Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Cat tee in L.A.

Completing my West Coast tour, I touched down in Los Angeles in time to celebrate Alia's 40th birthday. I love L.A., and I would gladly live there if I could. If I lived in L.A., I could get a nice used car and drive around Silverlake and West Hollywood, idly listening to NPR and missing New York.

On this trip, Alia and I mostly just hung out in her backyard in Eagle Rock, being stalked by the stray cats that live in the neighborhood. This picture was taken in the backyard. I'm wearing, whimsically enough, a cat tee. We bbq'ed at one point, and we threw pieces of hamburger at the hungry cats. We just tossed the meat with flips of our wrists, like little lords. I had purchased some cupcakes for us, and I snuck into the kitchen during the bbq and ate five cupcakes (just the tops) in secret.  

I ate so many desserts on this trip that I'm surprised I didn't gain twenty lbs. In the airport on the way back to NYC alone, I ate a whole bag of Lindt chocolate truffles, a See's chocolate bar, and a whole Toblerone. I must have been stressed out. On the plane, I sat there reading "Room" by Emma Donoghue, just abuzz with sugary energy. Abuzz!

In just a couple of months, I, too, will turn 40 years old. I don't know what I'm doing to celebrate. Maybe karaoke again? But what could top last year's karaoke night, where I sang "At Seventeen" by Janis Ian and bummed the whole room out? Plus, last year I got a good turnout, but who's to say that I haven't alienated all my friends by now? 

I feel like 40 will be a good age for me. For most of my life, I've sensed that something terrible was about to happen, looming just out of the range of my vision. Now that something terrible - turning 40 - is happening, I imagine I will feel like my fear has been vindicated, made useful. I'm glad that Alia turned 40 before me, though. On that fateful day, I will call her up and see if she has any words of wisdom for me on growing old with grace. I will begin the conversation by addressing her with respect. "Grandmother," I will say ...

Friday, August 24, 2012

SF cap and hoodie

When I lived in San Francisco, I was always chilly after, like, 3 p.m. The cold would settle down upon me like an existential cloud, and I would shudder through the streets, wondering what the hell I was doing in such a city, such a world. Why then didn't I carry around a nice cap and a hoodie - nothing more than a simple shell, really - like the one I'm wearing in this pic? I might have lasted more than a year there.

I flew to San Francisco from Portland to catch up with friends, and I went out to dinner with Joshie on my first night there. We had pizza and sundaes, and we spoke, as ex-lovers do, about the state of our lives, our hopes for the future, and real estate. Joshie took this pic of me on Market Street somewhere downtown, close to Lehman Brothers - where, years ago, Hilz and Dagsy and I would menace the office with our tales of debauchery and assemble Public Information Books for the bankers. Now Hilz is living somewhere over the Golden Gate Bridge in wedded bliss, and Dagsy is lost to me, and the world, forever, which I am still unbelievably saddened by. After dinner with Joshie, I took a cab up to Castro Street and then limped all the way down Market Street (my knee was acting up on this trip for some reason) to my hotel downtown.

When I lived in SF, I used to do this walk all the time. I would get loaded in the Castro, and then I would set out by foot down Market Street, braving the cold and the homeless, passing the Safeway and Sweet Inspirations, until I ended up home. I lived in the Mission for a bit, then in Nob Hill, and then finally, completing my downward spiral, in an SRO on Market Street. What else did I do in SF? I know I went to used book and record stores a lot. I spent a lot of time at the Trannyshack party at the Stud. I find it hard to remember other details, and when I think of my time in SF now, I think of the color of fog, before it burns off in the daylight.

I visited my old SRO - the "Chase Hotel" - on this trip. Van and I walked past it after a delicious breakfast at the "Little Griddle." I wonder if they still get mail for me at the SRO? I briefly wondered before I caught myself. It's probably just credit card offers now, or entreaties for money, or political tracts. "Little Griddle," "Public Information Book," "South of Market" - I don't know how to speak the language of SF any more. But every few years, I like to remind myself of why I once tried.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Che Guevara jacket

I flew to Portland, OR to visit the wonderful Tim Blue. Tim just moved back from Berlin, and I wanted to visit him to check up on him. Here he is wearing a jacket that was inspired, seemingly, by Latin firebrand Che Guevara. He is blinking one of his eyes in this picture (sorry, Tim).

Alia says that I will grow old and die in Portland, but really, Portland doesn't call out to me. All I know of the city is that most of Brooklyn seems to hail from there, and that the former members of Sleater-Kinney live there too. On this my first trip there, Tim took me to a divey Mexican place and a fancy eaterie, and we stopped by Powell's Books and this fun record store, too. I bought the new Neneh Cherry record there, and Tim and I listened to it in my rental car, but it left me cold. We also saw the movie "Farewell, My Queen" and walked along some esplanade, talking of Joni Mitchell, of all people. We managed to escape Burnside without being offered a gluten-free, sprouted, fair trade snack.

In this picture, we are on the block that Tim grew up on. Tim walked me up and down the block and related his history there. He told me of families touched by violence, mental illness, and tragedy, and I was struck by how little I know of the street I grew up on, Ditmars Blvd. in Queens. Sure, there was that little crazy kid Sakyi who kicked in my parents' storm door one time, and that hoarder lady two doors down. But if I were giving someone a tour of Ditmars Blvd., I'm not sure where I'd take them. I guess that's because I mostly stayed in my room reading Madeleine L'Engle and Louise Fitzhugh novels as a child. I was a very sheltered kid, which comes back to haunt me now in my middle age when I still don't know how to keep from freaking out when I find myself part of a group of people. I've always walked alone.

I was very moved to get a look into a dear friend's childhood. I don't know if I'll ever go back to Portland, but perhaps from time to time I'll just inexplicably find myself there, the way I sometimes inexplicably find myself in Brooklyn.