aspiciat

a girl in her city, watching the sunset

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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.

And
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.

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

And

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.

Downtown
  amid the history lessons told by
t
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.

2012

 

 

 

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.

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.

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?”

“Pardon?”   

“…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. 

Finally.

“Thank you.”

RSVP

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

This morning I threw away the pot of miniature roses that sat outside my door

My landlord painted the balcony and stairs last week.  He had moved the large-ish pot of roses that someone had given me as a housewarmer.  Except, he placed it upon my desk.  My desk is a door on top of two filing cabinets,  shimmed with one volume (there are 2) of the 1979 Compact OED.  (Garage sale find for $2.  This is the edition I got for myself upon graduation from UCLA.)  Anyway.  The desk is at a bit of a slant now.

He said I needed to get a dish for under the roses.  I tried to source on craigslist and freecycle but not with overmuch gusto because I would have to go collect it from wherever (nearest & best bet was Calabassas, and I’m tired.  It didn’t work out anyway).  A week went by and the roses that were in thick and in bloom had turned crunchy within my place.  It’s not usually sunny in my front room (I put them on the floor after a few days) and I wasn’t watering them.

Sweetbest told me on 14 Feb that she didn’t really want and/or need me in her life any longer.  She hadn’t answered much (in months) in any of my attempts at outreach, and I feel rather sure she accepted my offer to visit her (that day) whilst I was in the OC on other business just as a way to break up with me in person.

While she shared intimately with me during the few hours we got to spend together, the ultimate message was that she had no time and no inclination to pursue any relationship with me.

I mentioned it to a mutual friend who suggested the three of us hang out, but I may have been half drunk (and I was certainly nearly asleep when I answered the text).  I haven’t said much of this to anyone else.

When she and I had dinner on January 9, 2012, she reached across the table, extending her little finger.  “Pinky power, Weenie [her nick for me].   It will never happen again.  Never apart. Never again.”  I teared up and linked my pinky with hers.  She was fucking radiant.  Her wide, beautiful, unforgettable smile was for me.  My hope exceeded any limits at that point.  The world was ours. I could do anything.

It is probably childish to believe that people mean what they say; and even more so this vow taken in the most solemn oath of our adolescence.  There we were, women of 37 & 36 years, chatting over wine and Italian food, swearing by our little fingers.

The pot of roses were among the items (tokens) she brought one Saturday last March.  I don’t know what to do with the other things she gave/left.  Some seem trivial (pile of hangers).  Some seem positively looming (a gorgeous duvet cover I would have wanted my whole life and never gotten around to getting, bowls and plates and all the flatware I use now, a blown-glass lamp from one of the nurseries).

It is her way to attach significance to material items that may otherwise be overlooked.  (Previously discussed, but I’m not going to bother with the link.  Short version: she is avian (nest) and I am serpentine (shed skin, regenerate).)  I doubt I’ll toss most of this, but I’m leaning towards acquiring some kind of trunk, tucking the things she haunts into, locking it and forgetting where I leave the key.

I have learned that most people’s shit isn’t mine to manage.  I don’t take things personally the way I did once (read: was nearly everything).  Admittedly, of late I’m quite tender  because I have erupting 3rd molars (YAY June 19th for insurance!), constant headaches, achy-sore muscles, rapid weight loss and stretchiness.   I’ve been hungry a lot.  Or not at all hungry and consequently not eating, I’ve been inconsolably insomniac;  I’m all too aware.  If something rankles me particularly, I may take a very deep breath and walk away so I can try to sort (the usually nonexistent) reasons I have taken offense into some reasonable order.  (Some of you have patiently counselled me when I’m completely at sea.)  Frequently, I can talk myself out feeling maligned, generally fairly quickly.  I don’t demand of myself that this roll-with-it is immediate.  I may get there, but I’m pretty well triangular and I’m good at not giving much of a fuck.

I crack the following joke with my boss – about things like ugly spreadsheets, questionable statistics, invisible project planning, or poorly done powerpoint slides: “Oh, fuck, man, that hurts my feelings.”  It’s not for serious. He appreciates this quirky levity.   (When he yells for me or approaches my desk, I have been known to reply and/or greet him by bawling “O Captain, My Captain!”)  

The aforementioned bon mot may go like this:  

Bossman:  So, H, I wanted to share a document I got this morning to do with [TrainWreckProject] …
Me:  [Maybe cringing]  Shit, Captain, are you about to hurt my feelings?
Bossman:  [Nodding, smiling like a grave] Yes, H.  This will totally hurt  your feelings.

SEE?  IT’S FUNNY.  Really. 

But I’ve sat with her rejection for two months.  I don’t care to pursue her, begging for her affection or attention or kinship.  She simply doesn’t have this to give me, or has no desire to draw it forth.  I know I’m tired tonight, but it’s been around that long.  And while I don’t dwell so much, (sometimes only grasping at huge, blinking question marks), I cannot fathom what math to employ to figure this one.   I don’t know how to run this analysis.  The formulae are always slightly beyond my comprehension.

And that’s Wednesday.

Because fuck you.

Today, the subject of this post (or someone claiming to be him) threatened me unless I removed it.

Apparently, he can distinctly recall the event I posted about more than three years ago.  (He really probably doesn’t, he could barely do more than rearrange my own  recollection.)

And, as he has conducted himself similarly with several women I know personally, I’m inclined to discover what legal remediation may be available to me for his bilious threats.

He was clever enough to include an email address.

 

Body as history book

The night before, I was disconsolately frantic, bordering psychosis.  G fed me whiskey and cigarettes and benzos and wrapped me in a blanket as I sat in the corner.  I was groundless and confused and oppressed by just sheer “something’s fucking wrong and I don’t know what”.  After plentiful chemical intervention, I slept.  If you can call it that.  

Some things from that long ago don’t register anymore, I’ve lost their memories.  It doesn’t happen often but here and there someone will mention how I was ten years ago, or how different it is these days, me with my feet on the ground.

The sun had barely risen, and The Prince of Ireland banged on my door to wake us up, I didn’t have a television or radio.  

“New York is under attack.”  

I am a pacific sort but I have an endless fascination with war history.  Some of this is the distance I feel like war has granted me – though there has been no point in my personal timeline that my government wasn’t engaged in military action  somewhere.   I’m just lucky as fuck that it is always somewhere else.

We stumbled over to G’s and The Prince’s apartment, a few doors down, barely awake and in boxer shorts and tank tops, me hazy from the cocktail.  We stared at the television in this-isn’t-happening kind of silence.   That immense tower in NYC was on fire, so tall, so terrifying.   And then the second plane.  And the rapid news of other hijackings.  Of other threats.  L.A. on alert.  

And all of us, jesters and storytellers, we had no words.   

I still don’t understand it.  I understood the riots of ‘92.  When I protested the Gulf War with fellow high school students, that kind of physical/psychic energy anger made some twisted sense.  

What was this?  What did anyone in those planes and buildings do to incur an unmediated declaration of war.   Why had there been no diplomatic salvo?  

What the fuck is Al-Qaeda?

Since then, being at war has been unrealistically distant.

Yearly, today is metaphysically difficult.  I don’t ever remember it is.

I was cloudy last night, overwhelmed with fuck if I know.  I woke up and realized why.   This anniversary is cosmically hard on me.   And while I don’t like being confused and I’m terrified of having no words, I don’t ever forget that war is done on people who have nothing to do with whatever is ostensibly at stake.  The counted and the untold uncounted lives of people doing the dirty work of the men in suits and ties who make war, those lives deserve my difficult day, they deserve my recollection, however far away they may have lived.

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