Monday, April 26


Sometimes they stare outside of the box with these amazingly clear, intense eyes. They are seeing things so far away. They are waiting for mother to return with food. They are hungry little things. Crowded and ugly, brave, and pitiful. All wobbly legs and dander, small warm heartbeats under a patchy fur breast – you cannot deceive them, but they can, and do, deceive themselves. The world in the box is always the same, with subtle nuance: someone is getting bigger, someone else is shrinking. They huddle, and fight, and shine with survival. Soon everything will change. The box will cease to house their being; they will thrill in the weight and lightness of the whole universe around them. Feathers in flight, fury and freedom.

Hang in there, owlets. The world is yours, and mine. i am always with you; you are always with me.

Saturday, April 24


So, an old friend of my big sister's (and mine, i suppose) just sent me along a little message containing this response to my 'how are you?' query:

my kids are beautiful and doing well. nothing like us when we were growing up... Thanks.

Should this have bothered me as much as it did? i felt like i'd been slapped in the face, to be honest. Maybe it's just that i feel like i've worked very hard to get where i am right now, which is not exactly a place i am proud of or happy to be in, but every day is a new day. i am still working on a lot of my own 'issues' and don't appreciate people being so candid about what terrible fuck-ups we all were. The past is the past, we've all (hopefully) atoned for whatever we may have done and moved up and away from our various struggles.

Now that i'm reading it objectively, however, it feels like less of a slight and more of an honest sense of relief that her kids are well-loved and taken care of. Well bully for them.

...kidding, kidding! Of course i am happy about that, and in no way implying that parenthood is some fucked-up hazing ritual in which your bad experiences and behaviors must, in turn, be passed along to your progeny. Guess i'm just feeling sorry for myself, which is loathsome, so enough of all that.'s something awesome! In the literal sense of the word! (beware: audio starts right away.)

As for me, i'm off to do some treasure-hunting; more on that later.

Friday, April 23

For no reason at all.

i am here to tell you about my first apartment.

It was on Dohr Street, in South Berkeley. Number 2950, apartment L. Top floor of three, with outdoor-stairway access. My best friend at the time, J, and i, both needed to find a place. She was looking for new digs, and i was moving out of my mom's house for the first time at the ripe old age of eighteen. We quickly found a place that was cheap enough ($750), and moved right in. One of the bedrooms was bigger than the other, and for some reason i let J have it. My little room only had one window, north-facing, and it was high up and slid open to one side, like a bus window. There was a weird vibe in that room, too, that i always attributed to a ghost; it felt as though someone had died in it not too long before, and probably an old woman. My bedroom door would never latch shut properly, so i always had to haul a giant pillar candle in front of it when i wanted privacy (which was often). Because i have an obsessive need for decoration, the walls were quickly adorned with postcards, drawings, and calendar pages from years past: butterflies, Dalí, Man Ray, Erte. We bought a bunch of "new apartment-stuff" at Target –silverware, garbage can, ice cube trays, shower curtain, etc.– and we were off.

The bathtub in the cramped bathroom was horrendously pocked and rusted, but i made up for it by sneaking some of J's clove-scented body wash from time to time. i have cried, cut someone else's hair, and done lines of coke in that minuscule bathroom (sorry, mom!). The tub would clog once a month or so, and we would have to plunger it back to health. Good times.

The kitchen was a pea green-and-salmon affair, dated beyond belief– which would have been okay, actually, if there hadn't been a permanent layer of grease and dust on everything. J worked at a coffee shop and always brought home tea and coffee for me– what a pal. She often cooked, while i subsisted 90% of the time on tea and toast. Once she even made a vast, amazing feast of gyoza, and many a time we would simply barbecue fish out on the teensy back porch, smothering the fillets in lemon and then gobbling them down far too quickly... (From back there, you could see a water tower to the West; it was so alien to me, since i had always associated those with small-town hamlets in Iowa or Nebraska.) Beer was usually present, although eventually J and i would drink vodka-crans every night for months on end. Our temporary (read: year-long) roommate M would make a huge pot of his signature refried beans once every two months or so, which was not an event to be missed. Once, the tap on our kitchen sink just came plum off when someone turned it on, spraying water absolutely everywhere. Our scumbag landlord (whose first name was 'Stirling'), tried to tell us that it was because we had "too many parties" – it's as if he thought people were taking turns standing at the sink, turning the faucet on, and off; on, and off.

J had a mesmerizing octagonal aquarium in the living room, which she kept stocked with interesting fish and plants, some of which didn't always co-exist peaceably: fish would nip at other fish, or tear apart the rare marsh plant she'd just brought home in a bag that very afternoon. It was a constant battle to keep things friendly in there, but well-worth the upkeep for the amount of pleasure it gave our numerous stoner friends. Our roof would leak a lot during the rainy season, so pots and pans would have to be placed in the hallway, or on the arm of the couch. We had a square-shaped fan that we placed in the window, backwards, so that when one sat near it and smoked a cigarette, you could blow the offending plume right outside. You could see the Berkeley hills from that big front window, actually, which was probably the best feature of the apartment. i never once regretted living there, even when our downstairs neighbor's son shot himself in the hand and i came home from work to an eerily empty neighborhood and a pool of blood on their landing. One summer day in particular, i can remember sitting on the top step with the front door open, smoking a cigarette and listening to some Jimi Hendrix song ('Castles Made of Sand'?) from inside. Wouldn't trade that small moment for anything.

Eventually i met Nat, and he would come over at 7:30 in the morning, right after he'd get off work (night-auditor at a hotel), and just as i was getting up for mine. We would smoke together as i drank a cup of coffee, sitting quietly-as-can-be on that front step while the blue world around us began to waken. He would drift off to sleep in my bed while i finished getting ready for work, and i would kiss him goodbye, and goodnight. My morning walk to the art store (where i was first a cashier, then an accountant) took me past the 'shell house':

View Larger Map

while i daydreamed about my magical boy and listened to PJ Harvey (Dry), Bauhaus (Mask), Björk (Homogenic), and the soundtrack to The Breakfast Club. i was 20, and life was good. Sometimes that feels a lot farther away than just ten years.

In the evening, i would come home to the large, glittered "L" on our front door (a gift from a friend) and find a note from Nat, or, more rarely, find him still there, waiting for me in my room. i fell in love with him in that apartment, during those early evening hours, when no one else was home and he would play the violin for me or read me Murakami stories. Later, through the big front window, i would watch him pedal away in his his baggy green sweater, with his combat boots and tousled dark brown hair, and feel completely made of light. He used to call that place, and still does, "Sweet Dohr Street".

Wednesday, April 21

All aboard for funtime.

You know you have an awesome family when one of them refers to your dad's radiation treatment place as "that death-ray zapping center", followed by an earnest chuckle, while in the company of said dad.

...Here are some more beautiful book autopsies.


My (blustery) day at work consisted of: rain, then sun. Then more rain, then some sun... then rain, then – oh, you get it. Also, when i got to work at 8:30 there was a homeless man blowing snot rockets onto the ground in my workspace. It was a thrill. i rudely offered him a pack of tissues and he accepted. Had to give him the boot, eventually, so that i could finally open properly (We share walls with a deli; he was hanging out in the market's old "deli area", which we lease, and where we sell plants and keep the day's deliveries, and where our cooler is). Later i donned a pair of latex gloves and went to recycle the cardboard he'd slept (and pissed) on during the night. Also, it was staff appreciation day and nobody warned me. How ironic.

Look, i have empathy to spare. But mysterious bodily fluids are not a happy workplace discovery. i wish i could just help people take care of themselves. You know – all people? Everywhere? And the world would equal a perfect place, 'n all that? Certainly this is a realistic goal.


Sunday, April 18

Today there was a time warp.

Or something.

i heard a sound, an alien sound, coming from the other room. A slithering, whoomping, fwomping, murflenurfing kind of sound. It sounded exactly like a wormhole had opened up in my living room. Granted, i am hung over to the nth degree, and keep seeing little gnomes scurrying about in my peripheral vision, but this sound was just not quite right.

After a minute or so of wide-eyed paralysis, during which time i carefully monitored my skyrocketing heart rate and tried furiously to comprehend what in blazes the sound could have been, i relaxed. Finally realized that it was just a poster, that's all, yeah: a poster that probably came undone at the top and flopped over on itself to slide down the wall. There was even a prime contender by the front door, the old oversized calendar page that always loses a thumbtack after about fifty openings-and-closings of said door. (it's the wind suction, doncha know.)

So, i gathered myself up gingerly (did i mention i drank too much last night?) and pussy-footed it to the doorway... the living room looked clean. No wormholes, no gnomes. Relief. But when i looked around at all of the posters (we have many), not a single one had fallen. Nope, not a one. This sent me back into Panic Mode and i quickly made the rounds around the room, looking for a stack of papers that had lost a page, or a pile of books that had lost a gravity fight, but there was nothing. No evidence of sound. Even the higgledy-piggledy recycling pile looked exactly the same (i have a photographic memory, but we'll talk about that another time). i found this even more unsettling than the prospect of a wormhole opening up in my living room.

What had happened in there? Had anything? 'When a tree falls in the woods...', etc., only reversed? My otic organs had clearly registered some pretty specific sound waves, but it seemed that the incident itself had never even happened*.

i backed up carefully into the relative safety of the bedroom, where at least the gnomes have the decency to show themselves.

Been feeling a bit better since spending an hour or so winding my way through the annals of Flickr. Always nice to have your happy place. Also, Now Hear This:

*Although, what if a wormhole makes noise when it opens up, but can close again without making a peep? It could happen, no? If i can't find the aural offender, i may have to fall back on this theory.

Dear Vodka,

(and tonic water, and limes, and ginger ale, and ice cubes, and stupid easy-to-fill glass tumblers with your stupid wide mouths that are stupid easy to gulp from),

Please cease and desist with your antics. Quit calling me, and elbowing me into the kitchen, and whispering fun little come-hithers into my ear. Get off my shoulder, get out of my brain, and please render yourselves invisible when my eye lands upon you.

When you make me call my friend Joy "J-Train" more than thirty times in a night, it's a clear sign that you are stifling me. Please– i need some space.

And when i play Boggle? i like to be able to actually read the words i have written–nay, scrawled–on my piece of paper. When 'aye' looks like 'hit', it's because we have been spending too much time together. And while we're on the subject, fuck you for making my entire list consist of 3-letter words. i am better than that. It's obvious that you are just a bad influence for me.

Well, there is more, but i think you get the point. i hope you meet someone new, i really do– and, you know, if we run into each other at a party some time, i'll try and at least say 'hi'. We did have some good times, after all.

Thanks for being so understanding. . . now kindly get out of my bloodstream, it's been nearly 24 hours, for cry-yiy.

Monday, April 12

pleasant surprises.

So, while out walking (read: getting lost) yesterday in San Diego, we found Edward Scissorhands' house.

True story.

Monday, April 5

Quick question:

Does anyone else miss the light brown m&m?

temblors, emblorst!

So yesterday Nat and i had a late morning. We slept way in, made breakfast around noon (ah, fakin' bacon, my old friend), finished watching Amreeka, and then parted ways. Nat headed downstairs to study for awhile while i took a shower and got ready to meet him so we could bus on over to the record store to drop some major cash (eep) on a bunch of new albums.

(Yes, we still buy CDs, and not from Amazon.)

And then, then, there was a small, er, hiccup, in our plans: as i stood in front of the mirror, meticulously applying eyebrow pencil, It Happened.

First, i felt the walls shake a bit. Then i heard the windows rattling. And i looked up at the ceiling with irritation at our new (and extraordinarily loud) upstairs neighbor and thought, really? Really.

But it was when the floor began to sort of shift sideways under my feet and my heartbeat quickened to roughly nine hundred beats per minute, that i realized that this was An Earthquake. And a Big One. Especially after i moved to the bedroom doorway to wait it out and it didn't stop. Even more especially when i felt myself getting really hot and heard a big crash! across the courtyard and people shouting in fear, while the building itself began to sway amidst its (flimsy?) support beams and stuccoed walls, doing a fantastic impression of one of those wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube men:

At this point i had moved to the front doorway; down the hall i could hear people yelling and running, panicking. The building was still shaking. i felt extremely nauseous. It had probably only been 10 or 15 seconds or so, but it felt like it was amplifying, and that it would never end. i heard another crash somewhere and realized that i should probably not be inside the building anymore. The underside of the hallway on the 3rd floor above me seemed to yawn and stretch away as if in a bad dream, and i ran pell-mell down the hall and broke right to the nearest stairway exit.

The shitty thing about this complex is how huge and maze-like it is: i have seen many a pizza-delivery guy wandering aimlessly around these beige corridors. And right now the only thought on my mind was that i wanted to get the fuck out, and preferably in one piece. i wanted to get to Nat. i was hoping fervently that he was okay in the cafe (lots of huge windows in that place), and thanking heck that he wasn't at school that day, on the 7th floor of the Humanities building, because i would have been insane with worry.

As i reached the stairwell, i opened the door and stood in the frame. i saw two neighbors nearby, standing in their front doorways looking a bit startled and peaked (in sharp contrast to my abject terror). After ten or so more seconds (an eternity?), the shaking finally stopped, but now i felt like i was made of jelly. My hands were shaking and i was breathing heavily. My heart was hammering in my chest, and i was still holding my eyeliner. We all looked in each other's eyes and finally the woman said, "we should go outside now. NOW." She and the twenty-something gentleman (whose eyes were tearing up) across the hall began to move towards me. "Come on," she said. "Let's go."

i shook my head back and forth because i realized i needed some things: my keys, my inhaler, some shoes. i ran full speed back to the apartment (i remember thinking that i might never see those 2 people – or anyone – ever again) and grabbed those things, plus my big hoodie sweater, and booked it back to the exit. People were running all over the place. i heard a lady crying somewhere upstairs, and a guy laughing nervously outside in the courtyard. i was muttering to myself (...Jesus fucking CHRIST*...) while in the stairwell i caught up with a small Mexican woman who kept saying dios mio, dios mio, dios mio... She and i waited on the steps outside while other people exited the building excitedly. Others began to materialize on their balconies, and we all looked at each other numbly, wide-eyed. Expletives could be heard all over the place.

Did that really just happen? Is everything okay? Are we normal?

A few minutes passed. The Mexican woman was upset because her cell phone wouldn't work (yikes!) and she just really wanted to call her son in Fresno. i gave her a small hug and we agreed that he was probably just fine– that we were fine as well. i felt like i was going to pass out at any second and was rooted to the spot, holding open the exit door right outside the building. A young male nurse came onto the grounds through the alleyway, looking calm and collected. A few old folks came shuffling down the stairs, and thanked me for holding the door open (as if could move, anyway). A cab screeched up in the alleyway and the passenger threw some money at the driver, then bolted up the stairs 3 at a time. Maybe he had an elderly parent living here, or a girlfriend or boyfriend, maybe even a spouse and a kid. Finally i blinked at the sound of an ambulance somewhere in the distance. There were no fires burning, no one was crying or screaming, and the skyline was still intact. So i decided to head downstairs to see if Nat was okay (oh please oh please oh please). Thankfully i saw him coming down the alleyway just as i had the thought. This immense relief only made me feel more unstable, and i fought the urge to sit down and fade away.

He came over and we hugged fiercely as people began to go back inside. i wouldn't budge, however, so we hung out on the landing a bit longer. We saw a little grey cat with a collar and only half a tail making good time away from the building, crawling through the ivy on the other side of the fence with his belly low to the ground. i realized that this frightened feline may never make it back home, so we tried (in vain) to get him over to where we were, making little soothing sounds and gestures. He meowed back at us from time to time, but never stopped moving away. Poor little guy: i hope he's back home safe and sound.

Nat'd left all of his things down in the cafe, so i waited while he ran back to get everything. We went back upstairs together, and being back in the apartment made me want to throw up. i told Nat that i had to get out of the building for the rest of the day, and he understood. i dressed hurriedly while he looked the whole shebang up on the internet, and i called my folks just to preempt the worried phone calls. We'd all experienced the destructive Loma Prieta quake back in '89, so i knew that they would be wondering about us if they heard any news.

We grabbed our bikes and left the house, heading for the beach. Many people were out in their front yards, talking animatedly. We stopped by a liquor store and bought a box of Junior Mints (necessary) and a pack of cigs (terrible, i know, but also massively necessary). We smoked a cigarette on a bench overlooking the sea and for a minute it felt like everything would always be alright.


Here is a link to the US Geological Survey's website, for our region. (this will change, of course, but for now you can still see all of the recent activity.) That giant box in the lower right is the 7.2 that we felt on Sunday afternoon. And all of those little boxes around it are the aftershocks. More and more keep popping up. Statistically i know that another big one will (probably, most likely) not hit near here, not for years and years, but it still doesn't feel good. Honestly, i am more worried right now for all the folks living 100 miles south of us, where the epicenter was, and where the infrastructure is older and not as sound. i wish them all the best.

*Happy Easter!