I have facilitated and asked for it.

I'm on the street, it's cold.

Gym leggings wrap around my lower half, a hoodie tucked into a leather jacket as I walk against the wind up the street to the office I am looking for. I'm not paying that much attention to what is happening around me. Walking around in my gym wear is one of my least favorite things. My bag contains a sweater dress and after this appointment I will quickly change into that and take myself to dinner, part of my healing ritual.

My lack of paying attention didn't prepare me for the sudden intrusion of a pick up truck cutting across a lane of traffic to pull up next to the sidewalk.

Knowing how difficult it can be to park in Chicago, I figured this was just a case of a driver trying to get an open spot, and I kept my head down in the wind to keep walking, the office being in the middle of the block. Horns are blaring and there is angry yelling at the pick up driver, and I take this all in with a sweeping glace.

Head down, go to doctors office.

"Hey."

I turn back and see the windows are rolled down on the passenger side and the late fifties black man is leaning over the seat. Perhaps he is lost, is what I think to myself.

"Yes, can I help you?"

"I hope so."

I wait.

"You are just so fine. Promise you will call me, promise."

He brings up his hands, and I'm actually braced to see a gun in the window. It's not outside the realm of possibility here.

"Just call me, please promise, just call me one time."

In his hand is a natty looking business cards, he presses forward, straining against his seat-belt to stick it as close to the window as possible. I take the card. I have to take the card, I know that not taking the card means that he may leave the truck and chase me down the street. He could start the truck and try to come after me in it. He may still have a gun I don't know about. Ever inch of me doesn't want to take the card, but all of my rational reasoning self knows that the minor annoyance of taking the card avoids the larger potential grievance of not taking the card.

"Just call me, beautiful. You have to call me. You are just too beautiful. Just one time. Promise you will call me just one time."

"Okay, okay, sure."

"Thank you, thank you beautiful."

I force a smile.

He pulls away.

I walk into the appointment and I stand there. I'm not shaking, but something is wrong. The receptionist looks at me.

"Are you okay?"

"I'm not sure." I tell her the story. The card is in my hand and I hold it up to her, hold it out to her. I can't even see the name. My mind is chaos and I'm not thinking clearly. I feel dirty, I want to go home and shower, I don't want to do this appointment today.

"Here."

She takes the card. "I'll shred it for you, will that help. I think so. Are you ready, here it goes. Now you don't have to worry about it anymore." The sound of blades turning is satisfying and I do feel better, somehow, but still strangely disconnected from reality.

As I stand there, the sun setting behind me, listening to the blades whirl, I am overcome with wonder about how much I am to blame for this. Internally, I wonder how I would feel if an accident had actually been caused, if someone had been hurt because of this. The disassociation is alarming and I feel pushed out of who I am.

"It's okay now." She smiles cheerfully at me.

It is okay, and yet, their lingers as sense of the obscene as I try to reconcile the absurdity and awfulness of what has just happened.

Somehow, I manage to make it through the appointment without a nervous breakdown, but I can feel it, almost see it, like the blunted edges of an old card.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Video Calls

My journey into the heart of small town America east coast was full of any number of odd conversations on the periphery. 


Most of the journey being as expected, but with they rides I had taken the previous day I figured any interaction with the locals could be a toss up. It's not that I am that much of a snob being genetically a city girl, but apparently I do have my moments. 

In the bar the night before a very clear "old timer" sat down next to me. There were five seats between me and the next group of guys at the bar, so this was very clearly meant as a way to easily engage me, even though I was sitting in front of my computer doing a last minute tear down and rebuild of the work I would show off in the morning. He asks questions about whether they play music and then asks me if I play an instrument. I want to be polite and engage, but I also really need to do the work and I'm exhausted. I am polite, I say yes, then point the screen to indicate the work. I could almost feel his sigh of sadness walking away. 

The next morning I'm in the hotel having coffee and finalizing the tear down and rebuild when the gentleman, also on the road, next to me starts having a very loud conversation on his phone. I look over and realize he is on a video call and for some reason this strikes me as strange. There is this moment when I have a flash from my childhood and it is as if I am watching the future on screen, a scene out of Demolition Man where everyone calls by video...the future...the now. I try not to listen but he is so loud. 

"Honey, honey, did I tell you I was talking to Paul yesterday?"

Her answers are inaudible to me, so I only have one side of the conversation. He continues. 

"Yeah, I'm talking to Paula and he won't put his camera on, you know. And I'm talking to him like 'Paul, what's up man, I can't see. You, right? And then, it's Paul, you know how he is, right. So I'm like Paul, how you been, how you doing man, and he's like 'I really can't talk right now, I've got a situation."

I try not to lean in to listen, but at this point I'm not sure if care that the speaker may notice. 

"Situation, Paul? And he's like 'Yeah, I've got...look, can I call you back, I'm sort of covered in lotion and it's everywhere, you caught me in the middle of something here.' And that's when I realized he was in a porn store again." 

To prevent myself from laughing I employed every Bene Gesserit body control breathing trick that I new how to employ. 

The conversation went on, but I had lost too much focus to follow the rest of it. 

 

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Pick Me Up, Put me Down

Thanks to modern technology, I find myself more often waiting for cars while staring at my phone tracking their movement than standing on a curb hoping like hell to wave down someone passing by on the street. There are pros and cons, yet a year and a half in, the ability to have someone come and get me has become so ingrained that I cannot, nor would I want to, recall the time of desperation standing on the street at 4 in the morning hoping to flag someone to get me to the airport. Technology is novel and wonderful, and I plan to continue to embrace it.

There are some fascinating side effects of jumping into cars with strangers, including the randomness of the conversations one might have. The last trip, which included a stay in the upper portion of Appalachia, provided a better opportunity than most for unusual car talk.

"Are you "

"Yes, yes, thanks so much."

"No problem." I hand over a bag with one hand and it almost slams into the ground when he takes it from me. "Wow, heavier than it looks." He gives me that up and down look that I recognize as one that says, holy fuck your strong.  I smile and get into the backseat so we can head to our location.

"This is a great area. Are you from here?"

"No, just passing through. I'm hear for work."

"This is where I want to be. I'm doing this driving right now so we can save up, so we can move out here soon."

"Where do you live now?"

"Well, you see, we live in this town, about 20 miles from here, but like, all our neighbors are like criminals and, it's just kinda awful, you know. Like my next door neighbor, right. He's about to go to jail for maybe 7 years, right. Robbery. But here is the thing. Here is the thing. It's like, this hairdresser the guy he couldn't afford presents for his kids, she was free cuts for Christmas, you know, since he couldn't afford anything. Just doing a good deed, and this guy, when he goes to get the cuts he sees all the presents she bought for her kids and I guess it just pissed him off. He broke in later and stole all the presents and it didn't take them very long to figure out who did it. And now, what, he goes to jail for 7 to 10 years over something like that."

I sit in the back and listen.

"Then, then there is the guy on the other side of me."

"Yes?"

"Yeah, he invited his mistress over and I guess things got heated cause he ended up strangling her with an electric cord."

Somehow I manage to react not at all.

"It's like, I live in this neighborhood where everyone's idea of a good time is just like having a fight and shooting things. I go to a bar here in town, I can have a drink, talk politics, have a good night, you know?"

"Yes."

"But like there, man, I was at this bar, you know, like right before the election and all, and this guy...I was just talking to this guy and he was saying something and I said to him, like 'Well, maybe Bernie Sander's isn't that bad a guy.' And this guy just loses it at me. He grabs like the two bucks he put on the bar for his beer and just throws it my face and screams at me 'Here, take my money you commie son of a bitch since you are just going to take it anyway!' and then he, like, stomps out and even the bartender there was a little surprised. Yeah."

"Huh."

We pull up to my stop and he gets my bag and the door.

"Well, good luck with the work towards the move."

"Yeah, yeah."

He turns and drives away and I stand there thinking and head into work. Later I offer to take a car to get real coffee since whatever it was being served was something meant only for the strongest, and most concrete of stomachs.

The driver in this car speaks with a long slow drawl that reminds me bit of Stuart McLean from the Vinyl Cafe, with a voice that is somewhat nasally and a bit of a draw.

"Yeah, I've been here twenty years. I drive all day to get me out of the house. I love my wife and kids, you understand, but I also love being away from them."

"I imagine."

"I make good money driving, though. The other day I drove to New York City."

"Really, that must have been some fare."

"$400 dollars. That is the maximum allowed. And I said to them, I said, 'If we are going to go to New York, let me change over to my other car, a Mercedes, and we can go faster. And they said yes, so I take these two Chinese students and I drive them to New York. I drove trucks you see, so I know how to drive 80. I used to make that run all the time. I asked them, 'Do you mind if I drive fast?' and they kept saying faster, faster. Three hours and 30 minutes. The map said it would take 4 and a half hours, but I used to drive that stretch all the time. I know where all the cops are, you see, and I was able to take them right there."

His speech amuses me, the sort of drawl and lift to the end as he tells his story.

"Do you mind if I book you as a round trip, I'm just running in to get coffee and then I'm right back out."

"No, you don't have to do that. I'll take you for free. No reason for you to pay 15 dollars just to get some coffees."

And he does give me the ride back for free.

"It's not so bad, this place. Been here since I got back from Afghanistan. Here is a picture of me, 1984, when I was a gunner. I had another gunner in here the other day. It was good to talk about it."

"Yes."

"That's why I'm glad about our president right now."

I stay perfectly still. I know for the area, this is to be expected but there is always sort of a shock whenever anyone admits voting for the current administration.

"I see."

"Well, it's the Korean situation you understand," he says, looking at me in the mirror. I think to myself, you have no idea.

"But you know, if it wasn't him, if it was her, it would just be the same situation. But honestly, now, old Kim doesn't know what to do. I mean, he's totally unpredictable and I think that's a good thing."

"Huh."

"And here you are."

I thank him again for the free ride and grab the coffees and head into the hall wondering about the small towns in America. The conversations are reflective of the macro and micro needs all explored between the pick up and the drop off, and most likely repeated a hundred times a day until all there is the reality of the stories to strangers and passerbys who can only sit and take it all in.

Friday, March 09, 2018

Sweet Girl

I’m heading into the bathroom at LAX and I notice them standing on the side. His hair is white and he talks to her slowly, and calmly, pointing down the hall to the Ladies room.

“You just go down there. I’ll be right here.”

“Just go there,” she asks and she looks at him lost. Her hair is done up in the soft familiar curls that women from her generation seem to favor. She is dressed smartly, like Lucille Ball as a grandmother, standing with a man who is almost certainly her son.

“Just down the hall. I’ll be right here.”

“You’ll be okay?”

“Yes.”

“And I just got down there. Are you sure that’s it?”

“Yes, I’ll wait for you. It’s okay.”

“You’ll be here?”

“Yes, just down there.”

I know what is happening here. I queue for a stall when there are three standing open and I wait for her.

“This one is for you right here.”

“Oh, no, you go first.”

“It’s okay, there are lots of open one, you go ahead in here.”

“Okay, thank you.”

I rush into an open door and finish quickly, washing my hands. A line has started in truth.

A the end of the hall I find him standing there, waiting.

“Is she going to be okay on her own? Can she get back out?”

“I really hope so.” A small sentence. His voice barely breaks but I hear it there. Heartbreak, love, life, dedication, pain, so much pain...to watch and care after someone you love and watch them now, in their decline. Four words, an entire life in four words.

“Would you like me to go check on her?”

“Do you mind?” The relief washes off of him in waves. I can feel it. He doesn’t say anything else.

“What’s her name, so I don’t frighten her.”

“Pat. It’s Pat. Thank you.”

I smile and walk down the hall and find her washing her hands.

“There you are, Pat, are you ready to go back to that handsome gentleman?”

“Oh, you, you are so sweet. That’s so sweet of you. Do you know where he is?”

“Yes, he’s right there, he’s waiting.” I hold out my arm and she looks down at it. Up at me, into my eyes.

“It’s okay Pat. We can go together.”

“You are so sweet. Such a sweet girl.” Her hand on my arm, my hand on her frail hand, her thin skin under my fingers, the pulse palpable on the surface.

We walk arm-in-arm up the hall.

“Here you are.”

“She is just the sweetest thing.”

He whispers thank you, I can hear the shaking in his voice.

I smile and I walk away.

The hallway to the exit is long and a light shines at the end. I remember the grandmother I never got to morn, I remember so much and suddenly I am overwhelmed by everything I remember and everything I have loved and everything I have lost. There is a moment of realization.

I have no one in the world to even know me.

And what if I forget who I am?

What does it all mean if there is no way to remember it at all. Just the floating, tangents of the day that one tries to connect to make meaningful when meaning continues to flee.

I cried.

And then I collected my bag and exited the door into the uncomfortable warmth and late afternoon sun.