a girl in her city, watching the sunset

The Last Sunday Morning in L.A. (for now)

The week has turned the calendar corner. It’s three days until I’m Portland-bound. I’m sitting on my back porch steps with my 2nd coffee. At first it seemed so very quiet. No wind. Then: a horn sounded from a barge. A dog barked twice. There’s a few crickets yet trying to get some action. The wood fence creaks. Someone a few doors down needs to change the battery in the smoke detector. A garage door opens in the alley and subsequent gravel crunch, whomever it is, coming home late/early.

I’m restless. This is not unusual and it’s certainly reasonable, considering. I’m delivering furniture today and thinning the take-with-me stuff again; revising what’s really needed or wanted. Which treasures are most dear, which closest comforts irreplaceable. There’s probably not many.

When I came back to the city, I had the boots I wore. There was no plan to stay. I did it, though. It was all risk, no promise of investment returns. And I did ok.

You know what? I did way more than OK. And that’s not because I have so many boots now.

I made new friends. Friends I will know for the rest of my life.

And I discovered a friendship I happily, carefully, classify as “best.”

Thomas (the Goodman), you gave me a crash pad that January week in 2012 and it changed my life. But your enduring endearment is sustenance.

The quiet morning is noisy with traffic now, that oddly rhythmic ebb and flow punctuated by my sniffling, my shaky breath. I’m smiling though, encouraged. This move is guaranteed more than any other I’ve done. I am honored by my chief’s confidence in me, grateful for our mutual respect.

Leaving L.A. again is difficult almost solely because I have built such a solid association. I named myself for the ocean, for fuck’s sake.

If I claim possession of anything, anything at all, it is my self. And that is really the only take-with-me that matters.

Despite that manifesto, I’m still packing three pairs of boots.


Facebook status update 28 August 2016.

The Way We L.A., a poem I wrote a while ago


We know.

We know the jokes about traffic,
about celebrities,
about how we only eat kale and seeds,
           and that we’re all ditzes or (at the very least) all of us are uptalkers.

We know
nobody believes
Sunshine is really all that encouraging,
or that anybody could call 450 square feet home,
or having no yard (read: no yard work) could possibly satisfy.

We know
the hour                        at the end of January
when the air is suddenly noted by night-blooming jasmine.


We know
that crazycheap (somewhat dimly lit) sushi place in
Koreatown (on 7th) – where the proprietors speak no English
     you point at pictures to order
(it’s way better than Roku. And you don’t have to plan 2 weeks ahead to eat there.)

We are unconcerned with our tans.
We cut each other’s hair.
None of us gives a fuck what you think of our ink and metal
     (I didn’t get all these holes and scars for any body else, thanks.)

We listen to each other
We stay friends for decades
We shop second-hand
We are good neighbors
We play fair
We fuck well
We drink deep
We stay up too late
 We smile at each other.

    We totally walk in L.A.

  amid the history lessons told by
he Anjac Fashion Buildings
      and old banks-become-lofts
we look up.

And we get it.

We go all the way back, we were here before the freeways.    
                   We are made from cement and seawater.
                                     We are formed of smog and glass

There’s sand in my shoes
   but when I turn them upside down,
it spills out as a castle.





But it tasted better than anything ever did ever. Mostly.

I’m legitimately allergic to dairy. I’m also allergic to penicillin. I went to lunch with a friend today and exercised the poorest of judgment: bleu cheese grits.
Four hours later, every joint is swollen and everything aches. My throat is sore and feels very tight and –
I’m totally telling you this to evince your pity.
I walked to the post office to send something. I managed to address the priority envelope. But then I was mired in brainfuzzy. I walked three blocks further and then somehow turned around and came home. Two – count ’em- two different houseless guys asked if I needed a dollar.
didn’t post the envelope I had.
Going to go make out with benedryl and five litres of water.

Family. Without hesitation.

Until 3p today I hadn’t been much online.  I slept late, got dressed and out the door in 30 minutes.  Emma and I met up with my uncle & aunt for breakfast, we all talked until 1p.  Then I  took Emma to places so she could shop, we came back to the vacation rental cottage to have a wee kip before she and I left to collect Thomas, with whom we had plans for dinner and photos.

It was during this siesta I read the news from Orlando (and of the arrest in L.A., and the safe-wishes of friends from afar). Emma was asleep.  I scrolled up and down, shaking.  What the fuck?  I was going to nap, 20 minutes after slugging 6 ounces of  coffee, but I couldn’t, just – what?  Emma walks to the door of my room at 3.45 and I tell her of the news.  I’m suddenly sobbing, stammering.

I cry and babble “why, Emma? Why does it matter who we want to have sex with?  Why does this bother anybody we’re not fucking?”

My mother wraps her arms around me, murmuring terms of endearment she has used since I was small.  Oh babe, oh, love.  Words I might say sotto voce to someone in my bed.  But from her, without judgment, without any hesitation, these words how she soothes me, her 41-year-old grown child, daily confused by illogical, senseless murders.  

Edit: when first posted, the articles I read stated the gunman was in custody.  Later, I read he was killed in a shootout w/police.

An hour or so later, we are drier-eyed.  She says, “I hope they string him up in a public square.”
I reply, “Not me, that’s too easy.”

I call the hexes of a thousand sadists.  I call the misfortune of longevity.  I call this murderer’s mind to clarity, under no cover of psychosis, so he can grasp what he did.
May he forever desire an easy, comforting embrace.  Let no touch so much as brush him.  Let no comfort, no joy.  Let nothing but pure awareness.  

Forgiveness is difficult.

I grieve for and with all those strangers that refer to me as Family with no hesitation.  

And I you, the same. Family. Without hesitation.

Overslept. Or: having lunch at 18.30

I slept until 1pm. I ran errands in a hazy shade of summer, withstanding lines at 2 markets, forgetting to get something to cook for dinner. I’m so spaced out and groggy I don’t really even want coffee. I keep coming back to coloring my hair (again), having wine and spending the night reading and writing.
I have wild boar sausage, bone marrow, some chicken, a Portabello mushroom and kale. These will probably feed me ok.
Sleeping a lot isn’t my usual jam.
This morning, I had a text around 8a, the front of my brother’s car demolished by (he said) “D’oh! a deer”.  
(That caption is pure Brother.)
The last 150 miles of their trip done in the AAA tow truck. He reports they’re all OK, very very tired.
I wonder if I’m tired on his behalf.  Sometimes my brother and I carry each other, so maybe I’m worn out today on that account. It’s a weird thing I don’t really relate to many people. He and I still talk in a kind of shorthand (I think of it as a grown-up version of twinspeak), though we haven’t spent much time in each other’s company since the early 90s. Maybe as long ago as 1991. (He shared an apartment with 3 other guys our last year or so of high school.) But, there’s no regrets about not seeing him. We stretch our own ways, and when we’re together, we know the other is the only person who has been around exactly as long. (ok, really, he’s exactly one minute behind me).
He and I got our college/university degrees in things similar-but-different.  Also, I went to a state school and he went private.
He and I both work in tech now, in similar-but-different capacities.
He’s been married 16 yrs; I was married half my life and divorced twice before I was 37.
He and I aren’t best friends. But we’re not jealous of that.  There’s no possession except that which is actually indicated: my brother.
Here’s a hard thing I don’t much talk about:
In my last marriage, I wasn’t allowed to use personal possessives: my, mine, our, ours. I said “the” a lot to avoid ascribing to my 2nd ex-husband possession of anything that wasn’t actually his.
Four and a half years out of that, I’m still twisted up about the word “my.”  It’s not entirely bad, since I don’t habitually linguistically posses shit that’s not mine (such as “my project”), but if there’s any relationship I’m happy to rightfully claim, it’s my twin-hood.
I don’t know if there’s any point to this, really.
There’s nagging thoughts:  a bad car accident of my own; losing my laptop and bus pass.  Having only cheese to eat.
I’m advised “do not worry” about the nearness of rent due; I still field messages stating I demonstrated strength in leaving the job.
I’m not worried so much as the control freak in me wants to know what the ever loving fuck is next.   I’ve stalled on getting rid of everything, selling what I can and fitting the necessities in a backpack.  I’d need a backpack, for starters.
So, tonight, I’ll meditate on gratitude: my brother and his family are just exhausted and kind of sore.
Tonight I’ll weave some words together into a few new essays.  Tonight, I’ll color my hair steel grey.  Tonight, I’ll feast on whatever I can manage to make.
(and every night)
I have nothing to regret.
I have no use for shame.

On Loyalty – Pro Edition

In September or October of 2013, I averred to my Chief that I couldn’t be counted on to work at the same company if I did not work in IT or for him.

It was a significantly political statement.  I knew it, meant it.  It was all somewhat topsy.

And then, the politics went pretty quiet.  But it’s corporate, these things ebb and flow.  In the midst of some such flows, I lost my project management crew mate.  The last six months, projects have been largely me and the Chief.

Then last week it’s all gone pete tong.  Suddenly, Tuesday afternoon the Chief was leaving; was gone.

I found I reported – not to anybody in IT – but to a person who I could not find less appealing in intellect or posture. Someone I  could not have less respect for as a project manager (she had zero experience as such prior to coming aboard to manage the C.O.O’s PMO); a person who knew I was aware of how much she viscerally and actively despised the C.I.O. and those who reported to him.

A person who takes personally things that have never happened to her personally.   Takes them very personally.

I’m ranting a bit.  Fuck it.  This is my blog.  And right now, I report to no one.

Anyway. I digress.
In keeping with my fondness for naval themes, I’ll call her The S.S.PMO.

The S.S.PMO was painfully-obviously uncomfortable in the first meeting she took with me as her report.  She wasn’t at all in charge.  It was a fantastic act.   She looked stoned; stunned-stupid.

She’s not stupid. She’s not that bright, either.  She is a beaten dog.  She can’t dare twitch her ears or the end of her tail without the express permission of her very-endeared C.O.O.

I did not fully understand this until the next morning. I received an eviscerating message from the S.S.PMO as I had not sought her approval for an email I sent to some department somebody relating something she had declared (declared!) was not a priority. Apparently, I mistakenly thought I could send an un-approved-of-email like some – FUCK THIS ALREADY.

As stated in my letter of resignation: I have more than a decade of experience in IT Project Management. I’m fully qualified to write and send email.

Really, I have no desire to professionally survive essentially the same scenario as my second marriage. I do not care to walk on eggshells.  I do not want to second-guess everything I know.  

I know a fair bit.

I know this: that C.O.O. and her Gaslight Crew can get fucked.  That’s it. It’s terribly vulgar, and I mean it, too.  It’s a really good mouthfeel phrase: “Get. Fucked.”

So, yes, you read that correctly: I resigned.  Late Friday evening, I had sobbed and vomited enough in the previous 3 days to realize that I wasn’t OK and it wasn’t about how thick is my skin.  This was not going to work out.

The body remembers, and mine was hell-bent on making it known.  I didn’t care or need to wait around for it to be plainer. Nor for anybody else’s validation.

Understandably, this might seem something like blindly abiding my chief.  It might seem like I left a stable (however moderately-paying) gig because of that loyalty.

It’s not.  

The Chief will always have my respect, admiration, affection; I’m happy for this.  But the politics be damned: I saved myself from the morass for myself.

My love is the Pax Oceana.  My heart belongs to the City of Angels.

My loyalty is to the girl I sleep with every night.  The lady with whom I wake up, the reason I make and eat good food and drink plenty of water.  The best homemaker, to whom I’ve pledged to be the best sugardaddy.

As ferocious as it might be, such loyalty serves me first. It’s no good to anyone else otherwise.

Murphy (the Bed Metaphor)

When you slept over, you kicked out the tucked-in comforter, declaring it a nuisance.

When you slept over, you couldn’t sleep with the music.  I got up and turned it off.

When you slept over, you got into left side of bed to sleep on your right side.  So you could do big-spoon, you pushed me to face the wall.
I counted three hundred measures of your quiet, comforting snoring, then I unlocked your sleep-heavy arms and crept out.  For a while I laid on a rug (on the floor, nearly under the bed), on my left side, with my feet curled in the hem of a blanket, my right shoulder covered.

When you slept over, I did small chores quietly, paced the backyard in the moonlight.  I had a bath, probably, smoked seven or ten cigarettes, probably.  I used headphones to keep the music from disturbing you.

When you slept over, you woke after curling your knees tight up to your chest and after you half-sneezed twice.  You didn’t get out of bed, you didn’t get up.  You accepted a cup of coffee, ten minutes fresh, made when you seemed close to waking.  You had no idea it was the second pot, nor did you ask how long I’d been up. (Three hours.)

You marveled at actual breakfast! (bacon and eggs with avocado and tomatoes).  I laughed: “I make breakfast every morning.  I’m not doing this to impress, this is what I do.”

I rarely sleep more than five hours. And I sleep those all over my bed.  I begin on my left side, with my head on the left side of the bed. Upon a particular pillow, my right arm and shoulder propped on a (different) particular pillow, my feet stretched to the right corner, tight into the tucked-in comforter that covers my right shoulder and my right ear, usually to some sort of ambient/electronic. I know these might soothe me into the very small sleep I get  The faster I might fall asleep, the larger share of those hours.   

I know how difficult is sleep; how desperately difficult comfort.

So if my duvet tucked in is noisome, or the only way slumber finds you is on your left side, or no music is the better lullaby: I can forfeit those for your ease, your rhythmic snore, your at-last-relaxed stretch, your mumbled explanation of a dream involving kites and marshmallows in Ancient Egypt.

But this is my bed. And this is my space, my studio and kitchen, my backyard and garage.

As comforts go, I know some of mine.

Please, take a little care because you insulted my duvet and bed-making.  Take note that in my near-minimalism,  I have few things but always music.  Take a breath and ask me how (or if) I slept.  Take a moment, realize that while I might invite you to share it, making breakfast for myself is an act of love and courage.

When you slept over, you left the memory of the ocean in the linens.  The smell between your legs, behind your ears, and under your arms.  The thicksalty aroma caught in the back of my mouth where my nose begins.  

But long before you slept over I named myself for the ocean.

Get up and Fucking Fight.

One day in Autumn of 1995, I heard a song on the car radio.

I sat in the car my first ex-husband’s parents had given us (in his name) upon our wedding; in a parking lot at Orange Coast College, facing Fairview Rd., (I think); late afternoon, I was early for a class in Russian history, listening (as I do) to the classical station.

Back then, there was an afternoon feature by the drive-home host, a song with some intersection of classical and contemporary music.  I think it was on this tiny feature I heard Zap Mama the first time, and it might have been near or next to  the second broadcast of Garrison Keillor poetry moment.

The reason KUSC played the particular track (by a singer-songwriter called David Wilcox) was the plucked Bach Air (in G) at the end of the sung lyric.  

I wrote the last sentence wholly trusting everybody has heard of J.S. Bach.  If you haven’t heard of Bach, I’m very sorry.  (FYI: math isn’t really difficult.)

Anyway, this is the Wilcox lyric.  It is not extensive.
It is immense.

If I had a spell of magic
I would make this enchantment for you
A burgundy heart-shaped medallion
With a window that you could look through
So that when all the mirrors are angry
With your faults and all you must do
You could peek through that heart-shaped medallion
And see you from my point of view

I do not consistently see myself through anything like this burgundy heart-shaped medallion, though I suspect it’s more honest than all this noise in my grumpy, hungry, crowded head.  

Sometimes, when giving advice, I assure whomever’s at the other end: I am telling you this to tell myself.

In all the advice I offer (to myself), I come back to desire, I return to pleasure.  A thing I say to newly coupled up or cohab sorts:  “The most successfully married people I know fuck daily.”

Even this is advice to myself, though I’m devoutly single.

I think about these lines a lot:

 …when all the mirrors are angry
With your faults and all you must do

Me, in a mirror:

weird pouch belly/stretched out thighs/stupid boxy hands/all that is wrong in my forehead/embarrassing posture/ridiculously clenched jaw I never look like myself in photos. I’ve lost the thread of minimalism I don’t know what I want any more Do I care about anything, at all? I keep forgetting things in the budget why aren’t I working overtime right now I haven’t seen my uncle in two weeks I haven’t posted a month of letters.
Nothing is comfortable because     I deserve no comfort.

I’m caught in my curls.  Or must excuse their lack.
I beg pardon when people reject that my hair isn’t grey and I’m 40 years old.
I dither about what to wear to walk to the market.  “Will that skirt and this t-shirt with those boots adequately convey the truth of my being to complete strangers?!”

Fuck all of that.

One doesn’t look into mirrors to see other people.  Nobody else is telling me these things.
I didn’t plant my feet on the ocean floor to maintain pretense.
I didn’t stay alive to beg pardons.
I didn’t name myself to offer excuses.

Listen (she says to herself), here’s the reality:  your wingspan is the prime meridian.  It is not a fucking farce.  It has precisely nothing to do with anybody elseyour own sweetest hausfrau, your own most apt project manager, your own most generous sugardaddy, and, your own best girl.

Curls, bones, skin, blood, salt and all.  

Goddamnit, Sanger.  Get up and fucking fight.

Take me to bed and fuck me into that doubtless gaze.  Fuck me so good that I walk funny.  

(Here’s a link to the song if you want to listen (it’s not really a video)).

An Open Letter To Internet Radio Algorithms

Dear internet radio algorithms.

The way you do classical makes me want to puke into f-holes.
This is a phrase I started using in 3rd grade.  I was in 3rd grade 32 years ago.

As far back as I remember music, I remember classical music.  My parents weren’t terribly into classical. My mother loves Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, but she couldn’t tell you Spring from Autumn, though she’ll happily admit that she’s not really interested in knowing music.  

My grandparents, on the other hand, were well-versed in classical.  And jazz.  And some pop, though not very much.  A lot of Dixieland, Big Band, Swing.  And classical.  Once upon a time, my grandmother was a concert pianist and my grandfather had his own dance band.  He could play any wind instrument.

I fell in love with cello when I was in first grade.  At the beautifully weird elementary school my brother and I attended, that’s was the first year you could enroll in music.  But only for stringed instruments, winds had to wait until third grade.  (When he could, my brother opted for oboe.  What a weirdo.)

The ensemble introducing  stringed instruments declared cellists had an easier time learning if their left-hand pinky went past the top knuckle of the ring finger.  I didn’t care that my fingers weren’t ideal.  I would make it work.  I showed off my hands could stretch! I had done a year of piano lessons and could bridge an octave from thumb-to-pinky.  By the way, I didn’t like piano lessons.

Ultimately, it didn’t matter too much whether my hands were ideal or not; most 1st and 2nd graders at all interested in strings wanted a violin.  I got to learn cello!

So, my intellectual interaction with classical music began more than thirty years ago.  Long before I began studying cello (it got to be “studying” kind of serious, private lessons on weekends in Chicago, not just ensemble classes in the afternoons at school), I knew (at the very least) the melodies of the biggies like Pachelbel’s Canon in D, Bach’s 3rd Brandenburg, etc..

The first young persons’ orchestra with which I played had a rehearsal conductor that I precociously found lacking.  With every ounce of the earnest melodrama a 9-year-old might impart, I bemoaned  to my all-knowing grandfather, “he is like a bear! Both hands do the same thing! Every five measures, he’s another beat too slow.”  

My grandfather did not likely pat my head and ignore me.  It is very likely that he knew I wasn’t fucking around.  My grandfather, my kindred spirit, was my first conductor. I learned how to follow a baton from his own deft, long hands.

For my first (very big) performance, the program concluded with Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, conducted not by the no-rhythm bear who had rehearsed us, but by a fiery, brilliant woman.  She smiled, she fairly danced, she was perfectly fucking joyful.  I had my music memorized, so I didn’t — I couldn’t take my eyes off her, her face, her hands, her baton.  I trusted her immediately, fully.

I have no idea what her name was.  When the fireworks went at the end of the piece (timpani?  blanks shot into barrels?)  I wasn’t startled.  My cello and I were the same, together with the others to make an amazing sound, all part of this glorious moment.  There was nothing shocking at all about it.  

I’m long past playing cello now, though I’m pretty good at appreciation.  And, for an abjectly armchair, fully un-credentialed critic, I’m OK saying that I do or do not enjoy a performance.  

I took myself last year to a performance of the Emperor Concerto that I hated from the beginning (because of the conductor (not the pianist or orchestra, both of which I would have liked if they didn’t seem so much like they’d rather not be there, dragged about the piece)).  At lunch with colleagues the following Tuesday, I said (with no hope of anyone knowing what I meant), “It was fucking awful.  I wanted it to end so badly I clapped between movements.”  One of my colleagues coughed like he was choking on his noodle soup.  I almost yelped. “You understand?!” We saw each other, his metal-water-green-copper eyes met my own mismatched green/gold.  He nodded.

For the uninitiated in philharmonic etiquette: wait to applaud until the whole thing is done. This is signaled to the audience when the conductor lowers her or his arms all the way.

Take this comparison: there are many theatre companies that might perform Hamlet or Midsummer Night’s Dream.  One company does not produce the same show as another.  I don’t overmuch love the Emperor, but it was on a program with other pieces I VERY MUCH love, so I took it in, with the unstudied expectation it would be OK enough.  I didn’t stay for Pictures at an Exhibition (Mussorgsky), which is really one of my favorites ever.

I wrote most of all of that to say to anyone with any idea about algorithms: just because it’s classical music does not mean it is calming.  Bach is generally cheerful and mostly groovy, (I’ve got theories.  I won’t discuss here).   For reals, google. It appears as though you’re trying to sink the entire “lowercase c classical” genre simply because there’s no copyright by which you might get with profit. None of the classical mediation radio! is good for what it says it is.   It is Romance; the Baroque pieces are buoyant and there are too many terpsichorean glories, whether vast or tiny, to be considered “soothing.”  Personally, I don’t find nearly anything “soothing” written by Ravel, Mahler, or Faure.  They’re enervating, maybe rousing.  Usually I hate Debussy, because I longly and largely hate Debussy, so he’s no good for “meditation” or “soporific.”  All of the mentioned composers stir me out of easy or sleepy and fully negate the lullaby because I’d rather stay awake to listen.  What the hell sort of meditation do you expect is ensuing via Saint-Saens?   Can you stop it?! I want to listen and sleep at the same time.  Riots don’t only issue from the flights of Wagner or marches of Williams.  There’s a lot to hear in a lot of works.  

What passion cannot Music raise and quell?
 When Jubal[4] struck the corded shell,
His list’ning brethren stood around,
   And, wond’ring, on their faces fell
  To worship that celestial sound,
Less than a god they thought there could not dwell
Within the hollow of that shell
That spoke so sweetly and so well
What passion cannot Music raise and quell?



A Narrative Navigation of Assumptive Acceptance. Or: sincerely, thank you.

Two hours before sunrise, I turned off the a/c.  I still woke up around seven.  I tried to talk myself into going out for breakfast, but couldn’t decide where I’d go, so I made bacon and eggs and did dishes and I tucked in to readsleep again. The one place I wanted (possibly needed) to go wasn’t open until ten.

Around 9.30 I was up, headed to get a coffee out; I wanted to leave the a/c off as much as I could today. I needed second breakfast. I went to a market on the same street as the other place, got snacks I know and queued up on one of two lines, both long, both stacked with people who had full carts.  The person ahead of me “did a record spend!” (his bill came to $248).  

I had two bottles of water, two Epic bars, a flat pack of gum.  

The person behind me asked:  “Is that from Hindu or something?”

I’d like to state for this record that I understand the risks of visible bod-mod.  I can recite short explications off by heart. I say, “thank you for asking!” when those (overcome with curiosity) ask to make tactile contact with the beautiful scar carved on my right arm.  I say thank you for asking even when I say no, please don’t.

I know, even in Los Angeles, there’s an omnipresent objectification (notwithstanding bod mod) and it’s accepted that I asked for this because I’ve decorated or altered my own body. (More on this some other time.)

Whether the public consumes these isn’t my concern.  Ink, scars, metal, curly hair (!) do not actually mean I am an interactive cultural anthropology exhibit.

It so happened yesterday two people (at a different market) commented on the labyrinth tattoo but they were rather sweetly awestruck and immensely more respectful.  One approached me from outside my vision, whilst I dithered about which bourbon I wanted. “Excuse me, please?” I turned to see a store-uniform-wearing woman, young.  I thought she was going to tell me I needed to put my stuff in a basket not my satchel.

“Your artwork is so beautiful, what is it?” I realize she means the tattoo between my shoulder blades.

“It’s a labyrinth.”  I smiled.  I could see her thinking, I tried to help, “It’s a path, it’s a walking meditation, there’s only one way into the center, and a different way leads back to the beginning. There’s an Ancient Greek myth of Daedalus -”

“Oh!  Ariadne!”  We shared a really big smile.   Not everyone gets that one.  She repeated her compliment, and I said thanks, and that was it.   

The other interaction, minutes later, similarly “that’s wicked cool!”   And then we talked about the scarification. He reached, but stopped himself: “Oh shit, I should ask!” though I hadn’t flinched.  I said thanks!, but he reconsidered, because scars are cool and all that but “you mean you really actually had your flesh removed?” is a bit further afield for most.

This morning, with my Epic bars and and my waters, waiting behind the record-setter of a grocery shopper, a woman blurts “is that from Hindus or something?” which is a clumsy overture (if not ugly), and I really just want to drink all the water in the entire store and also all the water in all the stores and eat my bacon bars and I don’t feel like speaking, let alone explaining anything to anyone. I can barely figure out why the fuck did I come to Torrance? I’m groggy and cranky because I needed to eat an hour ago.

“The words are transliterated Sanskrit. From The Upanishads. Quoted by T.S. Eliot.”  

This answer was pointedly deliberate intellectual snobbery. I wanted to avoid further conversation.  

And I totally missed the fucking mark.
In the future, I will say: Please leave me alone, I want to eat second breakfast and to recall why the fuck I drove to Torrance.

She kept talking to me. “Yah but that maze thing?”

“A maze has multiple ways to get through.  A labyrinth isn’t about confusion, it’s about clarity. It’s meditation.”

I wish to all the bacon that I fabricated any of her reply.  

Oh, yeah, I was in Morocco?  With a professor?!  And we needed to have a piss and finally found the toilets, we called it the toilet labyrinth! and there was a sign ‘wash closet’ and  — I’m Jewish, you see — omygad we found out later that we shit where the Arabs wash their faces.  I don’t care! (laughs)  They deserve it for all the things Arabs and Muslims did to us.

My mouth goes dry, gaping at her. I invoke the literal, trying to make a point. “They who? When you used the toilet?”  

“No, but omygah!, I asked this tour guide if they could find out my dna from the shit I took because those people are totally going to come after me, right?”


“…in a different place there was much better signs: Turkish toilets and American Toilets.  It’s better not to have to share that with them. Those people.”  

What in seven goddamned evers has this got to do with my tattoo?  I look towards the record-setter in front of me, all bent on optimism his tab was nearly calculated.  

Then, Moroccan-toilet-storyteller took a step too close to me and grabbed my arm to see more of my ink.

I step away and pull my arm from her.

“Please do not touch me.  I do not know you.”

She says, “Oh, I’m a cool person!”  As if saying this means it’s ok for her to step toward me again and reach toward me again.

I step back again.

Slowly, calmly (I have sweet fuck no idea how) I say:

“You did not ask me if you could touch me.  And you’re racist.”  

I left the explicit unspoken.  Here it is: racism is not cool.

She shut up and backed off. 


“Thank you.”

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