Friday, April 30, 2004

hapiness is...

Things from my lunch-time walk today, that were just nice:

  • Perfect weather, a butter ripe sun (not too hot) and a bit of a breeze.

  • Warm marble steps for sitting.

  • A new family of ducks at the plaza fountain: one plain jane mama, seven little duckings, and a papa with a striking emerald-colored head.

  • A plaintive song from an unseen trumpeter behind the bushes in Angel's Gate park.

  • Sweet pipe tobacco smells from the only man left in this city who still smokes a proper pipe--tall, grumpy, grey and moustached in perpetual plaid, leaning against the wall by the loading dock.

posted by m at 9:09 PM

Tuesday, April 27, 2004


Life pivots on certain choices--sometimes small ones--which direct the trajectory of everything that follows. Questions which are not a "yes" or a "no", but a "This" or a "That." One or the other. This job or that job. This place or that place. This boy or that one.

About 8 months or ago, I came to just this sort of fork-in-the-road. To the left, there was a lovely friend of many years who I suddenly discovered loved me (THAT way)--a friend who was brilliant and a kindred spirit but also much older and too many kinds of inappropriate to count. To the right, was B, who was normal and funny and sweet, a new and unmet boy who sent me flowers at work and drove me 26 miles to the beach one night, just to kiss.

I spent many hours driving around aimlessly, smoking cigarettes in my car and playing the same sad song over and over, contemplating this small fork. It's not enough to say it's about deciding who you love, because it's really a decision about the love you have and the possibility of having the love you want. For me, 8 months ago, my time abroad had made me a stranger to my own life. After so much time spent feeling out of step, feeling out of place and awkward and un-normal, B was a chance to finally hit my paces with everyone else. I loved my lovely friend. But I wanted to love B more.

In the end, I chose B. And I told this lovely friend that I needed "normal" more than I needed him. And it was true. B fits. And with him, I started to fit too.

At times it has felt as if everything since has been colored by that choice, because I am with this boy and not with that one. B and I have fought a lot about semantics--fights where I have felt locked in an unending struggle to be heard and understood. Small cold waves of misunderstanding and hard words which leave us salty and shivering. But we cling together, still. It is in these moments that this choice comes most to color. Because I realize my lovely friend spoke my language, in a way that maybe B never will.

Eight months after this fork in the road, I find that I love B in a comfortable, unreckless sort of way. For all the things he does that make me want to scream and squeeze his head until it pops, he is a place to rest at the end of the day. In his arms, there are no worries about being dorky or feeling fat or inadequate. B is the one who never yells about misplaced papers, purses and keys, and the one who never calls me silly or stupid, even at my silliest and stupidest. He's the one who watched 13 going on 30 and pretended to like it, and who picked up rock climbing so we'd have more things in common. He is the one who is patient when I cry and scream, when I'm crazy and mean, and when I'm inexplicably and mystifyingly sad and weepy.

Where my lovely friend could see me, B accepts me. And maybe that's the rarer gift.

posted by m at 2:21 AM

Monday, April 26, 2004

in the face of things changing

I met E in college, it was the sort of head-spinning friendship that (along with many particularly gross species of shower fugus) only a freshman dorm can grow. We got our first D's together, got drunk for the first time together, explored the excruciating thrill of first loves and crushing madness of first break-ups together, and then painted our toes violet. Maybe it wasn't anything that special. But it was special to us.

Since then, E has been my E. She's the one I love best, and that's all there is to it. Of all the versions in my head of the way my life works out, there's still one that takes place in a small house outside Honolulu with me and E and a whole pack of happy dogs.

It's eight months today since E left:

E and I spent most of the afternoon hauling her stuff around town--boxes to my grandma's garage, furniture to her brother's house... Later that night, as I let her off at her boxed and empty apartment and drove away, there was this little knife twist of sadness in the pit of my stomach... Like, is this really it? I can still feel it there--this little lump of mixed feelings and fear in the face of things changing.

Doctorboy says it would be weirder if i weren't so sad that E is leaving. I suppose he's right. I keep telling myself that this is only temporary, that we'll see each other all the time, that we can e-mail and phone and visit, that she'll be coming back to L.A. eventually anyway. All of which are true. but I can't help feeling a little like this is the end of Things As They Are. The space and place in time where we were here together and everything was this way. It's like that guy said when we allmoved out of the dorms, "You know, it'll never be quite this way again." It was true.

(paper and pen journal, 8/03)

It never has been quite that way again.

posted by m at 8:02 PM

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

when the truth is not kind.

I work in a smallish nine-story government building, a converted department store built in the early part of the last century. By "converted" I really mean: restored on the outside (charming!) and transformed on the inside (gray, boring government standard-issue). Nice for pedestrians, but not-so-nice for those of us who have to trudge inside everyday. We take it as proof positive that our government cares about its workers, deeply.

This week--three years or so after we received a memo about "tightening security"--building management has made good on their threat to issue ID cards. I spent the better part of yesterday and today listening to moans and groans about bad ID pictures: "This picture makes me look fat/bald/old/greasy/ugly..." And I have successfully suppressed the urge to say obvious things like: "You ARE bald!".

I tend to look frightened in ID pictures, mostly in an effort to make my eyes look bigger. So this afternoon, when I went to have my ID made, I decided to quit being so self-conscious and to just look forward and smile. I have spent the rest of the afternoon complaining about how small my eyes look. "It makes my face look fat!"

Now, I know what you're thinking, so stop it.

Prescriptive thought for the day: Maybe the camera doesn't lie. But maybe it should.

posted by m at 5:38 PM

Thursday, April 15, 2004

yeah, it was me.

If you were to throw a bag of popcorn into the microwave, which says: "microwave for 4 minutes," you wouldn't think that you'd be extracting a smelly mess of burnt popcorn from the microwave four minutes later. But you'd be wrong.

I'm now receiving calls from pranksters in neighboring cubicles claiming to be from the fire department and demanding a confession.

Burnt popcorn has officially made my top list of really gross burnt smells (right after burnt hair and burnt plastic). Yuck.

posted by m at 5:27 PM

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

my head explodes. (in a good way.)

Have you ever done something, and then not wanted do it again, for fear of being disappointed? Lili Hadyn is like that for me. I'm almost afraid to try to see her play again, because the first time was so brain-bustingly amazing. (Aside: Perhaps sex was designed purposely to be really-oh-let's-be-honest-blah on the first try, for precisely this reason...?)

From my paper and pen journal, on her March 14th performance with daKah:

Our seats were close, but not so close, high enough up that we were overlooking the stage rather than looking at it. The first sets had been fun, but nothing special. We felt a little deflated, actually, perhaps because we had subjected ourselves to too much hype. (We seem to do that often!)

And then it happened.

A lone blue light casting down from that stepped and crooked wooden ceiling, and Lili Hadyn in a harlot-red, midriff bearing two-piece spandex gown--looking to us, seated above, so small and square in her impossibly flat shoes, bow poised over the strings. It would have been a bit melodramatic, had it not been so casually set. She had marched, matter-of-factly and without fanfare, through the end-of-intermission chit-chat, onto the stage, fiddled with her amplifier, and poised to play. The hall fell silent. It was one of those still, kinetic, electric moments that you don’t really recognize as such until after the fact.

The silence was ended as a harp played first, joined by a few solemn violas, and then she began--(pause) and it was like nothing we had ever heard before. It was the kind of loud and beautiful that makes your heart ache, and your head explode. We would go for stretches holding our breath, without even realizing it, and when we finally let ourselves exhale, we were out of breath, spent, just from listening. It was electric, ethereal, and wholly present. She would hit and hold a high E and we would just want to scream, it was so excruciating, but so lovely and so exhilarating--it was wanting it to stop and never to end, both at the same time. It was like falling recklessly in love, like the very best sex, it was awful and it was fantastic--it made you want to scream and tear your hair out and die in just that moment.

And when it was over, it made you wondrously, immediately, glad to be alive. And everything, everything, that happened after, was colored by that performance, every spoken word was more heartfelt, the air smelled better, the conversation was more scintillating, the city more beautiful, than you had ever remembered it. And because we came and we heard her play, in dark corners of our heads that are for remembering such evenings, that night would be that kind of night--happier, brighter, more brilliant--forever.

posted by m at 5:46 PM

Thursday, April 08, 2004

obsessed much?

confession, and a bit of rationale: I am obsessed with personal blogs. I currently have over 20 blogs which I check daily. I don't know what it is about these people that makes them interesting to me, or want to read about the time that mean kid beat them up in grade school. Or what they had for lunch. It's a sort of weird, unguilty voyeurism which has sucked me in and made me an addict.

Does this make me sad and uncool? Possibly. I, too, fantasize about having a blog. But who would read it? And would I want them to?

posted by m at 2:23 AM

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