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San Francisco. Am here and can hardly believe it. Am so open, so ready to love this city, to hang onto its sky by my fingertips and swing. It's colder than I expected it to be--laughed, while shivering, at tank tops & sandals. There is something about sunshine, the BART, ocean. Realization beneath the blue: I must live in a city. Must pulsate with the rest of them, must join into this bloodstream, this life. Must press my ear to the sidewalk and hear the stampede. Then I must pick up my feet and run run into the sea.
"If you wanna be on time, you better sit on your watch."
This from our bus driver on the way to Haight Street as the air grew colder & the sun pulled us down past the Pacific. Once considered the abolition of time & haven't owned a watch since; this seems appropriate to relate as we now realize we're coming home at midnight.
My mom once sang, "I left my heart in San Francisco," while drunk and hanging off a cable car. "I've left mine in Texas" might be a more timely song. For now, then, I'll sit on my watch.
The Beach today, Santa Cruz, and sunburn. Sneak my hand behind my back, feel the heat radiate off my spine, and wonder where all this heat comes from. I used to think there was a well of it all somewhere under my 3rd rib on the left, a glowing pulsing orb that every once in a while overflows, spills out and then I glow and pulse too. These days it just seems to keep me in equilibrium against the elements. Someday I'll fight; kick; scream; spill over too; but for now, I think, I'll just lay here in the sun.
The car had some trouble as we drove up the inclines; still all I could see where the golden hills & blue blue sky. We sat outside on the guardrail posts & listened to nothing, listened to the ant-cars on the Golden Gate, listened to the rocks we kicked down the cliff. The air was cold when it moved, but when it was still I just thought: This. This is what it means to be young. And by the time the thought had escaped my ears, I had already grown older.
Behind my shoulders, though, the trees were still green.
I dreamed of Damien last night, a soul I will love forever. Details are elusive. Just his wild red hair. And his hands as he shifted gears. We raced along the Californian coast, his profile the landscape, and his hear the sky, when he suddenly drove the car off a cliff. But instead of falling, we flew, until I woke up, laughing.
My father tells me I'm officially uninsured now and on my own. I blink. Anything can happen, he emphasizes. You are a walking risk. I spoon my ice cream and smile. A walking risk? Let's hope so.
"Assistant Managing Director"
They pay me in titles instead of in cash. I don't mind, really; they have no money to spare. So they give me words in exchange for my sweat. A small gesture, but appreciated just the same.
The local celebrity around here is Prince--he lives just down the street. I hear he's become a Jehovah's Witness, so I'm listening for the knock on the door and waiting for the day that it's him, ready to save my soul. I think I'd just look into his eyes and he'd understand why it's impossible. Then I'd compliment his shoes.
This message goes out to all my brother's idiot friends: Do not call me if my brother owes you money, do not dial my house if some deal got fucked along the way, and never EVER threaten me again or I will hunt you down and squash your insignificant lies into oblivion. These two assholes get special recognition today: Rob, who said he'd send 40 Russians (what the fuck?) to my house if I didn't pay an extra $200 to cover my brother's ass, and Chris Gray, the pansy-assed 15 year old shithead who started this. Fuck you both.
NOT A TRUE STORY
When I was younger, we lived by this steep hill, which resembled a miniature mountain. It became one of those things that, in its familiarity, you barely notice, like a freckle on your arm or something. We would ride our bikes on the sidewalk at the base of it, but here is the strange thing. After it rained, the sidewalk was wet for days after the rest of the town had dried. I discovered years later that there was a small lake at the top, and every time it rained for us, it flooded up there.
Things I will never tell you, my friend:
--How your father sounded on the phone that night
--What he told me
--How my heart, the space within it where you reside, collapsed in and on itself
--How it has yet to recover
--That I wonder (and fight against this head for the thought) how the pills felt when you swallowed them, if you could hear them clank as they hit the bottom of your stomach
--That I wonder if your stitches itch
--That your voice echoed in my phone
--That if you had died last Wednesday, I would have too.
Miles Davis, "Kind of Blue"
…and with those 5 words, my pen just exploded all over my hands, this eruption of black that I promptly smeared on the white walls while groping for a lightswitch. Fuck. I can't find Misty tonight, but then, she's the one of the three that likes to sleep in unusual places. Wishing for profundity this evening & the only conclusion found so far is that ink is sticky as it dries, and spreads. Profundity is probably overrated; and besides, this heart needs a break. These capsules can choke if they go down the wrong way.
It's hard to say exactly what it was--the way my hands reflected green back up to the sky, how air felt hollow and heavy at the same time, the rain that fell with drops of lightning inside, the panic in the eyes of some, the anticipation for more in others'. As for me, I just wanted to go outside and dance under this strange canopy, but stayed put with worry for a certain car on the road. This is what it means to love, I suppose, to root down instead of dancing. To curse instead of praise the tornado.
…they tell me that one of these days I'll learn from my mistakes, but that doesn't seem to keep me from fucking up in the meantime. I suppose that's what living is, and if I'm gonna fuck up, I might as well do it right…
…but it always (for)gets me in the (m)end(ing). You see, I dream, every night, and wake up remembering every detail. Every look, every word, everything I shouldn't (have) do(ne). And so (t)here is (w)here we (c)are, in my (sub)consciousness, (rele)gated and (regu)late(d) at night.
So I'll (re)turn back home; right (?)
Sometimes the thoughts are strange:
Like that intersection, on the way home, a left turn I make that's completely blind. As I drive, I picture the day that a car doesn't slow down and instead plows into the driver's side of my own. I see the vision so clearly--the twisted metal, the broken glass, the police arriving--but always in complete silence.
Or that I'm in a movie, black and white, years in the future; a ghost dancing in strangers' living rooms. But I keep forgetting my lines, so I mouth the words while looking for cue cards.
We have a local cult, too--the International Headquarters for the Temple of Eck is just down the road from Paisley Park. A golden pyramid plunked down in the middle of acres and acres of pristine prairies. I pass it on the way home from work and when the sun shines at just the right angle, I cannot breathe. All of it--grass leaves; doubt, golden; the taste of light, pineapple; every day I have ever loved, every day that love was lost--hangs, suspended, until I remember the road, remember my motion, and swerve until the two collide, again.
Sitting in the cold, cold sunset of Duluth, MN. Someone's got a bubble machine downstairs and the incandescent spheres drift up to me as the wind tangles this hopeless hair of mine.
Saw a black bear on the drive north; he stared at us unblinking before running the fuck away. I'd run too, if I saw me returning my gaze, somedays faster than others.
Funny how skies (and people) can be so pastel the one day, so fluorescent the next. Most days I feel so orange, but today, today I just match this sky, this sunset. Today I will forget.
There is not a single muscle below my waist that does not ache every time I breathe. Woke up at 4:15 this morning, and thirteen miles later I held a T-shirt in my hands to commemorate the effort. A man jogging near me (I remember him from last year) wore a T-shirt that said "I run with Jesus." Given that I've seen him 2 years in a row now, Dad offers 2 possibilities: either I, too, run with Jesus, or else I AM Jesus. Not sure either is comforting.
There's a solstice, though, on Thursday, with a new moon, too.
I am the greatest backup singer Bon Jovi has ever had. I have the power to inflict thunderstorms upon Des Moines and Omaha, all in one day. I am omnipotent. I have stood on rooftops and thrown lightning bolts at great lakes. I am faster than the wind and am more beautiful than sunset. I am fucking brilliant. I have sunk a thousand ships, and then walked upon the water.
(I break hearts, too, and then say things I do not mean. I can drive 19 hours to come and see you, but I can do no more than that.)
For you, Allen, I read "Howl" to the winds of the Continental Divide. For you, Leslie, I threw a snowball down a cliff whose bottom I couldn't see. For you, mom, I carry this stupid cell phone & wear its collar and leash. For you, Rodrigo, I think of France when I see this land. For you, new friend, I wish I had printed out your poetry before I left. For you, who lies on the bed while I write these lines, I hide them from you, and tell you not what I know.
I keep them all for me.
Am pretty far out in the middle of nowhere and just realized how exhausted I am. This elevation thing really snuck up on me, and now, in my 6th or 7th (don't know which--no watch) hour of hike, am running out of water, too. But hot damn--if I'm gonna be exhausted and dehydrated, at least I'm here, in the mountains of CO. This solitude thing fits me well; fearing that I am losing my ability to interact with others. I haven't seen another human being in three hours, and no one on the planet knows where I am. Perfect.
…can barely see these hundred. am out, again, in the middle of the CO wilderness, hiked for eight hours, and now the muscles are sore from all of this unusual activity. found a skeleton of something & soon v's gonna spin some fire for me. is all this creating more questions than conclusions? I have no idea, but I do now know how to climb mountains: first one foot, then the other. and I know how to cross streams: wincing and numb. every peak has a name, and there are those that can identify every one.
I just stare.
woke up this morning at four convinced that a bear was taking down our camp, but it was just v, unable to sleep and cold, starting the morning fire. my grand invention of the hike was fire-toasted bagels, topped w/ peanut butter or cheese. all told, the hike was 15 hours long; my body's eyelids are drooping, but my mind is racing: this is the last time we will see each other for at least two years. v is out now; my hands are heavy with the fact that I never loved him, and he did me too much.
on the road, racing at 85 mph away from myself, or at least a former self. difficult to write at such speeds, but much too easy to think. looking out at I-80 and wondering who built these barbed-wire fences that line every mile of highway. if I prefer the thin air, even if it has to struggle in my lungs. that v is on a plane right now; I think I'll never see him again. A roadsign: TRUCK PARKING--NO FACILITIES. curious: the sun is brighter when reflected off the windshields of oncoming cars than in my rearview mirror.
have returned, and stare unblinking at my surroundings. I want to close my eyes so I can see it all again, every inch of road, every cut and blister, nod and glance. I want to observe, unobserved my life to discover the moment at which I ended up here. I want to bump into myself carrying groceries out to my car, collide so forcefully that a bag falls, oranges rolling down the street. I'd look at myself and yell, "Hey, watch the fuck where you're going!" And then, smiling coolly, I'd reply to myself, "You too, sister, and soon."
watched my hero do what she does best tonight, in a crowd full of faces assured that they love her the most. Looking around, I could only shake my head at the undeniable truth--she speaks to no one else as she speaks to me--before catching myself at my audacity. Who the fuck am I to place myself above their respect, to quantify this adoration and judge its weight with the scale of my own hands? Isn't the point, then, for us all to love wholly and well, us all to dance to the music, us all to sing along?
Do not tell me about how your sister's boyfriend's cousin got malaria and had to be rescued from hordes of bees. Do not tell me that your wife's coworker's son knows someone who was gunned down last year in broad daylight. Do not tell me I'm crazy; do not tell me to be careful not to get AIDS. Whatever piece of non-support you could pass over my way is nothing compared to the sack of shit others like you have given me before. I know more than you do, and I'm gonna fly in spite of all of you.
I typed myself into Google today to see how long it would take to find me. .00019 seconds, to be exact, but to get to this julia e. I had to plow through hundreds of others. Had one of those transcendent experiences while squinting at the screen: I could be any of them; the eighty-year-old mathematician; novelist; rock star wannabe. Maybe I AM them; that this I/me is only momentary; that the contrasting lights are more permanent than I am.
I found myself eventually--a photo from a show--where I played the part of someone else.
If you squint hard enough, you can just make out the filament from which the sun insists on swinging. And the damn lake won't stop humming "Fur Elise"--it can drive a man mad, you know. To our left is the street idiot with a firm grasp on Plato's teachings, and just ahead, spaghetti is being consumed as we speak. Iraq is pulling out all the stops for a charity ball next November, while Cuba bites her fingernails and lights up another joint. For all of this and more, tune out of the 10:00 news and get some fresh air.
refuse to learn, you everyone
jumped off a bridge, if many times
do I have to tell you, how not
what you say, it's judge
a book, don't is the first
day of the rest of your life,
today comes in like a lion.
you make a face like that, if YOU REFUSE
TO LEARN everyone jumped off a bridge,
if to your sister, apologize
and out like a lamb.
Would you do it too?--
--but how you say it?-- by
its cover the rest
of your life?--
it's gonna freeze.
(refuse to learn, you.
everyone jumped off a bridge.)
That this world is large & inexpressibly beautiful & intrinsically screwed up. That love and injustice fuck every Thursday night. That hope is the thing with feathers, Hitchcock's kind, the sort that bite children. That you inhale my air, that I exhale yours. That we don't make eye contact, that I do not know your name. That we speak of important things in important tones; that we are remembering, we draw these lines. That you hold a stone behind your back; that you know how to aim. That there is so much left to do, so much left to do.
"Fresh, funny, original…Robinson masterfully navigates between form and function, fact and fantasy…" --
New York Post
"Incredible. Once I started reading, I couldn't stop…not till the last word." --
"A little too self-aware for my tastes, but some readers may find her…inspiring, I suppose." --
"Magical realism, to the best bet of this reviewer. Did the travels actually happen? Does ‘V' exist? Or is this another case of an angst-filled grad playing with the readers' sympathies? Fuck if I know, but at the very least, you'll come back for more…" --
Minneapolis Star Tribune
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