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Joyous

Blythe Danner

It’s been an unusually busy time, which seems like a ridiculous thing to say when you live here because when is it not like this. Maybe it feels crazier than usual because of all the festivals and everybody running around trying to see everything. I’m seeing so much art but fuck I’m so broke. They finally announced the good thing that’s happening in the spring so I can talk to people about it but it’s funny because I don’t know if I can make it to the end of the month money wise. Meanwhile I can’t believe they charged forty dollars for that show on Saturday night, and even though I liked it, forty dollars for a dance show is just dumb. I thought I had a certain amount of money to make it to the end of the month and I mentioned it in a piece I performed on Friday night, where I asked the audience, is _____ enough money to live on till December and they all said yeah like I was stupid for thinking that it might not be but that was before I realized I only have half that. Why am I talking about this so much?

Oh I was on my way into the city, super fucking late for my training. Like, hours late. Who the hell am I to ever tell anyone else to be on time. I told myself it was ok to be late and I really settled into my acceptance of it so I felt good and relaxed. The night before I’d gone to the film festival party for a little while and it was packed and sorta fun but I felt old and invisible so I went home and watched a bunch of episodes of that show with the woman who tells everybody what to do and then cries all the time even though in the first episode they made this big stink about how she’s so tough and never cries. I have no problem with people who cry a lot per se but there are other ways of showing you’re vulnerable besides crying all the time but hey it’s not my show.

Anyway I noticed that the new ad on the train for the lottery says What will you think about when you don’t have to think about money? I went blank. Doesn’t everyone who wins a lot of money become miserable? Don’t all their shitty con artist relatives come out of the woodwork to squeeze them dry? That’s what I’ve always imagined. Are there documentaries about this? I’m always trying to release myself from the fucked up narrative that says deprivation leads to good art but if I won tons and tons of money I would probably feel weird. I might just get embarrassed and stop making stuff. I can’t be sure. I had an astrology reading once where the guy said that I’ll never have a lot of money but then he also said a lot of other stuff that didn’t happen. I have it on a tape somewhere. He said I’d live until I’m 84 but I heard that as when you are 84 you will die. Anyway now I know it doesn’t even matter when you die it’s those final fucking years that really clinch it.

I was in the midst of writing the following in my journal: Nobody cruises anymore. Not entirely true but not entirely false either. I have no time to go into the studio. It’s all I want to do. I have to clean my house. I have to get shelves. My mailbox situation is unacceptable. I don’t meet the guys I’m really attracted to.

And then suddenly she tumbled in and sat across from me in front of the ad. It was a great interruption. She had on a black suit with wide leg pinstripe pants, suede boots, pale and fancy trench coat, thick reading glasses with black frames. She’s definitely had a face lift but probably just one. I can always tell from the way the real face wants to push through and fall forward, yielding to gravity and truth from the outsides of the pulled part. Her hair was white and wind-swept, which I loved and which matches her name I think. I know I really like her as an actress but in that moment I couldn’t think of a single movie she’d done. She was texting and half smiling. I wondered of course if she was writing her daughter. It was an epic text. She kept looking up with that half smile and serving me profile like it was a reaction shot in a clever drama that has a scene between friends riding together somewhere in the big city on the train. Did she know that I’d recognized her? Maybe. She did look directly at me at one point and I didn’t drop my eyes. I wonder if she feels okay about her daughter’s success or if she resents it. She’s much prettier than her, though I’ve only seen her daughter in pictures. That name, that strange name which I can’t imagine saying on its own. She really embodies it. I can only imagine saying the first name along with the last name. They must do that in casting meetings, say the whole name I mean. Is it fake? Does she have money? Is she still in love with her dead husband? I don’t know.

She was still writing on her phone when I got off. On the platform I noticed the ad for the wrestlers show, and then I saw a lone black nylon purse on the wooden bench. I’ve been trained into suspicion by all the fear propaganda of the past 12 years, so it was ominous. As I got to the turnstile I wondered if I should tell the attendant. I passed a mother and son who were talking about just that. I should go get it said the mother but the boy said no mommy no let’s just tell them. I wanted to get the jump on them by being the one who told the attendant first. Let me be the hero, I thought, but I was torn. What’s so radical about ignoring it, I asked myself. If it was a bomb I wondered how far out from the bench it would affect people. Would it affect me as I walked up the stairs out onto the street? If you see something say something. Well I did but I didn’t.

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Meteor Shower

Meteor Shower

beck250x267

I was changing in the handicapped bathroom again. I go in there because it’s bigger, private. Maybe it’s some vestige of high school anxiety about changing in the locker room or fear that if I change in the men’s room the door will open and a woman passing by will -eek!- see me changing and freak out about what I don’t know, but I prefer changing in there. Even as I write this it seems totally ridiculous. I change in public all the time. I think it’s just something about the sexless vibe at that place.

Coming out of the bathroom I was rushing a bit. I’m always rushing, which is ironic since what I’m studying there is a body/mind modality where you go super slow. I shuffled down the hallway in my socks like a little kid, the floorboards creaking in a raspy baritone. I was adding up my work/study hours in my head because I always forget to tell the administrator and then I get a huffy email about it. I rounded the corner and suddenly there he was, talking to my teacher. Boyish/mannish. Fresh-faced. Slight blush to the cheeks, like he’s just taken an autumn bike ride. It was so incongruous to see him there, standing in the middle of the waiting room against the braided nylon of the furniture and the beige wall. I walked past him into the big room to collect my notebook, sort of disconcerted and annoyed. Oh god this is the last place I want to run into them. It throws the whole thing out of balance. Not here please. He must have psychically heard my anxiety because when I went back out to put my sneakers on he was gone.

Willem-Dafoe-via-New-York-Magazine

I had just finished teaching class at the university where they let me teach. I never finished college and now I teach at colleges all the time. Maybe it’s karmic. I figure if I never actually get a degree I won’t actually ever be hired for real in a permanent way. I’ll just teach at different places each year and I can keep this slutty thing with higher education going for the rest of my life.

I crossed the big street – I wasn’t riding my bike for those few days – and was heading into my bank to make a deposit when I saw him smiling and sneering his way towards me. That is the definition of a craggy face I thought. A maze of dry rivulets. He’s shorter than me, I think that means he’s very very short, ever since I found out I’m short. (That’s another story.) He was wearing a blazer, tweed maybe. That downtown arty hair length, long but not too long. Aging male painter length. I say sneering but actually he seemed very content, very at peace with himself and his day as he walked down the sidewalk by himself. It was inspiring. Maybe it’s all the yoga, if he still does it. People really get attached when they do yoga, but I wonder if that’s just something they do for a little while and then stop like most everybody else but since somebody saw them in a class once or they wrote about it in an interview everyone is still like, oh so and so does yoga.

paker posey

Riding in the city is always risky, dangerous. I like pretending I am cool and tough enough for it, though sometimes I get to an intersection and I’ve calculated the distance between cars incorrectly so I waddle my way on my tippie toes through an opening like a toddler. That day I was on it, though, and I was barreling down the big avenue like a pro when I saw her on the corner waiting to cross. She was wearing big sunglasses, a long coat. It was all just a flash but I keyed in instantly to the wrinkles around her mouth. She’s letting herself grow old without surgery – I told myself approvingly, like she gives a fuck about what I think. It IS a relief, though. Don’t you think it’s weird that we look at movies to see our emotions reflected or articulated and all these people have billiard ball complexions? Like, what is the accumulative psychological effect of all that? I recently saw that movie about the untethered astronaut and when they do the close-ups I’m just like, you don’t look that worried.

greg kinnear

I was racing up the street on my bike. It’s that part of the ride where it’s not clear which side of the street you should be on, or I guess I could say it’s the free for all part of the ride. Now with bike lanes there’s the suggestion of order, even though everyone knows it’s still a shitshow of power mongering between pedestrians, cyclists and drivers. Everyone’s on their cellphones by the way, but you already knew that. Distraction nation.

He had stepped pretty much into the middle of the wide avenue straining his neck to see if a cab was coming. I wonder if it’s any easier for him. It feels like it’s basically become impossible to get a cab, and then if they do stop, they ask you where you’re going, which I think is illegal according to the Taxi Rider’s Bill of Rights! Anyway he has that expression of being half caught in some pressing concern, even when he’s hailing a cab. I want to say I felt nothing, did I go to the left or the right of him? His confusion about the lack of available cabs did seem tremendously earnest.

Bad Girl

Madonna

The year I went to school at ____ was so strange. I was constantly broke, dinner was corn chowder and breakfast was four advil and a coffee. In retrospect I guess I was just hungover all the time, but back then I thought that that was what morning felt like. I’d given up on making it to early classes with dignity so I’d just roll out of bed, put boots on, and show up for ballet or pilates whatever wearing these thick knitted neon green leggings I was into and something from my assortment of activist t-shirts. Whatever I’d fallen asleep in at whoever’s house. I was super slutty then, but I tried to keep my whoring close to school so I could make it to class on time.

A bunch of folks from the fancy school I’d transferred from were working in the city. One of them had a job organizing the after-parties for that TV show. I’d only just begun to understand that all of the kids from school who’d been the most hardcore marxist lacanian obscure film-obsessed theoryheads were about to spend the rest of their lives pushing paper or sucking dick in the entertainment industry. This came as a total surprise but I don’t know why I got all Holden Caulfield judgy about it. I mean, everybody needs a fucking job.

So anyway, R was constantly looking for the latest coolest hotspot, which must have been why his coke addiction went into full swing that year. All that pressure. When he found out that M was performing that one Saturday, he told us all about it so that we could go to the after-party. We were ecstatic. We were going to be in the presence of our hero! Maybe we would become the greatest of friends and she’d love us and call us and we’d all dance at the clubs together.

It was at this new hotel. We walked upstairs to the bar and milled around, trying to fit in. Then, as now, I was disappointed to find out that these trendy places amounted to like 300 sq feet and some new approach to sconces. We’re all crammed in there trying to play the part of the disaffected nightlife habitué in what’s really just a half-room at best. The group of us interlopers propped ourselves around the table next to hers, and once located what was there to do but just look at her every now and then. This was right around the time of her scandalous book, and she was hanging out with that dyke party promoter. After a while I felt stupid so I wandered around and found myself in the hotel gym. I couldn’t relate yet to the virility of weightlifting so I just stretched on the floor. M’s backup singers ended up in there too at some point and we had some obligatory conversation about dance. I used to do ballet one of them said. Ok. It’s weird when people think you’re talking about the same thing and there’s no way to tell them it’s not really how you think about it. This happened to me today actually.

I guess even ogling has its limits so after I went back we decided to bail. As we walked by her table, I tried to look at her more closely and saw the crow’s feet around her eyes, which is why I find the way she looks now especially disturbing. Just then, T caught sight of me and was like Hey! I hadn’t seen her there sitting next to M. I knew her from my fancy school though we’d never interacted there, not even once. She was in M’s book in those pool pictures so I guess they knew each other. I’d been running into her in the city since I transferred and she always acted like we’d been super close at school or something. I guess it was nice of her but it baffled and embarrassed me that she didn’t realize we were in totally different worlds.

How are you?! I’m fine. Are you leaving? Yeah, we’re gonna go. You should call me, I’m at the _______ Hotel. Oh how long are you there for? And then she looked at me innocently, puzzled. I live there. See this is what I’m saying: I didn’t fucking know people lived in hotels.

Later that winter I slept with a guy who was staying there, the after party hotel I mean. The room was so small, coffin like. I asked the guy how much he was paying a night and laughed. It was enough to feed me for a month, easy.

Surprise

michael cera

I was on the train heading into the city. I hadn’t slept enough because the night before I had gone out, which almost never happens. After my studio time I had called _ and he was tired and I was tired, too, so we each decided to just go home, which I couldn’t help feel disappointed by. I told myself it’s ok, this is us doing our own thing. It’s mature. Anyway right before I got on the train I called A on a whim to see what he was up to and he said oh we all went to see C in D’s show and it was so great and now we’re at ____. I said oh I won’t be doing that but on the train I thought why the hell not? I’m getting too boring. I never do anything spontaneous anymore. It’s time to shake it up.

I know the real reason I went was that I was confused about the situation with _ and I didn’t wanna brood on that. You know how it is, you’re confused so you decide to make yourself more confused. Anyway it was fun. At the bar I was calm and sexy, which only happens when I’m calm. I said hi to the boys and then to more of them and I felt more normal than usual and friendly and good at this. I went over to order fries. This guy slid up outta nowhere and started flirting and touching my crotch and trying to kiss me. He was hot sure and I was flattered, maybe too much so, but it was too scattered and sudden to seem real and anyway isn’t the whole thing that I want someone to make me feel special? I felt like he could have been doing this with anyone and I’m sure I kept pulling my face back like huh? He slithered away. I ended up hanging out with J, whose bed I broke last summer. I tried to get him to come home with me but he didn’t, of course, good for him. He could smell that I was insincere.

So it’s the morning and I’m thinking about all of these boys and how the night was fun and meaningless and then he gets on the train. At first I thought it was a joke, like, what the hell are you doing getting on the train? Why would you take the train? I almost said it out loud. I always assume they just take limos or something. He’s all fresh faced and adorable just like you’d expect. A couple of people did double takes and at least one other person besides me started staring. He was carrying a big hardcover book, maybe even a library book but I wasn’t sure. He walked the length of one bench and then just stood by a door. He was wearing a red hat just like me and so I thought ok it’s official, it’s really the winter of the red hat and I am on trend like I thought. He looked at everyone, not in a paranoid way. He was just observing, studying. He’s really nice-looking. Attentive. Smart. He didn’t have that smug, lips sewn together smile like you see sometimes. He looked like he might suddenly announce an important scientific discovery. I went from feeling indignant (On top of everything else I just don’t know if I can deal with these kinds of sightings on the train for godssakes) to curious. We exchanged at least one extended look like two mountain animals but then someone got on and stood between us so I decided to play it casual. I looked down to take some notes and didn’t notice which stop he got off.

And later I was crying about my dead friend to my therapist and crying about all of the things I cry about in there and I said I just feel like there’s not going to be enough time to do all of the things I want to do, and he cocked his head, half-shrugged and said You’re probably right.

Vintage

I had this job in college where I brought A/V equipment to different classes. Our boss was this real easygoing guy, another student. He was like the wise-cracking, disheveled teacher from Welcome Back, Kotter. At one point I started buying pot from his roommate, and he pulled me aside at work and made me swear I’d keep all that on the down low, or whatever we called it those days. It was such a motley crew of us at that job. I guess our common skill set amounted to not having classes at night and being able to schlep around TV’s and VCR’s precariously mounted onto rolling racks over the city streets and sidewalks. We’d get to a classroom and connect everything quickly while the professor stood awkwardly and the early students glared at us absently the way you do at workers. I met P at that job. He was in grad school for acting. He always made us play this game called “Name ten major black film actors in one minute go!” and then he’d shake his head disapprovingly while we stuttered to come up with anything beyond Denzel Washington or Sydney Poitier. I liked him a lot and I wanted him to think I was cool and hip to his struggles as a black actor. He was so pissed about racism in Hollywood. I totally agreed, and was embarrassed by my own inability to come up with more than four or five names under pressure, if that many, but we all know racism’s pernicious and timed games are even more so. He went on to become famous for a while and kept showing up in those barbershop movies. I never saw them so I can’t speak to their quality but I couldn’t help but wonder if he really needed an MFA to star in them. After I left school my friend E went on a date with him and she told me he had a small dick but of course you never know what people consider normal or big so what should you picture.

One night I was walking home from work it must have been spring because I remember it was already warm. I was on the south side of the street and I saw a crowd forming outside the window at a café. Curious, I pushed my way to the front of the group and saw her inside standing in front of a small rapt crowd, just her and her guitar. It was a really special moment, like suddenly I thought ok this is the payoff for living in this neighborhood in that shithole apartment. She was so young and beautiful, with the shaved head the whole thing. God that voice, she could really stop time and air with it, that pure cord of tone that poured out of her mouth and filled the room like water. I was transfixed, as if at a museum with the storefront glass this small shield between my suspended adoration and her elfin magic.

After the impromptu mini-concert, I pushed my way into the café and waited to speak to her. Unbelievably enough, she did and I stammered and said hello and gushed of course. I had gone to a rummage shop earlier that day and bought old photographs – like a good little bohemian kid – and asked her to sign the back of one for my friend K who was still gay then. S said Oh I love these I collect them, too. She was trying to normalize the moment between us I think but I had no tools for this kind of interaction so I probably just kept sputtering nervously. I don’t know what to make of everything that’s happened to her since. I mean, sure, you could just say “Car Wreck,” but that’s the easy way out. Nobody really knows what somebody else’s crazy feels like.

Simian

He keeps coming up in different conversations in different places, but I’ve only seen him in person once, which was way long ago when I was still waiting tables at the cocaine/alcoholic factory. Often I can remember the night of the week that I saw famous people because my schedule was fairly consistent – Sunday was usually the quietest night so I remember those the best – but I can’t be sure of the night I saw him. Funny to think that he was even famous by then. He was sitting in a small booth facing someone whose back was to me. He had bleached hair! That took me by surprise. It wasn’t one of my tables so anything I saw was just incidental, on my way to serving fifteen cosmos to a table of Russians probably. There was that other night that I was rushing – we were packed – and I went to make an espresso and as I pulled the coffee lever out of the machine steaming hot grounds splattered across my neck, shirt and the wall behind me. I zombied my way to the bar to ask for ice. Fortunately the bartender J identified what was happening better than I did – You’re in shock, he said and got me to lie down with some ice on my neck in the manager’s office. Maybe I was shaking or something. I definitely wouldn’t have thought to take a break if someone else hadn’t taken charge of the situation. E, the manager, sympathized with me for about five minutes then offered me two shots of whiskey and said I need you back on the floor. You have ten tables. Ever ready to prove my worth as a cocaine-addled waiter, I hurried back to work. I could have sued.

Anyway there he was facing me whenever I passed. Glittery eyes, that bleached blonde hair, a monochromatic sweater. Handsome. More striking than you’d think, but this was the 90’s after all. Everyone was younger then. But the biggest surprise was that he was super faggy looking. I thought oh my god he’s gay! I was somehow sure of it. He was there with a guy! What further proof was needed? I thought, wow I really have the scoop now. What I was planning to do with this priceless information I’ll never know. Then, as now, my resolve was minuscule, minutes long at most, and any desire to tip off some gossip columnist was quickly tempered by my strong Catholic-upbringing’s sense of restraint. I’d never become devious, no matter how many drugs I took. Eventually he got up to leave and he had this little gorilla body, short and powerful, muscular it seemed but definitely apelike. Eyes ready to kill or something. Maybe he was high too, oh god everyone was at that place.

Of course the gay thing is untrue I mean it was just a momentary projection. It must have been the hair and I guess I was unaccustomed to seeing two young attractive men sitting together who weren’t fucking or about to. But like I said he keeps coming up this year in the most random ways. First there was my friend B telling me that of all the celebrities she has to handle he’s the biggest dick of them all, cuz he demands to be flown around on a Lear Jet all the time, among other things. And then P is having the total opposite experience with him because he’s helping him out with his career in multiple ways. And then I was in Sydney and someone had a picture of him all graffittied with make up on it, like a drag clown. I would see it whenever I walked back to my hotel from downtown. At first I crossed the street to get a closer look at it but eventually I found it creepy, so I would just stay on the other side, clocking it briefly as I passed.

Origin Myth

The first time I saw her it was right after running across the avenue, on my way to _______, hurrying of course because I wanted to get a good seat. Right as I walked in front of that long-running show’s theater she was there, walking towards me in the other direction. She was with a group but I only saw her. She was looking forward, head tilted down. From the brief side view I got as I passed her face looked flat, like someone had taken a regular face and pushed it back so that all of the features had to line up to the same level. A squashed moonpie face. She seemed unhappy, serious, maybe a little afraid even? I was worried. I wanted to stop and ask her, What’s going on? Is it your friends? Is it your career? Is it just the day? Yeah it IS kind of cold today. I could be your best friend, I thought. The one, the only one who understands. Or at least the only one who understands right now. I can see right into the center of you. I understand.

I really have to give the credit to her. I mean, she’s the one who started it all.

I thought about her again later. I remembered seeing her on a talk show and she was talking about sports. She came off as a good-natured, smart, a wry kind of gal. Someone you’d want at your football-viewing party. All the neighborhood guys would joke with her and secretly lust after her, not because she was so hot or anything but because she was so cool, so easy-going and able to keep up with the boys and their beer-drinking.

Months later I was in the organic food store near my apartment. It’s so overpriced but aren’t they all. I like this one because it’s small so you feel like you’re supporting “the local economy” though for all I know it’s owned by some massive corporation. Anyway we all know shopping is an act of attitude forming identity. I was jet lagged and therefore a bit manic. It always happens that way. Whenever I come back from an overseas trip I wake up super early the next day and make a list of resolutions in my head. I’m always going to wake up this early and be this productive. I’ll always start the day with meditation, bodywork, writing and shopping for the week. I’ll always have a list with me and I’ll always have great new ideas of little dishes I can make for myself and bring with me wherever I go in recycled plastic containers. I’ll always take advantage of this exciting city and its boutique food stores. I’ll go to the cheese shop and get to know the cheese, lovingly smelling each one because I care so fucking much about cheese. I’m part of the neighborhood! I’m friendly and I say hi to everyone and everyone loves my casual but distinctive style. My ability to color-coordinate puts a smile on everyone’s face.

I’d just picked up almond milk and was walking through the narrow aisle when I saw her. She looked taller this time, more confident, if maybe still a little cautious. Again she was intent on her pathway though I guess they have to be like that or else they’ll inadvertently catch other people’s eyes and then what. It was spring already but it was still cool so she had on this dark jacket, black skirt, black stockings and these low-heeled black leather boots with an overturned lip and a kind of slit down the back. Really good boots. Kind of a surprisingly fierce outfit for a Sunday morning food shop. She wasn’t wearing any make up and her skin was taut and there was the hint of a rash on her cheeks, a sheen to her overall complexion which made me think that maybe she uses Retin-A. I guess you can cover that shininess with powder. Still that weird profile but at least now she seemed sexier, more alluring. I played it cool as she passed, even though I wanted to say Hey you inspired me to start a blog, which is crazy because I hate blogs! but that just would have been creepy any way you slice it. As she walked away I took a longer look at her. That was when I really took in the boots and her height and her stockings. Of course I quickly looked her up online and realized that her career is doing just fine. She’s got like five movies coming out soon. I shouldn’t have worried about her at all.

 

Muscle Man

D and I were walking along the cement boardwalk, headed to the pier. It was cloudy and if you looked out to the ocean the water and the sky were striated into different shades of lavender, like a color study from the gods. It was beautiful. I could see a guy up the beach a little swinging from hanging metal rings, one to the other down the row, an urban Tarzan, and then I saw that there was a line of guys waiting to swing. Maybe it was a class. I was excited because I deduced that the pier was the one from The Lost Boys, one of my favorite movies ever. God when I was a kid I wanted to be part of a cool vampire clique so bad. In the 80s the vampires always wore the best clothes: Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie, Kiefer Sutherland, Billy Wirth (my very favorite. I had a college friend who claimed her sister dated him and I shuddered. To think that he and I had shared the same carbon dioxide emissions from my friend’s mouth!). This other time during a summer vacation when I was sixteen my high school best friend and I came out to California for a couple weeks and we went to this amusement park where for like half an hour we befriended this pretty, creepy, prematurely sleazy-looking girl who point blank looked at us and said – I’m a vampire. She was so direct and confident about it that it seemed like it had to be true. That was the same trip where my friend got his ear pierced and then freaked out cuz he suspected he’d done it in the gay ear so he frantically called his mom to see which ear P had pierced in the yearbook cuz I guess P was the arbiter of heterosexuality and sure enough it was the other ear so my friend had his other ear pierced instead, all of which screamed that it wasn’t the right moment to come out of the closet to him.  Anyway I was way ahead of the vampire curve. Or maybe it’s just always been popular and now that I’m old I can finally see that.

Suddenly he walked by us, with two people on either side of him, a man and a woman. He’s tall. His skin was orange, a combination of makeup and tan. He was wearing a robe, some kind of Renaissance-y thing. It’s strange to think that a 70s surfer haircut relegates you to tv/films set in the middle ages or ancient Greece. His features are aggressively strong. These are my EYES, this is my NOSE, these are my CHEEKS. Not unnatural, but there’s a leathery battle against time going on in that face. His name eluded me; I don’t know that I’ve ever watched anything he’s done from start to finish. He was looking intently at the woman I think. They seemed to be his protectors, ushering him from his sudden arrival from another time to the comforts of a contemporary hotel bar. We walked further and saw that there was a shoot. All the rectangular lights and metal tripods and stuff that say We’re making something fake here. Further still there was a grip fumbling to wrap all of these metal and plastic stands in a burgundy velvet curtain. From a distance it looked like someone was trying to escape, or blind and lost in three square feet of space.

Except Sundays

It was “culture” day. I spent the afternoon with G going to the museum in the hills. It became pretty beautiful after I decided that I was into the architecture. Does this happen to you? – when you don’t really know about something you just emotionalize your relationship to it. I do it all the time. Bereft of any actual knowledge about architecture, I just feel my way through the experience, which is fine because everything’s a performance. Although I get sort of annoyed when you get to a building and you know you’re meant to go “Ooh!” right away. Congratulations, Mr. Architect! But then I always hate things right before I love them.

I don’t even know how it happened but I decided to go to a music show later in the evening at the fancy concert hall downtown. G couldn’t go cuz he had to work and I felt too lazy to try to lure someone else, so on the spot I decided that “I love seeing concerts by myself!” – that thing single and depressed people say about going to the movies. I called and they said I could get rush tickets, which sounded thrilling. So I showed up early but I couldn’t figure out where the fuck the box office was as I circumnavigated the torqued titanium monster of a building. The signage sucks, and it feels like the building is annoyed that people want to interact with it. It’s so stoic and unfriendly and I just wanted to scream at it – Help me, where’s the fucking box office! Finally I found it and then learned that I couldn’t get rush tix since I’m not a student or a senior. Wish they’d told me that on the phone. The rush lady shoved me off to another attendant and I got a ticket behind the orchestra even though I could tell from the seating chart that my sight lines were gonna be fucked by the grand piano. I could have just gotten a ticket for the other side, but yet again I practiced my habitual “make the wrong decision even though you know exactly what the right decision is but are too chickenshit to say it” shtick and got a seat behind the piano.

I had some time to kill and I remembered the good ramen place R and S had taken me to a couple of years ago in Little Tokyo so I headed over there while listening to a creepy story on the radio told in the first person about a guy who was molested as a kid and then confronted his abuser as an adult to talk about it, even though all he really wanted to do was just kill him. Parking was impossible, as usual. It’s all you do here: drive, park, drive, park, repeat. I want to make a t-shirt that says “I used to read but now I just drive.” Finally I found a spot and went through the whole “Do I have to pay or not on a Sunday?” mindfuck and then kept listening to the radio on my phone because I wanted to find out if the guy killed the guy or not (he didn’t). I went to the ramen place, where you put your name on a list and wait forever. Since I was by myself I thought it would be a breeze but these bitches were hardasses and stuck to the wait list order. I tried advocating for myself a couple of times – I’m just one person! – but no luck. I was getting hungrier and hungrier and the umami chunkiness of the ramen was this ever-thickening cloud in the air and my consciousness until it seemed like the answer to all of my life questions. Finally I realized I wasn’t going to make it to the show if I stayed so I gave the hostess a surly look as I harrumphed – I’m leaving! – and careened onto the sidewalk fully crazed and maniacally hungry. The idea that I wouldn’t be able to realize the promise of ramen was suddenly the most epic disappointment of the year. How would I re-organize my expectation around another flavor? I went back to the concert hall and rushed into their overpriced cafeteria, where I begrudgingly settled on an egg salad sandwich and lemonade. Boulders of disenchantment were tumbling inside me into a river of regret. I never make the right choices about seating, parking or dining establishments.

With my blood sugar finally leveling out I went to my seat, which was pretty great after all. The usher started a conversation with me. He was socially awkward and formal, but young and charming nonetheless. I was quietly impressed that we were even talking. I told him I was checking out the city and he told me he loved living here but that he sees himself in another city also because he has a good head for business. I nodded like I understood. The concert hall made me think of Santa Fe. It’s all curved wood, romantic proportions and an unfortunate flower print pattern on the bench seats. But I like that it’s hippy new age and not stodgy like the classical houses in NYC. The first group went on and it was this dreamy, soft contemporary jazz and I thought – oh my hardcore experimental music friends would be horrified at me being here right now. I don’t think I had fully registered that it was a JAZZ concert and I was struck, again, by the thoughtless itinerary that I design for myself. But the music caught a curve of melancholy in me and I was crying in the aisle seat as I looked up beseechingly into the empty space below the bowed ceiling while the recessed walls slowly changed in hue from orange to green to red. What am I supposed to do with my life? I thought. Now, tomorrow, forever.

And then it was intermission and I went to the bathroom and on my way out I saw him, standing in the line of men waiting for urinals, with a hangdog expression as if he had just gotten off a long flight but maybe it’s just his face. He shuffled a bit from side to side the way you do when you really have to pee. I got tunnel vision and everyone around him disappeared into a fuzzy cloud as I quickly assessed all of the particulars. He’s short, a dirty blonde. I can’t remember what he was wearing. Maybe a jacket. Wow he really really looks like Truman Capote so of course he played him in that movie, which I never saw so can’t say if it’s good or not. When I went back to my seat I wondered if he’s a big new music fan and if he plays “interesting” music in his trailer or whatever and if the make-up people are like “Wtf is this?” and if maybe he sees that as part of his purpose or mission on the movie sets, to educate. And then I imagined him in a concert hall in London listening to some other music and I imagined him here and I imagined him having conversations about all of the concert halls he goes to and which one he likes best. Only later did it occur to me that since he was at that bathroom it meant he wasn’t in an orchestra seat and that made me wonder whether he: doesn’t have a lot of money, doesn’t like to spend it on fancy seats, or prefers just to sit on the side. I always assume they’re mega-rich but I know that isn’t true. My friend A just got a small part in a movie and he has to find his own sublet during the shoot, which is ridiculous since you know the star of the movie is being flown out on a fucking jet or something. Everything is so out of balance. T was sorta good in that movie Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, but he had like three lines maybe? And anyway the real stars of the movie were the art direction and the slow moving camera. Sad and smoky.

Civiluppbåd

K had gone to see if the line for ordering food had quieted down. We were catching up after not having seen each other in like fifteen years… no, more. I actually can’t remember the last time we saw each other. We’d walked from her cute apartment to the busy cafe. You’re supposed to order food first and then take the number to your table and wait for them to bring you the food. This tactic feels cheap, and more of a hassle for everyone, but it persists I guess. The line was too long so K’d had the idea of just sitting and waiting for it to die down. We took over a corner table that these two women were leaving. It felt renegade, we were doing things out of order! and I wondered if the busboys were going to bust us or what. I’m always nervous about the rules. The women had left a bowl of cold, uneaten fries and a half drunk Bloody Mary, all sleazy looking cuz the ice had melted. We joked about eating the fries but then of course I actually ate one. I can’t help myself. I told K – remember when we were young poor dancers going to school in New York and AR’s mother would come into town and take us all out to a fancy restaurant and we’d stuff ourselves silly? -Like camels eating for the whole week! K exclaimed, and laughed. I laughed, too, like it was all in the past but truth be told I’m always looking for the next free meal.

Anyway I was sitting there by myself for the moment and I looked through the trellis and there he was, looking intently at his friend, whose back was to me. He was with this group of guys and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen him as I’d walked in. I mean, it would have been the back of him but I’m really attracted to guys’ backs, jealous of them in fact. Especially of long, v-shaped, broad backs, which he has. Ok maybe not so broad. Anyway his friends were just a bunch of regular looking guys and now that I think about it they’d all turned and looked at me as I was walking in, maybe to protect him? Or see who would recognize them with him? Who knows. He was wearing a slate blue cotton t shirt and jeans. He was very tan, which concerned me of course because I thought well you’re really making it hard for the make up people aren’t you, having to make you look like the undead. I’ve heard he’s nice — he seems it. I’ve watched videos of him online where he’s pulling pranks and stuff. He came across as nice in Melancholia, even though I couldn’t really buy it that he’d go to all that trouble to marry that woman, in like, a fucking castle. She was such a mess, oh excuse me, an advertising “genius.”

His face was slightly wet, like he’d just done a misting spray. The whole thing was so unreal — I was peeking through the trellis for god’s sake — and it was almost as if he was looking right at me and he was so tan and moist, it felt like the right thing to do was just to lean in and lick his face. I realized he was speaking swedish to the guy and then that they all were. K came back and I pointed him out and she pretended to stretch and twist so she could see him. One other really good looking swedish guy arrived and they hugged and he joined them, sitting next to A and I thought wow what’s it like to be two ridiculously good looking people sitting next to each other. And then after a while the whole pack of them got up to leave – he put on a generic black cap – and I said to K, look it’s a whole entourage, that really happens. -It’s his Swedish Posse, K said and I said, that’s good, I’m going to write that down later.

And then that night, as I was lying, confused but satisfied, next to _______, I imagined I was looking right up into a nighttime snowfall. The small, white flakes raced out of the blackness as if out of an invisible shower head and fell around me in a perfect circle. I was just a face, no body, no ground, no clouds or stars either.