a girl in her city, watching the sunset

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 next day, 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?!” He looked at me, water-blue eyes intent; 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.”

Meditation from a Whisky Bar.

I don’t always make plans.  Presently, my laundry is begging for attention.  It’s an hour from last call at the laundromat and I’m not bothering with it.  I have socks and drawers for tomorrow.  It’ll do.

I get paid to make plans, and by all accounts that matter (by which I mean those of my chief), I’m pretty good at it.  In the part of life for which I’m not for sale, (Real Life), I can be counted on to have coffee and cigarettes and enough gas in the tank and probably an avocado (or liverwurst) and wine; I’m naturally inclined to share.  (I’m a twin.)

Some time ago, I stopped fretting my meagre holdings as deficient or deficiency.  Admittedly, it can be a chore to choke out Guilt when I come home from work and do not continue to work.

In Real Life, I don’t plan so much.  I read.  I write.  I read more than I write.  Recently, I’ve been keeping my distance from writing fiction with something like dedicated precision. Some of this is to do with the unceasing demand of getting up and going to work rather than having endless hours to pace in my studio, go outside to smoke, drink coffee and construct.

An aside about the pacing of studio, making/drinking of coffee and smoking,  since some people do not do this:

I’m a thinky, feely, bright person and I’m not pin-point focused.  When I’m having a hard time stringing language into words, I do chores, give up to finger paints. I draw or sculpt to remove phlegm from my brain.  I’ve been known to cook some fucked up amazing brussel sprouts. I’ve made bacon-infused bourbon butter.

There’s always music going.

My own writing of late is journalism or memoir and I’ve been on a mile-wide streak observing, not always with rapt intention.  A few weeks ago, I got up on a stool at a whisky bar in DTLA to have a drink, killing time as I made my way to the Observatory for sunset.

“Makers, double. Neat.  Water back, please.  Can I buy you a shot?”

I had out no tiny notebook, no smartphone, no laptop.
Here’s what happened next:

“Hey, I’m Al.  Let me get your drinks, I want you to hear my story.  You’re a writer.”

I ordered bourbon in a whisky bar.  This doesn’t seem like it would indicate much past “I’m keen on bourbon.”  I listen to Al for a while.

The next five people who come know Al in some degree of Kevin Bacon, and all of them are cajoled to telling me a story and buying me a drink.  I’m on foot and Metro, so I’m mostly fine with this.

Except the part where everyone accepts I’m a writer and I haven’t.

Drought and Absurdity

Because I’m mindful of water consumption and we’re in the midst of a bitch of a drought,  I haven’t washed or had my car washed in many, many moons. (Though, there was vacuuming here and there.) Today, I decided to have it done whilst the detail service came to the office where I work.  Follow me down this morality tale, won’t you?

I walked into the parking lot to find and record my license plate number on the slip I’m supposed to include with my key and payment in an envelope. On my way back to the building, the Car Wash Fella approaches me, asking which is mine, he’ll do it now.

This is the most popular concierge service we have at work, so I’m pretty impressed at his go-get-’em, and I point to my car, (Ollie Cooper) and he takes the envelope I’ve just pressed closed. It’s 9.35a.

The acting receptionist says, “Did he take your key? Yours is the last one he’s doing, there were only two others,” (she named colleagues, that doesn’t matter here). “Oh, yes, he did, oh, OK, oh.” I reply, confused at the whole thing.  I go back to where I face a corner in the bullpen I inhabit, and prep for an 11.00 call.

At 11.53a, I wander to the lobby, expecting to collect my key and scout lunch that might probably involve some combination of bacon, avocado, spinach and coffee.  I mean, it had been more than 2 hours, but $20 express service has ever taken that long.

La Receptionista says, “he didn’t bring back your key.  But, he’s gone, he left.”

She looks away, as if she can see a different place on the glass wall and blinks.   “Maybe he left the key in your car?” she offers, but not very helpfully.  (N.B.: She’s not helpful, generally.)

I stalk out (I have impeccable posture and I wear 4.5” stiletto-heeled knee-high leather boots, I do not usually stalk) to my car, unhappy at having no key.  The car is unlocked but don’t worry, my key isn’t anywhere to be found within it.

Neither have I packed a lunch today.

I go back inside, miffed (this is uncharacteristic, I don’t broadcast when I’m righteously pissed at work.  Work can have all the quirky and the smartest-ditz-in-the-room, but fuming is for walls that don’t talk back).  I mention it to somebody, but I walk to my desk (my bullpen (and my corner) is the farthest walk from either entrance), so when someone approaches me, I stop them from asking me for anything with a my hand up, and he gets that I’m saying (at the very least), “Not yet, not right now, I’m clocked out for lunch.”

I ring the service’s number but get the answering machine, so I leave word.

I email them.

I email my office building facilities manager.

“The detail service left with my car key, please can he bring it back.”

I leave word again for the car wash place.

I go outside, thinking I’d find a smoke to smoke, but I don’t really want to smoke, so I walked two laps around the building.  Half way through the second one, the car washing van careens around the first corner of the lot, stopping.  The fella to whom I’d handed my key bounds out in the same motion with which he’s stopped the truck and removed the key (grr) from the ignition, jovially explaining how hungry he had gotten and he had to go to his lunch, he has my key! He still has to do the windows and tires!  He’s really glad about seeing me.  He tells me two more times how hungry he was and how he got lunch.  I’m about to eat a kitten.

How did he not finish this in 2 hours?  It’s not really that much of a mess except the outside parts.

I don’t care.  I finish my lot-lap and walk back into the A/C’d office and clock in from lunch and go outside to smoke, but I don’t, I try to cheer a sourpuss up by telling my “car-wash-guy-decided-it-was-lunchtime” story and she and I settle on the adjective “absurd.”  When three other colleagues join, I half tell the story, asking OnceSour to chime in with her theories on why he took his lunch if mine was the last car to wash.

I stutter-step on my way in so I can congratulate a Sys Admin on a successful project close and Car Wash Fella whistles and “Hey, Lady!”s me with my key and he really wanted me to tip him.

I love tipping.   I did not tip him.

I’m OK with this revealing I’m a control freak but I was also really hungry.

And this is the story of how this girl learned to not bother having her car washed in the middle of this matchstick-drought.

Aye, aye

It’s the middle of the night, really. I meant to go to dinner 40 miles away, but then I got skittish because I discovered one of my headlamps is out and I know my registration is overdue, so I drank wine and read some of a beautiful history book. When that was done, I worked on a close reading of a novel (2nd time reading). Close reading takes a lot longer.

It’s the middle of the night because I’ve been working (as my Chief calls them) “half days! Six a.m. to six p.m.!” I want to argue that I’m not a sailor, I was never in the Navy. But I don’t argue, not about that. Production environment versus test bed credentials or change records, maybe. About anything with some logical or reasoned foundation — for those I might could propose a different POV. I do not dare dispute working the same hours he does; I do my damnedest to tote barges and lift bales, even if they’re all virtual. It’s glorious, it’s exhausting. But now I’m awake and it’s 5 hours before I’ll get up to swab the decks.

Insomnia has been a more prevalent theme than usual this summer. A summer gone by without once bathing in the Ocean. Giant waves, broken skin and bones, stinging rays, and more giant waves have kept me to the sand. I am not sure if I’ve gotten into saltwater since my birthday in April, and it feels like it’s been hot since May. I wonder: if I was so brave as that ocean, might I be sleeping soundly right now.

I slept next to an octopus recently, and so remarkably well that I endured her jibes in the morning – my snoozing so late and the talk in my sleep. “I hope it wasn’t incriminating!” (It was nonsense, it seems.) Perhaps my slumber was due to the comfort of that cephalopod. If only I could offer some tiny bit of comfort to her in return.

This morning I woke up startled at some ridiculous hour in my own soft bed, convinced of some interloping creature, but probably only my stirring wrinkled the sheet. I jolted awake, ready to fucking riot, at DEFCON 5.

I’m going to crawl into a salted & anointed bath, then crawl under a cover and try to rest, try to stay still (stillness is the very biggest demand I (or maybe anyone) makes of myself), consider beautiful things, beautiful people and all the awesome beautiful everything. Tomorrow is nearly here, but tomorrow it’s going to be ok to be great at what I do, to smile at people who think I cannot see them, to stand up tall even if I’m just here to swab the decks.


Heavy and empty at the same time, I got into bed late last night, probably justified in feeling hard done by.

I woke up earlier than the first alarm clock goes, blurry and soft and half-grinning. My mouth isn’t screwed up and clenched. I shuffle/stumble to get water and head outside to smoke and decide whether I should re-sleep or make an honest woman of the day.

“Fuck yes, Monday. Let’s have a dance.”

The extra-full-glorious moon illuminates the backyard with blue/white/crispness. I come inside and drink a pint and a half of water. I haven’t kissed my kitchen goodnight in any way all weekend or so, and before I can deal with much more than the kettle to get coffee going, there’s dishes.

I’ve explained poorly why I love doing dishes, why I love cleaning my kitchen. What it isn’t about is tidiness. It isn’t about hyper-organization. The acts of sweeping and mopping are really a rosary, though I’ve never been Catholic.

Technology, a liquid unconstrained, covers most of my life. I make plans to launch code for a living. I send sextastic messages via digital means to arrange my free time. I know everyone socially because I found out online there was somewhere to go, something to do, people to meet.

Housekeeping is more or less by rote, and there’s no puzzle to solve, no invention demanded. And because of that my muscles, hands and back take the wheel: my head can do whatever it needs to sort out whatever there may be.

And I again realize that I can control my floors and my dishes. I can make my bed in fresh linens, and I can manage only so much as my aspect, the extent of my reach. I cannot control traffic or damned near anything to do with anyone else. The exception to that is my ability to ensure the clarity of my communication. You know I love you, right? If you need me to say it differently, please let me know.

The moon is setting now, dawn twilight hemming the indigo sky, half pink with the lights of the port. Today.

Fuck yes. Let’s have a dance

Flight Gear (or: somewhere betwixt muzzled & dressed out for roller derby)

I denied the declaration that I was a brat with such vehemence that I stomped my foot.

This makes for good comedy.

But it’s not untrue, that adamant denial. The truth isn’t that I’m a brat – it’s that I’m scared fuckless of doing what I’m told.

I’ve been healing from a weird injury that seems to have slammed me at a weird time. (This seems digressive. It’s only a little.)

A few weeks ago, I scheduled a massage for a Saturday; I knew my arm/neck whatever wasn’t altogether sorted out. Eight or ten weeks of 60+hrs of work (a new thing) was maybe holding on too hard and twisted up a bit. The day before that appointment, I got to work and dove into a right fiasco of emails, but then struck half blind by panic: my hands went numb, then burning, then – fuck this, I’ll take a sick day. (It may be the first sick day I’ve ever had?)

“Massage” has such soothing connotations. There was someone I once knew who called it “body work” and someone else who called it “manipulation.” The nods those words make are more mechanical, and also more accurate. It’s not that I’m carrying a bit of overtime tension; I’m in some measure of disrepair. After the first, I booked four appointments, weekly.

Week 1.  (An email exchange with the massage therapist/torturer) 

8L: I have been so close to crying, which I think would help if it wasn’t stuck. Thoughts?

CB: Go talk to yourself in the mirror about what you’re feeling…not what you think you’re feeling, but just the feelings.
Give yourself permission to feel those feelings.

8L: the mirror I have at my place only shows from my collarbones to 18” above my head. heh. I’m no help with all your good words.

CB – that’s a fine mirror…this isn’t a body image exercise…this is facing yourself eye to eye exercise…:D Use a compact mirror if you have to…lol

8L: Dammit, that excuse was supposed to get me out of doing it.

Week 2: (written after I planned to sleep off a headache/hot day)

It didn’t happen — that sleep. I couldn’t lay still.

I got up, frustrated, agitated, too too too near that edge of panic; taking the hot weather so very personally. I drew a bath with lavender and rosemary oil. I twisted and growled, I cleaned my whole place, cooked 3 days of lunches & dinners. I cleaned more. I took out trash, did push-ups and squats;  I cursed and found myself standing in front of the only mirror I have.
No, I can’t I can’t do this I don’t need to i don’t have to I don’t want to I can’t I can’t- I turned away and looked at the wall.
I faced my reflection. I spoke.

I am good at what I do.
I am very tired.
I sometimes feel really lonely.
I am a triangle.
I did this on my own.

I knelt, wrapping my arms around my middle. I grabbed for and sobbed into my skirt, so confused. What am I still clutching? What’s in my fists? Why?

Week 3: The Braces.
I think I’m improving, but my job is not slowing down just yet, and doing no overtime means I’m falling behind. I know it’s a season, but I’m told of my hands: “they’re not going to last much longer.” Get wrist & elbow braces, he says.  Wear them.

Fuck fuck fuck. The fucking things work, they’re bloody Pavlovian.  The first day, I keep yelping, “ow!fuck!” and half trying to convince myself “that hurts because the brace must be wrong.

I say I feel like a muzzled dog dressed out for the roller derby.

It’s a huge revelation: the stays (they are metal) kept hurting as I moved in one way or another because I am digging in and pitbulling, bending in ways that hurt not because the brace is bad. How many other things do I dig in about without assessing the part I play in making things difficult? To what else am I beholden for no good reason?

During the last appointment, there was some moment I slipped away. I remember thinking, “I could just let go instead of being terrified of what happens if I do.” The bit of my side – top of my rib cage, behind/below my armpit? That’s a scary place – why does a girl with wings keep all the things she’s afraid of right beneath them? How much further could I fly without that weight?

This is the long way to come round to say that I’m afraid of doing what I’m told because I did that before (not a new story, I’m not the only or the last one to have it to tell). To comply, I wagered the fortune of my security and happiness. And I lost it.

I’m not afraid of someone else telling me what to do, I’m afraid I’ll forget why I’d do it, who I am.

But I am in love with the taste of the sky when I can let go instead of being terrified of what happens if I do.

I don’t want to be your gd girlfriend

He wasn’t at all cool about his intention.  But, I wasn’t interested in his cool.  All I wanted was a fuck.  Tonight.  He’d do fine, I’m sure, he was certainly eager enough.   I whispered the question to my friend the Mothafucka, “Hey, is this fella alright?” The Mothafucka replied, “Amuse Bouche?  Yeah, he’s a’ight.”

I go back to the table, and lean toward him.
“So, you wanna fuck me?”
“Yup.”  He’s shiny.
“ You square with the ‘tender?”
“Yeah, I’m all set.”

An uncommon rain fell in Los Angeles as we walked back to my place.  It was chilly and my umbrella got  forgotten somewhere during the wherever I went that evening.  Amuse Bouche wrapped his arms around me and kissed me, which I didn’t expect.  He commented on the romance of walking at midnight in the rain.  (I wasn’t sure what the fuck at all to make of that.  I don’t do this for romance.)  I tucked my glasses into my bag, they were useless with the downpour.   We stumbled, both of us drunk and I couldn’t see much, but I could stagger the route from that bar to my couch if I was blind and deaf on top of the usual shimmery with drink.

We got to fucking shortly after reaching my doorway.  I think it was a matter of my helping him off with his wet jeans, you know, but, oh, while I’m here I might as well suck your cock. Maybe?  I confess, I don’t remember much, but he called for a cab three hours later.  I went to sleep mostly satisfied.

In post-coital smoking-and-chatting, he stunned me by revealing his age.  A lot younger than me, and younger than guys that usually gain my interest.  Ah, fuck it, maybe it’s no big deal.

I see him at the same bar maybe a week later.  He’s not as forward. I figure he’s not interested, or I lack the allure I have when viewed through the bottom of an empty Molson.

Another week or so goes by and the bar’s owner calls with a last-minute invite to a concert.  I’m thrilled yes, ok, yes.  He is generous beyond the ticket, buying me drink after drink. I know the band, I sing along with strangers: it’s an awesome time.  We go back to his bar for a half-after-party, and Amuse Bouche is there, working maybe his fourth or fifth Canadian.  I’m trashed, for sure, it’s late.  In not too long, the Amuse Bouche is obvious about wanting me.  Fine, I’m cheery and rosy, let’s.  He calls a cab this time.  He’s very into it.

It’s mostly OK.

Except the part when I realize he’s fucking my ass.  Well, OK, but isn’t that something you might want to warn a girl?  It seems like it is.  I find out weeks after the fact he did this without a condom, making issue of the surprise buttfuck infinitesimal.

This  uncool has no measure.  I am nothing but clear: I don’t fuck without protection.  I get tested every three months, male fuckmates wear condoms.  It’s just how the fuck it is.  You want to put your dick in me?  Suit the fuck up, sailor.

And then?  He fell asleep in my bed.  Picked a side, got cozy and started to snore.

When I share my bed, it’s with a woman I have known longer than Amuse Bouche has been alive, not with boys collected from pubs.  That night, whatever sleep I get, it’s on my couch.

Some weeks later, I text him what seems to me is a purely randy: “when can you bring your cock over here?”

In reply, he sends a half-lecture in all earnestness about how he’s not keen on multiple “hookups” ‘cause that’s too relationshippy.

I read this on my phone as I’m walking north towards Wilshire and I cannot stop laughing.

Really?  Relationship?  I gossip about this with people who know me better.  Amuse Bouche is all kinds of double standard.  It’s fine for him to want to hook up – but if I do, he has to fend off my relationship advances?  We all laugh at him.

Because we all figured he’s going to roll back around, wanting some snatch.

And, wise with our age, we are all correct in this.

Intervening news of a friend’s deteriorating health and his decision to enter hospice cancels my desire for sexywants.  Amuse Bouche manages to text me the night I learned of this.  So at midnight, under pretense of offering company, but too blatantly unconcerned about how I am doing really, Amuse Bouche comes over with a bottle of wine.  He has no idea how easy it was for me to regale him with story after story after lurid story of my sexual history.  Kink and more kink, group sex, gangbangs, girls I’ve fucked, girls who fucked me.

I did that entirely with the intention of inviting him to leave without fucking him.  Which I did.  For three nights in succession.  Each night talking about sex, each time declining.

“I know you might not feel up to it, but the offer stands.  I’d love to fuck.”
“No, thanks, not really up for it at all.”   I said.  Every night.

Sometime later I want the D.  I answer his inevitable text, inquiring as to my plans for the evening.  “I want to smoke a bowl and get fucked into the next area code.”

He’s over in 90 minutes, I think.

We talk some.  He orders in Thai.  We go get wine.  We get it on.  He wants to lose the rubber mid-fuck.

What?  Now you bring this up?

“Yeah, well, I haven’t fucked anyone since I did you.”
“That’s nice.  You don’t know who I have.”
“C’mon, I’m clean.”

Allow my redundancy: mid-fuck.

This is sheer-cliff immaturity, regardless of his tiny age.  Sometime in the last however long it’s been since I didn’t know this, I learned negotiation.  All my best sexual experiences come from excellent communication.  I want to be explicit – I do not mean that all my best sex is with people I have known forever or have been in love with or married to or relationshipped with or whatever;  I’ve had wildawesome wham-bam-thank-you-mans that were exhaustively orgasmic because we knew what was going on.   It’s not an issue to me if you want to fuck me only once, so long as you speak plainly.  (P.S. maybe I want you only once.)

Amuse Bouche, reclining on naked my couch post-hoc, explains that he’s mostly done the sex with exclusive girlfriends, so he isn’t fond of condoms.

I don’t care.

In the very least incredulous I could make my tone, I try to explain about his assumptions.  I chatter as jocularly as I can manage about communication – which one does before the fucking.  Like, don’t fuck someone’s ass without asking.  Fuckdates don’t sleep over.  Let me reiterate: I am not pairing off with anyone.  If you want to go skin on skin, find a fucking girlfriend.

He tries for levity and mentions the disparity of our ages, and it comes off as a swing-and-a-miss at cool.

Which is how the whole bullshit started, anyway.

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