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Halloween was wonderfully insane. The party in the Castro spilled out into the Mission and beyond. There was sex in the streets. Cinderella cut her foot on broken glass. At every turn the air was filled to bursting with the joy-heavy laughter of children young and old. I guess there's been steam building since September 11th. I'd considered not going out at all. Losing Zoe to this shitty economy had diminished my capacity for joy. Jessica, however, doesn't respond well to "no". Bacchus was prodding as well. I still miss Zoe, but sometimes everyone needs martinis with a six-foot carrot.
Friday night all of the bars were packed. Rachel and I didn't want to deal, so we were crossing over to the liquor store. At the light a girl asked us if we knew of a bus she could take, but neither of us were sure. The only bus she knew of was on Mission, and when the light changed she slowly made her way there. Halfway across the street I looked back and saw her nervously staring after me. I knew she'd be fine beyond her fear. Sometimes it's a fine line between being chivalrous and a Zen instructor.
I used to like Michael Stipe a lot more before he adopted my look. Last night a roving pack of Marina frat billies were crossing Valencia opposite Rachel and I when one of them eeped out "Michael Stipe", causing the rest to eep along with him. Jibbering monkeys. It's bad enough that I'm constantly mistaken for someone else. It's tiresome that every other shaved guy in the world feels the need to bond. Years ago, when I first put a razor to my head, I wasn't aware I was joining some kind of social club. Still, it's had its advantages.
Slats in horizontal blinds lay flat enough to reveal the high contrast between buildings and sky. The flag sulks above the US Mint on a hill beyond my bedroom window. The birds don't mind all. The homemade coffee smoothie is extra bitter in my mouth. Cigarettes remind me of last night's bourbon. Built to Spill are performing "Velvet Waltz" on MP3. The brothers convened last night for a session. I was good seeing brother b after so long. So much inspiration at the time, and in their wake. So much good work to do today. I'm just taking a moment.
I can't watch the news anymore. I'm sick of the posturing and opportunism it's all become. I'm disappointed and heartbroken beyond the point where either of these things is doing me any good. I'm tired of watching poor people trying to distinguish food packets from cluster bombs where there's been no burden of proof. I'm bored with a government that governs little else but lies. I don't see strength in your flag waving, America. I see a victim lashing blindly out at the world. This wounded country doesn't need a war, or Tom Ridge. It needs a rape crisis counselor.
She's held her breath for months at a time. Sometimes she screams or cries for days. Mostly she laughs, and calls 'em as she sees. Mostly she calls 'em well. Sometimes she's cost the game. Sometimes that girl needs glasses. Really. Pushy at times, with a heart thick as kudzu, but she always means well. She let me know, again, that she's still mad that I wouldn't marry her. I had my reasons, and she has hers. Really. We only talk at crossroads lately. Birthdays. Different lives. I'm glad we can still talk for hours about nothing and everything. Really.
Thoughts arrive, eventually, at my fingertips. They scuttle like crabs down my arms as the next batch conspires to mingle in my head. I'm pregnant with the conversations of recent days. They're bogging my throughput. They're interrupting my sleep. They're taking up resources. Who said what? Who needs what? What time do I have to be 'where'? What was that note I forgot to make regarding the thing I don't recall? Coffee or tea? Sodomy or Steak fries? Food packets or cluster bombs? So far, so good, no morning sickness. And one thing holds true: There's Never Enough Coffee. Ever.
An exceptional brownie ignites electric light in my head. Impressions, real and imagined, smudge the light and move on. Handshakes. Laughter. Short term memory falls into a hole and away. So many dog-eared memories to sell or trade. So many first-time laughs to gather. All the colors of the world streak by as I attempt to remember the point at which my train of thought derailed. So many first time sights to see. The bar's a funny old place rich in character. Funny that I hadn't seen that side of it before. Wondering how the hell I made it home.
As much as I love Built to Spill's studio work, I've come to the conclusion that I don't care for them live. I've tried twice now to enjoy them in two different venues, on two different coasts, with two different crews of friends, and they just put me to sleep both times. It was as if the crowds had bored the entertainers first and were being reciprocated. Or perhaps I was just looking for more spectacle, the way I've started limiting my "movie night" choices by cinematographers and visual effects. Maybe I just want them to careen like their sound.
Overcast day. Lazy light lolls around buildings and sky. My head's full of mucus and coffee. I just want to write today, but I have plans. I could just write today, but I'd only wind up wishing I'd gone to see the new Coen Brothers movie with the others. There's plenty of time to write. So why am I staring dully at a blinking cursor? My head's full of mucus, coffee, and cigarettes. This failing light is sucking me down. Through the murk my mind keeps wandering back to the party. What was it that Jeanette was saying about happiness?
The weather's gone full-blown November. Rain makes the softest dimples on rooftops and sidewalks. The sky's decided to mope. It's time for movies, and comfort food. It's time for bad sci-fi and delivery pizza. Time for popcorn and introspection. Time to strike the last match head in the "Mule Variations" promotional pack and touch it to the absolute last cigarette of the night. Rain races through alleys and streets along the path of least resistance. Rain made me want her even more. The magic of proximity and atmosphere. So much work. So many miles to go when next I wake.
I can't see or hear the rain today, but I know it's out there. Waiting. The city's been off for days. It's okay. It's helping me to be a productive hermit. No rain means the writing spurt is over. It was great while it lasted, but I knew it couldn't last all month. Time for other things. Time to get back to designing the package. I've finally tweaked the interface to the point where I'm satisfied with it, but it's become a corner surrounded by fresh paint. Where to place a mole of legal notices on such a pretty face?
Beyond the window glass the night went about its dreary, drizzly business. I watched it all from the comfort of hot Vietnamese food and good friends. On the sidewalk, musicians were loading equipment into the Roxy for a show we wouldn't be attending, but it was nice to know that they were there if we'd needed them. Once the world's slowest eater had finished his prawn curry we made our way through the rain and guitars to one of our cozier neighborhood watering holes for a Belgian ale or three. Damn the weather. Laugh? I thought we'd break the clouds.
I was outside smoking a joint with the boys when the woman in the star-spangled pants left the bar. I'd seen her inside, and had successfully avoided eye contact all night. There was something desperate and familiar about her. She was obviously uncomfortable with her age. I'd seen it before. It peeks out like a jumpy cat from their words and mannerisms. The pants cinched it. They reeked of insecurity. I've never understood some folk's need to flip out over the inevitable. Never had the urge myself. Maybe it's because I don't feel I've wasted my life, or my youth.
The scent of flowers from the vendor by the market. Talking Dr. Suess with the homeless guy selling Green Eggs and Ham on the corner by the bus stop. Discussing the news of the day with the shopkeepers. Being on a first name basis with the bartenders. Pakistani. Indian. Vietnamese. Mexifornian. Asian Fusion. Tapas. Crepes. New York slices. All that and more within a four block radius and still more beyond. The rich stew of languages and cultures. Aging hipsters drinking coffee and reading. Kids rushing madly through the streets. Women. I fall in love each time I walk outside.
Lately I've had recurring dreams of B. It's a pointless exercise, hovering around something that's been over for ten years by my hand and at my insistence. I suppose I'll always lover her as much as ever, but I have to wonder why I have these dreams periodically. It seems that they come once a year or so. Perhaps there are things I still haven't quite worked out in my head. Maybe it's the gray, midwestern-esque skies we've had all week. Maybe my subconscious is informing me that my year off from relationships is over. Maybe there's something I'm missing.
Yesterday felt like the first official day of the holiday season. Seeing Harry Potter with Jo in the afternoon, and exiting the theater into the brisk night air full of shoppers and their kids had us all glowing with the warm fuzzies. Hot Pakistani food and cold Christmas ale at the 'watt with friends reinforced the feeling. Helen was dear, shopping at the homeless vendor's sidewalk location. We plotted and schemed holiday parties all night long. I have to make a point to see my many families over the holidays. They're beginning to insist. Aw, shucks. I'm feeling the love.
Happy Hectic Holidays. Small talk and in-jokes step aside for holiday planning and recipes, and the plans go right through 'til New Year's Eve. Everyone has a thought, an idea, an agenda for one holiday or another. Everyone wants to host. Everyone wants to cook. Everyone wants their own creation to live and breathe smiles onto expectant faces in frosty light. Holidays change houses into homes. I'd have to be a Houdini to squeeze them all in this Thanksgiving. I've made my choice for Christmas too. New Year's is a carrot held aloft by a stick wrapped in bright foil.
I was at Jo's when it hit me. We were watching "Dancer in the Dark" over her homemade Vietnamese chicken soup and some Belgian ale. The television cast blue light across a room warm with candles and the comfort of friends. A spark jumped to light in my head, illuminating something I've been trying to work out all week. It's official. The hibernation is over, and the subject is beginning to thaw. The scars and doubt left over from my previous leap of faith have given way to the promise of feeling again. I'm alive. Once more into the breach.
One. Hundred. Words. Too few or too many? How do I render today in your mind? Or an anecdote? Or the menu at the Chinese restaurant up the street? A game of Asteroids? A pittance to unravel my dreams. A fortune to describe the glint in a child's eye. So American. So generous, yet guarded. So nearly simple. Other cultures would ask for perhaps … four words. We get one hundred a day. One. Hundred. Words. To brace the cold and share the warmth. One hundred words to cup the moment outside the clatter of keystrokes, or the realization within.
Timing is everything. There's a woman in my building I'm interested in, but I haven't had a chance to talk to her beyond brief flirtations as we pass in the hallway. Yeah, I know. "Don't shit where you eat". Still, there's something intriguing about her. Yesterday one of the neighbor kids rattled my doorknob. They do that from time to time when their mothers are doing laundry at the machines in the hall. I opened the door just as the interesting party was leaving with her clean clothes. Damn. The kid laughed. His mother loaded her clothes into the washer.
Thanksgiving was cozy. It was nice not being the host this year, or running from dinner to dinner. It was nice hearing I was missed at the other parties. This year I wanted "that family feeling", and I got it. Different friends fill different roles. O'Toole and "Lawrence" kept us occupied while the cooks worked their chemistry. The turkey was perfect. The cranberry chutney was a delight. The company was warm and fuzzy. Between the feast and the pie we watched "Cool as Ice" on VH1 and ripped on "Vanilla" over wine. It was all the best parts of home.
Last night, in a bar full of friends, I had a random bout of melancholia. I'd been so busy having fun that I didn't notice the cue that had triggered it, but I felt it when it arrived. It didn't show on my face, or in my voice. I think everyone was too busy talking to have noticed anyway. Perhaps it was just the weather. After I'd sat with it for a while I went out for a cigarette alone. There were a few others outside, some perhaps for similar reasons. I smiled as the first snowflake kissed my cheek.
Last night snow fell where it shouldn't have fallen. It wasn't a squall. It wasn't a flurry. It didn't stick, and was hard to see against the lights on the street. It was a brief, wet attempt at snow by a weather system without much practice in the snow making arts. It was a crayon drawing on the fridge. It kissed my cheek just when I'd needed it. I'm fed when I'm hungry. There's drink when I thirst. Entertainment is all around. Damn. The city provides. People talk about a charmed life, but how many of them have lived one?
A tiny doorway in heavy rain. I'm propped up like a smoker in the pulpiest of noir. It's like a miracle. There's no downpour. Light and water waltz across the asphalt. All is well under circumstance. Things move thingily onward. I'm quite lost. All seems lost. Is it lost? My trail of breadcrumbs is long washed away. Homeless folk and cigarettes. A well-lit bus carries no one anywhere. No one's going anywhere tonight. The night comes earlier every day. Can you fathom that? I'm in love. I'm in love. Allow me to AutoSummarize. I've figured something out that's quite important.
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The impossible happens. I know this now. I've been with every woman in the world, save one. I've sent all but one away. I'd become convinced that no one in this world was "right". I'd become comfortable with the idea. I was certain that friends and family would provide me sufficient warmth through the rest of my days. I was so wrong. I've found the one. Rather, she's found me. She's someone I used to ask for from a dozen empty beds. She's someone I've dreamed of in the ashes of past relations. I cherish her presence in my life.
The rain hasn't bothered me for days. I doubt it will again. Less rain these days than tears of joy. The honeymoon will never end. Timing, after all, is everything. There's been no other point in my life when meeting her would have taken. I had to unpack my baggage. I needed time to sift and sort the various items. I had to become the man she loves. I had to prepare. And now I'm standing at the rim of my old life, looking at the progress I've made. That she loves me is the surest mark of my success.
What do you say about a woman who would touch your face though it's covered in stubble and daily dirt? What about a woman who derives a great deal of pleasure from learning and just as much from teaching? And what if she was also loving and kind? What if this woman was strong enough to field her troubles and your own, but was still accepting of your love and support? What if you've known her your whole life, though you've never met? What do you say about the warmth, joy and laughter. Me? I'd just have to say "hello".
Another month closes. It's been a month of strange and wonderful miracles of indeterminate size. It's been downs that are only so down and ups that scrape the ceiling of the sky. I saw Elvis atop the Andrea Doria singing to the birds. I've seen the faces of saints in puddles on the street. Crowds cheered. Children laughed. The Earth moved. All seven wonders of the natural world kept an all-night vigil on my doorstep. And I'm thankful for every blessed moment. I've finally met my one, true, love. I've had a blast. Life just keeps getting better and better.
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