Saturday, February 24, 2018

The Milk Room

"I hear the cocktails make people cry."

"Well, then, we should do it."

Calembour made reservations for the Milk Room that would work for me being slightly between trips for a few days in Chicago. An extension of our regular exploration of cocktail places in the city, I was curious to go to what is a very small bar inside of the Chicago Athletic Association, which is more hotel than gym and more bars than hotel, and regardless a place for an experience.

Exploration into the aesthetic tells me that the place has eight seats, dim lighting, good bartenders and old spirits. Whether the age of the spirits is literal or figurative can be debated, as the room, once entered, has the feeling of the type of bar where it would not be out of place to see Anasazi drinking with Oden, while Helen laughs in the corner sipping a drink made of liquid gold that glimmers on her lips and flickers in time with the candle lighting about.

"So, I made a down payment for the reservation and it all goes to the bill," it is explained to me. I might have complained had I known, but we even out the cost between us before the night is over. The prices are high, but then we are also paying prices to drink liquors that were bottled in some instances before either of use were born.

"And how do you come about the collection?" Calembour asks the bartender, in the way he has of being able to causally chat up people. A skill I possess, but one that flags when I have spent too much time working. I'm a nervous and anxious tonight, a tension is building up and I cannot quite place it. I'm exited to be in this room, with this company, with these drinks...I feel wholly inadequate here, as if there is a measure of worth I have not achieved and I am lacking.

There is always the sense that I am lacking.

"It changes over time, you know. The way that culture changes. There was a time that everyone had a bar because that was what you did. You had a bar and it was very well stocked. My uncle had a bar, man barely ever drank a drop, but the bar was fully stocked with liquors he never drank. We seek out estate sales, auctions, you know. That's where you can find things."

There are liquors that were made before companies changed hands, before the formulae were different. He explains the historical difference between the mezcal we are drinking in our drinks and how the mezcal from the city of Tequila became the Tequila that we know so well, as at some point (in the same way of the French and Champagne) someone realized there was enough of a distinction to name it and make it their own. Staring with our good Jose Cuervo who knew a thing or two about the mezcal from Tequila. Sauza, Herradura, they all knew Don Cuervo at some point before the families went off on their own.

"What have you been playing with" is a good conversation starter and one that Calembour uses to good effect. We both start with different mezcal based drinks. Mine is a take on something invented in a New York bar called the Naked and the Famous.

The title seems in some way apt to how I am feeling that night, perhaps how I am feeling in general. Three weeks ago I was in the state of Texas and a young woman walked up to me and started her conversation with "You are S- aren't you?"

"Yes."

"You don't remember me, but-"


These stories are always strange to me. This is not the first time I have been stopped in a hall, in a room, at a train station, in an airport. The question always the same, followed by the story of my profound impact. I stand there, in the height of my infamy, my fame, the thing that I have done to myself in this world and listen in startled awe about how a moment with me changed the life of another, feeling stripped away by the impact on someone else's life journey. Wholly unworthy of being the person who sparked that change.

Yet.


"What are you thinking of next?"

"Tell him your story," Calembour suggests. We have been trading stories of our wild times with various spirits. I think of the time I brought a bottle of Jose to anything. So many wild ways in which  line of shots landed in a place you don't expect. Once, in the Lonely Hearts Club, Hyun and I drank the better part of a bottle of tequila with a Kiwi while listening to Duke Ellington records until roughly 7 in the morning on a school day. Work was hell the next morning but I regret not a single thing about the night.

"I'm the type of girl to drink it straight out of the bottle."

"Sometimes there is nothing better. I remember once, my ex, bought me this bottle of whiskey. Really good whiskey, you know." He points to the bottle on the shelf, the name escapes me, but the sentiment is understood. "And we are walking across this bridge, and I have this bottle in my hand, and I just think, you know, fuck it, I'm going to drink this whiskey right of the bottle, brown bag and all." And he relieves twisting off the top, and walking across that bridge. I imagine the water than runs beneath his feet, never the same water, always changing, like the moment he describes where he is, and is not, back in that place, drinking whiskey with an ex he loved, but who for the variable reasons that human exists, is no longer in that space in his life.

"I really don't like sweet drinks."

"How about we just do a flight of tequilas then?"

I feel like I am giving up in some way, by doing a flight that I am disappointing my cocktail companion, but the thought of having a chance to really experience these rare liquors unencumbered is something that also appeals. Finally, with reluctance I concede.

The Herradura is possibly the smoothest tequila I have ever had, being fond of the current blend and I can see the subtlies of change in the formula, with the modern having more of an edge of impatience, as if they cannot wait to get it in a bottle. The urgency is missing from this one I sip tonight. The Sauza is remarkably like caramel and butterscotch, as the bartender had pointed out. There is a feeling of being hidden in a cave and watching the rain fall outside, the openness in a desert that is almost always dry. The warmth is exquisite.

Flipping through the menu, knowing how the bar comes across its various wares, I notice the stamp over and over again, describing the thing that is beyond control: once a liquor is used it will no longer exists, it can never be again. The stamp reads "gone but not forgotten".

I sip my small flight of tequilas and feel this in each inhale before sipping and each exhale after sampling. This is how life has always been, like the red stamp filling up pages. The warmth is both sweet and soon to be gone, but not forgotten.













Thursday, February 22, 2018

Timeless

“I know what you like my love, I’ve always known.”

His body seems familiar, as do his lips as do his words. We are a tangle in sheets Trying work out between each other how this has become so familiar in so short an amount of time.

“I love you.”

“I know. You always loved me, we were always in love, don’t you remember?”

We are solid beings thinking about time and memory. We have been here before, in this place, in this time. We drank wine after a long day together, as we had always done, as we will do again in the future. We placed our bodies close and I rested my head on his shoulder in that old familiar comfort that I knew, I had always known, I would always know.

We are at a moment in time that is an intersection of all the universes, totality of things. In this timeline we remember each other so well, the laughter we shared, the jokes that were as familiar to us as old shoes. We slipped into the quiet routine of old friends and lovers in minutes.
But it wasn’t old, it was eternal. It was the always now and the always had been and the always will be. The ascension of all the perfect moments in the cycling loop of the variety totality.

A hand in my hair, that knowing touch of his flesh on mine, his body tastes as I always remembered it tasting, his fingers moved as they always move, knowing where to find the spots that make the reaction that much more powerful to me, that moment of the in-between time is complete lost and we are bound and we are bonded and we are who we were always going to be together.

I see fluidly down the timelines of our hands and our hair and our touch intertwined, my chin burns from the scruff of his chin, my lips red and raw and aching from kiss and suck and sup and sensation that has overwhelmed all things.

I see in this timeline all the things we create together: we are lovers and artists, we make music together, and laugh and explain words while he studies, he teaches me French, I cry in his lap, we have fights and plan for the future, a home, we share a life, and all the infinite wondrous moments of the life.

I cry out, small sound in the night, as we move about in bed.

“Did I hurt you, my love?”

“You always hurt me.”

“I know. I tried not to this time.”

Only time.

“Pain was always pleasure.”

“Your pleasure, our pleasure. I missed you.”

“I missed you.”

“I always knew you were there.”

“Of course, I was. We only just lost ourselves for the moment but we have always been here. We are still here. We stay together, you remember. I remember it now.”

“Yes, but not without heartbreak.”

“It was sad, that time.”

“But it was happy, too. There were the happy times.”

“Yes, there was that as well. It was always in motion.”

“In motion.”

“Emotion.”

“In movement.”

“You’re losing yourself again, you know. Like you did the last time.”

“But remember I found myself, too. I never get lost for long.”

“Of course, my love.”

We are entangled and in touch and in darkness and in motion and emotion…

“Did I wake you, my love.”

“No, I was awake. You being here, being now, it brought me back.”

“I’m never leaving.”

“You are always leaving.”

“But it never mattered.”

“It always mattered.”

“I will miss you my love.”

“Of course, but we always miss each other.”

We embrace at a door and the rain is pouring down and I am going to work and I am looking into his eyes and we kiss.

“I meant it all, you know, every word.”

“You always meant it.”

“It means everything.”

“And nothing.”

“I love you.”

“Of course.”

I turn and put my bag in a car. Looking away for a moment. I look up, back to where he was,, where he is, where he had always been.

Now, nothing but the stairs and the rain.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

History

"I mean, I get on well with pretty much anyone, really."

"Unless they have a history."

"Yes, you know, not that."

I'm sitting at the counter in a little bar that I have become fond of in the city. It's not Lonely Hearts Club, but I find that I enjoy going, reading, writing, drinking there. Sometimes there is an Argentinian guitar player and this brings me great joy. Sometimes it is just me alone, thinking about my history. For I am a woman full of history.

The chatter that is drifting from the conversation next to me had mostly been filtered out and was going unnoticed, the story is one of living a life of wonder and privilege that doesn't feel like enough: the new houses they want to buy, the IVF treatment they or friends are going to undergo, the kids they currently have, the relationships they are engaged in...so pretty, a life full of things and desires that go beyond needs and wants.

Having needs that went unmet for long swaths of time would most likely put me right up there in the "has a history" column. For this, I am grateful.

The pain and turmoil of my early life, the constant challenges in love and loss, the never ending fight with my own self worth and visions of who I am inside of this world, all of this building towards a pile of undeniable, unedited, history. My past has made many of the trappings of normalcy difficult to attain, given me an edge and sometimes anxious behaviors that I have no ability to control; creating difficulties and schisms in my psyche that live there with various patches. These are things that cannot be mended. These are the things that have made my history.

This record here, thousands of pages up on pages of trying to unpack and understand my own life and my own history, glorious and depraved, and written full of laughter, joy and tears. Dreams that have been both a blessed release from the challenges of the day and also a cursed reminder of all that I have lost to find this place where I am now.

Glasses clinking on the table as the women talk and insulate themselves from history and I smile and sip my wine and think about what it would be like if my history could be manifest: a great hulking cloud of all the things, all the pasts, all the knowledge and experiences...I smile a secret smile as I think about all the amusements in my history; stories that have helped me mercifully overshadow all the pain.

These women who talk want nothing of the past, it's the future, the acquirement, the perpetual chase for the next thing they want, and fulfilling their wishes for more want, and more normalcy and of course, more life that does not contain a history.

My history is my future and my past. My history is all of me.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Many, many dresses

I made five dresses, fixed two t-shirts, and edited five additional dresses.

And, somehow, I still feel like I was a lazy sloth this weekend.










This was an edited dress. When I started with it, it was basically a mu-mu. 

Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Sewining, 2018

It happens a lot in my life. Me and my machine.

This time, me and my machine wrestled with 100 dollars worth of fabric, that is barely half of what I could have gotten for the same money in another country.

Doesn't matter. It was exquisite.

I sewed and I sewed and I sewed.

Three days, five dresses, two fixes, five edits.

There was an Anne Taylor dress that was practically a mu-mu when I started with it. I turned it into a tart little date night dress. Then there was the splatter paint print.

Or the one that looked almost like a Van Gogh.

I feel most real when I am in front of my machine. The act of creation is just...something I cannot explain. In the machine there is life, and I breathe through it and into it and when I am finished I look at all the things that I have wrote and I exist in that moment for a few more years.

I have things I made over 20 years ago tucked away in closets somewhere.

A different kind of art. A piece of me. A kind of art.


Someday, maybe, if I am found worthy as an artist, maybe these things will be. Who knows.

All I know is I took advantage of three snowdays to make so many wonderful things and it was exquisite.

Friday, February 09, 2018

Snow Day

A dog being sick managed to sideline me from my usual February challenge.

Chicago is cold. Last night a minor blizzard rolled through and dropped about 5 inches of snow.

That lake is exquisite.






Monday, February 05, 2018

Pretty People, Doing Very Fun Things

Yesterday was a strange day and my head felt as if it was not quite on straight. Partially facing down the breadth of mortality again, partially being on the road for so long, partially because my neck continues to play merry hell with my body and no amount of grinning and bearing is really effective at this point.

With all that on mind I decided what I needed was a movie. Being on the road and paid to entertain others all the time, I thought it might be nice to pay someone to entertain me. That and I wanted popcorn, damn the consequences and the carbs.

I managed to get into clothes and pour myself into a cab for the only 5:00 show I could find, which also happened to be the movie Jumanji. I looked at the potential offerings for the big box theater and also the Music Box before settling. Horror, as entertaining as it can be, didn't feel quite right. The coming of age complexities of a young bisexual male felt like it might push a bit too much in the other direction. I didn't want to rewatch something, leaving only two children animated movies and Jumanji. Since I enjoy Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and actually find him entertaining to watch, well, then yes. Settled.

Snow had been falling all day but the skies cleared as I got out in front of the theater. It was quiet on this Sunday afternoon, as I thought it might be, since the rest of the country was watching some ball game that I had no interest in. The theater had a total collection of two families with small children, one older gay couple, and me. In many ways, if you can't have an entirely empty theater to yourself, this was a good way to do it.

Popcorn achieved, I went to get my phone scanned, to get my ticket, to enter the theater. I enjoy this particular big box theater as it has clearly worked on an initiative to employ a variety of ticket handlers who are wheelchair bound, and super polite and cheerful. I always enjoy seeing people who want to work awarded with employment. It makes me smile to say hello and participate in the chit chat.

This particular older fellow was outfitted in a leather vest and rather a large assortment of LGBTQ flare which pretty much queued me into to his orientation and social politics.

"And how are you today young lady?"

"Well. Just here to see a movie." Scan.

"Oh, Jumanji, good choice a surprisingly entertaining film."

"Is it?"

"Oh yes. It's not very complicated. But..."

He looks me over for a second. I don't have any easy to spot flare that might designate my particular social leanings. Wearing black jeans with alchemy patches, Docs, a leather jacket, and my usual cloud of wild, black and brown hair, with leather bag strapped across my chest like some ancient warrior, I think he managed to figure it out.

"Well," he winks conspiratorially, "It is a movie that has some very pretty people, being pretty and doing very fun things. I think you'll like it."

He pats my hand and we share a smile.

His summation is the best overall review I can make of the film.

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Death comes...

It's a strange thing to wake up and read about someone you know who has died. I think in my head as I read the message "again".

Again.

Someone I know has died.

And this is not the first someone I knew. Not the first someone I cared about. Not the first someone I've had to think of in the past tense; full knowledge that they do not walk the earth any longer. Their energy, capture for a time here, is released. Now they have gone back into the ebb and flow of the universe.

With this I can't help wondering when my particular matter will rejoin the earth and the universe. Mortality always lingers near death. As does the desire for vitality and anything which can be opposite of the end of all things.

This death, of my friends, is perhaps the most complicated. The person was a known antagonist and had managed, in the last few years life, to alienate completely from many who would have called said friend ten years before. So it was, growth, life, change, in both thinking and personality and situations and so we go through life.

Well do I know that those I love deeply now may have no love for me in a year. That those who I have spent so much time and energy and joy with, could, tomorrow choose to cast me away forever for a word, or a deed, or a thought misspoken. For a hurt I cannot correct.

I have no doubt I have hurt people.

I have no doubt I have helped people.

The only thing I know for sure to be true abut me, is that I make an effort to be what I think of as good: conflicted, difficult, proud, strong, weak, scared, and good in the only ways that I can find it.

I'm always sad to see people go. It feels me with weird trepidation and emotion and dark things low in the center that I can't completely explain. And yet, the only thing that anyone can be fully sure of is eventually, death comes.


Saturday, February 03, 2018

Seaslurping

"I love that you think oysters are a "snack"."

"They are a snack."

"A rich person's snack."

"I'm not rich."

"You are not poor."

That much is true. I do enjoy eating oysters when I can find places that have them. Now they make me think of freedom, life, salt, water, the earth and the cycle of my travels spinning around and around with no fear of settling.



Mountain Passes

The Company already has me on the road and hard. Some days I weak up feeling fully used and we are barely out of January and into February. Gods I want to complain, but I love it far too much. Strange places, strange hotels, strangers to meet, strangers to entertain, and me, somewhere in the middle of all of that being me. Being strange.

I think I've embraced the strange at the center of who I am with more vibrancy and less shame as I've gotten older. It's freeing, really.

So it was on a very fast strange trip that I found myself descending into Salt Lake City just before the sun set over the mountains.

I like mountains. I see them all the time, really, and rather enjoy them when I can be in them. Perhaps my favorite up to this point are the Andes, which are truly awe inspiring set of mountains to be in. I recall a moon over pink clouds shining down on me feeling close enough to touch. Perhaps a favorite memory, having a car full of locals who speak Spanish to me, with me answering back in pigeon Spanish and Korean; all of us piling out of the car to just stare at the  moon as it stares back at us.

Excursions to Latin American had not really prepared me for the Rockies. I recall being in the Rockies a very long time ago. There are at thousand miles in the backseat of a car when I was very young. Before the bad got very bad, when it was only a little bad but I was too young to know that it. So many late nights listening to adults talk in the front of the car as we drove through various winding roads, a quiet chatter to avoid waking the children. Staring at my own reflection in the night-mirrored window and wondering what magical mysteries would be exposed as we continued on the road.

On one of those trips, there had been the Rockies. I vaguely recall driving from the heat of the desert below and going up, up, up until the car was on the side of the road and the children piled out to see the snow in the summer time. Wet and icy and chilly, so surprising in the summer time, but still cool enough at the heights to allow the ground to maintain it's chilly covering. Old memories that linger far longer than the should, but among the few of those I have from childhood.

So it was that I found myself, then, descending into resplendence that is the Rockies. I don't know what else I can say about it. Driving about in the valley, shadowed all around  by the mountains presence, constant, daunting, a minute by minute reminder of how small one is in the world.

My companion and driver sat next to me as I commented on it.

"I'm sorry, I wasn't listening, I just...the mountains never stop," I said as I observed the mountains behind the capital.

"Yeah, I once worked with a guy, and he said after awhile you just don't notice."

"I don't know how that's possible"

"I wondered about that, too. I asked him. He told me that after-while you just forget to look up."

Perhaps if you are in it all the time. I'm not sure I could forget.







Friday, February 02, 2018

Batteries

I'm smart enough to make sure I always travel with batteries. The reason for this should be, of course, obvious. However, here I found myself, on a trip, without batteries at all.

This particular trip has been so busy I have been unable to rectify this particular situation at all. It's been, in short, a bit tragic.

Last night, I found myself eating dinner alone at a nice little restaurant next to a grocery store and I thought, yes, I shall get batteries here.

After dinner, and some wine, this fully left my mind and so I ended up, yet again, back at my hotel without batteries. I realized this as soon as I got out of the car that dropped me off.

Being an intrepid traveler, I shrugged and went to the desk and asked if I could get AA batteries.

"Sure we have those in the store."

I checked the store before I ask.

"We appear to be all out."

"Yes."

"Let me call engineer."

"Ok."

"Can we bring them to your room."

Thank the gods, I thought to myself. "Sure."

And so I went to my room and I got comfortable as I wound down from the day and sure enough about 20 minutes later there was a knock and a very happy to see me gentleman stood outside my door.

"You wanted batteries?"

"Yes."

"Do you need anything else?"

The look was mildly suggestive and mostly I was amused because I choose to be amused at this point. It's easier.

"No, thank you."

It took me far too long to get out of bed this morning.