In the north-east bay your ex slams on the brakes to make a right on your street, skidding to a stop as his wheels thrash the curb. His car stalls at his destination, right in front of your house. He chokes back another drunken sob. Your daughter sleeps through it. You hear the commotion outside so you run down the stairs and open the front door. 'My early twenties are coming back to haunt me,' you think, as you contemplate whether or not to 'temporarily' return to your parents house after the lease is up.
As it stands we can only see each other when your ex is taking care of your daughter. Once a week, tops. If you move in with your parents, you said, it could mean possibly even less.
In the south bay I press the accelerator in deeper, ninety is the new eighty. I can't drive fast enough because the air is colder and the trees are slowly drooping and the wind is picking up, there isn't much time. I've overstayed my welcome, the bay doesn't take kindly to unwanted visitors. I roll down the window and think, 'I never much cared for it either. I don't want to be here anymore than you do.'
I pull into the store to pick up something you told me you once liked. I'm a provider. I must be the provider. I'm doing this for you, you know.
"Don't go away. "
If we were to give it a chance, who would break first?
"See these things just happen when you're dealing with the hands on a clock of a woman. Cause it's enough just to know that I won't ever hold you close. And I won't ever smell your skin, again. And I know how I'm supposed to feel. But here I go again, singing, 'Don't go. Stay. Don't go. Don't go away.'"
"Come over, just be patient, and don't worry. I don't want to battle from beginning to end; I don't want to cycle or recycle revenge. I don't want to follow death and all of his friends. So come over, just be patient... and don't worry."
Summer twisted the city in knots. Traffic backs up as the ground shook and car alarms howled from abandoned lots. The rush is upon us, take cover. The leaves grow restless, they're shaking and whistling above you, can you hear them above the noise of wheels whistling through traffic?
I can. Perched just one story above the grass played on daily by understimulated yet overloaded children, my face is dimly lit by a quarter square foot of a fluorescent and artifical glow. I bury my face into this smart phone much like you do. This is how I connect. Can you hear me calling above the hum? Can you decipher the rhythmic pattern beyond the white noise of our century?
I can. The diagnosis is read off of an LCD screen rather than a faxed document yet the prognosis is little changed. So how can you lecture me on our era? How dare you say we've advanced and beaten our oldest nemises? When our cells grow so fucking tired they grow mad: reproduce and split like animals. How dare you compare order to a world without any? We are our own worst enemy and if we don't kill ourselves, our bodies will do it for us. Pussy.
We put up a fight against this cancer. We inject toxin into our bloodstream. Oh you'll beat it alright. You're going to beat it, they say. Can you hear the sound of cells dying? Can you hear the Oncologist read numbers off of a chart, assuring you they're getting closer? "Just a couple more sessions and we'll fucking fry those fuckers clear of your system... be patient." Can you hear the maddening, deafening call of your cells exploding, of mother nature growling, howling, madly laughing as you destroy what's left of what you call an identity?
I can. There's a battle and we're losing. Our own worst enemy stares at us through our mirrors, waiting on our next move. Who will pull the trigger first?
Half past six in the morning and I step outside to a crisp, cool morning greeting. Hello San Jose. Pleased to remake your acquaintance as well. It smells like a forest after a refreshing rain, with the sweet tinge of charred wood. Somewhere last night there was a fire. Not only near the bay but in Los Angeles as well. The smell of recent rain is a fallacy however; California is thirsty, its tongue dry, lips chapped and body charred. Its residents would all be dancing in hopes of rain if we weren't so jaded, if we didn't all think we knew better by now. Sometimes faith had it right. Sometimes you just had to believe.
Like with love. Believe and it shall come. She said I wasn't in love; that it was just an idea. I stand outside and smoke a cigarette, blow my smoke toward the south, ash on the dry land, and smirk. Life was the idea, some of the greatest accomplishments in human history started as ideas. All it took was an idea and a little faith, and the possibilities were endless. The limits removed. Picture it and it will come.
I refuse to be jaded to the point where I give up on ideas. I still wake up every morning don't I? I still dream of impossibilities and am always grateful and in awe of what these silly ideas are capable of turning into reality.
So lift your head up off the ground J. Look up. Imagine a world where your head spends some time in the clouds. And you never know, maybe a cleansing, refreshing rain will start to form, gently washing over your past, shining a dim light where there was once nothing but darkness.
Maybe it takes a leap of faith, but isn't that precisely what we are all here to find out? Because what would the future be if we simply resort to repeating the past, simply comfortable because a melancholic memory of a familiar bed or lost feeling is easier to wrap ourselves into than the possibility of a different future; one filled with the embers, the spark, the obscure clarity and heart pumping possibility, of ideas.
The car struggles against a headwind, heading north towards a dirty bay. Two bridges span across the fog covered salty sea, and every year two dozen people make their final plunge into mother nature's icy grasp below. They let go, the noise above fading into a crash... and then a soft, fleeting hiss. Broken vertebra, fractured wrists, dislocated shoulders, and lungs that slowly fill with water. Flat line. Seagulls fly by unconcerned, a ship's foghorn is blown, a crowd gathers above, all eyes downward, their minds already working out how to tell the story later at a cocktail party where the gazes dart from one end of a room to another, searching. The San Francisco bay is now closer to home than I ever wanted it to be. Los Angeles has been left behind. How many cities have crossed my path like ex-lovers, jealous and full of envy or disgust.
Dot dot dot. I haven't written in ages. My voice has been stolen and recycled. The pages have been left blank and maybe I should just leave them that way. Let someone else carry on a forgotten, unappreciated legacy.
A mess of a February involves waking up with a neck brace in an ambulance. The MRI is loud; its beeps and bangs obnoxious, the monologue in my head pretentious, I no longer write because it has been nothing but drivel since the beginning. Emotional boy.
She said, "Gonna cut out the inane prattle for a while." She had to get back to work. I laughed. Bravo.
I told her I'd use it as the closing lines of my vows someday. But enough of this inane prattle, let's just make out.
She fell asleep after the second period. I didn't have to use my alarm, which I had set around midnight for 4am, because I never fell asleep in the first place. I never fall asleep anymore. I watched TJ Oshie shoot over and over and over and over and I could have been going through some insomniac delusional state of deja-vu, but it happened; I caught it on the replay that aired right afterward.
It's almost noon. I still haven't slept. But enough of this inane prattle. It's time to ice the shoulder again.
Gay men stand outside of a fast food restaurant in Hollywood. They yell at the patrons daring to walk inside. They yell at the sign holders across from them. They fight, straining their vocal chords, letting go of the inhibitions that they carry on their shoulders daily. It's Wednesday, slightly after noon and I'm on a couch lowering the volume on the newscast that sensationlizes this story. I can't take it. I can't take the constant, everlasting and neverending debate. People disagree and they disagree so fucking strongly and adimately that any sense of humanity, or togetherness, oneness, all-one-or-none, fades. How do we carry on, minute by minute, in a world with so much disagreement? Why were we designed this way? It's obviously just a question to a God I struggle to believe in, a "benevolent being" I know does not exist, as the concept alone defines this surreal being as existing completely separate and disconnected from me. All one or none. If we are all one, then we win. But we're not winning.
London 2012: we're clawing at our opponents. We're devouring our competition. We're eating ourselves right up, gold medal and all. It's a race toward the highest tally. Soon we'll realize we're simply left stranded at the finish line, looking about for another soul to confide, celebrate, and enjoy this moment with. Yet our yells of triumph are left unanswered, our calls fall on deaf ears. We're raising our hands in celebration in front of a desolate landscape. No one cares when you're alone at the top.
It takes nearly 400 pages of build up and Franzen, in his brilliant recent novel, can make me break down with the words "It's me. It's just me." And I fucking lose it. My dog comes over to see what's wrong, she's licking my cheek, which are now glistening under the stream of tears. I'm sorry, I say to her. And the book hangs awkwardly between my left thumb and forefinger, tilted heavily to its left side, sagging under the weight of frantically read pages over the last two weeks. This is what its like to dive back in, to fully immerse yourself. 2011 was a hiccup, a momentary lapse of judgement, a year I'm glad to have had only in retrospect, when you figure you must pick up pieces, survey the damage, and carry on.
I don't know what's going to be of the years to come. I know less than I did several years ago on this touchy subject of destiny, fate, or finding ones place within an increasingly entropic world. And maybe that is precisely the key. Maybe it's through this unknowing where a life truly begins to take form; slowly mending itself into something recognizable, something tangible, something fluid, liquid, formed by years of unwept tears, finally being released onto the final pages of a novel, onto words written innocently enough: "It's just me."
I feel more lost, more broken and far more empty than you do or will. For you must remember darling, you were the one that left. You were the one that cut the lines of communication. You are the one that moved on. You are the one that holds this grudge, one that eats away at you, while I sit in our bed, in our room, alone. I want to put a period at the end of our sentence. I want to reconcile, apologize, forgive, and move on. Here is my signed armistice.
I want to give you a hug and tell you I still love you, and I want nothing but contentment for you. I want to be there in case you need someone to talk to, a shoulder to lean on, a forgiving, gentle, and kind voice when you're frustrated beyond reason. But I know you'd never have that, so I stay quiet. I may be the cause for half of your pain and a scapegoat for the other half, but I'm willing to take it all, or whatever it takes, so you can shed yourself of your past and move on... hopefully turning your anger into indifference, and your wrath into inspiration.
I'm sorry beautiful, you deserved better anyway. At this point, the one thing I want beyond and above everything else, is for you to stop hurting.
Ill carry the weight. Just pile yours ontop of mine. Ill carry it for you, and you can go on, lighter, ataractic, and free.
I didn't really smoke cigars, but the situation called for, at the very least, holding one between my fingers. I nodded at Jack, the house "butler." Jack was his stage name, but that's how we did it in the industry; when around the set you use stage names. And sometimes even off set. I preferred it that way, otherwise, how would we separate our lives at home from here? Or our past from our present? How could Moe be in this room, right here, dressed in a suit and surrounded by completely naked, drop dead gorgeous, beautiful women, begging to serve and please him? No, that's not Moe. It never was. Moe was a Persian nobody. I was glad to leave that history at the door. Half of these people didn't know me as Moe.
"Sir Stelio," Jack said. "How may I be of service?"
"Grab me a cigar, will you?" I said. "My hands feel empty."
"Sir," Jack assured as he scurried away. He had an actual butler outfit, long coat tails, white gloves and all. I wondered if he was married or had kids. I tried to picture his apartment, a woman waiting at home, TV glaring as he tried to sleep at 2 in the morning. I couldn't picture it. No, that life wasn't Jack's. Jack was a butler, an eternal servant, womanless, houseless, desireless, sometimes fucking women slaves on camera for a high end, niche adult website.
Stelio was a king, a Greek God, fellow master of this house. He had needs, desires, an insatiable appetite for perfection, and a thirst for pussy. Stelio, or I, was the only one that went down on the girls, without giving up the image of power. And the girls fucking loved it, they ate it up, I became popular in the inner circles pretty fast. They asked me if I was willing to do it on camera. Not yet. No, not yet...
Jack returned with a cigar and a tray with several tumblers of cognac. He handed me the cigar and placed one of the drinks on the table beside me.
"No thanks. I don't drink anymore, Jack," I said. And as I said it I thought, Well, at least Moe doesn't.
Tonight she gave me a hug and told me I was her favorite employee. Tomorrow she is off to tour the states with a friend's band. She has a month off, which meant no having to fuck, cum, squirm, please, or have her face showered with semen for a camera. Last night she told me she felt the collective consciousness of the world was turning sour. 'Not just the shitty economy,' she said. 'No, something more.' Yeah, a subtle yet ingrained sadness that radiates from everyone she hung around with lately. 'What is it?' she asked. I felt it too.
I raised my right index finger then, through the smoke that lingered between us, past the sleeping trees and toward the only pinpoint of light in the vast, empty sky. 'See that?' I asked. 'That's Jupiter.' Through the corner of my eye I saw her bite her tongue. She sighed and whispered something.
'Look at it,' I said. 'Just hanging there, staring at us.'
'Wow,' she repeated.
'Just fucking sitting there,' I continued. 'Being all gassy and shit.'
She laughed. Sometimes one random comment from one random person is enough to lift you out of a deep, debilitating funk, even if its passive effect is horribly temporary.
So thank you [young lady], you're one of my favorites too.
Last year around this time I was in a record breaking blizzard in DC, paying a vigilante close to $200 to drive through the snow in his 4x4 to get me to the airport. I was flying to LA.
This year I'm in LA. During a record breaking rain storm I'd usually welcome the weather, but the moon is being shadowed by our earth tonight, putting on a show for the nation, while California is left in the dark. I went outside anyway.
Looking up, the rain splattered across my face, soaking my sweater, splattering drops on my sandals. But it was worth it. Because this year is different. This year promises opportunity, beauty, and the prospect of everlasting love. The final moments of 2010 breathes possibility.
The moon disappears for an hour or so tonight, and I stand there staring at the clouds. It obstructs my view but I know that just beyond what I can see there lies a beauty, a love, a possibility, or something that I could never normally imagine. And being comforted by this thought, this prospect, is just enough that I smile, rain crashing against my teeth, content in a future that, for the first time in a long time, looks brighter than any star.
The girl took her red-eye back to the east coast, leaving me to drive the Sunday night Los Angeles traffic from LAX back north, to the edge of the hills, where Jupiter is visible for a few hours each night. I glanced up and located it before submitting to the week ahead; alone again, twin bed, cold nights, coffee and cigarettes. Two days later, I still haven't unpacked. The suitcase remains untouched and cold in the corner of my room.
Today I told her, over a text message, that I was hungry. I jokingly said, "go buy me a taco." She offered a pizza instead. I said sure.
When you return to the same, desolate routine, you find comfort in the loneliness. Change is always a bit frightening, so we force ourselves to put off any thought of possibility. Distance is key. Let it fade.
Until the doorbell rings about an hour later. And the pizza man says they have a delivery scheduled for your address. And you're bewildered... you didn't order any pizza... "You sure you got the right address?"
"Pepperoni and mushroom for Moe." And it clicks. Yeah, fuck the routine. Fuck comfort. Change can't come quick enough. A 3,000 mile pizza delivery order, after telling her I was hungry, won my heart. May the world begin to spin faster, tearing itself away from our sun, crushing the continent together from centripetal force, so we can be close again, if only for a moment.
Scantily clad laid back on the bar stool looking up at the row of liquor bottles, she squinted her eyes at the top shelf. It was her third night out in a row; it was becoming habitual, something had to give. She gave up trying to read the labels when the bartender approached her. She pushed herself up closer to him and whispered, "Chopin and diet coke, please. No ice." She hated how the ice came from buckets in front of the bar, probably covered in bacteria from all the cups that were constantly crammed into it, left over bar food that had found its way across the counter, dirt and piss and shit from mice or ants or whatever the fuck the bar had hiding behind its walls. It wasn't a classy joint. But ordering Chopin, she hoped, proved she was a classy girl.The bartender made her repeat, "No ice" three times. What is it with guys? Their paycheck comes from two tasks: listening and pouring. It's one-half of the job, she thought, try harder.
The bartender turned his back in order to pour her drink. The back of his shirt read RUMORS. It was the name of the bar. She wondered who came up with it, but instantly lost interest in the topic. She was one of five patrons yet she assumed it was still pretty busy for a Monday night. The jukebox has been silent since she stepped in, but she wasn't the type to pick songs and force an entire room of strangers to listen to what she thought was good music. Let another sap put in the two dollars. She didn't care what played but she was starting to get a bit creeped out by the silence. Any sense that is unstimulated is dangerous territory, it gets the mind going. Maybe she should have asked for a double.
It hit her then, just as the bartender was topping off her glass.
I'm intimidated by the empty page nowadays. I have very little to say but so much feeling. Or maybe it's the other way around. Honestly, who's keeping track? Maybe that's the point; no one is. I've spoken of the weather the last several times I posted, so I'll do you the honor of ignoring it this time around. I'm still stuck in the middle of the world's capital. But the capital doesn't feel like a capital should feel. There's a local pool hall that is more than happy to take my money but I'm indifferent as to whether or not they take it. I get a table and a drink and the chance to kill twenty minutes. The balls are polished, though, the green felt brushed, and for a moment I feel important as I try to sink a ball I'd never go for in the midst of company or competition. I know Saint Peter won't call my name.
And there's capital for you; a one sided pool game with a cocktail sitting on the ledge of the bar nearby. Welcome to America, bitch, it all says. It's all the same, so don't go searching for salvation.
God ignored me these past two weeks. But He tends to do that a lot. If anything, it hurts his reputation; who could believe in an absent minded, indifferent, supposedly benevolent being? You're losing points, buddy. You've been losing points for a while. At some point, you're gonna be forced out of the game.
Yet here I am, still playing. The odds are against me but sometimes the underdog wins, right? We can only hope.
Stella Artois, you agree, right? Right. Lovely, friendly, nectar.
A month or so down. An upside-down bell curve is how I'd describe the weather here. It started hot and humid, and then DC sensed my outrage so it backed off a bit. But the city doesn't placate for too long, we're inching back up to the mid 80s/low 90s, the humidity still spitting its disgust in full force. But this wave I can handle, because I know the names given to the city's streets, I know the metro routes and the rules of the road. I know the glances, dog-walkers, and beggars. I've conquered most of this diamond shaped city, as much as I can, anyway, given a month and a half and with whatever resources its willing to supply. Most importantly, I know where the Absolut, Kettle One, Chardonnay, and beer of various quality reside; I know the hours. The city has its corners. I'll scoop them out, one by one.
So is this an angry rant? Not necessarily, unless you get me started on the women. The women of the world conspire and plot and ploy and pull at strings until hearts break everywhere. DC has more of them; women, that is, and hence, the pull is stronger. The anguish a bit sharper. Every girl that passes by pierces the skin, draws blood. But soon that blood just may run out, drained of life. And just as well. I was expecting this type of torture. I just thought my interrogators, with their glassy blue eyes, straight brown hair, or wicked and brilliant smiles, may, this time 'round, be a bit more forgiving.
It's dark, but blistering. 2AM doesn't mean the same here as it did there. The stale latent summer heat still lingers around, robbing me of the little extra oxygen I used to take advantage of back home. Wherever home was. Back west, anyway. The district could care less about what I've been used to. But I've learned to live alongside its indifference. Let the heat rob some oxygen from my lungs, I'll smoke my cigarette anyway... and I'll inhale just as long and deep as I did in Santa Barbara, and I'll cough in its face. You can't break me, god dammit, not yet, anyway. Fuck your metropolitan suffocation. I'll deal with your four flights of stairs and creaky wooden floors and overused air conditioners. I'll deal with your crime rates and rolling eyes. I've got some stamina yet; so I'll beat you, god dammit... I will.
Because otherwise, we both lose. Don't we? Tread carefully. Santa Barbara, as timid as she is, remains a jealous ex-lover. And I still love her dearly.
"So pace the stairs to your apartment like it's where you want to be." -tbs
The humidity whets my appetite. The road rage seeps my anger. The stairs to the 4th floor apartment drains my energy. And the late night double vodka cokes soothe the culture shock. DC shakes in its own shell, riled up by the thunderstorms. It downpours its exhaust. But I take it in slowly, letting each drop morph a tiny, small piece of me into this new label of an East Coaster. The Atlantic is now home, the Pacific a long lost memory. My gaze slowly migrates from west to east. The horizon is as big of an enigma as it has ever been.
Last blog I spoke of a condom bag. The bag still exists, but it's shoved between boxes and crates buried beneath extension cords and speaker wire. It's technically as useless as it was near my bed in Santa Barbara. But it carries less weight now, hidden beneath chores piled so high I tend to walk around. DC wins, beating me down to the most strict and elemental necessities. Warm water, cold water, a roof over one's head and a sheet under one's body.
I close my eyes. But every time they open I'm slightly shocked; surely this must be a dream. What am I doing here? Where do I go from here?
A bed is on its way but its far too big for me. Just like old times. Let's find someone to share it with this time around, let us give faith to an opposite coast, and by anyone's God, reap in its potential glory.
She sips a beer before walking home after working a 9 hour shift. She yawns, looks up and stares at the fog as it rolls in from the coast and towards the city. There were times she'd consider running for it, rolling head first into the ocean and losing herself in the thick marine layer as her feet strike the sand, losing her bearings amongst the shore and loving every second of it, the only sense of direction coming from the salty offshore breeze as it hits her nostrils. And she can look around and feel the wet and thickness of the atmosphere all across her body. But the beer is almost finished and her home is only three blocks away. So there's only one real reasonable decision to be made, so she makes it, of course, puts her head down and heads for home. Tomorrow is a new year according to some calenders. She knows it. But she can't, for the life of her, really feel it.
The bed is made but it didn't need to be. No one is coming over tonight. No one will step through my front door or lay beside me, and it wasn't as if I had any other expectation. But the bed was made regardless. I'm hoping to trap her smell in between the comforter and the sheets. I want to trap the softness of her hair on the pillow sham. It's silly but it may work. Last night I laid in bed with no one but I felt her as if she was right there. Enough so that I gave her room, outstretched my arm and backed against the wall, allowing a phantom spooning, hand holding and cuddle in the dead of night. I smelled a hint of her, soft and sweet, right there upon the right side on top of the pillow, so I let it linger, I let her linger, right there. It's silly but I haven't felt this way for a while. So in between sunset and sunrise I laid awake and simply breathed in. Some memories you latch onto like instant tradition. Don't dare forget. Because no matter how tightly I made my bed this morning I just can't trap her ghost in there forever. Every night she'll grow fainter and fainter from my sheets as well as my mind, and as the days go by she'll eventually disappear, like a distant memory, vague and illusory. But until then, I want to trap her inside. Trap her inside these walls, between my head, and the space between my bed and blanket. Because it was the one night I never want to let go of, no matter how hard nature will try, and eventually succeed, in taking it away from me.